Saturday, April 30, 2011

What did I read in April, 2011?

Finally, some variety to the list!  Some very good books, and a real stinker.  Enjoy, comment, share what you've been reading!  Remember, the number at the front is how many books this year, the number after the title is rating, 1 being so bad you almost never see it (who could finish a book that bad) and 5 being so good, almost life-changing, or at least giving me something to really think about!
28. A Boy At War – 3.5 – first in a JA series about a young man, Adam Pelko, during WWII. Adam’s family is stationed at Pearl Harbor, and he is an up-close witness to the attack on 12/7/41. His father is a Naval officer on board the USS Arizona. It deals mainly with fear and predjudice towards the native Hawiian people (many of which are of Japanese descent), as well as the attack itself. There are two more books in the series. I like how it portrays the history of what happened, I don’t like that there is some minor cursing, smoking (I know more people smoked in the ‘40s, I still don’t like it, though!) and Adam’s disobedience to his parents. They are portrayed as being stiff and not understanding (Adam’s father forbids him to continue a friendship with a Japanese-American boy, because he anticipates they will be at war soon and he is a Naval officer) and Adam as being empathetic and wise. We are going to read the next two books in the series, though.

29. Lucifer’s Flood – 2 -Linda Brook Rios – read for book discussion. So much bad theology and “re-writing” of the Bible that I could scream. I don’t mind some historical fiction, based on Biblical people (fine example is Francine Rivers’ Lineage of Grace series) but this book is Creation through the Tower of Babel, told through the eyes of a fallen angel/demon. Pretty common setup – ancient texts delivered to scholar by strange man with unusual name, story unfolds, bad guy in present time is coming looking for it – there are four books in the series, and I will not be picking them up.

30. A Country of Strangers – 4.75 -Conrad Richter – excellent. A companion book to his more famous “The Light in the Forest”. Stone Girl was captured by Indians as a small child. Now she is a grown woman, married to an Indian and has a small son. And she is part of a negotiation to be returned to the white people. Heart-wrenching story. Like his other book, told from the point of view of the Indians, not settlers. This is one that will stay on my shelf forever, right new to The Light in the Forest.

31. Miss Dimple Disapears – 4 -Mignon F. Ballard – fun murder mystery, set in a small town in Georgia during WWII. I have the feeling it is the beginning of a series, since there were (of course!) romantic involvements left unresolved.

32. The Confession – 5 -John Grisham – generally I would not give Grisham a 5, and his writing in this one is no better than any of his others. It is a fast-paced page turner, heavy on melodrama, light on character depth, where the bad guys are stereotype bad and the good guys are somewhat conflicted. However, it was good, I couldn’t put it down. And, it did change my views on how the death penalty is carried out in our country.

33. Crazy Love – 3.5 -Francis Chan – didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I expected too. I like to watch his sermons on youtube, though.

34. Left Neglected – 3.5 Lisa Genova – no where near as good as “Still Alice” – one of my all-time favorite books. The protagonist (can’t even remember her name) is a corporate mom-on-the-go. It is so easy to see where this is going. She and her husband have incredibly stressful jobs (they went to Harvard, can’t waste that diploma) and three kids, fancy house, house in Vermont, fancy clothes, work 70-80 hours a week. Her kids are the ones who get dropped off for before school and after school care, plus they have a full-time nanny. No one cooks, no time to go to the kids’ soccer games, and their son is having trouble in school (duh). She is in a car accident (cell phone while driving) and has a head injury resulting in “left neglect” – her brain does not recognize anything on the left, including her own body. Her estranged mom comes to help them, imagine how that turns out. Anyway, it was an okay book, and the left neglect was interesting, but she and her husband were so over-the-top that you knew what was going to happen. Pretty cliché.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Barely able to think, let alone blog

Yep, that is me right now!  It has been a crazy-wonderful month.  As we are moving on the next stage of the adventure in our family, I am excited, scared, tired.....!  All of the above!

I would say my husband has been working like a mad man to finish his new building and clean out the building we've owned for fifteen years - BUT - he does not work as one who is mad.  He is deliberate in what he is doing, and he has a plan, and he executes it.  In the midst of his exhaustion he is not yelling or frantic.

Me, on the other hand.....

My mind is going 14 different directions.  Needless to say, we are on Spring Break from school this week.  Boy, am I glad I saved that break! Sorting, hauling, organizing, making phone calls, plus the regular things of life (many of which are on hold right now!) is exciting - life is somewhat crazy - life is what it is, it is what God gives us, we do with it what we can, through His providence.

I keep telling myself that.

On one hand, I see God's work, so many pieces coming together.  On the other, I try to control and begin to panic about the things that are outside of my control.

Yesterday I was cleaning out a cabinet at the shop and found some old coffee cups.  One of them showed a picture very similar to this, same caption, different cat.

Yep, yep, yep.

I may make the effort to post my book reviews and reading log for April today, but don't count on it.  That is sounding like a Saturday project here!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

By this shall all men know

Continue on with the Heart Preparation questions for the Rockport Baptist Church Grace Camp Meeting:

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another. John 13:35"

Are you secretly pleased over the misfortunes of others?

That sounds so horrible - but yes, I have been happy to see someone "get what they deserve".  Sometimes this is righteous, I guess - glad to see a murderer get his due punishment, for example.  I don't think that is what this means, though.

What about less "extenuating" circumstances - like, being happy to see someone get their comeuppance?  I know I have been guilty of this.  Don't we love to see a braggart fall flat on their face, the person who acts superior make a fool of themselves?  How the demons laugh in delight when we take such an attitude!

Are you secretly annoyed over the accomplishments or advancements of another?

No, not really.  I may be a little envious at times, but I am usually pretty honest with myself.  I can recognize their hard work over my lack of it.

I may get annoyed if they harp on it, but that goes back to the first question!
Are you guilty of any contention or strife?

We discussed this last summer in the family Bible study we attend on Wednesday nights. 

"There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among the brothers." Proverbs 6:16-19 (Emphasis added).

The Lord equates those who sow discord among the brothers with those who shed innocent blood.  Fighting in the church, gossip campaigns, deliberate snubs - oh how we must grieve our God.  There is no wiggle room in here.  These are the things God hates - an abomination.  Not things that annoy him, or may make you lose a little luster on your crown.  An abomination.  Look up "abomination" in your concordance and do a word study, and cross-reference some verses.  See how the Holy God looks upon our after-church conversations. 

I try not to be guilty of this - I know I have a tendency to grouse and criticize, but not as much as I used to.  The Holy Spirit has given me a few (okay, several) slaps upside the head and laid my sin out before me to where I cannot deny or excuse it.  I try to stay out of other peoples' arguments, too.  How many times can we get sucked into sin by someone else?  We need to be aware of that , and also be aware of how our own sin can suck someone else in. 

Do you quarrel, argue, or engage in heated discussions?

Boy, there is one.  I have been known to get in some very heated discussions.  I love to talk about history, politics, doctrine and theology.  That is like the classic brew for heated discussions.  And let's be honest, we can couch that sort of thing in "discussion" all day long, but it is arguing.  Like telling our kids that Mom and Dad are having a very loud discussion.  Yeah, right - and whose kids fall for that? 

I have had to really back down and think about what things are worth fighting over - and really, there are very few.  And so often, I can say that I am just trying to teach someone, or help them out of error, but really?  I like to win.  I hate to leave a fight (and that is what it is) without getting in the last word because then it may appear that I have conceded.  Oh Lord, to get back the hours I have spent online arguing, with my Bible in my lap, while my sons have been plunked down in front the the tv or wii.  What screwed up priorities.

Are you a partaker in any division or party spirit?

I am going to go with "no" on this one.  Having been a member of a church that went through a split a few years ago, I got to witness first-hand what went on - all in God's name, of course.   I felt like one day I was pulled into this group, the next siding with the other - it seemed to consume every conversation I had with friends and with my husband.  I have learned my lesson.

Are there people whom you deliberately slight?

A couple names popped into my head immediately, so I guess it must be true.  Let's be honest - there are some people who can suck the life out of you, can drain you emotionally.  I have found myself trying to be kind, but also trying to keep some distance.  I don't know how I can frame that as "compassion" so let's not even try.  I don't think this is talking about people that really aggravate you (sandpaper people) and avoiding them - I think this is really about looking at others and thinking you are somehow superior to them.  Maybe you've made better choices in life, you hang with a cooler clique, they don't get your jokes - whatever.  I think to define "slight" we could say....if they call, do you try to get off the phone really quickly?  If the only open seat at the fellowship is next to her, will you sit in it?  Do you deliberately not include them?  Do you dismiss them when they speak to you?  Have you judged them and found them unworthy?

"Why do you pass judgment on your brother?  Or you, why do you despise your brother?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
As I live, says the Lord, every knee
shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess
to God.
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
Romans 14: 10-12

There are times to make a righteous judgment on sin - we are called to observe the fruit in our brothers' lives, and to encourage and rebuke.  But we are not to judge them simply on whether or not they meet up to OUR own (sinful, personal, worldly) standards. 

A lot to think about on this Sabbath day.  I am home with a sick son, missing the last gathering of our Grace Camp Meeting.  I miss this gathering of the saints, it has been an incredible time of worship.  But maybe it is good, too, to have this time alone, to pull back a bit and examine my own heart.  We all need that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Go ye into all the world

Sorry I haven't kept up with this like I planned to - I should never say I am going to do something "every day" - it should be more like "every day that I have time to focus on it"!

Anyway, enough with the excuses, on to the questions for Section #3
And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

Have you failed to seek the lost for Christ; have you failed to witness consistently with your mouth for the Lord Jesus Christ?

I am not much of a witness.  I post things on facebook, but that is pretty easy.  Granted, occasionally I post in areas where the "general train of thought" is not Christian and I get some passive-aggressive, critical posts under mine, but that is no big deal.  Just address it if it will help (it usually doesn't) or just go on. 

I tell others about Christ, but it is generally in response to them asking first.  My husband and I support ministries and missionaries financially.  But I, myself, am not much of an evangelist. 

On one hand, I do certainly believe that we are witnesses with our lives - on the other hand, I do not believe that "lifestyle evangelism" (ie, I will just be really nice and someone will say Gee! She is really nice! and ask why and then I will tell them about Jesus who makes me really nice) is an effective means of spreading the gospel.  There are lots of lost people, dead in their trespasses, who still manage to fit nicely into society's standards, and even smile and act friendly (and don't get me started on the people who try to wave you out into traffic and think they are being nice - argh).  I think it is a cop-out.  On the other hand, I think you can certainly be a witness AGAINST Christ with your lifestyle.  Please don't tell anyone you are a follower of Christ and then flip people off in traffic, speak rudely to waitresses and cashiers, engage in fornication/adultery/pornography, gossip against your brothers, chitchat about the ungodly programming you watch, and refuse to repent....all the good you do will probably not be attributed to Christ, but the evil you do will bring cries of, "Hypocrite" quickly. 

And rightly so.

Has my life shown Jesus to the lost?

I don't really know many lost people - or at least, many unchurched people.  I think there are a lot of people out there that are as "lost as lost can be", to quote one of my favorite preachers.  And they are sitting in pews, and they think that because someone explained a few verses to them and led them in a prayer they are now saved.  I heard a new expression this week "Once Prayed, Always Saved" (a play on "once saved, always saved") from another of my favorite preachers.  Yep, you got it - say this prayer, tell the congregation on Sunday morning, get dunked on Sunday evening, and you are SAVED, Brother.  The fact that millions pray and get dunked, and then continue in their ungodly lifestyles, excusing adultery and fornication, gossip and hatred, sowing dissension among the brethren, and are without repentence, should be proof that this really isn't working.  But hey, get them to pray, report it back to your evangelism team at church, mark up another number on your board for the quarter, perhaps do a little high-fiving and you are doing God's work, Baby!

Okay, I digressed there.  This isn't about what others do wrong, it is supposed to be about what am I doing, or the lack in what I am doing. 

I do try to witness with my life (see "Lifestyle Evangelism" above) - but I think that is just something I fall back into.  It is so easy, you know, and once that mindset is in place.....but I so easily fall into sinful attitudes.  And I also think that I am more caught up in doctrinal issues than true issues of salvation.

But going out into the world and truly telling people about Christ?  I fall so short.  Fear, pride, a need to present a "perfect" witness, all these play into this.  I admire a local pastor who says that Walmart is his church.  He goes to Walmart, because that is where you find a lot of lost people who need to h ear the gospel.  I go to Walmart because I really like their store brand of laundry detergent.  There seems to be a disconnect there.  Oh Lord, forgive me.  Touch my heart, cause me to grieve for the lost like you do.

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. 

It is His grace that saves, not your works, not how hard you try, or how often you repeat the prayer, or read it off a card. 

And if you truly are saved, then your life will begin to show it.  You will repent of your sins, not because they cause you pain or grief, but because in your love for Christ you see how they cause him grief.  You cannot bear to sin against a Holy God.  Turn away from the lies and promises of sin - put your faith in the promises of God.  Call upon Christ to save you from the guilt and punishment of bondage.  Put all your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus.  Begin to read the Bible to find his precious and great promises for you, and find a Bible-believing church and worship and grow with other believers who treasure Christ above all.  You will desire baptism, so that you can be obedient to the Lord that you love.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  Follow him.  He has redeemed you.  I know, for He has redeemed me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reading Log for March, 2011

I am going to digress from my personal examination for a morning, and list my reading log for this month - remember, 1-5 on the ratings, with 1s almost never showing up (I can't bring myself to waste the time finishing anything that bad) and 5 being life-changing (or really close to it!).

And here it is - March, 2011!

18. Death of a Witch – 4.25 – M.C. Beaton - more Hamish Macbeth

19. Death of a Valentine – 4.25 – M.C. Beaton – and a little more Hamish

20. Anne’s House of Dreams – 4 – LC Montgomery – Anne is married and in her first home. It picked up the last 1/3 of the book, but was pretty slow until then.

21. No Distance Too Far: Home To Blessing 2 – 3 – Lauraine Snelling – this is the third spinoff of the Red River series, not counting the Dakota Treasure series, which had a lot of similarities. Let’s put it this way – I knew how this was going to end. I even know how the next book, which has not yet been published, is going to end. After this many books there are so many characters that it is hard to keep track of. Anyway, it wasn’t great.

22. The Swiss Family Robinson – 4 – Johann David Wyss – a classic, but my gosh this was a lonnnngggg read aloud. The boys and I really didn’t get into it for about 150 pages. Some love it, some don’t. We ended up “liking it a lot”.   As a side note, we also watched the Disney movie.  I would say, definitely read the book BEFORE the movie - they are very, very different! The movie was still fun, but it would have been more fun without three people saying, "That's not how it happened in the book!" through the whole thing.

23. Death of a Chimney Sweep: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery – 4.5- M.C. Beaton – definitely one of the best – and it is the last, for now! Off to find a new obsession.

24. My Life From Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time – 4.75 – Gesine Bullock-Prado – very good – story of Gesine Bullock (Sandra’s sister). Gesine had gone to work for Sandra’s production company in Hollywood, and eventually couldn’t take it or LA anymore. She and her husband bought a storefront in a small town in Vermont and opened a pastry shop. Very entertaining read.

25. Plain Girl – 4.5 – Virginia Sorensen – a Sonlight read aloud, that I read to myself! Very moving story about a young Amish girl in the 1950s who is forced to go to public school by the authorities. It is a childrens’ chapter book, so there is a happy ending.

26. French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure – 4 – Mireille Guiliano – this is a re-read from a few years ago. I don’t like most of her recipes, and many of her tips are not going to fit into my life – I cannot go to a local market every day to squeeze the fruit – but it is an encouraging little book about taking all things in moderation and being realistic.

27. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table – 3 – Molly Wizenberg – hmmmm. I liked the first half of the book, but the 2nd half was after she met her future husband. Maybe I am getting to be a prude – no, maybe the Holy Spirit is convicting me – that I do not care to read accounts of people who are fornicating and talking about it like it is no big deal, or even appropriate. It wasn’t graphic or anything, not at all. But them living together was just presented as being so wonderful, to be in love, and living together, and it just bothered me. Up to the first half, when she was talking about her family and growing up, I’d give it 4.5 – after the future husband showed up it dropped to a 3.

I would love it if you posted some of your reads for this month in the comments!