Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's On Your Nightstand - June 2011

It's that time again. Though June has shaped up to be a light blogging month for various reasons, I have more books to list than I did in May, so to keep the blog alive for the summer, I’m joining in and posting a “What’s On Your Nightstand” post this month. Once again I found myself with too many books going at once and almost felt swamped under them but I finished one yesterday and one today, so I need to finish what I’m reading now and wait before starting another that I’m really wanting to start. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month and what I’m planning to carry over for next month:

Finished earlier in the month:

This Body of Death - Elizabeth George (F). I started this in May but didn’t finish, so I’m listing it here in June. May wasn’t as empty as it looks in my ‘Books I’m Reading’ page, but it was still a slow reading month for me. This book is the latest in Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series, which is a favorite of mine. With No One as Witness in the series left me crying for days after I read it. Yes, I am weird. Rich characterization and intriguing stories mark these books, though, as crime/detective novels, Ms. George holds nothing back with regard to the language and subject matter her detectives deal with, so it may not be for everyone. Use your own judgment about what you like to read.

Finished more recently:

Christianity and Liberalism - J. Gresham Machen (NF). I started out reading along with Tim Challies’ reading the classics group, but found it so interesting I went ahead and finished it yesterday, several weeks early. Though written in the 1920’s, I found it eerily appropriate still today, even down to some conversations I’ve had/heard recently in my life. Highly recommend it.

Slave - John MacArthur (NF). Finished this about 30 minutes before writing this post today. Very good look at what it means to be a Christian - submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Much food for thought and practice, and I recommend this one as well.

Reading along with my sons:

My oldest son discovered the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale and wanted to read them. I wasn’t too sure about them, but I said he could and I’ve been reading them, too, so I’d know what he’s reading. Turns out they are pretty interesting, which I am finding more and more now that the boys are both reading at a much higher level. I’m glad they tend to like books I find interesting, too. I do find it hard to find books for them that they will enjoy and I can be okay with them reading which aren’t too dark and disturbing. Slight aside: does it bother anyone else that the shelf of ‘young adult paranormal romances’ at the local book store is by far the largest shelf in the young adult/teen section???? It does me. Capitalizing on the Twilight phenomenon, I guess. I’m not a fan. Anywho.....though I have found some worldview kinds of things to discuss, and they are getting weirder as we go along, we’ve been enjoying the books and the discussion. It’s fun to share the reading experience with the boys, and I think it’s fun for them, too, to have me to bounce ideas about the stories with them. Here’s what I’ve read this month from the series:

Pendragon series, Book One: The Merchant of Death - D.J. MacHale (F).

Pendragon series, Book Two: The Lost City of Faar - D. J. MacHale (F).

Pendragon series, Book Three: The Never War - D. J. MacHale (F).

Pendragon series, Book Four: The Reality Bug - D. J. MacHale (F).

Pendragon series, Book Five: Black Water - D. J. MacHale (F). - Just started this one, so probably won’t finish it before the end of the month on Thursday, but then again, I might....

My oldest son is reading ahead and is already on Book 7. When he finished Book 4 he asked me to please hurry and finish it because he was dying to talk about it. He was great about not spoiling the plot, though he did let it slip that there was a twist ending. When I finished it, I realized why he was dying to talk about it. Did NOT see that ending coming. And I was very proud of him for not spoiling it for me, as he’s been known to do in the past.

Next up:

The rest of the Pendragon series through book 10, though our local Barnes & Noble didn’t have 9 when we bought the rest of the series, so I’m ordering 9 & 10 this week.

The King Raven Trilogy (includes Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck) - Stephen Lawhead (F).Been wanting to read these for a while. I read Hood a while back, but I could never get the others at our library. When my husband got me my Nook for my birthday, I bought this for a decent price and am excited to read it. Did I mention I got a Nook Color for my birthday??

The Princess Bride - William Goldman (F). Yes, I’ve read it before. I love it. Funny!!! And I got it on my Nook, also, because I want to read it out loud with the boys. We really enjoy our time doing that. Speaking of......

Reading Out Loud With the Boys:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling (F). We’ve each read the series, but it’s fun to read them again out loud together. As I said, we really enjoy that time together.

Whew. Pop on over to 5 Minutes for Books to see other reading lists for this month.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Blogging

This summer, for various and sundry reasons, seems to have sapped my blogging ability. The blog is quiet, not because I have nothing I’m thinking about, but because I’ve been busy and distracted, finding that maybe I need to be little better about scheduling our time this summer, and though my mind and journal are full, I find that I cannot write about my thoughts out here. I have found that when I’m burdened about things in my real life that are not things I can blog about, that tends to force out the things I can blog about, if that makes sense. So, I’m checking in here at the Sweet Tea place to say that all is well with the family, but there is much busyness ensuing around here, and some things that are weighing on my heart but that I am praying and trusting God to work mightily in bringing understanding and wisdom and reconciliation for His glory as we seek to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting in and submitting to the Lord Jesus who loves His church. I do have more substantial posts I’m mulling if I can ever get a moment when I’m not too mentally tired to work them out.

Until then, I’ll share a few random mundane things:

Waved good-bye to the church bus this afternoon as the boys left for kids’ camp. I miss them already, but I know they will have a great week. I have prayed for them, and continue to pray for them that they will not only have a lot of fun, but most importantly that they would be encouraged in their walk with Jesus and grow in love for Him.

Just realized that I am not a fan of the ice-cream truck that drives through our neighborhood. For one thing, the driver is smoking as she drives through the neighborhood, and that just is not appetizing when I think about buying ice cream from her while she smokes. It just grosses me out. Sorry, that’s where I am at the moment on that one. I dunno, maybe smoke that cigarette while out on the highway and stub it once she gets into the neighborhood where all the kids are? Soapbox over. Also, Rachel just yelled downstairs after looking out her window and seeing the ice-cream truck drive by quickly, “MOM! We missed the ice-cream truck AGAIN! How come we always miss it?” Two reasons, I seem to have entered a cash-free phase of life, meaning there is almost never a dollar or two lying around here on the afternoons when the ice-cream truck flies through here. Speaking of flying through, that’s the second reason. By the time I hear and see the truck, she’s off our street before I’ve had time to search high and low in the event I do scrounge up a dollar or two to buy a popsicle identical to the ones sitting in my freezer. That’s why Rachel can have one of those from the freezer and be happy, I say. Not to mention the irritating songs that play over and over and over and over as it files down our street. I’m an ice-cream truck scrooge, according to one very vocal 5-year-old. Bah popsicle.

My husband got my belated birthday present the other day: a Nook Color. I really like it. Now I’ve got to finish the library book I was already reading so I can read the Nook book I bought for my Nook. Of course the Nook purchase included the necessity of buying a wireless router so we can have WiFi in the house (secured of course) so I don't have to go to Panera whenever I want to connect the Nook to the internet. Not that frequent trips to Panera are a bad thing, but I digress. Drew said I’m like a kid in a candy store as I peruse the Nook books online. I can see I will have to put myself on a budget and strictly enforce it. So many books...... Bad thing is, I put some fun game apps on it, too, for the kids I said. However, they are addictive. Not sure how much reading is going to happen there after all. I told you I’ve been distracted. And I wonder where the brain power for blogging is seeping away.

Oh, and I find it really funny that, according to sitemeter, the top search phrase that lands people on my blog is "my dog is driving me crazy." Must be a lot of crazy dog-owners out there, judging by how often that lands someone here. Sorry I'm not more helpful on that topic. LOL

It’s hot here. I said I wouldn’t complain once it finally warmed up since winter seemed to drag on interminably long this year, so I’m not complaining. I’m just stating a fact. It’s hot, hot, hot. My thermometer is reading 121.6. I am making sure not to stand in whatever direct sunlight baking spot we have that thing placed. Weather channel says it's 89, feels like 93. Hot enough. We have been enjoying the pool membership.

And with that, I’ll sign off for now. Hopefully with a somewhat quieter house this week I’ll take the time to write out those blog posts I’m mulling. Hopefully.

Happy Monday!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dog Days

There are ‘cat people’ and ‘dog people.’ We are definitely ‘dog people.’ I don’t hate cats, I like them okay, but as to pet preference, it’s definitely ‘dog.’ Ol’ Yeller and Because of Winn Dixie make me cry every time I watch them.

I did not have a dog or cat growing up. Since Drew and I have been married we’ve owned two dogs. Our first dog was a purebred Miniature Schnauzer we bought from a distant cousin of Drew’s. That dog’s name was Oliver. I loved that dog. I wrote about him here, here, here and here, and other places if you want to search 'dog' and see. I was heartbroken when we lost him, especially the way he was lost, and I felt silly about how sad I was for how long. But he was my dog. I’m a ‘dog person,’ like I said.

Anyway, the kids really wanted a new dog soon. I wasn’t ready and we were getting ready to move to St. Louis that wnter, so Drew and I told them to wait until the move and spring and then we’d think about getting another dog.

Enter Roscoe. We survived our first winter in St. Louis (COLD!) and in March of 2009 I started looking online for local pet-rescue shelters and looking at pictures of available dogs, because the kids were really begging, “Mom, Dad, you said in spring we could look for a new dog, it’s spring!!” Of all the pictures I looked over, I kept coming back to this cute little black and white dog on a no-kill shelter’s site. I told Drew, “This is the dog.” So we e-mailed them and began a long conversation. Turns out Roscoe had pneumonia and wasn’t yet well enough for them to bring him to an adoption event. We spent several weeks e-mailing back and forth, checking on his status, and finally went to an adoption event and filled out the paperwork that would allow us to take him home once we finally got to meet him. Finally we got word that he was recovering enough for them to bring him, and we went that Saturday to meet him. Of course we all fell in love with him. I was worried, though, because after the heartbreak of losing Oliver, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take in a dog that had health issues - didn’t want to risk losing him soon.

Roscoe ended up thriving once we got him home in late April. I think he just needed freedom and people to love on him. And he certainly has that with us.

Now that we’ve had Roscoe for two years, Drew and I have been making some observations about differences between purebred and rescued dogs. We have no idea what kind of dog Roscoe is....he’s just a cute little mutt.

Here are some observations:

Purebred, pampered from birth: If the door to the house was open, Oliver was out and exploring. He might wander home on his own when he good and felt like it, but he was a wanderer.

Rescued dog: If the door to the house is open, Roscoe will stay right there on the couch sleeping. If not, he’ll stand at the door looking at it like, “Why would I want to go out there? It’s nice and comfy in here where the people are.” If he does get out, he races around the yard and comes right back to the door. He is not about to risk getting lost. He’s been ‘out there’ and doesn’t think he needs to see any more of the world, thank you. We’ve nick-named him “Boomerang.”

Purebred: We never could teach Oliver to sit and wait for a treat no matter how hard we tried. He sort of acted like we owed him a bone just for being there.

Rescued dog: If I’m in the kitchen, Roscoe is there with his tail wagging, looking expectantly at the pantry door waiting for a bone. He’ll look at you earnestly and sit, tail still wagging, like he’s saying, “Please? A bone for me? I’m sitting.....”

Purebred: Oliver might come when you called him in from outside, if he was good and ready to come.

Rescued dog: If you call Roscoe, he’s scrambling to get there. He wants to be with his people, and isn’t about to risk being left outside.

Purebred: Oliver liked to snuggle, but it was usually on his terms. He liked to be where we were, but he liked his space, too.

Rescued dog: If I sit, Roscoe is right there, tail wagging, begging for a cuddle.

Purebred: Oliver would NOT go outside in the rain. No matter how long it had been raining or how much he must have to go potty.

Rescued dog: Roscoe doesn’t seem to mind the rain or even notice it.

Purebred: Oliver was TERRIFIED of fireworks and thunder.

Rescued dog: Roscoe sleeps through it all, and if he’s awake, he wags his tail happily and acts like nothing’s going on out of the ordinary.

But both dogs have been good little buddies. I’m thankful God gave us animals who can be little companions. I know it’s nothing like human friends and family, but I’m thankful for the little joys our dogs add to life. Roscoe’s happy, constantly wagging tail just makes me smile. There’s a sign at our vet’s office that says, “A dog smiles with his tail.” If so, then Roscoe is the smiliest dog I think I’ve ever known. Though Oliver was a really good dog and will always have a special place in my memory, I’m glad we found Roscoe when we went looking for a new dog that spring in 2009.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


......how when life gets busy, the blog gets quiet. My blog of late has not been a reflection of my life, that's for sure. The silence here has an inverse relationship with the noise elsewhere, but that's how it is. Probably will be continuing on the quiet side for the foreseeable future, but wanted to check in and let anyone who cares know that I'm still kicking over here in Sweet Tea land. I do have some posts percolating. Sometimes when my blog is quiet, my private journal is full, but that's just life, too. One thing I've learned over the four years I've been blogging is that it's better to hash out some things in the journal and not on the blog. But sometimes that means a quiet blog, too. Hoping to get back to the blog soon.

God has been merciful this week, and I'm thankful. I had a major bout of sinus troubles again, resulting in a very stuffy ear on Sunday morning, making singing in the choir Sunday morning.....interesting. It got worse. Monday morning I woke up so very dizzy I was feeling sick, meaning the congestion had moved from outer ear to inner ear and was doing a number on me. I took the sinus medicine I usually take when I have these troubles and it did nothing, so I called my husband and asked him to bring home some motion sickness pills so I could try and see if that would help. Did I mention that our VBS started up on Monday night? I was scheduled to work with the 4th graders, and as of early afternoon on Monday I was not at all sure how I was going to manage getting to the church, much less being a crew leader for a bunch of 4th graders. But, in His mercy, God allowed the motion sickness pills to settle my roiling equilibrium and by time to leave for VBS I was feeling stable and ready to go.

Doctor visit on Tuesday morning resulted in me feeling much, much better by Wednesday. Follow up visit next week and I'm going to be asking for a referral to an allergist. I think I'm allergic to Kentucky.

VBS was exciting, and I was happy to get to talk to one of my kids about some questions she was having. I'm praying for her that the gospel will truly take root in her heart.

My daughter told me last night that she wishes we could have VBS every night. Personally, I'm really glad we had it this week. Every night, however, no, I don't think so. I'm exhausted after one week.

Looking forward to going to dinner with some friends tonight. Babysitter coming over to our house is brave enough to watch our three and their four, and I've been cleaning floors and bathrooms like a crazy woman all day to prepare. House got a little behind what with me being dizzy for two days and VBS late nights and all. We're good now. Anyway, looking forward to adult conversation and fellowship and prayer together tonight. We share a burden with this family to pray for our church together. I love fellowshipping with friends who are also brothers and sisters in Christ and knowing we can gather together to pray and knowing the Lord hears us and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus when we do.

Interesting week. In lots of ways. Those things were just the tip of the iceberg. There've been ups and downs and in-betweens all week. Just like always. And in the midst of it all, God is working all things for His glory, and I am trusting Him for this, and find great peace and joy in knowing it.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Status Report June 2011

With nods to Lisa, here’s my status report for June:

Sitting.....in the kitchen, enjoying the air conditioning.

Drinking....Tea, Earl Grey, hot. Mr. Data, warp speed, please. Couldn’t resist an obscure Star Trek reference. College roomies, remember Star Trek every afternoon? Like Captain Picard, I enjoy a nice, hot cup of Earl Grey.

Reading.....Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen and looking forward to reading the discussion over here. I’ve got a little catching up to do already, though. Also reading This Body of Death by Elizabeth George, the latest in the Thomas Lynley series. Also reading Slave by John MacArthur. Once again I’ve gotten myself in the position of having too many books going at once.

Enjoyed....watching my boy at his awards ceremony this morning. He got several awards for his progress in reading - he’s in fourth grade and reading at least at a 12th grade level with scores off the chart. This being the boy we weren’t sure was going to be much of a reader when he was younger. Once he decided he liked to read, he took off. Yes!! So much fun to share the joy of reading with my kids.

Also enjoyed....a little trip to Target where I treated my girl to a popcorn and a drink as a thank you treat for being so well-behaved at the boring-to-her ceremony.

Celebrating....that today is the last day of school! So looking forward to summer break. I paid our family pool membership fees today, and I’m planning to use that pool A LOT this summer with the kids. Summertime, summertime!!!

Pondering....getting a Kindle. I've been researching and asking opinions on this. The whole e-book thing is new to me, and a little overwhelming and confusing. I know that e-books won't replace real, paper books for me....I just love the feel and smell of books and I love seeing the progress as you flip through the pages. But, there are a lot of books I'd like to read but don't really need paper copies around, and the Kindle seems so portable it is interesting to me. Anyway, I thought briefly about the iPad, but decided I really don't need the temptation to be online any more than I already am, and that would be the only reason for going with it over strictly an e-book reader for me, I think. Now it's to decide between the Kindle and the Nook, but I'm leaning mostly toward the Kindle. I've already asked my Facebook friends, how about here? Any opinions or experience with e-readers? Any advice?

Thinking....about how I want to not only run well for a time, but to finish well. I was reading in 2 Chronicles about King Asa, and I got excited when I read 14:2, “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.” It’s always a breath of fresh air when reading about the kings when one of them gets that commendation. However, near the end of his life, Asa did something foolish and rather than repenting when the prophet confronted him, as King David did years earlier, he got angry with the prophet and put him in prison. That, to me, is very sad. It got me to thinking about how my strength and ability to stand firm are rooted in Christ, not in my own fickle heart. It also got me to thinking, as we discussed in our devotional at choir practice last night, that I do not want to position myself in an attitude of pride before the Lord. I am so grateful for grace and for the fact that it is Jesus who is the anchor for my soul, and it is He who will complete the work He has begun in me and will bring me safely to the end, secure in Him. I want to live for Him, faithful to the end, because He has made me His own. And because He has made me His own, I trust that He will cause me to stand.

Thankful.....for so very many things. God’s mercies are abundant and more toward those who are His, and I am grateful.