Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jane Austen Challenge 2010

Okay, another challenge. There are multiple levels. I'm in at the Lover level (read 4 books).

I think I am going to start with locating Persuasion, which I have not read. Check out at The Life (and lies) of an Inanimate Object who is hosting this lovely little challenge.



Speculative Fiction Challenge 2010

This Challenge runs Jan 1- Dec 31 2010.

I wasn't sure what it was either at first Here's what the host at Book Chick City says
Genres:
- Science Fiction
- Fantasy Fiction
- Horror Fiction
- Supernatural Fiction
- Superhero Fiction
- Utopian and Dystopian Fiction
- Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

I'm super excited about this challenge. I think half the books I pick up are within this genre so I'm jumping in with both feet. At the Obsessed level (24 books)

Fantasy Reading Challenge 2010

I love fantasy books. Especially a lively historical fantasy.


I'm joining in at the addicted level- It requires me to try and read 12 or more fantasy books.
I think I shall start with some of the Madeline L'Engle books that will fulfill the requirement.
Royal Reviews is hosting this great challenge. The description there is "The Fantasy Reading Challenge can include YA Fantasy or Historical Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy or any other sub genre of Fantasy. There really are no limits to this challenge as Fantasy is such a wide and varied genre."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Plans to Read all of Madeline L'Engle's Books

When I went online to help recall the other names in Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet, I learned that she passed away in September 2007. I know I was busy in grad school at that time, but I still can’t imagine how I missed it. She is one of my favorite authors and in honor of her I have decided that I want to read everything on her bibliography. That is 63 books. Now many of them I have read. Many of those However, many of them I scarcely remember more than the main idea. I think I shall reread the one’s I cannot remember and also discover the ones I have not read. My goal is to finish them by September 2010.
SO here is the list as it stands from her website. I shall keep track by crossing out the ones I have completed.
1.     18 Washington Square South: A Comedy in One Act, 1944

2.     The Small Rain, 1945

3.     Ilsa, 1946

4.     And Both Were Young, 1949

5.     Camilla Dickinson, 1951

6.     A Winter's Love, 1957

7.     Meet the Austins, 1960

8.     A Wrinkle in Time, 1962

9.     The Moon By Night, 1963

12.   Camilla, 1965

13.   The Love Letters, 1966

15.   The Young Unicorns, 1968

16.   Dance in the Desert, 1969

17.   Lines Scribbled on an Envelope and Other Poems, 1969

18.   The Other Side of the Sun, 1971

19.   A Circle of Quiet, 1972

20.   A Wind in the Door, 1973

21.   Everyday Prayers, 1974

22.   Prayers for Sunday, 1974

23.   The Risk of Birth, 1974

25.   Dragons in the Waters, 1976

26.   The Irrational Season, 1977

29.   Ladder of Angels, 1979

30.   The Anti-Muffins, 1980

33.   A Severed Wasp, 1982

34.   The Sphinx at Dawn, 1982

36.   A House Like a Lotus, 1984

37.   Trailing Clouds of Glory: Spiritual Values in Children's Literature, 1985 (with Avery Brooke)

38.   Many Waters, 1986

39.   A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys with Jacob, 1986

40.   A Cry Like a Bell, 1987

41.   Two-Part Invention, 1988

42.   An Acceptable Time, 1989

45.   Certain Women, 1992

47.   Anytime Prayers, 1994

48.   Troubling a Star, 1994

49.   Glimpses of Grace, 1996 (with Carole Chase)

50.   A Live Coal in the Sea, 1996

51.   Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols, 1996

52.   Wintersong, 1996 (with Luci Shaw)

53.   Bright Evening Star, 1997

54.   Friends for the Journey, 1997 (with Luci Shaw)

55.   Mothers and Daughters, 1997 (with Maria Rooney)

56.   Miracle on 10th Street, 1998

57.   A Full House, 1999

58.   Mothers and Sons, 1999 (with Maria Rooney)

59.   Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends, 1999 (with Luci Shaw)

60.   The Other Dog, 2001

63.   The Joys of Love, 2008


A Swiftly Tilting Plant by Madeline L'Engle



A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’Engle is a great science fiction read with a historical twist. This book is third adventure with Charles Wallace and Meg.  It weaves the present day with past events. Using an old Rune Charles Wallace and Meg take another adventure. This adventure includes time traveling unicorns, tracing ancestries, and Welsh legends. While the story is set in a fictional realm created by Ms. L’Engle, the reader is left contemplating how much if any could be based on something a little more real. It is a fascinating journey collecting clues to the mystery alongside Charles Wallace. It’s a quick fun read for an adult and an enjoyable read for younger person.

I love Madeline L’Engle books. If you want to read all of the books in this series, they are in order Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

Some of My Favorite Authors

Madeleine L'Engle
Anne McCaffrey
Isaac Asimov
Shel Silvertein
Rick Riordan
JRR Tolkien
Jean Plaidy
Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
L.M. Montgomery
Philippa Gregory

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Delicious Spinach Salad

Okay true story, one day I needed to bring something to the church dinner and I opened up my fridge to see what I had. I had baby spinach leaves and blueberries. I thought to myself, now there is a start of a delicious salad. I just needed to go to the store next and pick up a few more yummy ingredients. I am not one for store bough dressings so I first whipped up a dressing. I used Rice Wine Vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and olive oil. Then I added a touch of ginger, nutmeg, and balsamic vinegar. Mixed it to taste and put what I had in a lovely to go container. Then I was off to my neighborhood Safeway for some sort of crumbly cheese and well I wasn’t certain what else. A the store the produce department greeted me and I saw a gorgeous Granny Smith Apple. I added that to my cart. Then I went to cheese section and found some feta. I sliced the apple super thin and tossed it with lime juice before adding it to the spinach and blue berries. Then I sprinkled a generous amount of Feta cheese on top and let everyone portion dressing themselves.
It was such a hit that when I had to make three side dishes three nights in a row, I purchased the same ingredients at Cosco and took it to each of the venues. Oh and if blueberries are a bad price at the store try a can of mandarin oranges. Then use the can’s juices to toss the apples in. The citrus keeps them from turning brown.  I’d then switch the lime in the dressing to orange marmalade and don’t add the sugar. After my events were done, I switched up the salad to have spinach, red bell pepper, and feta cheese. For this salad’s dressing I used balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a dash of garlic and Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute. That by the way is the best seasoning blend I have ever used. Maybe it deserves its own little post.
Salad #1 ingredients: Baby Spinach, Blueberries, Sliced green apple, and Feta Cheese. With a Lime based dressing
Salad #2 ingredients: Baby Spinach, Canned Madarin Oranges, Sliced green apple, and Feta Cheese. With a Orange marmalade based dressing
Salad #3 ingredients: Baby Spinach, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta Cheese. With a Balsamic Vinegar based dressing
Next time I’ll take pictures.
Hmmm… I think I need another Safeway run.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Okay not being at home, I am certain there are actual books in my actual mailbox, but I will not see them for a little while yet. I did acquire a delightful cookbook called A Century of Flavor. Put out by Nielsen-Massey, all the recipes use their flavorings. Now adding some lovely ingredients to my grocery list. There's a fresh basil tomato soup with vanilla, creamy vanilla sweet potatoes, and coffee cloud meringue recipes to start. Yummy! When I'm successful, I share pictures. Hope all had fun collecting more books over the last week.
Thanks again to The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday.


To do list: Buy more vanilla extract, take mailbox picture for mailbox monday posts.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rediscovering God in America



I received Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich from Thomas Nelson Publishing to review. The book is simple in its plan. It declared I would take a walking tour of Washington D.C. and learn about how religion has played a role in the forming and sustaining of our nation. It did just that. Each chapter focused on a monument or building and its significance.


While I commend the author for his plan and will add this to my bookshelf for reference, I did not get into the book. Had I used this book as a companion piece to an actual walking tour it might have been fabulous. Should I need to source presidential faith statements, I now have them in one neat book. In fact that was the reason I picked out the book to read. I think “Under God” is important. I can also recommend this book for the wealth of information it contained.. There were many interesting nuggets of facts throughout the book. The origin of the Library of Congress and the various upgrades of the White House were both fascinating sections.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Justo Gonzalez and the Heretics for Armchair Theologians

I have finished this lovely little book. It is short (only 160 pages) and divided neatly into chapters focusing specifically on various heresies. There is one on Montanists, Gnosticism, and Pelagius to name a few. This book allows a reader to closely examine the heresies, the responses, and results of various heretical issues that the early church dealt with. It also includes a chapter on the Trinity and Christology which helps provide greater understanding of those two basic Christian beliefs. This book was expertly written, easy to understand and neatly designed for referring back to various issues. I'm intrigued too, because apparently there are a whole series of Armchair Theologian books.



The Back Story...



A Few months back I wandered into Borders during their buy four get one free sales. I was low on books and so began searching for the perfect collection of four great reads. My most beloved of the collection is a book I have been slowly savoring over these last months. Heretics for Armchair Theologians. The book caught my eye as I was perusing the religion section. Then I saw the authors Justo and Catherine Gonzalez. At that point I begin to believe in the book's potentials.



A few years back in my Graduate school class, Christian history, I read a pair of books, that remains on my top 5 textbook list. It was Justo Gonzalez's books on the History of the Church. The information was presented in such a way that it was enjoyable and attainable. I've recommended them numerous times to people. Nonetheless the nuances of heresy in the early church is tricky to keep clear in the mind, especially when it comes at the rapid pace we had to learn in class. Crushed between all the other course work and pressed to move quickly through the literature, I finished not really being able to state more than what some of the major heretical movements were called.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Last minute Gift Idea BBC TV Favorites Holiday #Giveaway

Okay so as established I love Sci-fi. And I love all things British. So, am I a fan of Dr. Who? Yes indeed. So when one of the bloggers I followed put out this giveaway, Another Last minute Gift Idea BBC TV Favorites Holiday #Giveaway , I knew it was something I would enter. Black Adder. Funny. Keeping Up Appearances, Funnier, Dr. Who, worth every minute. And that wasn't even everything. Check it out. I love it. Also as I was visiting BBC America Shop I discovered Tom Baker Dr. Who DVDs for a reasonable price. He's the fourth Doctor and my favorite of the classic Who Doctors. And then I found a 2009 version of Emma. Very exciting.
And then I saw they have a whole tab just for books! Oh how I love Jamie Oliver. And has anyone heard of Tea with Jane Austen? It sounds faboulous.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

451 Challenge. Oh what fun!

This is the first challenge I am joining. I love the collection of books I can choose from. Some old favorites and some already on my wanna read list, so here I go.
Blaze level is 7 or more books by November 30, 2010.
Check it out for your self at 451 Challenge.
I think I shall begin with a lovely reread of Black Beauty. I can't remember when I last read it, and I then I shall check out St Lucy's Home for Wolf Raised Girls. That title grabbed my attention. Lord of the Rings is also an excellent book on my reread list. The list also has Kingsolver, Dumas, Austen, and Lewis. I am quite excited.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

20000 Leagues Under the Sea

The other day I was looking for an unread book to begin from my book shelf and picked up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. I inherited a fish named Jules once. He was a lovely and lively goldfish who seemed to actually respond when I watch him. So I have been intrigued by his namesake ever since. The original manuscript was composed in French. The translation I am reading by Walter James Miller was completed in 1966. I have since discovered a newer translation, but am unwilling to forgo Mr. Miller’s verbose inclination.

Now, I happen to enjoy the sci-fi genre. I have always enjoyed science fiction in books and movies. I might have been the only 7 year old girl in the world with E. T. the Extraterrestrial bed linens. I do however tend to expect action in my science fiction. 20,000 Leagues starts slow and at page 143 has not picked up the pace. If you want action, intensity, and a plot that is quick paced, do not start this book, it will not deliver those three items. However, if you want rich descriptions of the ocean depths, the insides of the Nautilus, and Professor styled assessment of the characters and events of the book , definitely check out this book. Find a good translation and settle in for such gems as, “A wall of Superb rocks, in an imposing mass, rose before us, a heap of gigantic blocks, an enormous steep granite shore, forming dark grottoes, but offering no surfaces up which one could climb.”

I am leaving this description filled verbosity and moving on to other books in my holiday stack. At this point I would give this book a 3 of 5. Worth coming back to when nothing better is on my stack, or when I am in need of word pictures painted. Has anyone finished the book? Does the pace ever change? Is this highly adjectival narrative typical of Jules Verne?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Librarian Oh how I love this series

Okay so ever since ER season one, I have loved Noah Wylie. He played Flynn Carson in his third film as the librarian in The Librarian and the Curse of the Judas Chalice. Admittedly the movies are cheesy. They are a bit made for TV. I think they are a cross between Indiana Jones and the Smithsonian. I say this movie as the first two is good clean fun. The movie also features Bob Newhart as Judson and Jane Curtain as Charlene. If you enjoyed either of the first two, definately check this one out. I found this one to be not my favorite of the trilogy and perhaps stretching a bit with the inclusion of vampires. While I can enjoy a good vampire book or movie, I do not appreciate the oversaturation of the market with vampire connected media. Nonetheless, Noah Wylie did play the main charactor and well, that helps.

Books I Love

1. The Little Prince
2. The Giving Tree
3. A Wrinkle in Time
4. Brave New World
5. Dragon Riders of Pern
6. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
7. Velvet Elvis
8. Animal Dreams
9. Circle of Quiet
10. The Sabbath

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I hit my favorite little used book store. Green Apple Books. I took in a few books I no longer wanted, and traded for some great Christmas reads. (If one cannot yet tell, I have a rather eclectic book palate.) I chose Aldous Huxley's The Island. I love reading and watching in the Utopic/Distopic genre. I've read Brave New World multiple times, so I thought I'd give another book by Huxley a try. Then I picked up Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. I trudged through his book Gravity's Rainbow a couple year back. That 800 page award winning book was an epic accomplishment and I decided no more Pynchon. However the friend who recommended me to it said, once you finish a Pynchon book you will come back and so here I am. I guess he could say, "I told you so." The third book is a new acquisition, but a reread. Madeline L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet. The is the third book in the Wrinkle in Time series. I fell in love with them in Junior high and have read almost every novel she has written, as well as her Crosswicks Journals. Add the pair of books in route for my reading pleasure and I know I will not not be short on unread books.

Thanks to The Printed Page for Hosting Mailbox Monday

Friday, December 11, 2009

Miracle in Sumatra




Miracle in Sumatra: The Story of Gutsy Gus by Jeanne McNancy and illustrated by David Cochard is poignant and inspiring. It is the story of Gus, a young Orangutan, who saves his parents from a trapper. The story brings to light both the wretched nature of animal poaching and the damaging action of deforestation in Sumatra.


The book is easily read in one sitting and geared for ages 4-8. Personally I fell in love with the illustrations and appreciated the slight whimsical nature of the font choice. This book would be an excellent addition to a primary classroom. However, it definitely requires additional conversation with the children. Poaching and Deforestation can be very scary issues. Allowing a child to dialogue about their feelings during and after the book is read could alleviate fears, increase comprehension, and inspire action. This last step is the very thing Jeanne McNancy is hoping the book with do.

Jeanne McNancy was raised in New York. She has studied Zoology, Veterinary Technology, and Behavioral Science. Currently she lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children. She has also written The Legend in Honey Hollow.


Details:

Publisher: Ovation Books

Publisher website: http://www.ovationbooks.net/

Book website: http://www.joeypublishing.com/

Category: Children’s picture book

Date of publication: October 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0-9814534-6-0

Price : 16.95 at Borders.com



I was given this book by Phenix and Phenix publicists to review.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was a delightful read. I often have three or four books going at a time and I stopped all others to read straight through. I loved the correspondence format and how the characters were introduced through letters. The book never changes to play by play or typical narrative, but continues to present the people in Juliet’s life and on the Isle of Guernsey through each others’ eyes. Set in the mid 1940’s the authors provide the reader with a poignant view of the lives of people in England and Guernsey and directly after World War II.

This was Mary Ann Shaffer’s only novel and it is brilliant. When Juliet received a letter from Guernsey, her life altered course. Dawsey, Amelia, and Eben among others come alive through a correspondence that charts the changes of the lives of each person in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

I found this book on my own and purchased it for two simple reasons. First, It was possibly about the Island Guernsey, which I have been intregued by. Second, it had a very interesting title. On the first I love historical books about the English and I love reading about Islands, particularily the ones which are in temperate zones. On the second, this book has been out for a while and I have picked it up numerous times because it's title is so eye catching. All this being said, I won't ruin discovering the origin of the society's name for potential readers. Check out the book, you too may find a new treasure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Okay,



First, I love the book I picked up at Cosco on Thursday. It's called Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Seriously it is one of the cleverest stories I have read in a while. It is set up as a collection of letters written between an authoress Juliet in the mid-nineteen-forties and a collection of fasinating characters. Seriously, I can hardly stop reading it and have poured through it so quickly, I will have to re-read it.



Second, I have recieved a children's book to review called Miracle in Sumatra: The Story of Gutsy Gus. I'm excited about it. I flipped through it a bit and the illustrations are vivid and beautiful. The book is designed to motivate kids to action in saving the planet, especially the Rainforest. Look for my review soon.



Thanks for The Printed Page hosting the Mailbox Monday fun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From Wessex to Tolkien


I just finished the White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle. This book thrilled the inner Anglophile in me, as well as added depth to my understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien’s connection to Anglo-Saxon literature. Indeed Alfred as the “Ring-Giver”, the lands divided up into shires, and the meetings called shire-moots all resonated in my head as they might to one well verse in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Never the less, this book is far different than those works of fiction, as it tells the tale of Alfred the Great. I have been inspired to further read about the Saxons and am excited that at the conclusion of the text, the author included an annotated bibliography.

Alfred the Great was the Wessex King who stood firm against the Danes, fortified his Burghs (towns), and began the increase of his Kingdom through defense against Viking raiders and alliance with the local leaders under duress. Additionally Alfred instilled the need, while providing the means, for Anglo-Saxon literacy. Meanwhile he oversaw the translation of great works of literature into the Anglo-Saxon language and the assembling of Saxon law in one collection of rules.

I review for Thomas Nelson Publishing. When I saw this book on the list I knew I had to check it out. Once I started reading it, I could hardly put it down. It's a good thing I waited until after Thanksgiving, or it would have been challenging to relax leisurely over pie.

Thomas Nelson's Book Description:

"Sometimes the heroes of history are truly worthy of the golden reputations they carry.

King Alfred united Anglo-Saxon England against a Viking invasion, led the English into battle against the Danish hordes, created a renaissance of literature and the arts, reformed the legal system, and set the stage for a revival of Christian worship. But that's not what made him great. Ben Merkle unravels the tale of how a great man came to power during one of the most difficult periods in English history, how he led his nation through them, and how he laid the groundwork for England's coming triumphs on the global stage."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mailbox Monday


I have new books! I am excited. I recieved The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great. I'm 46 pages into the Thomas Nelson book and eager to continue.
Thanks to The Printed Page for hosting for such a fun weekly event.

November has flown by...

Okay so I was realizing I haven't posted anything for the entire month of November. Granted I have been out of the state two weekends, Helped a friend move one weekend, had quarter grades to input, had a birthday, and Thanksgiving to survive. However I think I could have stopped in and said something to loyal readers. I went to a lovely wedding. The decor was more the bride than maybe any wedding I've ever been to. I could see my friend Rebecca's fingerprints over ever detail. The bride was beautiful and the wedding was beautiful.

I reread the Twilight series. It was fun, and now I am trying to finish up about four books which I totally want to share with you. So see you in December. Happy reading.

Friday, October 23, 2009

From Ignorance of Guinness


I finished The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield and cannot stop sharing about this great book with my friends, my coworkers, my family and almost anyone who will listen. Beginning with Arthur, the founder of Guinness Brewery, the book chronicles the family of Guinness. It tells the stories of Guinness men and their comrades who were missionaries, brewers, public officials, and doctors. The stories unique biographical take on this family with far reaching impacts, intentionally draws a line through a lineage of religion and public benevolence.

After I chose to review the book, I began to have second thoughts. What was I, who had never consumed Guinness, doing reviewing book about the great brewing family. Then I began to read the book and was enthralled. Helping start Sunday Schools in England and supporting Hudson Taylor in China were things I immediately connected with. Yet their benevolence also goes deep into the heart of Dublin and through that all of Ireland and the Irish people. The why is explained in the book. One example still paying dividends is the Iveagh trust, which is still provides affordable housing, started as part of the Guinness plan for urban restoration.
This book was reviewed for Thomas Nelson Publishing. For more information on the book, visit their product page In Search of God and Guinness.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Coupon Savings

I went to Safeway today armed with a flexible list, my coupon book and a willingness to not buy things unless they were on sale. Finally after a few months of clipping coupons, I am in the groove. I used coupons and sales to really maximize my budget. Crackers, Chocolate Chips, Yogurt, Diced Tomatoes, and Frozen vegetables all were on sale and savings maximized with coupons. I finally see the rewards. I spent $33 today and saved $29.

My sister-in–law has been an amazing inspiration. At her site she is always encouraging coupon use and thrifty shopping techniques. So I have been watching ads better and clipping coupons. Now I am cross-referencing them and the savings is really adding up. I am convinced it is worth my while. I have room to grow, and am aiming for saving more than I spend when I leave the grocery store. So my words to you. Stretch your food budget with some wise shopping. Get the Sunday paper, clip the coupons, check the sales ads and watch the token sales that only offer 5-10% off. Have fun saving.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eli Gold writes a Golden Book


Eli Gold's book, From Peanuts to the Pressbox is a certain win for any sports loving reader. In a semi-sequential format, he brings stories of his life and his interactions with an array of sports legends to life. Beginning from youth, the reader is taken on a journey as we read about Eli's broadcasting experiences throughout his life. From errand boy to minor league hockey and from broadcasting for NASCAR to the voice of the Crimson Tide Eli Gold has brought to the forefront an amazing collection of anecdotes.


Two of my favorite things about Eli's book is how his stories were entwined and the unassuming method in which he presented his biography. The book had the feel of a friend's stories by the fire or over a good cup of coffee. The stories wove through his life and between sports arenas, leaving me with a feeling that I know Eli Gold. Not only do I know about his life, I know a bit more about the person behind legendary names like Dale Earnhardt Jr., John Brophy, and Butch Owens. When he told stories of Arena football, he provided enough details so that I understood the primary differences between that and the American Football I am used to watching. When he told stories of NASCAR, I was able to follow them because he took the time to explain how the track and the broadcasting is set up at a race. These measures enabled me to understand his sports stories when I was unfamiliar with the sport.
For more information check out other reviews at the Book's Thomas Nelson Publishing's site.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I expected

Week three of my current job situation and I am loving it. Once a week I have a 90 minute each way commute and I've settled into a lovely routine. Every wednesday I charge up my zune, check that I have the next Mark Driscoll sermon on it and begin my day before the sun rises. I stop by my favorite Starbucks for coffee and my weekly scone. Then I head down the highway, watch sun rise, and listen to wisdom from the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Each week, as I have zipped down the road, God shows me his beautiful creation around me. Meanwhile 1 Peter is rocking my world in an excellent way. I am encouraged and challenged through listening to Mars Hill sermons. I am blessed by a commute and that was not what I have expected. I should have expected God would use my commute. I put him in charge of my commute and he has consistently ministered to me through the commute.

Friday, February 13, 2009

You are Welcome

As my current church meets on Sunday evenings, I have found my Sunday mornings free and what should I dowith free Sunday mornings, but learn more about church. So I had set out to visit various denomenations. My thought was attending a service would provide me with experiental lessons that I could then suppliment with reading material. It's not that I am planning on changing denomenations. Rather I believe that opening the channels of communication cross-denomenationally is what will enable the family of God to thrive through the 21st century. In order to open my mind and better understand a larger cross section of the family of God, I figured I should visit a diverse cross section of denomenations.

I began last week as St Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church . The architecture and design of the church was familiar and comfortable. It reminded me of the little Anglican building my church in England met in. Then Reverend Phil intoduced himself to me and that began a morning full of warm welcomes, sincere interest, and a wonderful level of genuine hospitality. A student of mine ran over and welcomed me with a hug, then declared she would sit with me, before scampering off to let her grandma know. The four women sitting in front of me introduced themselves and we chatted casually. It was the perfect medium. They didn't ask me twenty questions, nor did they say hi and then go back to their own conversations. Then two of the ladies got up from their pew and joined me on my almost empty row. Wow. After church I ended up staying almost 45 minutes chatting during coffee and donut time. Unexpectedly, I might return.

I went to the church to learn about Episcopal services and I did. The liturgy and music was a bit different, but felt right. The sermon was clear and Biblically sound. Yet, it was the since of welcome that draws me back to the congregation. I can't recall ever having such a warm welcome as a visitor. I can't recall providing such a warm welcome to a visitor.

That amazing welcome is the lesson I learned. When new people come into church settings, I ought to be eager to welcome them into the fold. Coming into a church is intimidating and awkward. However, living hospitality and remembering that fellowship should be inclusive, rather than exclusive are remedies for lack of welcome. If I was new to my church, would I return based on how I was greeted, connected with, and followed up? That is an important question. Relationships are key reasons why people stay at church. Therefore we must begin to relate to people who cross the threshhold of the church door with the intention of building the ground floor of a relationship. Shallow welcomes are inhospitable and possibly worse than no welcome at all. At church we all must be less concerned with chatting it up with all our friends and more concerned with engaging and relating to newcomers. That is the unexpected lesson I learned at St Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church. They get it; the genuine interest in someone new.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smile Compile (aka things that make me smile)

1. warm rain
2. Augustine's City of God
3. 25 random thing lists
4. Blankets on the couch
5. New hair cuts
5. fresh flowers
6. decorated toe nails
7. soft scarves
8. grilled salmon
9. yellow
10. galoshes
11. fairy wings
12. texts from friends

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Drive Thru Confusion

So, although I understand the convenience of drive-thru windows, I must confess I am not their biggest fan. At In and Out I can deal with it because their menu is very simple. At Sonic I actually like to get out and use the walk up order screens. As for most of the world's drive-thrus, I'd like to pass. There is such pressure to order quickly and move on. As I am spending my hard earned money, I prefer to take my time. Additionally, the menu's are often designed for aesthetics rather than ease of ordering. This also slows down a successful decision. Still I am sometimes drawn in by the convienence of not exiting the car. Yesterday I braved a KFC/Long John silver's Drive thru. First it seemed put together poorly. There was a choose three advertisement a car space before the menu, but no choose three options on the actual menu board. Then they had snack meals which included sides but did not list the sides, and as I discovered when ordering did not include a drink. I had never heard a a fast food meal deal not including a drink. Then they had Dr. Pepper clearly advertised on the menu board, but did not sell Dr. Pepper. Thirdly they had so many sub menus and different meal groups I should have been able to find my perfect combination, but was left overwhelmed and stymied. I vote for the KFC/Long John Silvers drive thru as the world's worst drive thru.