Monday, December 11, 2017

Candlelight Processional

One of my absolute favorite things at Walt Disney World is the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT which runs throughout the Christmas season. A celebrity narrator reads the Christmas story from the Bible and the Walt Disney World orchestra plays Christmas carols as an enormous visiting choir sings. It's totally amazing. Since we went to Disney in September this year, we didn't get to see it, but we have videos from past trips, and there's an album on Spotify. I highly recommend going to the Candlelight Processional. It's well worth all the time waiting in line. Today, I'm going to give you a little taste of what this amazing show is like.*

2014 Narrator: Jonathan Groff

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus."

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For a unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to n worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking the rest of the year off from blogging. See you in January!

*Scripture taken from Luke 1 and 2, Matthew 2, and Isaiah 9 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2017

This list was so hard to put together! Last year, I read a bunch of mediocre books and it was difficult to come up with enough books worthy of a top ten list. This year, I paid much closer attention to the quality of the books I read and ended up with the opposite problem. There are so many great books that I can't fit onto my top ten list! Only very few mediocre ones that were easy to rule out. You can see my full list on Goodreads. But I think I got it down to my ten favorites. Maybe. Here goes.

10. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

I hadn't heard of Watchman Nee until my pastor bought copies of this book for all the families at church earlier this year. It took me awhile to get through it because there's so much to learn from it (and lack of reading time 😜), but it really isn't a book that you can speed read anyway. You won't get enough out of it if you do. And there's so much to learn about our old man being crucified, about Christ living in us. It was definitely worth the read.

9. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

My sisters had been after me to read this one for a long time. It was on my list of books I intended to read, but just hadn't gotten around to yet, until I planned myself some school. I decided to read it for literature, and boy am I glad I did! It's amazing! The Robe tells the story of the Roman soldier (Marcellus) who crucified Jesus and won His Robe. Marcellus's life is changed forever when he puts on Jesus' Robe, and he cannot rest until he learns more of Jesus. It's a very well written book, and it was neat to see the events of the Gospel and Acts through new eyes. Click on the cover photo to see my full review.
8. The Jefferson Lies by David Barton

This is another one of those books that I'd intended to read for a long time. It fit a category in a summer reading challenge I did, so I finally got around to reading it. It was pretty amazing. It was sad to me when my family visited Monticello years ago how many lies about him the tour guides spread at his own house. Well, now I have the arguments to rebut them. Most of what people believe these days about Jefferson is based on lies and misinformation. Barton uses well footnoted original sources to debunk seven popular Jefferson lies and does a fabulous job at it. I love history—particularly this era of American history—so naturally it was right up my alley, but I think every American needs to read it regardless of how much they like or dislike history. Click on the cover photo to see my full review.

7. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket 

And another "I'd been interested in this for awhile, but hadn't gotten to it yet." I remember as a kid seeing excerpts and such things from these stories on Lunchables (probably around the time the movie came out), and I was intrigued by it, but I never did actually ask my mom if I could read them. Fast forward to adulthood, library work, audio books, and sewing projects, and I am now a fan. What's not to love in a story about three orphans in miserable circumstances with an evil relative trying to steal their inheritance? I would have loved these stories as a kid—they're seriously the perfect story for orphan-obsessed me (blame the musical Annie)—but I'm glad I can enjoy them now when there are at least some episodes of the Netflix series available. I'm on book seven, and still loving it. And the Netflix series is pretty good so far too. Never going to be able to watch the Soarin' pre-flight safety video the same way again.
6. October by J. Grace Pennington

I can't fangirl about this one. I can't get all excited and bounce around telling you how good it is. It's not that kind of book. But I will tell you that you need to read it. October is a story about a girl named October who moves to a small town and becomes a good friend of the protagonist, Emily. October seems vibrant and full of life, but yet some things just don't add up. October is hiding struggles that few people know about, struggles that may have tragic results. It's a very deep, raw, emotional book. Hard to read because of the subject matter, but very necessary. And naturally well-written because Grace wrote it. Click on the cover photo to see my full review. 5. The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall

I'd seen the Penderwicks books around Goodreads, and had it in the back of my mind to try them someday, but didn't actually request them from the library. Then one day, my sister and I went on a little outing to Chick-fil-A, the main library, and Goodwill for books (because that's just how we operate), and as we were walking around the children's section (yes, I'm an adult and she's a teen, and we still love the children's section), I picked up The Penderwicks and decided to go ahead and check it out. And consequently fell in love. These stories are everything I ever loved about Eleanor Estes and Elizabeth Enright and so many other books of the early to mid 19th century. Only problem is, they're new, so the last book isn't out yet. It's a very good, sweet, innocent family story, and I can't wait to see how it ends. Click on the cover photo to see my full review.
4. Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes

This is another series I saw all over Goodreads, and just had to read. I got A Time to Die last Christmas, and the rest is history. Everyone in the world is matched with a Clock that tells them how long—down to the second—they have left to live, and Parvin Blackwater's Clock is down to the last year. Only she's been illegally sharing a Clock with her twin brother, and no one actually knows whose it is. As a Last Year wish, Parvin crosses the Wall out of the USE, the Wall through which they send the unregistered Radicals, who are never seen again. Parvin has to go through a lot and she has a lot that she finds she is called to do. The plot thickens book after book, the cast of amazing characters grows, and you'll find that you won't think of life the same way again. Such an amazing series, and Nadine is pretty awesome too. Click on the cover photo to see my full review. Firmament: Gestern by J. Grace Pennington

Firmament! A new book from my favorite sci-fi series came out this year. Of course it's going to be on my top ten list. The radialloy in Andi's knee was damaged in the last book, so now technically she's dying. The Surveyor is back on Earth, the Doctor is trying to find a way to save Andi, and Andi and August learn they have an absolutely adorable little sister who has been kidnapped by a scientist who is reportedly experimenting on her. It's an amazing new installment with a lot of focus on Andi and August's sibling relationship, which is something that I very much love. It was SO GOOD. And now Grace is working on the book where they get to see Elasson again! Eep! I can hardly wait! Click on the cover photo to see my full review.

2. Replication by Jill Williamson

This book is simply fabulous, beyond amazing, you HAVE to read it. When I came up with an idea for a world-hopping/dystopian story with a society populated by clones, Kendra told me I needed to read Replication. I tried to get it as an ILL, but no library would send it, so I kinda gave up. But then I saw a super fabulous deal on Amazon and I had enough gift card left that I actually got it for free. Then I read it at Disney World (when I say at Disney World, I literally mean in the park—it makes the lines bearable, and yes, I'm aware I'm a dork) and on the way home, and got a MASSIVE book hangover. Martyr, a clone, has been told the air outside is toxic, and his purpose is to save humanity by expiring. Abby Goyer has moved to Alaska and knows there's something fishy about her dad's new job, especially considering his past questionable work as a scientist. There's all sorts of interesting scientific experimentation with highly questionable ethics, something that is well explored from the proper perspective, and just exactly what I love. The characters are fabulous, the writing is amazing, the plot is terrific, and I'm so glad no one sent that ILL.

1. Exiles by Jaye L. Knight

Plenty of Jayrin, three amazing storylines, shocking plot twists, death, weddings, a crete city, near death experiences, new revelations, best Ilyon book yet. If you haven't read the Ilyon Chronicles, I seriously don't know what you're doing with your life. And you certainly haven't been listening to me. 😉 Exiles is SO GOOD. It's not what you'd expect. There were definitely plot twists that shocked me. Davira shows her inner Morgana, Daniel has his own storyline which I can't share because of spoilers, Jace and Kyrin go through so much, Trask and Anne have a...well, I can't call it awesome because many bad things happen, but it's a very, very interesting storyline. It's such an emotional roller coaster. You must read Ilyon Chronicles. Then you'll understand why it keeps making #1. Click on the cover photo to see my full review.

Here's to another year of awesome books!

What are your favorite books of 2017? What books are you planning to read in 2018?