Showing posts from January, 2013

9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I have read reviews calling this woman a "dimwit" and "self-absorbed". I can only say "BRAVO" to her! She did what many have never been able to do. What guts to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with zero backpacking experience and being totally out of shape!

She is an intelligent writer. Some of her words were almost amusingly too "big" for this kind of book, but I couldn't put the book down (It helped that my back was out, and I had nowhere else to go). Her reflections are poignant, and those days of solitude and battling the elements were better than therapy. 

I had this on hold for months. Therefore I missed reading it before my library held a "Random Review" in December to a packed audience. The reviewer, Leslie Richards, had hiked all of the Oregon part of the PCT, but she reiterated that her story was "G rated" compared to Cheryl's. This made me hesitant to read it. Cheryl is brutally honest. So the book is defi…

8. Keeping Christ in Ministry by John H. Harrison

Unlike a previous review, I enjoyed that the scripture in this book was printed out, and I didn't have to go and look up each verse reference in my Bible. The author quotes scripture after scripture that spoke of Jesus as Prophet, Priest, King, Warrior, Light, Shepherd, Servant, Teacher, Creator, Brother, and Immanuel. It was like a topical study on the character of Jesus, and how we can reflect His character in ministry. 

But that is really all it is: a topical Bible study about Jesus. If it had been titled The Character of Christ, I would not have been disappointed, but the title and introduction build up my hope that it would be more about the different approaches to ministry--especially in America--that are "suspect at best, and unbiblical at worst" (Kindle Locations 36-48). 

In the introduction, the author promises: 
The final chapter presents an approach to ministry that is based on the perspective presented in this book. It illustrates how people’s unique creation by…

7. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book 1 by John Calvin

One down and three more to go!
by John Calvin (1509-1564) Translated by Henry Beveridge

Here is a summary from Wikipedia: Institutes of the Christian Religion is John Calvin’s seminal work on Protestant systematic theology. Highly influential in the Western world and still widely read by theological students today, it was published in Latin in 1536 and in his native French in 1541, with the definitive editions appearing in 1559 (Latin) and in 1560 (French).
The book was written as an introductory textbook on the Protestant faith for those with some learning already and covered a broad range of theological topics from the doctrines of church and sacraments to justification by faith alone and Christian liberty, and it vigorously attacked the teachings of those Calvin considered unorthodox, particularly Roman Catholicism to which Calvin says he had been “strongly devoted” before his conversion to Protestantism. The over-arching theme of the book – and Calvin’s greatest theological legacy – is…

Freewrite Fifteen

Well-Watered Soul

The week of Prayer and Fasting for the church of the valley is concluding today with a big CELEBRATION at our church tonight. I might just go to that and skip this morning. 

I loved the times of prayer. Fasting was harder, but that is because I don't have a lot of fat to lose. So, I felt very run down and lethargic, much more so than I ever have. Usually, on previous fasts, it has been really easy after the third day. This time it got incredibly hard, and by the fifth day, my heart was racing, and I thought that it was prudent for me to break it. It was appropriate since it was Michael's birthday celebration at Izzy's, and we could break it with healthy salad. 

Despite the feelings of sickness and weakness, I thought I was hearing God say NOT to be in charge of an event in April. We were asked to take it over because the other church that usually hosts it doesn't feel like they have the "bandwidth" to pull it off. As I prayed, I sensed that we …

6. The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. 

I really wanted to like this book. The Italian author is a beautiful writer, but the stories did not grab me. I don't even know if you can call them stories. As admitted by the author, they are more like "fragments" that are quite disjointed. Some are letters and some are embryos of short stories but do not seem to have a real conclusion to them. I liked the embryo of the story, but I felt frustrated by them too.
I did learn quite a bit about European history, as the letters were about people I had never heard about. So, I went and looked them up and learned quite a bit in the process.
If you have been a fan of Antonio Tabucchi's other stories, I think you will probably love this book of reflections. Because I had not read his other stories, I was a bit lost. Again, I thought it writing was beautiful, and I enjoyed reading a modern day book by an Italian author; but it just didn't do much f…

5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

What a controversial book! I enjoyed it. I think she is a very good writer. I think she grew from this experience, and her reflections are very good. I also like how she organized her quest by tackling a different aspect of "Biblical Womanhood" every month:


I feel like she matured through the process. She is a young woman that is still trying to find her way in the world, and I think some people have been too hard on her. Since I mentor women her age, I wasn't shocked by many of her thoughts and insights about submission and egalitarian marriage. I wasn't shocked that she knew very little about baking bread and domestic endeavors. I find her generation did not learn those kinds of things. I am so glad she learned to bake my favorite bread: Challah.

I was surprised she had never celebrated a Passover like it was some new invention that evangelicals rarely celebrate (see PHOTOS). …

Fasting Freewrite Reflections

I think this has been good. All the area churches are fasting this week in some form or another. George and I decided to go for the whole thing. Just water and tea for the week. I am 47 hours into it, and my stomach is starting to really growl for the first time. Yesterday was so FULL of people that I didn't even think about it. Today, I think there was attack. I am praying for unreached people, and I went from peace and excitement on my walk to panic as I got a text that our checking account was a ZERO!  Long story short, George and I miscommunicated on what account some money was to go in, and the withdrawl for the thing happened, and the money was sitting happily in the other account instead of the one it was supposed to be in. 

I went from peace and joy to panic and anger in seconds. At first we thought someone had tampered, but it really was just miscommunication. So, the whole thing was easily resolved with a transfer to our checking.  Now, my sweet son is going to pick up my…

My Current Program Yields 10 Pound Loss!

Don't pay attention to the second column at the bottom under "Daily Averages of Nutrients for Logged Meals" and the black line across the nutrients. Those are based on default percentage averages for Protein/Carbs/Fat that I forgot to change when I set up the program (15% Fat is TOO LOW!).  Plus they don't even add up to 100% (Fat 15 + Carb 69 + Pro 21 = 105%!). I am not sure why BodyBugg sets up these averages as their defaults because the Fat is below the US RDI's! 

Here are my percentage averages compared to my RDI's:
Percentage averages: Pro: 18 (RDI 10-35%) Carbs: 53 (RDI 45-65%) Fat: 29 (RDI 20-35%) Sat Fat: 8.9% (RDI < or = 10)
Calcium: 2159 (RDI 1200 but my doctor said 2000) Fiber: 27 (RDI 21) Cholesterol: 174 (RDI < or = 300)

4. Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha

This is a wonderfully solid book that gets to the underlying reasons why we spend money. Rocha and her husband were $50,000 in debt and set out to understand why they were that way. The set out purposefully to manage their money and pay down their debt.

This book was perfectly timed for our family as my husband recently was cut back in hours, and we are living on 75% of what we had before. While I have never had the debt issues that Rocha and her husband had (we don't even have a home mortgage), I did want to put aside money for our upcoming anniversary trip, and Carrie gave me the motivation and helpful advice for doing it. 

I picked up many tips (Did you know that gas is cheaper on Tuesday? I never did, but I have checked for the last two weeks; and the prices really do dip on that day!). This will be a valuable, easy-to-read addition to the books on gaining a financial foothold in difficult times. 

The publisher sent me a copy of the pre-published book in exchange for an unbiased …

Tuesday Ten Freewrite

Well-Watered Soul

I am loving my PIM walks. (If someone can come up with a better acronym, I am totally amenable about changing this. Maybe I should have a contest?)

P = Praise - usually putting on my shoes once the sun comes up, and I need to get up from my early morning writing. I usually just walk around the block.

I = Intercession -  Usually done some time during the day, I pray for my Unreached People Group with this COOL app (see for app for iPhone or Android). This is a boon to my existence because I would often send my emails to my iPod or print them off so I could walk and pray. Now they are DOWNLOADED on my iPhone for access whenever and where ever!) I also pray for the people in my life and sometimes I pray with the person I am meeting with that day (going to incorporate walks into my discipleship and life coaching/counseling).

M = Me - personal supplication for me! Sometimes I incorporate this at the end of my "I" time or take a later af…

3. Pensées by Pascal

This is one of 14 books I have left on my Invitation to the Classics Book List, and I started it wondering what I had gotten myself into! It seemed too difficult to understand, but once I got into the rhythm of Pascal's numbered thoughts and reflections, I was hooked. He was a very Godly man who had some things to say about the condition of man and God's remedy for it!  He reacts to Montaigne and Descartes and quotes Augustine. These are all writers I have read. So that was fun to read Pascal's reaction to their writings. 

I listened to the LibriVox recording of this book and followed along with my free Kindle edition. There are many advantages to listening to this rendition of the book. 

The narrator is excellent (Shout out to Dexter from Canada).The Latin is read by Leni in Rio de Janeiro and translated into English by Dexter. You would lose quite a bit not knowing what the Latin meant.Dexter reads all the footnotes which aren't hyperlinked on the Kindle edition (becau…

The Good News on My Overeating

I have some historical data on my overeating because of the bodybugg accuracy and my weight measurements since April 2008.

I have always said that I overeat 125-250 calories a day, and if I just took 1-2 walks around the block, I would be golden and continue to eat!

Well, NOW, I am only overeating 80-100 calories a day. That isn't even a whole walk around the block!

So that is reason to celebrate.

Historical Data:

7-12/2008 overate 244 calories a day
Part of this was I was at a very low weight, and the lower your weight the harder you have to  work to burn calories. 

2-4/2009 overate 420 calories a day
Much of that was winter, and I wasn't a winter walker a few years ago, but now I just bring my umbrella and GO rain or shine. NEW MINDSET!  Also, I was knee deep BUSY and sitting a LOT because of prep work involved with American Literature class, homeschooling, writing many hours for the Bible Book Club. It was VERY sedentary other than my regular workouts at the club (always have…

Wednesday Freewrite

State of "The Well" this morning

Well-Watered Soul/Well-Adjusted Heart

Who would have thought that a slight change in the living room layout would be so great for my soul? We moved the BIG, oversize stereo system (phono, radio, tape player, and CD changer handed down from my dear-departed mother = FREE, but not space saving) from the corner between the couch and love seat (see near book case on left) to the other side of the couch (see right).  I got to wondering why we have had a drawer blocked by the loveseat all those years? Getting to our CD's and tapes was a big pain, literally. I would have to do a BIG BACK TWIST to get there.

So, we moved it, and it also freed up the speaker that was also hidden by the couch and love seat. We also spent a couple of bucks and got a long wire so that we could actually have TWO speakers in different parts of the room for STEREO sound! DUH! (What can I say? We have been busy for the last 10 years. I am no longer homeschooling, and I am…

2. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury is a beautiful writer, but I was never really "grabbed" by this book. It is Bradbury's "gathering of dandelions" over the years in Illinois. Written in 1959, they are fictional short stories that are loosely connected together with fantastical elements and related to his growing up in Waukegan, Illinois in 1928. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it, but because it lacked a plot, it just didn't drive me to keep reading it like many books with a good story. In some ways, it is like Dubliners, but Dubliners was so much more interesting to me!

Here is a brief synopsis: 

Although Bradbury is primarily known as a science fiction writer, Dandelion Wine is not a science fiction book. However, it does contain elements of the dark side of human nature and the fantastical magic that permeates the book makes it different from other novels. In his introduction, Bradbury comments that a reviewer once took him to task for not describing Waukegan (G…

1. Les Miserables Radio Family Theatre by Victor Hugo

DISCLAIMER: I am a Les Miserables fanatic!

I have read the full unabridged version of Les Miserables twice, led a discussion on it with my book club (highest score ever), seen it live on stage twice, watched the 10th Anniversary edition of the stage production and listened to the soundtrack of this edition more times than I can count, and watched the 2012 movie version a week before listening to this audio book.

This audio book will be proudly added to my collection of all things Les Miserables!

What a wonderful three hour abridgment that hits all the important elements of mercy and redemption in this story! It is the perfect way to introduce someone to this timeless message.  It is also sensitive to a younger audience in that some of the "grittier" elements have been toned down (Fantine really WAS a prostitute in the book, but this is not emphasized in this abridgment making it appropriate for younger listeners.) 

The acting is SUPERB. Brian Blessed is a seasoned actor that por…

2012 Movies, Documentaries, and Series

JANUARY 1. War Horse (lovely!)
2. Northanger Abbey
3. Sense and Sensibility (Thompson/Winslet version) 4. Pride and Prejudice (Knightly version) 5. Much Ado About Nothing (DELIGHTFUL) 6. The Iron Lady FEBRUARY 7. David Copperfield (Maggie Smith version) 8. Downton Abbey: Season 2 9. Up in the Air (Edited with ClearPlay) 10. The Jane Austen Book Club (ClearPlay) MARCH
11, HUGO (GORGEOUS! See it!) 12. The Artist (sweet) 13. Oliver Twist (2007 BBC series) 14. The Descendants 15. Salmon Fishing on the Yemen 16. Ethan Frome APRIL 17. The Hunger Games 18. Kiss Me, Kate 19. Great Expectations (GIVE Gillian the Emmy!) 20. Midnight in Paris 21. Blue Like Jazz 22. The Blindside (TV rewatch) MAY 23. On the Town (cute and clean) 24. Mildred Pierce (racy in parts - ClearPlay it) 25. Mirror, Mirror 26. What a Girl Wants 27. Dark Shadows (YUCK!) 28. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (A bit too bawdy) 29. Downton Abbey I 30. Downton Abbey 2 31. Revolutionary Road (ClearPlay takes out yuck) JUNE 32. Daniel Deronda (mini-series) 33. For Whom the …


I lead a accountability group called "FACED." It helps us keep each other accountable for weight goals and balance in our busy lives. I reorganized my goals according to the FACED format:

I made up 15 goals for the New Year in all the categories:
FOOD (Love the Lord your God with all your STRENGTH)
1)800 calorie deficit - Reach weight landmarks for Valentine’s Day (Insurance weight), Spring Break (100lbs + 5 lbs for every inch over 5 feet + 10% for a large frame = -5 lb from insurance weight), Memorial Day (Weight for half way between medium and large frame -8.5 lb)
ACADEMIC (Love the Lord your God with all your MIND)
2)Read 52 book broken down with 14 from Invitation to the Classics List (see below for remaining books) + 2 from church readers group + 1 from classics book club + 6 early reviewers books + 29 “free books.”
COMMUNION (Love the Lord Your God with all your HEART and SOUL)
3) Praise, intercession, and supplication walks (combined or separately) 4) BBC posts Acts, 1 Co…