Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I Read in April

26. Cream Puff Murder – 3 – Joanne Fluke – this series may (should!) be coming to its’ end – the characters’ storylines seem to be winding down. Without giving away too much, there is now no doubt as to which man Hannah should choose, and if she just drags it out further – then it is just being drug out. I knew who the murderer was as soon as the character was introduced. The recipes weren’t even really original this time. I hope this series goes out on a good note, one or two more books, one for getting engaged and all that goes with it, and maybe the last one could be “Wedding Cake Murder”, and then wrap it all up and let them live happily ever after.

27. Evenly Choirs: A Constable Evans Mystery – 3.5 – Rhys Bowen – not a bad little murder mystery. Constable Evans does not carry a weapon, though, and he always apprehends the killer, who is armed. I wonder what he will do when he runs up against a killer who is actually willing to use a gun, or is a decent shot………other than that, a basic little murder, set in the mountains of Northern Wales, with the usual cast of eccentric village characters and the complicated love triangles.

28. Emma’s Journal – 3 – Ed Rowell –The story of Emma, who had a powerful impact on everyone around her. When she dies, her personal “Living on Purpose” journal goes missing. The story shows how we live our lives affects other people. It was a quick read, but the bad guy was so over-the-top bad, and there were just so many clich├ęs that it really took away from it.

29. One Perfect Day – 3 – Lauraine Snelling – Nora is trying to make Christmas perfect this year – her twin children are seniors in high school, and she’s afraid this will be that last Christmas Day that she can count on them all being together. Jenna is also trying to make Christmas perfect for her 20-year-old daughter, Heather. Heather is on the list for a heart transplant, and failing fast. The book is the two stories running parallel – Nora’s son Charlie dies in a car accident a few days before Christmas and his heart is given to Heather. It is about Nora’s family picking up the pieces and Jenna and Heather being able to start planning to live. Good, not great.

30. Living On The Devil’s Doorstep – 3.75- Floyd McClung – from YWAM’s International Adventures series. Story of Floyd McClung and his wife who began ministering to American and European young people in Kabul in the early 70s. During this time thousands of young people were “dropping out” and becoming heavily involved with drugs and Eastern religions. Kabul was a stop-off on “The Trail”, a path from Amsterdam to Nepal. Later they moved to Amsterdam and established ministries serving the Red Light District. Interesting book about a family getting truly involved with the people they are ministering to.

31. Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey In Healing Autism – 3.25 – Jenny McCarthy – this is a hard one to rate. On one side, it is an extremely interesting story – nowhere near as good as her later book Mother Warriors, though. BUT – I could not get past the person of Jenny McCarthy. Every other page of the book was filled with profanity, and she is just a crude person. Plus, she is very into all kinds of New Age things (tarot cards, “energy”, etc.) that she combines with praying to God, a healing service performed in her home by Mormon missionaries, praying to her grandfather and other people who have passed away…….just weird combinations. She has “faith in the universe” would probably be the easiest way to describe it. Anyway, a good story but all the profanity really took away from it.

32. Mother Warriors – 4 – Jenny McCarthy – I think I read this back in January or February, but I don’t see it on the list, so I will include it here. This was an excellent book, telling the stories of families who are dealing with autism and the steps they have taken to lead their children to recovery. A whole lot of anger at the medical establishment, that is for sure! Goes into a lot of detail about the effects of the immune system, vaccinations, “gut” issues, diet, supplements, etc. The profanity was toned down quite a bit from the previous book, but the “f” word is still sprinkled liberally. A lot of talk about her relationship with Jim Carrey, some New Age-y stuff (energy of the universe stuff). Aside from just the “personal” don’t care for Jenny McCarthy stuff, though, a very good, very informative book.

33. The Revolution: A Manifesto – 3 – Ron Paul – good information, pretty boring in its’ overall presentation. I kept falling asleep while reading it. Took me 4 days to read +/- 150 page book.

34. A Time Of Murder At Mayerling – 3.75 – Ann Dukthas – interesting premise. A mysterious man, Nick Segalla, never dies or grows older. His name is mentioned in connection with various courts and governments through European history. In the early 1990s, he approaches historian Ann Dukthas and provides her information solving some of the greatest murder mysteries of history. This one is set in Vienna, 1889 when the heir to the Hapsburg throne is found murdered along with his mistress. Segalla was sent there as an envoy of the Pope to investigate the Crown Prince’s death. A different sort of story from the usual period-mysteries.

35. Evan and Elle: A Constable Evans Mystery – 4 – Rhys Bowen – next in the series of the Welsh Constable. This time there is a serial arsonist and a mysterious French woman who has come to the small village of Llanfair. This was pretty good – more of a detective story with plot twists (though if you’ve ever watched a soap opera, you knew how some of this was going to turn out!). Pleasant, easy read.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lord, please keep me a Kindergartener

I have discovered the WHY of "Why I love teaching kindergarten Sunday School". I started teaching last October, and have "re-upped" for the next year.

When my kindergarteners show up they are smiling. They are happy to see us, and they are looking forward to what we have planned. They color pictures, make a craft, work on memorizing scripture, sing songs, listen to the story and ask lots and lots of questions.

We get to spend a whole hour together talking about how God created us, God loves us, Jesus takes care of us, Jesus is so powerful He can heal the sick and raise the dead. That He died for our sins and rose again and has prepared a place for us!

During the precious time we have together, my kindergarteners do not complain about the pastor or staff, the sermon, the tidiness of the restrooms, the choice of music the soloist performed, whether or not anything was spelled wrong in the bulletin, if the coffee is too strong/weak, or any of the upcoming activities. Our time is PRECIOUS. We can never get through, in only one hour, the things we want to do and say and learn.

They seem to assume that we, their teachers, have only their best interests at heart, and they follow our lead without second-guessing, debating, or whispering amongst themselves about our true motives. Believe me, we are not seeking fame, glory or power through teaching kindergarten. This is a labor of love, and they seem to sense that.

Kindergarteners are not perfect, of course. They are at the stage where they need help with nose blows. There are some Sundays when I have just about hand-sanitized myself to my armpits, I've wiped so many noses.

But they are so doggone grateful for someone to help them with their noses. They are almost Christians. Would that we could all hang on to that feeling in our lives and hearts, that time of it all being "new" - the wonder of discovering the love of Christ for the first time.

We can't get to "new" again - and some of us are pretty old. But spend some time with the little get the same kind of feeling in your heart.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What I read in March, 2009

Not that I am really wierd, but I rate my books 1-5. There won't be many 1s, because if it is that bad I usually don't finish it!

16. The Succesful Homeschool Family Handbook – 3.5 - Raymond and Dorothy Moore – very encouraging, one I had never read before. Parts of it were pretty dated, though. I think it is from the early-mid 80s.

17. William Penn: With Liberty and Justice for All – 3 - Janet and Geoff Benges – Heroes of History series, read aloud. I like the missionary stories better, but overall this was pretty good. Bogged down a lot with the politics of England in the 1670s, but that was what shaped the times.

18. Christy – 5- Catherine Marshall – read for my church book group – I had read it 5 or so years ago and got a lot more out of it this time.

19. Laughing in the Dark – 4 – Chonda Pierce – the story of her walk through depression.

20. Book of Time II: Gate of Days – 3 – bedtime read aloud. I think if I was 12 it would be really, really good. The characters take the Lord’s name in vain (OMG) which I changed to “gosh” as I read (that bothers me more than just regular profanity). The character is traveling through time, trying to save his father, who is trapped in another time period. This is book 2 in the trilogy.

21. How Starbucks Saved My Life – 4.5 – Michael Gates Gill – story of a well-off, privileged, middle-aged white guy who loses his cushy job. Then with too much spare time on his hands…..he loses his marriage. He ends up getting a job at Starbucks, and working for a young African-American woman. It is a really neat story of how his life changes, his perceptions change, and the person he becomes.

22. Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday – 3.5 – Nancy Atherton – at least this time Lori didn’t get overly attracted to the handsome man. Another enjoyable Aunt Dimity story, though I don’t like Lori.

23. The Seat Beside Me – 4 - Nancy Moser – very good book. All these people sitting for hours on a plane, waiting to take off. And then the plane crashes and the five survivors deal with how their lives were changed by the chance encounter with the people they met in the seat next to them. Some parts were emotionally hard to get through, but overall, a very good story. This would be a good one to recommend to my book discussion group at church.

24. Heart and Soul – 4 – Maeve Binchy – more Irish soap operas. This was better than some, not as good as others. It is really sad how many people just don’t have any connection with God. The charactersd talk about being Catholic, but they never go to church – it’s just an Irish/cultural thing to them. There is always a priest or two, but that is it. And the people who are religious are shown as superstitious. Really a shame, since the book is full of unhappy people, and everyone accepts s*x outside of marriage as a given.

25. Jumping Ship – 4 – Michael and Debi Pearl – in 2006 NGJ magazine ran a series of articles about homeschool families whose grown children were rebelling and “jumping ship” – basically turning their backs. This book is the articles, re-edited with some new info added. I always find the Pearls to be very encouraging.