Saturday, February 26, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 270, 271, and 272

So many blessings, so little time to give thanks and write them out:

1. The Karate Kid, the old movie.

2. The Karate Kid, the new movie.

3. Jackie Chan - his moves, his humor, his movies.

4. My kids don't know who Bruce Lee is . . . something I have to remedy someday, but I think is a funny kind of blessing for now.

5. There's going to be a second Kung Fu Panda! Prepare for Awesomeness.

6. The Incredibles.

7. A conversation with my daughters about the believability of super powers . . . "Elastigirl with head flattening stretchability - not realistic, Mr. Incredible with super strength - realistic."

8. An awesome day skiing in super cold weather with bright sun, fun friends, and great family.

9. Taking an intermediate skier down a black diamond run successfully, and having her turn and say, "Wow! I did that!" Yes, she did.

10. Being able to ski hard enough to exhaust four kids, and one teenager - even though I'm way overweight and way older than them.

11. My husband makes snowboarding look easy.

12. Forty minutes on an exercise bike the day after skiing helped keep my muscles from tightening up.

13. Snow, and more snow, even at our house only a quarter mile from the Puget Sound.

14. Having my parents home for a week to visit, and play and have fun together, before they went off to go play in their RV again.

15. My oldest daughter graduated from her safe sitter class, and is very proud of her certified card. She can give CPR to infants and children, knows the heimlech maneuver, and learned a great deal of other safety procedures to use while babysitting.

16. Writing super sentences and turning them into short stories with a group of kids.

17. My husband plans to purchase a new video camera, so he's helping me clean the house. :-)

18. My youngest daughter is a sweetheart.

19. My youngest daughter and I have had more time to just be together this week while her sister was in her safe sitter class. I found out that she likes to take walks too, but prefers to take them downtown where there are sidewalks instead of on our street where there are ditches.

20. I'm so unexpectedly strong I broke the in house vacuum cleaner while trying to clean it out - not sure that is a blessing, but it was definitely a surprise. Thankfully the part we need is only $10, and is already on its way.

21. Midwinter break was wonderful, a change of pace, and a perfect rest.

22. Youtube videos of Christian music songs.

23. Your Love by Brandon Heath

24. Pepper - my husband's favorite spice.

25. Tag in the house, with plenty of laughter, and only one sliding fall. (my hiking shoes just went slipping on the clean floors)

26. Playing together as a family.

27. My older dog has finally resigned herself to the "cone of shame" and is healing up, finally.

28. My cat encourages me to stretch when she stretches.

29. My Beagle's persistence keeps me from sitting still too long . . . he has to have plenty of attention or he finds trouble.

30. Jesus purifies us.

Scripture Blessings:
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 268 and 269, Books and stuff

Giving Thanks and Praise for these blessings:

In Books (Continuing my top 100):
From my Junior High Years . . . and a few beyond that.

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien was a trilogy I longed to read in elementary school after I had read The Hobbit about three times, but the books were always checked out of the school library, so I read the first one, and then waited two years before I purchased the trilogy in seventh grade and eighth grade. How many times have I read it since then? I've lost count, but I know it is somwhere under The Hobbit (at least a dozen reads) and more than any romance novel I've ever read (usually just once). Tolkien was a master storyteller, and a great linguist.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a book that I can't quite place in my timeline of favorites. Did I read it first in late elementary school, or early junior high? I'm not sure. I had seen the movie many times before I read it, and then I read my mom's copy over and over until if fell apart. It is one of my all time favorites, and again, something I think that should be read, and watched, and discussed. Great literature, timeless story.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was handed to me by my mom when I was in seventh grade. I read it, and found parts I liked, but overall wasn't sure until I read it again in ninth grade, then I loved it, wept over it, ached for Jane and her difficulties. Unfortunately, I read it again in college and was forced to do a Freudian psychological critique of it. Ugh! Nothing ruins a good book like that. After several years, I was able to read it again and enjoy it.

4. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is an intense read, and is definitely more adult than any movie version I've ever seen of it. I loved the book, even though the heroes are all seriously flawed. Dumas doesn't let us hero worship for more than a minute.

5. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is usually read in elementary school, but I didn't read it until junior high. I had already bawled over and dog-eared my copy of Old Yeller. However, the best quality, best written, cry-your-eyes-out story about a boy and a pair of hounds is this one. If you are going to read two books like that, then both are good.

6. The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter is a sequel to Freckles, and one that draws us even deeper into the beauty of the forest, and all those who care for it, and each other.

7. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare is my all time favorite Shakespeare play, for reading, viewing on screen, or viewing in person. I experienced it the first time in junior high at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and if you want to watch an excellent screen version, check out the version starring Kenneth Branagh.

8. A Spell for Chameleon, The Source of Magic, and Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony were some of my common reading fodder in junior high, and they definitely had an impact on my love of fantasy fiction. They are incredibly chauvinistic, but humorous, and filled with odd, unexpected quirks that keep the pages turning. Surprisingly I was able to forgive the chauvinism for the delightfully different adventures, and loved the spider in Castle Roogna, and considering I don't like spiders that's saying something. The rest of the series gets more male fantasy orientated, and is . . . well, not worth reading in my opinion.

9. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs intrigued me in elementary school, and the series continued to be interesting while I was into junior high reading. Later, I wasn't sure I liked those books and I don't own them anymore. However, they were an important part of my reading and imagination journey as a kid and as a young teen.

10. The Diary of Anne Frank as a novel, and as a play, were strong influences on me in eighth grade. This, true, real, raw story hit me hard, and made me want to be a better writer.

11. If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing In the Pits? by Erma Bombeck moved from my mom's bookshelf to mine, and I loved the bitter humor in the stories within that book, and read them aloud to friends and classmates.

In other Blessings:
12. My oldest daughter is taking a safe sitter course through the fire department, loving it and learning lots.

13. My youngest spent three hours making her sister a present today, just to say, "I Love You," and not for any other reason.

14. My dog has gone three days without pulling out any stitches. (She had surgery, and pulled the stitches out twice, while wearing a cone of shame)

15. Homeschool friends doing art, science, writing, and Latin together.

16. Hanging out with church friends on a Wednesday night.

17. A pink car.

18. Sunshine and snow flurries.

19. We have unlimited texting, which my daughter is making good use of on a daily basis.

20. Tanka poetry, fun stuff.

Scripture Blessings:
"Jesus wept." John 11:35 - The shortest verse in the Bible, but both heart-wrenching and comforting to know how deeply Jesus loved his friend Lazarus, and how deeply he loves us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 267

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for some daily blessings that have accumulated while I've been giving thanks for book blessings. Look for more book blessings tomorrow.

1. My youngest daughter's audition last Saturday at a Tacoma youth talent audition for the Desmond Tutu event in May. Her teacher gave positive encouragement, and the talent panel applauded her group.

2. My oldest daughter's support for her youngest sister's audition, even though she really wanted to be dancing too. She has four more days to continue soaking her foot, healing up, and exercising cautiously before the doctor says she can dance again.

3. Our whole family has been blessed by worship on Sunday with our new church, and hearing a great message each week from different speakers.

4. Having a child ring the bell for the start of worship.

5. Many ideas pouring in for Lent worship.

6. Church members and outside speakers stepping forward with a message.

7. Seeing a Giant Pacific Octopus in motion at the Seattle Aquarium today.

8. Watching my girls gaze at fish, otters, and seals with fascination, and interest.

9. Our local Borders is closing, which is really sad, but on the upside we purchased a few books for a discount price.

10. National Audubon's Society's Guide to Marine Mammals of the World that my oldest daughter picked up for some "light" reading. While debating which book she wanted, a marine biologist happened to walk by and recommend this particular book to her, and so far she loves it, although she also happens to be following me around and asking me to give her the definitions to words like: "morphological," "artiodactyls," and "paleontology." I knew most of them, but we had to look up "artiodactyls" which means: having an even number of toes or digits on each foot.

11. The Lord made an awesome creation for us to enjoy, and He's still creating beautiful 3-D artwork for us to experience every day.

Scripture Blessings:

"Jesus answered, 'I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.'” John 10:25-30

Sunday, February 20, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 266, Christian Books

In addition to the Bible, (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) I'm giving thanks and praise for these awesome Christian books that have been a blessing in my life:

1. In addition to the many "regular" books that I read growing up, where faith came as part of the story because the author couldn't imagine it any other way (Green Dolphin Street, Little House in the Big Woods, etc), Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John was my first Christian fiction book. The first one I knew was a Christian fiction book before I read it. A wonderful story about a girl and a secret garden at the end of a rainbow, I read it many times until it fell apart.

2. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris is not for the faint of heart, but it is an inspiring look at the inner journey of an intellectual poet's journey of faith. Non-fiction, and sometimes painfully honest and humble, Kathleen Norris takes us from secular life to a monastary, where she served as an oblate.

3. Beyond the Summerland by L.B. Graham is the beginning of the Binding of the Blade Series, and I enjoyed this new take on Christian epic fantasy. The ending of the first book is a painful surprise (that's all the spoiler I'll give) but the rest of the series flows easily from one book to the next.

4. Run With the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson is a book I've quoted extensively last year, and I have to include it as my favorite study guide to Jeremiah.

5. Dragonspell and the Dragonkeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul is another excellent start to a strong series of compelling characters and a new world of fantastical Christian adventure. I've mentioned it before too, but it deserves many mentions.

6. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is an excellent guide to life and ministry. I may not have the same take on every issue that Warren does, but I found the book interesting and thought-provoking.

7. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell is, like The Cloister Walk, not for the faint of heart or for those who can't bear to be shocked while reading a Christian book. Rob Bell takes a close look at what it means to be a follower of Christ in our times, and for all time. He references scripture and other Christian books so often that I found myself reading his book simultaneously with different parts of scripture and doing a great deal of research. Again, I may not agree with every aspect of his book, but it definitely provokes thought, scripture reading, and prayer.

8. The Aedyn Chronicles by Alister E. McGrath is a book for young to middle readers that I read just recently. I read it in about two hours, and at first, just thought it was a simple, fun Christian fantasy read. But then, I kept thinking about the Biblical principles that were intertwined in the adventure . . . and decided to read it again.

9. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a very good read, and they've made a pretty good DVD version of it as well. It is an investigation into the evidence for Jesus, and also tells some of the true story of Strobel's personal search for faith in Christ.

10. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is a must read if you have any interest in apologetics. Wow! If you want a better understanding of that Deep Law of Magic mentioned in the Narnia books, Mere Christianity definitely details Lewis' belief that there is a moral law, or a sense of goodness that underlies all the laws of mankind, and of course that law, that moral standard of goodness comes from God.

Scripture Blessings:
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:5-7

Saturday, February 19, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 265, More Books

Giving thanks and praise for more books today - this theme may last awhile, but today I only have time for a short list with little explanation:

1. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Dectective by Donald J. Sobol.

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

3. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

4. Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter.

5. Here Comes Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz is one of my favorite of the old paperback Peanuts collection. I bought most of the collection from second hand stores for a quarter each, in elementary school. These books made me laugh, and think.

6. Two in the Wilderness by Mary Wolfe Thompson.

7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

9. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

10. Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

Scripture Blessings:

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'
They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?'
Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"
John 8:31-36

Thursday, February 17, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 264, Books

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for a few more books that have been blessings in my life:

1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I read it at age 10, and wasn't sure I liked it, but I felt the truth of Dicken's work in the story, the authenticity of the world he both experienced and created with his characters.

2. Henry the IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare was the first Shakespeare play I saw, in Ashland, OR when I was ten. I read it shortly afterwards, and decided I liked it better as a play than a book. However, the timeless characteristics of Falstaff and young Hal, have influenced my reading ever since. They are in many ways, much like Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins of Treasure Island, at least in the way that I see them.

3. Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman is a family favorite. My grandmother, mother and Aunts all have loved this book, and I have as well. Gritty, painful adventure, and love, all intertwined in a story of a lifetime.

4. Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge was another book I found on my Grandmother's book shelf, and which has been beloved by many in our family. It is old fashioned, but yet portrays characters that are timeless. The sisters love for the same man create a bitter triangle that eventually ends in love, and peace. Marguerite's faith in the Lord is one of the biggest blessings in this book, and shows how each of us can deal with unexpected disappointment with grace.

5. The Trixie Belden mystery series. Forget Nancy Drew, I found Trixie on my Grandmother's shelves, and decided she was the sleuth for me, wearing jeans and going on adventures. I think I read most of this series between 4th and 6th grade, and enjoyed it all. I have to admit that I'm not sure I still like these books, but they fit in my life at that time.

6. At this same time, when I was reading the books off my Grandmother's shelves, I started reading Westerns. I found they were much like fantasy books, but set in a different time and real places, with characters that were larger than life. Zane Grey's Spirit of the Border was a favorite of mine. I'm not sure it would be today, but I remember the flow of words of that book, the descriptions of places I know are real.

7. In that same vein, I also started reading Louis L'Amour books at age 10. Why? Because my Dad worked for an airline, and the only readable books in the airport bookstores were Louis L'Amour's westerns . . . unless I wanted to read romance, which I didn't at age 10, 11, 12, or even older. If you haven't read a Western before, I highly suggest Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey. They are fairly fun books, with a strong sense of place.

8. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard was a book I remember checking out repeatedly from the school library. The adventures of a boy and his Irish Red Setter were wonderful to me, since I had a few adventures with my german shepherd.

9. The Call of the Wild by Jack London is a must read kind of book. It shows a time, a series of places, and the strenght of a growing bond of trust between man and wolf. It's one of those books that make me cry, but I like it anyway.

10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein is another must read kind of book. This is one of my all time favorite fantasy books, and all time favorite books of my life. My first copy came from a cousin. It didn't have a cover, and already showed wear and tear. I read it over and over again until it fell apart. Then I kept the pieces together and read it again. Finally, I purchased a "pretty" copy of it, and I've read it a number of times as well. Bilbo is my favorite reluctant hero, and I like reluctant heroes.

11. The NIV Study Bible, old NIV translation. I know I've mentioned the Bible before, but every translation that I've read is a blessing to me. My old NIV was given to me by my parents at my high school graduation, and I have read it many, many times.

Scripture Blessings:
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

365 Days of Blessings, Days 262 and 263, Book Blessings

Today and for the next few days, I'm giving thanks and praise for books that have been a blessing in my life:

1. The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. One of my favorite books from my childhood. I loved putting my fingers on the holes that go through the food, and I loved the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly at the end. I've read this book to my kids, and to Sunday School kids.

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Another favorite from my childhood. I checked this book out from the library again and again, even after I was reading "older" books. Maurice Sendak painted this picture of an imaginary world in such a way that I could take it even further in my own imagination. I never got the whole "psycho-babble" junk that they threw in the movie about it. I just loved the idea of escape into a wild world of wonder, knowing full well that I could return to a warm supper and a loving home at any moment.

3. Young Years: Best Loved Stories and Poems for Little Children edited by Augusta Baker, 1971 Copyright Parent's Magazine Enterprises. I don't know exactly when I started reading this book, or when my mom started reading it to me. I just know that the book is barely holding together after many, many years of use. I've also read parts of it to my kids. It has nursery rhymes, Aesop's fables, and stories like the original Beauty and the Beast, as well as Goldilocks. I memorized most of the nursery rhymes because I read them so many times over while growing up.

4. Children's Illustrated Bible I'm not sure this was the exact title, but I received it when I was five or six, and read it within a year, then read it again and again until I was about ten years old, when I "moved up" to the King James translation. I couldn't figure out why the Sunday School teachers thought the stories they taught me were new to me, when I had already read them in my Bible. Since then, I've realized as a friend recently remarked, "Kid's Bibles are like Cliffnote versions." It's true. If you want to get to know your basic Bible stories, pick up a kids' illustrated or picture Bible, and read it aloud again and again, night after night, until you've memorized it. My kids story Bibles have grounded them in Bible stories, and reminded me of my basics. My youngest still wants me to read from hers every night, and my oldest likes hearing me read the "regular" Bible these days.

5. The King James Bible had a huge impact on my life growing up. My mom read it to me as I went to sleep each night, and when I was ten she gave me her old copy of it. I started in Psalms. They were short, and I could tackle the language easier there. I'm not sure I would recommend the old King James Bible to most ten year olds, but I liked it, especially the sense of history I felt, having my mom's first Bible.

6. The Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Talesselected, edited, and illustrated by Tasha Tudor is a beautiful fairy tale book that I read, and re-read many times from early childhood through my adult years. I still pick it up every once in a while. My favorite in the book has to be "Thumbelina." The illustration on the first page made me want to step into the story myself.

7. Serendipity by Stephen Cosgrove is one of the many "Serendipity" books that held my attention and imagination as a child. The main character in Serendipity is a pink sea serpent with beautiful blue eyes who wants to know who, and what she is, and what purpose she has in life. With the help of two friends, she discovers that she is herself, and she finds a purpose in cleaning up the waters of the world's oceans. I have to admit, my strongest feelings about responsibility for our environment probably stem from a love of this book, and a love of the Creation story in the Bible.

8. The Muffin Muncher by Stephen Cosgrove is another awesome "Serendipity" book about a muffin munching dragon and a King who bakes muffins. It still makes me smile.

9. Morgan and Me by Stephen Cosgrove is a "Serendipity" book about a young girl who likes to put off her work so she can daydream. She figures she can always do things "a little later." This gets her in a bit of trouble with a new friend, a unicorn.

10. Jake O'Shawnasey is an Irish green seagull who is afraid to fly, but who is determined to get to the top of a cliff face. My mom read this story to me over and over again, and referenced in many conversations with me while I was growing up. The moral of this particular Stephen Cosgrove book is "If you believe in yourself, you can do anything."

11. The Wheedle on the Needle in the original version by Stephen Cosgrove, is a Seattle Centered tale of the Wheedle who keeps the light on top of the Space Needle glowing with his red nose. For a kid born in Seattle, and raised in a cow-town an hour drive from the Space Needle, this one had to be one of my favorites. Seattle seemed like a magical place to me, and the Space Needle is still a place I like to visit now and then, Wheedle or not.

12. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson had an early impact on me, while riding in the car on long road trips. As one of our only books on tape, I heard the shortened version of this story many times over, and loved it. The version we had included singing, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me," which I liked to sing loudly in the back seat. Later, when I read the story, I felt for Jim and for that old scalawag, Long John Silver. I know piracy in reality is not a nice practice, but the stories and make believe were a great deal of fun.

13. The Wizard of Oz series by Frank L. Baum. I read the entire series in third and fourth grade and loved being transported to that magical place, Oz. The Patchwork Girl stands out in my mind today, but I can't remember why . . . I'll have to look for it at my library.

14. The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley happened to be another group of books I devoured between third and fifth grade. I loved the horses, and the dilemmas the characters faced. My kids haven't liked them, which saddens me, but I know that if they are meant to stand the test of time, then they will.

15. Anne of Green Gables has been a family favorite for three generations, my grandmother, my mother, and I. My daughters, sadly, don't like the series much, or even the first book. I have to admit, when I read it aloud to my oldest daugther a few years ago, I didn't like it as much as I had as a kid. However, this book has been a blessing to me in many ways. If you've known me for a while, you might know why I found the story of her green hair fiasco so wonderful. Anne's imagination gets her into scrapes and out of them throughout the series, and I enjoyed her as a character because I often have had the same kind of experiences with that.

16. The Narnia series as a whole by C.S. Lewis has been a blessing to me many times over. I don't know if I could say enough about this series. My first introduction started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved entering that fantastical world at Lucy's side, and meeting Tumnus for the first time.

17. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, from the Narnia series, had a great deal of meaning for me as a kid and the Christian symbolism within it has blown me away again and again even as an adult. It was the second Narnia book I read as a kid.

18. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my all time favorite from the Narnia series. I love the redemption story of Eustace, the temptation that each character faces, and the wild variety of characters like Dufflepuds, and the mermaid hunting party. The Christian symbolism, especially when Eustace is cleansed, convicts me, and renews me every time I read it.

19. The Silver Chair stood out to me as a kid, partly because it was one of the four Narnia books I owned, and partly because of Puddlegum's gloomy optimism.

20. The Last Battle was the toughest Narnia book for me to read. I struggled all the way to the end, and then I fell in love with Lewis' story that has no end. For me, this book was a blessing when I was younger because I read it and discussed it with a beloved mentor name Larice. She lent me the Narnia books I didn't own, and talked with me through the whole series. After her death, I gave up playing the organ, but I kept my love of the Narnia books.

21. The Lord fills us.

Scripture Blessings:
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.”
Psalm 107:8-9

More book blessings coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 261 and Lists of Books

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for these random blessings:

1. Waking up to see a vase of a dozen roses! I received them last night, but I'm enjoying them even more this morning.

2. Dusky red, on deep green.

3. Salt water gargles for a sore throat - they actually mostly work.

4. Time to talk to my husband in the morning about inconsequential things.

5. Any moment alone with my husband feels like a date.

6. Caribener clips. They're handy.

7. A room with a view. For me this just means being able to see the horizon in the distance.

8. Old dollhouses.

9. The affectionate rubbing of my cat.

10. Lists (see below this list for another list adventure).

11. Jesus offers us living water.

Scripture Blessings:
"On the last day of the fest, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let hiim come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has aid, streams of living water will flow from within him.'" John 7:37

Lists of books you "should" read. . . who makes them?
This is the question I've asked myself every time I've seen this particular list that's gone around on facebook, and which was recently featured at Kelly's Compositions. It's a list of classic books, and according to BBC most people have only read 6 of the 100 listed. The first time I saw this, I thought, ok, I'm going to break their record. And I did. But then . . . I wondered, should it matter? Some of these books are books I don't particularly like, but I've read them. For what reason? For class, to impress, to expand my literary horizons. Are those good reasons to read a book? I'm not so sure that they are.

Someone has decided that these books have literary and/or cultural importance to us as people. Again, I'm not so sure. So, I've decided to play the game, but with my own variation. 2 stars = finished, 1 star = started but never finished, no stars = haven't read, and smiley faces are for the books I actually liked or found meaningful.

Anyway- take a look at the list and see how many of these 100 book you have read, and then decide if it matters to you, really.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen ** :)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien ** :)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte ** :-)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling ** :)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee ** :)
6 The Bible ** :) :) :) :) :)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell ** :)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens ** :)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott ** :) (read three times before I liked, Little Men is way more fun to read)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ** :) (a few I don't like)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien ** :) :)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger **
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell *
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald ** - can't remember if meaningful
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens **
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams ** :) mostly like this one
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ** :) meaningful
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll **
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame **
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ** - hated it, threw it across room twice
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ** :) Depressing, but I liked it.
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis ** :) :) loved this series
34 Emma - Jane Austen ** :)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis ** :)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ** :) wouldn't recommend to kids
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne ** Every little bit of it is wonderful.
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell **
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery ** :)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ** (horrifyingly depressing)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding ** strongly disliked but meaningful
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert ** :)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ** :) (liked it on the 3rd read)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ** :)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck ** :) meaningful
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ** :)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville * haven't finished it yet
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens ** :)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker **
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ** :) :)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ** :)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens ** :)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ** meaningful
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White ** (liked it)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle **
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ** (hated it, and had to read it for class)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery ** :) read it at age 9
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams **
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ** :)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare ** :)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl ** :)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo ** :) meaningful

Scarily, I read most of the "literary" ones before graduating from high school. I started reading Dickens at age 10, and read all of Alexandre Dumas' work for a high school paper. I started Les Miserables in French and finished it in English. I was a Shakespeare fan from age 10 to age 25, and still like most of his works. I read like it is water, or bread. However, I wouldn't recommend all of these books. In fact, some of them are probably better left unread.

So, tomorrow, I plan to make my own list. A list of meaningful favorites. I don't think it will make a BBC special, or become a list of "must reads" or "should" reads. And it won't stay static, because I keep reading, and reading, and reading, like I think everyone "should." ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 259 and 260

Today I’m giving thanks and praise for these amazing blessings:

1.Valentine’s Day!!!

2.Chocolate kisses and hugs.

3.Taming of the Shrew, Act 3, they get married despite Katherine’s protests. Not sure why I like this play, since Petruchio basically acts like a prima male jerk, but I still laugh through it.

4.My Shakespeare class hates Petruchio . . .vehemently, and I am thankful for that. I certainly wouldn’t want them looking up to him.

5.Sonnet 116.

6.Writing poetry with my Writer’s Workshop Adventure class. We had some fun today.

7.Making cookies in Chemistry class.

8.Coyotes howling.

9.Kids learning to drive in a truck, in a gravel driveway, or on a ranch.

10.Roses, kissed with rain.

11.Giant Hershey kisses.

12.Homemade cards.

13.My husband was the first guy to ever give me flowers on Valentine’s Day for all the right reasons. He is a sweetheart.

14.20 years ago, I celebrated my first Valentine’s day with my hubby . . . we were dating the time, and he took me out to a seafood place. It was mildly disastrous since I can’t eat seafood without “seeing” food later and I wanted to impress him by holding it down, but . . . somehow he stayed with me anyway.

15.The mew of our cat.

16.The soft eyes of our dogs.

17.The chirp of lovebirds . . . my daughters dragged me through a pet store earlier today. I always want to take everyone home, but then I remember I have three pets to love already.

18.An awesome message in worship yesterday.


20.We know what love is because God first loved us.

Scripture Blessings:

“But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Saturday, February 12, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 256, 257, and 258

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for these blessings:

Thursday Blessings:
1. Having an amazing team of hard workers at our new church. An administration team member, and a music and worship team member found us a space for Lenten worship in an amazingly short time. God was at work, but their hands and feet were willing.

2. We have some amazing, loving people in our new church.

3. My first sounding board meeting went well, and we worked on new ideas, and refining old ones, all in less than an hour, with some fun conversation thrown in too.

4. Carnations from a dance recital . . . the pinks are holding strong.

5. A cuddly time with my family.

6. A doctor's appointment where I get to see my "nearly perfect" blood test results: cholesterol - great!, red blood cell count - great!, white blood cell count - great!, and "see these numbers here, this means your liver is doing great." Awesome, of course, I can't remember which one is which now if I were to look at the lab report.

7. My daughter is continuing to heal from her foot injury, and has learned how to massage her own feet.

8. My husband is prepared for everything.

9. My parents are having a good vacation, visiting with friends and family.

10. God has provided abundantly, again and again, for our new church.

Friday Blessings:
1. This snippet of phone conversation from a friend, currently traveling in Texas, "Three taxidermy shops in one block!" Wow. Texas is a different world.

2. Being prepared for worship on Sunday . . . mostly.

3. Dogs keeping watch over home school lessons.

4. Dogs falling asleep during home school lessons.

5. A windowsill starter garden kit . . . to be used with our home school lessons . . . in a loosely based way.

6. Plans for writing class brewing in my head.

7. Plans for Shakespeare class brewing in my head.

8. Getting books in the mail. It's almost as good as going to the bookstore.

9. An inspiring post by a friend, Master's Hand

10. The Lord invented creativity.

Saturday Blessings:

1. A slow Saturday.

2. House-cleaning with help.

3. Running errands with my husband for two hours . . . it was almost a date.

4. Getting stuff done. There's a satisfaction in being able to check off a list, especially a list that has been left undone for nearly a month.

5. Finding Calvin and Hobbes in the sale section of the bookstore. I love Calvin and Hobbes, and it's great to be able to indulge myself inexpensively.

6. Laughing over comic strips with my kids.

7. Calvin's amazing imagination.

8. Leftovers for lunch.

9. Grapes.

10. Homemade chocolate and cashew butter cups. Yummy. Thank you daughters.

11. Jesus gave up heaven for a humble life with us, knowing that it would end in his own sacrifice for our sins.

Scripture Blessings:

"For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to his Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believe him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:20-24

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Day 255

Today I'm giving thanks and praise for:

1. Two days of blue skies!!!

2. Calendars that help me look ahead.

3. Lists.

4. History books that my kids like to read.

5. Time with home school friends, both in study and play.

6. A wonderful hostess who makes everyone feel welcome.

7. Night out with the church group.

8. Being impressed by a friend who has five adopted kids, and three of them are under the age of five. She is amazing.

9. Breaking the Stillness at Every Day Poets came out today! Which means, if you look to the published links on the right, I'm up to ten. And that means, I need to finish my novel and write a book proposal. I may not ever have publicly stated it, but I decided a long while ago, that when that list reached ten, I had to get serious. Of course, getting serious may take a while.

10. The Lord has given me rest when I needed, strength when I needed it, and just enough time for all the blessings in my life.

Scripture Blessings:
"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
No-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven— the Son of Man.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:12-15

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 252, 253, and 254

New resolution: Get Back to Daily Blessings Posts!

Today I'm giving thanks for:

1. Sunday full of worship and rest.

2. The Nooma Video Today.

3. Laughter in worship.

4. The freedom to have a "family" style worship where everyone works together, and worships together.

5. The Lord's Prayer.

6. Whole hearts, full of forgiveness.

7. Sharing Blessings . . .

8. My amazing, hard-working, talented, tech-loving husband. He's the kind of guy that makes sound systems work.

9. Prayer warriors. Those amazing strong men and women of faith who give everything up to God, share testimony, and give voice to prayers of the inmost soul reaching to the Lord.

10. Kids excited about participating in worship as song leaders, and scripture readers.

11. The Taming of the Shrew movie with Elizabeth Taylor. It may be abridged but I love it.

12. The costuming, and backdrops for the Taming of the Shrew movie.

13. The glimpse of medieval European carnival life in The Taming of the Shrew.

14. Mystery skits with my Writer's Workshop class - they are some of the most talented, creative kids I know. I really appreciate their hard work, their costuming, props, and attention to detail.

15. Toilet square counting as a clue . . . only in a mystery skit performed by my class. And it was "toilet" humor handled somewhat tastefully.

16. Queen _________ the 50th! Again, only in a mystery skit by my class.

17. Fake jewels for two mystery skits about jewel heists.

18. Burger King, the place where royalty eat in London.

19. Creative costuming!

20. Popcorn and movie candy in class for Mystery Snack Theatre.

21. Shakespeare students muching on popcorn while watching The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1, and most of Act 2. Next week, we have more class discussion and a little bit of movie watching, then the week after that we have just a tiny lecture/discussion with the rest of the movie. I am trying to break of the monotony of doing the same thing every week.

22. Awesome encouragement and support from my Worship and Music Sounding Board Team.

23. Trust.

24. My husband is thankful that he has had a dry walk to his vanpool pick up place every morning and a dry walk back in the evening.

25. Rainbows, and rainbow earrings. (not mine)

26. Paw print stamps.

27. Hot pads. I would have burned my fingers way more times without them.

28. Agave nectar on pancakes. Yum.

29. Sleepy dogs.

30. The cat thinks my husband parked some of his tech equipment by the kitchen window, just so she can sunbathe and watch for birds.

31. The Lord is Almighty!!!

Scripture Blessings:
John 2:19 "Jesus answered them, 'Destory this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.'"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 250 and 251

1. Planning and preparing side by side with my husband.

2. Printers.

3. Media slides.

4. CCLI licensing!

5. My oldest daughter's humor: "Julius Ceasar may have said, 'Vini, Vidi, Vici,' which means, 'I came, I saw, I conqured," but our Beagle Jumper says, 'Vini, Vidi, Edo,' which means, 'I came, I saw, I eat.'"

6. Fridays rock!

7. Family game bag night - pull a slip of paper from a bag, and find out what game we play next . . . or what movie we watch to end the evening.

8. Big, super hugs from my daughters.

9. All of my husband's hard work.

10. Encouragement and support from awesome people. You know who you are!

11. Saturday mornings!!!

12. C.S. Lewis' Surprised By Joy.

13. Finished hand outs.

14. Finished children's message.

15. Mostly finished message . . . I'll be tweaking it until I give it, it's the just the way it goes.

16. Wheelies - the only way to travel for kids like my daughters.

17. My oldest daughter's foot feels so much better that it is taking all her self-control to keep from dancing. (we had a 10 second dance while shoe shopping, but she stopped herself)

18. The gospel of John.

19. God's amazing glory!

20. Red hearts.

Scripture Blessings:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

Thursday, February 3, 2011

365 Days of Blessings, Days 248 and 249

Giving Thanks and Praise for:

1. God's Word.

2. Having a message to share, inspired by God's Word, prayer, and life experience.

3. A challenge to step out of my comfort zone and do something completely new in a completely new church.

4. Christ based community worship, with an awesome community of believers.

5. An awesome foundation team that we can trust. They are writing our new church's vision and mission statements and are going to come up with a name for us.

6. A hard-working administration team that is figuring out all the "paperwork" and logistics of starting a new church. They've found us a location to rent that is great!

7. A wonderful group of volunteers for worship and music!

8. A wonderful group of volunteers to be my sounding board for worship and music!

9. Hearing clear goals come out of the administration and foundation teams. There will be a special time this month to listen to the Word of God, and hear wisdom from a church planter. There will be a time in about a month for our new church to vote on our new name, and our mission and vision. (at least that's what I got out of a meeting a few weeks ago) And someday . . . we'll be ready to call a Pastor.

10. Knowing Christians who have been on short term mission trips, who are ready to share their love of Christ and their love of doing His work.

11. Every Day is brand new!!

12. Our doctor told our oldest daughter that she is healing rapidly. If that continues, she'll be able to start dancing again in about 10 days! Wow!

13. An invitation for our daughters and one of their dance classes to audition for a BIG event.

14. Awesome science experiments with our family co-op, using yeast, sugar, water, bottles and balloons.

15. A recipe for donut muffins!

16. Kids who want to write!!!!

17. My oldest daughter spent a half hour writing today!!!

18. My youngest daughter made it through her math lesson and into part of a second one, with only one plea that math be our second subject tomorrow and not the way we start our day. I think that's workable on a Friday.

19. My husband. He's skilled, handy, and loves to help others. (but needs help at our own house, because it's not serving anyone else . . .revealing his heart for others at all times)

20. Salt.

21. Jesus wants us to be salty.

Scripture Blessings:
"Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:49-50