Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ten books that have influenced me...

Or, what I did Saturday morning (write this list) instead of the laundry.

In no particular order these are books that have influenced me or my reading...

1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - Chris recommended this book when we were dating. I read the chapter on pride, and it was painful. It was the first time I really understood that God wasn't super-excited to have me on his team since I was a "good kid" and the beginning of understanding sin and grace.

2. Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins - I told my friend Kara that I did not understand poetry, and she recommended Billy Collins. I love reading his poems because I understand (I think) what he's talking about. (for the poetry novice I also recommend Good Poems collected by Garrison Keillor.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - This isn't my favorite classic, but it's an important first for me. I saw it on my Senior reading list in high school and groaned because it sounded so boring. Wuthering... withering... ughhh. I was so surprised to find that it's actually interesting. The story grabbed a hold of me and gave me confidence to try Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo and more.

4. Incidents in the of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs - This was written by a runaway slave in the mid-1800's. The scariest part of this book to me was the damage that was done by generally well-meaning people who lacked the courage or oomph to do the hard right thing. It's a fascinating window into what it was like to live with slavery. It turned me on to good historical nonfiction books.

5. The Histories by Herodotus - This was not easy to read, but it was worth it. It helped me see how much we inherit from Judaic law. And there are so many good stories here: the culture that auctioned off its unmarried women in order of beauty (men were paid to take the ugly ones and had to pay for the good looking ones), the Spartans brushing their hair and dancing as a pre-battle routine,...

6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - I think this was the first REALLY good children's book I fell in love with. I wanted to be Anne. I kind of still do.

7. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - For years Chris tried to get me to read this, but I had no confidence that he could pick something I'd find readable. Someone else recommended it, so I read it (he'll be mad about that until the end of time) and really enjoyed it. Now Chris is my fantasy guru. He knows what I will and will not like and has recommended several other good ones - Name of the Wind, Way of Kings, Wheel of Time, ...

8. Winnie the Pooh - I read this in college on a whim and was surprised to find much more sophisticated humor than I expected (I've read it to my kids a few times, and the older kids always enjoy it in a different way than they did when they were younger.) It was the beginning of rediscovering children's literature as an adult.

9. Where is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey - I read this at a time when I felt set upon by God. I was too angry to read the Bible but wanted to read something spiritualish. This book helped me understand that I was not the only person in the world who had been hurt and helped me come to terms with my unanswered questions.

10. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy - I tried to read this in college and found it unbelievably boring. I picked up again as an adult and loved it. It's one of my all time favorites now. So, this book helped me give a whole category of books a second chance. Some (Madame Bovary) I still hate, but some that I hated as a teenager I was able to enjoy as an adult.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Star Wars snowflakes...

It's hard to find Christmas crafts for boys. A friend sent this awesome option. It's cool, and it works. All you need is a printer, paper, scissors and an exacto knife. Be sure and watch the video on how to fold.

Star Wars Snowflake



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chemo Eve...

It's been almost a year since Chris and I got a message stating that his first round of chemo would start the next day.  We were sitting at the bar at Lupe's waiting for a to-go order, and I cried because I just couldn't believe that my young, strong husband really needed chemo, and I was so scared because I had no idea what it would mean for all of us.  Would he throw up all the time?   Would he be able to get out of bed? Would he have eyebrows in a week?  The reality has been slower and more relentless than I expected - less like climbing a mountain and more like walking from Maine to California.

Chris has been on a chemo break.  The last round was terrible, and he needed a break.  Slowly he's returned to us.  The last few weeks have been almost normal, and that's been so good for all of us.  He got to go on a trip with friends.  We all got to enjoy Thanksgiving.  We went out on a date, played games with the boys, and talked a lot.  There's such blessing in normal life.  

Chris has about six more months of chemo to go, and tomorrow morning we start another round.  It's Chemo Eve again.  This time I know more of what we're facing, so its a better-informed, deeper, quieter sadness.  We'll lose something indefinable tomorrow - I can't quite put words around it, but it's a part of Chris we need for a normal, family life.  It feels like a terrible preview of what could be coming.  But now I know he'll come back.  We're not going to lose Chris to chemo.  The real battle is with cancer and nobody knows how that's going to end.  Cancer is a much cagier beast.  Living with that kind of uncertainty is... impossible.  But the impossibility of it is a blessing.  I know I can't manage it, and so I'm spared a lot of pointless effort.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

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