elevator grace

elevator button

 

I confess when I am alone in an elevator, I push the button to close the doors

as quickly as possible.

Elevators can be awkward.

Usually when I need an elevator, I seem to be in a hurry.

I definitely do not want to linger before arriving at my destination.

Last Thursday, I had an appointment with a specialist

as I have some blood levels which are being quite rebellious.

The consultation I thought would last 30 minutes spanned close

to 2 hours leaving me a bit sore from all the poking and prodding

and offering up more blood.

I raced to the elevator and was the only one waiting for that

familiar ding and lit up arrow to draw me closer to my car

in the parking garage below.

Of the four door options, I found the one with the gaping hole

and stepped inside.

I pressed the number button and perhaps assuming I was “safe”,

I didn’t push the close door arrows.

The doors were closing and I was exhaling as

a man straddled the threshold and stumbled inside,

joining me.

He was white-haired and quite striking.

I quickly determined

if his floor choice needed to be pushed.

With a grin he told me we were going

the same direction and asked how I was.

I told him I was doing alright.

I reciprocated by asking him the identical question.

Without his smile leaving his face, he paused.

He glanced his eyes to the heavens which in this case,

was a cold metal ceiling and didn’t utter a word.

His pause was long enough that even

without our elevator encasing it would have felt awkward.

Silence reigned and I wanted to reach out

to touch his arm or even give him a hug.

But we were in an elevator and surely this gesture

would have broken protocol or etiquette.

It was a pause saturated with meaning.

When what felt like the final grain of sand had joined a

heaping mountain in the bottom of an hourglass,

he volunteered,

“You know, just sitting in those rooms makes

my blood pressure go up.”

As the doors begin to slide apart and

this dear man strides to exit,

I nod and say,

“Yeah, they don’t give us lollipops or stickers

when we have been brave anymore.”

He turns and faces me as we are now

among the cars in the cool, dark dampness

of the underground garage.

He says,

“Oh yeah.”

“Man, that’s a good line.”

He is still wearing the smile.

The smile we have learned to assign ourselves

in our public lives.

The smile meant to shield the world from the inner

life residing in the dark, damp underground

place we park our fears and concerns.

I could see behind his smile and he knew I was not

just feeding him a line.

We parted as people in cars visually pleaded with us

to vacate our parking spots.

We separated by telling one another to take care.

I sat in my car and prayed for a man I will most

likely never see again.

I prayed he has people in his life who will wait with him

in the pause, even when it feels awkward and long.

I prayed they would remain after the words are uttered.

I prayed that he has comforting places where he can

wear whatever face he deems appropriate.

I prayed that he would be steadied when his pulse races.

An elevator,

a check-out line,

a cross walk,

a classroom,

a bus

or any other everyday place can be an opportunity

to gaze into someone’s eyes and offer them grace.

Each day we have the privilege to give others  stickers

and lollipops of our affection and concern as they bravely

walk through a life filled with landmines.

Perhaps we all need to pause before we push

the doors closed.

 

 

advent: one or two things edition

Two-Hands-Holding-A-Pink-Paper-Heart_thumb[3]

The church I attended while growing up adhered to the church calendar.

I especially looked forward to the Advent season, the slow procession

towards Christmas.

Each Sunday leading to Christmas, a member or a family would

read a scripture related to each week’s theme and light one of the candles

circling the wreath.

With held breaths, the candlelit Christmas Eve service would

begin with high school students presiding over  the evening.

As children, we waited to reach the magical age of the teen years

and take charge of the church for an hour.

As adults, I hope we can wait with similar anticipation of the

unfolding season of Christmas.

Tomorrow, when I open my devotional books,

I will begin on page one.

Advent means coming or arrival and Sunday

marks the beginning of the church calendar year.

With all the promise of new

beginnings, they can create a tendency to overload

our to-do list.

Personally, I have done a bit of thinking and

am determined to put on an attitude of waiting

and only do 1 or 2 things during this season.

I went to a DIY craft fair with a friend last week

and saw dozens of great ideas, I am only

choosing one or two crafts and the same

goes for food items.

Believe me, I want to make 90% of the offerings,

but in this instance less means more time for other endeavors.

I reflected on my intentions regarding Advent calendars and

came to the conclusion that 24 days of doing anything is

a challenge during a busy Christmas season.

We always fall behind and I feel like a failure.

We are doing a stripped down version this year

a la 12 days of Christmas.

I audibly exhaled after making this decision.

Why do I often take activities designed to bring

joy and make them a burden?

As far as Advent reading, I can be so prone to

want to read every. single. book.

This year I will continue with my normal readings

and add this one and nothing else.

The following are a few other options you

might enjoy as well:

Good News of Great Joy

YouVersion (multiple options and lengths)

She Reads Truth-O Come Let Us Adore Him

 

In 2006, our pastor joined with 5 other pastors

to develop the Advent Conspiracy .

You can read more about it here.

In simplest terms it is a clarion call to

Give More, Spend Less.

We decided to revamp our Christmas list

for each member of

our family to fill out this year:

  • Something you need
  • Something you want
  • Something to wear
  • Something to do
  • Something to read
  • Someone to bless who is in need
  • A charitable activity to do as a family
  • The one movie I must see before the holidays end
  • The favorite holiday treat I must eat
  • My favorite holiday activity to do as a family
  • My favorite holiday tradition
  • A game I want to play with the family

Our hope is there will only be one or

two items under the “me” categories and

many more than one or two ideas under the

family and others categories.

That’s our intention.

That’s our plan.

Let’s welcome Advent with waiting

and extending ourselves on behalf of

others and not merely overextending

ourselves.

Oh and yes by all means exhale a lot

by only adding that which brings meaning

and exercising your right to say “no thank you.”

Joyous Advent!

 

 

 

 

my gift giving philosophy

bike and flowers

Who doesn’t love to receive gifts?

I might love giving gifts more.

Only a few  people know I would love

to be a personal gift shopper.

I even know what I would call myself.

At this very moment in my life, it seems outlandish

so for now I’ll keep the name close to my heart,

because you never know ;)

 

 

I want to share a little about my mindset when

it comes to gift giving.

Before you assume every gift I’ve given has been

stellar and met with rave reviews,

I have most assuredly given my fair share of clunkers.

In fact some of you reading are nodding your heads

in hearty agreement. (Sorry.)

My tips and thoughts are intended to help you learn from

my feeble attempts.

I would guess 90% of those less than favorable

gifts  have been for two reasons:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Trying to hard

My first word of advice is to allow plenty

of lead time before you approach a gift deadline.

Set a phone reminder to alert you to start the decision

process or to put a card in the mail

(words can be a precious timely gift).

Hurry is the enemy of creativity and gift giving.

“It’s the thought that counts”  is a saying which has often

strayed from its original intent to being a verbal way

to let ourselves off the hook when we doubt

our gift efforts.

With some forethought, you can make your gifts count.

There are a multitude of reasons to give a gift.

To me, whether the occasion is celebratory or

otherwise,

I give gifts to show love,

care, concern

and to make people feel known.

The times when I have tried too hard have been occasions

when I have misspent my time trying to impress rather

than remembering the true aim of giving a gift.

Ask yourself this question:

Will this gift make the recipient

feel loved,

cared for,

show my concern

or

feel known?

Now that you have secured time to think about

your gift,

what’s next?

 

Listen

If you don’t follow any of my tips, obey this one.

I firmly believe most people in our lives will

tell us unknowingly the gifts they would like.

If you take the time to listen to what someone is saying

or the words they seem to repeat, you are miles ahead

in choosing the right gift.

A meaningful gift is all about discovering what

a person needs more than what you think they want.

Hear them loud and clear when they talk about their

passions, dreams and goals.

Lean closer and listen to their hobby chatter.

Do they crave time to recharge or to be pampered?

Have they repeatedly borrowed something of yours?

Now is the perfect time to buy them one

of their own.

Oh and those cookies always getting raves

from a certain someone,

pile them high on a plate and attach the recipe.

When people mention any of their favorite things,

remember by jotting down a note.

Listening helps you become an expert on

a person’s life.

Who doesn’t want to hear those wonderful words,

“How did you know?”

when a present

is unwrapped?

Smile,

knowing it

is all because of the art of listening well.


Get your Sherlock Holmes on

What happens when you haven’t been

listening and you need a gift pronto?

This is the time to look for clues.

Reread a few newsy emails.

Take a look at their Facebook or Instagram

pages.

Reflect on what season in life they are currently

residing.

Are they nearing retirement or juggling toddlers?

Approaching an empty nest or returning to the work force?

What area of struggle is present in their lives?

Gifts don’t always have to fit in a box or bag.

Bring a meal to an overwhelmed friend.

Soft athletic socks tied with a ribbon to

someone trying to get back on the fitness trail.

Or a night of free babysitting for a single mom or

a sleep deprived couple.

Ponder what would be meaningful to this person in

this particular time in their life.

If you are still drawing a blank or if

all your sleuthing efforts have failed, you can simply


Ask

A gift doesn’t have to be a surprise.

You can always ask the people in your life,

what ways or things would

add value to their lives.

Hopefully they won’t ask for a Maserati but if

they do, this is an opportunity to share a laugh together.

Asking signals to a person you care and are thinking about

them.

This is a great gift by itself.

I believe most people will surprise us by what they really need.

You may discover a wonderful way to give a gift

without panicking or requiring hours walking store aisles.

Often people want our time,

our attention,

our companionship

or even our skills which they lack.

Maybe an elderly relative would love a

weekly phone call or chat over tea.

You might have a flair for decorating and

a friend who could use your expertise.

Let the people in your life surprise you by

being bold enough to ask.

 

Pray

Before I begin the process of thinking,

during the procuring and

after the giving of a gift,

I pray.

I pray I have listened well.

I pray I have looked over the

details of their life and discerned them

accurately.

I pray I would choose a gift

resembling them and not me.

I pray for God’s creativity and mind

to flow into me so I can truly bless

the receiver.

Then I open my hands and extend

the gift to be claimed.

**********

Happy gift giving during 

this season and beyond.

 

***p.s. if you are beyond stumped in the
gift department. You will find
my email address is on the right side
of this blog. I would love to brainstorm
with you. Truly.

darkness and light

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This was my view when I entered our bathroom this morning.

It wasn’t a staged photo opportunity.

It simply was the pile of supplies used during the course of yesterday to treat

a child battling a cold.

I had just finished calling the school to document his absence

when I noticed the candle’s close proximity to the medication line-up.

Choose Happiness.

My word for 2014 is relinquish.

This word has taught me many lessons over these past 11 months.

Although the word relinquish seems to float effortlessly off

my tongue, I have choked on this word a fair amount.

The photo above illustrates what I have come to know deeply.

Our days are littered with opportunities

to relinquish,

to yield,

to give up,

to release our hold

on circumstances that careen

into our paths.

But there is always the possibility of reaching

towards the light hovering next

to every situation.

For me to live a life of relinquishment

requires making incremental adjustments

throughout the course of my day.

If I don’t learn how to yield even

in the smallest

areas of my life,

when the big stuff comes,

(and it will come),

I will succumb to holding on with a death grip.

My small area today is a sick Caleb,

throwing the balance of my

day’s plans out of alignment.

I can choose to care with love or

I can care with an attitude.

Have you ever taken care of someone with

a poor mental mindset?

Has someone cared for you with a

crummy mood?

If not, I am sure we can all use our imaginations

as to how this might look or feel.

When I exercise relinquishment,

I don’t always have to prove I am right.

I don’t always have to have the last word.

I don’t have to demand the answers

to my questions this very minute.

I can choose to give someone the right of way,

literally and figuratively.

While driving, I can pause and give an oncoming car

the right of way.

Yet I often speed up believing if I am

faster, I’m not really impeding their journey, right?

Perhaps relinquishing isn’t about choosing

the path of happiness but rather the  bumpy cobblestone

road leading to peace.

Romans 12 is a chapter I revisit often whenever

I feel out of alignment.

When I pour over the words,

many verses help define relinquishment.

Although I fail so often in this way, this year an arrow

has pointed to this verse as one way to relinquish.

 If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Often it is easy to choose the right way to behave,

the hard part is doing it with a peaceable attitude and heart.

Each day there will be boxes of difficult circumstances

jutted up against a beacon of light leading the way,

a better way called relinquishment.

It’s not a call to ignore my feelings which

undoubtedly will surface,

because that would be pointless and dishonest.

It is a call to step back and lead with love,

with patience,

with eyes beyond my own desires.

It calling to memory that each moment

is not all about me.

Some days it is all about taking temperatures and

reminding a boy he is cherished and not a bother.

It’s about offering him a cup of cold Vitamin Water given

with love in His name.

**********

Despite the example,
Caleb is the dearest of patients,
full of thank you’s and appreciation.
His mother…well that is another post
for another day :)

 

book stack love

11200-Stack-Of-Books

We have reached the end of this series celebrating books.

I must admit, I have talked and written more about books than

I thought possible.

This series will forever hold a sweet spot in my heart when I reflect on

interviewing my children, my mom sharing her words of wisdom

and continuing the conversation on Facebook.

No matter how much technology changes,

you simply must give your whole attention to reading a book.

Whether you like to fold back the cover of a paperback or touch

a screen to turn a page, you can’t read a book and do another activity

simultaneously, at least not very well.

If I could open my front door and welcome each one of you inside.

I would.

If we could sit in the living room warmed by a fireplace

filled with flames of gold and coals glowing orange.

We would.

We would sit with a stack of literature between us and one

by one I would offer you the gift of a good book.

Oh how I wish we could.

Sometimes magic only resides in books, so the next best thing

is to offer you my virtual book stack.

Welcome.

Grab a seat and pretend there is a roaring fire in your midst

and I will attempt to share the contents of my towering book stack*.

Some of the best books come in small packages:

The Nutshell Library
Any book by Joan Walsh Anglund

If you ever dreamed of being Harriet the Spy,
Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown:

The Flavia de Luce Mysteries

When you need to believe in magic:

The Night Circus

When a tear-jerker is good for the soul:

Me Before You
Tell the Wolves I’m Home
The Book Thief
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Ellen Foster
The End of Your Life Book Club
The Year of Magical Thinking

When you want a book to tell
the truth about life, the joys,
sorrows, doubts and hopes:

Cold Tangerines
Bittersweet
Still

Run don’t walk to get these books:

The Gifts of Imperfection
Daring Greatly

When you need to read something honest
about addiction for yourself or someone
you love:

Sober Mercies

When you want to learn from monks
without escaping to a monastery:

The Hawk and Dove trilogy

When you are afraid:

Hinds Feet on High Places

When church makes you feel like
Stretch Armstrong:

Introverts in the Church

When you need solid timeless wisdom:

Keep A Quiet Heart

When you desire discipline to 
produce freedom:

Celebration of Discipline

When your soul cries out for rest
and you don’t know how:

The Rest of God

When you want a book combining
countless genres and is inspired
by the Creator. I give you the 
Book of all Books:

The Bible


What book would you offer me from your  book stack?

*It has taken me several days to finish this post,
mainly because I put too much pressure on myself to 
include EVERY book. This list represents what has 
crossed my mind or hasn’t been mentioned in a 
previous post during this series.
There are more books to read and many books I will
recall moments after pressing publish. Grrr.
But for now, this is the stack of books given to
you as possibilities to behold along life’s journey.

 

This post is part of the 31 days…yet again series.
You can find all the other posts at the top of the blog
by pressing the circle with 3 lines button or here.

 

 

the fine art of procrastination

 

peanuts-halloween2

Yesterday marked one of the last two days in my month-long book series.

The end was in sight so  what did I do?

I procrastinated.

I decided to take a personality quiz on Facebook that would tell me

what I already know,

on the Myers-Briggs spectrum, I am an INFJ.

No surprise as each time I have taken the long version

of the test, my results creep higher and higher on the introversion

portion.

But quizzes on Facebook are not a complete time waster because

although I knew my type was rare, I didn’t know how rare.

Only 3% of the population is this personality type some

studies suggest closer to 1.5%.

It makes me feel a bit lonely.

But then I read that Barack Obama is my type.

So goodness, the sky is the limit for me.

Right?!

I won’t let a personality type be the boss of me,

but it does give me more insight into my ways and

some much-needed grace.

So instead of writing one of the last two posts,

I was watching TED talks on creativity and

one on introversion.

I should have been writing,

I should have been putting

the finishing touches on Caleb’s Halloween costume

but I sat in my chair immovable.

It might be worth mentioning that

I am the worst costume maker in the land and even

though this fact rears its mean-spirited head every

October, it doesn’t entice me to start early,

it causes me to fret and then panic.

Since I am quite adept at procrastinating,

the rest of life caught up with me and there was now

no time to sit and do what I should have been doing.

Tomorrow the calendar leaves October,

the ever-lovin’ costume will be thrown in a corner in favor

of unwrapping candy loot and I believe there is

still one more post in me.

I think I can.

I think I can.

I will be opening up my virtual gift bag and extending

to you my parting book offerings.

But until then, if you have 20 minutes, watch (or listen

as you multitask) this brilliant TED Talk by Susan Cain

the author of Quiet.

It’s about introversion, school, work, books and will

make you laugh and think.

Until tomorrow:

Do you know your Myers Briggs personality type?

 

 

a room of her own

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The last week of a month-long challenge is always the most difficult. I am thrilled that my
mom is making the final days of October easier by graciously agreeing to share
a reflection about one of her favorite books.
My mother is one of the finest people I know. She is gracious, generous, intelligent
beyond measure, a gorgeous soprano, my first piano teacher and she loves people
deeply and genuinely. She married the first man I ever loved, isn’t that grand?
She had a varied career at Washington State University where she was an Associate
Director of International Education for many years. She has a passion for conflict
resolution and mediation. She finished her tenure at WSU as the Associate Vice
Provost for Equity and Diversity.
She is now enjoying the sweet spot of retirement.
I am so blessed to have her as my mom, mentor and friend.

 Welcome Felicia Gaskins, my mom.

**********

I have always loved to read and I started reading at an early age.
It is difficult to choose just one book.
However, I hope to read all my life so the book I have chosen is one that has influenced how I am living my life in retirement.
The book is A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces
written by designer Chris Casson Madden.
The title reminds us of Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own.”
So what does a design book have to do with spiritual discipline?

Initially, I bought this book because I admire Chris Madden’s design.
Over the years that I have owned the book, I have begun to think about how the women’s spaces portrayed in the book influence their lives.
I began to think about how little time I spend on caring for myself.
By caring for myself, I mean physically, mentally and spiritually.
So I have had my own room in our home since I retired.
Having a place to go every morning to read my devotional books and Bible has made me more disciplined about starting my day in a positive way.
At night I read a book called
Blessings for the Evening: Finding Peace in God’s Presence.

The space that one creates does not have to be a big, fancy space.
Madden’s book describes women with elaborate spaces and women who only have their bed or a table in an out-of-the-way space.
In every case the space symbolizes the place where one can go to be alone with oneself and God.
If you have not tried being alone on a regular basis, it may be difficult at first.
I have come to look forward to my quiet time every day
and try not to skip this special time away.

Do you have a room or a space of your own?

This post is part of the 31 days…yet again series.
You can find all the other posts at the top of the blog
by pressing the circle with 3 lines button or here.

spiritual teachers

 

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During our conversation, it became apparent my daughters differ in their preference of

reading the same book repeatedly.

I was reminded of the books I have read daily or year after year.

The stack above is a collection of books that have accompanied

me during the morning hours and remained steadfast through

the ever-changing landscape of life.

Just like a faithful friend, they encourage, remind and provide

a foundation of strength to keep standing.

There are several more I could place on the honorable mention

list, some might even be your favorites but besides

my Bibles, these have been my truest guides.

(A tiny sliver of me feels so vulnerable sharing these
books. Perhaps because they are a window to this delicate
and fierce walk of faith.)

Daily Light: A common thread of scriptures for the morning and the evening.
One of two devotional I have given the most to loved ones.

Jesus Calling: This is my number two gift devotional. I started reading
this devotional a long time before it became so popular. I loved that it
always seemed to express what I needed to read.
(If you are curious to know my #3 gift, it would be Blessing for the Evening.
It would make my stack, but I don’t own it. Isn’t that wild?) :)

Let Go: This might be a strange choice, how a slim book of letters
written by a 17th century French Archbishop would find its way
into my hands but I am thankful it did. This book is tough and
tender. It has this beautiful sunset on the cover but don’t be fooled.
Sometimes we need our teachers to be gentle, sometimes we
need a little shaking. It’s all about surrender.

My Utmost For His Highest: I started reading this devotional
in high school. A friend raved about it so I eventually bought
a copy of the original version and I couldn’t understand it.
Later in college, they came out with a contemporary version
and it was much more to my comprehension. This probably
explains why my friend went on to become an emergency
room doctor and I did not. I do read the original from time to
time and understand it more, it only takes me two readings now ;)
Timeless wisdom.

Seeking God’s Face: This one makes me sigh. For years,
I have wanted to follow a lectionary or a listing of daily scriptures
to read based on the church calendar. No matter which one
I would choose, I was confused. I never knew if I was
reading in the correct place. It drove my perfectionist heart
crazy. Enter this wonderful book made for non-emergency
room doctors tee hee. Here’s a picture.

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See the box? For the next 12 years (heh) I will know my place!
That’s a very good thing.

31 Days of Praise/Prayer: There are times in life when words are distant,
prayer seems futile and difficult. I alternated between these two volumes as
they taught me how to prayer through the scriptures and to keep clinging
to His promises.

How To Study The Bible For Yourself: The pages of this book are yellowed
by age. There is so much wisdom in this small book. I return to it time
and again to be reminded of the many ways to study the Word of God.

Venite: I have written about this book several times. It is now out of print
but used copies can be found. I was raised in church and over my 50 years,
have been apart of so many church traditions and experiences.I am so
grateful for this fact. I also know that I love tradition.
The pastor of the church we now attend always says we are a storied
people steeped in the story of God. I adore this and it is the very reason
I reached back to grasp the old ways. This prayer
book helped me rediscover parts of my church upbringing I had abandoned.
I found it at a time when I was very much in a wilderness and physically
stopping to pray throughout my day and night changed my life.
It changed my heart and drenched me with peace and hope.
I know it sounds trite or cliché but truly I felt my soul fly home
when I began to pray the hours.
There is something so sacred about uttering words that have been
said by countless seekers over centuries.

I wrote Robert Benson who
compiled this book to thank him and to share how
unaware my soul was missing
something until I started praying the hours.
(His letter response is a very cherished possession.)
I wish I always stopped my busyness to pray throughout
the day but when I remember
to pause, I am remade breath by breath.

Whispers of Hope: I bought this book in 2005 at a Beth Moore
conference in Spokane, Washington. I am so happy that she has
updated and recently re-released it.
(Although for those of us with large handwriting, I wish
they had kept the book the same size…oh well.)
Each day is a scripture reading,some thoughts from Beth
and spaces to write out prayers.
I can fan through the pages and see the multitude of prayers
required during that time frame. Some answered and
some remain. I wonder if all of them had been answered would
I still have the need to pray. As I let my eyes roam over those
needs still not resolved, I can’t ignore the reality of seeing His hand.
I know that He has drawn me closer to Himself.
I have changed in the midst of each hardship.
It is more than hindsight allowing me to see more clearly.
It is the prayers of 2005 and the God who was more than equal to
those cries, He is the same God who walked me through
the aching years that would follow.
He knew when I poured my ink prayers onto paper
that more hardship would come and He would remain.
He still remains.

What books bring you comfort?

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

 

 

a weekend thought

a_stack_of_books_and_a_good_cup_of_tea_by_mind_wolf-d7dnka5

 

I didn’t mean to disappear last week.

I will finish up this series next week.

It should come as no surprise that we have

books all over our house.

At times it gets a bit ridiculous especially

when I bring home a small stack from the library

to add to the piles.

I read the most interesting article this week.

At first it made me shudder but it also made

me think so differently about the books I house

on my shelves.

I haven’t formulated my final opinion but i might

implement some of the actions.

Over the weekend, I hope you get a chance to read

a good book, sip on the hot beverage of your choice

and if you have a moment, read this piece on

book sentimentality.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

Books I am reading this weekend:

The Secret Zoo (for boys book club)

The True Secret of Writing

The Skinnytaste Cookbook
(one of my favorite food blogs finally
has all the goodness in hardcover.

Happy Reading!

 This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

chatting books with my girls (part two)

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This is part two of my book discussion with my daughters Carlen and Courtney.
You can read part one here.
With a week between conversations, the girls added a few books they had forgotten and
we had an equally grand time. It bolstered my estimation of the books read during their
childhood. I found their reading history wide and varied.
Parenting can be all-consuming and
often we only see the faintest brushstrokes of the life canvas our children are painting
but some days we catch the briefest of glimpses of how the portrait is taking shape.
In an instant we are reminded of when we first laid eyes on them and believed
they were a masterpiece.
Now all these years later, the truth remains but the visual is more
breathtaking than imagined.
I adored this time with my girls.
As to not be outdone  by their brother, they chose to display their selfie love
with Caleb-like photo antics.
Enjoy.

Me: Okay girls, let’s get right down to business. 
What did you forget to mention from the last conversation?

Carlen: Favorite all-time read aloud: The Search for Delicious.

Court: The Wind in the Willows.

Me: The Wind in the Willows was great but it took such a long time to read.

Carlen: It was a fun read aloud because you didn’t do any accents.

Me: Hey, watch it!

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Me: Middle school is a period of time when many people start to not 
enjoy reading.
What is it about middle school and what were some of those
books that you were required to read?

Court: I remember reading A Day No Pig Would Die and it was quite graphic.
It was good but still a bit much.
I think it depended on your teacher and their preferences. In sixth grade,
I remember reading Huckleberry Finn which had a lot of language in it.
I also read To Kill A Mockingbird around that same time as well.
I seem to remember reading a lot of Steinbeck.

Carlen: Speak, A Place to Stand and The Kite Runner.
Into the Wild and Breaking Free were memorable.

Court: It definitely was teacher dependent.
Carlen read Persepolis in middle school,
I didn’t read it until high school.

Carlen: By the time I got to high school, I was really burnt out on reading. Especially after
my freshman year, we read so many books with such intensely hard racial issues.
It was difficult to be the only person of color in class.

Court: Oh yeah. It gets kind of old being the voice for your race.

Me: Yes, all eyes on you.

Court: Freshman year, we spent a lot of time reading Eye on the Prize and watching the film. We also read a book from a young local author The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and
The Secret Life of Bees.
Oh and we read Fences.

Carlen: I loved my freshman English teacher she was very passionate about reading
books about different cultures. We read The Color Purple, The House on Mango Street,
When the Emperor Was Divine and Night.
After awhile I asked her if I could read some other types of
non-fiction.
It was not until my senior year when we could read books of our own choosing
as long as they were varied in genre.
That’s when I began to enjoy reading again.
Before senior year, I went into a long phase of reading comic books. Ha.
I just needed a break.
I wore out my copies of Calvin and Hobbes.

Me: Depending on your life experience or season of life, books can be powerful
but also emotionally exhausting if they don’t arrive at the right time..
Tell me some of your favorite books over the years.

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Carlen: The Catcher in the Rye.

Court: I know you are supposed to love that book, but I hated it.

Carlen: I think it is one of those books you love or hate. It’s okay.

Carlen: I loved Of Mice and Men, Bridge to Terabithia, Regarding
The Fountain, How to Win Friends and Influence People, My Sister’s Keeper,
The Hunger Games, any book by John Maxwell, Holes or any book by
Louis SacharJerry Spinelli or Shel Silverstein.
I also loved authors Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Court: For me I would say, A Corner of the Universe, A Series of Unfortunate Events,
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Gone Girl, A Change of Heart, Among
The Hidden, Beastly (totally boycotted the movie). Room was a book where
I really didn’t like some of the characters but it still was really good.

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Me: I couldn’t wait to share Nancy Drew with the two of you. 
Why wouldn’t you give her a chance?

Court: I had Nate the Great, that was enough for me.

Carlen: Okay, The Box Car Children was pushing it with me.
I think I read about 5 of those books.Those books were so old.
I just was never into  mystery as a genre.
I liked playing Clue but that was about all.

(Laughter)

Carlen: OH! Columbine by Dave Cullen, Courtney and I
both read that book a few summers ago.
It completely changed my whole view of the media.
We never know the whole story.

Court: The book is laid out so well and is divided into different
categories. It was of course really sad but very good at the same
time.

Carlen: I bawled all the way through the book.

Me: Do you ever read books over again?

Court: I don’t usually read books again.
The only books I have read repeatedly are A Corner in the Universe
and Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl.

Carlen: I think I read Holes about 7 times and even listened to the audio tape.
I read Regarding the Fountain a lot, it is so funny.
Calvin and Hobbes: Something Under the Bed Is Drooling, I read it to pieces.

I read Out of the Dust several times. Karen Hesse writes amazing poetry.

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Me: Let the battle begin: Book or movie first?

Court: (stands up) Read the book first! I like to go into a book with anticipation.
I like not knowing  what is going to happen. There are more details in the book.
Even if changes are made in the movie, it makes more sense because you
have the book as the explanation. A movie may have plot holes which do
not make sense unless you have read the book. Reading the book after seeing
the movie, I doubt I would pay as much attention to details because I have already
seen a visual outline of the book.
POW!

Carlen: Watch the movie first. When I read My Sister’s Keeper first,
I was devastated when I saw how they changed the book and the ending.
Now, I see the movie and I can enjoy it for what it is. I know I
will probably enjoy the book more but reading it after the fact, makes
the movie experience fuller.
I am more of a movie buff anyway.

Court: Yeah, I am the book lover.
So this makes sense.

Caleb: Can you tell if a book is good by looking at it?

Carlen: Absolutely not. One of my favorite books, has the most
terrible cover.

Courtney: No, I remember when we had a book club and all of us
wanted to read this 101 Dalmatian chapter book based on the cover.
The book was horrible. All the moms made us read it anyway.

Me: I think it was probably because we secretly didn’t want you girls
to pick the book in the first place. I admit, we were mean.

Me: Court, you have an uncanny way of reading books sometimes
years before they become huge hits. I had a great track record
of finding children books before the masses when you both were
growing up.
What’s your secret?

Court: I don’t know. I am always on the look out.
I read book lists. I search the library’s new books.
I read anything that has a book list and see what strikes
my interest.

Me: Last questions, what are reading now and what have you
been meaning to read?

Court: I am reading The Stand, House of Leaves,
Songs of the Humpback Whale, High Rise and 11/22/63.

It’s crazy but I wanna finish East of Eden.
I have like 20 pages left.

Me: Court, that was like 2 summers ago.
Finish it already.

Court: I know, I know.

Carlen: I am reading Gone Girl and Outliers.

I want to read White Oleander and Anna Karenina.

Me: Girls, it has been the most fun to talk to you
about books.
It was my hope that you would love books as much as 
I do.
Let’s keep the conversation going.

Carlen: Next time we should talk about movies.

Court: Oooo, that would be fun.

Me: Or maybe debate whether book covers should
be changed to the movie poster?
I vote an emphatic no!

Carlen: Yes, in most cases.

Court:No, no, no, definitely not!
I didn’t like it when they changed the cover of
Holes or The Hunger Games.

Me: On opposite sides again, I see.
Until next time.
Now I have the task of turning
all these sheets of notes into a blog post
and adding dozens of links.
Wow, you have read a lot of books
and I know I won’t be able to add them all.
(I didn’t…aren’t you glad?!

I love you, my sweets.

Carlen: I love you Mom.

Court: I love you Mama.
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This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.