Thursday, August 06, 2020

26. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

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I just love a good story by Dickens. 

This has humor and tragedy and mystery and good guys and villains. It was a joy to listen to, and Simon Vance was an excellent narrator!

 I highly recommend this Dickens. 

 This concludes all the books by Dickens on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List. I will put the ones on the list in order from most favorite to least favorite (although I really liked them all). 

1) A Christmas Carol - I could read that over and over and never get tired of its wonderful message.
2) Oliver Twist - Something about it just touches my heart.
3) Bleak House - love the strong women characters for a Dickens novel! 
5) Nicholas Nickleby 
 6) David Copperfield 
7) Great Expectations 
8) A Tale of Two Cities 
9) Dombey and Son 

 But again, I really like them all!

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Finding Christ in the World - Week Eight: Jesus of Nazareth, Our Model


INTRODUCTION (p. 142)

"Take him as your pattern" (Eph. 5:1). I added the Amplified translation, "Therefore be imitators of God -- copy Him and follow His example -- as well-beloved children [imitate their father]

This was my birthday week, and this verse set me into thoughts about my earthly father and all the good things he gave me through his example. That was so nice. I have such warm memories of water-skiing, and my dad being so encouraging and loving. 

"You've got the ticket." That is what he would say when he would praise me. 

The Introduction talked about pondering Jesus' human character and his spiritual convictions and practices. 

The things I underlined were: He was determined to always do God's will. He was truthful. A real leader, He was faithful to the Law. He was compassionate too, telling the Widow of Nain, "Don't cry!" and giving her back her only son (Luke 7:13). He was generous. His spirituality was marked by a lot of prayer. He asked the Father for what He wanted, and He trusted the Father utterly. He had great power and authority. 

I "hearted" these:

But be aware that "to know" can mean having lots of theoretical learning or bible memory. That's not what we're talking about here.

The "to know" here means to get into Jesus' mind and heart and to grow a feeling for His beauty and truth. When we're kids, we often want to be "like" somebody. Now we're adults, and the one we want to be like is Jesus of Nazareth. 

PRAYER TALK: IMITATION OF CHRIST (p.143)

You have asked the Father for this great grace: to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. Now you want to ask for the even greater grace of being like Him.

The first thing He models is living so that He is always doing God's will (John 5:19). 

You are like Him in this too, if you embrace belonging to the Body of Christ, the Church. The Father chose the people to whom you belong and who belong to you. 

Then, He was born into a people who lived in a covenant with the One God. 

With the help of His cousin John the Baptist, He chose His vocation -- not to be a hermit, or a prophet like John and Isaiah, but to be a healing, teaching presence among His people. 

Jesus was given His human life in a nation under tyranny. he accepted, and you will imitate Him if you accept gratefully where you are, and when you live. 

He went up to Jerusalem in the end having told the disciples what would happen, and trusting the Father to bring glory out of bitter defeat. 

Here is a sentence form the Imitation of Christ, Chapter 56: "Follow me...I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth, there is no knowing; without Life, there is no living. I am the Way you are to follow; I am the Truth you are to believe; I am the Life you are to hope for."

Whatever comes, recognize the hand of God -- embrace joyfully, detach just as joyfully -- and in all trust the Father as utterly as Jesus did. Surely this is the first step to being like Him. 

BRIEF NOTE: IMAGINE THAT (p. 144)

Imagine that you have been notified that you are the only living descendant of the king that just died. 

The Father's voice thundered, "My Beloved Son!" And Jesus had to accept that.

We are to imitate Him in this, for sure. For all the indications are clear: we have been "marked out beforehand, to be God's adopted children" (Eph. 1:5). The issue now is whether we are willing to accept being special to the Almighty Creator of all the universes -- and of seven billion human beings currently alive! 

We can accept in a yes-or-no way, and we can also accept in a more-or-less way. In Jesus, it was only yes. He accepted His power and authority. He accepted the things He must do as the Father's will. He bowed even to suffering and death. He just kept saying yes. 

As He did, we must do -- keep saying yes. As He did, so do we have to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit enabling us to give ourselves wholeheartedly o God: wisdom, understanding, fortitude, piety, and the rest. 

We have to love ourselves as He loved Himself. We have to accept being special to the Father -- to being the royalty of our nation, as it were.

We who receive the Body and Blood of God's Son in the Eucharist are surely special to the Father. 

All of this may confound us and it certainly does challenge us. But it is surely a great joy. 

Grace for the Week: I ask to know Jesus more clearly, love Him more dearly, and be like Him more nearly. 

Day 1 - Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus' Baptism) 

Jesus wants us to know his intimate feelings and thoughts. 

"This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well-pleased." 

My Thought for the Day: "I am well-pleased. You've got the ticket. I'm glad I made you."

Quote by Shusaku Endo (the man who wrote the book I just reviewed: Silence!) 
"The reason our religion has penetrated this territory like water flowing into dry earth is that it has given to this group of people a human warmth they never previously knew."

What about My Life? Applying Your Prayer

Do I allow God to say to me, "You are my beloved child"?  Yes-or-no, more-or-less, or ...

It is a BIG YES. This sent me into memories of my dad saying, "You've got the ticket." There is never once in my relationship with my earthly father that I didn't feel 100% special. I was his only beloved daughter. I was his princess. 

When I say yes to God's insisting, "You are my beloved child," I feel ...

Happy...blessed...joyful!

God is generous and His gifts to me. These are gifts that make me feel I am special to Him right now...

The ability to listen and love people right where they are at. 

I note the virtues Jesus lives out as he acdepts the Father's declaration, especially...
Just did the will of the Father! He went out in power and authority! 

When I accept the Father's declaration, the virtues of Jesus I want to grow and start with...

Power and authority!

Day 2 - Repetition of Day 1

You have freedom to compare your own thoughts and feelings to Jesus'. 

The Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighted on him. 

My Thought for the Day: Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me. 

Day 3 - Mark 1:16-20 (Calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John)

BRIEF NOTE: BELONGING AND COMMUNION

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, he was calling them to live in communion with himself. 

A singer in a choir: she sings the notes that all are singing and keeps perfect time with the others... And in the harmony of the choir, she finds great freedom and joy...She is detached from her special attitude toward her own voice and musical preferences...She is free to set them aside to be in harmony with the others. 

Communion is like that. Peter was a fisherman and he had his ways and habits. He laid them aside when he joined Jesus' other disciples. So did all of the apostles and disciples...They had to set ambition aside to be in harmony with Jesus. 

Real detachment like Jesus' means you love the earth and all God has given you...and you rejoice and praise God for them all. That first. Then, you hold yourself free to do what God calls on you to do.

The crucial detachment comes when you let go of someone or something because som sin looms. But growing like Jesus means that you keep developing his mindset of detachment. 

When harmony requires it, you make yourself free and choose to be in harmony with the rest. This is communion. 

They left their nets immediately and generously. 

My Thought for the Day: My net to leave is ____'s approval and love of me. I can hope it happens, but I have to detach myself from it. 

Quote by Anonymous:

"Jesus' invitation 'Follow me' is given in some manner to every Christian. Each of us baptized in Christ is called not only to live in the reign of God but also to help establish it." 

What about My Life? Applying Your Prayer

To do what Jesus is asking; I find the most difficult thing to detach from is ... Approval from George' s family.

I choose to be part of a Christian community because...I love it, and it encourages me to grow.

I feel the harmony in my Christian community when... we worship, pray, and draw closer to Jesus and are salt and light to the world. 

I help maintain harmony in my Christian community by...being quick to hear (lots of listening), slow to speak, and slow to anger. 

Jesus calls me to be with Him now in ... harmony with his heartbeat. 

Day 4 - Repetition of Day 3

God cherishes you as you are (and can handle your snits). 

Try to remember noticing what characteristics Jesus is showing, especially His virtues and gifts.

Jesus waits for no special time to call His first apostles. He invites them to something more important than catching fish. They respond to him immediately and generously. 

"I will make you fish for people."  "They left their father Zebedee...and followed him." 

My Thought for the Day: Left family to follow and fish. today let me follow and fish. 

"God is not content with doing something for us, but seeks to involve us in his merciful action." David Fleming, S.J.

BRIEF NOTE: ACTIVE LOVE, DEEPER VIRTUES (p. 152) 


Jesus showed us how to be like God the Father...watching Him helps ut to know what ongoing conversion we need to embrace. 

But the mature disciple has a whole field of virtues to develop, and Jesus' example helps us tremendously here, because "everything he does is good" (Mark 7:37). 

Virtues of Jesus: obedient, loving, dissident, prudent, resolute, fortitude, gentle, meek, humble, tender, absolute, courageous, restful. 

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). 


Day 5 - Mark 7:31-37 (Healing of the deaf man)

"He has done everything well." 

My Thought for the Day: Be open to hear and proclaim only you. 

"Discipleship means following a person. It is not simply doing certain actions and asking "what would Jesus do?", but also about becoming a certain kind of person." Gerald M. Fagin, S.J.

What About My Life? Applying Your Prayer

Make a list of your virtues and good qualities. Be honest and admit good things when they are there...

Loving, kind, joyful, enthusiastic, caring, listening, encouraging, committed, responsible, strong, funny, fun, challenging, pace setting, leader. 

To further develop virtues and good qualities I desire, I need to do (or to avoid)...

watching people with BAD virtues and qualities on reality TV! Not watch the news. 

I know I must ask God's help in and grace for... self-control in eating. Boldness and authority. 

Day 6 - Repetition of Day 5

Reverently recall you are always in the Holy presence of God.

Try to be grateful for the good that God has done and is doing in you and through you. 

The people who observed the healing told more zealously when he told them not to. 

They were astounded beyond measure. "He has done everything well." 

My Thought for the Day: Touch me. Unplug my ears so I hear clearly about this retreat." 

"Virtues deal with the ordinary events of our lives. They are concerned with the interplay between our habits of heart and our actions. Virtues are dispositions of heart hat guide our actions." Gerald M. Fagin, S.J. 

Day 7 - John 5:2-7 (Healing at the Pool by the Sheep Gate) 

BRIEF NOTE: OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES

We get so fixated on getting rid of some habit we want to be rid of that we don't hear an invitation to lear it in god's hands. We get so ear to "get it right" and "do the right thing" that we forget how God loves us for ourselves, not for this or that habit or some special way we act. 

The man at Bethesda was invited to accept grace. He was so busy explaining himself that Jesus had to be blunt. "Get up!" 

If at times surprising or hard or even drastic things happen to you, it might be that God is just doing what Jesus did. Listen: "Get up!" 

"Do you want to be made well? ...Stand up, take your mat and walk." 

My Thought for the Day: I want to be made well (of my people-pleasing). ___ has a choice to be made well, and that is her choice. Get up and walk away!  "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

TOUCHSTONES (p. 158)
  • We want to know Jesus in such a way that we are transformed by Him.
  • We want a relationship that allows us to imitate Him and to be more like Him.
  • The Holy Spirit will help us enter into Jesus' heart and mind so we can know Him more clearly, love Him more dearly, and be like Him more nearly.
  • The "communion of the Holy Spirit" invites us to be detached even from our gifts and skills.
  • Each of us has to say yes to be shaped by the Holy Spirit into Jesus' likeness.
  • Jesus shows us what virtues we might strengthen or develop.



Friday, July 31, 2020

25. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl



Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and ReasonBook Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating A-Z journey through some of this famous librarian's favorite books. I decided to just enjoy her take and not furiously make another list to get through!

l View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday Freewrite

Yesterday was my birthday...

and it was lovely. 

I like no expectations in my life. I decided it needed to be low-key. I didn't want any parties or lights. I had my chai in the morning and meditated on the baptism of Jesus and my own belovedness before God. I also had such sweet memories about my family growing up. I was truly blessed with a dad in whom I had no doubt as to his love for me. I knew I was beloved in his eyes. 

The question in Finding Christ in the World was "When I say yes to God's insisting, "You are my beloved child," I feel ...

Happy...blessed...joyful!

(I was the beloved youngest child and only daughter of Charles William Wardrop who changed my name to Carol because the name Karen just did not fit the 10 lb 15 oz baby girl that popped out of my mom at 9 (am or pm - no one to ask for sure). I was not "pure one" but SONG OF JOY! That fits me so much better!

After this good time in God's word, (and a word about power and authority which I don't like to take but realize I must sometimes) I went for a 90-minute walk in the cool of the morning. It got up to 96 yesterday. So I just kept walking and walking until I got my 10,000 steps and 600 calorie move goal in! It was lovely. :)  I also listened to Angela's Ashes (see the post from yesterday). What a fascinating and funny read. 

I came back to send my first email to my small group that has finally been assigned to me through Jesuits in Boston! We are eight weeks in, and they just got to me on my BIRTHDAY. So that was a gift. 

Another gift was my heather orange BLESSED T-Shirt that came in the mail.

After this, I listened to my book some more, talked to Jean S on the phone, answered Facebook and text well-wishers, and had tea with Kim for three glorious hours of connection. I love that girl.

She left at 5:30, and Teala came at 6 for a steak, baked potato, salad, and fruit dinner. She stayed for four hours. I had a lot of connections yesterday! I love that.

So here I sit. I think we are done with the vacation getaway, having gone on our 30th wedding anniversary to the coast for three days. It was so great. I am not sure I wrote about it here, but George is the easiest person to be with. We walked and talked and read a lot. We also went to Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay for lunch on our big day. It was cheaper that day, and the 30-minute wait was so worth it. I had the "Pasta Rave" which is lovely seafood linguine with all sorts of different kinds of seafood. 

What was great is that for both my anniversary getaway and my birthday yesterday, I did not go over my points. So I have a 23 day streak of a "Blue Dot." I have lost 6.7 pounds! WOOHOO. I LOVE Weight Watchers. It is so EASY, and I love seeing all these people who have lost an incredible amount of weight and kept it off by eating healthier. The psychology behind all the "free" points is that you will reach for those healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean meats instead of the higher point, lower nutrient foods. It is working for me, and I have eaten so much fruit but still lost weight. 

I am on schedule. At this rate, I will be at my best weight by the day school starts. I should mention I am not overweight. I am at the upper end of my weight range through and in a healthy BMI, but I want to be at the healthiest and best weight for me, and that is at at 22-23 BMI.

I start weight lifting again today. YIKES! I am a little nervous about going to a class with the mask and procedures. We will see how I like it. I might just lift at home or at the club. 

I think my time is just about out. I like to freewrite, and it has been a very long time! 

TTFN. 10 seconds to go! 


Monday, July 27, 2020

23. Bleak House by Dickens

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There is nothing like Dickens. After the long slog through Atlas Shrugged, this was so refreshing and well-written. I love Dickens and the characters he creates. This one was a bit different from others I have read in that the main characters are women! It is also interesting in that it becomes a murder mystery about 2/3rds of the way through the book. 

What a great read! I think this might be one of my favorites. 

24. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

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Wow! This might be my favorite book of the year. I could not put it down. What an engaging memoir. What an amazing early life this man had. 

I had begun reading it when it was on the bookshelf of a vacation home we were renting. I did not have enough time to get very far into the book, but I put the audiobook on hold, and I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook read by the author that includes him singing the songs! It made me want to take a trip to Limerick!

It is humorous and heartbreaking all in one breath, told from the perspective of a young boy coming of age in poverty-stricken Ireland. 

HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Finding Christ in the World - Week Seven: The Word Was Made Flesh

Notes from my time through the 18th Annotation of the Exercises:

Grace for the week: I ask to appreciate how God has saved us by sending the Son of God in our flesh.

We are "capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession, and of freely giving ourselves and entering into communion with other persons" (Cathechism, 357). For God is all of that and we will be reflecting His image eternally. (p. 122)

What could "likeness to God mean to us in our bodies?... Jesus of Nazareth is what it means. "In Him, in bodily form,  lives the divinity, and in Him too you find your own fulfillment" (Col. 2:9,10). [The Amplified Bible says, "For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead), continues to dwell in bodily form -- giving complete expression of the divine nature. And you are in Him, made full and have come to fullness of life -- in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and reach full spiritual stature."] Jesus shows how a human acts who is perfectly "in the likeness" of God. (p. 122)

Day 1: Jn 1:1-18

My Thought for the Day: The Light shines in the darkness. Testify to the light! From fullness we receive grace upon grace.

Day 2: Lk 1:26-38

In your presence, I am safe and still. 

My Thought for the Day: Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.

Willingness to cooperate with God. "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." 

Applying your prayer thoughts:
You are not a God who created us and left us to fend for ourselves. You are intimately involved in all our ways and have a global plan. You have been preparing me for Body and Soul Companion. I am ready. (Gene said, "You are competent but lack confidence.") How can I walk alongside (one of my directees)?

Day 3: Lk 1:26-38 Repetition

Gabriel was sent by God. "For nothing will be impossible with God." 

My Thought for the Day: The Lord is with you. 

Day 4: Lk 2:8-20

The word "glory" really stuck with me. "And the glory of the Lord shone around them...Glory to God in the highest heaven...The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them." 

My Thought for the Day: Glory of the Lord shine through me. 

What about my life? Applying your prayer.

About the 365 instances of the Lord or his prophets or angels inviting the people, "Do not be afraid." One fear I want to be free of just now has ...  

Putting myself out there as a spiritual director, having a website. I fear rejection big-time. I want to be free of that. 

I am in awe that God would send the Son to earth to save us. I feel awe, delight, joy, love, peace. 

I ponder the glory of God. 

I ask the Lord about ... How I might live with the remembrance of his glory? I pray for ____. That she would glorify you and not be deceived. 

Day 5: Lk 2:8-20 Repetition

"The glory of the Lord shone around then...good news of great joy..glory to God..."Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place...So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger...all who heard it were amazed...Mary treasured words and pondered them in her heart...The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God."

My Thought for the Day: Glory of the Lord shone around them. Shine around me, Lord. 

Day 6: Lk 2:39-40, 51-52

"The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him...Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor."

My Thought for the Day: Continue to pray Lk 2:52 for my boys. 

Day 7: Lk 2:39-40; 51-52 Repetition

My Thought for the Day: Help me grow, become strong, and fill me with wisdom. 



Saturday, July 25, 2020

22. Friday Night Lights

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This was a timely read with what is happening in race relations right now. It is about high school football in Odessa, Texas. It follows the life of the key players and has a follow-up chapter 25 years since the book was published. 

The author really gave his all to this book, moving his family to Odessa, Texas for two years. His liberal bias comes in when he covers the Bush family (who lived in Odessa for a year), assuming what is in people's hearts and implying that all conservatives are idiots. This was 1988. That bias has been taken to a whole new level in today's climate.

The thing that was so surprising to me was that this town did not integrate until 1980, many years after Brown vs. Board of Education! 

I can totally understand why this book is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list! 

21. Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion

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This is an honest and transparent life story of a woman who has recently converted to Catholicism from an evangelical background. She tends to paint ALL evangelicals with a very broad brush that I found not accurate of the evangelicals that I know. Her foray into feminism was fascinating, and it helped me to understand the thought processes that I have never quite understood.

She also gives a very good explanation of the underpinnings of Catholic practices like male priests, the Eucharist (transubstantiation), and praying to Mary and the Saints. 

It was a worthwhile read. 

26. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

I just love a good story by Dickens.  This has humor and tragedy and mystery and good guys and villains. It was a joy to listen to, and Si...