Monday, April 30, 2012

Movie Review Monday #47: City Slickers

City Slickers seemed to always be playing at my grandmother's house on Sundays after church, yet I'd never sat down and watched the whole thing until last Saturday. Observations:

1. I fell in love with Norman. Like, I had tears in my eyes when his life was in peril. That kind of love.
Those eyelashes are to die for, Norman.
2. Dude. I was just going to ask what ever happened to Bruno Kirby, Billy Crystal's sidekick in this film and When Harry Met Sally, so I asked my BFF, and apparently he's been dead since 2006. Downer. Sorry about that.
3. Gah. Same with Jack Palance! Gone. Sad. Amazing, though. He won an Academy Award for his performance in this film, and it was well-earned. He was mysterious, funny, strong, thoughtful, glad he could do those one-armed push-ups to prove he would live through filming. (See his Oscar speech on youtube to know what I'm talking about.)
4. I was noticing that Billy Crystal has a similar body of work to Steve Carell. Both play unlikely leading men, hilarious, slightly awkward, lovable, charming, and their films tend to have a redemptive, sweet quality to them. I wish more films and more actors were like this.
5. This film was oddly thought-provoking. Billy's character is basically having an epic midlife crisis, but some of his musings got me thinking too. Luckily I tended to disagree with his depressed thoughts at the beginning of the film, but Curly's life philosophy still has me reflecting. He says:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? This. [holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s***.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

I wonder what my one thing is. I mean, my one person is Jesus, obviously. But I'm thinking what else in addition to Him? Is it writing? Mothering? Interpretive dance? I'm almost 30 (oh geez.) and I'm still not completely sure. And I think that's okay. And I also have this inkling that maybe more than one thing is also okay.

In conclusion, I give City Slickers two claws up. It's timelessly funny, thought-provoking, and has a cute cow. Rent it today!

Easter People Devotionals: 16

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 16:

Our God's Alive
Andy Cherry

Come on everyone
See what He has done
He has lifted us,
He has overcome,
The power of the grave
And the sin that once enslaved
Couldn't hold Him in the ground
Couldn't keep Him down

Rise with a shout,
Cry out our God's alive
Rise holy fire, burn bright, burn bright
Rise with a shout,
Cry out for freedom
Rise church, arise
Our God's alive

Reigning on His throne
Drawing ever close
Giving us this hope
He'll never let us go
Oh, death has been defeated
Jesus Christ, Redeemer
Conquered hell and freed us
Forever we are saved

Rise with a shout,
Cry out our God's alive
Rise holy fire, burn bright, burn bright
Rise with a shout,
Cry out for freedom
Rise church, arise
Our God's alive

He alone can save us
He will not forsake us
He remains forever,
Our savior

See Him reign in power
Stronger than our failures
Always and forever,
Our savior

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sabbath Sunday

Today I am stuck in the house with a sick Eiley. Luckily I have the best sister ever who brought me lunch and hung out with me for the afternoon. Fun! Now I'm listening to a Shane and Shane Pandora station and watching Eiley play in her nursery with epic volumes of snot pouring from her nose. It's not a bad day!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flashback! the seventeenth.

zoe zoe too much is changing and i think i'm freaking out about it. you're getting married, tons of other people are getting engaged, i don't know what i want to do with my life and i don't have that much school left to figure it out, and i feel like everything is crazy and any minute now i'm going to wake up and everything will be completely different and there will be no one left for me.
that's all. i've vented.
 thank you so much for being a constant friend and for not changing for the bad...that's what freaks me out about some of those other things. they're changes i don't like. you and manny is something i like.
love you so much!

I do not know what i want to do with my life and i graduated, what, six months ago? So don't you worry about that - there's no rush on figuring that out. The fun thing about post-graduation period is that you are free to experiment with jobs and experiences because no one expects you to be settled in for life for - well - ever - there's no such thing as one job for life anymore, times have changed. Everyone changes professions throughout the years - even in midlife. So DO NOT STRESS!! Get excited to go try out some crazy ideas - like me, the secretary! Woooo!! ;) and it will never be the case that you will wake up with "no one left" for you - because i will always be here for you.
As far as everything changing, i am right there with you - same boat - don't know what to do with all of it! I have cried about three times at work today, and in the past week, probably somewhere between 5-10. yeesh! I am all over the map between super happy and super paralyzed and super down in the dumps overwhelmed/depressed. How can i really be responsible for all the things i can't keep up with in my life - money and cleaning and laundry is even the hugest chore to me these days. I'm way overcommitted.
People tell me "congrats on your engagement - wow! So exciting!" and i just look at them like they’d be thrilled for me to run a marathon with broken legs. Of course I have been wanting to be engaged to Manny for ages now, but all I can think about is how clueless I am about wedding planning. The task before me seems entirely too overwhelming for my own capacities.  I'm ridiculous. In other words- i feel ya - this is crazy times. But its ok - other people, generations in fact, have survived this, and i think feeling the crappiness of it is part of what makes the time valuable so that's cool too. I'm not sure what i'm saying anymore, i love you, and i hope you're feeling better this week.
I miss you - come home soon!!!
Your zoe

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: In the Garden with Nathan, Part Three

Here are Parts One and Two!

So instead of a single plant photo, today I thought I would send you a plant combo that I really like. The leafy plants in the front are Melianthus major and the small trees that are just coming out of dormancy in the rear are Manihot esculenta, aka Cassava. The Melianthus will grow to form a nice tropical looking hedge between our neighbor and the Manihot will grow a little taller adding a different texture and height. I really like both of these plants and have them all over, but together I like them even more. My large Melianthus by the sidewalk has become impregnated so I am looking forward to collecting lots of seed from it.  The Manihots were similarily free in that the mother tree that I bought several years ago seeded and I found little babies all over the front yard, so I dug them all up, pampered them through the winter to give them a robust head-start and am now planting them in the ground. Pretty fun stuff.

This is one of my succulent propagation areas on the back deck. It's more shaded back here which allows the soil to stay moister and the cuttings to put out roots easier. I'll usually keep those cuttings back here for a couple of months so that they can get a robust root system going and then move them out into a sunnier place so that they can really start growing. 
I did up these cuttings last weekend. They should be overfilling their pots by mid summer. I'll start some more seeds on some other plants next weekend and place them next to these guys.

Easter People Devotionals: 15

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 15:

[Shane and Shane version]

Before the Throne of God
Charitie Lees Smith (1841–1923)

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest who’s name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin

Because a sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me

Praise the One Risen Son of God.

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of grace

One in Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God

Thursday, April 26, 2012

the cheapest, best Christmas gifts ever

Jeff and I found out we were going to be parents in November 2010. Let me tell you - that is perfect timing as far as telling people the good news that a baby is en route is concerned. We decided to wait until Christmas to let our families know about Squirmy McGee (Eiley's pre-gender name). While this was mildly excruciating because we were hiding it from everyone until then, the payoff was outstanding.

We decided it would be fun to give the grandmas, grandpas, great-grandmas and Great-Grandbob photo albums as Christmas gifts. We wrote "Grandma's Little Monster" on the front (or Grandpa or whatever, you get the idea) and had Squirmy's sonogram on the inside. This did work out well, except these three things happened first:

1. We could not wait to tell my sister, who lived near us in Virginia. We were pretty freaked out when we first found out about the baby, so we needed someone to be purely excited for us. So Sissy didn't get a nice sonogram and photo album - she got the pee stick, gift wrapped. We invited her over, and I nonchalantly told her I'd picked up a gift for her because I saw it and had thought of her. (By the way, I'm surprised she fell for this. I'm just not that thoughtful.) She opened it, squealed with excitement, teared up, then realized exactly what she was looking at and said, oh, ew and, grimacing, set it down. It was touching.

2. We flew home to California on Christmas Eve and wanted to wait until gift opening that night to tell my parents. At our annual Denny's dinner that night (classy!), I had waited a smidge too long to eat so my first trimester body was starting to feel nauseated. I let Jeff know, and he sprung into action (it looked like he was running to call 911 for a heart attack victim) finding a pack of crackers for me to eat. After I explained his intense exit away with the fact that I had asked Jeff for some crackers, my mom teasingly said "Are you pregnant or something?" Jeff, Sissy and I just laughed nervously. I think I said some sarcastic yeaaaahs. The surprise was saved though, and she and my dad were sufficiently shocked that evening.

3. We placed my grandma and Grandbob's photo album at the bottom of their large stack of gifts at the big family Christmas gathering. We did not anticipate the fact that Grandma would take eons to get to it though. She loves opening gifts and watching others open theirs, so she was apparently relishing every moment while Jeff, Sissy and her husband, my parents and I anxiously looked on. But then this happened, and it's a memory that I'll vividly remember for the rest of my life:

That year, we spent a total of about $6 on photo albums and gave some of the best gifts we've ever given. We figured any additional gifts we might give would be forgotten and overshadowed by the fetus anyway. 

So, the moral of the story is obviously: Always get knocked up near Christmas. 

Easter People Devotionals: 14

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 14:

Revelation 1:4-8

Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and theEnd,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Anything once: RoboCup

Living in walking distance of a college Field House and sports field lends itself to very easy access to plenty of sporting events. I'm not all that into sports, but I like the idea of cheering on the students and the school. But I never expected to experience this kind of sporting event in a hockey arena:

This, my dear Lobsters, is RoboCup. 

According to the Bowdoin team, "Northern Bites," blog, RoboCup is where teams consisting of Nao robots each play soccer on a field of 7.4m x 5.4 m. They write computer programs for these robots to play on the field. "The robots operate fully autonomously; there is no external control by humans or computers." Awesome. 

Apparently, the Northern Bites have a pretty spectacular history. In 2007, they were RoboCup world champions. They weren't quite playing up to their former glory this time around. They scored two goals, yay! Problem was, one of them was on their own goal, so the technical truth is that they only scored one point for their team. 

Supposedly the thing that has changed since their glory days is that they are now bipeds instead of four legged dog robots [see their victory game in the world championship in this video]. Less legs means less balance, which means less goals. I kinda wish they hadn't switched because it seems like the dogs made for a much more exciting game. Also it is fun for your team to win.  

The bipeds take tiny baby steps that make for insufficient action to keep a toddler entertained for any sustained period of time. In general, I think Sofia really enjoyed it, "Yay! Dolls!" she proclaimed over and over. But Manny and I didn't get to pay too close attention because at least one of us was chasing her around the stadium seating most of the time. Furthermore, the halves are only ten minutes long, with ten minute half-time breaks in between, so if you blinked, you missed the play all together, toddler or not. 

robots charging up during half time

That said, it was really fun to watch those little baby steps and see little robots playing soccer together. My favorite part was when they would try to lean their leg up to make a kick, and fall over, and then try to get back up. 

He he he. It just makes me giggle. Apparently this was the easiest type of code to write. But doesn't it look cool?? 

So the action was a bit slow, but the whole idea seems really cool. I'd love to return, with Sofia, in a couple years. By then, I hope she'll have the attention span to appreciate it a bit more, and the Northern Bites will have had some time to figure these bipeds out and return to their former glory.  

Easter People Devotionals: 13

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 13:
(Thanks, Tim, for the suggestion. This is a repete of a song we've already done, but a new version.)

Risen Today
Aaron Shust 

Christ the Lord is risen today
Sons of man and angels say
Raise your joys and triumphs high
Sing ye heavens and earth reply

Loves redeeming work is done
Fought the fight the battle won
Death in vain forbid Him rise
Christ has opened paradise

Hallelujah, He is risen
Hallelujah, our sins have been forgiven
Now we have power over the grave
Christ the Lord is risen today

Lives again our Glorious King
Where o death is now thy sting
Dying once our souls to save
Where thy victory o grave?

All creation sang
Hallelujah, the King is risen
Glory to the name of the Risen Lord
Let all the earth proclaim
Hallelujah, our sins forgiven
Glory to Your name forevermore

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paul Tough is cool Part 2: Getting Nerdy

So as I mentioned recently, I got to hear Paul Tough talk about how cool Attachment Theory. Paul Tough + Attachment = a double score in my book. If you're interested in a little sample of Tough's writings, check out this article. As I also mentioned, I was too nervous to ask any questions or make any comments in the public space after the talk, and only barely got up the guts to approach him directly. My thoughts were a bit insecure and a bit nerdy, getting into research studies I felt vaguely familiar with. If I had had more chutzpah, here are a few of the things I would have wanted to engage on:

First of all, if you don't know about Emmy Werner, you haven't had too much of a conversation with me about children or education. I'm enthralled by her work. So because that's probably true of most people reading this post, I'm gonna tell you about her now. Werner did a 32 year longitudinal study in Hawaii of children born in various circumstances, from wealthy to poor, two parents and none, homes with drug abuse or substance free, etc. [ Emmy Werner's work on Resilience.] After she sorted the babies born according to degrees of risk factors [like poverty, single parents, substance abuse], she found that a significant portion of the high-risk children actually grew up to be "competent and caring adults." Or in other words, despite being born into rough circumstances, the majority of those children were resilient. She found three protective factors that lead to resilience:

1)  Presence of a Caring Adult [Certainly consistent with attachment theory! But if not the mother, someone like a teacher or a coach or youth pastor can certainly play this roll]

2) High Expectations

3) Meaningful Opportunities [such as community service or leadership]

Her studies are certainly much more involved, but that's the nutshell as it's been taught to me. Isn't that inspiring and hopeful? Aren't those things as a community that we should be able to provide children? Even, and especially, children who may not have had positive attachments until they get exposed to a broader community, such as through a school. So cool. I think her study should be required knowledge for anyone working with children!

More later . . .

Easter People Devotionals: 12

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 12:
(Thanks, Meredith, for this suggestion)

I Will Rise
Chris Tomlin

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Monday, April 23, 2012

Movie Review Monday #46: Community

First of all, I came up with a play premise similar to this show's about six months before this show came out. I had been attending Orange Coast College, taking Intro to Novel Writing, and found the characters in the class to be exponentially more interesting than the course material. I am still pursuing writing a play about my favorite character in that class, but I was pretty annoyed when my community college idea came to fruition so quickly on prime time television.

Then I watched one or two episodes, and I was further annoyed because I didn't think they did the subject justice.

Then we had watched everything that was interesting on hulu+, and all that remained was Community. So I gave it a second chance, and man I'm glad I did. Observations:

1. Joel McHale has been on my celebrity list for quite some time because of The Soup, but he's always been in the vague, ever changing #4 or #5 slot. I am pleased to announce that he is solidly #3 now. Congratulations, Joel McHale. You may come and claim your kiss at any time.
2. The dysfunctional family that the study group forms on this show is lovely. I really love it when characters that are unlikely friends become super close and show that community (whoaaa, multi-faceted title) can be found anywhere. This group bickers more than it has fun, but they are always there for each other. Just like a family, they always love each other, but don't always like each other.
3. Danny Pudi is brilliant. He plays Abed Nadir, who seems to have Asperger's, based off his inability to pick up on social or emotional cues. He's never been diagnosed though. Anyway, he is obsessed with TV and movies, and he is good at everything. He's basically a super hero.
4. Speaking of Abed, I love his friendship with Troy. They are both slightly off, and they feed off of each other's weirdness. They put their friendship before anything else. They have a fake talk show with a catchy theme. They reserve a room in their apartment as a "dreamatorium" where they can imagine things. They make a mean blanket fort, awesome Halloween costumes, and have a simple yet effective not-so-secret handshake. They're the coolest while also the nerdiest. While I enjoy all the characters (except Chevy Chase's character, Pierce - I still don't like him), I would watch this show even if it was only Troy and Abed.
Why, yes. I'd love to sit there!
5. Here's the biggest point about Community: They do the most amazing homages to film ever. I can't say much about this - it's a "you had to be there" kind of thing, which is so annoying. Just watch the Paintball episode from Season One and, if you've ever seen any action flicks, you'll understand. I watched that episode twice in one day, I was that blown away.

In conclusion, two claws up for Community. If you've only given it a little bit of a chance in the past, try it again. I promise it's worth it.

Easter People Devotionals: 11

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 11:
(Thanks, Mom, for this suggestion)

O Glorious Day  
Casting Crowns

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises

One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected

Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

(Repeat Chorus)

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered

Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

(Repeat Chorus)

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sabbath Sunday

Looks like it may rain all day, so we are going to have to rediscover how to play indoors! Thankfully we have church to attend to fill in a couple of the hours. And now I'm also grateful we didn't waste any of yesterday's gorgeous weather doing the grocery shopping. Rain does seem to aid rest, perfect for a Sunday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Flashback! the sixteenth.

Spain update:
I felt the need to do something stereotypical of the off-campus student, and since I don’t like alcohol and have never had the desire to get tattooed, this was my choice: to get my eye brow pierced. Right after they did it, I almost fainted. The man that pierced me kept making fun of me in his broken English ("I scared, I scared") but then I tried to get up and he pushed me down, saying I was too white in the face. Then they told me to eat some "chocolate"...well, since chocolate is a special words for a type of drug here, I got really flustered and refused, but then he laughed, told me it was light chocolate ("Don’t worry! You won’t get fat from it!”) and handed me regular milk chocolate. (Although one tasted funny and I kept thinking I was going to be high. I wasn’t, no worries!) I am proud to say that I didn’t actually faint. my friends couldn’t go back with me to the piercing room, so I was not able to squeeze Seth’s hand until it fell off (this was the former plan).  The good news is that it didn’t hurt at all! Right after it was over and I had only felt a tiny pinch, I asked if it was over, to which Seth replied “Are you kidding?! There’s a bit thing coming out of your face!” (It was some thing they put in before the bar goes in).    
Needless to say, my senora HATES it. I walked in the door and she said "AYE!" and then said a lot of things faster than she’s ever talked before (which is REALLY fast. I think maybe she wasn’t just talking. It was like angry gibberish). After scolding me for about 20 minutes, she calmly said "I’m not criticizing you, I just don’t like it.” Ha. Oh, Lola.
Excuse the hurried email, I only had two minutes....
Love you all!
Hey cool!
I'm liking the eyebrow piercing! It fits you well!! :)
Your z
We did go to the presidents ball - so fun, as always - everyone was running up to us grabbing my hand and screaming! It felt like a giant, fancy engagement party just for us! Yay! We checked out a possible site yesterday - el encanto - it could be amazing,
The end

[P.S. by the way, present day Emily, Happy 400th post! lahve! -present day Zoƫ]

Friday, April 20, 2012

anything once: hanging out at bass pro shops

My friend Meredith and I went out for a day o' free fun last Saturday, including a trip to a farm where we met this sheep:
He's behind the fence on the right. He was kind of creepy, hence Eiley's obvious apprehension.
And saw these babies:
There are few things I like more in life than a paddling of ducklings.
Then we headed over to Bass Pro Shops. We found this to be a fascinating anthropological study of redneckitude. It was pretty fun! Top seven things to do at Bass Pro:

1. Head over to the archery section and pretend to be Katniss, obviously.
2. Count rednecks. I only got up to seven and then forgot about this little game, but those seven were defined by camouflage t-shirts, unruly facial hair, and intensely sunburnt cheeks. How do you define a redneck? (Please, keep Foxworthy quotes to a none.)
3. Marvel at the products I never knew existed, such as a Gorilla Treestand, which I thought had something to do with hunting gorillas at first glance.
4. Wonder at the amount of products gathered in one place that I would never purchase, such as this fish koozie that Meredith is modeling:
She almost makes that look good. Almost.
5. Ponder an existence in which one purchases their wardrobe from Bass Pro Shops. Specifically, consider this fictional conversation: "I love your shirt, it's so cute!" "Hey, thanks! I got it at Bass Pro. It was hanging between a bin of meal worms and a bear carcass." 
6. Avoid getting sprayed by the skunk in the jewelry section.
Seriously, Bass Pro Display people? Seriously?
7. Watch the fish in the huge aquarium get fed. This, by the way, was the original reason we came to the store. They have a 19,000 gallon aquarium with a bunch of large fish (I'd tell you what kind but I want to keep that a mystery for you...or I don't know what they were), and it was pretty cool to see them all swarming around trying to get the food. 

In conclusion, this is a first I'd like to repeat because someday I hope to be rich and live a life of leisure that includes having my own personal archery range on my sprawling estate. So I'll be needing supplies.

Easter People Devotionals: 10

For an explanation of this series, click here. To see a collection of all the Devotionals in the series so far, click here.

Day 10:
(Thanks to my grandmother, Gee, for this suggestion)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
New International Version (NIV)

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

books, books, books

Lobsters, how do you keep up with our blog? Do you visit the website? Do you wait for us to post on facebook? Are you an email subscriber [see the right hand side of our home page, scroll down a bit, "Follow us by email"]? Blogger follower? Or do you follow through Google Reader?

I follow my blogs using Google Reader. It's a great way to have all the posts I want to read gathered into one place in a way that shows me only the posts I haven't read yet. So efficient, I love it. Thing is, I apparently follow a ton of prolific writers, because I am well over 200 posts behind in my blog reading. Yikes! That might also have something to do with the fact that I've been pretty sucked into some interesting reading lately. In case you're looking for your next good read, here's a quick recap of the past handful of books I've read this winter (some of which I've already mentioned in previous posts).

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Getting lots of good attention lately. I started by following her blog and had to read her book. She is a very poetic writer who digs in deep both into her own story and experience as well as a rich history of theologians who have wrestled with her questions around the problem of pain. Reading this was good for my soul.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Ugh. This book is graphic and dark and in my opinion, manipulatively written to attempt to use narcissistic murders as a case against all religion. Unfortunately, it was a total page turner. Reading this book was not good for my soul, but it was rather informative (though heavily biased) regarding the history of Mormonism.

 A Walk Through the Bible by Leslie Newbigin. I needed to cleanse my pallet after the above. For all my years in Sunday School, it was really helpful to get one clear overview of the whole story told throughout the bible. This is such a quick read, and so helpful. If you have ever felt curious about Christian scriptures, this is a useful tool!

Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright. This is its own kind of page turner. His writing style isn't poetic or even what I would call "beautiful," but simply put, the content has changed my life in a big way. Too big to recap here, so just keep an eye out for a slew of blog posts with the label "surprised by hope" to follow all the thoughts this book has been spurring in me. 

Meals with Jesus by Tim Chester. I was so excited by the premise of this books: food + Jesus. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in the end. He tries so hard to get a broadly comprehensive collection of all the meals remotely related to Jesus, that he doesn't end up getting as deep and clear into the material as I was hoping. That said, I retrospectively realized that after reading it, I accidentally arranged to host 5 meals in 14 days for a total of almost 40 people, so apparently it spurred me to action [or lunacy?], which is a valuable accomplishment for any book, getting people to actually change their behavior. 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I know this book is so last-last-season, but I finally got around to it. Better late than never. Gladwell is a great story-teller and this was great fuel for my research synopsis addiction. I love his project of shifting us from thinking of "self made men" to understanding the power of the community that surrounds any greatness. I was also pleasantly surprised by how personal he made this collection in the end. I wasn't totally satisfied with his discussion around "concerted cultivation" as I don't believe parenting truly comes down to so simple a dichotomy. But, it has me looking around my own life to wonder what project I'd want to invest 10,000 hours of my time into (assuming I ever had 10,000 hours to spare - does mothering a child count? Can that be my expertise?), or what history is leading up to and ready for that I might have to offer. 

What have you been reading this winter, Lobsters? Any recommendations? Any thoughts on these books above?