Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Reading Wrap Up


I made it through the LBJ series by Caro early this morning! What a way to close out the year!

Some of these are questions from Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks. She changed it last year. So I have added some questions that I liked from previous years and some of my own. 

For all my books with a bit of commentary, click the link HERE.

How many books did you read? 72

Which books would you recommend everyone read? 


It is a huge investment of time, but it helped me understand the brave pioneers of the  Civil Rights Movement!

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Book 4

These overlap with the Civil Rights Movement and the important role that Johnson played in it. It also helps you understand the race issues we have today and how our government works. So they are valuable to read for someone who wants to labor through them. What is funny is, as of last year, he still had 6 more years of Johnson's life, and Caro is 86 years old! He better get moving!

It made me want to move to Savannah, Georgia to meet the colorful people there! Berendt wrote this non-fiction to read more like a novel. I loved it. 

Recommended by my two best friends who work with girls in this age bracket. 

Wow! I was mesmerized by this. I have recommended it to many.

9/11 Commission Report (1000 Books To Read) 

Really thorough and informative. 

This was a sweet read and uplifting.

Which character did you fall in love with? The Warden! Honest and lovely man. 

The Bourne Identity (1000 Books List) 

Surprisingly liked it even though this is not usually my genre. This guy can write!

I Capture the Castle (1000 Books List)

Sweet read. 

Great read. It was a page-turner with fantastic writing!

I didn't really like any of the other fiction that I read on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List. I am in search of better fiction in the future. 


Hinds' Feet( on High Places (Reread of an old favorite)


The Deeply Formed Life (Renovare Book Club)

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (Preparation for a podcast interview I did)

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (For the Podcasts) 

Did you discover any "new to you" authors? 

Robert Caro - I read five books by him. They were all very long and very detailed. I feel like I know so much about Robert Moses and Lyndon B Johnson now! 

Taylor Branch (America in the King Years) - His books were long and well-researched. He has given a gift to the world IMHO.

Clarisa Ward (On All Fronts) - I loved her memoir about life as a world correspondent. I could not put it down. She is another braver person!

On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist by Clarissa Ward

Anthony Trollope -
I have enjoyed the TV series made from his books. So I finally read one of his and really enjoyed The Warden.

What was your reading goal this year and did you have a plan, and/or follow rabbit trails or wing it? 

Followed Goals: Get through the Renovare Book Club, Order of the Mustard Seed Year of Preparation, Abiding Podcast Preparation, and 1000 Book to Read Before You Die Lists. I did decide to pick and choose which books I would read from the Book Babes Book Club due to my increased reading with the Abiding and Power Podcasts and Resource Development project. 

Where did your armchair travels take you? 

Mexico, England, Savannah, Georgia, Deep South, Johnson City, Texas to Washington, D.C., Kalispell, Montana, Wars all over the world, New York. All over the world with Jason Bourne!

Which books stood out, made an impression and/or stayed with you the longest? What did you learn from them? 

Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1954-1968

Taylor Branch's books were so instrumental for me in seeing an up-close and personal look at the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement! WOW!

Which book had the most original, most unique story?  

The Story of My Teeth

It was very original, but I didn't like it! 

Which book made you laugh? 

I don't recall any that did this year! I need some more light-hearted ones for 2022!

Which one made you cry?

Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan's Edge - I was even physically ill at parts when I read what atrocities the people in the Civil Rights Movement endured. They were heroes! 

Which books did you like the least and why? 

The Story of My Teeth (see above) and 

Both were just really stupid. 

Because it was just this long list of all these women who were killed. It got tedious to hear it over and over again. It made for a very long book, and it did not move the story along. 
A bunch of depressing stories about women! Hated most of them. Why don't we have more uplifting stories about the lives of women who live free and empowered?

Favorite Cover: 

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

 I thought my reading was done for the year, but I snuck in a page-turner and riveting story of espionage set in the late 50s, early 60s. Great read!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Notes from the Underground

This is the diary of a very unhappy man in St. Petersburg, Russia in the 1800s! Not my favorite Dostoevsky. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

 Boy, Bobby Kennedy was a MEAN person! Wow! I sort of got a negative impression of him when I read about how he was a "nothing burger" of empty promises and deceit in the whole Civil Rights Movement when I read the Taylor Branch series, Parting the Waters, Pillars of Fire, and At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1954-1968.

Despite my dislike of Johnson's character, the passage of the Civil Rights Amendment soon after he assumed the office of President at the death of Robert F Kennedy, was his crowning achievement. It is widely accepted that it never would have passed under Kennedy's leadership. Johnson was a master at negotiation and getting people to do what he wanted them to do. He also had compassion for the poor and people of color, having grown up poor himself. 

The Kennedy's were intellectual elites, and they were very condescending to this low-born Johnson. That made me sad. His high-brow aides called Johnson, "Rufus Cornpone." That is just plain elitism. 

Here are some quotes:

...therefore it was important not to let a conversation end until you learned what the man wasn’t saying until you “got it out of him.” Johnson himself read with a genius that couldn’t be taught, with a gift that was so instinctive that one aide, Robert G. (Bobby) Baker, calls it a “sense.”“He seemed to sense each man’s individual price and the commodity he preferred as coin.” 

And from these descriptions, also, there emerges a picture of a Lyndon Johnson who was hard, tough, canny—tough enough and canny enough to transmute passion and empathy into the legislative accomplishment that had been so lacking during the past three years. When he had entered the Oval Office for his conversation with Johnson, Wilkins had not had much hope for the civil rights bill. If it passed, he felt, it might do so only in a drastically watered-down form. Kennedy, he was to recall, “believed that his package would have passed Congress by the following summer. I am not quite sure how much of it would have survived.” But by the time the conversation ended, he had been “struck by the enormous difference between Kennedy and Johnson.… Where Kennedy had been polite and sympathetic on all matters of basic principle, more often than not he had been evasive on action. Kennedy was not naïve, but as a legislator he was very green. He saw himself as being dry-eyed, realistic. In retrospect, I think that for all his talk about the art of the possible, he didn’t really know what was possible and what wasn’t in Congress.… When it came to dealing with Congress, Johnson knew exactly what was possible.… Johnson made it plain he wanted the whole bill. If we could find the votes, we would win. If we didn’t find the votes, we would lose, he said. The problem was as simple as that.” Wilkins had entered the Oval Office without much hope; that wasn’t the way he left it. 808
He wasn’t fooling them, wasn’t merely posturing. No television cameras had been present, no reporter taking down his words, when he had sat on the steps in Cotulla with the janitor Thomas Coronado. (Regarding his true compassion for the poor. Thomas Coronado was a man Johnson helped when he was a teacher among Mexican American kids.) 
“It is time … to write it in the books of law.” By the time Lyndon Johnson left office, he had done a lot of writing in those books, had become, above all Presidents save Lincoln, the codifier of compassion, the President who, as I have said, “wrote mercy and justice into the statute books by which America was governed.”
Schlesinger’s opinion of Johnson was to change drastically. By 1978, he would be writing, “For all his towering ego, his devastating instinct for the weaknesses of others, his unlimited capacity for self-pity, he was at the same time a man of brilliant intelligence, authentic social passion, and deep seriousness.…”
But the succession of Lyndon Johnson deserves a better fate in history. For had it not been for his accomplishments during the transition, history might have been different. Because the headlines in that first blizzard of news—PRISONER LINKED TO CASTRO GROUP; SUSPECT LIVED IN SOVIET UNION—have long been proven false or exaggerated, it has been easy to forget that for several days after the assassination America was reading those headlines, easy to forget the extent of the suspicions that existed during those days not only about a conspiracy but about a conspiracy hatched in Cuba or Russia, two nations with whom, barely a year before,
By moving as quickly as he did, Johnson caught a tide, seized a moment, that might not have lasted very long. Caught the tide—and rode the tide, using its force as it rolled forward beyond the
These seven weeks, the seven weeks between November 22 and January 8, were therefore a period in which there took place in the capital of the greatest republic in the western world a remarkable demonstration of the passage of power, immense power—of its passing, in an instant, from one hand to another, and of its wielding by that new hand, in the first weeks after it closed on that power, with history-changing effectiveness.
"Almost at once, the whining self-pitying caricature of Throttlebottom vanished," George Reedy was to write. "During this whole period, there was no trace of the ugly arrogance which had made him so disliked in many quarters...situation brought out the finest that was in him.”

A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson


How lovely to take a break from reading a very long book about the power plays of three men at the top of the American Executive branch (The Kennedy's and Lyndon Johnson - see next review) to the humility of loveliness of the man, Eugene Peterson. It was so life-giving to read about this man's life compared to the other three men!

This was a quick read, and I read it for the Renovare Book Club which I have been a part of since 2015 (I think). 

He overlapped so wonderfully with people like Pat Robertson! I had always thought he was a Presbyterian his whole life, but he was a Pentecostal during his growing-up years. That was fascinating. I loved how much he admired his mother and longed for a relationship with his father. I underlined several quotes and will put them here. 

It was a great read!

Burning in my bones Quotes

Paul Evdokimov “the immanence of God at work in creation.


Even after retirement, Don (Eugene’s father) worked real estate part time from a small office downtown. He was always tending to clients, always working the deal. Decades later, Eugene would experience this same compulsion to achieve, would recognize the menace this demand for accomplishment could cast over a life. Like his father, he wanted to win, to accomplish, to be respected as competent and successful - in the center of things. But Eugene, thinking back to the hole where a father's love was supposed to rest, would come to resist with fierceness the depersonalizing, relationship-killing effect that the American business model brought to his soul and to the church. Work and achievement could be a seductive addiction, as burning and deep as a bottle of Thunderbird. 21


That was Eugene the brother, naturally drawn to act in the presence of suffering.  27


"At one point in my life I realized that for some time (maybe halfway through high school and into university), she (mother)  treated me more like a husband than a son: confiding in me, leaning on me for emotional support. I just thought it was natural, what mothers did." 27


The tragedy revealed shadier parts of Eugene's family history, providing him one of his first close encounters with human complexity: We can be both good and violent at the same time. One person can bring both joy and sadness into the world. In high school, dreaming of becoming a novelist, Eugene thought Sven's story provided the material for an explosive book. While he never wrote a novel, eventually Sven's sad tale did make its way into his work. 29


Eugene's care extended beyond his biological family. When he was a teenager, Eugene's mother drafted him into visiting the elderly Sister Lydron from their church…Evelyn sent her son to check on the old woman, always with a casserole or cookies in hand. Eugene recounted, Once as I sat in her rocking chair, making small talk which I was never very good at ... she asked me to pray for her. I remember still the sense of "fit"-that this was what I was made for--that this is who I was at my core being. This intimate, unhurried relationship. This ease of prayer and presence. At a young age, Eugene felt these early stirrings of who he truly was long before he had any vocabulary to explain it. 30


Eugene dislikes school but loved books, and his curiosity was insatiable. 33


On one of these evenings, one of the seminarians asked him (Buttrick was a preacher who greatly influenced Peterson and Buechner) something to the effect of What's the most important thing you do for your sermon preparation each week?" Without hesitation, Buttrick responded, “For two hours every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I walk through the neighborhood and make home visits. There is no way that I can preach the gospel to these people if I don't know how they are living, what they are thinking and talking about. Preaching is proclamation, God's word revealed in Jesus, but only when it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.” 74


Eugene needed a revolution. The place, as much as anything else, was a drain on the young seminarian's spirit. As stimulating and invigorating as his friendships, work, and classes were, Eugene longed for Montana's contours and natural beauty. New York did not speak the language of his soul. 90


The class sat spellbound. Impossible - one of their own disagreeing with the master. But Albright listened, stone still and pondering as Prescott politely walked through his objections to the argument. Then the room fell silent. The professor picked up his eraser and slowly wiped vast swaths across the blackboard "Forget everything I said," he stated simply. “Prescott is right." Eugene never forgot it. "The people who stand out in my life; he reflected, "are the people who don't flaunt what they are doing and aren't stuck on who they are." A man who could wipe away a little of his ego along with the chalk was a man to be respected.” Years later, Prescott Williams, an expert in biblical languages himself (and also someone Eugene admired for using his intellect with immense humility), would serve as an exegetical consultant on The Message. 96


And yet in response to these real enemies (people were obsessed with safety because of panic to nuclear attack) in their midst, the red binder (input from a church growth “expert” who said you should give people what they want and to run the church like a corporation) offered only vanity and emptiness. The community did not need a church to craft little programs to assuage their consciences or perceived needs for safety. It needed the church to invite people into a new reality ruled by the kingdom of God. Christ Our King needed to worship. With all this in mind, Eugene saw with a growing sense of both joy and desolation that what was most essential in all his work was the opening invitation he offered each Sunday- Let us worship God. 125


It was a time when pastors all over the country were abandoning their vocation to take up counseling. ”I could have ended up among them," he remembered long after. But his pastoral instincts led him to read deeply and widely in search of relevant perspectives for how to shepherd the whole human person. Eugene devoured the writings of Carl Jung, Bruno Bettelheim, Erik Erikson, and Viktor Frankl, among many others. But there were two sides to this. All this knowledge played into the temptation Eugene

faced to be an expert, to be successful in his work. He began to notice a “latent messianic complex," where he was drawn to locate the emotional problems among those in his congregation and

then fix them, efficiently. These experiences taught Eugene to value psychiatry and therapy (an appreciation he never lost), but he did have to wrestle, coming to the realization that he was a pastor, not a therapist. 131


It had hurled him (Scottish pastor, Wilson) into a rocky ravine. “Those mountains are magnificent," he said, "but they have twenty different ways to kill you. Just like the church.”


Eugene couldn't shake that line. Weeks later, he called Wilson and explained his vague sense of the kind of pastor he wanted to be: slow, personal, attuned to God and to the lives of those in his parish. Eugene wondered if it was possible to transform from a competitive pastor to a contemplative pastor-

-a pastor who was able to be with people without having an agenda for them, a pastor who was able to accept people just as they were and guide them gently and patiently into a mature life in Christ but not get in the way. 142-143


Tom introduced Eugene to their waitress, Vanessa, a tired woman with sad eyes. As they rose to pay the check, Eugene stepped away to the bathroom. When he returned, he found Tom and Vanessa in an energetic discussion. Eugene grabbed a newspaper and a seat at the counter. As Tom and Eugene exited

the diner, Tom exuded vigor. "Eugene, did you see us talking, the way she was talking. that intensity? I wish I could do that kind of thing all day long, every day. Every time I come in here and there are no customers, she wants to talk about prayer and her life." "So, why don't you do it, have conversations like that?" Eugene asked. "Because, " Tom answered, with an edge, "I have to run this damn church."


Eugene shared Tom's story from the diner with his pastors' group and everyone immediately resonated with the suffocation of “running a damn church.” Together they determined that whatever else they might do, they would learn how to be pastors. 144-145


“[Dostoyevsky] wrote about the whole of human experience with such seriousness. There's no moralizing in Dostoyevsky, no preaching. He really does understand how faith works, how prayer works, how deceit works, how sin works. Perhaps the best thing about him is that he doesn't make it easy. You have to enter his imagination. In the world of spirituality and religion, reduction and oversimplification are just endemic, and the minute that happens, we lose our participation. We stand off at a distance and criticize and evaluate the options. Dostoyevsky doesn't much do that. He's not an analyzer. 172


Once, when a pastor asked him what he would say to evangelical pastors, Eugene's discomfort surfaced:

“I think the primary thing that I want them to hear is that they simply must quit taking themselves so seriously. Not taking the Lord seriously, and not taking their vocations seriously, but themselves. Evangelical pastors take themselves seriously, but they don't by and large take theology seriously, they don't take the Bible seriously, they don't take congregations seriously: theology is a means to an end, the Bible is a tool for teaching/ preaching, congregation is a raw material for programs and causes. But all of that destroys growth in the Spirit, growing up in Christ. We keep trying to do the work of the Trinity ourselves. And we are not the Trinity. I would want to tell pastors to quit being so busy and learn quiet, to quit talking so much and learn silence, to quit treating the congregation as customers and treat them with dignity as souls-in-formation. The primary thing that we are dealing with as pastors is the Word of God. And the primary stance we must learn both as pastors and congregations is to listen. There can be no language that works at all if someone is not listening. And since God is the primary voice in this gospel world, we pastors have to lead the way in listening, doing it ourselves and encouraging others to do it. By and large evangelical pastors are not deficient in energy or motivation or knowledge. But they are not conspicuously attentive, reverently listening to the voice/word of God and in being totally and personally present with the people we meet and serve. "Holy'" requires reverence, the "fear of the Lord" is the biblical phrase. A holy Bible requires reverent listening; and a holy church/congregation requires a reverent being present.” 238-239


“The controversy swirling around Rob Bell's book Love Wins is fresh evidence on how cantankerous the American church is. Because of the endorsement I gave to the book, people keep trying to draw me into the fracas. And a fracas it certainly is. How the so-called Christian community can generate so much hate is appalling. Haven't we learned anything about civil discourse? Will we ever? And it is so debilitating-we have this glorious gospel to proclaim and give away and we gang up against one another and throw dogma-rocks. 278

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Call Unto Him

Call Unto Him
Call Unto Him by Various
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

 So wonderful to be praying daily for my favorite part of the world! :) It has been a great year of prayer. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Bhagavad-Gita


I have read the Qu'ran and The Book of Mormon, but I had never read another religion's writings. So, this was interesting for me. It "has been an essential text of Hindu culture in India since the time of its composition in the first century A.D. One of the great classics of world literature, it has inspired such diverse thinkers as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and T.S. Eliot; most recently, it formed the core of Peter Brook's celebrated production of the Mahabharata (book description on 

It is the discussion between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna brings moral dilemmas and seeks Krishna's counsel. 

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Book Three


I think I found some things to like about Lyndon Johnson!

1) Hardworking

2) Able to work with people from opposing views - he really was the MASTER of the Senate. (How he got to that position is the part I didn't like.) 

2) Civil Rights - the author thinks Johnson truly had a heart for the poor and for minorities to have equal rights. He was a major mover and shaker in the 1957 Civil Rights Bill.

Some of it was to get his name in the national spotlight, but it is suspected he really did care. 

This was a much more interesting book for me to read, primarily because of the part about Civil Rights intersection with the books I read about Martin Luther King by Taylor Branch earlier in the year. 

Now on to the LAST in this very LONG series! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman


This is a Renovare Book Club read for the 2021-2022 season. I am looking forward to hearing the podcasts with the expert on John Woolman. Woolman (1720-1772) was a Quaker and early abolitionist during the Colonial Era. It is a quick read and gives a good insight into Quaker thought. Two of the women in the Renovare Book Club Small Group that I lead were raised in the Quaker tradition. So I am looking forward to the discussion. 

(I did not read Moulton's version - I listened to the Librivox recording of the Journal and found out what Major Essays he covers in his book and read them online. I am cheap.) 


The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life


For my podcast, I interviewed a man who was greatly influenced by this book. So I bought it to be better informed as I prepared the copy for his podcast. This book influenced this man to take an eight-day silent retreat, having never done a silent retreat of any length prior! WOW! It was a delightful interview. 

This is one of the lesser known books that has come out in recent years about the spiritual disciplines. I like how he gives the history and theology behind each of the practices. He adds Icons (still not sure about that for me) and the Labyrinth which I have not seen in similar books. 

The Boy, the Mole, The Fox, and the Horse

 I heard this mentioned in an interview with someone I saw (I cannot remember who), and it intrigued me. It is a lovely little book about friendship and "exploring the feelings that unite us all." I had the book sitting on my desk for a long time, and then someone in a retreat I was facilitating mentioned what an impact it has on her life. So I finally sat down and read it. Quick and sweet read. 

NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training Second Edition

 As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), I am required to recertify every two years through continuing education. I have always been curious about the Corrective Exercise Specialist. So I took the plunge and did it in about 19 days. It was a lot of review from my original certification, but it was good to get the refresher. I learned many new things that are already benefiting my students, and I am also benefitting! It was a lot of reading and studying, but it was open book. The only problem was that the course is all read online, and they do not send you the book. So it made it a bit more complicated when it came to the test, but I put all my notes up on the wall in front of me, and that was helpful. So, it is over, and I am now a NASM- CPT, CES, WLS, WFS. I love to learn! 

Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Book 2

 This book was hard to get through because, after Book 1 and II, I am convinced that Lyndon B. Johnson was a DISGUSTING human being who cheated and bought his way into Congress, cheated on his wife, bullied people. curried favor by using New Deal money to enrich people. Disgusting. 

In contrast, were people like Coke Stevenson, who was a moral and wonderful man. He WAS the person who should have been the Senator from Texas in 1948, but Johnson cheated his way into it. I wonder how many lives would have been saved in Vietnam if Coke Stevenson's challenges to that election had been accepted. 


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Lectio 365 Meditation - Named By God - Carol, Song of Joy

How appropriate I would pass the hospital where I was named this week
on My Virtual Route 66 Challenge

 Today's reading was about John having been named by God in Luke 1:57-61. 

Names are often important in the bible. For example Sarah and Abraham named their son "Isaac", which means "laughter", and Jesus changed Simon's name to "Peter", which means "rock". It was also common for parents to name their baby after a family member, which is what Elizabeth and Zechariah's friends expected them to do.

I think about my own name for a moment. What does it mean to me? Was I named after someone? Has it changed? How do I even feel about my name? In the quiet, I offer all these thoughts and feelings - the good and the not-so-good - to God. 

I imagine God smiling, and then speaking my name, "...I know you. I love you." 

 This was the first intervention of God in my life as I was supposed to be a "Karen" (which in today's climate, that name has taken on a whole new meaning), but my dad took one look at me and said, "She is a Carol." Just as Zechariah intervened and said, "His name shall be John." My dad intervened and said, "Her name shall be Carol." My dad had spoken. This is a holy moment. 

So the meaning of my name is "Song of Joy," and I would say that is pretty much who I am. I love to sing, and I have a lot of joy.

Later, I would find out that Carol is the feminine form of the name, Charles, which was my dad's name.  I would also discover that my name Carol Ann is an inverted and American rendition of my grandmother's Swedish name, "Anna Karolina." I love it when God does things like that. This all happened with my dad having no idea what he was doing or even why he was doing it. 

So now I am called to continue to live out my name, and I gladly accept that call.

Do not fear,

for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name, 

you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1 (NIVUK) 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Toward the End of Route 66 Freewrite

 It's a Good Day 

I am pretty happy about life these days. Above is a map of the 28.4 miles I have left to go on my 2280.3-mile journey of Route 66 from Chicago (the place of my mother's birth) to the Santa Monica Pier that is 1.7 miles away from the hospital in which I was born (because my mom was a medical technologist there so I wasn't born in a hospital closer to my hometown of El Segundo, which is also in the map). 

This will be a week of FINISHING things that have been hanging over my head, and I have been delayed from finishing because of other obligations. I finally had to just schedule NO DIRECTEES for a few weeks. I have about 15-20 (some are periodic like M, N, D, K, B, and M) so I could get the Exam for my Corrective Exercise Specialist done. I have renewed my Personal Training Certification in 2017, 2019, and 2021 now, but I am considering not doing it next time. For the most part, I do Pilates and not personal training, but the personal training SO INFORMS my Pilates! I have always been curious about the Corrective Exercise Specialist, and it was excellent, but there are no more that I am curious about. Maybe the stretching and flexibility specialist. We will see. 

So anywho (this is a freewrite of free-flowing thoughts so no judgment, Carol), I walked in shock that I finished it way ahead of schedule and that I even passed the test on the first try because I didn't know there was a practice exam, and then when I went to take the test, I saw it, but I went for the real test, and I thought I did terribly, but I got an 87%. I am still in shock. I took all the things on the wall at my desk down and put up all the notes there, and it was so fun. 

I think I wrote about this the other day, but this is part of the freewrite process. 

So the next closure thing was The Sacred Way book, and I did that. I also finished my PAC 194 class by submitting my grades.

I rode my bike in the freezing cold knowing it was going to rain for many days in a row, but I still have that 28.4 miles left, but I will do some body work today with Pilates and stretching and walk around the house. I will also maybe go and ride the bike at the club. I would just love to be DONE and take a break until my next Conquerers Challenge that starts on January 1! I will not do one this long again!

So I am getting things done. I also want to get the Copy done for publishing our podcasts on Abiding Practices, but one of the people I delegated things to in AUGUST did not meet my requested deadline of December 1. No apology. No reason why. Just said, I will have it to you by next week. Only one other one was not done by that time, but that was outside of the interviewer's control as the person did not show up due to COVID in the family. Totally understandable. 

So in the process, I took one of the podcasts off the list (Fasting since we did one already, but we were going to expand upon it.), and I think the person who did not show up for COVID is also optional since we did one on a long retreat already and many of the things in the interview are applicable to spending a one day retreat. 

So the next biggest thing I need to complete is the third volume of the LBJ biography. I have about 60% left. So I am making progress.

It is all about the journey. I am learning how addicted/attached I am to CLOSURE. It has been insightful.

Oh one more thing, I need to get our plane flights together for the Viking Elbe/Cyprus Prayer Conference trip. I may have made this way more complicated than it needs to be! UGH!

BYE!  I am off to pray for the Priority 100 Unreached People of the world and then go to cohort training for the Order of the Mustard Seed. Then "A Spark of Advent Light" retreat! BYE BYE!

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Thursday Morning Freewrite

 Hallelujah is right! I had cleared my schedule for taking my Corrective Exercise Specialist test on Friday so that I could go to A Spark of Advent Light with the Monastery of the Heart group, but then my high school friend, Bene, asked if we could go out for breakfast on her way up from SoCal and back to Alaska, and I wanted to have this test out of the way. So, I was done with studying at about 3 pm yesterday. So, I took a short five-mile bike ride in the FREEZING cold December sun. Then I took a shower and took the 90-minute test. As I went into the portal I saw there was a Practice Test, but NOWHERE in the literature did I see there even was a practice test! I could have just done the practice, but I went for the Final, and I thought, "OH NO! None of the quizzes I studied are at all like this test. I am just going to treat this as my first attempt and call it a day. I had to rush through the final 20 questions because my time was running out. Then I pressed the button thinking for sure I did not pass, and ...

I got 87%!

Say what? I don't know how I did that! But the relief that washed over me was astounding. I really didn't feel too tense, but school is always something that hangs over your head on the back burner. I LOVE to learn, but I so dislike taking tests. 

All that to say, George went out and got me Pastini's Italian lasagne and made me a Christmas Moscow Mule, and I settled down to watching a bit of TV. 

Well, that was after I entered my grades for Fall term. That made THREE things from my list from yesterday that I was able to FINISH (I updated it). So today I will 

1. Do the copy for the three podcasts already recorded: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Silent Prayer, and Prayer and Art (or whatever we are going to call it). 

2. Get my two Canvas pages ready and published for the Winter term (shouldn't be too much work since I just carry it forward from the last term and change the headings for W 2022). 

3. SLOG through Master of the Senate! I don't not like LBJ. He was an immoral. unethical, and disgusting man. I just cannot even tell you how much, but I WILL finish all four in this series. Someone is waiting in line for this copy so I will listen a lot until the 18th.

I went to the 5:30 2nd Watch too! So excited to be back with the OMS Prayer Peeps. I was able to go to the Examen, but I kept missing the 5:30 and 8:30 prayer times because that is my prime time to study!

So now I am singing Hallelujah (see video above) and am actually going to listen to Messiah today!

I am also hoping to ride my bike if it is not too cold. It is supposed to rain a lot today. I am down to only having to go 2.22 miles every day to be done with Route 66 by the end of the year, but I want to get it OVER WITH (I really am addicted to CLOSURE - well not as bad as I used to be, but I really, really like to get finished with things - except relationships!)

So now I am off to Anne leading the 3rd Watch at 8:30 am. This might be her first time. YAY! 


Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Wednesday Morning Freewrite

Photo by @Carol Ann Weaver

I have been up since 4:30, and I hoped to have my time with God and then hop straight into studying and maybe even taking my test to be certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, but I have enjoyed exploring things this morning like . . . 

  • When is it that our neighbor with the elaborate Christmas light display actually turns on his lights? I get up early in the morning, and there are no lights, but then sometime during the early morning, he turns them on. So yesterday, I knew it was some time between 4:30 and 5:03. So I looked until 20 till the hour. So I sat down and had a Centering Prayer time for 20 minutes and set my alarm and saw them come on little by little at exactly 5 am! Silly, but our whole family wanted to know. So I was the detective.
  • How many books have I actually read of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List? So I updated my list on List Challenge, and I have read 337 (but several of them I have read are not on this list so it is 342). I am number 9 on the list. :) 
  • I made a list of all the things that remain close to being completed but are not done:

DONE: The Corrective Exercise Certification - woke up thinking I could take the test today and probably pass, but I want to really LEARN it so will take this morning to LEARN (since LEARNER is my #1 strength on the ClintonStrengthsfinder). TOOK THE TEST FROM 5-6:30. I didn't realize there was a Practice Exam I could have taken. I saw it when I clicked on it but decided to take the test. I needed every single minute of it, and I thought I did terrible, and then I saw I got an 87%! GO FIGURE. 

Route 66 of the Conquerers Virtual Challenge - 59.6 miles out of over 2,000! (51 miles now - I took a bike ride before the test.) 

OSU Canvas Page for next term - two hours at tops of work to do to get myself set up for Winter Term.

DONE: OSU PAC 194 Submission of Grades for Fall term - it has not opened up yet. It used to always open during Dead Week but NO! It will take me 5 minutes. I am all ready to submit. (As soon as I was done with the test, I got on line, and the grade upload was OPEN! Fall Finis!)

Abiding Podcasts - I have copy to do for THREE podcasts already recorded. Another two have not been recorded yet, but that is out of my hands, and no one has told me when I will get them. Had to let that go. 

DONE! The Sacred Way book - 8.25 pages left!

Master of the Senate - 85% to go, but I am so burned out on LBJs disgusting morality! I really am ending up TOTALLY disliking that man. Immoral and unethical. Enough said, but someone is in line to want this book after me, and I have ten days to complete about 25 hours of listening! (83% left, but now I can blitz it!) 

That is where I am at with all of that. I have 3 minutes more of this freewrite, and I really have to go to the bathroom, but I am going to complete it.

I have been surprised how much I have enjoyed studying for this Corrective Exercise Specialist Exam, and how much of it is a review of what I learned in the Certified Personal Trainer Exam, and how much it has cost me, but probably I have saved that much money in doctor's bills because I know how to keep my back in proper alignment now and am so much more self-aware of where my body is in space. So this has done nothing but benefit me in every way. So I am totally enjoying it, and I am pretty sure I could do great on the exam. I have gotten 100% on all my quizzes, but you never know if the Exam will be like the quizzes, and so it is better to just learn the 500 pages of material rather than sweat this! 

Anywho, I love my life. I will close with this poem by John O'Donohue from my time with God this morning:

You need to be generous to yourself in order to receive the love that surrounds you.
You can suffer from a desperate hunger to be loved.
You can search long years in lonely places, 
far outside yourself.
Yet the whole time, 
this love is but a few inches away from you.
It is at the edge of your soul, 
but you have been blind to its presence.

We must remain attentive in order to receive.

John O'Donohue

Followed by this poem:

When a great moment 
knocks on the door of your life,
it is often no louder than 
the beating of your heart, 
and it is very easy to miss it.

Boris Pasternak

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Fall Fearless Into Love


This was the beginning song to a Centering Prayer time with Mercy Center last Sunday, and I liked it. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

If You Must...

Grand Tetons - Jenny Lake to Cascade Canyon Hike - June 2021


If you must be heard, 

let it be like the babbling brook, 

laughing over the rocks. 

If you must be seen, 

let it be like sunlight 

giving warmth and comfort to all.


If you must be acknowledged, 

let it be as the eyes 

behold the skies in all their glory.


If you must lead, 

let it be like the wind 

and all its unshackled direction.


If you must learn, 

let it be like breathing, 

the natural flow of in and out, 

and done without thinking.


If you must teach, 

let it be like the water, 

deep and flowing, 

for your words are like pebbles in a pond, 

the ripples they cause spread out in all directions, 

and what you give out eventually returns.


If you must know, 

let it be flowing and growing.

And above all, if you must: 


Kerry Hillcoat

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Deeply Formed Life

 This was the fall book for the Renovare Book Club, and it was an excellent choice. I really enjoyed this book. I had just interviewed someone on my podcast about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and read that book in preparation. Then I read this book within a month. Rich Villodas took over as lead pastor at the church where the author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality once pastored, and it was nice to hear his multi-cultural take on spirituality and mission. Refreshingly honest and very good! 

Sunday Morning Freewrite

God's Grandeur 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Sunday morning fifteen-minute freewrite. Just a reminder that a freewrite is where I just write whatever is coming to my mind for fifteen minutes. I used to do this with my kids when they were budding writers. Now my 26-year-old freewrites almost every day, and he was the one who HATED it when he was young. LOL!

So Friday and yesterday were lovely. I ended up not really having a holiday on Veteran's Day because it was my day to lead the Thursday morning 3rd prayer watch. Then I had a meeting afterward with someone who wanted to know if I do trainings on how to lead groups through contemplative practice. I have never even thought of doing that. Hmmm. I did something else that day, and I tried to go for a walk, but I felt like throwing up and had a splitting headache. So I just got back into bed for the rest of the day and found that UpTV has Gilmore Girls for three hours every afternoon. That just took me out of my feeling sick. I was also still bummed about spending all that time getting ready for my spiritual direction session only to have a person NOT show up. That is my fourth no-show in the last month! That is really hard for me.

But I did have a bright consolation in that H interviewed me about what I love about doing spiritual direction, and I do really love it, and I feel like I have been doing it for a long time, but it is nice to have a name for what I have done all these years. 

So, Friday, I woke up fit as a fiddle! I took a 12.5-mile bike ride, and that is the longest one that I have taken in forever! I realized from my time with the Jesuits in Scotland that I was not looking at God's Grandeur lately (I will put the poem at the top of the page). So that bike ride was my application. Then later, I went to do a Visio Divina and no one opened the room. So I texted the leader, and he said, "Oh no, I overslept." I open the room, but I decided to just go for it with the picture of creation that I had in a previous Jesuit meditation time. It was lovely, and I think the ladies that were left: L, A, P all loved it! F and S got kicked out of the room because of spotty internet.

So I had a "things are looking up" kind of day. I think I had a spiritual direction appointment then that morning, but I cannot remember with who. Then I had a great day, but I cannot really remember what I did. I know I had my time with the lovely nuns of East Mosely in England and Examen with the OMS/Seed Community of Waverly Abbey. Then, I was going along and realized that I was missing a meeting with a Southern California spiritual director, and we just hit it off so well, and she knows BB from way back in my Northwest Hills days, and there is a possibility of spiritual directors from Korea, China, and maybe even Spanish speaking countries. I would so love that!!!! So I am going to follow up on that. 

So then Saturday got even better. My "short" bike ride turned into 13, and I loved that too. I did along the Willamette and Mary's Rivers and then went all the way out to the 53rd/Fairgrounds/Campus Way Covered Bridge route. It was great. Oh, but before that, I met with F, and our subject was aging, and one of the questions was about things we were doing to live longer, and she wanted to know what I did to live spiritually. So I shared and did an Examen prayer time with her, and it was so fun. She is like a sponge.

Then, I topped it off with a Weekly Examen with the most life-giving human I know: George Weaver!!!! We walked through Forest Dell Park near our house. We always walk by it, but we have not walked through it in about a year, and we have never walked through it during the fall! Oh my, so pretty. I loved yesterday from beginning to end. It ended with a wonderful dinner with my favorite men: George, Michael, and Paul. 

Well, today I have Centering Prayer two times, church, and then we meet with A and K at their house for lunch. Hopefully, we can go for a walk in Peavy with M and P after that!


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 ...