Book Review: Close to Home

 Close to Home is the fourth in Deborah Raney’s Chicory Inn series, where empty nesters Grant and Audrey Whitman have transformed their big, rambling home into a bed and breakfast. Each book focuses on one of their five children. This book, however, tells the story of daughter-in-law Bree. Bree had been married to their youngest son, Tim, who had died a solider in Afghanistan. Bree had issues with her own parents and drew close to the Whitmans. They, in turn, considered Bree as one of their own.

It’s been five years since Tim’s death. Bree’s coworker, Aaron, has shown an interest in her, but she’s just not sure she’s ready to date again. Yet she decides to go out with him just as friends. She enjoys him and the relationship, yet something isn’t right. Is it that Aaron isn’t the right one, or that Bree doesn’t want to lose her relationship with the Whitmans?

Another plotline in this book is that feisty Grandma Ceecee has been having some issues that make Grant and Audrey wonder how much longer she can live alone. Ceecee has already said she would not go to a nursing home. Yet it’s seeming less safe than ever for her to be on her own. And with the inn, they don’t think they can manage caring for her at their home.

As soon as one character from a previous book showed up, I had a feeling which way the plot would go. But I enjoyed the journey nonetheless. I have not been in Bree’s situation, but I could sympathize with her dilemma. And, as many of you know, we have dealt with a parent needing care, so I could empathize with the characters in that situation as well. As always, I enjoyed the time with the Whitmans. Though they have their squabbles and irritations, they they love each other, support each other, and pull together.

Previous books in this series (linked to my reviews):

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Studying the Parts to Understand the Whole

A few years ago I read an annotated version of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. Sometimes I struggled with disrupting the flow of the story to read the notes. But the notes added so much to understanding the story, they were worth it in the long run.

I read recently an article where someone brought up this difference between reading for pleasure versus reading an annotated version of a story, stopping to read every footnote. This writer brought out the disruption of this type of reading. She pointed out that we don’t read regular books that way (unless we’re in school reading an assigned text), so we shouldn’t read the Bible that way.

There are times we should just read a particular passage as it is for pleasure, with no cross references or footnotes. But there are other times we should study it out in depth. It isn’t either Bible reading or Bible study. We need both.

Some people read and study in tandem. They’ll read one passage devotionally and study another, possibly to prepare for a group Bible study. Others will take turns: they’ll read one book of the Bible all the way through, then do a Bible study project on another book or topic, then read another book of the Bible through.

When I first started using a study Bible, I wasn’t sure I liked reading a verse or two and then stopping to read the footnotes sidebars, and charts. It did seem more halting and fragmented than just reading the passage. But the extra material did aid in understanding the passage.

Instead of reading a verse and it’s footnote one by one, sometimes I read a paragraph at a time, then look over the footnotes. Or, if there is a lot of footnote information for each verse, I’ll read each footnote after its verse, and then go back over the last few lines of text just to put it all together.

Then, beyond just the notes in a study Bible, there are commentaries, Bible study guides, and a whole slew of other Bible study materials with which to dig into a passage even further..

Let’s see if I can illustrate the benefit of study in another way. I was not exposed to classical music much as I was growing up. I remember one Girl Scout trip to a symphony, a couple of performances of Handel’s Messiah in school or church, our pastor playing excerpts of Mendelssohn’s Elijah oratorio in a high school assembly. I remember thinking the pieces were nice and enjoying a few of the songs more than others (especially “He, Watching Over Israel,” based on Psalm 121:4, from Elijah). But I didn’t get much more than that from the pieces.

Then I went to a Christian liberal arts university which wanted to teach us more than academics, so we were exposed to various kinds of classical music concerts, Shakespearean plays, etc. During my junior year, I asked a sophomore music major roommate to help me pick out some classical vinyl albums marked down to $3 at the bookstore that she thought I might enjoy. I grew a bit more in my appreciation of classical music.

But it wasn’t until my senior year in college, when I had a class called Music Appreciation, that I really began to understand and then love classical music. We went era by era, learning what kind of music was produced by which composers in each period. We learned something of the lives of major composers. We listened to and took apart some famous works. We learned to identify the different themes in each piece, note their development, and trace how they interacted with each other. We’d have tests where the professor would play a few seconds of a piece of music, and we’d have to identify it as the first theme of the second movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony (a melody which was later given words by one of his students and turned into the lovely song “Goin’ Home“). Some of the works we studied then are my favorite pieces today – New World, Hayden’s Surprise Symphony (and the fun story behind it), Smetana’s The Moldau, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and others. Listening to them again is like rereading a favorite book, enjoying and anticipating the flow. I came to understand and enjoy the whole much more by studying the parts. In fact, I haven’t added any new classical music loves because I haven’t studied any pieces to the extent I did then.

It’s the same way with the Bible. As we study the individual parts of a biblical book, we learn what the details mean, how they fit within the book itself, how the book fits within the whole Bible. We trace the themes and see how they intertwine. We’ll know and get more from those passages in ways we don’t know those we’ve only given a cursory reading. And each time we read that book, we build on what we know and appreciate what we remember from previous studies. Study might seem tedious in the midst of it, but it’s worth it when you put it all together. C. S. Lewis contrasted the difference between meditating on a single verse devotionally vs. working through a longer passage: “Hammer your way through a continued argument, just as you would in a profane writer, and the heart will sometimes sing unbidden (from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis).

Some days, even some seasons of life, like when young children are in the house, our Bible reading may be more like grabbing a quick protein bar instead of sitting down to a meal. There are many good reasons to read the Bible, and sometimes we’re greatly blessed from just reading a passage. While working on this post, I read Julia Bettencort’s great post about reading the Bible for pleasure. Some days our thoughts are already scattered, and focusing on and absorbing a single passage is more helpful than adding notes or references. But we also benefit from studying more in depth at times. Our study informs and enhances our general reading. It’s good to make time for both.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story,
Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Grace and Truth, Worth Beyond Rubies)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne and other friends at Living to Tell the Story .

This has been a fairly quiet week, with Jesse and I sick the first part of it. But I think we’re mostly better now. And here we are a full week into June already. It’s time to stop and consider the best parts of the week.

1. Sick days aren’t fun in themselves, but it’s nice to have an excuse to just lay around and read or putter on the computer. That may have contributed to the three book reviews I wrote this week. 🙂

2. My hydrangeas are going to town.

3. Scrabble tile magnets. I rediscovered these a few weeks ago when I cleaned out my pantry, but forgot to mention them. They were a gift from a while back that had gotten lost. I plan to change out the message from time to time.

4. Face Time. I know I have mentioned this before. But we enjoyed an extended FaceTime “visit” with my out-of-state oldest son. Then since we were sick last weekend, we’ve gone almost two weeks with seeing Jason, Mittu, and Timothy – a strain for this Grandma! But a FaceTime call helped span the gap.

5. Beautiful music. I looked up a couple of favorite classical pieces for reference in next Monday’s post (which isn’t actually about classical music itself – it’s about Bible study. :)) But I couldn’t just find the links and go – I had to listen to a couple all the way through. It’s been a long time since I listened to anything classical, and I was reminded how much I love some of it. I’m so glad for God’s gift of beautiful music in a variety of genres.

Happy Friday!

Book Review: The Returning

In the novel The Returning by Ann Tatlock, Andrea has loved her husband John since they were teenagers. She knew he did not love her and only married her because he had to after she became pregnant. But she hoped that his heart might change someday.

Now John has just been released from prison, where he spent the last five years after accidentally killing a man while driving drunk. Andrea is not sure how everything will work after the adjustments of the last few years.

Their youngest daughter, Phoebe, was just a baby when John left, so she doesn’t remember her father and is afraid of him. Teenage daughter Rebekah is angry and rebellious. Only their oldest son with Down Syndrome, Billy, seems genuinely happy to have John home.

John knows he has a lot to overcome. His brother-in-law gave him a low-paying job, but he needs to find something better. He needs to rebuild his relationships with his family. And he needs to tell them what happened to him in prison when he committed his life to Christ. His biggest need, though, he doesn’t even realize yet: he needs to get grounded in his faith and grow. When he succumbs to temptation again and again, he begins to wonder if Rebekah is right in her accusation that his faith was just “jailhouse religion.”

A friend went through this scenario with a husband returning home after several years in prison, though the details were different. Even with all parties wanting to heal and put the family back together again, they faced difficulties. I thought Ann showed this struggle tenderly and realistically within the framework of the Sheldon family’s circumstances.

Ann says in her acknowledgements page that Billy’s character was inspired by Down Syndrome actor Chis Burke. Chris and his mother read Ann’s manuscript and offered feedback. She also talked with local parents and others who work with people with Down Syndrome.

My only difficulty with this story is that Rebekah is into some pagan-ish, New Age-y practices along with her best friend. I don’t have a problem with this being in the story, as people do turn to these things (and, spoiler alert, Rebekah finds they give her no peace or answers). But I’ve found I am sensitive to this kind of thing, so when Rebekah was performing her rituals, I had to skim through those pages.

But overall, I enjoyed the story very much. I ached along with each character in their difficulties and rejoiced with them in their victories.

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday)

 

Book Review: Promises to Keep

In Ann Tatlock’s novel, Promises to Keep, eleven-year-old Roz Anthony has just moved with her mother, older half-brother, and younger sister to a small town in Illinois in the 1960s. Roz’s mother, Janis, was compelled to leave her abusive husband, and her father helped set her family up in a new home.

After just a few days, though, they found a stranger sitting on their porch, reading their newspaper. She was a rather large older woman named Tillie Monroe, and she said this was her house. She had helped build it with her own two hands along with her husband, and no matter what the paperwork said, it was her house. All she wanted was to die in her home, but she had fallen and broken her hip, and her kids whisked her away to a nursing home. But now she’s better, and she wants to live in her own home

About that time, Tillie’s son drives up, apologizes profusely, and takes his mother back to the nursing home.

But a few days later, Tillie is back on her . . . er, their porch. Janis invites her in for coffee. Another time Janis comes home to find Tillie cooking dinner for them.

This happens so often that Janis is relatively sure that Tillie is safe and invites her to stay. The relationship is mutually beneficial as Tillie watches the children and helps out around the house while Janis works.

While Roz adjusts well to all the changes and even provides a humorous narration, she misses her father. She tries to focus on the good memories, but the bad ones creep in. She feels if her father could just stay the good dad and leave off the Dr. Jekyll bad side, they could all be together again.

Meanwhile, Roz faces a new school with trepidation. But she finds a friend in a black girl named Mara. She soon learns that Mara has her own daddy issues, secrets, and dreams. They girls decide together to pray for their secret dreams.

Though the family was healing and readjusting after all they had been through, the first part of the book seemed lighthearted and fun as the family interacted with Tillie and as Roz observed and processed her world. One sub-plot line could have worked out for good or bad, and Ann reeled out the tension and information skillfully. The dramatic climax was a surprise to me — I was expecting something, but not what happened.

I’ve enjoyed all of Ann’s books that I’ve read so far, but this will be a favorite. Roz and Tillie are a couple of my favorite characters.

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday)

Book Review: How to Understand and Apply the New Testament

I had several reasons for getting How to Understand and Apply the New Testament by Andrew David Naselli. I very much enjoyed his book about the conscience. We attended the same church (though several years apart) in SC (in fact, I’m pretty sure I knew his wife and her parents when she was a little girl). He has respect for two men from that church whose exposition I trust more than anyone else’s. And the book I am writing discusses understanding and applying the Bible, among other things, so I wanted to use this book as a reference.

As I perused the table of contents and flipped through several pages, however, I wondered if perhaps I was in over my head. But I gleaned much that was beneficial for this average suburban homemaker. Even when the author used terms unfamiliar to me, he explained them in a way that was easy to understand.

Naselli starts by explaining the difference between exegesis — drawing the meaning out of the text — and eisegesis — reading meaning into a text. And of course we want to do the former: we want to understand what God said and meant in His Word, not project our own thoughts onto it.

Naselli then details several ways to exegete a text. First you have to consider the genre. For example, poetry has different characteristics from the law and prophecy, etc. Then he advocates comparing the manuscripts or copies of the original text, studying Greek grammar, and comparing translations. He shows different ways to trace the process of thought through a passage. He advocates studying any passage both in its historical and cultural context as well as its literary context (how it fits within the particular book of the Bible). He recommends word studies to help understand words and phrases in the text more clearly. Then he considers different theological aspects: biblical theology, how the passage relates to the Bible and its progression as a whole; historical theology, how Bible scholars have understood the passage through history; systematic theology, how a passage fits into the teaching of the rest of the Bible; and practical theology, how to apply the text to ourselves and others. He devotes a chapter to each of these topics. He doesn’t check all of these off as a list each time he studies, but they each factor into his study to varying degrees.

Admittedly, some of this is beyond many of us. Most Christians don’t study Greek or know how to navigate textual criticism (although he explains textual criticism very well). We rely on a good study Bible to help us out with some of these categories. Nevertheless, there were good points to consider in every chapter. And Naselli ends every chapter with a list of resources for further study and commentary on each one, like which he considers the best, which is more scholarly and which is more accessible, etc. And, as he notes in the chapter about Greek grammar, “at the very least, this chapter can help you better appreciate grammatical issues that interpreters wrestle with” (p. 82). That applies to some of these others issues as well and should motivate us to pray for our pastors, and for ourselves, as we study.

Though I have myriad places marked, one of my biggest takeaways from this book was what he calls argument diagram: not an argument as in a fight, but as in a debate: discerning the line of thought in a passage. We tend to read isolated passages rather than tracing the flow all through a given book and within particular passages. As he says:

The New Testament is not a list of unrelated bullet points. It’s not pearls on a string. No, the New Testament authors argue. They assert truths and support those truths with reasons and evidence. They attempt to persuade others to share their views. Their arguments are always profound and sometimes complex. Connectives such as but, therefore, and because can be hugely important to understanding what an author is arguing. Tracing the argument is not dull. It makes your heart sing” (p. 123).

The last thought he pulls from a letter of C. S. Lewis, in which Lewis speaks of studying

. . . the general drift of whole epistles: short passages, treated devotionally, are of course another matter. And yet the distinction is not, for me, quite a happy one. Devotion is best raised when we intend something else. At least that is my experience. Sit down to meditate devotionally on a single verse, and nothing happens. Hammer your way through a continued argument, just as you would in a profane writer, and the heart will sometimes sing unbidden (p. 123, from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis).

Naselli then explains and provides examples of several ways of tracing an argument through a passage: arcing, bracketing, and phrasing. I had never heard of any of these, but they all look beneficial. Phrasing appeals to me the most.

A few quotes that stood out to me:

The Bible doesn’t contradict itself. So a sound principle is that we should interpret less clear passages in light of more clear passages. We shouldn’t zoom in on just one text and interpret it without reference to the rest of the Bible. That’s what heretics do (p. 16).

Don’t view English Bible translations as a competition–in which you choose one as the best and then look down on the rest as inferior in quality. Good Bible translations are incredibly helpful resources, and English readers should benefit from more than one of them. It’s both-and, not either-or (p. 60).

Grammar matters because God chose to reveal himself to us with grammar (p. 82).

Sometimes a New Testament author may write a command to prevent an error rather than to counteract a present error. When you see a command or prohibition in a text, you shouldn’t automatically assume that this reflects a present problem in the church that the author addressed (p. 172).

The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it never gets old. You can read it every day and make connections that you hadn’t made before (or remind yourself of details and connections you had forgotten!). It’s a special book–a book like no other, a book God himself wrote. And we have the pleasure of reading it at this time of salvation history: Jesus the Messiah has come, and he is coming back to consummate his rule. So read every part of the Bible in light of the whole (p. 239).

Christ-centered teaching and preaching is not eisegesis. It’s exegesis that requires biblical theology. It doesn’t creatively make stuff up to imaginatively get to Jesus. It follows themes and trajectories that are right there in the text if God gives you eyes to see them. And when you do see them, you worship God for his wisdom. He breathed out Scripture through individual men who didn’t always understand every nuance of typological trajectories to which they were contributing. And the entire finished product brilliantly coheres (p. 238).

I have no patience for suggestions that preachers need to dumb it down. Preachers need to be clear, and they need to be able to explain things in understandable ways. But human beings do not need the Bible to be dumbed down. If you think that, what you really think is that God the Holy Spirit did not know what He was doing when He inspired the Bible to be the way it is. Not only does the suggestion that the Bible is more than God’s people can handle blaspheme God’s wisdom; it also blasphemes His image bearers. People are made in the image of God. Human beings are endowed with brains and sensibilities of astonishing capacity (p. 258, from a quote from James M. Hamilton Jr.’s Text Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every Sermon).

As you can surmise, this is not a cozy, warm fuzzy type of book. It’s more of a “gird up the loins of your mind” book. But that’s exactly what the Bible tells us to do. And, as the author quotes B. B. Warfield as saying, “pitting doctrine against devotion is a false dichotomy because God intends them to go together” (p. 9). He quotes Warfield further from “Spiritual Culture in Theological Seminary”:

I have heard it said that some men love theology more than they love God. Do not let it be possible to say that of you. Love theology, of course: but love theology for no other reason than that it is THEOLOGY–the knowledge of God–and because it is your meat and drink to know God, to know him truly, and as far as it is given to mortals, to know him whole (p. 10).

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday, Literary Musing Monday)

While we wait

No one enjoys waiting. Even if we’d prefer to put off something we’re not looking forward to, at some point we just want to get it over with. Sometimes waiting enhances the enjoyment of whatever we’re waiting for until it finally comes — cookies baking, marriage, an anticipated outing. Some waits are particular nerve-wracking and even traumatic: a response from a job application or a medical test. Waiting can make us feel impatient, unsettled, and strained.

Wait can be an active as well as a passive verb. A waiter serves others actively. One of the best ways to deal with waiting is to get busy about something else. If we’re serving others or accomplishing some task, we’re not only using our time profitably, but we’re also distracting our thoughts from our wait.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading in 1 Peter and was arrested by verse 7 in chapter 3: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” I’m thankful that all my Christian life, I have been under teaching that emphasizes reading whole chapters and whole books of the Bible rather than isolated verses. I made a list that day of all the things Peter went on to tell people to do and think about until “the end of all things” actually comes. Then today, looking back through all of 1 Peter, I realized “the end of all things” hearkens back to the “living hope” we were born again to “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:3-5).

Until that time, God has given us plenty to do – not just as a distraction, as busywork, but as that which must be done.

This isn’t a full exposition of 1 Peter, but here are some things I noticed we’re to do while we wait for that inheritance at the end of all things:

Remember:

Remember who you are in Christ if you are a believer: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (2:9).

Remember why you were called: “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (2:9-10). “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:5).

Remember your pilgrim status (1:17). 1 Peter 2:11 in the ESV calls us sojourners and exiles; the KJV says strangers and pilgrims.This world is not all there is. It’s not our final destination. We’re “just traveling through,” as the song says. We seek “a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” one God has prepared for them (Hebrews 11:16).

Adjust your thinking and actions:

Feed on God’s Word like babies take in milk (2:2-3). “The word of the Lord remains forever” though all else fails (1:24-25).

Endure tests and trials in a way that honors the Lord (1:6-9; 3:13-17; 4:1-2). He allows them to test and refine us or for other reasons. Remember how Christ suffered unjustly, without threatening, sinning, or reviling, “entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (2:19-25; 3:18). Don’t be surprised at suffering, but glorify God in it and rejoice. “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (4:12-19). Know that you are not alone: others are suffering, too (5:9).And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (5:10-11).

Be holy (1:14-16, 22; 3:10-12, 16-17; 4:3-5). Remember you were delivered from the “passions of your former ignorance” (1:14) and redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ (1:18-20, 23; 2:4-8). “Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (2:1). “As sojourners and exiles . . . abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (2:11-12).

Be sober minded and alert (1:13, 17; 4:7; 5:8). That doesn’t mean you can never laugh or rest. But the tenor of our lives isn’t that of goof-offs. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (5:8-9a).

Hope (1:13). “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Biblical hope isn’t iffy: it’s a confident expectation.

Have a humble mind (3:8; 5:5-6).

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (5:7).

Rejoice in the inheritance waiting for you (1:6). “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1:8).

Interact with others in these ways:

Love others above everything else, sincerely, earnestly, and continually, from a pure heart,  (1:22; 3:8-9; 4:8).

Submit to God-given authorities (2:13-18; 5:5) unless they tell you to violate the commands of God (Acts 4:18-20).

Honor each other in marriage, the wife submitting to her husband and working on “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” rather that giving undue attention to outward beauty, the husband honoring and protecting his wife (3:1-7).

Don’t retaliate. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (3:9; 2:19-25).

Be ready to answer. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (3:15).

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (4:7).

Use the gifts God gave you (4:10-11) “to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace,” by His strength, for His glory. Especially shepherds (5:1-5)

“This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it” (1 Peter 5:12b).

All of this instruction is given to believers in Christ. Others passages warn unbelievers not to be so caught up with life’s pleasures and problems that they neglect to think about their need of a Savior now and in eternity and urge them to believe on Christ while there is still time. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21).

___

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday,
Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Grace and Truth)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some good reads I’ve discovered recently:

Why Study the Old Testament? “Since the NT speaks directly to believers today and since the OT speaks directly to Jewish people many years ago, is the OT now irrelevant and obsolete? The answer to this question is a resounding ‘no.’ But why?”

How Cancer Healed My Dad, HT to Challies. “He endured months of aggressive treatment that made him feel horrendous, only to be told after each scan that he hadn’t responded to it and the cancer had spread further. He developed infections and bowel obstructions which hospitalised him at times, and when he was at home he spent most of his days on the sofa. But curiously, he described it all as the best year of his life.”

Can We Finally Break the Silence Around Tamar? “When we tell Tamar’s story aloud, we dignify her grief. And we begin to become for our sisters the advocates Tamar should have had.”

How an Internet Mob Falsely Painted a Chipotle Employee as Racist, HT to Challies. This kind of thing has to stop. People shouldn’t automatically believe what they see on the Internet and then pass it on without confirming it.

You Never Know, HT to Maree. Speaking of misjudgment – this is one mom’s scenario of what was going on behind a situation where she could easily have been misjudged.

Karen Swallow Prior, author of Fierce Convictions about Hannah Moore, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (both linked to my reviews), and On Reading Well (on my To be Read stack) was hit by a bus a little over a year ago. She has shared some enlightening reflections on the accident and her recovery in a couple of places:

The Role of the Body in Healing After Trauma. This was especially helpful to me, as some of her experiences paralleled mine after Transverse Myelitis. Though TM was traumatic in itself at the time, I hadn’t considered that I needed to recover from the trauma as well as the illness.

Sin is Like Getting Hit By a Bus.

Friday’s Fave Five


It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne and other friends at Living to Tell the Story .

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of May already! I love these weekly opportunities to stop for a few moments and reflect on the good happenings in the week. It makes enjoyment of them last a little bit longer instead of fading away so quickly.

1. A fun celebratory dinner. I mentioned earlier that Jesse, my youngest, didn’t want any hoopla when he got his degree online – he felt he’d had all that when he got his associate’s degree a few years ago. But we did celebrate with a nice dinner out at a Japanese hibachi restaurant, where the chefs cook food in an entertaining manner right at your table. It’s become something of an unofficial tradition that we celebrate graduations at such a restaurant. Timothy had never been to one and was old enough now to enjoy it as well. The food was delicious and our chef was great. The only negative was that Mittu’s gluten-free plate had absolutely no seasonings or sauces at all. She ended up taking it home for a stir-fry the next day.

2. A long weekend. It was nice to have an extra day off, and we’re thankful for the service and sacrifice of those who made such days possible.

3. Timothy’s first fishing trip. My husband took our grandson fishing for the first time on Memorial Day. I didn’t go – I had shopping and cooking to do for the cookout later in the day. But I enjoyed the stories, pictures, and videos later. Timothy caught on quickly and caught the only fish that day!

4. Jesse’s first job interview — not the first one ever, but the first professional one since getting his degree. Unfortunately they didn’t have immediate openings, but said they might in a few weeks. And a plus for this mom: it’s close by!

5. A new card file. I used to buy extra cards and keep them in an accordion file for when they were needed. Since I make many cards now as events come up, I didn’t need quite so much storage space. Plus, the last accordion file I got was bulky and hard to deal with. I was glad to find this compact and sturdy box, which works much better. The only thing that would make it even better is a handle. I passed the accordion file off to my husband, who uses that type for his paid bill storage system.

We’re probably laying low this weekend as Jesse and I both have colds – his much worse than mine. Hopefully time and rest will head them off.

Happy Friday!

End-of-May Musings

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Here in TN, May begins with spring and ends with summer. Even though summer doesn’t officially begin for a few weeks yet, we’ve had temperatures in the 90s, AC struggling to keep up, and sweat. And those temperatures will continue to climb, so for now I’ll appreciate that the mornings and evenings are still pleasant enough to sit outside for a while.

Family and events

We’ve had a couple of celebrations this month. Mother’s Day is fun as my family works together to make Sunday lunch. Then my youngest completed his Bachelor’s degree. When he got his associate’s degree a few years ago, he walked for commencement and we had a small party. He took classes online this time, didn’t want all the hoopla again, and didn’t want to drive to VA to walk. But once he had his actual degree in hand, we went out for a special dinner (more on that in tomorrow’s Friday Fave Fives.)

We also had a fun but all too short reunion with most of my extended family. One of my sisters in TX had to travel to SC for business, not too far from where two of my other sisters live. So she decided to rent a car and stay the weekend and visit them. We agreed to meet in Asheville, NC, for lunch one Saturday with all of mine except my oldest son. Then my stepfather, nephew, and youngest sister decided to fly over for a visit as well. It was such a fun time. Maybe next time we can get all six siblings together.

This May had some sad moments as well. Mother’s Day and my mother’s May birthday are tender moments since my mom’s passing 14 years ago. Though unexpected waves of grief don’t come quite as often as they did the first year, they still come. Mostly I have a few moments of quiet remembrance and appreciation on those days. This Mother’s Day, a lady I called my second mom or spiritual mom passed away. I knew she was declining, but I don’t think I realized her health was quite as poor as it was. She didn’t write much about her physical condition. So when I heard she was ailing, it came as quite a surprise to me. I had been thinking of writing her for the previous few of weeks, but kept putting it off since I always send a letter with her Mother’s Day card. But it was too late by then. I’m reminded again not to set those inclinations aside. And I am happy for good memories.

Making

The only card I made this month was for my daughter-in-law for Mother’s Day from a Cricut design:

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Watching

My main other out-of-the-ordinary activity this month has been catching up on a few Marvel comics movies in order to see Avengers: Endgame. My youngest son watched Avengers: Infinity War and Spiderman: Homecoming with me at home, then we saw Captain Marvel and Endgame in theaters. So good, if you’re into that kind of thing! My only complaint was a bit more bad language than I remember the earlier movies having. Grr! This was also my first experience with our newly revamped theater, with recliners, menus, and waiters!

Most of what we watch on TV is off for the summer, but we usually enjoy America’s Got Talent, which began this week (although even with that you have to have the remote handy occasionally).

Writing

I finally got back into the book I am writing. I had mentioned before that I had completed the first draft, but needed to go back and do some heavy editing. The first chapter was going to be the biggest challenge, as I needed to reshape a lot there and wasn’t quite sure the best way to go about it. But I had a couple of good sessions with it this week, and I think (hope) I am over the hurdle of the worst part (of that chapter, at least). Editing seems harder for me than just typing whatever’s in my head or notes, but it’s rewarding to see it come together better.

Reading

As always, reading is a big part of every month. I’ve completed:

A Room of My Own by Ann Tatlock. A young girl’s coming of age during the Depression. Very good.

Travelers Rest, also by Ann Tatlock. A young man is paralyzed while in the military and wants to end his engagement, but his fiance still loves him. This didn’t end the way I thought it would, but it was quite good.

All the Way Home, again by Ann Tatlock. Are you seeing something of a pattern here? 🙂 I had enjoyed her I’ll Watch the Moon so much last month that I started reading all her books that I had collected through Kindle sales. This one involves two girls in the 1930s, one from a dysfunctional Irish family and one from a Japanese-American family, who become fast friends until the Japanese are sent to internment camps during WW2. Excellent.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, the comic misadventures of members of a gentlemen’s club. While this is not my favorite of his books, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

I just finished How to Understand and Apply the New Testament by Andrew David Naselli, so I’ll have a review up next week. I’m currently reading:

  • Close to Home by Deborah Raney
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Returning by Ann Tatlock
  • Loving People: How to Love and Be Loved by John Townsend

Blogging

Around the blog, I share five favorite parts of each week on the Friday’s Fave Fives, and I share interesting links via Laudable Linkage on a few Saturdays a month – just however often I gather enough for a list. Elsewhere on the blog this month, I’ve shared thoughts on:

  • Trusting or Grasping. Even as I am ostensibly trusting God to meet my needs, sometimes I feel compelled to manipulate events to “help” Him out.
  • The Joys and Pains of Mother’s Day. I enjoy the holiday, but for some it is painful.
  • Recapture Your Wonder. Sometimes we can get into a rut with our Bible reading and prayer time and take God for granted. These thought help me get back to that awe that we should have towards God. This was one of my favorite posts to write, and I’m sure I’ll need to reread it many times in the future.
  • When the Lines Aren’t Clear. God is very specific about some things, but not others. How we handle those others reveals our heart.

A question for you

I started doing these monthly recaps because I enjoy reading others’ recaps and because Shannan and Linda invite us to link end-of-month posts and because I missed the What’s On Your Nightstand link-ups 5 Minutes for Books used to host. I really enjoy doing them, but I wonder how beneficial they are to you. Would you mind letting me know if you enjoy reading them or if you think they are too redundant? I’m not just fishing for comments – I’d really like to know if you like reading these or if you pass them by.

I hope you’ve had a good May. On to June!

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)