Tuesday, January 29, 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 definitely NOT "G rated". Cheryl was an extremely promiscuous 20-something, but I knew that deep down it was due to her deep need to get something that she did not get as a child. Some parts were "R" or even "X" rated; so be forewarned! Some excerpts were too graphic for my tastes, and I wonder that she doesn't have diseases brought on by her years of VERY casual sex with strangers! YUK! I was happy that she came to not want that by the end of the book. 

Another fun thing about the book was that she was at many places I have been on day hikes: Castle Crags, Jefferson Wilderness near Three Finger Jack, Crater Lake, Timberline Lodge. I imagined her hiking through, gazing at the beautiful blue of Crater Lake (just went there in September) or eating food in the over-priced dining rooms of the lodges! I wish I could have been there to treat her to a meal. She was so poor when she hiked the PCT, but I imagine that she is no longer poor now! This book is pretty popular!

All in all, this is a very well-written memoir. It inspired me to hike the PCT someday, but maybe I will wait until my back gets better. :) 

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 God— their passions, personality, and spiritual gifts— enables them to participate in the ministry of Jesus in a unique way. This chapter also explains the role of the “ministry mentor” in helping people and provides an example of an overall approach.
Harbison, John H.. Keeping Christ in Ministry (Kindle Locations 99-102). Kirkdale Press.  

I came to the end of that chapter and said, "That's it? Also, his discussion of passions, personality, and spiritual gifts are something I teach on, and it a very basic regurgitation of the S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart Passions, Abilities, Personality, Experience) already developed by others many years ago and doesn't really contribute anything new to the dialogue.

While I wholeheartedly agree that much of the church has resorted to methodology over theology, I do not think this book does much to counteract that trend. 

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 the idea of God’s total sovereignty, particularly in salvation and election. 
The Institutes are a primary reference for the system of doctrine adopted by the Reformed churches, usually called Calvinism. 
Book One of the Institutes treats of the knowledge of God, considered as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the world, and of every thing contained in it. 

This is an important work, and it has always been my desire to read it in its entirety, but I will take it one book at a time.

Calvin was definitely an "intuitive thinking" personality type. Authors like that often make my head hurt. The book is pretty heady, and I didn't find it had quite as much "heart" as Pascal's 
Pensées. It does amaze me that Calvin wrote this when he was in his late 20's! Would the church today take the writings of a 20's something so seriously?

This is a work of systematic theology, and systematic theology is not my thing (even though I studied it in seminary). I believe we could get so much more just reading the Bible over and over again. Thus why I lead a three year reading through the entire Bible (www.3yearbiblebookclub.blogspot.com).

My favorite part of this particular book were his thoughts on Satan. I do believe that Calvin understood the reality of the battle with the enemy of our souls. 

I am taking a break before diving into Book 2! 

By the way, the librivox.org recording by various narrators is very sound. Some are a bit monotone, but it makes it so much easier to get through this huge TOME, and it is FREE! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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 do not have that "bandwidth" either and that we would have to specifically pull back from what God is calling us to do. I would have to put all the great things God has given me to do on hold, and I really didn't want to do that. George would not be able to leave work to take care of the logistics. So, I sensed a "NO" from God, but I also felt sad that it might not happen this year.

On my last full day of the fast, I arose very early and lit candles all around the living/dining room area. I praise and prayed. As I knelt on the floor God said, "It can be in Seattle with Nate's crew."  

PERFECT! For two years, it was in that area, but it was moved down here because the majority of the people who attended in Seattle were from Corvallis. We also had 3-4 times more people when it was down here in Corvallis; but there is a whole NEW crop of people doing great things up in Seattle that need to hear the people from this great conference!  If we have people here, they can travel up there!

Then, about an hour later, George told me that Nate had posted on his Facebook page that they were hosting the conference!  It was the same weekend that we were supposed to host it. So, my guess is that the powers that be also thought it was a better idea to do it in Seattle. Ultimately, the GREATEST POWER THAT BE thought so too! LOL!

I am happy to have heard from God so specifically.

On top of that, my unreached people prayer times were VERY sweet during this week of prayer. I also was able to pray for the college retreat and pray for and with people in our lovely little ministry.

It wasn't without its attacks from the enemy as EVERYONE I knew was experiencing push back for the increased prayer, but Satan just had to deal with it because WE WERE NOT STOPPING! I knew that I got a little zinger of an attack when I went from total peace on my prayer walk in Glen Eden to total panic when I got a text message that there was NOTHING in our checking account. Turns out George and I had a miscommunication about where to deposit the check for Michael's tuition for Winter term. So, the charge came through, and there was no money there to pay for it. WOOPS.  It is only a $3 overdraft protection fee, but I never get those, and we had the money to cover it, it was just sitting in the wrong account.  All that to say, the enemy exploited that situation until I realized what he was up to! After that, the rest of the week was smooth sailing in prayer.

Even though I felt very lethargic, I realized that I really do not REST that much. The lethargy taught me that I need to take rest times every day. I read a lot, but most of it is listening to books WHILE I work. I need to just rest and read and enjoy stillness. That was another good lesson from the week. 

Oh drat. There is the timer. This has to be enough for now. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

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 for me. 

On more thing, I do love the cover and style of the book. It is very precious and beautiful. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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). I know evangelicals don't practice the Old Testament law, but there are so many things that point to Christ in it, it is a really important thing to experience at least once! It is really common in the churches here in the West to do so. 

She has some good thoughts, and I believe she is truly open to growing. I think because she grew up in the Bible Belt she thinks all Evangelical Christianity is inferior to her thoughts. I have never lived in the Bible Belt. So, what she was raised in is probably more stereotypical cultural Churchianity rather than biblical Christianity. I think her quest helped her to discover this. I wasn't raised in the church like her. So, I didn't relate to some of her more negative experiences.

This part of the introduction made me want to open up more dialogue with her though:

I was raised evangelical, which means I spent a good part of my life feeling sorry for the rest of humanity on account of its certain destiny in hell. This was not something my parents taught me directly, just something I picked up from preachers, Sunday school teachers, and Christian playmates along the way. After hearing time and again that “wide is the path that leads to destruction,” I just assumed that Buddhists went to hell for worshipping Buddha. 
(Evans, Rachel Held (2012-10-30). A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

Later she says "I . . . am no longer convinced that everyone different from me goes to hell" (p.xviii). 

Then why did Jesus die, Rachel? That is where I would love to sit down with her and talk through that summation. This statement alone almost made me put down the book, but I am glad that I did not. 

I feel like she grew more in love with God and His plan for her through the whole process, which is a good thing. She dug into Scripture, and that is a good thing too. I wish she had a face-to-face mentor through the process of writing the book and beyond. She would really benefit from it. 

I think she also grew to really appreciate her husband, Dan, who is the real star of the book. What a great guy! "Go team Dan and Rachel" was so heartwarming to read! It is similar to my marriage. So it made me smile. Here is what I wrote in a post of my comical application of Genesis 3:

It dawned on me that the whole POINT is that “it is better that my man (George) not be alone.” It is more about the two of us being together as a team, and our team is going to look different from another couple’s team because we have different personalities, gifts, talents, and abilities. My organized managing abilities compliment his more “free-flowing” creative nature. It is also more about me entering into his joy (and sorrows) too. It is about working as one in a team partnership. 

In many marriages, being a helpmate does involve the woman cooking and making coffee. At my mom’s memorial service, I shared that the legacy she left for me is the model of a “helpmate” and “partner" for my dad. My mom got up every morning of their twenty-nine years of marriage to make my dad breakfast (she was aghast when she discovered that I didn’t do the same)! For mom, it meant that she was the woman behind a “larger than life, life of the party” man, but she REVELED in that role. Being a “helpmate” doesn't look like that in my marriage, but I still learned by her example. It is all about being a helpmate suitable for my husband and not someone else's! (The entire post is HERE if you want to read my process of reflecting on Genesis 3 and the "helpmate" thing)

All that to say, I did not grown up in a culture where I was oppressed as a woman, and my marriage is more egalitarian like Rachel and Dan's because it works to have it that way. I do not feel any outside pressure to conform to a cultural interpretation of how I should be the Proverbs 31 woman (And Rachel got the "woman of valor" right from her Hebrew studies!).

She has some great points. I loved her quote by Carolyn Custis James:

A message that points to the marriage altar as the starting gate of God's calling for women leaves us with nothing to tell [unmarried women] except that God's purpose for them is not here and now, but somewhere down the road. (Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women, p. 103)
Her conclusion after James' quote is great:
As a Christian, my highest calling is not motherhood; my highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married, or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar (a TLC Reality Show mom of 19 children. http://www.duggarfamily.com/ ).

I heartily agree! I did not marry until I was 31 years old and lived a lot of life before I met my husband and would have been totally fulfilled as a single woman. Thankfully, I grew up in a community that valued single women. In fact, my mentors are two single, retired missionaries in their 80's!

I feel like she is very hard on John Piper in regards to Biblical manhood and womanhood. I wished she could have initiated a heart-to-heart talk with the man. Has she read Desiring God? Would she be so hard on him if she knew his heart and where he is coming from? Her slam on evangelicals was a bit heart-breaking to me. She comes across very judgmental of them and wished she had opened a door for dialogue with them instead of slamming it shut. Maybe I am wrong, but I think John Piper would have invited the dialogue. Therefore the slams made me sad. 

Not surprisingly, this young woman has gotten some push back for her thoughts:

"Given the state of the evangelical world, this book is the equivalent of carrying a torch through a forest that hasn’t seen rain in years.  The odds of a fire are somewhere in the neighborhood of one." (Matthew Lee Anderson ahttp://www.mereorthodoxy.com/controversy-and-interpretation-biblical-womanhood/)

 Before I read her book, my friend posted this link on his Facebook page, prefacing it by saying, "A good review of a bad book." Here is the link if you want to read it:

The Gospel Coalition Book Review

I agree with the above reviewer that we are not under the Law, therefore we do not have to follow Old Covenant restrictions for women like  being outside in a tent during menstruation!

Her reaction to the fire:
The overwhelming majority of readers seem to have understood that such exercises were meant to be hyperbolic and provocative, intended to bring some of the Bible’s most interesting word pictures to life, and to illustrate, Amelia Bedelia-style, the futility of a hyper-literal application of the text. 
I think I understand that too, Rachel.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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 library holds and Paul from the bus stop, and they are going to both go to workout. So, I have quietness and prayer space. 

Pressing in on that score doesn't make the enemy happy.

I am lying down a bit exhausted from the ordeal, and the busy last few days we have had. So, I lay here, and the best use of my time is just to go back to praying like I was praying before the financial interruption, and the enemy will just have to deal with it.

Perfect peace restored once again.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

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)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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 review. 

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 http://www.joshuaproject.net/ 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 afternoon/early evening walk. 

I am also back into Acts and enjoying studying Acts 13 right now. 

Well-Educated Mind 

Pensees by Pascal rocked! I have the review below. 

Well-Adjusted Heart 

I could not be more at peace with all men. I talked to a woman last night who wants to get more peacemaker training, and I referred her to Carey, but I realize part of our ministry is helping people with their conflicts. I also help people talk through their transition in churches. That is a hard time and hard to have a "well-adjusted heart" in the midst of it!

Well-Tuned Strength

I am 8.6 pounds down! I am lifting by doing calorie burning weight lifting and lots of cardio. I am almost FREE of back pain. I have more non-pain days than weird pain days. I learn that I cannot sit for too long. That is the thing that contributes to how much pain I have. It mean sometimes writing in my Tempur-pedic in the afternoons. That mattress always adjusts my back!

Experimented with a low-carb diet yesterday and lost a POUND in one day due to WATER weight. You do lose weight on these low-carb things because the menus are ridiculously calorie deficient (1000 calories for the 17 Day Diet). Just experimenting and NOT condoning them. 

Timed this perfectly. The timer is going off RIGHT NOW!! YAY! To writing we go. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

3. Pensées by Pascal

Follow this link to Librivox recording:
translated by W. F. Trotterhttp://librivox.org/pensees_by_blaise_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. 

  1. The narrator is excellent (Shout out to Dexter from Canada).
  2. 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.
  3. Dexter reads all the footnotes which aren't hyperlinked on the Kindle edition (because it was free :)). He reads the Scripture in the footnotes too.
I walked along and listened to this book and felt it was part of my time with God! Pascal went through the whole Bible. I loved having the narrator read Scripture after Scripture that points to Christ!  Awesome and intelligent devotional book.

Here is a summary of what the Pensées are all about:

Pascal’s Pensées is widely considered to be a masterpiece, and a landmark in French prose. When commenting on one particular section (Thought #72), Sainte-Beuve praised it as the finest pages in the French language. Will Durant, in his 11-volume, comprehensive The Story of Civilization series, hailed it as “the most eloquent book in French prose.” In Pensées, Pascal surveys several philosophical paradoxes: infinity and nothing, faith and reason, soul and matter, death and life, meaning and vanity—seemingly arriving at no definitive conclusions besides humility, ignorance, and grace. Rolling these into one he develops Pascal’s Wager. (Summary from Wikipedia)

It really is a masterpiece, and if you read nothing else, read the "Pascal's Wager" portion. It is brilliant.  In 2008, I talked about the "wager" portion as I sat with my college friend, Bruce, who was waiting to be admitted to the hospital. How poignant to discuss Pensées with a dying man. That was his last admission to the hospital. Bruce wagered on the "God is" side of the coin, and I am sure he is in heaven with the angels as I type this. 

My husband is a mathematician, and I was just extolling to him the virtues of reading Pensées, and he said, "Oh, I read it during one of my days of prayer last year."  

Did I marry the right man or what? 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

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 been consistent with that). I also wonder what was going on emotionally in my life at the time. I will have to investigate my journals.

Addition: I looked at some journal entries, and I was just super BUSY with sedentary stuff. I was spending 20-30 hours writing for the Bible Book Club (and the second year prophets posts took me the longest to write), 10-20 hours with the American Literature class prep and teaching, correcting for the Perspective course, processing many pictures at my computer for Carol365, and reading the Well-Educated Mind books. These were all SITTING activities! (And I would often reach for the marshmallows and chocolate chips in the pantry right next to my computer work area. Bad girl!)

My life was changed on April 23, 2009 when I got my Kindle and realized the beauty of walking and working around the house while listening to text to speech!! LOL! Also, it was before I discovered the Library2Go audiobooks! (I wonder when they came into being?) That has been another thing that has really helped me! 

6/2009 - 2/2010 overate 236 calorie a day

Even though it did not go down that much during this period. This is so encouraging because between 11/14/2009 - 2/2010 I wasn't able to exercise due to my tendon being cut in half on my big toe and subsequent back blow out because of the boot that I was in. I could barely sit up, let alone walk and exercise! So, my calories were REALLY low (and people were bringing me meals). So, this shows more of a downward trend and self-control than is reflected here.

I didn't weigh myself very much until this year. But I wouldn't be surprised if it were the same 80-100 calories a day like below. That 5-10 pounds slowly creeps back at about .8-1 pound per month. 

This year the data shows a marked improvement in how much I overeat:

7-8/2012 overate 80 calories a day

This included a big vacation with lots of eating, but we also walked a lot. Lightbulb moment for us. Walking is a great way to burn calories!

8-12/2012 overate 102 calories a day

Even though I am still overeating, I am overeating much less and moving much more. I am not as sedentary in the "in-between" workout times. Now I can take one walk around the block and eat as much as I had been.  

Now that my back is so much better, and I quit running, I expect that I will be much better at maintenance in the future! 

I am encouraged. I am improving and getting better at estimating my calories burned versus calories consumed. :)

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 four months ahead in my Bible Book Club writing. We are also in an "off" ministry year (sort of). With the extra time, I am going through every space in the house and rethinking things. My physical home is the focus this year. The kids and George are the biggest though, still.).

Anywho, now the stereo cabinet is fully accessible for me. I can get at CD's quickly, and I can also use the remote from my computer while I am writing because it is in a direct line with the stereo (I focused on that instead of the living room. Sorta' artsy eh?)!  Now, I write and can tune into worship music when the mood strikes me! :) I am listening to a CD made by the amateur son of a lady at my church. She handed them out for free at the last women's conference, and I had never listened to it (lost in that blocked drawer), and I love it. When something gets too rocky for me, I can even turn down the volume down from my computer or even skip the song!

For my breaks from writing, I have been dancing around the living room because the other great thing is that that chair on the left used to be right in line with the candle stick on the table and blocked my dancing worship space! I have so much more room to float throughout the room.

I am so weird.

Well-Tuned Strength

I have lost 6 pounds! Woohoo! I am lifting twice a week, doing back exercises daily, burning lots of calories and doing great. I am doing FACED accountability with the group I started about eight years ago and had died! Anyone else want to join in for 2013? It is so fun. :)

I changed my gym situation for 1/3 the price and a closer walk! I also have "on demand" fitness classes that fit in with my schedule. I hated that all the classes were in the morning at the club. Those are my prime writing hours. The other classes were in the late afternoon and are my prime family dinner cooking and eating hours.

I am also burning lots of calories PUTTERING around my house getting those drawers/cabinets/closets/pantries decluttered and organized. I am a MACHINE in 2013!

Also, did I mention I burn calories dancing in my living room?  (Maybe that will be my next picture.)

Well-Educated Mind

I just finished Les Mis (see my review below) and a Ray Bradbury. Didn't really care for the Bradbury. I am now listening to Pascal's Pensees. OH MY WORD! PROFOUND. Should be put in the "Well-Watered Soul" category. Just finished the part about the "Wager" that I have heard about for years. Amazing.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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 (Green Town) as an ugly and sometimes depressing town. Bradbury's response is that he was writing from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy. To children, everything can be magical, and that is the sentiment that Bradbury attempts to bring across in his novel. Furthermore, Bradbury insists that his novel is real and true because he says it is. Even if it is not historically accurate, it is the portrayal of a child's summer. Bradbury believes that because that portrayal is his way of writing his own childhood and is steeped in the poignant memories of his past, it is therefore real. (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dandelion/context.html)

Here is a better review by someone who REALLY loves the book and has thought deeply about it. It helped me appreciate the book much more!


Here is the best part of her analysis:
 To me, the overarching intent of the book is to remind all us adults that: 
* Being alive means maintaining a balance between Discoveries & Revelations and Ceremonies & Rites. Though the latter are important, binding us to our family & our community, our future & our past, it is Discoveries & Revelations that make us think, experience, change, and grow. 
* Being alive means living in the present. Even if this means giving away the tokens of a beloved past, as happens in one particularly poignant tale. 
* Being alive means being connected with the world - with family, neighbors, your community, the earth. It's no coincidence that the mysterious murderer haunting Douglas Spaulding's Childhood is called The Lonely One. 
* Being alive means being able to experience happiness ... not only understanding the nature of happiness, but possessing the wisdom not to let yourself be tricked into pursuing something that can't/won't make you happy. (Dorritt, June 20, 2012)
* Being alive means recognizing the presence of magic in our everyday lives. Because magic is out there ... in the spring of a new pair of tennis shoes, in the mysteries of love, in the essence of Dandelion Wine.

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 portrays Jean Valjean wonderfully. 

The musical score is also beautiful. It will move you much like the music from the musical version does. I could not stop listening to this dramatization!

Five stars for this fine production that has been re-released to coincide with the release of the 2012 film.

NOTE: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this audio book in exchange for an unbiased review. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

2012 Movies, Documentaries, and Series

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
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)
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
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)
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)
32. Daniel Deronda (mini-series)
33. For Whom the Bell Tolls (Cooper and Bergman)
34. The Sun Also Rises (sort of slow)
35. Slumdog Millionaire (loved it more)
36. Good Night, and Good Luck (brilliant)
37. Persuasion (newer BBC - liked better this time)
38. The Hunt for Red October (how did I miss this?)
39. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Racy part that was not on PBS version!)
40. Emma (Romola G. and Johnny Lee Miller version)
41. Jude the Obscure
42. The Way We Live Now (why had I never heard of this?)
43. He Knew He Was Right
44. The Glass Menagerie
45. The Pallisers (Episodes 1-8)
46. Christy (Episodes 1-6)
47. The Pallisers (Episodes 9-26)
48. Christy (Episodes 7-end)
49. Anne of Green Gables Trilogy
50. Downton Abbey I & II
51. Sons and Lovers (YUK)
52. The Color Purple (on Clearplay)
53. The Kennedys
54. A Separation (Oscar for Foreign Film, excellent)
55. The Family Stone
56. Upstairs, Downstairs Series 1
57. The Joy Luck Club (Clearplay)
58. When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Father? (Clearplay)
59. 3 Idiots (Hilarious Indian movie, no Clearplay though)
60. A Farewell to Arms
61. Dr. No (Clearplay)
62. Argo
63. Downton Abbey Series 3
64. Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 (WOW!)
65. Middlemarch (rewatch of 1994 series)
66. The Christmas Carol (Jim Carrey version)
67. Goldfinger (Clearplayed)
69. The Hiding Place
70. Lincoln
71. Gilmore Girls Season 1
72. Life of Pi
73. Gilmore Girls Season 2
74. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
75. The Hobbit
76. It's a Wonderful Life
77. Les Miserables

Saturday, January 05, 2013


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 Corinthians-Revelation (70 with 1 post per pound lost until maintenance), Messiah Meditations, and Jesse Tree/Advent Meditations
5)      Romans with Rachel (and maybe Stephanie formerly of Seattle!)
6)      Campus Connection Wednesday – Meet with Kathleen, attend International lunch, meet with other women interested in going overseas
7)      Theophostic Thursdays – 1-2 counseling appointments a week

EXERCISE (Love the Lord Your God with all your STRENGTH)

8)      Daily back exercises/6x cardio/2x weights/1x Pilates per week
9)      2400 calorie burn through household tasks rather than sitting

DAILY CARE OF FAMILY AND HOME (Proverbs 31 applied)

10)   Upstairs painting and floors (Summer)
11)   Declutter and clean all closets/cabinets/drawers/garage
12)   Paul’s Senior Pictures (April-May)
13)   Picture Processing on 1st Saturday of every month
14)   Dependence Dates (wait for God to provide the money) – 2x month
15)   Frugality toward 2015 - monthly money put away for our 25th trip!

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 ...