2014 in Bits, Snatches & Books


During this year I've:
Visited two countries (Malta, Sicily)
Visited South Dakota for the first time.
Moved to Mozambique.
Worked two different jobs (nanny, organic farmer)
Been away from home for the longest period of time ever (5 months, so far)
Started learning a new language (Portuguese)
Made some new friends, and tried to keep up with the old ones.
Added a sea to my list of the bodies of water I've visited (Mediterranean)
Traveled by sea for the first time (on a sailing ship, no less)
Become the last single member of my family (thanks, big little brother!)
Written many, many things.
Read all of the way through the Bible twice.

What a year!
It started out normally enough, with me exploring various options for the great big 'what's next', but really being content to stay where I was a while longer. A Facebook post from last January fairly accurately sums up my life at that point:
The things that make me happy:
Getting up at 5 am to see the moon set and then driving to work in the ghostly, pre-dawn blue of my Missouri landscape.
The fact that my broken laptop forces me to be more resourceful and mindful of my time management.
A ring around the moon tonight.
Reinstating my ritual of tea and books before bed.
Reading Exodus.
The peace of trusting God to work everything out. Perfectly.
Life steadily picked up speed from that point onward. You could say it's been crazy, and you'd probably be right. For me, it's been equal parts challenging, fun, terrifying and now...normal. I would say that about 40% of the hardest things I've ever done or experienced occurred during 2014. But through everything I've done and everywhere I've gone, one thing has been impressed on my mind: God is good. I have no idea what 2015 will bring. I suspect that 2014 was just a warm-up round, so to speak. Whatever ups and downs come my way, I'm trusting that I'll be given the grace to rely upon God, who has carried me so far.

Jennifer Freitag, at The Penslayer (one of the few blogs I actually keep up with, even when my internet's limited) has a tradition of creating a New Year's post of the books she read the previous year. I was intrigued by this, and when I found myself in the possession of a spare journal at the beginning of 2014, I decided to start listing my reads, together with a favorite quote from the first chapter. It worked out quite nicely with my 'reinstated ritual' of bedtime reading.
One would think that my reading would have slacked off since I got to Mozambique, but the opposite is actually true. A good book is a huge stress reliever, and the fact that I acquired a tablet before I left the States means that I've got even easier access to books than I did when I was maintaining my loyalty to print.
Print is still the best, though.
(Sorry, Kindle.)
The list (at least, this year's list) only includes published titles and first-time reads of print and e-books. If I also listed all of the audio books, yet-unpublished titles, and re-reads I've consumed...well...let's just say that list would be imposing. 

Man of the Family (Second book in the Little Britches series) - Ralph Moody
'Then Mother turned to me and said, "Ralph, you are my man now; I shall depend on you."'
(Juvenile Historical Fiction)

West With the Night - Beryl Markham
'Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home'. It is all of these things but one thing - it is never dull.'
(Non-Fiction Adventuresome Autobiography)

Education of a Wandering Man - Louis L'Amour
'Somewhere along the line I had fallen in love with learning, and it became a lifelong romance.'
(Semi-Autobiographical Non-Fiction)

The Shadow Things - Jennifer Freitag
'"I see Tir against the dark western sky with Taranis arrayed in dark scarlet on his back. They are not distinct; I only see the shadows of them. They are very great and terrible, but the voice in the east, the one that cries, is small. It is brown...Tir lashes out at it, and Taranis strikes at it with his great spear, both of them great and terrible, but the voice springs up in a thousand other places. Then it isn't brown anymore. It is one colour; a silvery white colour, like the chalk with the sun shining on it."'
(Christian Historical Fiction)

The Wonder of the Beyond - David Adam
'There are many times when we need to seek the gate between the 'two worlds' to discover that they are not two but one, that earth and heaven are one. The division is only in our own mind. We have created the fences and barriers. There is not another distant world where God dwells. God is here. God is with us, and above all, God is.'
(Non-Fic. Christian Semi-Autobiographical Theology)

Outrageous Courage: What God Can do With Raw Obedience and Radical Faith - Tracy Evans
'"There's a riot outside our house. The police are shooting everything and the bullets are flying in all directions. All my Mozambican staff are lying on the floor, scared to death that they're going to die." She explained, her calm tone oddly dissonant with the facts that she was communicating.
"What! What the heck are you doing?" I shouted.
"I'm sitting at the table, drinking tea with one of the other missionaries. But I need you to pray for the town because they're in full riot..."
(Non-Fic. Christian Autobiography)

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
'The grown-ups then advised me to give up my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and to devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. Thus it was that I gave up a magnificent career as a painter at the age of six.'
(Fable? Allegory? Children's story? How do I even...)

Plenilune (First book in the Plenilunar Chronicles) - Jennifer Freitag
'Margaret coloured again with formless outrage, but before she could say anything reprehensible, Rupert de la Mare was looking at her again, something soft and something cutting in his face.
"You yourself might be a better queen."'
(Planetary Fantasy)

Divergent - Veronica Roth
'"No," I say, "The tests don't have to determine our choices."'
(YA Dystopian)

Radiant Girl - Andrea White
'"And so it shall be until the end of the world."
"Remember, Granny, how I used to get so sad when you said that?" Katya said.
Granny Vera laughed softly, "You would howl and scream, 'But the world's not going to end, is it, Granny?'"'
(YA Historical Fiction)

Flight By Elephant: The Untold Story of WWII's Most Daring Jungle Rescue - Andrew Martin
'The way to keep fit in the jungle is exactly the same as anywhere else. All one needs is sleep, clean water, a reasonable diet, and a liberal use of soap and water. But how is sound sleep to obtained? Well, one must learn how to make oneself comfortable in the worst conditions.'
(Non-Fic. Adventuresome History)

The Golden City (First novel of the Golden City) - J. Kathleen Cheney
'Her webbed fingers would give her away, and being caught in the city would mean arrest and expulsion, if not worse. They were her great flaw as a spy.'
(Historical Fantasy Murder Mystery)

A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park
'The noise had come from outside. Was it a gunshot? Or just a car backfiring?'
(Juvenile Non-Fic.)

Merlin's Shadow (Second book in The Merlin Spiral) - Robert Treskillard
'"I'm called Merlin...mab Owain...sworn servant of Uther."'
(Christian Historical Fantasy)

Wherever you are and wherever you're going, I'm wishing you a 2015 filled with growth, good reads, and a flourishing relationship with your Creator...even in the hard times. 


  1. Oh, Janie! That picture at the top of the post is nearly identical to one I took last year!

  2. That idea for a book list is so creative! I really enjoyed this post! :)


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