Monday, August 22, 2011

Thailand Trip Report

t’s finally written and can be found here: http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/93388

Enjoy! Please leave comments; I live for your witty commentary.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beautiful Lives

There is something really special about having a window into the lives of people who are following after God and living according to his will. Our God is no cookie cutter; he has designed each person to contribute to his kingdom in their own unique ways and so each story of purpose plays out a bit differently. Despite this variance in application, every story of purpose evidences the joy and peace of being in alignment with the Creator. 

I am blessed; I have the pleasure of counting among my acquaintances several people who are earnestly following after Christ and making something beautiful of their lives in partnership with God. Particularly on my mind this week are a couple we’ve known for a handful of years who recently welcomed a new baby into their family. With one brilliant, well-behaved, and sweet natured child born to them already, they’ve managed to make parenthood look effortless and fun. The same beauty and moving in step with God can be seen when I view the experiences of my gifted artist and musician friends; their lives are inspiring and brimming with talent and joy.  These stories of precisely *how* God is working in my friends’ lives are very different from my own story.  At times it is tempting for me to peer through my little window into their beautiful lives and long for their stories; for that sort of happy parenthood for Jonathan and myself or for the artist’s eye for capturing beauty with canvas or instrument. But I know, realistically, that our story of children would play out differently (and likely more chaotically), and any attempt to write my life into a story of a fine artist would be laughable. I have my own story and it too is joyful, purposeful, and lovely.

I take great pleasure in introspecting on the ways God uses each of us so differently, crafting beautiful lives with us in the process. It stirs similar feelings within me to when I view a majestic mountain or the seemingly endless ocean from shore. God is amazing; his work in the world, both in nature and in the lives of those around us, is ever present and evident. Are you looking for it? Do you see it?

Summer Reading Review

 

I’ve continued my journey through the classics over the past month, with a slight detour through modern fiction.

 

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Currently reading; barely into chapter three but so for the regurgitation of hedonism is a bit sickening.

     

  • One of Our Thursdays Is Missing 
  • Rating: Four Stars

    Started reading Jasper Fforde’s latest novel in the Thursday Next series and realized I’d forgotten a lot of details from the preceding four novels (The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten). So I put down OnOTIM and picked up The Eyre Affair and read through it and the three others before diving back into OnOTIM. I really love this series (along with Fforde’s other series- the Nursery Crimes) and the latest addition did not disappoint. I did feel however that the ending was compacted and rushed compared to the pace of the rest of the novel. My husband also enjoys this fantasy series so I’d say the appeal is definitely cross gender. It’s got everything to love: romance, drama, action, mystery, time travel, sarcasm and dry wit.

     

  • My Antonia
  • Rating: Five Stars

    Willa Cather’s historical love story is beautiful. Her gift with descriptive text is unmatched; I was able to pull myself easily into the Nebraskan landscape she gloriously describes. My favorite excerpts below:

    “She threw her arms around me, and her dear face was all wet with tears. I stood watching their white dresses glimmer smaller and smaller down the sidewalk as they went away. I have had no other success that pulled at my heartstrings like that one.”

    “The windy springs and the blazing summers, one after another, had enriched and mellowed that flat tableland; all the human effort that had gone into it was coming back in long, sweeping lines of fertility.”

    “If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.”

     

  • War of the Worlds
  • Rating: Two Stars

    Very short novel that didn’t convey any deep meaning or instill deep identification or sympathy with the characters. Forgettable.

     

  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Rating: Four Stars

    I would have rated Dickens’ classic novel with five stars if it weren’t for his style in use of language. Something about the way he wrote causes difficulty in reading comprehension; I often found myself rereading sentences or paragraphs to discern what was happening in the scene or what the characters were trying to convey with their speech. Aside from the language style, the novel holds up brilliantly on all other aspects to be judged. The characters are strongly developed, the descriptive narrative paints the picture of scene well, and the plot is engaging. It’s also a happy bonus for me when the story teaches a moral lesson in parallel with the narrative unfolding and that is just what AToTC accomplishes. It speaks volumes on revenge, mob rule and sacrificial love.

     

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven
  • Rating: Two Stars

    The quality of writing in this novel is sophomoric and it shows in the dialogue and the descriptive text. Might be a good simple read for children but there are much better novels for adult consumption.