Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Reading Wrap Up

  1. How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal? 
I read 66 books. I beat my personal goal of 52.

2.What are your top 5 (or more) favorite stories?  Top 5 least favorites? 

TOP 12 (or 15 if you count the trilogy)
15. Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict (ER)
19: Booked:Literature in the Soul of Me
26. Waiting for God (ITC)
38. Call the Midwife (all three in the trilogy)
40. The Reading Promise
54. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral and Valet Parking
56. Heidi
58. Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity
60. Persuasion (second time but loved it all over again)
64. Divine Conspiracy (third time finally did it!)
65. Searching for God Knows What
66. Behind the Beautiful Forevers

BOTTOM 5
2. Dandelion Wine (SBC)
5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood (SBC)
16. Warrior: Fighting for Your Faith, Family, etc (ER)
28. The Twilight of the Idols (ITC)

3. One book you thought you would never read and was pleasantly surprised you liked it? 

If I can say "one book I thought I would never REread and was pleasantly surprised," I would say The Divine Conspiracy. Willard is so intellectual he makes my head hurt, but I was surprised at how much more I grasped this time around and understood his heart. 

4. Most thrilling unputdownable book? 

It was not "thrilling," but I loved Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity because it was right where I was at. I read it while on a prayer retreat, and I ate it up. So wise and profound. 

5. Did you come across a story that you enjoyed it so much, you turned around and read it again or plan on  rereading it again in 2014? 

I could see my self rereading Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity on a yearly basis.

6. One book you thought you would love, but didn't? 

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

7. Which book or books had the greatest impact on you this year? 

Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity
Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me
Divine Conspiracy
Searching for God Knows Wha

8. Do you have a favorite cover or quote from a story you'd like to share? 


9. What book would you recommend everyone read?  

Silence, Solitude, and Simpicty and Divine Conspiracy or Searching for God Knows What - Divine Conspiracy is really hard for some people. 

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

The discipline of writing a review for every book. No, did not do any mini-challenges.

Here is the whole List:


JANUARY
1. Les Miserables - Radio Family Theatre (ER)
2. Dandelion Wine (SBC)
3. Pensees by Pascal (ITC)
4. Pocket Your Dollars (ER)
5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood (SBC)
6. The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico (ER)
7. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book I (ITC)
8. Keeping Christ in Ministry (ER)
9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
FEBRUARY
10. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
11. The Catcher in the Rye (BD)
12. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book II (ITC)
13. Practicing God's Presence 24/7
14. Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (ER)
15. Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict (ER)
16. Warrior: Fighting for Your Faith, Family, etc (ER)
MARCH
17. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book III (ITC)
18. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book IV (ITC)
19: Booked:Literature in the Soul of Me
APRIL
20. Apologia Pro Vita Sua (ITC)
21. The Second Shepherds' Play (ITC)
22. The Federalist (ITC)
24. I am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced
25. Four Quartets (ITC)
MAY
26. Waiting for God (ITC)
27. Life of Johnson (ITC)
28. The Twilight of the Idols (ITC)
29. My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper
30. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (ITC)
32. The Temple (ITC)
34. Fear and Trembling (ITC)
35. Go Down, Moses (ITC)
JUNE
36. Selected Essays of Samuel Johnson (ITC)
37. Watership Down (BD)
38. Call the Midwife
39. Happier at Home
40. The Reading Promise
JULY
41. Swann's Way (abridged audio)
42. Swann in Love (abridged audio)
43. Forty Days with the Messiah
44. Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People
45. Out of the Silent Planet
46. Call the Midwife: Shadow of the Workhouse
AUGUST
47. Till We All Have Faces
48. Perelandra
49. The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-law's Memoir of Caregiving (ER)
50. Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End
51. That Hideous Strength
52. Be Myself (Warren Wiersbe Autobio)
53. Forgotten God
54. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral and Valet Parking
SEPTEMBER
55. The Great Gatsby
56. Heidi
OCTOBER
57. Walden on Wheels
58. Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity
59. Three Men in a Boat
60. Persuasion
NOVEMBER
61. The King Jesus Gospel
62. The Daughter's Walk
63. The Christ of the Indian Road
DECEMBER
64. Divine Conspiracy
65. Searching for God Knows What
66. Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Merry Christmas Chai Recipe!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

66. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers Cover
"One of the most powerful indictments of economic inequality I've ever read." Barbara Ehrenreich

This may seem like a very unusual book to be reading at Christmas Time, especially since I only read Christmas books last December (I had a backlog of free audiobooks, "gift" books, and an early review book that had been given to me - most of them pretty boring and some downright BAD!). But this book is a perfect for this time of year because it opens your eyes to what is happening to people in underdeveloped countries.  This won the 2012 National Book Award.

This is a profound read that reads more like a novel than non-fiction. I will let the video speak for itself. 




See her website for more informaation: http://www.behindthebeautifulforevers.com/

65. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

I am not sure how I missed this one. I think I like it better than his more famous, Blue Like Jazz! I read it after reading an article that he wrote in a magazine. I knew that this must have come from a book he was writing, and somehow I stumbled across this. Donald is intellectual but more accessible than Dallas Willard in that he does not make your head hurt. He makes a compelling case for the Gospel being more more about relationship than "systematic theology." 

“I think Jesus is saying, Look, you guys are running around like monkeys trying to get people to clap, but people are fallen, they are separated from God, so they have no idea what is good or bad, worthy to be judged or set free, beautiful or ugly to begin with. Why not get your glory from God? Why not accept your feelings of redemption because of His pleasure in you, not the fickle and empty favor of man? And only then will you know who you are, and only then will you have true, uninhibited relationships with others.” ― Donald MillerSearching for God Knows What

I don't necessarily agree with some of his preachy political conclusions though. He should have left politics out of the book.

64. Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard

This is my third time reading this book. The first time made me head hurt, the second time I grasped a little more, the third time was when I realized that Willard was a genius. While I was blessed to be involved in intentional discipleship through the ministry of the Navigators, I know that most have not had this kind of blessing. That is why I think The Divine Conspiracy is an important read for believers today. 

This is a beautiful book about being intentional about becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, not just someone who has made a decision and never done anything since. The culmination of the book is the "Curriculum for Christlikeness."  We have led three groups through this book, and we have every write one and submit it to others for accountability.

 Here is mine:

Carol’s Curriculum for Christlikeness 2013-14

Life Mission
To Abide in Christ so I can overflow as I encourage women toward abiding fruitfulness in Christ through relational evangelizing, establishing, and equipping.

I.            Enthralling My Mind and Heart with God Through
A.   His Creation
1.     Walk out and worship in creation at least three times a week
2.    Look at pictures of God’s creation when the weather is bad
3.    Look at pictures of peoples whom God created, especially those from other cultures
B.    His Word
1.     Spend daily time in Old Testament with Bible Book Club
2.    Focus on Jesus’ life through daily Jesus Story/Gospel reading
C.     Experience of Jesus
1.     Daily Jesus Story/Gospel reading
2.    Listen to His voice 24/7/365
3.    Theophostic prayer
4.    Read God Guides

II.         Acquiring the Habits of Goodness through the disciplines of . . . 
A.   Solitude and Silence
1.     Daily prayer before everyone gets up
2.    Day of prayer Labor Day, New Year’s Eve, Spring Break, Memorial Day, and mid-Summer with one-two overnighter at St. Benedict Lodge/Shalom Prayer Center/Abbey Retreat Center/Trappist Abbey/The Upper Room
B.    Study and Worship
1.     Daily Creation to Christ Meditation with daily “I wills”
2.    Romans (Knowing the cross) with Rachel and Stephanie every other week
3.    Worship Walks as above
4.    Worship through music by singing and dancing

5.    Worship through the Psalms 

 I love what he says about the Bible, and I could not agree more:
Its purpose is practical, not academic. An intelligent, careful, intensive but straightforward reading—that is, one not governed by obscure and faddish theories or by a mindless orthodoxy—is what it requires to direct us into life in God’s kingdom. Any other approach to the Bible, I believe, conflicts with the picture of the God that, all agree, emerges from Jesus and his tradition.
Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy . Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

This is precisely why I started the BIBLE BOOK CLUB in 2007. If anyone reads this post and wants to come along, feel free. It just involved reading the 1-2 chapters of the Bible over a three year period. The people who have finished the previous two cycles have been richly blessed, and maybe you will be too! We start a new cycle on January 1!

63. The Christ of the Indian Road

This was a reread for our ministry. This time, our leader assigned certain chapters, but I think he left out the better ones! I was sorry that the people new to the book didn't get the whole thing!

I love this book. E. Stanley Jones was often called the "Billy Graham of India" and was ahead of his time when it came to having open inter-faith dialogue and understanding the cultural context in which to have that dialogue. He introduced "indigenization" in India. 

Jones was an American missionary to India from 1907-1973. He was a close confidant to FDR in the months leading up to December 7, 1941, trying to avert war with Japan. As a result, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  His biography on Wikipedia is fascinating. You can read it HERE.  

Also, the book can be viewed in a PDF HERE.

Christmas Eve Freewrite

It has been so long since I have done a freewrite. I haven't been able to sit for as long as I usually do in the mornings, but my back is pretty much free of pain now. I have had repeated visits to Paul (3) and Dr. Myers (5), but the one that turned everything around was with Margaret Bartlett, a PT who does the same thing as OMT. She found something at the base of my skull on the right side that was the cause of much of the problem. She moved all the way down my sciatica to my toes, and I started to get feeling there too. She also gave me exercises to do for my head and for the sciatica down my leg. 

Now I am back to doing Pilates with no problem and have even lifted light weights once. YAY! I am trying not to sit as long, and it really helps for me to get out and walk and workout in the morning to limber up my entire body. It is a good plan and perfectly timed since I am only doing editing for Messiah right now. 

The last two weeks have been fairly intense, but it seems like fall has had a "theme" in that is MARRIAGE. We have been talking with two couples who are not doing well in their marriages, and we have also been doing premarital counseling for a couple who we think it going to do really well. It makes us realize how healthy our marriage really is. We do not want to brag, but it is a blessing to have such peace at home where others have strife. I took a prayer walk yesterday and prayed some "impossible" prayers for one of the couples. The other couple is doing much better, and we are so glad!

We are having Christmas Eve dinner with the Stewarts. I already made a Christmas Tree appetizer out of broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and starfruit; and the pot of Malaysian Chicken Goulash is all ready to just warm up. We will round it out with roti canai and Christmas rice. Then Lisa will bring a green salad, dessert, and drinks. It should be fun and low-key. 

Our Christmas, in general, has been pretty low-key. I don't usually get stressed out about getting gifts, and I like to get things that people will like. I have tried to find what Kellie asked for, but she never responded to my requests for more details about what to get. So, I am giving her a gift card. Lisa was very specific. I got all of my relatives Moonstruck Chocolate that was already wrapped and with a bow. I love that Amazon has free two day shipping so everything got there in time (at least I assume so since I ordered mine a day later, and it came yesterday). One gift that was supposed to come after Christmas even came, and I didn't order it with fast shipping! So, I am excited about that!

2013 has been a very good year. The only "pit" has been the back thing, but most of the year was really great with my back with a "peak" being getting to the Temple Divide in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho without even being winded until the very last part. I was in excellent shape for the trek!  Another "peak" was losing 30 pounds and keeping it off. I have had a bit of fluctuation with not being able to be active with my back, but I think I am OK! I am a bit afraid to weigh myself during this Christmas season, but I know that my capris are still loose on me, and that is a very good sign! Another "pit" was the low-low income for George's OSU job and running out of funding, but the "peak" was the great job at TriQuint!

Well, I think that my time is running out.  So I will sign off and say . . . 


Merry Christmas!!!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Caffeine and Pain

I was having an OK pain day. My quadratus lumborum was feeling pretty good. I went to have a bit of milk chocolate, and I literally felt that muscle tighten in my back, and I was in pain.

Then I got to thinking. Many times I will get up in the morning, and I will feel fine, but as the morning moves on, my back feels worse, even though I have done nothing to irritate it.

All of a sudden, I thought, "Maybe it is caffeine that is causing me more pain."  I realized that if it did it for that little bit of chocolate, then my chai tea (I have four cups of chai in the morning but it has 2 tablespoons of orange pekoe black tea is a LOT of caffeine.), it was probably the source of my unexplained pain later in the morning.

BINGO. I skipped it for two mornings, and I had no pain.

Numerous Google searches turned this up. Why has no doctor told me this before? It makes sense that since caffeine is a stimulant that it would cause muscle contraction, and when you are trying to heal muscles (like I am with my QL after 8 weeks following injury), it is probably something to forgo! 

I read on a massage therapists website that she can tell if someone has had caffeine too. I think I want to go back to having my massages in the afternoon. I have had morning massages lately, and she says I have been very tight. 

I give it up for a while (or maybe put one teaspoon of darjeeling instead of 2 tablespoons of orange pekoe). I do think it is contributing. 

Never would have realized that unless I had felt it after that chocolate. 

Chocolate & Pain

Chocolate is a stronger pain-inducer than coffee or tea. Chocolate causes dramatic increases in muscle tension and pain. Chocolate contains less caffeine than coffee, but has large amounts of theophylline, similar to caffeine. The combined effect of caffeine and theophylline is probably why chocolate makes muscles tense and painful. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

62. The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

This is an Oregon Christian author. I read another book by her that was written in 2009 called A Land of Sheltered PromiseI enjoyed the historical subject matter about Oregon's history of the Rajneeshee, a cult that took over the little town of Antelope, Oregon back in the 1980's.  We prayed and prayed, and they left as quickly as they came. Now it is a Young Life Camp (Two of my friends were instrumental in acquiring the land, and they are mentioned in the story with pseudonyms.). It was fascinating history, but I did not care for the fictional story that surrounded the history. 

This story is different. Two more years of writing under this author's belt has produced an exceptional story. I had read the biography Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America for my other book club. So, when my new book club decided to read this fictional account, I was not very excited, but this one is very well-written and goes into more detail about what happens AFTER the walk across Victorian American and is told in first-person from the daughter's perspective.  I have love for first person narratives (think Jane Eyre) so I was more inclined to love this book. 

Hega Estby was a Norwegian woman who wanted to save the family farm near Spokane, Washington. So she learned of a challenge by sponsors who would reward her $10,000 if she walked from Spokane to New York wearing a "reform dress" that made exercise for women easier and scandalously exposed the ankles! In the process, she dragged her daughter along. I will not tell you the outcome of their journey, but that part is only about 40% of the book. The rest of the book is what happened to the daughter afterwards! I still need to look up what really happened historically, but I will not spoil the book for you by researching and reporting it here. 


This is a worthy read about women's roles, family, faith, community, and love. I really enjoyed it.


The narrator for this audiobook was excellent. She did the Norwegian accents really well.  

Lightbulb Moment

Some people think I am a "P" (like to constantly take in more information and not necessarily keen on always making a final decision and therefore more open, laid-back and flexible) personality type. They enjoy the PROCESS involved in making decisions.

I am decidedly (but not strongly) a "J" (like to take in only enough information necessary to make a decision).  We enjoy the CLOSURE involved in making a final decision. 

I had a lightbulb moment this morning. I think that people might think I am a "P" because my NUMBER ONE strength in the StrengthsFinder is LEARNER! I love to constantly learn new things.

I think it makes me balanced to have a "J" personality type and also a strength that likes to learn new things! I love learning more information, but I also love to have CLOSURE!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Dallas Willard on the Bible: AMEN!

On the Bible:

Its purpose is practical, not academic. An intelligent, careful, intensive but straightforward reading—that is, one not governed by obscure and faddish theories or by a mindless orthodoxy—is what it requires to direct us into life in God’s kingdom. Any other approach to the Bible, I believe, conflicts with the picture of the God that, all agree, emerges from Jesus and his tradition.

Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy . Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

61. The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight

I did not dislike this book, but it just seemed to drag on and on. He made his point and drew it out too long. I know many people like this book. So no offense. 

Here is his point:
The gospel is the declaration that Jesus is Messiah and Lord and that gospel declares that the Story of Jesus completes the Story of Israel in a way that saves. This gospel counters the shallow and superficial gospeling today that reduces the gospel to four simple points and eliminates the confession that Jesus is Messiah and Lord.

Here is the video that introduces the book:



He advocates that "Creation to Christ to End Time Consummation" is the whole gospel. He looks at what Jesus, Peter, and Paul meant when they said "gospel."

We have our groups go through the whole book of Acts and try to define what the gospel was that the apostles were preaching. His book does this for you, but I think it is better to look at the Scriptures directly for yourself! :) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fifteen Minute Freewrite

I do not have tons of time this morning. I got out of bed at 3:30 am (that is what I get for falling asleep at 9:30 pm!), and it is a prayer and fast day for me from sunrise to sunset. So, I had a little of my tea and am enjoying time in the Word. 

I have loved changing our Kingdom Community readings from writing out gospel passages to going through the key passages in the Old Testament that point to Jesus. We will get to those gospel passages, but I love, love, love that we are meditating (they are supposed to be doing a "mini" inductive study of writing out the passage - then rewriting it in their own words after meditating or studying it by looking up key words) in these passages. We just finished Abraham by covering key passages in Genesis 12, 15,17, and 22. I was so tickled that they were reading the in-between passages for context (because we all know that "context is key!").  I am also seeing that they are following through on their "I WILL" statements. These are statements of intentional action as a result of hearing what God says to them about the passage. People are starting to get the idea of the accountability involved in that, and we all grow in the process of group, obedience-based discipleship. While this is new for many people.

Oh, I forgot all about this freewrite and started Skyping with Elizabeth in India! Now I have to pack to go to Hillsboro. BYe!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fifteen Minute Freewrite

I am letting my fingers do the walking across the keyboard. I have not done a freewrite in ages and ages. It will be good for me. 

I have had this bag of halloween candy here since Sunday, and I have hardly eaten anything. Unlike other years where I bought the candy too soon and had to go back and get more! That is what losing 30 pounds will do to you! 

I have both my PowerPoints and all my handouts ready for Friday night and Saturday. Now, I just have to pray for God's will to be done in Newberg. I know that He will show up because learning about this is so important.

Today was an unexpected day. I had mercy on Paul having so many things due out at Albany in one day. So, I let him study here for forty five minutes extra and took him out to LBCC. Then I went back via Hwy 20 instead of 34 and stopped at the Albany Snap Fitness. They changed all their Fitness on Demand videos, and I cannot find the wonderful Pilates video I have been using since last December. BUMMER! It looks like they have replaced it with Daily Burn Pilates which was so lame! A bunch of macho people doing these impossible moves which were not really Pilates! They also do not have a good elliptical machine at that facility so I settled for a treadmill and did just 30 minutes.

Then while coming home, smoke started billowing out of my car so I was within a half mile from my car repair shop. Since they just repaired it last week, I figured something did not get tightened dow, and I was right. No cost. 

While I waited, I texted Teala, and she had the morning free. So, I went over there. We went straight to prayer because it was 10:02, and my phone pinged me to pray Luke 10:2 and asked her to join me. We prayed for lots of stuff. It is nice to start off your time with a friend in prayer.

Then, it was BURRITO day at the sorority! So, I had a yummy one on a whole wheat tortilla. Then, she had to Costco, and went and shopped at Fred Meyer. Ran into a person I used to go to church with, and she had left six months ago. What a sad church situation. I know few people who are happy there. Church should be home, and that is what I have at my church. YAY! Twenty eight years was too long to spend at a place that was not home!

Then,  I got craisins for my scones and stopped at Trader Joe's for some Mascarpone Cheese for my Devonshire Cream for the scones. It is FOUR DOLLARS cheaper there than Fred Meyer! Then, I went to T.J. Max to pick up a wall hanging that Teala had in her bathroom. LOVE IT!  

Then, I came here to HOME SWEET HOME. I might run through my Powerpoints one more time and then read my book that is due back at the library tomorrow.

I bet it is fifteen minutes of writing right about now. Let me check. Nope only ten minutes.

I do not have to do it fifteen. My back could use the break from sitting so I am saying GOOD-BYE!

60. Persuasion by Jane Austen



The Book Dames was tired of reading depressing books (Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby were two of our more recent books). So, we wanted to read something happy and settled on a wonderful Austen! I had a major back blow-out and was confined to bed, but this book kept my spirits high though my body was brought low. I love Austen. I really, really do!

I read Persuasion back in 1999 when I read all the Austen books upon my return from two years overseas. This was the only one I had not re-read, and I do believe that it has increased on the list of favorite Austen books! 

This was also my first time listening to it as an audiobook and Nadia May has done it again! She is a fantastic narrator.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

59. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Click this cover for a sample of Three Men in a Boat: (To Say Nothing of the Dog).
From Library2Go Website:-
  • If you've never read anything by Jerome K. Jerome, you'd be well advised to heed this warning by theGlasgow Herald: "It would be dangerous to [listen to] this book in any place––say a full railway compartment––where the reader was not at perfect liberty to laugh as loudly and as long as he chose." And the passage of time has not altered that verdict. Here is a perfect picture of those lazy summer days "messing about in boats."
    After his final trip up the river Thames with his three companions––Harris, George, and Montmorency the dog––Jerome K. Jerome sat down to write his proposed book, The Story of the Thames. But before he could tackle the work in the serious manner intended, his humor took over and gave birth to a masterpiece of unquenchable comedy. This is a classic of English humor, justifiably loved around the world.
About the Author-
  • Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), English humorist, novelist, and playwright, was born in Staffordshire and brought up in London. Successively a clerk, schoolmaster, reporter, actor, and journalist, he became joint editor of The Idler in 1892 and launched his own twopenny weekly, To-Day. His magnificently ridiculousThree Men in a Boat (1889) established itself as a humorous classic of the whimsical. Other books include The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1889), Three Men on the Bummel (1900), Paul Kelver (1902), the morality play, The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1907), and his autobiography, My Life and Times (1926).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Please Watch This to the End!



I do not condone his anger, but the content is awesome. Please watch this to the end!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sliding

I think I am sliding into sickness. And Ginny is sliding toward heaven. I hope she makes it to Friday when I am going to go and see her. Lorraine doesn't know if she will make it, but i really want to go and say good-bye to my long-time mentor and friend. She was 90 years old in August (I couldn't do anything about that as my back was terrible that whole week).  I wish I could have talked to her one last time, but she is not talking much now nor eating.

Life well lived. She is my hero. 
Ginny, Me, and Lorraine

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) Reading Guide

Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald): Our Reading Guide for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald includes a Book Club Discussion Guide, Book Review, Plot Summary-Synopsis and Author Bio.


Friday, October 04, 2013

58. Silence, Solitude, Simplicity: A Hermit's Love Affair with a Noisy, Crowded, and Complicated World

This book was absolutely precious to me. To hear from an octogenarian nun who had lived this kind of life was very powerful. Her wisdom is unparalleled compared to some of the "wisdom" bestowed in some of the popular Christian books today by people who just want to write books and speak out of ignorance and immaturity. She walks her talk. She has lived the life of pressing in closer to our God! 

I had borrowed it from my retreat center library; but when my hand got tired of writing down gem quote after gem quote, I ran down to the retreat bookstore and bought it. (I only BUY books when absolutely necessary and usually just borrow them.)  It is all marked up now.

It is about monasticism, but it is about going to the desert in order to emerge with God's love and compassion for others. 

In quoting Gregory of Nyssa, she writes:
Speaking of Moses' desire to see God, Gregory writes: "And the bold request which goes up the mountains of desire asks this: to enjoy the beauty not in mirrors and reflections, but face to face." God's response to Moses: "He would not have shown himself to his servant if the sight were such as to bring the desire of the beholder to an end, since the true sight of God consists in this, that the one who looks up to God never ceases in that desire, " Gregory concludes: "This truly is the vision of God: never to be satisfied in the desire to see him. But one must always, by looking at what he can see, rekindle his desire to see more." (p.6)
More of her own thoughts on Moses: 
Then don't I need to be tested in the desert, challenged, purified, to become aware of my frailty and God's strength, of my infidelity and God's unending faithfulness, to be healed of my enslavements and set free at the heart of my being, to learn to trust deeply in the God of promise? I need to learn not to try to program God, but to believe in divine love, the divine will and capacity to care -- I need to rely on it and accept it as gift. I need to leave it to God to choose the time and place where, like Moses, I meet God and come to know divine love in direct communication. Must I not, like Moses, ultimately come to God healed of my radical self-centeredness, and with deep compassion for others and concern for their needs? (p.67)
AMEN! YES! YES! WOW!

Another favorite quote:
A favorite image of the monastic person in the modern world is as sacrament -- an outward and visible sign to others -- of desire for God, for God's reign, for the nurturing and extension of God's life and love in the world. It is so easy to have desire eroded, to be diverted or enticed away from that central hunger of our being. We have to keep it alive. And how much the church and the world need free men and women of desire, who truly, effectively believe that God seeks them in love and desire, and that they will be found. Such persons -- whether inside or outside the monastery -- communicate a constancy of hope, confidence, and joy -- not a shallow optimism, but the living fruit of faith. Thus they become, as well, sacraments of thanksgiving and gratitude. (p.10)
Thus why, since 1980, I have taken regular, extended times of solitude with the Lord: to press in closer. I hold no illusions that anything I do "for" Him is because of my doing. I am just a conduit, and those times of pressing in help me to make sure all the plumbing is working correctly in order to ensure a free flow. 

I highly recommend this book. It is so precious to me that if someone doesn't like it, I do not want to know!



SCC Reading Group 2013-2014

OCT: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
NOV: A Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick
DEC: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
JAN: The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
FEB: Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
MAR: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
APR: Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Prior
MAY: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
JUN: God and Stephen Hawking by John Lennox
SUM: Where River Turns to Sky by Gregg Kleiner

Thursday, October 03, 2013

57. Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas


From page 73-74: 
I was bearing witness to an ancient ritual that I felt I'd seen in a previous lifetime. I was being reacquainted with the images processed by a million eyes before me, reveling in the privileges of the great human experience. Money, prestige, possessions, a home with two and a half bathrooms -- these aren't the guiding lights of the universe that show us our path. How can we dedicate our lives to such things when we can see the impermanence of everything above and below us, in the flicker of a dying star or the decay of a rotting log? The statues, the paintings, the epic poems, the things we buy, the homes we strive to attain, the great cities and timeless monuments. In time, they'll all be gone. And the names of the great kings and queens who shook the world will be forgotten, carried away like crumpled leaves for autumn limbs. Stare -- really stare -- into the womb of creation, and it will be impossible to dedicate your life to mindless accumulation. When you see the aurora, the only logical choice you can make is to spend the rest of your life seeking the sublime.

This is about the journey of a 20-something who got into debt while getting a liberal arts degree at a four, and the crazy way he gets out of debt and learns life lessons along the way.  

There is some unsavory language and sensuality, but Ken is a beautiful writer and makes some very astute observations about the beauty of living in simplicity.  I really enjoyed this book. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

State of My Life Address

Heart/Soul

I had some up and down dips in September that were well-documented here, but thanks to others who pray and listen, I am great. I think that "greatness" was cemented with my Mt. Angel 48 Hours of solitude, silence, and supplication. I love it up there. I need to do overnighters twice a year. I just did a day up there in March, and it was great but curtailed because I was with someone else. That is good because I was exposing them to the wonders of SSS, but I need my solitude. I am at heart an introvert, but I need to feed that beyond just being at home. 

I read this new book: Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity that I will be reviewing here shortly. So yummy. Just one quote to wet your appetite:
It is so easy to have desire eroded, to be diverted or enticed away from that central hunger of our being. We have to keep it alive.

These days of retreat help me keep it alive, keeping the main thing, the main thing. God has given all of us "central hunger" for Him, but we are confused in how we meet that hunger by all the trinkets of life in this world. I know that very well! It is so good to go there and have all the distractions stripped away to the simplicity of just pressing in to knowing Him (Hosea 6:3 was a central verse that I meditated on. That and Psalm 42:1-2.). 

So my heart and soul are satisfied (Psalm 63:5), and I know there is so much more to knowing and trusting Him. 

I came back wondering where I fit in to church women dynamics. I went to SCC Book Club, and I just felt like I did not belong there even though I think all the women are just lovely, and I love the books they presented for the coming year. I had great connection with Donna, Donna, Jane, and Ilene (she has done Bible Book Club, and she will do it again next year). I just think it is too big for me. I like the intimacy of the Book Dames more (smaller, and I know the women better), but I want somewhere to connect with women at SCC, but I guess I do not have the time, and my life with women is more with those outside the walls of the church. I want to go to the Fall conference, but I usually walk away feeling lonely, and I do not like that feeling when I know that I am not. I just do not like a sea of chit-chat rather than deeper and more meaningful relationships. Sigh. 

But I go back to my solitude, and I know that YOU are calling me to my own special thing. I have a strength of networking relationships that goes beyond the church, and I feel like the church is supportive of that. I just need to not think they are disappointed in me for not being more involved with the big activities. I always think I can go to things, and then other things push it out of the way. 

Lead on Lord. I do not need to be distracted by all of that, but it is good to communicate it.

I am trying to schedule regular time with like-hearted people. So I may do Thursday mornings with Teala and then Yumm bowls or burritos with her for lunch. She has to go somewhere at 12:30, and that might be really good for me to have an end time to get back home. I am also trying to walk with Kim and go out to tea at least every other month. We are going on the 18th. YAY! 

The next week I may go up early to Seattle and have George join me, but I would really rather just go with George there so we have time together to talk. We are going to Rick Steves' Travel Conference on the 26th since our 25th in 2015 is going to be in Europe, and we want to start planning now! But we have a commitment on Sunday morning at church. SO maybe not. I am so confused.

Anyway, my heart is good. Must press in to the Papa this morning though. 

Mind

Walden on Wheels is my latest read. It has some foul language and sensuality, but it is so interesting to find a 20-something who hates debt as much as I do! 

Strength

I did not do heavier weights for three weeks, and I had NO PAIN or TIGHTNESS this last weekend! I did do back exercises, Pilates, and some very light weights. I did some heavier weights yesterday along with Pilates and belly dancing, and my back was tight this morning. FINE LINE for me in all of this, and I must learn the balance.

I did not watch my calories for September, and I overate 225 calorie average per day for a two pound weight gain in 31 days. This is how it happens people! Just a little bit of weight month by month, and in five months, you have gained back 10 pounds! I should say that I am still under my ideal weight, that is why I shoot for a lower amount than my medium frame weight (172.6). So if I gain two pounds, I am still under (1.2 pounds under to be exact). 

That is why my goal is MAINTENANCE this year. Still trying to find that sweet spot of eating where I am not counting every calorie but also maintaining at least my medium frame weight. I am back to counting and reporting for the whole month of October to do just that. I want to get a bit lower so I have wiggle room for the holidays! :) I am done with my daily accountability commitment on December 20 when I started daily reporting (even though I was not doing daily calorie counting). 

It helps that I do not allow my morning chai tea if I am over 173. I thought that had a nice ring to it, "No chai TEA unless under one seventy THREE!" I am so weird. 



Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...