Showing posts from March, 2012

52 in 52 Week 13: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I had tea with my friend, Sharon, a couple of weeks ago, and her son, home on break from Annapolis Naval Academy, sat down with us to discuss classical novels. He had said he didn't like Pride and Prejudice a few years earlier, but he finally sat down and loved it. I like that he tried again when he was a few years older.

He also said, "I had to read The Pearl in high school, and that story is just stupid."  I told him I had it on hold at the digital library. It made me wonder if he would like this one too if he gave it a try at an older age.

I did not think it was stupid. Yes, it is another depressing, American novel of the 20th century, but it is profound. I love Steinbeck's writing. He is a wonderful craftsman of a story.  This is a simple, symbolic short novel set in the early 1940's. It tells of what happens to a poor family that finds a great pearl. The main themes are anti-materialism, knowing one's place in society, greed, illusion versus reality, and t…

Sickness in the Morning

I'll just write straight for 15 minutes without taking my fingers off the keys. 

I haven't done this for a while because we were on vacation. The zoo was fabulous. The day was sunny (but not warm), and the animals were out, and it is nice to have kids that are still interested in animals. We ate good Portland pizza and donuts (I could only stomach one, but the kids had many more), great hearty hotel breakfast, Indian food. We feasted on Powell's Books and walk a crazy amount. We even hiked Multnomah Fall which was much harder than I thought. Everyone told me it was easy, but I think those are people who only went to the bridge and not up the 11 switchbacks that led to the platform overlooking the top. I felt like I talked them all into something they didn't enjoy, but they all said they enjoyed it afterward just as Paul even said he enjoyed working out at Timberhill and missed that. That was a good conversation too.  Things we don't look forward too but do once we h…

52 in 52 Week 13: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I still love this series. The second book was just as good as the first. I had to finish it by reading it on the road to our vacation spot because my son had finished the first one and was ready to read this one.  Now, my youngest is on the first, my oldest is on the second, and I am on the third.  My husband is reading Moby-Dick, but I think he is definitely interested too!! This series is definitely "catching fire" in my household. This is the first time this has ever happened with pleasure reading books. I am hoping I can talk them into going to the movie at the end of the week. :)

It delights me to see it passing up the more "pop" books that we have seen over the last few years. I only read one of those "pop" books for a book club review a few years back, and I thought it was very poorly written (I hear that they get better as they go on, but I didn't like the message either).  The Hunger Games books are well-written and have a great message. There…

52 in 52 Week 13: The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simson

I had read his Houses that Change the World in 2009, and I didn't care for it. Not because I didn't agree with much of what he had to say, but it was so negative toward the traditional church, and it fomented intense negativity toward it in our group. I didn't like that (and the leader of the discussion didn't help it either). So, I was happy to hear that others encouraged him to revise the book without all the negativity. The result: I loved it! 

I had also listened to eight lecture by him, and I had changed my mind about him too.

We read it with our Kingdom group, and it caused us to dream about what would be the components of a house church. The discussion was great and challenging. In the process, our pastor and elders said they would be open to this being an "arm" of our traditional church to give an alternative. So, it might happen.

52 in 52 Week 13: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

This novel is subtitled, "A Story of a Man of Character." I wanted to read this after hearing a lecture about "Scene and Summary" by Timothy Spurgin in The Teaching Company's Art of Readingcourse.  He explains that summary is used to activate our senses, and Hardy is a master at doing that.

First off, I became a Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) fan when I read The Return of the Native. My book club, overall, disliked it which really surprised me.  He writes beautifully, but his stories aren't always all pretty and tied up in a bow of a happy ending.  His genre is naturalism. It is also a "bildungsroman" novel meaning it charts the protagonist's moral and psychological development. In this case the protagonist is Michael Henchard. The opening summary and scene had me hooked from page one. 

The novel was written from 1885-1186 and published in serial form in both England and America. 
Hardy was also a poet, and you see it come out in his prose.  The Book o…

Spilled Milk Stepping Stone

Well-Watered Soul

Your presence astounds me this early morning. I got up sensing that I would not have a Theophostic appointment this morning, and there was an email sent at 11:24 pm last night asking for postponement due to sickness.  So, I can luxuriate with You and my family until my 2:30 appointment. At which time, I can luxuriate with someone that has been through Theophostic and already has a memory that they want to explore and is a Theophostic counselor herself. So, it should be a delight. :)

I am happy because this is our first day as a family free of the confines of college studies. Michael is reading The Hunger Games, Paul will probably be talking, talking, talking because he is excited to have school done with, and George just might need to stay home and work due to the snow!

Back to Your presence. I was a little down yesterday. It was triggered by Michael spilling my freshly made chai tea in an effort to move my tea cozy. It is so true that there is "no use crying o…

Spring Snow Wednesday

It is snowing! I was all dressed and on my way out the door for Pilates, but I am a wimp when it come to driving in the snow. So, I'm staying home again.

Well-Watered Soul

Soaking in 2 Kings 10-11 and Matthew 2 (for Kingdom Community).

Well-Educated Mind

The Mayor of Casterbridge is so engaging. The narrator is brilliant. Really enjoying it after all the dystopian novels!

Speaking of dystopian novels, I am reading Catching Fire and enjoying that but am not seeing the need to rush through it because the movie will not come out for some time.

Well-Adjusted Heart


Well-Tuned Strength

I did "Praise Moves" warm up and mat work. The mat work was pretty hard. There is one move called "The Harp" that I am not absolutely sure I should have done. I am sore in the muscles of my upper back. We will see if that is a good thing for my back as the day moves one (maybe it is a good thing that I didn't go to Pilates).

I didn't do any cardio yesterday but that will be m…

Good Morning

Yesterday was a great day. I was a domestic diva. I made luscious, homemade lentil soup in the crock pot with freshly baked challah bread that came out just as Jennifer was leaving from our discipleship time. I was able to give her one of the loaves which was my hope but I wasn't sure the timing would be so very perfect.

I also sorted and started the wash; but of course, Michael took over when he got home from his final.
I also did all my back and shoulder exercises and some of the harder Shandra core ones (to see which individual exercise is the one giving me the back problem). After dinner, I took a long walk and talk with Georgie! :)

In addition, I made a library list of all the books (28) I have left from my "100 Great Books List," The library (as opposed to Library2Go) includes all forms of the book: digital audio and Kindle, CD, and print. That was a more efficient way to do it.  I have a game plan for every book. Many of them are on CD which I keep forgetting is an o…

Fast Freewrite

I'll make this quick. I have been on the library website making a list of all the books left on my 100 Great Books List. My awesome, best-library-in-the-country has them all in one form or another. So, I have the list printed out. 28 to go, and I am SO ENJOYING this journey. 

So far, I have learned so much through the selections. I haven't necessarily liked all of them (American naturalism/realism is so depressing!), but I have learned from all of them. In addition, they are SO MUCH EASIER than most of the books on The Well-Educated Mind list! I feel like I am breezing through them, but in many ways, I think I can breeze through them because I have that wonderful background from all those "hard books on that list" (as Lisa Cowden so wonderfully put it several years ago).

That is why it was funny for me to have people say that William Wilberforce: Hero for Humanity was hard to get through. It didn't seem hard to me when I compare it to others books I have been readi…

52 in 52 Week 12: Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire

I had not a clue what this was about. I just knew it was on my "100 Great Books" list, and it was relatively short. 

It was delightful. With the help of an excellent narrator, I laughed out loud several times. It is a fun and seemingly frivolous story with a deeper meaning that I chose to find out about after I finished just enjoying Candide's adventures (and mishaps) all over the world.

This is a very funny but critical satire written in 1758 about different philosophical systems of belief. Voltaire was a major philosopher of the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment (my 17 year old reminded me of Voltaire's background while I was listening to and laughing at this book - nice to know he is learning something in his college history class). His contemporaries were Mosntesquieu, Diderot, and Rousseau. 

You notice that the second title for this book is "optimism."  This title is ridiculing Leibnitzian optimism. Leibnitz (1646-1716) was a German philosopher who had se…

52 in 52 Week 12: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Wow! Double Wow! I have heard this novel referred to SO MANY times in my lifetime. I think the first time I ever heard it referred to was when my friend, Missy, said something was a "Lord of the Flies" scenario. I had no idea what she was talking about. (I had such a deprived literary upbringing, but I am making up for lost time.) 

This audio book was really special because it is a digital version of a 1977 recording made by the author. 

What would happen if a group of boys (listen to his introduction below to find out why the island did not include girls) were put on an island without the restraints of civilization? Golding believed that the nature of man was basically evil. He wanted to explore the "beast" in all of us. They weren't just "playing" being stranded on an island. They were living the reality of it. It is a fable about the human condition. Since Golding was both a naval officer in World War II AND taught in a boys' school, he had proba…

52 in 52 Week 12: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

OK, I have drunk the Kool-Aid, and I now join the ranks of people who are nuts about this book and will be running to the theatre to see it translated to the silver screen.  

Oh my goodness, it just fit in with the "dystopian novel" theme that I have been on since January reading Animal Farm, Brave New World, and Lord of the Flies. Those books are all classics, but I believe this one will be too. 

The author page says that she "continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age."  

This is meant for young adults, but it is for those older too. 

I first heard about this when having lunch with Laura about a year ago. I saw it in the library, but I had other more important books pressing (like finishing The Well-Educated Mind list), and I forgot about it. 

Earlier this month, we gathered to discuss Animal Farm at our classics book club, and she asked me if I ever read it being that it fell in line with the books I had been reading.  Others in the g…

52 in 52 Week 12: The Collected Works of St. Patrick

by Saint Patrick (d. 461 or 493). Translated by Cecil Frances Alexander (1823–1895).

What can I say? It was the day before St. Patrick's Day, and I was sent a link for "Free Audio Book Friday" from So, I partook and so glad I did!

I listened to the "Breastplate" Saint Patrick's Day morning for my devotional time and the rest through the day. 

I have read many beautifully illustrated children's stories about St. Patrick. (I went through all the major holidays with my kids and tied them into our history studies.) So, it was delightful to hear the source material for those children's book!

I finished up Confession today. I really liked his Confession even more than St. Augustine's! He was a great man. 

Part of the collected works:

St. Patrick’s Breastplate – This prayer is attributed to St. Patrick and his diciples. It is written with some celtic pagan elements, but is definitely a Christian prayer asking God for protection through …

Sunday Morning Rise Write

Well-Watered Soul

I am listening to The Confessions of St. Patrick right now. I love it. It is a lovely way to start the day as I get ready to do the Bible Book Club. I love how he quotes Scripture throughout his writings. 

I am in the kings of Israel and Judah right now. It has been good. I am happy to fill in the holes of the last time that I did this. God is changing me through this deep time in His word. I think about Beth saying, "You've got to log the time." I agree so wholeheartedly. It has to be devotional rather than academic logging though. And I can't think of approaching this any other way. 

I know I read a ton of books (or listen to them when I work, commute in the car, or exercise more than anything - rarely do I sit down and read a book), but my best hours of the day are spent at His feet, and if that means getting up really early to do so, I find such joy in it. George laughs when I say that I can't wait to get up the next morning. It is because I co…

Saturday Freewrite

The day is half over, but I thought I would sort through all my "threads" of life today.

I love Saturdays! They are usually so free now that we have made a commitment to truly make it a Sabbath unless there are unavoidable things. Last week, we couldn't avoid the Elders and wives retreat at the coast, and this week, George couldn't avoid the planning meeting for the global council.

I had book club this morning. It was fun to review the life of William Wilberforce as I prepared to lead. William Wilberforce was a hit, but I am sorry the book got such a low score so out of sync with the reviews on Amazon that gave it an equivalent 8.8/10. I think our group gave it an average a little above a 4. It certainly wasn't as bad as Christmas In Plains, was it?  Most of the books I have recommended have gotten much higher scores (most in the 8-10 range). I knew this group probably wouldn't like it though, and I hesitated for four years (I think I read it in 2008).  I sho…

Thursday Already?

This will be quick. I haven't had a night in a long time where I didn't fall asleep immediately. I made chai twice yesterday. It wasn't too late in the morning for me, but I think the caffeine combo of the two probably was my limit for one day, no matter how early I drank it.

Prayer has been great lately. I have been trying to walk and pray that last few days, and it is so much easier for me to stay focused.

Well, I don't need to write much to warm up my fingers. I finished 1 Kings and started 2 Kings yesterday and am on 2 Chronicles 21 now. I had a break with the psalms yesterday, and I loved the break from battle. Old Testament study has been really good this year with the balance of the gospels for our kingdom community.

Speaking of our kingdom community. We had a discussion about what our church would look like if we were to have one. I got more confused than ever, and I wonder how that looks with what you would have overseas. I'm not a visionary though. I am more…

52 in 52 Week 11: Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich

I have been reading this book since early December, and I am a VERY quick reader! I LOVED the last Bess Streeter Aldrich story that I read, Rim of the Prairie. That is a very tight story with a page turning plot. This was slow and needed editing! It wasn't that it was a bad story, it just stretched over ten years, and it felt like 1,000!

I don't want this to turn anyone off because most of her stories are very sweet and good. 

Here is what this one was about:

Song of Years (1939) The state of Iowa was still young and wild when Wayne Lockwood came to it from New England in 1851. He claimed a quarter-section about a hundred miles west of Dubuque and quickly came to appreciate his widely scattered neighbors, like Jeremiah Martin, whose seven daughters would have chased the gloom from any bachelor's heart. Sabina, Emily, Celia, Melinda, Phoebe Lou, Jeannie, and Suzanne are timeless in their appeal -- to spirited to be preoccupied with sermons, sickness, or sudden death. However,…

Monday, Monday

Well-Watered Soul

I am not really in the mood to freewrite because I want to get right to meditating in 2 Chronicles this morning after a weekend of meditating in other (good) things due to the Elders and Wives Retreat in Lincoln City.

What a lovely retreat with lovely people. I have great respect for each and every one of them. No lie. It was a pleasure to talk theme for the year: Follow Jesus . . . Step by Step (With the ellipsis because Steven likes them just as much as I like alliterations. Knowing I like them so much, he gave an adaptation for me: Faithfully Follow the Father's Feet).  So, we are still deciding on a theme verse. I think it was going to be 1 Peter 2:21:

George and I were also called upon (after Clint could read my body language) about possibly experimenting with an "arm" of our church being house churches so as to relieve further building, parking problems, etc. Growth with a symbiotic relationship between traditional church and house. It was super w…

52 in 52 Week 11: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

I read Heart of Darkness several years ago and was blown away by the brutality and brilliance of it. Lord Jim had somewhat of the same effect. I think what most impresses me about Conrad is that English is not his native language!

I was at dinner with a friend that said she tried to read Lord Jim but was lost when it took him two pages to describe how the boat went through the water. I laughed because it is true, but what a beautiful description!

Conrad paints a picture and makes a point. I loved this book. I couldn't put it down when it rushed to its final conclusion. 

It also has a special place in my heart because the main character (and narrator) are around Malay people, and even the title is a translation of what the Malays called him, Tuan Jim which warms my heart since I was often called by my Malay friend Puan Carol (the feminine version of Tuan)

For those of you that read this and don't know, I live in Malaysia for two years and was able to learn the language and love t…

52 in 52 Week 11: More Than Ordinary by Doug Sherman

We had a little "book club" discussion at our Elders and Wives Retreat this weekend at the Oregon Coast. I am still here, and it was a fabulous discussion about being relationally connected with God. 

I really liked it, and it was part of a Bible Book Club post I wrote earlier in the week and thought I would just include it here. 

Heartily recommend this book. It is simple but so CORE to what it is all about!

LINK: 2 Chronicles 11

1 Kings 12:21-24 parallels 2 Chronicles 11:1-4


Judah's King Rehoboam (933 - 916 B.C.)

The 1 Kings account of Rehoboam recounts the event, but the 2 Chronicles account centers around the divine purpose behind those events that we read in 2 Chronicles 10:15: "So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of events from God that the LORD might establish His word . . ."  The question was would Rehoboam listen?

In this chapter, Rehoboam did. He heard and obeyed God's message through Shemaiah. As a result, God blessed …

52 in 52 Week 10: Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

I loved this book! I picked it up after reading a review by another member of 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge. I listened to THIS NPR interview with Robert Siegel and decided to read the book!   
This book met my expectations and beyond. It was so fascinating to read after having read Moby Dick in September 2004 and feeling much like Linda Holmes in the "I Will If You Will Book Club" who wrote after reading Moby-Dick, 
"Book club vice-president Marc Hirsh and I finished the book in June of that year and declared it a great lesson in 'how to pursue a pointless battle to its bitter, violent, inevitable end.' By which we meant, in part, reading the book." 
My joke has always been that it was 100 pages of plot and 500 pages of whaling encylopedia!  Reading Philbrick's book helped me understand the method behind Melville's madness.
I especially liked reading about the relationship between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. There is personal corresponden…