Music Interlude: Romantic Sap Edition

I’m working on a review of Bonhoeffer, but there’s such a wealth there I’m having trouble pulling it together quickly. I hope to be done by Monday. Meanwhile, February is fast approaching and every February I turn into a romantic sap. No, not because of the scent of canned romance that is Valentine’s Day. It’s because our anniversary is in February.

Back during my much younger, more immature days as a bride I figured I’d one day have the wedding I never got to have via a vow renewal. This song would play at it: Natalie Cole’s Inseparable. It has been one of my favorite love songs ever since I can remember. My older sister had a huge R&B vinyl collection when I was a little girl in the 1970’s. Natalie Cole was mixed in.there, and when news of her death was reported earlier this month, I was reminded of the song:

Incidentally, Nat King Cole’s collection of Christmas hymns and carols is the number one thing listened to around our house at Christmas time as well.

Have a great weekend.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

the-miraculous-journey-of-edward-tulane  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo. Published in 2006.

Edward Tulane was a rare and delicate china rabbit, greatly loved and well cared for by the child who owned him, a little girl named Abilene. Abilene adored Edward, treating him as a real and true friend. He even had a seat at the family’s dining table.

Although Edward being made of china, could not express himself to those around him, he thought a great deal about many things. Among them was his near constant sense of pleasure with himself. He was pretty haughty in fact, right up until the day he got lost. Separated from Abilene, Edward begins a journey that lasts many years giving him a new perspective and appreciation for all kinds of people from different walks of life.

I read this book a couple of months ago in order to decide whether or not it would be appropriate for our second grader, who was drawn to it by curiosity brought on by the cover art when she found it on our permanent book shelf. I wasn’t sure if some of the themes were too advanced for her despite her reading ability, but decided to allow her to read it.

Her assessment was that the story was good, however that some chapters were too sad for a children’s book. We have been careful to avoid the post-modern habit of only exposing our children to the most sanitized, upbeat versions of classic stories and fairy tales. Therefore based on her reaction, I concluded that some of the themes explored may be a little intense for children younger than 9 or 10.

Edward spends time with hobos, with a poor family caring for a terminally ill child, and several other interesting characters on his miraculous journey before coming full circle to where it all began.

I enjoyed this book a good deal and recommend it. Read the first chapter here for a teaser.

Grade: B

Content advisory: terminal illness, parental alcoholism, shades of potential mental illness, and child abuse are a few of the themes touched on in this book. In my opinion, these things are presented with delicacy and simplicity so as not to overwhelm young readers. It’s certainly nothing an average 4th grader couldn’t handle and process just fine.

13 Women You Should Never Marry

13 women you should13 Women You Should Never Marry: and How Every Man Can Recognize Them,  by Mary Colbert. Published in March, 2015.

I have read a lot of books written by Christians to Christians about marriage. It’s a curiosity of mine so when I saw this one, written from a proactive rather than reactive perspective (not to mention super cheap), I snapped it up.

Mary Colbert is a mother of two sons and six grandsons, which was the driver behind her desire to write 13 Women You Should Never Marry.

The book is short, concise and direct. She outlines 13 types of women men should watch out for. I recognized myself in most of them during different periods of my life- even as a wife, although not always in as extreme a measure as outlined in this book. The author acknowledged the same of herself as well. I was left wondering to myself as the disciples did after hearing what Christ had to say on the subject: “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

At this point I am sorely tempted to offer a marital philosophy but I won’t, and stick to giving you an idea what you’ll find in the book and my thoughts about it. First, a few examples of the women you will meet in 13 Women before I grade the book. This book, I believe, is an expansion of a column Mrs. Colbert wrote for Charisma magazine back in 2014, so a couple of the descriptions I’ll lift from there.

Blinded Brenda is chronically unable to view life through the lens of anyone’s view but her own. Every situation is judged by how it will affect her personally, whether for good or ill. Even when she has a husband and children, their needs and feelings take a back seat to her own.

Holy Holly was of particular interest to me as I know her intimately. More concerned with the appearance of righteousness than living a life of love and grace, she quotes Scripture constantly, hears God tell her what to do in every area of her life (right down to what color shoes to wear!). Sounds like a fun sister to be married to, no? You can just hear her saying, “God told me not tonight, honey. Gotta fast and pray.”

Addicted Debbie is usually looking in the rear view mirror of life. She sings the “somebody done me something wrong” song to everybody and anybody who will listen. She constantly hashes and rehashes the failures or losses of life. Many times this woman will battle addictions to numb her pain, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or food. Her pains will become your worst nightmare. Remember you are looking for a helpmate, not a mate to help.

Lazy Lucille. The only place the Lord talks about laziness is in conjunction with wickedness—“You wicked, lazy servant.” God sees laziness as wicked. You will know this woman. Her house is a filthy mess, and her car looks like a trash dump. She doesn’t take care of herself in any way. She doesn’t have a healthy love for herself and won’t be able to love you correctly until she does.

Broke-as-a-Joke Julie. This is a woman who has credit issues. She owes money to everybody, and she will have no sense of restraint when it comes to spending money. Just as it is important for a woman to know a man’s financial status, a man should know a woman’s. If she can’t budget her own money, she won’t have any trouble spending yours.

In an attempt to offer some balance the author follows up every exposition of a negative wife trait with examples of women (both in Scripture and in her real life encounters) who exhibit the opposite, more excellent character traits.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that at the end of exploring each woman, Mrs. Colbert then offers a quick little “red flag”, “yellow flag”, “green flag” checklist to help men quickly identify if the woman they are considering is in fact the woman described in the chapter. It lacked the depth she intended for it to convey in my opinion, but it might be useful to some.

This book was a quick read, and given the time most of us give to reading books these days, that’s a good thing. She makes good points and she expresses them well enough. There were certainly a few things that I felt were worth addressing with my own young adult daughters and even though it was written with men in mind, I plan to have them read it. I’m not enamored with it, but it has value.

Grade: B-


The Egg and I

the egg and I The Egg and I, a memoire by Betty MacDonald. Originally published in 1945.

This is one of those books that are equal parts entertaining and educational. I really enjoyed it, it was well written, and it offered a unique insight into the life of a hard working farm wife isolated from the family and friends she left behind to support her husband as he pursued his dream. From what I learned, she later left him so there’s that, but the book covers the period of time from Betty MacDonald’s childhood through the early years of her first marriage.

There were lots of bits here and there that put to death the notion that wives and mothers of yesteryear were women who understood that life was all about fussing over every detail of home and children. Or that they viewed any outside interests as a cardinal sin. Betty MacDonald’s mother -whom I’m sure loved her children very much- was first and foremost a wife and had no reservations about leaving the children with their grandmother while she went off with their father on some grand adventure.

This left Betty with a far less adventurous spirit than her mother, since she was most heavily influenced by her grandmother, to whom adventure was much overrated. Some of the funniest moment in the early parts of the book were her grandmother’s ways of dealing with nature or the potential intruder who never paid a visit.

Nevertheless, there was one thing that Betty’s mother taught her that she took to heart and it’s this lesson with which she opens the book:

Along with teaching us that lamb must be cooked with garlic and that a lady never scratches her head nor spits, my mother taught my sisters and me that it is a wife’s bounden duty to see that her husband is happy in his work. “First make sure that your husband is doing the kind of work he enjoys and is best fitted for and then cheerfully accept whatever it entails. If you marry a doctor, don’t whine because he doesn’t keep the hours of a shoe clerk, and by the same token if you marry a shoe clerk, don’t complain because he doesn’t make as much money as a doctor. Be satisfied that he works regular hours,” Mother told us. page 1

It was in this spirit that Betty, as a young bride, followed her new husband Bob into his dream of being an egg farmer in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He loved it there, thrived on the hard work, and prospered at everything he put his hand to. Betty on the other hand, worked hard and supported him, yet felt perpetually burdened by the isolation, loneliness, and way of life that was foreign to her.

Indians (Native Americans for the politically correct), illegitimacy so commonplace that half families socializing hardly raised eyebrows, a doctor known for doing abortions, and the general lack of propriety fascinated Betty who had been raised on Northeastern values. More than that however, the lack of  socialization and proper reading material weighed on her.

Despite it all, she clearly maintained a wicked sense of humor and it shines forth in The Egg and I. I recommend it. It’s a quick, funny read which offers a take on life in the late 1920’s to early 1930’s that we don’t hear much about when people wax on about the pristine, prim and proper “good ol’ days”.

Grade: B+

There is nothing in the content which merits an advisory.




Mid-Book Musical Interlude: Chill Out Edition

I’ve actually have a few book reviews in draft status, but it’ll be a couple of days before they’re done. Priorities and what not. In the meanwhile, I’m sharing this hilarious video in the spirit of reminding us all to chill out, laugh, and even dance once in a while if you’re so inclined. Enjoy Adventures of a Lifetime, by Coldplay.

For the sticklers: To be honest with you, I’m not clear enough on the lyrics to offer content advisory. It’s harmless enough but my focus here is the video. There’s something apt about it whether the producers realized it or not.


New Year, New Books, New Whatever

Happy New Year to all of you!

This one is a little off topic -inspired by Hearth’s New Year’s thoughts. However, it’s not very far off topic since a lot of what I plan to accomplish is centered around reading more, learning more, and doing more this year. I don’t really do resolutions as I find it much more effective to start making changes the moment you recognize that a change needs to be made. Here is…The List:

  • Read through the Bible. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve done that so I figure it’s time again. I find it easier and more doable when I use The Daily Bible. I even have a pretty new leather bound journal to jot down things to pray and ask my husband about later.
  • Run my first 5K. I learned a lot from Ready to Run, which I will review later, and I’m already to putting it into practice. I was supposed to run a race last year, but every time I was ready to prepare for one I was sick, or injured, or some other thing sidelined me. I’ve been guarding my health like a hawk the past few months because I spent a bit of money to enter this one and I’m not wasting it.
  • Complete at least one sewing project per month. Some will be small. For example, a couple of my older girls have requested sleep masks, and I have a couple of pairs of jeans I’m recycling into skirts. Others will be more involved, depending on time and budget, but I need to step it up in the sewing department. I’ve been getting more acquainted with pattern markings as I’ve read the pattern markings chapter of my recently acquired sewing book.
  • Expand the gardening plot. I usually grow a relatively few vegetables every spring and an occasional two in the fall, but I plan to do more this year. A guy at church clued us in that we can get free composted soil (as much as we like!) from our local landfill and I can’t wait to go do that. This sandy Florida soil usually requires a hefty bit of infusion which can be hard on the budget, so this bit of news excited me!
  • More balanced reading. I already make a pretty big effort to read things that are a cross section of educational, edifying, and entertaining, but it is always good to keep a close eye for the proper balance. yeah, I know that might sound anal to the hedonist readers here, but it’s how I think.
  • Chill out some. Life is too short and too uncertain to go through it with the proverbial stick…Resting in the promise of God’s grace and making every effort to obey Him and please Him frees us from the incessant striving to be more holy and better than everyone around us. It infuses one with joy.

I have all sorts of thoughts that encroach around the first of the year but I mostly dismiss them as just so much silliness that I’ve imbibed from years of reading foolish “New Year, New You” articles. I’ve learned to do what needs to be done to the best of my ability, and set goals as I see a need. All the rest is just New Year’s hype.

Those are a few of my New Year’s thoughts. Feel free to share yours!