Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Persistence of Pain

I’ve got a migraine again today.  I’ve got a headache of some severity almost all the time.  I would have thought that I’d be used to the pain by now.  But I’m not.

The human body can get used to a lot of things, but we just can’t completely block out pain.  I use relaxation and distraction techniques to try to get my brain to focus elsewhere.  Despite all that, the pain continues to intrude.

And the migraines just stop me in my tracks.  No matter what.  Today was actually pretty good since I was able to go to the Nutrition Center for an hour before things got too bad.  But, I’ve been useless for the rest of the day.  Every time I get up to move around, my head starts to pound.  So, I’m back to my rocking chair.  Because I don’t want to feel more pain and I really don’t want it to progress to nausea.

I just wish I could push this to the back of my mind and forget about it.  But it refuses to be put aside.  It’s persistent and intrusive.  Pain doesn’t really care that I planned to cook stir-fry for Wild Man tonight or that I hope to take Rosie Girl shopping tomorrow.  My headaches aren’t interested in my schedule.  They show up and take precedence over everything else.

Tonight I will be quiet and listen to a book and knit, probably with an ice pack on my head.  Then I will do my biofeedback while listening to Bach.  And, hopefully, I can sleep and wake up without a headache.  I hope.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Domesticated Faith?


–verb (used with object)

1. to convert (animals, plants, etc.) to domestic uses; tame. tame (an animal), esp. by generations of breeding, to live in close association with human beings as a pet or work animal and usually creating a dependency so that the animal loses its ability to live in the wild. adapt (a plant) so as to be cultivated by and beneficial to human beings. accustom to household life or affairs. take (something foreign, unfamiliar, etc.) for one's own use or purposes; adopt. make more ordinary, familiar, acceptable, or the like: to domesticate radical ideas.

Last night, two of our domesticated cats tried to become un-domesticated (if that’s a word).  They were standing up at the screen door (since it was a nice, cool night) when a stray cat came up to the door and started to get aggressive with them.  Rosie Girl got up and closed the door, but (from what we can tell from the incident and from reading some information about cats) Sassy and Silver were now afraid and were taking out their fear as aggression on each other, reverting to their wild state.  And let me tell you, wild cats are crazy!!  They hissed, screamed, cried, and bowed up and each other and then tried to kill each other, taking out large parts of the house in the process.  They spent the night separated and will now spend the next few days getting re-introduced.  (Deep Sigh.)

All of this made me think about how the Christian faith in our time and place has become “domesticated” and safe.  Not only is it safe to be a Christian, but in my town, it’s actually a pretty good thing.  When bad things happen, we’re all off to church, even people who don’t normally go to church.  Most funerals are still held at churches.  There are Christian bookstores all over the place.  As Christians, we get our self-help books from Christian bookstores. (I suspect they say largely the same thing as non-Christian books, just with a Christian veneer.)  Our family is going to a Christian camp for a week of relaxation and fun this next week.  It’s quite easy to be a Christian around here – or at least to say you are.  Go forward in church, fill out the papers, and you’ve joined the club.

That’s not how it is in other parts of the world.  “ . . . in China, India, and the Muslim world . . . there is no Christian subculture that allows a person to participate in a Christian life that amounts to little more than expressing a preference for a particular type of religious entertainment.  In those societies, if you aren’t willing to suffer, go to prison, or die, you aren’t going to be a Christian.”  (Mere Churchianity, p.192)  And yet, these are the places where the Gospel is taking off.  These are the people who want to be like Jesus.

When you think about it, what Jesus taught was counter-cultural and “undomesticated”:

  • Seek peace before your own needs (Matt. 5:9)
  • Give freely to others (Matt. 5:42)
  • Love your enemies (Matt. 5:43-47)
  • Seek first God’s kingdom and don’t worry about your physical needs (Matt 6:33)
  • You must be willing to leave your family to serve me (Matt 10:35) (Talk about your “family values”)
  • Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (John 3:16)
  • Jesus claimed to be God (John 4:26)
  • And much, much more!!

Yet, here I am, in 21st century USA, living a very comfortable, “domesticated” Christian life.  Do I give freely to others?  I’ve been to Caracas and seen the barrios.  I know the grinding poverty in which they live.  Is my hand truly open to those in my own neighborhood as well as the world?  Do I speak freely about the Jesus I say that I serve or is it easier to be silent?  Am I worried that people will think I’m some kind of Jesus freak?  The disciples certainly weren’t worried.  And I certainly talk a good game about making sure to not stay secluded in the Christian ghetto.

I want to live a life completely directed by God.  And I doubt that’s going to be a domesticated Christian life, because that’s not the kind of life Jesus lived.  I may not be a homeless, itinerant preacher in 1st century Palestine, but I want to live the way Jesus would live if he was a 42 year old homeschooling mom in the Upper Midwest.  Hmmm.

What do you think of the concept of domesticated Christianity?  How can we “undomesticate” our faith and start to live like Jesus?

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Being A Christian Woman

There’s a bit of a discussion going on among several Christian blogs about women working outside the home and the larger question of the role of women.  As long as I have been an adult, the majority of Evangelical churches taught that the Biblical model of the Christian family is that the wife would not work outside the home and that she would be the primary caretakers of their children while her husband worked outside the home full-time.

The problem is that this stance isn’t actually in the Bible – it’s more 1950s America than anything Jesus would recognize.  Jesus said remarkably little about sex roles.  Paul said a little bit more, although it’s really amazing how many books about male and female roles and marriage have been written based on those few passages.  This stance is based on an interpretation of a few passages of the Bible that is subject to quite a lot of argument.  But, I’m not writing tonight about the hermeneutics of Paul’s writings about women’s roles.

Instead, I want to talk about what we focus on in our own lives.  How important is my role as a woman (instead of just a Christian) if Jesus didn’t see fit to mention it?  He talked about how marriage was to be permanent.  Yet, He never comments anywhere else that I recall about what men and women do that is supposed to be different.  All of His statements are directed at everyone.

He didn’t give the Sermon on the Mount to the men in the group; He never said that the parables were just for the men.  In fact, when the people were counted in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, only the men were counted, but it is understood that the women and children were also fed.  Women were known to be part of Jesus’ ministry, but He never gives them separate sermons about how to be good wives and doesn’t give the disciples sermons on how to be good husbands.

Why is that?  I think that all of Jesus’ teaching is designed to make us more like Him, which makes us a better spouse, a better parent, a better worker, a better “whatever”.  Jesus was not a self-help guru.  He didn’t come to make us better – He came to save us.  The making us better is just part of the package.  When I become more like Jesus, by letting Him through the Holy Spirit direct my life, I will be in the roles where God wants me.  Whatever I do tomorrow, I need to be more like Jesus, and that’s not a woman’s thing or a man’s thing – it’s a Christian thing.

So, is it OK for women to work outside the home?  I believe it is, based on my understanding of the Bible.  But the Bible has so much more to say about how I should live.  I want to let Jesus live in me.  My husband and I prayed about how we should structure our family life and allowed God to help us make those decisions.  I worked for ten years as a Family Physician and it was a great place of ministry for me.  Now I’m a stay at home mom because of my illness.  If my headaches go away, we’ll pray for guidance again.  You may wonder at my statement since we homeschool and have had a stay-at-home parent since my kids were born.  I believe in both of these things pretty strongly, but that’s based on my experience and our life situation, not on a Biblical command.

I’ve spent several years trying to figure out how to be the perfect Christian woman, and this is my conclusion.  Baking bread, homeschooling (even with Sonlight), women’s Bible studies, etc. won’t do it.  There is no such thing as a perfect Christian woman.  There is a normal, struggling Christian man or woman.  Our goals are the same – to be as much like Jesus as possible.  In my stage of life, that may include educating my kids at home.  In yours, it may be going to an office every day.  In any case, it means loving Jesus and doing whatever it takes to give every single minute to him.

What do you think?  Any other ideas in the sex roles debate?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Week In Review – June 26, 2010

This post is rather late for a weekly review, but I finally got it all done!

Rosie Girl

  • Turned 15 on Sunday!!
  • Spent part of her Barnes and Noble gift card on Monday on anime books, a Pokemon book, and a soup cookbook.
  • Went to writing club on Wednesday with part of her novel written.
  • Has made a plan to write an e-book for kids on composers.
  • Did Algebra Monday – Thursday with PWM and has made some excellent progress.
  • Had 4 girls over on Friday night for her birthday sleep-over, which involved eating birthday cake, watching anime movies, reading anime books, and generally being girls.



  • Is getting OLD!!  And was reminded so by Rosie Girl’s turning 15!
  • Took Rosie Girl to Barnes and Noble, giving myself more time to work on knitting.
  • Finished the last hat for my friend and got it mailed off.
  • 013
  • Worked at the Senior Nutrition Center on Wednesday.
  • Bought a bed with PWM on Thursday.
  • Made Rosie Girl’s cake on Thursday and got it frosted.
  • Finally decorated Rosie Girl’s cake on Friday (after she simplified the design for me!)
  • 030
  • Is working on a pair of socks for a friend who is in rehab for a stroke she had a couple of weeks ago.
  • Saw my first petunia bloom on Friday!!
  • 035


  • Played bass at Rock the City on Sunday.
  • 008
  • Did some online tutoring.
  • Is working on a new Preference Project for CurrClick.
  • Bought a bed on Thursday and had the girls today help him move the old bed next door to Grandma’s cottage after the delivery men brought the new bed here.
  • Has been fishing several times.

Wild Man

  • Had been in California for over a week.
  • Left California on Thursday with Grandma.
  • Is on his way back toward Wisconsin.
  • Will hopefully be home by the end of next week, although there are no guarantees!

See what others have been up to at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Nest

After reading Diane’s post about her little nook, I was inspired to take a picture of my special area.  PWM calls my rocking chair area “my nest” because I can sit here and read, use my computer, or knit – all without getting up.  It’s my little corner of the house!

My nest 2


1. My rocking chair – my parents gave me this for my birthday when we moved into this house and I absolutely love it!!

2. Laptop computer – I love having my computer where it’s so convenient to get to.  I can check my email and Facebook so quickly and easily.  Of course, I’m pretty addicted to being online now!

3. Knitting bins – my most frequently used knitting supplies and current projects are kept in here.

4. Basket – I take this with me when I want to carry knitting projects and books when I run errands and think I will be waiting somewhere.  This is the basket I made last year at camp.

5. Rug – I knitted this out of some old jeans a  few years ago and love it.  It gives our living room a kind of rustic feel.

6. Foot warmer/massager – Gets lots of use in the wintertime!!  The massage part isn’t as important as the warmer!

7. Books and book basket – This basket is usually overflowing.  I love books and I am usually reading several at a time.  I don’t finish all of them, but I do finish the good ones!

8. Wicker chest – I keep some blankets in here, although most of them end up being on or around the sofa or behind the rocking chair.  There is also some old music in the chest.  Mostly, though, it acts as a table.

9.  Light/magnifier – My optometrist recommended a stronger light a few years ago and I have found that it is actually quite helpful.  I pull the light over and close to my work when I’m working with very small yarn and needles.  I used to use the magnifier pretty frequently, but I’m more likely to pull out the loupes now because they’re easier to use.

10. Knitting needles and pens – This is just an old jar that I keep meaning to decorate.  Very useful, though.

11. Longaberger basket – I just throw all my small stuff in this basket, like my camera, camera charger, nail file, etc.  I also keep PWM’s loupes (magnifiers) in there since he doesn’t use them for woodworking very much and I use them when I’m working with very small yarn.

12. (way over in the bottom right-hand corner) Music stand – I use this to hold my patterns when I’m using a knitting chart.  It usually lives way off to the side, but I pull it over in front of me when I need it.

Check out Knittin’ Peace to see Diane’s knitting corner!

7 Quick Takes Friday – June 25, 2010


1. Today is Rosie Girl’s birthday party!  She is having three girls sleeping over.  PWM is next door at his mom’s “cottage” working on writing.  He mentioned something about “estrogen overload” – I have no idea what he’s talking about!!

2. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth (or maybe just redoing the icing and complaining a lot), Rosie Girl’s birthday cake is done.  I made the first batch of icing too thin, so I had to redo it.  Then, the design was too complicated for my skills, so Rosie Girl simplified it for me.  Finally, about an hour ago, I finished it.  Not my best work, but it’s infused with 15 years of love!


3. PWM and I bought a new bed yesterday and it’s being delivered tomorrow!  The bed we’re sleeping on now is the one that we bought from Grandma a few years ago (long story) and we’re giving it back to her since she’s moving next door.  Since we get a new one, we’re getting a queen sized bed again so that I don’t elbow PWM in the back anymore!

4. Wild Man and Grandma are on their way home!  They left California yesterday, but they won’t get back here until the end of next week.  Thankfully, they’ll get to go to most of Family Camp!  And I get my Wild Man back!

5. Mental Floss has a quiz about The Princess Bride today.  PWM scored 90%, I scored 80%, and Rosie Girl scored 70%.  Can you tell that this is one of our favorite movies?

6. I made Paula Deen’s beef stroganoff last night.  It was quite good, but I still prefer the recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens red and white checked cookbook.  It’s a bit more of an annoyance to make since it calls for 2Tbsp of tomato paste and some white wine.  In any case, I chop my mushrooms and onions very fine because I don’t like the texture of mushrooms. 

7. PWM’s book on CurrClick is selling pretty well.  Make sure to check it out – My Favorite Spacecraft!

Go to Conversion Diary to see what others are saying today!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Honest With God

Psalm 142:1-2  “I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy.  I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.”

There are those Christians who would have us believe that we (i.e. Christians) should always be happy.  The argument is that God has blessed us so much that our gratitude should always outweigh whatever else we are feeling.  What a tall order.  I’ve been a believer for 30+ years and I’ve had lots of times that I wasn’t happy.  Does God want us to avoid negative emotions?

That’s not what we see in the Bible.  The psalmist quite often lays his heart bare before God, showing God how much he hurts.  Most of those psalms end up with a request for God’s intervention or an affirmation of God’s sovereignty, but it’s clear that the psalmist is expressing some real and negative feelings.

God can take our honesty.  He sees all that we do and knows everything.  We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  So, it’s OK to bring our problems and complaints to God, to just tell Him when it’s been a bad day, that my head hurts, that I can’t figure out how to decorate Rosie Girl’s cake, etc.  And the God who made us knows that we feel a variety of emotions – not always positive.

Yet, at the end of the day, when I’ve laid everything down at the foot of the cross, I am reminded of God’s love for me.  Not that I should feel guilty for complaining.  Rather, I remember that the God who runs the universe, who raised Jesus from the dead, is still taking care of me.  That’s why I can be honest with Him.  That’s why I can tell him I’m tired of this headache.  Because it won’t overwhelm Him.  Because He can see the whole picture.  And since He knows the end of the story, He’s the only one who can really give me comfort and peace.  When all is said and done, I’m not really happy, but I’m peaceful and I know I’m in the arms of Jesus and that He can handle my honest emotions – the good and the bad.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fifteen Fun Facts About Rosie Girl!

In honor of Rosie Girl just turning fifteen years old this last Sunday, I’m going to tell you fifteen fun facts (gotta love alliteration) about my girl.

  1. Rosie Girl is a wonderful pianist.  She is currently working on a Bach Invention and a Chopin Valse. 
  2. Rosie Girl joined the choir at the public school this year and was awarded the “Most Promising Freshman” award!
  3. Rosie Girl loves doing origami.  She makes boxes, cranes, owls, flowers, and more.
  4. Rosie Girl has taken up duct tape art.  She has made me a wallet and made herself a topper for a pen in the shape of a flower.
  5. Rosie Girl is writing a novel.  ‘Nuff said.
  6. Rosie Girl has naturally curly hair that is completely from PWM’s genes!
  7. Rosie Girl started dance class when she was four years old.  Eleven years later, she’s gone through ballet, tap, jazz, and theater dance, but it’s tap that’s in her blood!
  8. Rosie Girl loves most veggies.  We’re getting beets in our CSA box next week and she’s looking forward to making borscht!
  9. Rosie Girl regularly wears my socks.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.
  10. Rosie Girl still loves Jungle Jam!
  11. Rosie Girl went to Washington D.C. with the school choir this spring.  It was her first trip without a family member and she had a blast!
  12. Rosie Girl played piano for one of the church choir songs at Christmas and then she and the friend who was turning pages for her also sang with the choir for the rest of the songs.
  13. Rosie Girl is growing raspberries and strawberries in our garden.
  14. Rosie Girl makes peppermint Italian soda with peppermint syrup and club soda.
  15. Rosie Girl and PWM are playing Pokemon and Zelda while Wild Man is on his trip with Grandma.

Of course, there is a lot more to my Rosie Girl than these fifteen things!  She’s an amazing young woman whom I have been privileged to love and parent for these last fifteen years.  I’m constantly amazed at her artistic abilities and at how hard she works to make herself better at her art.  She loves her family, even (and probably, especially) her little brother.  She made friends easily in her public school classes, but enjoys being educated mostly at home.  Rosie Girl can talk about her faith and is concerned about the faith of others.  Mostly, she’s a wonderful young woman who is growing every day into someone whom I can be even more proud of and love even more (which is hard to imagine).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lagniappe – June 22, 2010

  • According to one of the blogs I read, there is never an appropriate time to use the Comic Sans font.  Nonsense!!  Today is an appropriate time!  Hah!
  • I potted my lavender outside today.  It is the last of the seeds that I started inside.  Part of me feels kind of bad that I didn’t get it out until almost July, but it’s a perennial, so I should have several years of enjoyment from it.
  • All of my seed-starting materials are being taken to the basement today (after they dry off) to be taken out again next spring.  I plan to start a little earlier since I still don’t have petunia flowers, although the plants are growing like gang-busters!
  • Homeschooling conversation 1: 
    • While looking out the window watching two squirrels fighting. 
    • Me – Rosie Girl, look at those squirrels!  I think they’re making babies.  We can give you credit for sex ed! 
    • Rosie Girl – Mom!! (while rolling her eyes) 
    • PWM – Or, if they’re really fighting and one of them kills the other, we can call it criminal justice. 
    • Rosie Girl - (Deep Sigh and rolls eyes)
  • Homeschooling conversation 2:
    • PWM and Rosie Girl are sitting at the table working on Algebra when I come in from running a couple of errands.
    • Rosie Girl (reading from her computer screen) – Solve for “h”
    • Me –(writing on PWMs paper so as not to interfere with education) – Hot as Hades
    • PWM – Actually, that would be “h sub h” or “h sub H”
    • Gotta love having a math teacher in the family.  And, yes, it was HOT outside.
  • I didn’t think the garbage truck had come today because our garbage can is sitting up and has the top on it.  But, apparently, it did.  And the garbage folks didn’t just throw the can back into the yard.  Amazing.
  • Rosie Girl (who is now 15 – that’s another blog post) got a gift card to Barnes and Noble, so she and I had a lovely trip into town yesterday to get her some books.
  • One of the books that Rosie Girl chose is a cookbook of soups.  Ah, a child who loves to cook soups!!  Does life get any better?
  • Silver decided a couple of days ago that she was in desperate need of affection.  She rarely cries to be held, but she was just begging me to pet her.  I finally stopped what I was doing and held her and petted her.  I actually brushed her, which she enjoyed for quite a while.  When she quit enjoying it, though, instead of jumping off my lap, she nipped me!  How dare she!  Silver is not known for using her teeth as a tool of communication!  Well, she hasn’t gotten such wonderful treatment again.  I’m sure I must have hit a tender spot, but I still was not a happy mommy.
  • Wild Man is still in California with the cousins.  Today, they went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!!  How fun!  And what a great chance to hang out with his cousins for a couple of weeks!

So, that’s all.  What’s new with you?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Book Reviews – June 19, 2010

Here are some reviews of books I’ve read in the last couple of weeks.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Nifenegger - Henry is a time traveler, or a chrono-displaced person.  Basically, he isn't stable in time due to a genetic disorder.  This novel is the story of his time traveling adventures and how they affect his wife.  This is the most well-thought out book about time-travel that I've come across, but also the least fantastical.  For example, Henry can't take his clothes or fillings or anything not part of his body with him. So, when he travels, he shows up wherever he is completely naked.  Henry becomes adept at breaking and entering and becomes a good runner as survival strategies.  I was impressed with the intricacies of this novel, not just in how Henry survives the time-traveling, but the emotional issues that come up around the time traveling.  It's a great story and it's well-told.  There's a lot of adult language, so I'd recommend it for high school and above.  A

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer - I listened to this book on mp3 and truly enjoyed it.  The book is structured as a series of letters among the characters in the years immediately following World War II.  The main character plans to write an article about the experiences of the people of the Channel Islands during the German occupation during the war, but the article expands into far more.  Excellent book.  A

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - A taut novel about a man who solicits a mail-order bride, the woman who comes to him under false pretenses, and the son with whom he tries to restore family ties.  The author's style of writing, unfolding each bit of the novel bit by bit, giving us each piece of information in a precise order worked quite well.  The suspense was maintained throughout and the numerous storylines all woven neatly together.  My real complaint was the  excessive explicit sexuality.  It wasn't necessary.  I recommend this for adults who are looking for a thrilling novel.  Definitely not for the under 17 set.  B-

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni - This novel is based on a fantastical interpretation of several Biblical passages that have to do with angels and the "nephilim".  In this scenario, there are creatures in the world that are the offspring of humans and fallen angels.  The angelologists are a group of humans that have existed since the time of Noah who are dedicated to destroying these creatures.  This novel revolves around a convent in New York state, a group of angelologists from Europe and the US, and a precious artifact.  I love fantasy literature, but it so often is filled with adrenaline-filled action a la Dan Brown that I find it hard to read.  This book is more fantasy with less action which is more spread out - much more to my taste.  I enjoyed it very much.  It ended in such a way that a sequel is expected, if not required.  I am definitely looking forward to it.  B

I have a whole new stack of books (as you can see on my Shelfari shelf) so I hope to have more reviews in a month or so.  In the meantime, let me know what you’ve been reading and what you recommend.

Friday, June 18, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – June 18, 2010


I should call this “7 Quick Take Friday – The Semi-Coherent, Post-Migraine Edition”.  I was up till 4am with a migraine, so I slept till after noon today.  I’m still amazed at how exhausted these migraines can make me.  Well, you can amuse yourself by trying to see how many grammatical/spelling/logical errors you can find in this post and then blame it on the migraine and the meds!

1. Two more days till Rosie Girl turns 15!!  Since we’ve got other things planned for tomorrow and Sunday, we let her open her gifts today.  Her party and cake will be next week.  She’s a very happy girl since she got a Nintendo DSi and a gift card to Barnes and Noble.

2. I got new lenses in my glasses this week and can actually read small print again!!  I have to get used to the fact that every time I get new lenses I’m a little dizzy when I walk for a few days since I have progressive lenses now – AKA trifocals without lines.  My eye doctor is also very good at saying that I’m getting old without actually using the word old.  When I was working (as a family doc), I had about 3 or 4 techniques, but I think this optometrist must have 10.  In any case, I’m really enjoying something resembling normal vision again without having to bob my head up and down to get the item into the correct part of the lens.  With the new lenses, everything is “magically” in focus!!

3. Wild Man is now in Monterey, CA with his cousins.  He’s no longer calling us two and three times a day.  I wonder why?  It sounds like he’s having a blast, though.  I’ll post more photos next week, including the one of him with his foot in the Pacific Ocean.  He’s now had his feet in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the last month.

4. Mere Churchianity came in the mail yesterday and I started reading it.  So far, I’m loving it!!  I also got Evolving in Monkey Town today so I’ll be reading that one next.  Between my library books and new books, I have no reason to complain of boredom in the next few months!

5. A dear friend had a hemorrhagic stroke about a week and a half ago.  She has actually been doing quite well, so she was transferred yesterday to a rehab center, instead of a nursing home – Yippee!!  One sad thing is that the director of the Nutrition Center in our small town is moving (temporarily, we hope) to the Nutrition Center in the larger town because the friend who had the stroke is the director of the Center in the larger town.  So, our smaller town’s Center is getting two new women who will be splitting the job.

6. I’m just about finished with the hats I’m knitting for my friend who’s undergoing chemo.  This is good because I want to knit some socks for the friend who had the stroke who’s now in rehab.  I really think that handmade garments make one feel very loved, which is so important when one is very ill and trying to recover.

7. My mom wants me to make her a sweater like the one I made myself for Easter.  She’d better start praying that no one else gets sick!!  And, it is about time to get started on Christmas gifts!

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what’s going on with others around the web!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books I’ve Read Lately

Wow.  It has been months and months since I’ve blogged about books that I’ve read.  I’m not doing reviews for publishers anymore because it was getting too stressful to make sure I got the books read on time.  Nonetheless, I have been reading a good bit.  Here are some of the highlights.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - Very fun mystery about a pre-teen in early 20th century England.  The characters have their idiosyncrasies and quirks, but are generally likable (well, except for the villain!).  Definitely recommended.  A-

Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange - Not what I would call great fiction, but a nice addition to the post-Austen genre of literature.  The characters were true to Austen's characters and the back story that the author added was believable and helpful.  Recommended for serious Austen fans.  A pretty easy read.  B

Mr. Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange - Another of Amanda Grange's hero diaries.  Very nicely done and true to Austen's characters, stories, and style.  Recommended for Austen fans.  B

Miss Julia Delivers the Goods: A Novel by Ann B. Ross - I've become a fan of the Miss Julia novels.  Set in rural South Carolina, these books are the stories of Miss Julia, a widow who discovered in the first book that her husband had been having a long-term affair with a younger woman and had a 10 year old son.  Miss Julia, who had always done everything "properly" and was always a good Southern Lady, then invited them to live with her!  The books are all about Miss Julia learning to shed her "proper Southern upbringing" and really live life.  And they are hilarious!  B+

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross - The most recent Miss Julia book is about Miss Julia handling Hazel Marie's illness and problematic love life.  Of course, it all works out in the end, but not without some fun twists and turns.  It's light reading, but pleasant. B+

Miss Julia’s School of Beauty by Ann B. Ross - Light and fun like the other Miss Julia books.  Not profound, but enjoyable. B+

Angel Time by Anne Rice - I've never read any of Anne Rice's vampire stories, but I have enjoyed what I've read since she's started writing overtly Christian works - which is unusual because I generally find that overtly Christian literature ends up being insipid.  But not Rice's.  This book is the story of an assassin who is taken back in time by an angel to help change history and make something wrong into something right.  Very interesting book - not long, but enjoyable.  B+

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick – The author of this book was a reporter in South Korea who has visited North Korea several times.  However, most of the source material for this book is from those who have defected from North Korea because visitors to North Korea are shown only a very limited area of the country.  I knew that North Korea has a repressive government and that the people there live in harsh conditions, but reading this book opened my eyes even more to what life is really like.  One of the things I thought was amazing was how many people are truly brain-washed to believing the propaganda.  Of course, it makes sense when you think about it.  They hear the same information over and over from the day they were born with no dissenting voices.  What is really scary is that the government even has "spies" in the apartment complexes to make sure that no one is disloyal.  Anyway, I highly recommend this book.  It will get to you to pray for North Korea like nothing else could.  A

Illegitimate: How a Loving God Rescued a Son of Polygamy by Brian Mackert - Biography of a man who was raised in a polygamous family (part of the FLDS) and how he came to find peace and forgiveness in Jesus.  Very good. B

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - I listened to this book on CD.  Can I just say that it is very frustrating that an author with such great story ideas is such a bad writer???  I loved the story line of all three Dan Brown novels that I've read, but I find his writing to be of fair quality at best.  It's also a little frustrating to have such an interesting story wrapped around such warped metaphysical/spiritual ideas.  He really goes overboard when he starts philosophizing through one of his characters.  So, I recommend this book with reservations.  C

Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg - Fascinating book about how modern (as opposed to classical) liberalism is more like fascism (which, by the way, is quite difficult to define) than modern conservatism, despite the frequent cries of "fascism" when conservatives propose policy changes.  The book is quite long, but not really hard to read.  The first part is devoted to trying to define fascism, which isn't easy.  Then, Goldberg discusses how many fascistic elements entered American policy in the 1920s and 30s.  He then proceeds through the rest of the 20th century to show how modern liberalism resembles fascism.  Quite interesting.  I came away with a strong sense of the importance of defining terms carefully.  It's important that conservatives not allow ourselves to be painted with the "fascist" label when it's simply not true!  A-

Stuff Christians Like by John Acuff- I finished this book in two days!  It was truly hysterical, just like the blog on which it is based.  Don't read it if you are too terribly thin-skinned about Christian culture.  But, if you can laugh a little about the cultural quirks of evangelical Christian culture, this is the book for you!  A+

The Search for Christian America by Mark Noll - This is a book written by several Christian historians exploring the idea of a "Christian America".  They conclude that America was founded by men who were nominally Christian, but that's about it.  There is no evidence that the men were intending to create a "Christian nation".  I liked this book because it was not written as an attack on the "Christian Right" as other books have been.  Rather, it was written by Christians who were concerned that our nation's history was being co-opted and used as a tool by other Christians.  I very highly recommend this book.  A

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer – I listened to this book on mp3 and truly enjoyed it.  The book is structured as a series of letters among the characters in the years immediately following World War II.  The main character plans to write an article about the experiences of the people of the Channel Islands during the German occupation during the war, but the article expands into far more.  Excellent book.  A

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - Excellent book, although I was a little unsure until about halfway through.  Definitely not recommended for young teens - although I don't think they'd find it interesting.  Anyway, a very tight and economical writing style.  And the resolution came on the last page - with absolutely no falling action.  Highly recommended.

Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb - Excellent book.  Appears to be quite thoroughly researched and in-depth.  Occasionally a little confusing with all the names, but that is to be expected with this type of history.  It was interesting mostly because of it's topic and story.  The author, though, did a good job with keeping things moving and keeping a confusing history reasonably clear.  Strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in history.  A

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie - A very long, in-depth look at the last Tsar of Russia and his family.  I loved it.  The one downside was all the different people and their very long names, but that's what you get when you read about Imperial Russia.  The author paints a very balanced portrait of all the persons involved - Nicholas, Alexandra, Rasputin, Kerensky, etc.  I very highly recommend it if the topic interests you.  A

God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark - Rodney Stark wrote this book somewhat to refute the popular ideas floating around the the Crusades were aggressive acts by medieval Christians who were out to conquer the Muslim Empire to gain riches.  Stark makes a good argument that most Crusaders were actually motivated by religious reasons, something that we have a hard time understanding today.  He also shows that probably only the Knights Templar actually made any money on these Crusades.  But, neither is the book's intention to "bash" the Muslim societies.  The Muslims had very quickly conquered the Mediterranean lands in the South and were making significant inroads in Spain and even in Southern Italy.  Part of the reason for the Crusades was to protect the boundaries of Europe.  I realized as I was reading, though, that this wasn't new information for me.  I listened to a Learning Company set of CDs on the Crusades and it contained much of the same into.  But, a good book.  A

I do want to post my reviews in a more timely fashion from now on because I really do recommend most of these books.  If the reviews appeal to you, check them out from your library.  And check out my Shelfari shelf at the bottom of this page to see what I’m reading right now.  It’s summer – get reading!!

What have you been reading?  Anything interesting?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So Tired . . .

I’m so tired.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I guess I’m doing a little venting here, but it’s not angry venting, just tired venting.

Today’s migraine just wore me down.  I woke up at 5 and took meds then went back to bed till 10am.  I was up till noon, but then was so sleepy that I went back to bed till 4pm.  I was up for another hour but then went back to bed till 8pm.  Now it’s 12:25am and I’m awake, but exhausted.  Not sleepy, but exhausted.  Usually, I have a hard time sleeping with a migraine, but I guess I was very fortunate today.

Right now, though, I just feel so completely dragged out in my spirit.  Like it’s hard to even think.  PWM, Rosie Girl and I watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” tonight which was good to make me laugh.  Since then, I’ve had dinner (at 11pm!) and been listening to audiobooks and knitting.  I’ve been reading a couple of great books, but my brain is too scattered right now to be able to listen to them.  Maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday, our pastor preached on perseverance.  You can listen to it here.  I think I could have written that sermon for him!  Yet, I needed to hear it.  Because I have to persevere today.  In fact, he did some of his sermon “research” by asking on Facebook how we as Christians persevere.  Here’s what I wrote:

Pray without ceasing. When you can't go on anymore, pray. When you're having a good day, pray. When you're having a bad day, pray. When you can't pray, pray the Lord's Prayer or another pre-written prayer. When you can't do that, call a friend and pray with them or ask them to pray for you. Walk around the block and pray. Do the dishes and pray. You get the picture. In everything, pray!

I really believe that and tonight I really need it.  I’ve started tonight with my prayer beads, but I’ll probably move on to more conversational prayer later.  I need Jesus to help me find that place of knowing that I’m loved and being able to know that this life isn’t all there is.  I need to remember that the superficial things of life are just that – superficial.  My spiritual life is what matters, not whether or not the dining room is painted (yes, I’m obsessing a little – or a lot).  The stuff on the surface – how I look, how my house looks, what activities I’m involved in, etc – is the fluff of life.  My relationship with Jesus is core and how if affects my relationship with others is the next most important thing in life.

Besides, it is this perseverance that produces maturity, character, and hope in a Christian.  And isn’t that more important than a blue dining room?

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Romans 4:2b-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

It’s almost 1am.  I’m going to pray some more (and you are more than welcome to pray for/with me).  I’m praying not only for myself, but so many friends and family with physical and spiritual needs and I want to sit and listen to what Jesus has to say.  And I’ll get up and keep going tomorrow.  I’ll persevere.  Because of Christ in me, “the hope of glory”.  I pray that you can say the same thing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Who’s In Charge Here?

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”  James 4:13-16

“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

Who’s in charge around here?  Clearly, it is not me.  And that really bothers a control freak like me.  Bummer.

I had great plans to get up this morning, straighten the house, clean the kitchen, get more laundry started, and then go to the paint store.  Then I wanted to start prepping the walls so I can start painting the dining room later this week.

Instead, I woke up at 5am with a terrible migraine, so I took some Imitrex and promethazine and went back to bed.  I finally got out of bed at 10am, took more Imitrex, and have been knitting and listening to a book since then.  There go all my plans for the day.

Was I ever really in charge, though?  No.  God has a plan for my life and it may or may not include the plans that I make.  Does that mean that we shouldn’t order our lives?  I believe that God’s intention is for us to arrange our lives, but then to understand and accept that God’s will may be different.

In Matthew, Jesus says “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  (Matthew 6:27).  Some friends and I were discussing yesterday how little control we really have over our lives.  A friend of mine who takes excellent care of herself (physically and emotionally) recently had a hemorrhagic stroke and is looking at a very long-term recovery.  Ten years ago, my dear aunt who had never smoked cigarettes died of lung cancer.  A friend who is my own age has breast cancer.

God is in control.  He has given us commands to follow in the Bible.  The book of Proverbs gives us all kinds of wisdom, including information about preparing for the future.  It’s OK (and prudent and important) to prepare for tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.  Yet we must remember that God is in ultimate control.  When our plans are turned upside down, it is not the end of the world.  In fact, it’s all part of God’s final, beautiful tapestry.

So, keep your calendar organized, send your offerings to churches and charities, save money for your retirement and your kids’ college educations.  But when that curve ball gets thrown, remember that God isn’t worried because He’s got it all worked out.  He loves us.  In the light of eternity, we’re just here learning to love and worship Him.

And now, I’m off to knit a hat.  It’s my new scheme for this headache-y day.

What do you do when a wrench is thrown into your day?  How do you handle it when a plan comes apart?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gardening Update – June 12. 2010

It’s been raining just about all week which has given me migraines all week, but it means that I haven’t had to water the plants.  Of course, I’m starting to wonder if the animals are going to start walking by two by two!

Here’s what we’ve got right now:

Tomato plants - Two are growing in TopsyTurvy planters and two in ice cream buckets using the same technique.  There doesn’t seem to be any difference in outcome so far.

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Cucumbers - These are the new cukes, not the ones that I started back in April that died.  They are growing in TopsyTurvy planters and seem pretty happy so far.


Petunias - These are all going out in the front planter.  I decided to plant them in these round and rectangular planters because they’re easier to deal with, but their final home will be out front.  I’m a little bummed that I didn’t start my petunias earlier because there are petunias blooming all over the place and mine aren’t.  Lesson learned – order seeds earlier next year.  Note – the little tiny plants are so small because Park Seed shipped those seeds several weeks later than the first set.  They’d sure better be pretty!

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Oregano – I have more oregano that I know what to do with!  These two pots are the ones that I’m going to keep.  I have some starters still inside just in case these don’t make it!

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Catnip – The plan is to dry the leaves and make knitted cat toys for my lazy cats.  And maybe Sophie will play with cat toys instead of trying to kill Sassy.


Spearmint – I think this is the same stuff as the garden mint that I had in Kentucky where it became the Audrey 2 on the side of my house!  Up here, though, it is definitely an annual.  I had a sprig last year from Grammy’s house in Baton Rouge and it grew crazy in a pot, but did NOT come back this year.  I don’t think it likes the below zero temps that we get around here.  Wonder why?


Basil – Looks beautiful!  I think Rosie Girl and I will get some very nice leaves from here.


Dill – Also looking good.  I love dill on my scrambled eggs.


Chives – This grows as an annual in our front bed (yes, the front bed needs to be weeded.)  Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to harvest the chives each year so it bolts.  But, it’s pretty when it does that, so I just enjoy the flowers.  We’re getting a chive plant with our first CSA box so I’ll try to remember to harvest the chives from that one.


Lavender – this is my front planter lavender plant.  I’ve also got some growing from seed that aren’t quite ready to put into pots.  I’ve never harvested the flowers, but I do want to because they smell so delicious.  In any case, they are lovely.


Yarrow – I love these yellow flowers, but they need to be pruned.  I keep planning to prune in the fall and then say that they will look pretty with snow on them so I don’t prune.  But, we get six feet of snow right there.  I should prune them.


Salvia – This had purple flowers earlier in the spring and was beautiful.  It also needs to be pruned.  I’m not really much of a gardener, am I?


Green beans – these suckers are just taking off like gangbusters!


Carrots – you can just see the little sprouts sticking their little heads up.


Broccoli – In the middle of each square is either one or two little plants.  That’s the broccoli.  The rest is weeds.  If it ever quits raining, I’ll weed.  When the sprouts are big enough to see, I’ll mulch.


Strawberries – Rosie Girl has some strawberries!!  I planted some flowers in some of the other squares, but Rosie Girl’s friend has offered her some strawberry plants, so I’ll let her have the squares for strawberries.  If it ever quits raining, we’ll weed and mulch.


Raspberries – Looking good!


That’s what’s growing right now.  I’ll get the hang of this gardening thing one day.  And if I ever find the Morning Glory seed packet, we’ll grow those, too!

So, what’s in your garden!

Friday, June 11, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday


It’s a rainy, icky Friday afternoon here in the Upper Midwest which means it’s time for 7 Quick Takes Friday!

1. We are part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) this year, so in a week or two we will start getting a box of produce from a local farm every week filled with our share of whatever they harvested that week.  I’m excited but nervous at the same time.  I’m not much of a veggie eater, so I’m going to have to/get to try lots of new stuff.  I hear that we get beets early on, so Rosie Girl and I are going to try making borscht.

2. Speaking of veggies, I ate fennel this week.  The first time I had it, we just shaved it on our salads.  I could definitely taste the mild licorice-like flavor to it, but it wasn’t over-powering.  Last night, PWM roasted it in the oven.  Yummy!!

3. I painted my nails this week.  I have no idea why.  I haven’t had painted nails since my third year of medical school because you can’t have polished nails when you are in the operating room and I have been in a position where I could have been called in to emergency surgery from the time I was in third year medical school until I quit working (five years ago).  So, I now have light blue fingernails.

4. Wild Man told me yesterday that I was scaring him.  First I ate a new vegetable and then I painted my nails.  What else am I going to do while he’s gone??

5. We totally LOVE Jungle Jam!!  We used to own a bunch of the CDs, but they have almost all gotten lost or scratched.  I downloaded a new episode tonight and it was as funny as the originals.  Instead of buying new CDs, I’m going to buy the episodes that I want and download them – they’re cheaper that way and we can just burn the episodes we want for driving to camp.  BTW, if you haven’t listened to Jungle Jam, you should download one episode to check it out (they’re only $3.95).  They’re hysterical for kids and adults alike.

6. We got a water softener this week!!  I never thought I’d be so excited about a water softener, but scrubbing the bathtub last week was seriously un-fun.  Not only that, but we’ve been having to clean tons of lime scale from our dishwasher.  I don’t like the taste of the water nearly as much, but we won’t go through nearly as much vinegar now!!

7. Rosie Girl and I played Set together today and she whupped me!!  I love playing Set, but the Topamax I’m taking has slowed my thinking so much that I wasn’t much competition at all for her.  Normally, she and I are pretty equally matched.  Not so right now!

Check out what others are up to at 7 Quick Takes Friday!