Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 9/19/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

It is a rainy, cool Friday morning - the first time that the weather has really felt like autumn at all.  I'm ready for it.

1. We went to a beautiful wedding last Sunday night.  The bride is the daughter of good friends, and the officiating minister is our assistant pastor, who is not only a great preacher during normal sermons, but also ties a fine knot at a wedding.  I've been married 29 years but still got some great food for thought at this wedding.

2. Just got a text from a missionary friend in Beijing whose stateside van was stolen about six weeks ago - it's been found and had been used all this time by a ring of thieves who used it as a getaway car for burglaries.  The friend's daughter had to have transportation due to being a nursing student, and now she has her van back - and it still works fine.  Glad to have this taken care of for them.

3. We are going to a great conference in North Carolina tonight, with the organization that our son is teaching in China with.  Looking forward to the conference and to the time away.

4. Daughter still enjoying her job and doing well at it.  She's finding out all the "funnies" that elementary students can come up with.

5. Good week.  I had a lot of papers to grade, but was able to stay on top of them, and should go home today without much to do!!  That's so much better than the weekends where I feel covered up, yet want to get away from schoolwork at the same time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Introduction to Classics List

I want to do one other list - Classics that have stayed with me.  Most of these are books/works I have taught over the past fifteen years of teaching English rather than read on personal time, but, regardless, they are works that make an impact.

In the book Twelve Trademarks of Great Literature, J. F. Baldwin lists the things that make a work of literature great.  The ones that I have noticed the most are:
  • The work moves at an appropriate pace - not too fast, not too slow.  (It's the fast pace of so many modern fiction works that keep them from lasting.)  
  • The work shows rather than tells.  --I used to get weary of books for children that told a cute little story and then threw in a moral at the end.  That is a poor style of writing.
  • Re-reading is rewarded.  There are many layers to a good work.  I'm reading Great Expectations with the seniors this year, for the fifteenth time, and still find things I haven't discovered before.
  • At least one character is sympathetic.
  • Moral tension drives the plot.  To quote Baldwin:  "The form of a book will suffer if the author forgets to rely on God's moral laws to create the tension in the story."
Herman Melville said "To produce a mighty work, you must start with a mighty theme."  Baldwin says "If the author seriously elevated the trivial or denigrated the profound, readers would find themselves disagreeing with the author's entire framework.  For example, a serious novel based on the theme that a preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla is an abomination would be ignored or ridiculed by the general public."

I would love to be a thinker on the level of the above writers, and on the level of the writers of great works, but am merely a mediocre absorber of some of the truths that they state.  But there is much to learn. I do not have time right now, but either later today, or tomorrow, or the first of next week, will get the list of ten classics written out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Influential Books

Well--with all those reading friends out there--NO ONE has tagged me to do the "Ten Books that have Stayed With You" list.  So I am doing it anyway--but am dividing it into two lists:  books from adulthood, and books from childhood.

These books from adult years (of course the Bible also) have stayed with me.  There are others, but like the others who have done this list, I could go on and on.  This does not include the classics that I have read with literature classes.  That's an entirely separate list.
  1. My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  I still remember studying this book with my dear college friend, Barby, night after night, in our summer staff dorm room.
  2. Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot.  Barby and I devoured this one also.
  3. Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  4. A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent
  5. To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson, moving and thought-provoking biography of Adoniram Judson.
  6. MacArthur commentaries - several of them.
  7. A Garden to Keep by Jamie Langston Turner, my favorite, for deeply personal reasons, of her many novels.
  8. Musings of a Mother by Doris Coffin Aldrich - taken from her magazine columns ("Out of the Mixing Bowl") and now out of print; her lovely devotional style of writing as the mother of nine in the early '60s is worth trying to find a copy on eBay, Amazon, or elsewhere.
  9. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose - outstanding missionary book.
  10. Birds of Eastern North America by Roger Tory Peterson.  My go-to book for birds for 28 years now.
These books from childhood or young adulthood have stayed with me:
  1. All the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. Separate Star, The Edge of Time, The Years of the Locust, and others by Loula Grace Erdman.  She was a fiction writer in the 40s and 50s, and her characterizations are outstanding.
  3. The Cherry Ames series by Wells and Tatum.  Standard young adult series fare, but I loved them - especially Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse and Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse.  These books captured for young adults some of the timeline, and some of the horror, of World War II.
  4. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  5. The Peggy series by Dorothy Martin - Moody Press around the same time as the Danny Orlis series.  There were about eight books or so in the series, such as New Life For Peggy, Open Doors for Peggy, and so on.  
  6. The Bible in Picture for Little Eyes by Ken Taylor - we read one of these stories every night when I was a child, and the illustrative paintings are classic. Also Stories Jesus Told by Butterworth/Inkpen - actually from my children's childhood.  Great re-tellings and artwork of Jesus's parables.
  7. Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories - loved by my siblings and me, as well as my own children.
  8. Not My Will and Light In My Window by Francena Arnold.  These are still favorites and were more from young adult years than childhood.  She was an early novelist for Moody Press.  I think many of today's modern popular Christian fiction writers need to read Not My Will and take a lesson from Arnold's outstanding pacing in her plot and character development.
  9. Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris.  As a child, I loved reading this, or hearing my mother read this.  I also remember Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.
  10. Grosset and Dunlap Signature Series biographies such as The Story of Edith Cavell, The Story of Florence Nightingale, etc., and many other The Story Ofs. . . . These were the go-to biographies when I was young, and there are many historical titles.  Two of them are the middle picture above.
I'll think of many more later.  That's just the way it goes.  But here they are for now!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday's Fave Five - 9/5/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Mike had a huge test today at work - several more experienced operators had not done well - and he passed with a 90% this afternoon.  So we went out to eat to celebrate tonight.  And got a piece of citrus cheesecake compliments of our neighbor, the manager!

2. I got an elliptical last weekend.  I noticed that a good friend was having a yard sale and that she was including an elliptical.  She was very glad to sell it to me, at a very good price, because they are moving and she needed to get it gone.  So Mike picked it up and set it up out back in the pool house.  It still needs a couple of adjustments, but it will be very nice to just go out back to get on it instead of having to pack up and go to a gym.  Plus, it was 1/7 of the cost of the gym.

3. Last Saturday I went to Greenville, to Jamie Langston Turner's book signing, and got an autographed copy of this new book, To See the Moon Again.  I finished it by Wednesday night.  It was another good read by her.  Probably not my favorite, but still a good read.  Always love a new book by Turner.

4. Quiet weekend for Labor Day, but we got a lot done around here.  We are going off for a retreat in the mountains in a couple of weeks, so not going anywhere was OK.

5. This is a little thing, but kind of funny also.  I bought a couple of nightgowns from a catalog several weeks ago - there were two "one size fits all" options.  (Isn't that an oxymoron?)  Anyway, I went with the larger one to make sure it would be roomy enough as a gown.  Well, even after washing/drying it was huge on me.  Someone who lives in this house compared it to a "circus tent."  This week I sewed several side seams in the "circus tent," and now it looks much better and is very comfortable.  I will not name the person who made such a derogatory remark.  :-)

"Don't Waste Your Life"

This morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, with the local news creating noise in the background, the program rolled over into the Today show - which gave the first ten minutes to the passing of Joan Rivers.  The news of a coalition forming to fight ISIS, or a NATO meeting in Wales about Ukraine, or a third American with Ebola - all of that had to wait until ten minutes could be devoted to Joan Rivers.

I do not pass judgment on the condition of Joan Rivers' heart; however, observations of what I've read of her and her work indicate someone who outwardly was shallow and profane.  And when an older woman uses as much Botox as she did, and no doubt a great deal of plastic surgery, just to attempt to keep from looking older - well, that is sad.

Her famous line, from many times asking it of celebrities on red carpets and rope lines, is "Who are you wearing?"  She did stand-up comedy and critiqued the fashion choices of stars.  Nothing wrong with making people laugh, but that alone is a thin contribution.

This news makes me think of four paragraphs from John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life.  I typed them out years ago and re-read them every now and then for perspective.  I also use them in school whenever possible.  Here they are:

"But I know that not everybody in this crowd wants your life to make a difference.  There are hundreds of you - you don't care whether you make a lasting difference for something great, you just want people to like you.  If people would just like you, you'd be satisfied.  Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife and a couple of good kids and a nice care and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and quick and easy death and no hell - if you could have that (minus God) - you'd be satisfied.  THAT is a tragedy in the making.

"Three weeks ago we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon.  Ruby was over 80.  Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: To make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick.  Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing 80 years old, and serving at Ruby's side in Cameroon.  The brakes failed, the car went over the cliff, and they were both killed instantly.  And I asked my people: was that a tragedy?  Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ - two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico.  No.  That is not a tragedy.  That is a glory.

"I tell you what a tragedy is.  I'll read to you from Reader's Digest (February 2002) what a tragedy is:  'Bob and Penny. . .took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51.  Now they live in . . . Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.'  The American Dream: come to the end of your life - your one and only life - and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be 'I collected shells.  See my shells.'  THAT is a tragedy.  And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. . .Don't buy it.

"Don't waste your life.  It is so short and so precious.  I grew up in a home where my father spent himself as an evangelist to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.  He had one consuming vision:  Preach the gospel.  There was a plaque in our kitchen for all my growing up years.  Now it hangs in our living room.  I have looked at it almost daily for about 48 years.  It says, 'Only one life, twill soon be past.  Only what's done for Christ will last.'"

Now, I don't think Piper is preaching against collecting shells, or vacationing in Florida, or doing any other common things.  But he is giving an example to keep it in perspective.  Don't waste your life.  Look for opportunities to make a difference in the world for eternity.  I pray that I can do that, until my time is done.  And I hope that, in private if not shown in public, that Joan Rivers made a more substantial difference as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 8/29/14

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog.

1. Last Saturday night we had a really, really nice meal, compliments of Mike's company.  He had done a special project along with several others, and was told he could take his wife out for a nice meal and turn in the receipt.  So we did.  And we just about committed the sin of gluttony.  We never get an appetizer, and we very rarely order dessert.  And we never get expensive menu items.  So it was a real treat, but we both felt kinda sick afterwards.  Just too much rich food.  But it was really good at the time!

2. ML's teaching so far is going very well and she loves it. Even though I know that not-so-good days will come (they always do) at least she has started out by knowing that she can do it and she is doing a good job.

3. Even though last night's football game was a big disappointment (huge loss for our team), we spent the evening with dear friends, and that is always nice.  And supper was pizza, wings, chips/dip, and cookies - no cooking required.

4. Andrew has a new apartment!  He just moved a few hours ago.  I am so glad his school chose to move them.  They were living in quarters at another university, in an older building.  The surroundings actually were nice; they were surrounded by woods and a garden, even though it is a college campus.  However, a good bit of the dirt/mold in his apartment was not because it was a man-cave; it was China dirt from sometime back.  Plaster was continually falling from the walls; there was no hot water in the kitchen; the bathroom needed work, etc.  Some of his Chinese friends came to help him move, and he showed them some of the football game on his computer.  This was the first time these young men (and one lady) had ever watched a football game!

5. A three-day weekend is upon us!!!  Which also means that next week is only four days long - the best part of a Monday-off three-day weekend.  I am so ready for the break.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Not Friday's Fave Five This Week

Today is Friday, and really is the day for a "Friday's Fave Five."  But that's not the direction this week. I have someone on my mind, and am greatly sad for her, and am thinking more about how quickly things can change and how quickly we can be faced with our own mortality.

A week ago I left to run a typical series of Saturday errands and stop at a few yard sales along the way.  I made a loop through town, stopping at Chick Fil A for some chicken minis (my occasional Saturday morning splurge), then going to the old part of town to get some fresh produce at the local farmers' market.  I was headed up the four-lane highway toward where we live, on the way to the grocery store, and had stopped in a parking lot to take a phone call.  During that call, I ignored one from Mike, but called him back right afterward.  He said "My sister called.  K has been admitted to the hospital with a mass in her brain."  Mike's sister is a nurse on the neuro floor at the hospital, and K is a lady I know whose children I have taught. When they put together the connection, K said to Mike's sister, "Call Ann."

I turned the car around and went straight to the hospital.  K is a sweet lady, one who has had several curves thrown at her in life.  She had been having severe headaches as well as some erratic behavior (such as driving on the wrong side of the road) and inability to read or watch TV.  When it got too bad to wait for the approaching doctor appointment, she went to the emergency room, when she was promptly put in the intensive care and tests run.  This was now the next morning.  K told me whom she wanted told about this, and I spread the word to those people.  I've been up there four times since then.

Now it's six days later.  On Wednesday she had brain surgery.  A cancerous tumor.  Prognosis uncertain.  Three boys ages 16-20.

You never know when life is going to change "on a dime."  These young men and their mother have much to process.  Even in the context of God's will, and what He allows, this is a lot to process.  And for us all to think about.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 8/15/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five home blog.

1. Great friends from a long time ago were here for supper last night.  So good to spend time with them.  And my mom made a pie for us!!

2. Got a lot done this week at inservice.  Still have a lot to do, but at least the walls are done.  And my dad is helping me with covering books!

3. Daughter is getting started in a good way at her first teaching job.  Very proud of her.

4. Going out to a new seafood place, with some other good friends, in about an hour.  Sometimes we see hardly anyone for weeks - but when it rains, it pours.

5. Good visit with orthopedist on Wednesday.  I've got to have some shots in my knee to keep it going for awhile longer, but he said it looks good and I can go to the gym if I'm very careful and not overdo.  I felt really good after the two months of getting ready to do a lot of walking in China, and don't want to lose all of that.

And - tomorrow is Saturday!!  I can sleep in!!  After being used to a summer schedule, this first week of setting an alarm is rough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Year!!

Very proud of my daughter's hard work at putting together her classroom!!

She is so creative (yes, her mother is biased, but her mother also knows creativity when she sees it) and it's nice that she has a venue where she can really use her abilities.

I helped her a couple of days last week, and Mike came in on Friday also.  We set up a little refrigerator for her, and he put together some things she needed.

It is a big responsibility to be a teacher, but it is also nice to see a young lady who has worked very hard, who has the ability, and who loves children, to receive an opportunity to show what she is made of.

I am so proud of her!  So is her dad!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Trivia

--My presentation about China went very well on Sunday night!  Thanks to family and friends who came.

--Knee doing well.  I'm icing it right now because yesterday I was on it too much, a friendly reminder that it is not completely healed yet.

--Bargain of the day:  Dial 8-bar bath soap, $4.89 at Walgreens; buy one get one free this week, and I had a $2.00 coupon.  16 bars of soap for $2.89.  :-)

--Daughter in her room at her school!!  I'm going to see it in a little while.  Starting a first teaching job is a very exciting time in life.