Bookshelf – How to Buy a Love of Reading

51q1ZdQ0YGL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Why does a book catch your eye?

Cover? Title? Author? Recommendation? Placement on the shelf?

I can’t explain why I picked this one up at the library.  All of the above except a recommendation.  This was placed prominently on a library shelf on my way to the check out station so I grabbed it.  I had never heard of Tanya Egan Gibson.  Not surprising since this is her first novel.

I’m still struggling to put into words what the story was about or what I think about it.  The gist of the story is a wealthy family in an exclusive suburb in New York (new money which means they are looked down on by the old money families – think Kennedys) who are planning the sixteenth birthday party of their only daughter.  The father made his money creating some sort of fantastic bra and is obsessed with, well, breasts.  The mother came from old money but was disowned when she married her salesman husband so clawing herself back up into the upper echelons of “society” is very important to her.  So important that her daughter is a disgrace to her.  Carley, said daughter, suffers from acne and is overweight.  Two unforgivable sins in this culture.  Gretchen, the mother, is constantly trying to outdo the other moms while at the same time actually trying to convince Carley she should get an eating disorder “just for a while” so that she can fit into a more respectable size.  (Gretchen is a size 00).

Unfortunately Carley is also not exact a brilliant student either which is yet another source of horror to her mother.  Carley hates reading; hates literature of any kind.  So, her mother decides that for her Sweet Sixteen she is going to “buy” her daughter a love of reading.  In other words, she would find an author to accept a commission, come live with them for several months and write a novel with Carley’s input that Carley would like.

There are so many sub-plots.  The characters are not hard to keep track of; but the plot is. My overall sense was that the novel is very satirical.  She entwines (sometimes not very well) teen addiction, eating disorders, uber-wealth, sex, adultery, The Great Gatsby, the publishing industry, the television industry, reality television and, not surprisingly, true love or the lack of it.  The novel ended as it only could but I won’t give a spoiler here.

I struggle to give it a rating.  I did like it, in the sense that it inspired enough interest in me to want to read what happened next but the ending left me feeling ambivalent.  She spent a long time on denouement, almost too long since the ending was predictable.  So, in effect, the climax was anti-climactic.

I suppose if forced I would give it 2 1/2 stars.  Good enough that I didn’t feel my time was wasted but not so good that I felt I came away with anything lasting.  I honestly can’t figure out if it was actually really deep or really shallow.

So again, I ask, what makes you pick up a book?

Wick Trimming

Autumn brings candles.  Mmmm, candles*.  Those who love candles know that you need to trim the wicks unless you want a plume of black smoke to burst straight into the air once the flame catches.

As I lit a candle the other day, I noticed that the wick needed trimming, but I ignored it.  I even told myself in my head that the wick needed trimming, but I didn’t get the scissors and do it.  That got me thinking: what other areas in my life need trimming?  What am I ignoring because I don’t have time, I’m too lazy or I’m too attached to it to trim?

I’ve done a pretty good job at wick trimming in this past year in my outward life.  I have stepped back from some really draining responsibilities that left me empty and my family disgruntled.  I also believed God has blessed my stepping back and has given me a season of rest in order to re-prioritize things in my life and contemplate where our family is headed.  I’ve trimmed the wicks of outside responsibilities so I can focus more on inward things.  The whole family has done this to some extent.  We are slowing adding some things back in, but only those things we love and feel called to do.

However, my inward life continues to need some wick trimming.  There are a few little things I can think of.

Right now one wick that needs attention is my bedtime routine wick.  I get a second wind around 9 pm and, though my day is done and I should head up to bed around this time, I find other things to do.  Growing up, I was a night owl and I have regressed back into those tendencies.  When I do finally put myself to bed it’s usually gone past 11.  I set my phone alarm.  Well, confession, I set four alarms on my phone with drill sergeant messages (which I don’t read).  I ignore all of them.  I fall back asleep and get up groggy and grumpy – not a pretty sight.  I need to trim staying up late regularly so that I can get up earlier in the morning.  I want to be a morning person, I really do.  For a season of my life I was and I loved it.  Especially this time of year when the air is so beautifully crisp and the sunrises take your breath away.  I want to spend time contemplating, praying, listening to God and watching creation come alive – with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands.

Another wick I need to trim is my procrastination streak.  I want to live intentionally so that means streamlining things like housework and meal preparation.  I have taken steps towards this, but I’m always one step forward and two steps back.  I have committed to once a month cooking through a subscription service through Once a Month Meals and it is going well and I’ve recently completed another marathon cooking day.  We’ve eaten and liked every meal but one which mixes BBQ sauce with pasta and cheese.  Why not just use tomato or alfredo sauce?  I didn’t get that one.  The melding of flavors didn’t, well, meld.

But housework…ah…housework.  Let’s just say I love it when things are clean and tidy, I just don’t do well at actually getting it done.  I procrastinate.  Like now.  I should be cleaning my bathrooms but it’s more fun to blog about not doing it.  I do have a chore scheduled for each day (for today it’s CLEAN BATHROOMS) but I find that my rebellious streak not only extends towards others, but towards myself.  I get some sort of guilty pleasure out of ignoring my own lists.  A familiar theme, as in, ignoring my morning alarms.  Is rebellion the root of procrastination?  Possibly, but that’s another post. Can you wait while I write that down on my blog idea list?   Oddly enough I don’t rebel against my blog idea list.

A friendship needs trimming.  I’ve begun that process but it is hard because, well, it just is.  I know there are necessary endings but I don’t want to get this wrong.  My desire is not to burn bridges so I have to be careful how I trim and not allow the smoke in my eyes (hurt feelings and rejection) to blind me so that I trim so much I can’t find that wick when or if the relationship can be redeemed.

Trimming wicks.  Inwardly and outwardly.  A candle is a beautiful and relaxing thing, but it can blow ugly black smoke into our faces if we don’t trim the wicks.

What parts of your life are blowing ugly black smoke into your face or into others’ faces because you’ve got some trimming to do?  Some decisions you must make?  Some activities you must cut?

As an aside: Yankee Candle makes a scent called Turkey Stuffing.  Forgive me, but wouldn’t that get a bit old?  Who wants to smell turkey stuffing day in and day out for weeks?  I love the smell of a turkey roasting over the holidays, but geez, isn’t this going a bit too far?  Unless, it’s for vegetarians…. but then, wouldn’t it make you want leave your Tofurkey on the table and go to the nearest buffet?

Bookshelf – Desperate

41qCbGQbKdL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Since they use a rating system on Good Reads, I suppose I will continue with it.  This is a 5 star one right here, baby.  I really enjoyed this book.  I have read Sarah Mae’s blog for some time now and have two of her ebooks.  She lives not too far from me in Central PA.  I recently also completed reading Educating the Whole Hearted Child by the Clarksons.  How come no one recommended it to me years ago??

Anyhow, this book is written by both ladies following the Titus 2 model of mature women coming alongside young women and helping through their journey, particularly motherhood.  I knew much of Sarah’s back story but it was refreshing to read again about her struggles and her journey to the other side.  I found myself vacillating between both of them since I have an almost adult and a first grader.  There are many things yet to learn and also many things I can give to younger mothers.

I will admit I do find their relationship enviable.  I feel mentors are so hard to find because we are all so busy, busy, busy.  But, are we really too busy or are we just too scared to let people know that we don’t have it all together either, or that we didn’t have it all together?  I know that I and my family would have benefited from a strong mentor relationship if I had only been willing to be vulnerable and admit my many failings.

I would recommend this books for women across the age spectrum.  My only regret is that I read through it alone and not in a community of women.  Perhaps, though, that is yet to come.

Morning Colloqu–what??

It’s Morning Colloquy (kŏl’ə-kwē) and I first came across this unusual sounding word on a blog called Permanent Things…resisting the tyranny of the Urgent.  I was researching Sabbath Schooling and one blog, led to another blog which led to another blog…you get the idea.

Fortunately, she had a link to a blog post about the topic specifically so that I could read what it was exactly.  You can click on the link below to read her post.  I have found many of her writings refreshing and thought provoking.

Colloquy – (from Latin colloquium: con– [together] + loqui [speak]); meaning “discussion” or “conversation”

I found this intriguing.  I had been having trouble getting my first grader to unplug from his plans in the morning to getting schoolwork done.  I know that no other homeschool mom has trouble getting her kiddos into school mode <wink, wink> but I do.  So, I thought why not give this a try?

No matter how late our morning runs, we always do our Morning Colloquy before anything else.  It didn’t take him long to catch on.  The word Colloquy didn’t scared him as much as it scared me.

We start with doing our memory work.  We use Classical Conversations memory work, but we’re doing Cycle One which coordinates more of our study of history right now.  After our memory work, we work on his AWANA verses.  He adores AWANA and it fits perfectly with our Colloquy because we can have discussions about the verses or the stories.  Then we move onto a story.  We snuggle up on the couch and read.  Right now we are reading from Crystal Pool: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean.  He loves this time as well.  We spend time talking about how a lot of the ancient people had their own “creation” stories and how it differs or is similar to the one we believe in the Bible.

After this it’s very easy to transition to schoolwork. I think our Morning Colloquy may change over the years but I’m hooked and I’m so grateful to Angelina in Lousiana for posting it on a blog that ended up on my screen when I needed it most.  See??  Divine Appointment via computers.

To read Angelina’s blog, click below.  Then hop away around her blog or to others.  Enjoy your Morning Colloquy!

Permanent Things

Bookshelf – Praying In Color

4112qIumZEL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_This. Book. Is. Wow!

It’s not a big book and nor is it bulky with theology.  It’s simply a new way to connect with God.  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with prayer.  I have several friends who can pray like nobodies business.  Both in front of people and in their prayer closets.  I actually don’t have too much trouble praying in front of others because I know the things to say.  It’s the praying in private that I struggle with.  I have a particular friend who is spiritually gifted in the area of intercession.  She prays for God to burden her with the burdens of those she should pray for.  Wow!  I admire her for that and I’m so grateful when she is burdened for me.

But, my prayer life?   Well, I make my list (which takes forever because I’m trying to think what should be on the list & how to word it) then I try to go through the list.  My mind wanders.  I think about my to-do list, not my to-pray list.  I look out the window and think about the weather.  I think about whether the load of laundry needs rescued from the dryer or needs to be washed again because the mildew has set in.  I think about the crack in the ceiling…oops I’m supposed to have my head bowed.  I think about the dirt under my fingernails.  It goes on and on.  I can’t stay focused.  I doodle on my list.

I’ve also tried praying before I go to bed, but that ends up in sleep.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to fall asleep praying.  I’d like to think God looks at me as I would my own children surrendering to sleep in my arms.  However, I don’t think it should be the only time I pray.  In fact, I know it shouldn’t.

There are books that are recommended to you by other people.  There are books assigned to you.  There are books that you choose depending on your mood at the time.  Then, there are books that you understand you’ve been directed to by the Divine.

I didn’t go looking for this book, it found me.  It was a Divine appointment because it was such a breath of fresh air for me.

It is precisely because my mind wanders and because I’m a natural doodler that this book found me.  It showed me that just because praying off a list is tedious for me, prayer is not elusive.  I can use my doodling as a prayer outlet.  When I need to pray for my daughter as she’s selecting a college, I can write her name and doodle away all around it weaving color around her name and names of the colleges and the choices she must make; keeping my hands busy and so my mind can focus on the praying.  It also allows me to open my heart when I have nothing to write and no words form, just color and shape.  This frees up the Spirit to pray for me. Romans 8:26

You don’t need to be an artist to pray this way.  In fact, I would think being an artist might be a limitation because an artist may look at their color prayers too critically.  I know I’m not great at drawing so I’m less likely to notice if the heart I’ve drawn is more bloated on one side than the other.  I’m not good at perspective either, but that’s okay because it’s God’s perspective I’m after.

If I’m rating this book gets a 5++++++++++++++ from me because I love my new artists’ sketchpad and markers and the prayers I’m creating.

Why WhiteNoise?

I started out in the blogging world with a blog entitled “Blogger Come Lately”.  It was a take on Johnny-Come-Lately because I didn’t come to blogging until after the boat had sailed.  It took me a while to catch up to this social media phenomenon.  I’d been reading blogs for some time but found that I would spend hours hopping from blog to blog and waste an entire day.  The blogosphere can be a huge black hole.

When I returned to blogging with a different focus and understood the black hole it is, I knew in all likelihood it would get lost among so many other blogs.  Blogs that help you save money.  Blogs that have giveaways (which I would like to do someday).  Blogs that teach you a Spiritual Truth.  Blogs that encourage you.  Blogs that chronicle life in spite of a disease.  Blogs that tell you how to fix a car.  Blogs that tell you how to make your own laundry soap.  Blogs that teach you how to cook.  Blogs that review new techno gadgets.  Blogs that show you gorgeous photography.  Blogs that….you get the idea.  You can Google anything and in the entries blogs will appear.  Blogs are everywhere.  So, Blogger Come Lately, while catchy, didn’t fit the reality of the blogging world.  Which meant choosing a different name.

I finally chose WhiteNoise because that’s what it is.  It’s just indistinguishable noise on the spectral scale of the blogosphere.

But I’m ever so grateful you read it sometimes.

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

Bookshelf – I Thought it was Just Me

418oxEvpOtL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_I Thought it was Just Me by Brene Brown was gleaned from yet another blog reading list I found at the beginning of summer.  If I were to give it a rating on a five star scale – 1 being hated it (as in this book) and 5 being loved it (as in this book), I would rate this one a 3.5.

A lot of this content is not new.  Reading from a non-religious standpoint was good for me.  Living in our culture makes us compare everything with everyone else, from our best friend to a random lady getting groceries.  Don’t even pretend that you haven’t looked at someone in sweats at the store and not felt yourself superior, even if by being superior I mean that you happen to have had the culture to wear yoga pants.

Shame, that’s what this book is about.  Not guilt over wrong actions which is good and healthy and mostly missing from society today, but shame over who God created us to be.

I never realized how much shame I carry from my past and my now; shame inflicted by others and inflicted on myself.  I feel shame all over the place.  We all have our “shame stories” as Ms. Brown calls them.  She’s spent the better part of her career studying shame.  Who even thinks about studying shame?  But, as she so aptly points out, shame is at the root of most of our perception problems with ourselves.  Generations of shame heaped upon shame heaped upon shame.

Can we just get over ourselves already?  Can we just BE?  It isn’t hard, but it’s paralyzingly frightening.  There’s this person who used to be a friend.  I use the term “used to be” because our relationship is complicated and I wouldn’t categorize it as a friendship at this point in our timelines.  I suspect it’s because I’m too real and she’s spent too much time cultivating an aura of perfection around her that I disappoint or embarrass her (perhaps I scare her a bit).  She once told me that although I understand the why of who I am, I never do anything to change who I am.  What?!?  This comment was meant to shame me and shame me it did!  No human knows my faults more than I do.  I am a work in progress.  I haven’t perfected myself yet (here’s a clue: none of us ever will).  Alas, I’m not a perfect enough friend for this gal and it was during the reading of this book that I came to the conclusion that this is okay.

I’d rather be my imperfect self than a fake, perfected non-self.