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

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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.

Court: 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.

books through the eyes of a dog

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I had a horribly vivid dream on Saturday night.

It was about our beloved dog Hazel and I woke up covered in sweat and surprised

my screaming wasn’t audible.

Dreams are interesting, aren’t they?

They feel so real but often the scenarios are far-fetched with the tiniest

shard of truth mixed in.

It took me quite awhile to return to slumber and I slept later than Carl on Sunday

morning.

The moment I tumbled out of bed, I found Hazel waiting patiently at the glass hall door,

opened it quickly and beckoned her to come and lay beside my side of the bed.

I didn’t mind the incessant panting that has arrived with her senior dog status,

I simply wanted her to be close to me.

Later in the day, I was chatting to Courtney about this doggy dream and we agreed

part of the reason must be seeing the reality of Hazel’s aging process.

She has the mind and personality of a puppy but her body is stiff and betrays her.

Her senses are starting to fail her and there is not anything we can do to halt this stage.

Since books have been a great topic in our home this month, to lighten up the mood,

she and I batted back and forth the books we thought Hazel would like and dislike.

Perhaps because of the dream or that October still has 10 more days,

bear with me as I share a dog’s perspective on books.

In Hazel’s words, of course.

Hazel’s Favorite Books:

 

go dog go

Go Dog Go-Two words…dog party!

 

my dog carl

Good Dog, Carl-I laugh every time I think of my
master (Carl) being a dog.

martha speaks

Martha Speaks-This is a great book
for a family who wonders what it would
be like if their dog started to speak.
I am thankful my family understands
everything I say.

Hazel’s not so favorite books:

I get in trouble for picking up crumpled up Kleenex.

My family doesn’t like it too much.

If they would stop reading these types of

books or watching the movies based on these

books, it would help me stay out of trouble.

old_yeller

Old Yeller

where the red fern grows

Where The Red Fern Grows

Hachiko-Waits

Hachiko Waits

 

What’s your favorite book about dogs or animals?
This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

every morning and evening

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 “Starbucks might cause me to start drinking coffee again!”

I had given up coffee nearly two years ago.

Drinking coffee is perfectly fine but for me; it started to take over my life.

It had begun as a morning tradition and seeped into an evening habit.

Slowly I began thinking about coffee again.

Perhaps it was the weather change or living in Portland, Oregon.

It is hard to live in a city where the slightest shift in wind direction bathes

the air  with the intoxicating aroma of freshly roasted coffee.

Whatever the reason, I missed coffee.

Tea was a worthy substitute.

I cozied up with Earl Grey or English Breakfast and

applauded my fortitude.

While my husband pondered my absurd proclamation,

knowing he missed our shared coffee ritual,

I launched into my rationale.

I had innocently pulled my car up to a coffee window to order my

favorite tea latte only to learn

my tea of choice were being phased out.

The new teas would arrive in November.

November!

I had put my hopes in a substitute only to have it wrestled from my grasp.

My husband patiently listened as I presented my case from my passenger seat.

He reminded me there was nothing wrong with drinking coffee again.

Gradually my resolve was weakening as we finished our last errand.

He then demonstrated the most loving selfless act,

he took me to a different Starbucks counter and encouraged

me to try again.

He wondered if I might receive a different answer.

We left armed with a steaming paper cup of tea,

a smile on my face and a mini-crisis adverted.

Coffee has reminded me of old ways.

My old life was filled with weightier matters than my hot beverage preferences.

Coming to Christ has meant turning my back on the nudges of my old life.

New life isn’t free from tormenters who make it their aim to recapture me.

“For forty days,
the Philistine came forward every morning and evening
and took his stand.”

I Samuel 17:16

There are tormenters or Goliaths in my life who wage a relentless pursuit, armed

and ready to take a stand against new life in Christ.

Their tactics create a shadow across the life I inhabit.

They whisper questions as familiar as those uttered by the snake to Eve.

They hope to lull me into a state of forgetfulness and create alluring visions

of momentary pleasures disguised as detrimental needs.

Jesus freely extends an overflowing cup of new life.

Every morning and evening I choose Jesus.

I only need to ask him once but often, I need confirmation that

I truly belong to Him.

His answer never changes.

He tenderly speaks to me from the full measure of His character and

obliterates my fear of  losing His presence

or discovering His resources depleted.

He inhabits the lives of others to continue to steady my path.

He’s revealed in my husband who is well acquainted with my weaknesses

yet clasps my fingers in his and guides me back to where I belong.

 

Every morning and evening,

I  not only choose new life,

I receive new life.

A new life which towers over

every competitor with grace,

goodness and peace.

Forever grateful, He welcomes coffee and tea drinkers alike.

**********

I am linking up with others from The High Calling community
as we share stories about Finding New Life.
Read other stories here.

ways to read more books

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Most people want to read more.

Many people feel guilty they don’t read at all.

You don’t have to feel this way any longer.

I have several tips to bring reading back into your daily reality.

  • Pick a book or two

    This may seem obvious but chances are if you aren’t reading,
    it might have to do with not having a book picked out.
    Or you may have a book you have picked up several times to read
    and you can’t seem to make any progress.
    Put down that book and find another one.
    You are an adult and you will not be punished for not finishing a book
    you are not enjoying.
    Determine if you like fiction or non-fiction.
    Choose a book which interests you or one you keep hearing mentioned.
    Start with a book that is less than 300 pages.
    When you are trying to get back into a rhythm of reading, now is not the
    time to read War and Peace.
    Go to the library or to your favorite book store and look
    at the staff recommendations.
    Ask a friend what they are reading.
    Post the question to Facebook for book titles.
    Choose two books, begin one and if it doesn’t interest you,
    start the other book.
  • Be prepared and make a new habit
    I used to fill my water bottle and leave it behind on the counter
    instead of taking it in the car.
    I would walk right back my reusable grocery bags and arrive
    at the store without them.
    It took countless attempts before I developed the habit of never
    being without my water bottle and my grocery bags.
    Get in the habit of carrying your book with you.
    This is the best way to capture bonus minutes to read when you
    least expect to find any time.
    Waiting at the doctor’s office or for a child’s practice to end
    are stolen moments to sneak a few pages.
    There are any number to times when reading can be done
    instead of scrolling our phone screens.
  • Be an unspoken for time detective
    No matter how busy we are, there is always
    unspoken for time.
    It’s the time when we sit back and watch television
    or when we mindlessly click away on our computers.
    It could be when we simply procrastinate.
    Be ruthless and find those moments that don’t
    belong to anything and cash them in for reading time.
    I have heard just reading 15 minutes per day,
    an average speed reader could read 20
    books each year.
    Got 15 minutes?
    Read.
    Mute the television.
    Read during commercials.
  • Drop Everything And Read
    When my daughters were in school,
    they practiced DEAR time or
    Drop 
    Everything and Read.
    Lately I have been 
    following this mantra while
    Caleb logs his 
    school reading minutes.
    It normally occurs 
    around the time
    I should be making dinner 
    but I try to drop everything
    and find a place to sit 
    down and read.
    It is always a struggle to drop
    everything and often I Caleb is almost finished by
    the time I sit down.
    I am working on it day by day but I am discovering
    this is a great way to sneak in a little extra
    reading time.
  • Read book blogs
    I have grown to love reading blogs
    dedicated to books.
    Some are informative and alert me to
    new books while others are just plain funny. 

    Here are a few of my favorites and
    a simple website for determining what
    book you should read next based on your
    reading history.Book Riot
    Modern Mrs. Darcy
    The Barnes and Noble Blog
    What Should I Read Next

As I write this post,
it is a dark rainy day in Portland,
Caleb’s soccer practice has been cancelled,
I know the perfect book to fill some unexpected time.

Happy Reading!

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

currently reading

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Here’s a quick look at what I am currently reading.

A book I have always intended to read:

The Alchemist

Have you read it?

What took me so long?

A book from a much beloved series:

After years of repeatedly seeing Outlander on

countless favorite book list,

I decided I would read just the first book.

I had no intention of reading the series.

Well never mind because like Caleb I want

to know what happens to the characters and

why mess with a sure thing.

Enter Dragonfly in Amber (book 2 in the Outlander series)

I took the Good Reads challenge this year and I think

it is only fair that each Outlander book count for 3 books as

most are over 900 pages.

Oh well.

A book residing on my bookshelf with a bookmark:

An Arrow Pointing To Heaven is a devotional biography

about singer/songwriter Rich Mullins by James Bryan Smith.

I happened to watch the movie Ragamuffin based on Mullins

life recently and decided to restart the book

and finally finish it.

So many of his songs comprise the soundtrack of my faith

and I am enjoying the glimpse into the faith of a man

who strewn words and music together so brilliantly.

A book I couldn’t leave the store without bringing home:

Friendships fascinate me.

In Friends for the Journey, acclaimed writers

Madeleine L’ Engle and Luci Shaw take turns

sharing about their rich friendship.

The centerpiece of the book is Madeleine and Luci’s friendship

but they also share about the other important relationships

in their lives over the years.

Each page makes me cling a little tighter to my friends.

What are reading?

**********

Coming up:

  • Ways to read more books
  • Part 2 of the book interview with my daughters

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

 

 

a quartet of books

31 days of books has been the result a repeated question from

my friend Karen,

“Why don’t you share what you are reading?” 

Well it has taken me half of the month to get back to

the origins of this series.

Today I will share 4 books from different genres.

I will add more in the days to come.

Click the book cover for the links.

 

invisible girls

The Invisible Girls is a moving memoir which recounts
Sarah’s battle with breast cancer in her 20’s and a
chance encounter with a Somali refuge family and the
mostly unlikely of friendships that ensues.
This is the most brief and basic description of this book.
It is one of the most beautiful true stories of redemption
I have ever read.I am stunned I forgot to list it among
my favorite memoir posts.

I had the pleasure of hearing Sarah speak prior to reading
the book and if you ever get a chance to hear her in person,
make it happen. She lives here in Portland, Oregon.

dancing on the head of a pin

I plan to write a post on my favorite books
about the writing practice during this series.
I finished this book last week.
I have a very tender spot for Robert Benson
as he is the author of one
of my most treasured prayer books, Venite.

The thing about writing is one must write.
The problem is that if you spend too much time
trying to work your way through most writing books
you never have time to pick up a pen.
In way less than 200 pages, Robert Benson
shares lessons and gems which have guided
him along the writers path.
I am so appreciative for the way he has generously
shared from his wealth of experience and wisdom.
I came away with new and unique ways
to communicate the written word.

parnassus-on-wheels

I read this book on Sunday. It is a
novella. I might begin to only read novellas
as it was very 
satisfying to start and finish a sweet
story on the same day.
This book was written in the 1900’s
about a woman who buys what
we would call today a book mobile from
a traveling vagabond.
A funny delightful story.

the nesting place

We live in a world where it is easy to
be discontent with our surroundings.
I must admit, I am just as prone as
anyone to look around my home and
find all the flaws.
I am positive I have never seen homes pictured
in magazines with an assortment of sports
balls under most pieces of furniture.
Nope that would be my house and the
camera crews have yet to schedule
a photo shoot.

The Nesting Place takes you gently
by the hand and helps the renter or
the homeowner embrace their homes
in its varying states of imperfection.
It’s not about perfection, it is about
making a house a home and the multitude
of ways this can be accomplished.
This would be a perfect gift for newlyweds.

 

What have you read recently?
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

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From left to right, meet Carlen aka Len or Lenny Lou, age 25 (gulp!) and
Courtney aka Court, Coco or Nee Nee, age 21 (another gulp!).
They are all things wonderful and delightful. I believe they are in the throes of
a precious sweet spot in their sister friendship.
It is swoon worthy to behold.
Just look at those money smiles.
I mean that literally smiles made from MONEY ;)
Worth every penny.

I can’t tell you how much fun I had talking to Caleb first about books and then
spending some time on Saturday afternoon while these two
discussed books and recalled memories of their childhood.

My challenge to you is start having conversations with others about books.
Especially the books you read as children. I guarantee you will learn something
about one another and create new connections.
I have loved reading your comments here and on Facebook.
Keep the conversation going!

     **********

We gathered around our dining room table with an assortment of Dutch Brothers,
Starbucks and an energy drink to discuss books.
I merely was a spectator, a note taker and from time
to time lobbed out questions when I was able to get in a word.
We ran out of time so this will be the first of a two-part conversation with my girls.

Me: Girls, I initially asked you to tell me your 5 or so favorite books, which you did
with some difficulty. So after my interview with Caleb, I decided you two deserved
equal time and I know we will appreciate your perspective. So thanks for agreeing
to sit down with me.

The Girls: Sure!

Me: Okay, let’s start with your favorite childhood books. Throw out some titles.

Court: The Seven Silly Eaters, that cake looked so good.

seven silly eaters

Len: Oh that was a good book. I liked that too.
I also liked Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,
Miss Rumphius, the one where everyone is laying all over
the old lady, what was it called?

Me: The Napping House.

Len: Yes, The Napping House, I loved that book.
Also Chrysanthemum and Owen.
I loved Kevin Henkes.
Oh Stellaluna.

Me: We all loved Kevin Henkes!

Court: I liked A Bad Case of the Stripes,

Bamboozled with that really crazy house

bamboozled book
and The Stinky Cheese Man.

Len: Any of the If You Give… books and the book about the Koala Bear.

Me: Oh yes, Koala Lou!
Koala Lou, I do love you!

The Girls: YES!

Me: Okay, let’s move onto favorite books read aloud by your dear mother.

The Girls: The Secret Garden (laughter erupts).

Me: The Secret Garden was almost your last read aloud.

The Girls: The accent was hilarious. (more laughter)

Me: Yes, I tried my best to do an English accent but you both teased me mercilessly.
So glad we brought this up, I was almost over the humiliation.

Court: Hinds Feet on High Places and Inkheart.

Len: My Father’s Dragon and the Narnia books.

my fathers dragon

Caleb: (from the living room) Oh, I liked My Father’s Dragon, I read
all three of the books.

The Girls: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm!
We loved that book.

Me: Have you both always loved reading?

Len: Nope.

Court: Yes, absolutely.

Me: Tell me more Carlen.

Len: I didn’t like being told what books to read in school.
It seemed to take all the joy out of reading.

Court: Carlen,I remember when Mom tried to get you to read Harry Potter when
it first came out. I would watch you sit on the couch and move your head back and
forth. I was like, there is no way you are reading Carlen.
You were faking it.

Len: (laughs with a cackle) I know. I did not want to read that book. I just
wasn’t into that book. I wasn’t into magic and there was so much talk
about that book at the time.

Me: Yeah, despite all the controversy about Harry Potter at the time,
I was trying anything to get you back into wanting to read. I just
prayed you would find your way back to books.

Me: How long did it take you get back into enjoying reading and
what was the spark?

Len: I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was in 5th grade. It was a book
that Mom had always encouraged me to read. It was always on the book
tables she set up for Reading Is Fundamental. It was a book that taught
me not to judge a book by its cover.

bridge to terabithia

Me: That book was a healing book as you dealt with the death of a classmate in 5th grade.
Terabithia meant a lot to both of us.
Remember going to hear Katherine Paterson lecture downtown
the same year.
We went to the book signing but I think we were both
too emotional to even approach her.

Me: Court, you have always loved to read books. Why?

Court: I don’t know. I just do. I like how you can picture the story that is being told.
It’s different from watching a movie or television.
I just need to read.

Len: I love watching Court read. She sits in her favorite chair and she is all
curled up. I watch her facial expressions and it makes me want to know what
she is reading and even to read the book.
I think it is her way to relax.

Court: Yeah, I agree.

Me: Okay, girls. We have to get to Caleb’s soccer game.
Can we take up this conversation later?

The Girls: Sure. Absolutely, this has been a blast.

Next weekend, we’ll talk about favorite authors, what is it about the books
assigned in middle school, the books they have read multiple times
and the never-ending debate of read the book first or see the movie first,
then read the book.
Oh and I want to know about Court’s uncanny ability to read books
light years before they become huge hits. She’s got the gift.
And perhaps why I could never get either of you to read Nancy Drew.

**********

What are your favorite books to read aloud?

Do you do accents?

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