31 July 2012

Chronicles Concluded...sort of...

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge

   Well, I didn't finish the whole series. I really thought that since it was a series, and since I read so fast anyway, it wouldn't be a problem at all to crank out oh say...a book a day. In theory this was actually very true, but something came up, you see.  I'd say I regret not finishing, but it just really wouldn't be true. I'm of course going to go ahead and finish the books, but not in the time I thought I would. I did get to The Magician's Nephew (reading non chronologically). So, it's not really the worst I could have done. I could have reached The Magician's Nephew reading chronologically. Hahaha...I don't even think I could blame my overfull heart for that.

   Also, late night phone conversations for three days in a row, regardless of how wonderful the person on the other end is, is bad for the brain. Do you know this? I did, theoretically. I have tried it out for myself, however, and I can guarantee that it's true. SO, I am going to do Mr. Lewis a favor and NOT attempt to review any of his wonderful wonderful Narnia tales, while my brain is in such a tizzy.

   Hopefully in the upcoming weeks I'll be less twitterpated and able to think about what I'm reading. Lies. I hope I'm never less twitterpated, but I DO hope I'll be able to think clearly about what I'm reading. Anyway, Carrie, as always it was fun. Can't wait to half participate in more of your challenges!

05 July 2012

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris (Part 2)

   A while ago I posted about what Joshua Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye isn’t about. Now, I’d like to take a minute and tell you what it is about. This is mainly for those who haven’t read it, but if it’s been a while, this review might be worthwhile to you. 

   I Kissed Dating Goodbye is about submitting yourself (particularly in your romantic relationships) to God and His will. Yep, it’s true. In spite of what you may have heard, that is basically what it is about. 

   Mr. Harris has been quoted in the past saying that he could have named the book, “I Kissed Short Term Premature Selfish Directionless Romantic Relationships Goodbye” but that would be too long of a title. His point is not (as I’ve already made clear) “dating is bad.” His point is that God has a plan that includes who will we marry (or IF we will marry) and we don’t need to act in fear that maybe God has forgotten us. We don’t need to pursue short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships in hopes that we might one day turn up lucky. We can find contentment in our singleness and eventually move toward marriage with someone without breaking hearts along the way.

   Now I brought up the fact last week that the book was written mainly to the very young. Mr. Harris constantly questions the wisdom of intimacy before being ready to commit. This does not mean that it has nothing to say to older singles. (Am I allowed to call myself an “older single”?) In fact, I was so surprised at how much I got out of my rereading. 

   I found the parts that deal with utilizing your time of singleness instead of getting impatient and just dating someone because you can really spoke to me. There are just things one can do as a single person, that are harder to do as a married person. And I’m not just talking about getting to stay up later and getting away with eating ice cream and cheez-its for dinner (as fun as both of those may be). You can be fully devoted to improving your walk with God and be an asset to your church and community. I’m being careful here because obviously there are married men and women who are fully devoted to improving their walk with God and are major assets to their church and community. But when you are married you have responsibilities to your spouse, and to your children if God has blessed you in this way. They are wonderful and joyful responsibilities, but they are responsibilities. Single people have a more open schedule and can be more accommodating to the needs of their church and community. I’m actually reading Nancy Wilson’s Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married: And Other Useful Comments and I just finished a chapter where she outlines all the opportunities for single (women in particular, but men too) people. Mr. Harris points out that dating (in the way he is defining it) could distract us from these opportunities.

    Not that singleness is always a fun walk in the park. I’ve entered a season of peace with it, but ask me in another year and I may have a different answer for you. Sometimes it’s a real trial and struggle. But the bible talks about struggle quite a bit and there is always a reason for it. God loves us and His love often takes the form of loving us into loveliness. This often means change. The change often involves pain and trial and hardship. Singleness for those who don’t feel like they’ve been called to be single can be one of those very ways God is changing you and teaching you. Mr. Harris thinks that avoiding this process by entering those short term premature selfish directionless romantic relationships, can be harmful. 

   I also found applicable the section where Mr. Harris talks about how we need to be on the lookout for each other. We need to be guarding our hearts and being sure not to mess about with the hearts of others. Now, I’ve heard many people (Mr. Harris included) talking about people who have taken this to an extreme. They cite examples where the young people are so worried about guarding each other’s hearts, that they don’t speak to each other. Ok, that’s a problem. But I’ve been on the other side of the problem, and let me tell you, I almost wish the other person in question had chosen to not talk to me at all rather than pursue a pseudo more-than-friends-relationship that ended up stealing a lot of my peace and my contentment with what God has for me right now. I’m not advocating the genders never interact, but I am advocating wisdom in our dealings with one another, keeping in mind that women and men think, act, and speak differently. I think Mr. Harris would agree.  

   Now, Mr. Harris says at the end of the book, ““The Bible doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all-program for moving from friendship to marriage. Our lives are too different, our circumstances too unique, and our God too creative to have only one formula for romance.”[1] But ultimately, I leave you with a question. How is dating working for you? Have you fled temptation, guarded your heart, kept yourself accountable with spiritual mentors, continued your walk with the spirit, and are working towards a God-honoring marriage with another person? Then GREAT! You just described what Mr. Harris has been describing all along. You just call it by a different name. But if you have found yourself compromising your purity, testing the limits of “how far you can go,” avoiding godly counsel, and just stringing someone along or know you are being strung along, perhaps it’s time to get out of the game, and re-think what you are playing.

[1] Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Books, 1997), page 205

03 July 2012

The Great Narnia Adventure

   If you read this blog, you may be slightly aware that I am reading everything of C.S. Lewis. Ever. (A commenter pointed out that in order to do this I'd have to read sections of the OED, but don't confuse me with the facts, people!) You might know that I have this blog with my friend Libby where we discuss Lewis's A Problem of Pain, and you will NOW know that I am joining this challenge with my friend, Carrie.

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge

   I'm so very very excited because I will be rereading The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time since my baby sister (?)...brother (?) was five. (For the record, I do know the gender of my younger siblings, but my mom read them aloud to us when each kid turned five and I'm not sure she did it for the last kid.....our poor caboose!) So, that is more years ago than I care to say, but it's definitely been too long.

   I also have been thinking this whole time that I was just planning on reading the series and that would be my participation in the Narnia Reading Challenge, but what if I wanted MORE? I mean, at the rate I read I could very well finish the series in the first part of the month and then I'd have two weeks of watching other people in the Reading to Know crowd do other cool Narnia stuff while I did nothing. So, I will give this a little more thought, and I might come up with more ideas of how to participate.

   And if you needed any FURTHER reasons as to why I'm so excited, the Reading to Know 2012 book club selection for July is any Narnia book! It all works perfectly. Anyway, regardless of how much gets done, I'm going to enjoy the month of July very much. Thank you, Carrie!

02 July 2012

"A Girl of the Limberlost" by Gene Stratton-Porter

     I'm a little late to the party.

Reading to Know - Book Club

     I realized that the deadline was coming up and I picked up the book last Wednesday night. I usually can blast through a book like this in a few days so I didn't think it would be a problem. 

     It's a story of a girl named Elnora, who is neglected by a mother whose life has been soured by her husband's early death. The girl rises above her circumstances by finding ways to earn her way through in life. Eventually becoming a teacher, finding love, and reclaiming her mother's heart along the way. 

     This was one of the slowest books I've ever read. I really like peaceful quiet stories, but this will probably have to go down as a little on the boring side. No. A lot on the boring side. It's a pleasant tale, but it was incredibly preachy! I read it before when I was about 14 or 15 and I remember not liking it, but it wasn't for the preachy aspects. So, maybe parents of young girls who would like to give their daughters a hefty dose of sound morals might consider this a good book. Rereading it at the age I am, I found myself saying, "Ok, you made your point. I agree with you. Stop harping on it."

     I didn't like it when I was young because I thought Philip, Elnora's love interest, showed too much attention to Elnora before he had broken off his engagement to his fiancee, Edith. I have somewhat altered my opinion. I DO think he showed a wee bit too much attention to Elnora while they were together, but this time around I did end up believing that he wasn't just breaking up with one girl because he fell for a new one. I, like many of the other bloggers reading this book, agree that Elnora did the right thing by establishing firmly in the mind of Philip and his ex-fiancee that Philip really was "over" Edith. Unfortunately this part, which I tend to consider the redeeming factor, doesn't happen until nearly the end of the book and you have to slog through a LOT to get there.

    Also, there were a few times characters were referenced from her previous works. So, I'm sure a reading of Freckles would have helped. I had Freckles read to me when I was a very very young person, so I had absolutely no recollection of who the other characters were. And when you have two characters named "Freckles" and "The Swamp Angel" it leaves you more than a little curious.

     Again, it's a book I think is tame and pleasant and maybe good for younger girls, but I could think of quite a few young adult books that I personally would rather read. Anne of Green Gables comes to mind. I'm glad it was picked for June because I highly doubt I would have picked it up again for any other reason.