Reading the Classics – goals

Over at 5 Minutes for Books they have a Classics Bookclub. It was because of them that I read Rebecca this past year. I also read at least 8 other classics this year and really enjoyed it. Some were books I had not ever read, others were books I had read in school and didn’t remember or appreciate like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I know that before 2009, To Kill a Mockingbird was not my favorite book, but it is now.

So, as we approach 2010 I am setting more goals. I don’t have a separate Classics category for the next year, but I have a few of them on my list.

  1. Pilgrim’s Progress for my church book club at the end of January – this is a reread for me
  2. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini – I just finished reading Captain Blood
  3. Red Badge of Courage
  4. Catch-22

I also intend to read some books by these authors

  1. Anthony Trollope
  2. Chaim Potok
  3. Graham Greene
  4. Dorothy Sayers
  5. GK Chesterton
  6. Wilkie Collins
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Driving the thought home

My chapter this morning in Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer was about forgiveness and love. Our relationships with our fellow man are important to the effectiveness of our prayer.

Then I found this quote over at Tony Woodlief’s blog.

“My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart.” (Elder Epiphanios of Athens).

I like that. I want to have a heart like that and I want to be in hearts like that!

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To be known

It has been a great Christmas, with time spent with so much of the family. I’ve been thinking about what it means to know these people. Family and friends. The pastor made a remark during the sermon yesterday about how hard “doing church” can be, because we know each other, we know all about each other. We all recognize what he’s saying, but I wanted to argue that if we truly knew ALL about each other church wouldn’t be that hard. I think it’s precisely because we don’t know all there is to know that we struggle so.

First, I know we don’t know all there is to know about ourselves. Each of us has some very serious denial and distortion going on, that keeps us from facing all the bare truth about our self. Sometimes it is the deep dark places that we hide, and sometimes we only see the dark and it is the good that we hide. But we are seldom completely honest about our own motives and desires.

Second, we don’t see everything about another person. That makes it much easier to take things personally and be offended by the words and actions (or lack of words or actions) on their part. Why didn’t they invite me? It must be that they don’t want me, it certainly can’t be that they simply missed my name and had too much on their plate as they go through this busy life. Why didn’t she stop to talk to me? She must not like me, it can’t be that she is intimidated by me or can’t think of something to say, or that someone else is hurting more and needed her attention today.

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about her youngest son. He is a sensitive soul, with very strong emotions. But those of us with strong emotions learn that in times of danger (when our feelings might be misunderstood or abused) we should hide all emotions from everyone. He has a type A kindergarten teacher who is an in-your-face sort of person. When this small 5 year old learning how to made decisions makes the wrong one she calls him on it immediately and impersonally, and then wonders why he shows no remorse. Of course, she can’t see the agony going on inside or the tears shed at home. She thinks she knows all about him and has labeled his behavior. But, again I argue that if she truly knew all about him, she would love him too much to label him or to assume the worst about his motives.

We think we know people because we can predict their behavior and recognize their reactions. But we often don’t truly understand the reasons and motives behind all of that. It is easy to depersonalize it and attribute our own theories of motives to those behaviors – that is what makes church hard. We assume they aren’t really loving or aren’t growing or are insensitive to what others need.

Loving someone doesn’t always mean we understand them completely either, but it certainly changes the type of motives we attribute to them. We find good reasons they would do what they do, even when they make mistakes. I think those motives are more often closer to the truth.

I find sometimes that I want to tell someone that their actions are wrong or hurtful, but unless I am doing it out of a deep love for them, I can’t find good words to talk to them. I don’t like it when people try to give me constructive criticism that isn’t coming from a heart of love. I think that’s why a single word from my husband hold so much power over me. I know he is really searching for the best for me and from me – for my good. It’s why a kindergarten teacher can’t get the best behavior out of a precious little boy.

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Christmas dinner was a success

We had a great Christmas dinner last Saturday. The weather did NOT cooperate and the sleet and snow kept some from attending. It also wreaked havoc with the turkey plans. But all the other food and many other guests made it and we had a good time.

My mother says I was a good hostess and made everyone feel very comfortable. That was good to hear because a few of the brothers-in-law might have gotten a curt word or two from me, maybe Mom just didn’t hear it. I loved having my aunts and nephews here. My Aunt Anne brought over a very nice gentleman friend who was great company.

Anthony saved the turkey – it was going to be fried, but I think we thawed it out a day too early. Then weather prevented the fryer from coming, so we were going to bake it. Then the oven went out and what with all the various temperature changes it had been through we were starting to doubt if we wanted to eat it. Anthony took out the breast meat and grilled it – a success!

Tomorrow we travel to Hickory to spend time with the nephews and their family. Then Saturday we travel to Raleigh for time with Anthony’s brother and family. That means 5 of us in the truck for 3 hours there and 3 hours back. (If you are the praying kind, keep all of us in mind 🙂

Tonight, we’re off to church service, including an O Holy Night solo. Then to our friends’ house for some merriment.

*******

Merry Christmas to all of you!

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How to read the Bible

Great blog entry from James Macdonald about how to read the Scripture to benefit.

Read it. I suggest taking at least 15 minutes to go through two or three chapters at a time.

Question It

Because you’re just starting out, I’ll suggest some questions, and over time you can develop your own.

  1. What portion of my reading stands out to me?” You’ll read two or three chapters, and you’ll feel drawn to a certain part. Go back to that part and ask the following questions.
  2. “Why does this part have my attention?” What is it about this that has caught my attention? To help you answer that question, use the remaining questions.
  3. “Is there an example for me to follow?” I can’t tell you how many times God’s Word has impacted my life just from saying these simple words: “Is there an example for me to follow?” All of a sudden it’s like—BOOM! It jumps right off the page: “James, you should be more like that!” I love it when God’s Word speaks to me in this way and calls me to be more of what the Lord requires.
  4. “Is there an error for me to avoid?” It’s very comforting to know that if I have unknowingly stepped in a wrong direction or made an unwise decision, God’s Word can reveal that to me. It’s easy to see the mistakes others make, but much harder to see our own mistakes. This is where the Word of God becomes that “mirror” we talked about earlier. Is there an error for me to avoid?
  5. “Is there a duty for me to perform?” Is there an action that God’s Word is calling me to take? Is there some matter of importance that I am neglecting in my home or office or in my personal life? If so, I want to know what it is so I can work on it. God’s Word will often reveal a duty we need to perform.
  6. “Is there any promise for me to claim?” So often God’s Word brings strength and encouragement. As you study the Bible, you will hear the Lord committing Himself to certain things or to act in certain ways. As you come to those promises, you might just acknowledge, “Yes, God! You are like this, and You’ve promised to be this way for all my life, and I trust You.” Your heart will be thrilled as you learn and review the promises of God.
  7. “Is there a sin for me to confess?” This I suppose is obvious in some respects. You won’t read the Bible long until you come across passages that reveal to you the “error of your ways.” But one of the promises that helps with that is 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Plan It

This is absolutely essential if you are going to benefit from the Bible as much as you could for the rest of your life. Make a plan of action regarding how you will implement what you are learning. Have a journal open beside your Bible and write some notes. Write some thoughts in the margin of your Bible. When the Word convicts you about anger or deceit or selfishness, have a strategy to deal with those sins. Make your plan specific and measurable.

Pray It

So often people are unsure of what to say in personal prayer. When you are praying back the truths of God’s own Word, you can be confident you are praying as God would have you do. You can also be confident that God will respond to what you are asking if the direction truly comes from His Word.

Share It

When you’ve learned something from God’s Word, you have to share it with somebody else. Take time to relay something about your study to your spouse or your roommate or to a friend at school.

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Tis the Season

This is a fun time of year! There are so many reasons and opportunities to get together with people. Here’s a review of my week. (I also have to cover the pager at work this week so every event has been fraught with tension as I wondered if I’d have to abandon the event to rush home and work).

Saturday a week ago started with the rehearsal for the children’s Christmas show. I run the sound system. Saturday the sound system was not being nice to me. The afternoon ended up free and beautiful, instead of the snow storm being predicted. That gave me time to make snowball cookies for Monday night

Sunday was church and then an extra long choir rehearsal as we went through the adult Christmas performance. Someone else has to run the sound system for that!

Monday night was the Circle meeting with women from church. This was our Christmas dinner so it was all fun fellowship.

Tuesday I had plans but I ended up rebelling and staying home.

Wednesday was the children’s Christmas performance so I was there early to help set up and do the rehearsal. The performance went really well and the sound system behaved!

Thursday was open so we watched Terminator Salvation. I liked the movie. I wasn’t a huge fan of Christian Bale’s John Connor, but the characters of Kyle Reese and Marcus Wright were great!

Friday was dinner with friends. This was long overdue, we just don’t spend enough time with this couple. We had a great time and did a lot of talking. It was very late (or very early, depending on your perspective) when we finally came home.

Today I’m making more snowball cookies and we have a party with friends tonight. We won’t be staying quite as late because the adult Christmas performance is tomorrow night. Maybe Anthony can party several days in a row and stay out late with no consequences, but I can’t do it 🙂

Tomorrow will be busy. Church in the morning. A meeting and choir rehearsal in the afternoon. Then the choir performance tomorrow night.

A coworker is generously covering the pager tomorrow night so I don’t have to worry about it during the Cantata. Then Monday someone else takes over the pager. Of course, I don’t really have much planned next week.

One week from today we’ll have around 16 people here for Christmas! With my mom and aunt coming early to do all the cooking. I am so excited!

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Reading in 2010

Everyone once in a while I realize most of my blog posts are about my reading. True, I do read a lot. I don’t have kids with cute stories and I’m private enough that I don’t go through my day thinking of things I need to blog (although I love other people who do that.) So, it’s safe to blog about what I’m reading and that’s what I end up doing.

That means, this is another blog post about my past, current, or future reading plans.

During my year of homeschooling I ran across a few groups and one of them started a project to read one book a week in 2009. I even posted some reviews on the blog a few times. I don’t really need the encouragement to read, that comes naturally But it was fun to see what other people were reading and share some thoughts on the books I read. I easily read more than 52 books this year. Probably closer to 100, in fact.

The group is doing it again for 2010, and I’m signing up. Between the Mind Voyages science fiction books and all the other books on my to-be-read list, I’m sure I will come up with 52 of them.

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Reading Science Fiction

This looks fun.

My Two Blessings has started a blog for reading Science Fiction – Mind Voyages (cool name).

It’s a great challenge for 2010 and I’m going to join. I was fascinated to see how many of the books I’ve already read.

Voyages

Moon Voyage :  Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo Winners List

Sling shot back to Earth:  Read at least  3 winners on the Nebula Winner’s List

Venus Voyage: Philip K. Dick Quest  – Read at least 2 of his books

I don’t think I’ve ever read any. I’ll have to fix that.

Mercury  Voyage:   Robert Heinlein Quest – Read at least 2 of his books

I did the whole Heinlein thing years ago. Then last year I read four of his early juvenile novels and have 8 more to read.

  • 1947  Rocket Ship Galileo
  • 1948   Space Cadet
  • 1949 Red Planet
  • 1950   Farmer in the Sky, (Retro Hugo Award, 1951)
  • 1958   Have Space Suit—Will Travel
  • 1958   Methuselah’s Children
  • 1961 Stranger in a Strange Land
  • 1966   The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
  • 1973   Time Enough for Love
  • 1984 Job: A Comedy of Justice
  • 1985 The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

Mars Voyage:   Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo List and take a side trip through the 21st century and read at least 4 nominees.

I’ve read 2!

  • 2000 Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  • 2000 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Go into Warp Drive and visit the other planets

Jupiter Voyage:   Go side tripping 90’s Style

  • 1992 Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
  • 1990 Prentice Alvin by Orson Scott Card

Saturn:  Go Side Tripping 80’s Style

  • 1989 Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card
  • 1988 Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
  • 1985 Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein
  • 1984 Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

Uranus: Go Side Tripping 70’s Style

  • 1977 Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
  • 1974 Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

Neptune Voyage:  Go Side Tripping through the 50’s and 60’s

  • 1966 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
  • 1959 Have Spacesuit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
  • 1951 retro nominee from 2001 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • 1946 retro award from 1996 That Hideous Strength (alt: The Tortured Planet (1958 US)) by C. S. Lewis

The Voyage I’m choosing – because I love the title of the voyage and because I have some from each list that I want to explore.

The I’m going to Pluto because Pluto is still a planet as far as I’m concerned Voyage: Mix it up, choose the number of books you want to read from each voyage, include some new books you pick up along the way and enjoy the ride.

Philip K Dick:

  • 1968 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Adapted for the motion picture “Blade Runner”

Hugo Award Winners:

I see a lot more by Connie Willis that I want to try including Passage, Blackout, and Remake.

From the ’80s I’m picking this one. My maiden name is Pope and this is an author I’ve never even heard of.

  • 1982 Project Pope by Clifford D. Simak
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Reading different genres

For a long time, I predominantly read Science Fiction and Fantasy. And even then it was fairly shallow reading. There is a lot of serious SF that I have never read. I dip into Mysteries once in awhile. I also touch on classics fairly consistently.

This year has been a great year for stretching my reading a bit and trying different genres. I have read a lot more nonfiction this year. I’ve read a lot of new authors, but much of it can still be put in the same 3 genres above. The one area I’ve diverged is what I guess is more contemporary stories. Not a mystery to solve, not an alternate universe. Just life today. The Jodi Piccoult books fit here.

This week I read one that I guess crosses three genres. I see it as part historical fiction as it describes the life of slaves in the 1800’s in the US. It also has a contemporary story of a family, broken and struggling to understand each other. The third genre is African American. It fits into that genre because it was written by an African American woman and it is about African Americans. But somehow putting it into that genre means people who aren’t African American don’t know about it and don’t read it.

I found the book after reading this post on 5 Minutes for Books talking about seg-book-gation. Author Bernice McFadden wrote a letter (you should go to that link and read it) about why good books and authors are disappearing because they are being put into the small category of African American writing and not getting exposure.

I picked Nowhere is a Place. In some ways it was not an easy read because the depiction of the life of the slaves is well done and shows the pain and frustration of that life. In others, it was a very easy read because the story is so well written and pulls the reader along. I will definitely read more by this author and others in this artificial genre.

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Family

We had Thanksgiving at our house this year. The past few years we’ve either gone to a friend’s house or traveled to my family. This year looked like it would be quiet and we’d just spend the day with our friend and her family.

Then Anthony’s family started making plans to come to our house. We had 3 from Atlanta and 3 local come Thursday. Then 5 from Raleigh and the 3 local back on Friday. Then my 3 nephews came Friday night through Sunday. That meant I was cooking to have meals to feed 8 to 10 each day for 3 days.

I left Anthony in charge of the meat. He got a ham and a turkey breast plus bison meat for burgers (yum). I made a dressing, sweet potatoes, and slaw. Sister-in-law made a great salad. Plus a few desserts. The food was well taken care of and the teenagers here on Saturday finished up our leftovers.

The holiday was a great success for visiting with family too. We got to see some relatives that we haven’t seen in years. We had all 4 Navarro siblings together. I got to see Anthony’s 3 nephews who have grown quite a bit since the last time we got together. And we set plans for Christmas visiting too.

Saturday we even got the Christmas tree up while I had teenage boys to carry boxes down and up the stairs and a 6 year old to help put the ornaments on the tree. All told, a very fun weekend.

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