Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Goals - The "The Frugal Fifteen"

The word for the year is FRUGALITY - that bears fruit!

HEART
1. Campus Connection Wednesdays
2. Theophostic Outreach. - 1x a week
SOUL
3. Walk and pray 3 times a day
4. BBC 70 (1 pound = 1 post)
5. Romans with Rachel
MIND
6. 52 books
STRENGTH
7. 7 back/6 cardio/2 weights/1 Pilates
8. 2400 burn/1600 consume
9. Weight landmarks V Day, Spring, M Day

P31
This year:
10. Upstairs paint and floors
11. Declutter all closets/cabinets/drawers
12. Paul's pictures for Senior Year (April?)
On going:
13. Picture processing 4th of every month
14. Dependence Dates 2x month
15. 2015 frugality for 25th anniversary save for trip!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Complete Reading List with Links


What a fun year!

What a fun year! 

ABBREVIATIONS KEY:
ITC - Invitation to the Classics List
GB - 100 Great Books List
SBC - Suburban Book Club
BB or BD - Book Babes or Dames
ER - Early Reviewer

JANUARY
1. Animal Farm (BD/GB - 9.5)
2. Hanna's Daughters (BB - 8)
3. The Broke Diaries (BB - 7)
4. Their Eyes Were Watching God (BD/GB - 9.5)
5. The Shape of the Eye (BB - 8)
FEBRUARY (lots of reading on vacation!)
6. Tom Sawyer (GB - 9.5)
7. Othello (GB)
8. Julius Caesar (GB)
9. The Awakening (GB)
10. King Lear (GB)
11. Romeo and Juliet (GB)
13. Billy Budd (GB)
15. Daisy Miller (GB)
16. Ethan Frome (GB)
17. David Copperfield (GB)
18. Brave New World (GB)
19. The Tempest (GB)
20. Macbeth (GB)
MARCH (Spring break reading!)
25. The Crucible (GB)
28. Lord Jim (GB)
29. Song of Years (BB 6 - 3 months to read!)
30. Lord of the Flies (GB)
31. Candide (GB)
37. The Pearl (GB)
APRIL
41. Steppenwolf (GB)
42. The Bluest Eye (GB)
46. Missions and Money (KC)
SEPTEMBER
79. The Joy Luck Club (GB)
82. Sons and Lovers (BD/GB)
83. Faust: Part 2 (GB/ITC)
84. A Separate Peace (GB)
86. Peace (ITC)
87. The Frogs (ITC)
OCTOBER
89. All the King's Men (GB)
90. The Plague (GB)
91. A Farewell to Arms (GB)
92. Catch-22 (GB)
93. House Made of Dawn (GB)
94. Twelfth Night (GB)
96. Dubliners (ITC)
97. Nichomachean Ethics (ITC)
98. Prayer Walk (ER)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Free Fifteen

Fingers on the keyboard, and I will not let them stop for fifteen minutes.

Feeling so alive this morning. I have lost 2.2 pounds and my back feels FANTASTIC. It really has helped to STOP RUNNING. The extra calorie burn was NOT WORTH IT because of the days I would have to spend in bed recovering and being lethargic because of the pain.

I am pain-free, and I have been since Dr. Koen adjusted me after I STUPIDLY RAN after the Number 7 bus from the Downtown Transit Center to 9th and Monroe, and MISSED IT! ACK! My back will still go out when I do things like that, especially when carrying Christmas presents in my hands. NOT SMART!

Anyway, that was then, and this is now. I am alive and well and living in Corvallis, OR. I am also writing on the end of Romans 15 and starting my final chapter of Romans 16. I have "earned" the "right to write" for three chapters due to my weight loss!  One post for every pound I lose, and I lost one pound the week before, and 2.2 this with. So, I am writing on Romans 16 (combined the end of Romans 15 with 16 because it is one long farewell) Acts 8, and Acts 13. Then, I will wait for another week to see how many more I can write. Since I want to finish the Bible Book Club sooner rather than later, this will motivate me to lose AND also make sure I MOVE even though I am writing more hours in the coming weeks. It is all about balance. I definitely found that weight was harder to keep off when I started writing the Bible Book Club AND doing Project365 photos because both of those mean a lot of sitting, and when I was out and about taking photos on my walks, it wasn't as good of exercise. Now that I have that nice, centered on my back, backpack. I can walk faster PLUS have healthy weight on my back that will strengthen it rather than pull it out one way or the other.

I have been making so many healthy choices lately. YAY!  Healthy choice number ONE was taking medical leave from the club to see a physical therapist AND start getting regular massages (on recommendation from my new Dr. who used to be a personal trainer and also adjusts backs - never really tried him for that and wonder if he is cheaper than Dr. Koen - not sure. Hmm. That reminds me, I think there was a bill with that office. I must get that paid before the end of the year since we will be able to deduct our medical and dental this year because it was so high with Michael's teeth and my teeth. Rambling, but that is the point of a freewrite.

Anyway, feeling very alive. I have been sleeping REALLY well too. All is right in our emotional world too. No stress or conflict in the ranks of people we know. We have such nice people around us.

I am meeting with Kathleen every Wednesday, and that is getting me to campus. Did I mention there is a job in academic advising in the College of Public Health that I am totally qualified for? It is full-time, and that is not something I am interested in though. I have prayed about it, and I don't feel an urge to proceed with it. We will see. George is applying for a job in Hillsboro. His hours have been cut back so drastically. His job is good, and we do survive just fine because we have no debt and no mortgage payment, but it is harder and harder for us to save. We are fine for retirement because we saved during the "fat" seven years at HP, and he is fully vested in the OLD state pension system. I was thinking today that our retirement income will probably be more than our income now, and that is opposite of what it is for most people. But George is only 50. So, it is not time to retire yet, and he really does love his consulting job. The money has just slowly dried up for research consulting at OSU. I wonder how the "fiscal cliff" will affect him too. It doesn't hurt to apply for the Hillsboro job. I don't really know much about Hillsboro, and I think we will shock some people if we move. We will see. It is all in God's hands! I am confident in His plan, and I would love to stay here, but I am also open to moving. I do think that academic advising position is perfect since I have the student services experience AND the public health nutrition background.  So, we will just see what God drops in my lap!

The kids are doing great. There is the fifteen minute bell. Back to Bible Book Club. PRESS WITHOUT PROOFREADING!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday Thirteen Freewrite

The Well Update Via FACED

Several years ago, I started a FACED accountability group after having followed this for myself for years.

The letters stand for:

FOOD - reporting goals and intake


ACADEMICS or ATTITUDE - I like to keep growing in my love of literature, art, music, etc. Others report their attitude for the day.

COMMUNION with God and people - the center of it all!

EXERCISE 

DAILY CARE OF FAMILY AND SELF - goals for your household and personal care


Here is what I just wrote in my FACED Evaluation for the week reporting December 20 – 27, 2012:

FOOD AND EXERCISE


I have a BodyBugg. So, the calories burned is over 90% accurate based on medical studies. ALL "estimations" are too high, even for me, and my height should give a higher estimation of calorie burn, and all the estimations are WAY higher than what actually happens in your body. The BodyBugg is the only way to go for accuracy!!! It is also really helpful to see how just MOVING can burn more calories than going to a gym for a couple of hours a day.

BURNED: 2789 average per day
CONSUMED: 1689 average per day (based on my weight loss last week)
BALANCE: 1100 average deficit per day (2.2 pounds weight loss)

My food log was only 57 calories per day under-reported. 

Information on underreporting:

 The degree of underreporting can be quite severe.   One study comparing obese twins to their non-obese twin counterparts indicated underreporting of 764 calories per day.  Another study found certain individuals to be underreporting their food intake by over 2000 calories per day. (http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?page_id=379)


NUTRITION EVALUATION:

My fiber, calcium, and cholesterol intake were all GREAT!  My saturated fat was a bit high.

Goals for December 27, 2012 – January 3, 2013

FOOD
Reduce saturated fat to 20 g per day. I was 24g this last measurement period, but probably to be expected with holiday treats, and the ice cream I ate three times last week. Calorie deficit goal is 800, and I was 1100 last measurement period. YAY!

ACADEMICS (Well-Educated Mind)
Read the books I mentioned above and continue to participate in “52 Books in 52 Weeks” reading challenge.  Read Pensees by Blaise Pascal from Invitation to the Classics (hard for me to follow!)

COMMUNION (Well-Water Soul and Well-Adjusted Heart)
Continue God is in the Manger devotionals until Epiphany. Romans 16, Acts 8 & 13 (Because of my weight loss, I have earned the “right to write” these posts next week!) Prayer walks. Unreached people prayer daily (not as good about this during the Christmas season).

EXERCISE (Well-Tuned Strength)
My main goal is to move more overall – do you know my HIGHEST day of calorie burning was a day I did NO EXERCISE but just worked around the house all day?
Weight training: 2-3x during the week including 1 FIRM video or DVD, 1 FB30X at SNAP (upper torso emphasis), +  1 possible SNAP Circuit if I am feeling good
Back exercises – 10 minutes in morning and 5 minutes at night daily
Pilates – 1x on a cardio day at SNAP
Cardio – 6x variety of walk, bike, hike, and elliptical depending on weather conditions, walk or ride on errands as much as weather permits.
GOAL: Break my three month record of not seeing my chiropractor! Last time was December

DAILY CARE (Well-Adjusted Heart) 
George and I are not spending money on dates so that we can start saving for our 25th anniversary trip in 2015. J  We will hike and walk and watch library DVD (ours has an amazing selection and they usually get whatever I ask for because they like me J)

Organize one closet – I can consistently BEND now! So, I am going through one a week after three years of not being able to do that!!!








Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Christmas Freewrite

Well-Watered Soul

It is well with my soul. The season was lovely. I had a good balance of time with God and time with people. We missed one party. So, for the first time in years, we didn't go caroling, but we had such lovely time around the advent wreath, and I loved my "Messiah Meditations" over the last week.

Well-Educated Mind

You can read in other parts of the blog all the books that I have read. I like meatier ones rather than "fluffy Christmas stories."  I am just not a fan of fluffy books. I am being selective about the books that I read for our book club. I like many of them, and the last two were OK, but I won't read any more by the author. I just don't have time to read books that don't educate. It was interesting to reread Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People because Handel once said (not word for word), "I hope this piece of music doesn't merely ENTERTAIN."  This implies that he wanted to educate and edify too. I guess there are many books that are ENTERTAINING, but they don't do anything to lift my soul to God or educate me on a topic. I think that is the problem with the last two novels that I read for the book club. They did nothing to EDUCATE or EDIFY. They were just fun books, but I have so little time for these. So, I am just reading two more books over the next six months with them. I have already read three of the books on their list. I didn't care for Cold Sassy Tree so I won't reread it, and I don't think I can discuss it since it was so long ago. The other two books are both VERY educational: River of Doubt and Night. These both occur after I have more time. So, I will join in those discussion, and I remember them.  That leaves two books I think will be very beneficial: Dandelion Wine and The Year of Biblical Womanhood (or something like that). I have never read Ray Bradbury and have always wanted to, and the other one will be a lively discussion.  So, that will be it for me. I will read all the Book Dames ones though because they are educational because they are classic.

I liked my reading year, but I didn't like all of them on the 100 Great Books List and will be more selective on the "Lists" I chose from now on. I know that the Invitation to the Classics list will be safe though. :)

Well-Adjusted Heart

Peaceful.

Well-Tuned Strength

Doing GREAT. Been wearing my BodyBugg again and I am tracking my calorie burn and consume. I have been in a deficit even through the Christmas holiday. I don't have a LOT to lose, but I have some that has creeped up on me because I have had NO check on me since I went surfing in November 2011!  So, I am in a very good place since I QUIT running. Running may burn more calories, but it doesn't when it causes your back to go out and you have to go to bed!!! DUH! It took me a while to figure that out.

I am also not sitting at my computer and have many projects that I have put off due to BACK issues. I am going through closets in the new year because I can BEND! YAY! I will, no doubt, burn many calories because of being more active around the house. It is great to be free of pain. Part of that is also because I don't have to sit at my computer as much because the Bible Book Club writing is winding down for me! I only have 73 more posts, and I am writing a "POST FOR A POUND." When I lose a pound, I will allow myself the luxury of being inactive sitting at the computer and writing a post!" I do NOT have 73 pounds to lose, but I will write only if I have maintained my weight. If I gain a pound, I will suspend writing until I have lost that pound. If I don't gain a pound, I can keep on writing. Since I am INTRINSICALLY motivated to FINISH the Bible Book Club, it will be a win-win. My first weigh in is tomorrow, and I think it is going to afford me writing three posts because I have been in deficit for 8 days!!!

I have been consistent in exercise and resistance training for weeks now. Snap Fitness was a very good move, and I am on a plan. I did bending and standing during the holiday and had no back problems other than when I sprinted after the bus with holiday gifts in my hands. DUMB! Oh well, Dr. Koen got to see me for Christmas. :)

Speaking of exercising. I am off to ride my bike to SNAP in my NEW bike jacket.

P.S. We are also having a year of living FRUGALLY 2013. We are not going out to eat unless God provides the money in a gift (We already have  Applebee's and Laughing Planet gift cards for two dates next year). We will still have dates, but they will be walking, hiking, sitting and drinking tea together and talking, going to the library, etc. We always say our favorite date was when we ran up and down Bald Hill when we were really poor, and we want to go back to frugality. We are not really poor anymore, but we want the challenge of saving for our 25th Anniversary trip to Europe in 2015!!! YAY!

BYE!

52 in 52 Week 52: Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People

Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People Unabridged Audiobook on CDWhen I first started trying to listen to this in 2010, I thought: BORING! The narrator sounded very stuffy, and it went on about Italian Oratorio and all that, but I gave it a second try Christmas season 2011. I sat down and really listened to it. It is a WEALTH of insight and information about this masterpiece! I loved it. If you are a Messiah Geek like me, it will benefit you greatly to understand the ins and outs of this gift from Handel!

If you are not a Messiah geek, it may be a bit too academic, but I listened to it again this Christmas, and I found myself wanting to write down quotes.  I listen to a little of the book and then the part of the music he has just described. I love that I go to bed and wake up with these Scripture songs in my head during the Christmas season because CHRIST is what the season is all about!  

It will be my annual tradition!

Update: I read the print in 2013, and I like that much better!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Answers to 52 Books in 52 Weeks Book Survey


1) How many books did you read this year?  123 

2) Did you meet or beat your own personal goal? Beat goal of 52


3) Favorite book of 2012? (You can list more than one or break it down by genre)

Fiction: Middlemarch and Their Eyes Were Watching God

Non-Fiction: The Diary of Anne Frank

4) Least favorite book of 2012 and why?  


Steppenwolf - It is just a yucky book. Strange. I don't care if it is a classic. 

The Bluest Eyes is a close second.

5) One book you thought you'd never read and was pleasantly surprised you like it?


The Hunger Games trilogy - I had friends bug me to read them for a long time, and I was pleasantly surprised. It totally fit in with my Dystopian novel phase. Most of my Jesus Community and my kids read them and liked them. (I would love to discuss because most people who put them down don't get the author's point.)


6) One book you thought you'd love but didn't?


Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich


She is so beloved by so many in the Book Babes Book Club. I REALLY wanted to like it, but it was chore to get through, and that is unusual for me. The story just didn't grab me. Too many sweeping years and not enough deeper character development. I had liked her other books, but I didn't like this one. I loved The Rim of the Prairie, but I think this was because it was a tighter time frame, less characters, and a much tighter plot line. Read her, and don't let my evaluation of this one book scare you away. She is a great writer. 

7) One book that touched you - made you laugh, cry, sing or dance.  


Little Women (reread) - it has all those elements.


8) Any new to you authors discovered and you can't wait to read more of their stories? 

Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God


What a beautiful writer! I listened to the Ruby Dee narration. PERFECT! 

9) Name the longest book you read? 


Middlemarch.  

Shortest? 

The Greatest Thing in the World 

10) Name the most unputdownable book you read? 


The Hunger Games Trilogy - gobbled them up!

11) Book that had the greatest impact on you this year?  


All Quiet on the Western Front - What is war for?

12) What book would you recommend everybody read? 


All Quiet on the Western Front 

13) Share your most favorite cover(s). I had two: 


Click image to view full cover 


14) Do you have a character you fell in love with? 


David Copperfield (what's not to like?) followed by Dorothea in Middlemarch.

15) What was your most favorite part of the challenge? Did you do any of the mini challenges? 


It encouraged me to finish my 100 Great Books List. I liked writing reviews. It helped me think through the books more deeply. I think I did the Dickens mini-challenge. I cannot remember. 

What are your goals for the new year? 


1.  Finish remaining 14 books on the  Invitation to the Classics List (Full list linked above):

Ancients - finished 12/12

Medieval - 11/13

  1. 1400's The Second Shepherd’s Play (tried to read over Christmas but unsuccessful)
  2. 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion – Calvin
Early Modern 15/21
  1. 1633 The Temple – Herbert
  2. 1670 Pensees – Pascal
  3. 1746 A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections – Edwards
  4. 1759 Essays and Rasselas – Johnson
  5. 1791 The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. – Boswell
  6. 1787 The Federalist – Hamilton, Madison, Jay (1/4 of the way through but will make it my 4th of July patriotic reading)
Modern 24/30 
  1. 1864 Apologia pro vita sua – John Henry Newman
  2. 1843 Fear and Trembling – Kierkegaard
  3. 1888 Twilight of the Idols – Nietzsche
  4. 1935 Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot
  5. 1942 Go Down, Moses – Faulkner
  6. 1950 Waiting for God – Weil 
2. Read Catcher in the Rye for the Book Dames (Classics) Book Club

3. Read Dandelion Wine and A Year of Biblical Womenhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" for the Suburban Readers Group.

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?  

Pensees by Blaise Pascal because it is so often quoted in other books.  I have started, and it is a bit difficult for me to get through.

52 in 52 Week 52: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Cover image for Little WomenAfter reading contemporary Christmas stories that lacked brilliance, it was so nice to come home to a bright and shining classic of American literature! It was a great way to end the year of reading. 

While this story doesn't qualify as a "Christmas book," the story starts out with the four March girls lamenting the fact that they were too poor to truly enjoy Christmas. Many of the major movements in the book do happen around this holiday. Since I make up the rules on the "December of Christmas reads," this officially qualifies now.

If you have never read this book, you need to. If you read it a long time ago, you will read it again with more relish. Even though this was my third time through, it had been a while, and it still delighted me! I fell in love all over again with the impetuous and feisty Jo, prim and proper Meg, sweet and selfless Beth, and the striving and artistic Amy. Throw in the wisdom of Marmy and the stability of father, and you have quite a story!

This is my first time listening to an audio version, and I am sure people saw me and wondered why this tall girl was walking in the rain SMILING! 

Justine Eyre's narration is a bit nasal but not too distracting. She grew on me, and she did a nice imitation of male characters and people with accents. 

I love this book!

52 in 52 Week 52: The Greatest Thing in the World


Love has got everything to do with it. Love this analysis of 1 Corinthians 13 by the Scottish evangelist, Henry Drummond. I listened to the LearnOutLoud.com audiobook by Seth Anderson.

I agree with this review on LibraryThing.com by sacredstacks:

The Greatest Thing in the World is taken from an address Henry Drummond, a Scottish evangelist, delivered to a gathering of friends in England in 1884. It is based on the 13th chapter of First Corinthians (the Love chapter).  
The Greatest Thing in the World
I couldn't find a better picture!

The inspiration behind this work includes the fact that the author was a geologist/explorer by profession. “As a Christian, he combined his knowledge of science with his understanding of the Creator and His many diverse creations.” In Chapter 3, Love Analyzed, he draws from his professional background to make a remarkable analysis. Using the way a prism breaks down light into many components of color, he demonstrates the way Paul breaks the spectrum of love down into the elements of patience, kindness, generosity, etc. The author goes on to write a section about each of these attributes. They all speak to our “horizontal” relationship with man as opposed to our “vertical” relationship with God. The prism illustration is a very compelling one; and I consider it to be the highlight of this book. The author begins Chapter 4, Love Defended, with Paul’s reason for singling out love as the supreme possession. Despite the many things man may focus on, love lasts. It never fails. 

The biblical truths examined in this book will give you a fresh perspective on life and love. Totally convinced of love’s power in everyday life, Drummond challenges believers to read the actual text of 1st Corinthians 13 once a week for the next three months. This compact book could easily function in today’s market as a commentary, which I’ve learned to refrain from using. The author’s treatment of 1st Corinthians 13, however, is a rare exception. I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

52 in 52 Week 51: God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am not done with this because the devotional goes through January 6, but it is FREE now. See the link below.

I don't know if it will free when I finish it on January 6. So, I am posting it today!

This contains delightful excerpts from many of his letters and writings. It is a daily devotional reading that averages about 3 minutes a day and goes from the first Sunday in advent to Epiphany on January 6th. I don't want anyone to miss it. You can always listen to it next year if you don't want to be "behind" for this year. :)


http://christianaudio.com/god-is-in-the-manger-dietrich-bonhoeffer

NOTE: I finished it December 27th. I couldn't wait until January 6th! So good. Very rich.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursdays Thirteen Freewrite

I am going to do a thirteen minute freewrite on Thursdays from now on. It sounds so alliterative. :)

I feel so GREAT! I finally had a day where I recorded all my food and had a calorie DEFICIT. Actually, I got on the scale this morning after not having my weight recorded since August. I don't usually look at the scale at the doctor's office, but they gave me a sheet (Dr. Sharp, my new doctor, is really into preventative medicine) with my weight on it then. I had only gained three pounds since August. So, it isn't as bad as I thought. I am six pounds overweight, but I like to be much lower than what the "top of my range" says. 

Trevor did a fat percentage, and I am also still in the "healthy" range, and I think it would have been lower had I been more hydrated than I was when I rushed to the gym to get my assessment. So, I am not as bad off as I thought, but I actually would like to have a lower fat percentage too, and I think that will happen now that I am back to lifting weights again, and my back is better, and I am not running anymore. Even though running burned more calories, it would send me to my bed and defeat the extra calories. So, it is better I walk daily or even hike which burns more calories than running and is not as hard on my back!  

I have a winning combination for success. I am going to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks for a few days because I love the way I feel. I admit I am doing the SLIM-FAST 3-2-1 plan. I am never hungry in the morning, but I do have my hot beverage (usually chai tea), but that doesn't have all the nutrients for the morning (although milk is a very good source of protein and minerals and carbs). So, I warm up my milk and add the chocolate mix to that. Mid morning, I have a single serving of chai tea because I need the extra cup of skim in my post-menopausal state of calcium need. 

I also am more "regular" when I have those shakes. It calls for 

3 - healthy snacks of fruits and veggies. Yesterday, I had grapefruit and a baby green salad and an orange.

2 - shakes for breakfast and lunch

1 - under 500 calorie meal. I can go out to Applebee's and be assured of that, but we are limiting our eating out because of our reduced income since July. OUCH!


So there we go. I am on track, and I couldn't be more excited about that after many months of really not caring, but that is pretty good that I only gained three pounds in 4 months of not caring!  Maybe I really am better able to gauge it now that I have done this every year. I never gain back to what I was many years ago. I always stay within five to ten pounds of my goal weight. That is pretty impressive because it used to be 10-16 (the most I have ever been overweight is 21 pounds when I ate all summer of 1987 at a mountaineering camp with meals made for mountain guides while I was stuck in the basecamp that had no form of aerobic exercise because we were stuck on a point with the straight up mountain right there).

Man, that thirteen minutes went really fast. No proofing. Sorry for the typos.





















Tuesday, December 18, 2012

52 in 52 Week 51: The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

Continuing on my quest to get through Christmas books given to me over the years, I give you The Christmas Sweater. It was OK. There are a few twists and turns, and it is semi-autobiographical. It could have used some editing in some places and some expansion in others. There was so much time setting up the story prior to the climax that the ending seemed really rushed. Then, there wasn't enough development of some of the characters. I am not sure I liked it. It was just OK. I know it was just OK because I read two Lucy Maud Montgomery Christmas short stories immediately following, and I was delighted. It isn't a bad book though. Just not up there with books of really, really good authors.  Sandwiched between Dickens and Montgomery, Beck did not have a prayer. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

52 in 52 Week 51: A Christmas Carol

I could have sworn I already wrote a review of this, but I cannot find it in my list of posts. 

Remember last week when I talked about the tradition of telling "ghost" stories on Christmas Eve during the Victorian Era? This is the quintessential ghost story, and I had to redeem my respect for Dickens after reading his short stories that I reviewed last week. 

This book does not disappoint. I read it once for my book club and once to my children as a read aloud, but that was probably more than ten years ago. I had never listened to it, and this NAXOS audio version has the best narrator AND classical music in the transitions. It is a TREAT! I checked it out on my Library2Go.com account. THE BEST!

My respect (and love) for Dickens has been restored. 

52 in 52 Week 51: On Prayer and the Contemplative Life by Aquinas


BY THE

VERY REV. HUGH POPE, O.P., S.T.M.

AUTHOR OF "THE CATHOLIC STUDENT'S 'AIDS' TO THE BIBLE," ETC.

WITH A PREFACE BY

VERY REV. VINCENT McNABB, O.P., S.T.L.

R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD.
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW
1914 All rights reserved

This is taken from the second part of the second part of the Summa Theologica (II-II). It takes out the structure of the Summa (theological question or statement, objections to the question or the statement, a quotation of an opinion or a statement that contradicts the objections, the answer to the question, and the refutation of the objections). I like that, but some people don't. 
I wanted a closer read of the part of the Summa that is more practical. I would have been a great nun. :) I love to pray. 
I have already explained about the larger work of the Summa in the previous post. 
You can get this book free on the Kindle at Amazon.com or you can get it in many different forms from Project Gutenberg HERE.

Some of the stuff on praying to saints was not part of my theological beliefs, but I loved this quote from the contemplative life section:

S. Thomas: We do not enjoy all the things that we have; and this is either because they do not afford us delight, or because they are not the ultimate goal of our desires, and so are incapable of satisfying our yearnings or affording us repose. But these three things the Blessed have in God: for they see Him, and seeing Him they hold Him ever present to them, for they have it in their power always to see Him; and holding Him, they[Pg 182] enjoy Him, satisfying their yearnings with That Which is The Ultimate End (Summa Theologica, I., xii. 7, ad 3m).

52 in 52 Week 51: A Shorter Summa (Theologica) by St. Thomas Aquinas


The entire Summa is about 3,000 pages long, and most of it is Scripture so I would rather just read the Bible to get my theology, but Aquinas' work is so influential in Western thought that I needed to at least read a book like Kreeft's that is an anthology of the Summa using Aquinas' actual words. Kreeft also has a Summa of the Summa that is 500 pages, but I opted for this even more concise version that is under 200 pages. It is not "about" the Summa but gives the most important parts in a concise readable form. I figured this was enough to "count" for my Invitation to the Classics List!

So, what is the Summa? I didn't know until I saw it on my list. I will let Wikipedia explain it to you: 





The Summa Theologiæ (written 1265–1274 and also known as the Summa Theologica or simply the Summa) is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas (c.1225–1274). Although unfinished the Summa is "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature."[1] It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: the existence of God; Creation, Man; Man's purposeChrist; the Sacraments; and back to God. 
Among non-scholars the Summa is perhaps most famous for its five arguments for the existence of God known as the "five ways" (Latin:quinque viae). The five ways occupy one and one half pages of the Summa's approximately three thousand five hundred pages.
Throughout the Summa Aquinas cites ChristianMuslimHebrew, and Pagan sources including but not limited to:Christian Sacred Scripture,AristotleAugustine of HippoAvicennaAverroesAl-GhazaliBoethiusJohn of DamascusPaul the ApostleDionysius the Areopagite,MaimonidesAnselmPlatoCicero, and Eriugena
(From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa_Theologica) 
It is interesting to note that "At the Council of Trent (1545-63), which formulated basic Catholic teaching for succeeding centuries, his Summa was placed on the altar alongside the Scriptures" (Invitation to the Classics, p. 93). Aquinas also wrote a summary of theology for missionaries to the Muslims called the Summa contra Gentiles.
Where the Summa Theologiæ was written to explain the Christian faith to theology students, the Summa contra Gentiles is more apologetic in tone, as it was written to explain and defend the Christian truth in hostile situations against unbelievers, with arguments adapted to fit the intended circumstances of its use, each article refuting a certain heretical belief or proposition. Instead of a mere elucidation of the length and breadth of Christian truth, Aquinas explains specific core articles of Christian belief.[1]
(From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa_contra_Gentiles) 
The Summa Theologica contains 604 main questions with many sub questions that total over three thousand! After the question, there are objections followed by his position and concluded by the answers to the objections. Apparently, this reflected the debates that were going on at the universities at the time. 
A rational nature seeks to "make sense," to be coherent and comprehensive, to understand how a thing fits together with others in order to find its place in the larger scheme of things. Theology is an attempt to make sense" out of faith--to see how what is revealed in Scripture relates to what we know through our experience, both in everyday life and in science. (Invitation to the Classics, p. 94)
I am not big on theology. As I told my friends who were gathered around a picnic table hotly debating theology one summer afternoon in 2001, "I just don't 'think' about God." This was followed by uproarious laughter because they all knew I had been studying and leading Bible studies  for over 30 years (www.3yearbiblebookclub.blogspot.com). I don't think about God just as I don't "think" about my husband, I LOVE him. I ADORE him. I want to KNOW him. I don't want to THINK ABOUT him!  So that is where I get hung up on theology.

BUT I believe this is how some people's brains work. So, I have slowly and painfully tried to read theology in order to become "all things to all men." I like Piper and Tozer, but they make it so practical. I still struggle with Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy because it is too philosophical and just not practical. But others gobble it up. Therefore, I muddled my way through it, twice (Part of my reason for not thinking that book is too earth-shattering is that I say, "Duh, isn't this how all believers should live? Isn't it obvious? Don't people already know this stuff about the Kingdom of God?" But apparently not for those raised in a traditional church culture. I was nurtured in the Navigators which was radically different and more like what Willard describes. The Navigators were more practical than Willard though. I do like Willard's Spiritu of the Disciplines though. But I digress. . .) 

Summa means "summary," but it isn't a "summary" when it is twice as long as the source of the summary, the Bible!  That is why Paul Kreeft's Shorter Summa was PERFECT! In addition, I will read On Prayer and the Contemplative Life which takes from the much more concrete Second Part of the Second Part (II-II) of the Summa Theologica. In this part . . . 
Aquinas argues for the superiority of the contemplative life in our return to God--a life absorbed in thought about God, living in his presence--over a life dedicated to activity, wholesome and necessary though that might be. Aquinas's own life was a mixture of the contemplatives and active lives, with the aim of presenting to others the fruits of contemplation.
The is more my cuppa' tea!

LATE BREAKING BULLETIN ..............................................................

I wrote all the above introduction before I read the "Endnotes" of The Shorter Summa (What nerd reads the Endnotes? Answer: ME!), and even St. Thomas sort of came to the same conclusion: 


Here is how St. Thomas described his Summa explaining why he could not finish it, after he had had a "mystical experience" (the correct description is "infused contemplation"): "I can write no more; compared with what I have seen, all I have written seems to me as straw" (Endnote #2, Kindle Edition, Location 1564-67)
I REST MY CASE!!!!! It isn't about "thinking" about God, it is about a relationship with Him! 

Even Invitation to the Classics encourages the reader to "thumb through the Summa, exploring the questions of most personal interest to gain a sense of the whole. (p. 96 - I just read that so I am not "cheating" by reading The Shorter Summa!) Even The Shorter Summa was difficult for me to get through, but I did enjoy the whole section on "happiness" (means "complete well-being" and not what we normall attach to this word in modern day) because it lined up directly with what I read in Aristotle's Ethics.  But I could have told you what His conclusion would be: complete well-being can only come from God.

Here are the "Issues to Explore" from p. 96:

(1) How is philosophic reason related to faith?

It approached faith from a different angle and has its place in the world. Many people think that way. So, I succumb to the way God made them. I don't know if answers to objections really convinces people to follow Christ though. It is a supernatural encounter with a relational God.

(2) How does Aquinas understand embodiment as essential to humanness? How does this relate to the resurrection?

I am too dumb to answer this question. HELP!

(3) How are general human virtues related to the theological virtues? 

All men are created in the image of God. So, there are glimmers of God in everyone. The full manifestation of God cannot be realized until we are reconciled to Him through Jesus though. Our happiness can only be derived from Him.  It helps to have read Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle and his writings on moral human virtues. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fifteen Minute Freewrite: Saturday Well Update

It is 6 am on a Saturday morning. I got up at 5 am. Not sure why, but I popped out of bed, and I am going with it. Had weird dreams that I needed to wake up from. Trying to fly out on a grassy meadow, but there were too many people around, and it inhibited my usual ability to fly in the stratosphere during other dreams. Sort of a bummer. :)

I think I will do a "Well" Update since I have not done for quite some time.

Well-Watered Soul/Well-Adjusted Heart

I am just going to combine these two this time. When it is well with my soul, my emotions are also doing great. It is well with my soul. I love being in Romans, even though it has taken me FOREVER to get through Romans 11, and I have struggled with how to communicate it. It is a great struggle. I am praying through the whole thing, wrestling with Paul's words.

So, emotionally, I am on an even keel. I haven't had any holiday "dip," but I haven't for quite a while now that I have thrown away to have my Christmas presents done by December 1st. I love shopping with others. I am just well. 


Well-Educated Mind 

I am on my 119th book for the year, Little Women. I do not know if I would have reread it had my book club not decided to read it for the second time in seven years (mostly new members in the group). I LOVE it. It is especially nice after some pretty sub-par, syrupy Christmas books that I am forcing myself to read. I had three books given to me for Christmas gifts over the years and three Christmas audiobooks that I got for free. So, I dove in thinking it was going include cozy reads. Dickens' short stories were about dead people, and the narrator on the audiobook for the classics stories was SO ANNOYING! I am struggling through Glenn Beck's Christmas Sweater. It is a sad story, but I am hoping it will pick up because it has REALLY dragged along!

All that to say, I have put my Invitation to the Classics list on hold for the rest of the year. 


Well-Tuned Strength

Last but not least, I am getting stronger daily. I had totally slacked off on overall body strengthening to focus on my back. So, I am weak in my upper body (not my lower as my cardio strengthens that). So, I am trying to get gain back strength. My back has been pretty good for three months, especially since I quit running, but I tried sprinting for the bus after a homeless man stopped me to talk "at" me last Tuesday. I had bags of clothing in both hands, and after I missed the bus (thanks Mr. Homeless Man), I walked three miles home. REALLY messed my back up. So, I went to Dr. Koen who is the BEST. Then, I had already scheduled my monthly massage with Jennifer who fixed me more. 

I am on the mend.

I scored high on my cardiovascular and muscle endurance tests with Trainer Trevor at the new gym I am going to. Michael, Paul, and I can go to this gym for the price of just one person at the Timberhill Athletic Club. So, I lost the pool and courts for my kids' health. That was an easy trade! I like the attitude of this trainer too, and the manager of the club is SO SWEET. I hate to say it, but the club was sort of snooty. It seemed like it had gotten snootier over the last year. So, I am just felt foreign there when it used to feel like home. I am not sure if it has changed or I have changed, but I think many of the less affluent people have left the club in favor of less expensive options that were not there five years ago. My new option also affords me the ability to run errands on foot if I walk there (only .8 of a mile downhill to get there). 

Well, the alarm went off a while ago, but I wanted to finish my thought. I must finish Romans 11 before book club today!

Many errors I am sure, but this is a freewrite so excuse me. 

Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...