Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Because I Just Can't Take it Anymore

I stopped blogging. Haven't done it in months.

But, on a whim, I decided to check my blog stats tonight. And, may I just say?

You people creep me out.

Of the 140 stats that I looked through, nearly 26% were for hits on my post entitled "Can A Person Eat Too Much Asparagus?" Apparently, people from all over the world are googling the phrases "too much asparagus" and "can a person eat too much asparagus." (I'm the number one entry on that last search. Which only proves what I have been saying all along: when it comes to inane, nobody does it better.)

But I'm thinking that if asparagus is the legacy I have left the blogosphere, then I should have left sooner.

Regardless, the thing I want to know is WHY? It's not because you are looking for a good asparagus recipe. The asparagus post that is garnering all this attention didn't contain the recipe. And, according to my stats, only one of the thirty-six hits on that post resulted in someone clicking on the recipe link therein.

So, I need to know. PLEASE! If you are one of the people who keeps googling "too much asparagus" or some such nonsense, can you tell me what, exactly, you are trying to find?

Because this crazy obsession with asparagus is kind of creepy.


Monday, January 07, 2008

The Books of 2007

I'd been keeping track all through the year. I'm posting it because this is the only place where I keep track of this kind of stuff.

1. The Bible - Fantastic. I highly recommend that you read this book! (And I highly recommend the Bible in 90 Days program.)

2. Wild Swans by Jung Chang. You can read my thoughts about this book in this post about Wild Swans.

3. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges - Here is a post about some of the major themes of the book that really hit me, and how I was processing them personally.

4. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath - Here are my thoughts on this so-so book.

5. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - My take on this book starts in the middle of a post about my trip to New York, which is where I was when I finished reading it.

6. Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer - every Christian, go out and get this book right now. GO!

Oh, you want to know why? Here's why.

7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - I read this book because I wanted to read Pride and Prejudice (see below) but it was checked out at the library. I was in the mood for a good story and I knew, after seeing the movie, that I liked S&S. So, I picked it up.

Much better than the movie. I even watched the movie again after reading and the movie was very disappointing.

Yay for Jane Austen. I couldn't put this one down. AND IT'S FICTION!

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - A friend lent the movie to me and, after watching it, I was scratching my head trying to figure out where Darcy's profession of love came from. Seemed totally out of nowhere. (I subjected myself to several more viewings so that I could watch his mannerisms more closely and try to see if I could read more into them. All in the name of research, of course.) Ultimately I decided that I would like to read the book to see if Austen included more explanation of Darcy's feelings for Elizabeth. I was not disappointed.

The thing about reading these Austen books is that you have to sit through all the mundane tea parties and visits that these civil members of polite society engaged in. I had to wonder how they didn't suffocate from the boredom of it all. But, apparently, this was one of the things that Jane Austen was acclaimed for - capturing the mundane - but doing so through characters who were anything but.

One detail didn't quite make sense to me, but I will not even mention it because I think it is more than likely a misunderstanding caused by my difficulty in reading the language of the book.

As a modern reader, the only thing that could have made the book better was if we could have heard of their first kiss or their marriage or something like that. I suppose no proper English woman of her day would have written such things for the public...

And now I am realizing that I have made the book sound much worse than I really thought it. I loved it, actually. I certainly got what I wanted out of it, which was more of Mr. Darcy's feelings throughout the story. I believe I will read this one again. Even think I might like to own it. So how's that for liking it?

9. The Three R's by Ruth Beechik - A short book about natural teaching methods for young children. Eye opening, but completely logical ideas she presented included - not needing to teach children the names of letters in order to teach them to read (teaching only sounds, adding letter names later.) Similarly, not teaching mathematical notation (+, -, =, etc) until children are able to do these concepts easily in their heads. Teaching writing by having children copy good writing. Not worrying about spelling until around grade three. The need for manipulatives in math and separating this kind of activity from mental images and notation work.

I took away a lot of practical ideas for help with homeschooling, but, more importantly, I felt encouraged as I read that I could do this more natural approach (which I have found attractive, but scary, for quite a while.)

10. Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Etheridge - the best part came near the end of the book. It was a list of six (?) different relationship analogies that are described in the Bible. She ranks them in order of the intimacy with God that they portray. Personally, I found these very revealing. (Ironically, she credits this material to another author.) The rest of the book contained some good reminders for maintaining purity, albeit simply written, though her treatment of Scripture is hardly what I would call rigorous. (She uses the "just-as-if-I'd never sinned" to explain the doctrine of justification [shudder]. Such oversimplifications by a teacher always make me question whether the words are worth heeding at all.)

11. Persuasion by Jane Austen - By now, I am onto the pattern. There is a strong yet lovable heroine who has few negative qualities. She has a potential interest from and/or for another man who, to everyone seems quite the catch but, it is later revealed, is a scoundrel of the worst sort. And there is the other guy, the good guy, who ends up getting the girl.

Persuasion is a great story, but frustrating because we see so little interaction between the heroine and her eventual lover. So little. Worse - very little is told throughout the story of Captain Wentworth's feelings. Whatever is gleaned is through the eyes of Anne, who, hoping to regain his affections, can only be considered a biased judge of his intentions. At the end of the book, I was left scratching my head as to why he acted the way he did. He said he'd always loved her, but he didn't ACT like he loved her. I guess this is what makes it suspenseful... but that also makes it hard to believe. And maybe a little boring, too.

And, just like Pride and Prejudice, after the couple are united, the reader finally gets to be with them in private! And, just like Pride and Prejudice, the two of them spend several pages talking about who misunderstood what and how mortified they were at this or that, and yada, yada, yada. And all I was really thinking was "shut up and kiss each other!"

But that's me.

A good book, but I think I liked Pride and Prejudice better.

12. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner - Oooh. This was a good one. Maureen recommended it to me, but for some reason I didn't think I'd like it.

I was wrong.

I love this book because it is about taking a deeper look into expert advice and conventional wisdom. I tend toward skepticism - I question people's conclusions and squint my eyes when people make causal links that don't always seem logical. This book was just the thing. Look deeper. What does the data say?

The authors made what I think is an important distinction between causality and correlation of data sets. And the definition of "conventional wisdom" was refreshing. From school test results to crime statistics to the outcome of Sumo tournaments, the authors looked at data and made some surprising discoveries.

So very interesting.

Probably the last thing I needed was what this book ended up doing - it made me a little more skeptical of what the "experts" say. Of course, what this book also did is remind me that maybe skepticism in that regard isn't such a bad thing after all.

13. Emma by, who else? Jane Austen.

Oh, by the way, we need to ALERT THE MEDIA... this book is a NEW. WORLD. RECORD. Not only have I read 13 books this year, but 5 of them are also FICTION... and not a single one was, ahem, a children's book either.

I think Emma is my favorite. I still can't decide if I think she is far too self-absorbed to deserve my liking her, but then I think "this is fiction so, it really DOESN'T MATTER." Still, I like her. And I think I like Mr. Knightley better than any of the other heroes of the other three I've read. He's sensible, polite, responsible, considerate, and he doesn't mince words. And, he can fall hard for a girl and isn't ashamed of it. So he is not as "hard" as Darcy; we get to see more of him than we do of Wentworth; and I DON'T EVEN REMEMBER enough about the guy in Sense and Sensibility to offer any comparison, so that should speak for itself.

So there, Emma is my favorite. The only thing that might make me change my mind would be finding out that I misinterpreted a bunch of that old English writing and the story isn't really what I think it is.

Which is totally possible.

I might actually finish another book this year.

(Pick yourself up off the floor.)

And now for the list of Books I started this year and WANT to finish, but didn't:
1. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - because, even though it is good reading, it's some kind of heavy. And heavy hurts my head.

2. The Hiding Place by Corey Ten Boom - because I know how it ends, and I have a hard time sleeping at night when I read real stuff like that. And I don't need any more stuff to make me feel all kinds of angst. I am good at angst all by myself.

3. What The Bible Says About Parenting by my main man, John MacArthur. This is the one I thought I might finish before the end of the year. Then there was a little change in my end-of-year plans when I realized that I had incorrectly knit (knitted?) 52 rows of a sleeve for a sweater that I NEED to get done before the baby I am making it for outgrows it. That was about four days worth of work down the toilet. But, hey, with the sentence structure of this very paragraph I have pretty much thrown all the rules of grammar and composition down the toilet too.

Just keeping with the theme, y'all.

Next up, we have the list of Books that I got for Christmas and will definitely be on my reading list for next year:

1. A Peculiar People by Rodney Clapp

2. How Should we Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer.

3. The Bible by God. I didn't really get it for Christmas, but I am getting ready to read it again. I'll let you know how it turns out.

And the list of Books that Have Been on my Reading List That I Really (I MEAN it) Want to Read This Year, Finally. Alleleuia, Amen.

1. The Tipping Point. And I don't remember who wrote that. Gladwell?

2. Hard to Believe. MacArthur.

3. Money, Sex and Power (AKA The Challenge of the Disciplined Life.) Richard Foster

4. And maybe I will finally get around to finishing In Search of Schrodinger's Cat. I really, really want to finish that one.

And finally, the Books I started this year and will not ever, even if you pay me, though I doubt you would, but even if you did, I wouldn't finish reading, ever:

1. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck - because I got half way through the book and realized that I absolutely did not care about what happened to the main character (I forget his name.) I didn't want to read any more about him or his life. I just didn't like him.

2. A Circle of Quiet by the lady whose name I can't remember. Madeline L'Engle, perhaps. It just didn't grab my attention.

3. Unexpected News. (Author - ???) Again, it just didn't grab me. I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to learn what it had to offer, but it just wasn't interesting.

Only three. Pretty good, eh?

Thank you. Thank you very much.

How many you think I can read in 2008?




Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Bible in 90 Days" Begins January 2, 2008

Membership for this study is now closed. If you would like to be notified when (and if) I do this study again, please e-mail me and I will save your information for the appropriate time. Thanks for stopping by!

If you are here, I am sure it's because one of my kind bloggy friends mentioned something about participating in the Bible in 90 Days reading program. No doubt you are interested, or you wouldn't have clicked over. Here is everything I can think of that you would need to know. If you read through all of this and you still have questions, please e-mail me using the link at the right.

What is this program?
The mission, as stated in The Bible in 90 Days literature, is "to read, ATTENTIVELY, every word of the Bible in 90 Days. "

If you would like more information, you can read testimonials and some FAQs at the Bible in 90 Days website.

Have you, personally, done this program before?
Yes. I wrote a little about my experience with it in this post.

Why would anyone want to read the Bible in 90 days?
The idea is that by reading it in large chunks over a short period of time, you are able to make connections and see themes that you might not otherwise catch. It is not meant to be an in-depth study. However, there is MUCH to be learned by reading the Bible in this way.

Do you actually retain anything when you read through it that fast?
The point is not to learn every detail of the Bible. The point is to see the big picture.

That being said, I can tell you that I can still recall every specific thing that God taught me through the study. Why I remember who the Kohathites, Elihu, and Asaph are, I don't know. But I know who they are, and why they are important. My study gave me a framework for the history of Israel that I'd never had before and everything I have studied since then has been a new piece added to that framework. Through this study, God tendered my heart for His chosen nation, Israel. God used this study to spark in me a love for the Old Testament that I have never had before. He enlarged, beyond my ability to explain, my vision of Him. And when I began to read the New Testament, it was with fresh eyes that I beheld Jesus. He just wasn't the same guy I'd been reading about for so many years.

So, all that to say: you won't retain every bit of Bible trivia there is to know. But, while I don't know what you will retain, I'm certain you will retain whatever God gives you as you read.

His word always accomplishes whatever he purposes to do with it, you know.

Can I participate?
Before you make the decision to participate in this study, allow me to make a few requests:

1. Please do not sign up if you plan to do another Bible study during the 90 days.

2. You will be asked to make a serious commitment to complete your reading in 90 Days. That means that from January through March you will need to set aside 45 minutes to an hour EVERY DAY for reading. You need to be aware that something will very likely come up during that time which will throw you off your schedule. You need to be prepared for it and you need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get back on schedule.

I am asking you to take this commitment seriously for two reasons. First, the benefit of this program comes from reading all of the Bible in a short period of time. Every day of reading beyond 90 days lessens that benefit. Second, this is an ACCOUNTABILITY group, and I take that seriously. That means that throughout the 90 Days, I will be contacting members individually to see how each is doing. I am willing to do this for a group of 60 committed women. This is a lot of work for me, so I am requesting, for my sake, that you don't join this group on a whim.

3. I lead this group last year in person at my church as well as online through the Yahoo group. Sixty-six percent of the church group completed the Bible within the 90 Days. Only fifteen percent of the online group completed on time, and the majority did not complete it at all. For this reason, I am asking you to seriously consider doing this program with another "real-life" person - your husband, your best friend - someone you will be able to talk to frequently about what you are reading.

4. Again, this is an accountability group. As such, you will be asked to report your progress each week. If you are unwilling to make yourself accountable to the group, you are less likely to complete the program. Please consider this before joining.

Right on, Lori! Sign me up!
We will use a Yahoo group to share information, check in each week, and post questions and encouragement. If you would like to join the group, simply send me an e-mail (see link in sidebar) NO EARLIER than December 1. You must contact me using the e-mail account you wish to use for all of your 90 Day communication.

I will keep the sign-ups open until 60 women sign up or until December 15, whichever comes first. After December 15, no new members will be added to the group. (I will take more than 60 people if someone else volunteers to help moderate the group. If you are interested in moderating, please let me know in your e-mail.)

After December 15th, look for your invitation to the Yahoo group. To those of you with Yahoo accounts: please make sure that your preferences are set to accept an invitation to a Yahoo group. If the invitation is rejected because your preferences will not allow it, you will not be able to join the group.

In the time remaining before the program begins, familiarize yourself with the Yahoo group and, if you want to use one, order your participant's guide. Also, contact me with any questions or technical difficulties you may be having so that we can get everything running smoothly before we begin.

If you are expecting an invitation but haven't received one by December 17, please make sure that the invitation was not directed to your junk mail folder before contacting me.

Thanks, y'all. I sincerely hope you will join in.... a blessing awaits you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life is a Series of Hellos and Goodbyes

Oh, the things that are Rattling Around. So very many things. I've even been kicking around a "big" idea for several months now... I have been trying to find the motivation to type it all up with flourishes and frills. But you know what?

It isn't worth it.

I have, for a very long time now, found this blogging thing wholly unsatisfying. Even disappointing. I could elaborate, but I don't think it matters. The bottom line is, I'm not enjoying it anymore. So, I am leaving the blogosphere and focusing my energy elsewhere. Thanks to all of you lovelies who have commented here, lurked here, encouraged me privately, or written your own blogs for me to enjoy. I bet if we lived closer I'd count many of you as good friends.

I'd still love to chat with you, if you'd like to drop me an e-mail now and again. But when we meet in real life, we'll sit down for a long chat over hot coffee.

Until then - keep it real.

I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again.
-Billy Joel, Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Look At ME!

I'm taking a break. I am posting just because I can!

Things here on the official day 2 of school are going okay. I did two loads of laundry today. Served lunch without too much chaos. Cleaned the bathroom sink. Got Ms. Boo a shower (I still wash her hair.) Made butternut squash soup. Completed all of Boo's lessons with her. Built a fort (several times.) And - this is the kicker - all the kids had their teeth brushed today.

Maybe, and I do mean maybe, I can settle in with this schedule. Much of it depends on how willing the Boo is to do her work. Today was better than yesterday. But we've had lots of breaks (read: snacks) worked into the day, so maybe it will be doable.

Ms. Bao has been a little bit difficult. She's still very impatient and can't wait for us to finish part of a lesson if she has decided that she needs me for something. But we are working on it. And she is only getting older, so I take comfort in that. (And any of you out there who want to tell me that the threes are worse than the twos, please don't.)

In the mean time, I'd like to ask you all to pray for Ms. Bao. She has been getting various itchy welts all over her body for over a month now. It calmed down considerably about a week ago, but the last two days have been bad. Huge welts. Her lip has swollen a few times. She scratches so hard that she bleeds.

The initial blood test for all the "regular" allergies came back clear. We are scheduled to see the pediatric allergist on Friday of next week - and she can't have any allergy medication for five days before the testing. If the reaction doesn't calm down soon, it will be a very difficult five days.

Anyway, that's all for now. If any of you have been praying for me as this school year has started, I appreciate it.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I am busy, and HELLO, losing weight takes up a lot of time! Homeschooling and some laundry are just about all I am able to accomplish of late during an average day. Today I actually got dinner in the crock pot before noon. It's like a banner day, I tell ya.

Not that my weight is going to mean a doggone thing in the near future, because I will be DEAD over the stress of getting just the basics done around here, but here is the weight update:

Lost one pound this week. Down to 138. Total lost since beginning the challenge, 10.5 pounds.

Go encourage some other folks who have also taken on the weight loss challenge.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Improving His Record

"I think for ten years I have struggled against Tiger. My record was pathetic."
- Phil Mickelson

What fun watching him go head-to-head with Tiger today and beating him outright. Of course he wasn't satisfied with beating Tiger by five strokes so, in true Mickelson fashion, he had to make us all squirm a bit as he whittled it to a more comfortable two.

Great fun, Phil. Thanks for the show.

And, by the way, I don't know much about PGA politics or what kind of discussions are going on behind closed doors, but I do know this: If you give up your shot at the $10 million FedEx Cup Title just so you can be home with your kids when they start school this week, you will be the permanent all-time "number one" on my list of favorite golfers.

I'm guessing there is a little more to it than just your desire to see the kids off, but I'd be giddy if you did it.

Do it, Phil. DO IT!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Aliens Have Abducted my Child

And they've programmed her replacement to say: "Mom, can I please do a handwriting lesson today?"

Hello, Aliens! If you want me to believe this creature is my child, you are going to have make her say things that my child would actually say!


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Blessings

You have all shared some great thoughts in answer to my question about blessings. I've been thinking about it quite a bit. For a long time, actually.

I began thinking about it back when I was regularly posting to my blessings blog. If you don't know what that was, it was simply a place where I recorded my blessings (almost) daily with the goal of recording 3600 for the year.

As time went on, I realized that many of my blessings were very superficial things. Individual food items made the list more times than I care to count. Stuff that made me happy. Stuff that "worked out" for me. But even as I typed some of those things into the post, I wondered if they were really blessings at all.

Was that brownie really a blessing because I enjoyed it so much? What if I was already full when I ate it? Does enjoying something automatically qualify it as a blessing? In truth, wasn't I taking advantage of the abundance of food God has placed around me? Wasn't it really just self-indulgence?

When Paul and I were buying our first computer, we both spent some time praying first and, individually, we came up with the same amount of money that we were willing to spend. We shopped around once or twice, but we didn't find anything in that price range that met our needs. So we bought a more expensive computer.

I could have walked around and told everybody what a blessing my computer was because now I could e-mail my family and I could shop for deals online. But God, if I dare say so, might just have raised his eyebrow at me and said, "Blessing? I didn't give you that computer. You took it for yourself!"

Paul and I spent some time in prayer after that decision. And it began with our confession that we did not exercise faith when we made the purchase. It wasn't a blessing. It was our greed.

We are blessed, no doubt, to own a computer. But that is not my point.

What I am really mulling over is the lifestyle that we live. By "we" I mean my family, but I think this applies generally to Christians living in this culture.

I wonder how much we have fallen prey to the "I need stuff" mentality without even realizing it. We often refer to material things as blessings, because, I think, we want to express how grateful we are for owning them. We call ourselves "blessed" when we look at our house and our car and when we consider our ability to go to Starbuck's anytime we want, or buy the latest DVD.

And I'm not saying those things aren't blessings... if God really GAVE them to us. But how often do we let God choose to bless us as opposed to just taking things because we can.

And is it really a blessing if the latter is true?

More on this later. Until then, shoot back some more of your great thoughts.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weigh In

I didn't gain or lose this week. I half expected to be WAY up this week, so I guess I can be pleased with not gaining.

I exercised a bunch, but eating wasn't great. I have felt really tired. REALLY tired. I wonder if the new workout I am doing is too intense, if I am not getting enough iron, or if it's just a PMS thing. I started taking my multivitamin again. If I can just remember to do that each day...

Current weight: 139.0 lbs

Total lost since beginning the challenge: 9.5 lbs (and feeling like I need to remove the "I've lost 10 pounds" button from the blog!)

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