Monday, February 3, 2014

Harry Potter

{started 2/12/12)
I like* Harry Potter. I read the first two books in a day each, about 7 years ago, when I was visiting my sister. I had heard about them but wasn't that interested until she said she'd read them and liked them. The first four were out, maybe the first five, and I had to wait for the last ones. I even went and stood in line at midnight for the last one.
Last summer, before the second part of the last movie came out, I reread the 7th book again. I was amazed at what I'd missed (and what I thought the movie got wrong that was in the book) - since I read it so fast, literally about 18 hours and some of that, but not much, was sleep). When I visited my sister and baby Lily, we watched the first 6 movies back to back (which was really fun, seeing the actors grow not just from kids to adults but also as actors).
Then I got the idea to read all the books again, in order, without starting something else in between (which actually ended up being something I had to stick to - I'd be in the middle of a HP book and think, what else should I start reading?).
So about the second week in January (2012) I started. I'm going to make a list of my thoughts and observations and if I end up with 10, I'll link up with top ten Tuesday (added 2014 - does she even do Top Ten Tuesday? I've been majorly absent from blogland. I like this list but don't know what else I was planning to add. I like what I've wrote, though).
1. The details are there. I was amazed at the movies, how intricate the castle was and interesting different parts were done - but the details are there. Like Dumbledore's stairs moving. JK wrote that.
2. Harry's relationship with the Weasleys is important. On the first reading, I was always thinking "why do the Weasleys keep popping up? Why is Harry always there?" But seeing it all together, the whole story arcing, I see how they're his surrogate family (duh, I know). Also his relationship with Ginny doesn't pop up out of nowhere, JK laid the foundation for it all along. George and Fred are jokesters but real friends and protectors and teachers. And Harry gives them his Triwizard winnings (who knew?).
3. Also, the horcruxes don't pop up out of nowhere. Again, reading the books the first time, and being so blown away by (spoiler alert) Dumbledore's death at the end of book 6, I was like, why is she popping this on us NOW? But Vol - he-who-must-not-be-named mentions it when he comes back at the end of book 4. Something about "the things I've done to ensure my return" or something (what, you want me to go get the book and be exact?).
4. In general, the first time around I thought JKR was making stuff up to try to fill 7 books. The first two books struck me as really similar: Voldemort trying to come back, Harry going deep beneath the school and defeating him. All neatly fit in to a school year, with a few passing references to the "house cup" or "Quidditch championship." Reading them all together, and knowing the end, I saw clues and foreshadowing all along (as is usually the case when you know the end). So now I'm more impressed that she had a plan and knew where she was going with the story.
5. I love the evolution of Neville. I was sort of aware of it the first time, but especially on this reading. In book 7, his grandmother sends him a letter saying she's proud of him and his parents would be to. I cried. Speaking of crying . . .
6. I cried a lot reading book 7 this time . . . George's ear; Dobby; Neville's letter; Harry walking with his parents, Sirius, and Lupin; Fred dying; "Always;" Nineteen Years Later; "Albus Severus" straight though to "all was well." . . . . too many to list. I am a little attached to them.
7. In book 2, when they have the "dueling club," Snape uses "Expelliarmus" on Lockhart when they demonstrate dueling. And "Expelliarmus" becomes Hary's signature - he uses it in the graveyard, when he leaves Privet Drive for the last time, and it ultimately is the spell that defeats Voldemort.
8. And another thing in the "maybe she did have a plan" thought line, in Book 2 Peeves drops a vanishing cabinet to distract Filch from punishing Harry. In Book 5, Fred and George stick someone in a broken vanishing cabinet. In Book 6, Draco fixes a broken vanishing cabinet to let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.

{finished 2014}
*Did I really say "like"? I mean, am kind of obsessed with. I have Hogwarts listed as my education on FB. And there's this Pinterest board. I'd like to go to Platform 9 3/4 (who wouldn't) and have looked up Butterbeer recipes. I'm hoping Sam will let me do a Harry Potter birthday for his 11th birthday. Which he won't. They both seem to think it's my thing. Maybe I'll do the party for myself.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Second Call {Brennan Manning}

The last several years have been ones of questioning and learning. I was beginning to feel like a broken record . . . "the world I came from, in the past I never heard, etc."

I could identify with many, if not all, of the things that characterize the fundy subculture:
altar calls
constant guilt
worrying about "being saved" (had I said the right words in the right order? what if I didn't really really mean it?)
trying to do the things that would make my parents and God love me
fear of not being good enough for God
ostracizing those not good enough for love
mindless acceptance of traditions of men

Eventually, we stepped away from church for a little while. And as we found our way back, we found the God who is real and loving. Not the tiny, powerless god I was raised with who needed my constant vigilance on what I was projecting as my "testimony" to have any effect in the world.

It's been a journey but I still had a nagging feeling that it was ridiculous or I should get over it or I was being overly dramatic or critical. That I should just move on. Yes, I was raised in a rules-oriented, repressive environment and the culture of my high school and college was a petri dish of self-righteousness and works and not being good enough. But enough already, right?

Recently, I've been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I've had it here for awhile. I've been working through it slowly, partly because of my attention span and partly because it is a lot for me to digest in big chunks. But more than anything, it's been healing. I keep looking back at the publishing date: 1990. That's not fair, I think. This has been around for 24 years and I'm just reading it? And this idea of grace - it's even older than that. and no one. NO. ONE. in the first 30 years of my life told me about it. What it really is.

Chapter 9 is "The Second Call" and I thank God for giving me these words at this time. Because maybe 25 years ago I wouldn't have gotten it. Maybe I wasn't ready for it until now.

Manning's words:

For the Christian, this second journey usually occurs between the ages of thirty and sixty an is often accompanied by a second call form the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to a serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people. The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naivete, first fervor, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge.
 
 
Oh . . . wait . . . this is normal? I'm not the only person to feel this way and struggle with the "morning schedule" not working for the "afternoon"?  
 
The call asks, do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.
 
It's all really good. The whole chapter. The entire book. You should read it.
 
What is the story of my priesthood? It is the story of an unfaithful person through whom God continues to work.
 
. . . .
 
And the Lord is now calling me a second time, affirming me, enabling me, encouraging me, challenging me all the was into fullness of faith, hope, and love in the power of His Holy Spirit. Ignorant, weak, sinful person that I am, with easy rationalizations for my sinful behavior, I am being told anew in the unmistakable language of love, "I am with you, I am for you, I am in you. I expect more failure from you than you expect form yourself."
 
 
This, to me, is so freeing. I can't stop failing and sinning because I'm human. I don't have to feel shame and guilt and "try harder." God knows I'm human and loves me anyway. Anything I do, anything I have, is from God and His great love.

So this journey. This processing of what was and marvelling at the light and freedom on this new path . . . it's part of my life. I won't feel bad about it but allow God to work through it. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another One

I was going to have "use a bookmark" as another New Year's resolution but have already, before even completely formulating it in my mind, failed.

Not that I dog-ear the pages or place and open book pages down to hold my place. Disrespecting books has no place in my life. But I planned to combine the piles of bookmarks this house has spawned* and the books it has also spawned (I may be more directly responsible for the book acquisitions than I want to admit) into a neat conglomeration of knowing where I am.

However.

Within hours of thinking this was an achievable goal, I  immediately resorted to using the closest flat thing I could lay my hands on to mark my place. A receipt, Lego instructions, Pok√©mon cards, someone's spelling list for the week . . .

And so, while I currently have 5 books I'm reading and all are marked, only one has an actual bookmark.

Also, in addendum to my last post: Sam said he wanted to keep his room clean. This lasted until something Lego had to be built.

*My children use the word "spawn" frequently and casually. I blame Minecraft.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hello 2014

Well, I've been working a lot. And it was Christmas. And in general I am trying to focus on real life and not cyber life which is hard because most things don't feel real unless I brag about them on the Facebooks. But I find the more time I'm on FB the more dissatisfied I am with actual life. I have ideas and words swirling around in my head but when I sit to write they come out clunky and uncooperative.

I really didn't make any "New Year's Resolutions" because it feels forced and fake (to me) to make a "resolution" on a specific day and I'm just asking for guilt if I say "I'm gong to not waste time on the computer" or something. From experience I know this. If it's something I've been considering, or something that God's been moving in my heart about, I want to be free to make that change when it's time. If it's March or the week after Christmas or whenever. 

So my New Year's Resolution is to take more selfies. Since I've taken and posted 4 or 5, I've already accomplished that. Kate (who doesn't like to be talked about) said her resolution was to not pick her nose. Or not pick her nose as much. I'm not sure if Sam had one and I'm sure Craig didn't. I don't know if we could handle his awesome if he improved.

Will 2014 be an awesome year? Maybe. It might be an average year with ups and downs. It most likely will be an average year, however, even in mundane real life, God is right here with us, loving, guiding, and protecting.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ugly Frames

{draft from 1/29/12}
If you hang around pinterest at all, and like any type of vintage/country/antique/thrift/DIY style, you have to have seen empty frames. I did that empty frame/ornament one - sort of - for Christmas but forgot to take a picture of it.
When I dropped off a bunch of stuff at Savers, they gave me a coupon for $3 off a $10 purchase so I found $11 worth of frames to play with and paint.
I pulled them apart, painted, sanded, painted more, and finally used the last two for this on the shelf in our room:

The green/yellow one is on the left, with some map in it. The black one I set up (empty) to frame the L.
The oval one was for this pinterest project.
{before}
{continuing 11/14/13}
I had this hanging on the front door for awhile and now it's in the basement in the garden of abandoned projects. But I found this draft of a post and thought "yay, a post with no effort."

Have you had a pin-success?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

{Another Thing} I Never Heard in Fundamentalism

Last spring, Craig and I started teaching 4th and 5th grade Kidsway (what they call Sunday school at our church). The other morning I was going over our lesson and was really struck by this: "Showing honor demonstrates that we see others as God sees them. Every person we meet has value to God and deserves our honor."

As often happens at Crossway, I wonder at how I spent so much time as a child and teen in church and never heard that. Maybe it was being said, but it was not being lived or demonstrated in any observable way. And certainly that idea was not encouraged at Bob Jones. The only people being honored were the ones holy enough to follow all the (externally observable) rules.

How would it change my interactions with people if I lived this out - that every person I meet has value to God and deserves our honor?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Summer Reading 2013


After posting that last post about a book I didn't like, I thought I'd tell you about a few I did enjoy.

Are you so proud of me for taking a picture of the books I read? I took it with my phone before I gave away the ones I didn't want anymore.

We'll start at the top:
1. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. This book had the unfortunate placement of being read right after Flight Behavior (not pictured), which was fantastic and one of the best books I read this year. The Peach Keeper is probably an average book but no one can really compare to Kingsolver's writing so I found this book super lame. Like, excessively lame. I read maybe 3 chapters and skimmed the rest. Lame.

3. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo. I started this in maybe March and made a concerted effort to finish it this past summer. It's really amazing and worth the focused effort to read it. The story is amazingly crafted and expertly written.

3. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I got this one and The Peach Keeper from the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. I really enjoyed this book; it wasn't just a rehash of blog posts but the story behind the blog. It was a fun read although peppered with profanity. I hadn't read any of the blog, just knew the story from hearing about it when the movie came out.

4. The House of Tides by Hannah Richell. My sister-in-law had me grab this at BJs towards the end of the summer. I wanted it to be more interesting & better written that it was. I still haven't finished it.

5. Red Azalea by Anchee Min. I got this either free or from the dollar bin at the grocery store. It was very good. The writing is very straightforward without self-pity, although the story is a tough one. It never ceases to amaze me what Mao did to China and how the Chinese people survived.

6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. This book caught be by surprise with how good it was. It's a World War II story from a perspective I had never considered - the generation of German children who lived through the war and questioned how their parents could have done what they did. I knew the "twist" but still found this book very moving.

7. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I haven't read any Zadie Smith. A friend whose book I opinion I very much resepect recommended this. I enjoyed it & thought the writing was good. I didn't get the "satire" aspect - maybe I'm not intellectual enough? - as it was described on the cover.

8. Holes by Louis Sachar. I read this thinking it might be good for Sam but I don't think he's quite ready for it. Fun read and nicely paced.

9. The Archivist by Martha Cooley . Fantastic read. Really amazing in its writing, story, and pacing.

10.  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. I do think this author knew her Jane Austen and put a lot of it into this book, but the writing was lame and I didn't really like the story or the main character. I decided not to waste any more time on a crummy book after The Peach Keeper.

Not Pictured:

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. As I mentioned above, really, really good. The writing, the understanding of human thought, the ability to cut to the essence with a few well-crafted phrases . . . it doesn't get much better that this.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. My bookclub read Run and it was so good. Where have you been all my life and why did I think Bel Canto was her only book? good. State of Wonder was mesmerizing. Astonishingly good. Stop what you are doing and read it.

Right after I read State of Wonder I read A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin. I read it in early September but technically that's still summer, right? It's about Sherlock Holmes as an old man - 93 or so. Again with the staggeringly good book. Even now, writing about it, I am so thankful I read two fantastic books in a row (that's rare). "Tonight, my friend, I give you the exception of a lifetime." just, wow. Well-crafted story.