29 November 2012

Getting to Know You

I caught on to the fact that this was happening, the day after we were supposed to post our answers to Carrie's fun questions. So, here they are. I ended up using her questions because I ran out of time to get really very clever with them.

Non Random Totally Normal Questions:

1. Do you attend church and, if so, what denomination are you a part of? I do attend a church. I currently attend a wonderful non denominational church though I would consider myself Reformed Presbyterian.

2. What social issue are you the most passionate about? I probably get the most bent out of shape about anything that has to do with women and children, things like domestic abuse, abortion, homeless children, and sex trafficking. My hatred of bullies is inherited from my mother, so I tend to worry about those weaker or more vulnerable.

3. Do you home school/use the public system or enroll your kids in private school? Any particular reason why? I don’t have kids, but if I did I would homeschool, because homeschooling makes your kids more holy and smarter and better and faster and taller and more republican than all the other kids. I’m kidding, but I actually do want to homeschool because I’d like to be able to spend more time with my children and give them more individual attention.

4. How long have you been married? How many kids do you have, or want to have? Have you ever thought of adopting, or have you? I am unmarried (for now….). I want to have seven children because this is the number of completion. I’m kidding, again. (I promise I can be serious) I want to have as many children, or as few children as the Lord gives me. I have often thought of adopting, and I might.

5. What is your greatest personality strength? Weakness? My greatest personality strength is my fabulous sense of humor. I’m kidding. I mean, I’m not going to deny that I have one, but really my love of people is a lot better. My personality weakness is that I take things too personally and I overthink everything. Just ask Boyfriend, poor man.

6. What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why? Hebrews. Particularly chapters 1 through 4. The not so holy reason is that I think it’s written so beautifully. I love the way the words sound. Another not so holy reason is that I am intrigued because Hebrews was almost not adopted into the cannon. It was only until most scholars were convinced that it was Paul’s work that it was added. Now scholars are pretty much convinced Paul didn’t write it. It’s a mystery, and I love mysteries. A better reason is that I think the whole book takes what some people see as a paradox between Paul’s “faith alone” arguments and James’s “faith without works is dead” arguments and brings them together in a beautiful way. Also, Hebrews has my favorite passage (Heb. 4:16): “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So wonderful!

7. What is your real name? What does it mean? My real name is Heather. It means low lying shrub. Yep. It’s funnier if you know I’m 5’2”

Fun Random Question Time:

1. What do you like best about your family? My family is very open about everything. I always feel like I can ask my parents about anything. Teenage rebellion never was a thing for me because I really never felt hedged in or repressed in any way.

2. What's your favorite color? Why? My favorite color is orange. I enjoy bright and flashy colors that remind me of the summer

3. Are you a bold and trendy dresser, or are clothes "not your thing?" I guess my style is a little bohemian and/or sporty, but not a whole lot of thought goes into how I dress…to my sister’s shame.

4. Are you a foodie? What makes you love food so? I’m kind of a foodie. It’s more that I go through strange eating phases. I’m very into healthy foods. So, I’ll do things like, eat a different salad for lunch every day, or maybe live on sweet potatoes for an entire week.

5. If you were to write a book, what genre would it be? Poetry or fiction.

6. What is your favorite thing about where you live (country, neighborhood, etc.)? Least? My favorite thing about where I live is that my family lives here, and I grudgingly admit that Oregon can be pretty in the summer. My least favorite thing is what is outside my window right now: Misty, rainy, grey, cold, rainy, lousy, grey, gross, rainy weather.

7.  What is your idea of the perfect day? Reading, spending time with my mom, working out, spending time with Boyfriend, and making something delicious involving avocados.

28 November 2012

What's on Your Nightstand (November 27, 2012)

Oh hey! A Nightstand post. Finally!
Sometime before I was aware that I was going to be swept off my feet by a wonderful guy, I made this goal that I would read 200 books. Well, then in came wonderful guy and ruined everything! I'm joking, I'd much rather have my reading goal ruined. I have read 162 books and I guess that is pretty good, but I am very stubborn and weird about my goals and I still haven't quite let go of the fact that I want to read 200 books in 2012. So, I'm as down to the wire as I can get. This is multiplied by the fact that in December, I fly to the wintry wilds of the Northeast to see the amazing handsome wonderful man who dashed my reading goal to pieces in the first place.
So, here is what I think I am going to accomplish in December (haw haw haw). You can sense my desperation in my use of Agatha Christie and Daphne DuMaurier. I never said what type of books I was reading.

What's On Your

  • Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon: I read Godmother from her (liked it…I think…) and Mermaid from her (Ugh…with a capital gross!) and this is her last chance
  • Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie: Pretty straightforward
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen: Hah! Not all fluffies! This has been on my nightstand pretty much all year. One day I promise I’ll finish it.
  • Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart: So, I don’t remember when exactly I discovered Mary Stewart. It was within the years 13 to 17. I think I found a book of hers that looked interesting at a used book store. I absolutely fell in love. Almost all of her stories are centered around a youngish woman in Europe who gets involved in some intrigue and some relationship with a handsome stranger. How is this NOT a fascinating tale? Now, I am also aware she wrote some books about Merlin (the wizard) and stories that may involve sorcery. I never read those, so don’t ask me anything about them. I can only answer for the ones I’ve described above. I do need to reread all of these and then force my sisters to read them so I can get them out of my bookshelves. I may have to move one day (*wink wink* *nudge nudge*) and I am working on whittling down my library to what I will definitely read again.
  • Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era by Ellen Tyler May (Not Mary Tyler Moore as I keep thinking): Ok, I’m doing better with the balance of intellectual books and non intellectual than I thought. This is another one of the books Boyfriend read for his exams. Ms. May examines the re-emergence of the “traditional” family (stay at home mother/bread winner father) and the rise of the birth rate and plunge of the divorce rate during the Cold War. The book is unique in that there will be more discussion about the family within the context of the political climate.  
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Ann Bronte (you may know her as the best Bronte…and if you don’t, you should): I just really like this book. Boyfriend and I were going to read it together, and it might still happen, but we decided to focus on something else instead.
  • Knowing God by J.I. Packer: We decided to focus on this one. 
  • The King's General by Daphne DuMaurier: Because everyone needs a little DuMaurier around Christmas.


What's on Your Nightstand is hosted monthly at 5Minutes for Books. 

13 November 2012

History Reviewlets (Part 2)

Although Boyfriend’s exams (written and oral) have come and gone (and he passed by the way, because he is so smart), I’m still working my way at leisure through his list of books. I thought I’d do another one of these fun little updates today.

Over Here: The First World War and American Society by David M. Kennedy: I don’t have a whole lot of memory of this one to be honest. I think I was attempting to read it while I was on vacation in Arizona. And if you are surrounded with gorgeous sun and scenery and have access to a beautiful sparkling pool, it’s hard to settle down to a book about the home front during World War I. I do know it went over some of the propaganda used to sell the war to Americans, and there was a long and tedious chapter about the economics of war. Are you recognizing a pattern here? Heather’s brain sees “economics” and groans inwardly.

Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America by Sarah M. Evans: I liked reading this one! Whenever women’s history comes up, I find myself insatiably curious and terribly skeptical. I guess I’ve heard too much of the gospel of “Women were trampled on and degraded and generally lived in darkness, until one day, like a light from heaven, birth control descended among us, and the salvation of all womankind was revealed.” Ok, so it’s not that bad, but it’s odd to me that there is an unquestioning acceptance of certain things in women’s history that I personally don’t agree with. Ms. Evans wasn’t really any different in that way, but I did enjoy reading this book quite a bit. What really struck my fancy was probably not the most scholarly thing one could get out of this, but it was the old war related advertisement. I have a strange collection of Life magazines that I’ve picked up at various antique shops when I am forced by my female acquaintances to enter an antique shop. I have this innate fascination with the advertisements in the magazines. I’m not even sure if I could explain it, but it’s just there. Anyway, this example from Born for Liberty just made me laugh. From a well known corset-designer and stylist: "Right now with the country embarking on its gigantic task of self-preservation it is essential that the women of America do not let down their men. Women must keep up the moral of their men and still continue to be their guiding star. To this end they must be their trim and shapely selves." Ladies, stay shapely. It improves morale. Anyway, while reading this I again found myself in the uncomfortable position I usually find myself in of not agreeing with anyone, but I did enjoy the dialogue.

Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture by Grant Wacker: I was really impressed by Mr. Wacker’s ability to talk about a touchy subject like religion and go into an even touchier subject, like speaking in tongues and handle it with respect and indifference.  The book outlines the birth and growth of the Pentecostal movement, particularly in America, because as Mr. Wacker explains it’s a very American movement. He attributes the success of the movement to the leadership’s ability to walk the line between primitivism (the movement back to a pure relationship with God) and pragmatism (the need to work with society and the world). I know very little about the Pentecostals and it was a helpful overview of their history and beliefs and how that fit into the early 1900s.

That will be all for now. I've got more...oh SO much more.

12 November 2012

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

     There are a few things you need to know regarding this book. Reincarnation is real, but there are some unlucky beings in the world who remember their past lives. There is one unlucky being who has fallen in love and lives each life looking for his love and losing her over and over and over. The plot is complicated even more by the fact that the first time he ran into the love of his life, *SPOILER* he actually killed her. So, he begins by seeking redemption for himself and ends up falling for her. The plot is even further complicated by the fact that there is an antagonist who follows them from life to life guided by a mysterious person who also has the memory.
     Ok, let’s not discuss reincarnation or anything like that. I make no secret of my faith and I believe when people die they go to one of two places: Heaven or Hell. There isn’t an in between state, and I see no reason to believe in a do-over.
     Now, on to the book itself. First of all, don’t read it. Honestly, I read it because I needed something fluffy. I really want to meet my goal of reading 200 books in 2012, and I’m behind. As in, I’m so behind I potentially need to read a book a day. I needed some serious fluff (hah…serious fluff). Also, as December looms closer with the promise of a trip to see Boyfriend, my mind is having a very tough time concentrating. It’s all I can do to keep up my schedule of ten pages a day of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. So I thought to myself, who better to provide this fluff than Ann Brashares, author of the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series? I couldn’t think of a better candidate either. This book is a little different from the Traveling Pants series in that it’s decidedly darker and there are a lot more of “those scenes” in it. I mean, a LOT! So, yes, if you read it, you can’t blame me.
     Now, I admit, the plot is interesting to me. Time travel (let’s call it that since reincarnation just has way too much baggage) kind of interests me. Mainly because I haven’t seen it done plausibly yet. There is so much potential for an interesting tale, but so much potential for failure. In my mind, Brashares did a decent job. She might have nailed it if the book was about two hundred pages shorter. Now, this is partially because she cheated and didn’t really use actual time travel, but still. I think if you can swallow the reincarnation theme, it’s a fairly interesting beginning to a story. Beginning you say? I'll get to that. 
     What interested me the most was not the romance. (I know, surprise surprise) Rather it was this thought: What if you remembered everything you’ve ever done, not just in this life but in many lives. Now, personally I just need to look back on a few things I’ve done in my one life and experience a crushing amount of guilt. But what if you had to keep living lives until you could right a really big bad wrong you have done? Well, the obvious answer to a believer is that you can’t. You don’t get do-overs and even if you did you would still screw up. Just thinking about this made me very grateful for Jesus Christ who not only died for all the sins I’ve committed, but lived a perfect life for me.
     The book did have a lot of interesting side thoughts. The protagonist has been around since the early 500s and has seen certain ideas and technologies and inventions come into vogue and pass out again, supporting the biblical idea that "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) So, things like that did give me a little thinking to do, and I like books that give me little ideas like that to ponder.
     It wasn’t until the very unsatisfactory end that I googled and learned that this was supposed to be the first book in a planned trilogy. Ms. Brashares never started the second and third book because this book just didn’t sell. I can see why. Though there were interesting tidbits to think about the book itself was entirely too long. There were so many parts I would have chosen to cut (particularly the sex…can I say this enough? There are a bunch of readers who DO. NOT. WANT. to read that!) and so much confusion. Also, readers of Ms. Brashares former Traveling Pants series would probably pick this up thinking it was going to be another heartwarming coming of age teen drama and find something entirely darker and heavier. I imagine the reception wasn’t overwhelming. It is a problem when you write for one specific audience and then want to branch out.
     So, mainly because of the inappropriate scenes, but also because it’s a part of a trilogy that may never come into being, I don’t think you should read it. But if you are a believer you should thank God for your one life to live and Jesus Christ who has already interceded for the wrongs you’ve committed.