Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bookish Links

I may have been living in a black hole but I recently came upon two sites for the bookworm and book lover.

The Millions Blog is a blog about books. Book news, reviews, recommendations, lists, questions and answers. Good source for ideas on what to read next. His explanation of his book queue will make you feel like kindred spirits. And he even includes Mrs. Millions' reading lists too.

Library Thing (I love these straightforward names and websites!) is a web-based, online, public catalog of your books. After explaining all the cool things you can do, the buzz page ends simply, "If the buzz page doesn't convince you, you cannot be convinced. Go away." They've turned cataloging books (which was my part-time job at UCF and not too much fun) into a recreational activity, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

I discovered Library Thing through Andrew Peterson's website and subsequent blog (fun-neee, people). So you can see what other people have on their bookshelves and can link it to your blog so that five random books from your catalog appear on a sidebar of your blog to show to your readers. A quirky look into some one's mind.

And lastly, an interesting, well-written article on Harry Potter from Alan Jacobs, a professor at Wheaton College. It just might make some of you holdouts read the books! Or at least get off the backs of those of us just mad about Harry.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Listening to new Caedmon's Call CD.

Sauteing garlic in olive oil.

Rebekah singing along.

Quiet thunder.

Benjamin grunting and gurgling behind his pacifier.

Daddy on the way home.

Sacred -- Caedmon's Call
this house is a good mess/it's the proof of life/no way would i trade jobs/but it don't pay overtime/i'll get to the laundry/i don't know when/i'm saying a prayer tonight/cause tomorrow it starts again//could it be that everything is sacred?/and all this time/everything i've dreamed of/has been right before my eyes//the children are sleeping/but they're running through my mind/the sun makes them happy/and the music makes them unwind/my cup runneth over/and i worry about the stain/teach me to run to You/like they run to me for every little thing//chorus//when i forget to drink from You/i can feel the banks harden/Lord, make me like a stream/to feed the garden/wake up, little sleeper/the Lord. God Almighty/made your Mama keeper so rise and shine/rise and shine cause/chorus

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oh, here it comes...

Overheard in the row in front of me this morning as the opening chords of "How Great Thou Art" started.

Is there anyone who can make it through that hymn dry-eyed?

I lasted until the last verse this time. Other Sundays, not so much.

I stood there thinking of the single mom sitting nearby who's raising a fantastic son.

Of the mom a few rows over hurting over her prodigal son.

Of the would-be moms grieving miscarriages and empty wombs.

Of the seemingly endless list of cancer patients on the prayer sheet.

Of the miracles of God's Providence in Honduras this summer.

Of a teenager living with relatives this summer, previously unchurched, and now born again, part of a new family.

"Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art..."

Carl Gustaf Boberg, who wrote the poem that would become the lyrics, witnessed a thunderstorm come up suddenly and then watched the bay began to calm and heard a church bell in the distance as the storm passed over. The peace after the storm inspired his "awesome wonder." The disciples were in "awesome wonder" as they witnessed the One who has power over even the wind and waves.

And still does.

Watch a thunderstorm and let your soul sing, "How great Thou art."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Theology of Freedom

I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The LORD does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
Psalm 135:5-6

Dave had dinner with a co-worker last night who asked him to pray with him. He and his wife have some big changes in their life, fears, anticipation, worry, and hope.

All afternoon my mind whirred with thoughts and prayers. It can be tough praying with and for someone when you're not sure of their view of God and His holy will. I wonder how his response and reaction will be as events unfold. What if there is more disappointment and pain ahead? I worried for my husband that he would have the right words.

In college, Dave and I attended a Baptist church with a RTS student for a college minister. He first taught us about reformed theology and suddenly the bits and pieces clearly fell into a rich, unfolding story. I was an easy convert. Others wrestled with and even scorned these concepts, responding with a hyper-Calvinist objection, "Why don't you just stay in your room and never pray or witness to anyone ever again!" Those were interesting days in that church!

But I am freed from worry and works and pressures by understanding that God does what pleases Him. Disappointments and tragedies, by no means less painful or sad, are easier to meet when I know that my God "sit[s] enthroned forever." My anxiety for Dave was relieved when I reminded myself of this again and my prayers changed too. His words were not responsible for changing this person, but oh, our joy that God wants us to pray with and for and to each other.

My other thought that afternoon was my pride for my husband. There are only two other Christians in his company (and one's a bit out there!). Being in the secular workplace is difficult and the temptation to play the game is great. I was proud that his light is shining like an "office" on a hill.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Summer of Winter

I've been ticking off Steinbeck novels since the 10th grade and somehow Winter of Our Discontent made its way into the house through either my mom or my mother-in-law. We're trading so many books around these days I lose track. It's only 270+ pages but I think I've been reading it all summer long, interrupted by more sensational and more exciting reads like Harry Potter, Thousand Splendid Suns, and whatever Patti leaves on my doorstep (keep 'em comin'!). Plus, I knew it would be sorta depressing so that didn't get me real revved up to read it. That being said, I finished it last night.

Ethan Allen Hawley is the descendant of a once prominent and wealthy New England whaling family. But through some mismanaged investing on the part of him and his father, he's left with only the family house and a job as a clerk in the grocery store he once owned. His wife is a bit restless for the life they once had, his teenage kids are discontent and well, teenager-y, and he knows everyone else but him is getting ahead. He wants his pride back; his wife wants new furniture. The question is will he sacrifice his morals for a chance at material comfort. The pace of the second part of the novel picks up a bit as events fall into and out of place.

Though the narration is a bit preachy and heavy-handed (as Steinbeck's last novel it was the least critically and popularly appreciated and you can sense his old-age attempt to knock some moral sense into the Swinging 60's culture), I appreciated the way he wove multiple instances of moral relativism and compromised scruples. Ethan references his time in war when he killed and sent men to be killed in battle, knowing he would not murder in his peacetime life. But has he sent men to their death in other ways, more underhandedly? He knows most of the town officials are corrupt, but are they hurting anyone? Without giving away too much, I thought the ending was more cowardly than the ending of the similar-themed and more subtle The Pearl. As one of my very astute students pointed out after reading that book, "Sad endings have more impact." This one fell short of true sadness. Just a bit depressing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What's in a nickname?

My family has a reputation for giving people nicknames. I remember one dinner with friends when we talked about our name for one of our grandmothers--Eeyore--for her oh-so-sunny disposition. Our friend, Jan, kidded us about how many names we have for people and our pets and asked what we had named her. Without hesitating, someone said, "G.I. Jan" and we roared; it was so spot on! And she's been G.I. Jan ever since.

We call my dad by either his mom's name--Eunice--when he's munching and grazing or "evening up" a pan of brownies or by his dad's--Nate--when he's hard of hearing. I've been called Roly from 101 Dalmations (I'm hungry, Mother, I really am) and Ice Queen. I even have a t-shirt now. My brother, all 6 feet plus of him, we call Scooter. He's "Bart"; I'm "Lisa." I actually don't believe we've nicknamed my mom so much. I think that's pretty much a death sentence.

This has continued on to my own children. Rebekah, of course, is Bekah and Bekah-boo but was also called Heffalump and Princess Poops-a-lot as a baby. And we ironically refer to her by her middle name--Grace. The newest names for Benjamin David: B. Diddy, Chub-a-love, and Benzilla, especially when he goes after Rebekah's school bus.
The sound effects and dialogue we give the pre-language one are pretty funny too. "Me Benzilla. Me want school bus. Me eat people." It comes out a bit like Cookie Monster!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Giardino de Oliva

It was a night without kids or others. The place was quiet enough to visit, we split a pitcher of sangria, and chomped down on yummy bread sticks.

Over the summer, the six of us, plus one more who couldn't join us this week, have studied Carolyn Custis James' book Lost Women of the Bible, a topic of previous posts here. Studying it together has been refreshing, rereading the material, working through the more difficult aspects (the night we discussed Tamar was priceless!), and contemplating the bigger issues her book raises. I purposefully asked women with different stories to be apart of this--single, married, moms, working women, married early, married later. That helped us get out of ourselves, seeing God's picture of womanhood in more varied aspects--the home, the workplace, and the church.

I can't possibly begin to summarize all we talked about but a few things have stuck in my mind. One of the most prevalent is the concept of sacrifice. Over and over again the women we studied sacrificed themselves for the kingdom--Hannah her child, Mary her reputation, Esther her safety, Tamar her credibility, Hagar her pride, Mrs. Noah her way of life, Lydia her resources. They willing gave because our God is about healing the hurt, restoring the broken, and establishing the kingdom. I find that God will require sacrifice to serve him in wherever he has placed us.

I also love how throughout the covenant story could not have been accomplished or recorded without women, these ten women in particular. So many of their stories were about the "normal" or expected being turned upside down. The slave-girl Hagar giving God his first personal title--El Roi. Or Mary Magdalene traveling with Jesus, calling him Rabboni because he was her teacher.

And lastly, I was reminded of the importance of learning truth, telling truth to ourselves daily, and being truthful with each other. The world has twisted God's view of femininity and womanhood and there's just enough that it gets right that we--and our children!--can get easily sucked in. And we lose perspective so easily as well, forgetting what God has really said. And we're not honest enough with each other to get us past the surface struggles and into the meat of what we're actually dealing with.

I love the women of this group and hope that our time together was edifying and beneficial. They were definitely a blessing to me, all summer long.

Happy Birthday

#28, I can't believe it. The 20's are almost over.
Oh, well.
Here's a pic of the gorgeous roses my hubby sent. He arranged for them to be sent to Thrive and they were waiting for me when I came to work out. How's that for a birthday treat--my first work out in about a year. My new trainer, Jenny, thankfully did not try to kill me though. We're easing back into it. I don't know how much weight she put on each machine and I never ask. Nothing felt too light and we stopped short of complete muscle failure (which is really your goal; you actually want to go until your muscle gives out). I felt I could have gone a bit longer on each machine. She promises to get meaner though. I'm a bit stiff and sore this morning, but my back feels so much better already. I love that machine. The leg press...not so much. Hey, maybe I should change the name of the blog...something like "pumps iron really slow". Technically, they're steel weight plates.
Anyway, Dave and I went to Houston's for dinner...yummy spinach dip. Neither one of us ate a french fry or garlic mashed potatoes. We saved room for a piece of chocolate hazelnut torte from the night before. Yeah, I made my own birthday cake but I don't mind. Cruised the book store after dinner so we didn't get home before the kids were in bed and that was about it.
Oh, yeah, my birthday presents from Mom and my mother-in-law. From Mom: a Giada cookbook (she's the cleavage-bearing Italian on Food Network), fabulous kitchen shears, and an Acme bag (in orange) that folds up into a little pocket, perfect for putting in the diaper bag for trips to the mall or something. From my mom-in-law: Miss Potter DVD and a gift card for shopping. Two women who totally get me!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Mommy Wars

I was working on a post about the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom because a few of us have been having this conversation lately.

I read this on-line article from Newsweek and got a chuckle so I'll post this instead...for now.

Monday, August 6, 2007


That's "bag," that is.

In an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags that enter my house, I've bought 4 reusable bags from They're the size of a paper bag, will stand up when empty; they're washable and sturdy. They're made out of cordova nylon, like a backback and have a pocket on the side. And they stand up nicely in the back of the minivan, not tipping over and spilling their contents. They're not quite as nice as the ones Mom bought years ago but we've never seen anything like those and I think these are lighter and fold up smaller.
I took them to Target and Publix today and it went pretty well. I got everything in these 4 bags, which means fewer trips out to the car to bring everything in. The cashiers looked at bit askance at them but managed okay. It was better when I bagged my own groceries at Publix. The Target guy was a dweeb. Publix actually has little green reusable bags they're selling but they're too small and not washable.
There are many, many different kinds of bags on the website so you can find what works for you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Good girl, Mommy

Some days I'm just lazy. Sometimes I'm fine with that; I need a break. Sometimes I rationalize. Sometimes I feel guilty.

But today I was busy in a real productive way, not a headless chicken kind of way. I got all the laundry done. One last load to fold before I go to bed. Ran my errands. Got a birthday present and some things for the beach tomorrow. Planted some flowers. Installed landscape lighting. (Read: Shoved solar lights into ground in aesthetically pleasing way). Went through the kids' closets and sorted out too small clothes. Went through the hand-me-down pile from the cousins and found a new wardrobe for R. I'm on to D's closet next and the blue plaid lumberjack shirt-jacket that has been haunting me for nearly 10 years now. (He maintains it's for doing yard work in the winter. I have yet to see him chop wood or shovel snow in it.) I was all set to replace door knobs in the doors that I've painted so far but D came home early and woke the girl.

So she and I watched What Not to Wear and Between the Lions instead. Then we played on the floor and laughed at R's "Spider-Bekah" song. She's seen just enough Simpson's Movie previews to get the "Spider Pig" bit down. But she sings it while doing "airplane" with D, pumping her arms, and then doing a big finale of jumping on his belly.

So, where's my gold star? Oh, yeah, I got to eat the last piece of key lime pie and force D through a chick flick. Good day.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I need another blog to read like a hole in my head but Andrew Peterson has started blogging through the recording of his next album and occasionally I'll skim his posts. I'm not all that into the details of recording an album since I'm not talented in that area but AP is one of the funniest and cookiest people I've ever sorta known. Just read the liner notes on his CD's and you'll get a taste of it.
There's been a running joke about Dumbledore on there that resulted in Derek Webb's image morphed with the vernerable Hogwarts headmaster.
Good to know this is how some of the brightest minds in "Christian" music spend their time! :)