yikes! i really slacked off on the blogging. sorry friends. one week i was preparing to fly to phoenix to help administrate a marriage retreat for grace church of peoria… another week i was shopping and setting up for our church’s monthly women’s meeting, i don’t remember what happened last week… and now it’s been nearly a whole month of no blogging. i feel like i have so much to catch up on! i’m eager to give you an update on my sugar fast (see previous post), what i’ve been reading, my trip to phoenix, some thoughts on growing in godliness and my latest Pinterest-inspired successes and failures (yes, there have been a couple fails).
since i’m already 2 months behind on what i’ve been reading, i’m going to start with that.
fun/fiction – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
although i knew the story (having seen this excellent movie adaptation), i had never read the book. it was just as delightful as i expected and felt like an easier read compared to some of austen’s other works. catherine moreland just makes me smile. her innocence coupled with her run-away imagination kept me alternatively laughing and cringing. and her overly-dramatic thoughts may or may not have reminded me of myself, particularly as an adolescent. and how can you not adore mr. tilney? he is a favorite of mine when it comes to austen’s men, specifically because he is strong and good with a great sense of humor, but still flawed and imperfect. one recurring annoyance i have had with austen’s writing (don’t shoot me) – and also why i often enjoy the movies more than the books (seriously, please don’t shoot me) – is that she sort of skips over what seem to be the happiest and most romantic “scenes”! a clear declaration of love or proposal of marriage are retroactively mentioned or referenced with such benign and droll description in the chapter after it happens. “he declared his love for her and she assured him that the affection was returned. the wedding was planned for 6 months later.” as if austen had grown bored of the story and just wanted to wrap things up really quickly. after being treated to such delightful writing and language up until that point, i would find myself shrieking, “what? no! what did they SAY? how did he ask??” i was venting my annoyance to my sister in law (one of my go-to friends for all things literary because she’s smart that way) and she was able to bring some clarity. apparently, austen rarely ever wrote of things she had not personally experienced. and since austen never was engaged or married, she avoided writing of those scenes explicitly. huh. well, ok. i’ll just watch the movies for those scenes instead. (which i already do with Sense & Sensibility. i pretty much watch the whole move just for the “proposal” scene at the end. which, the way they don’t actually articulate everything (“he’s kneeling down!”) is a sweet nod to austen’s aforementioned pattern.)
growth/spiritual – The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson
contentment is always a good thing to grow in, right? and i was feeling a stronger need for growth in this area. so i grabbed this book off my shelf and designated it for february. on the one hand, it is replete with reasons why contentment is biblical and has a very systematic approach to the facets of contentment – why it’s important, the fruit of it, clarifications of what it is and is not, and things that attack/inhibit contentment. it’s written by a puritan from the 17th century, so the language takes a bit more effort to read. but it’s not a long book, so spreading it out over a month was doable. my only complaint about the book was that i felt like it had [too] strong of a “try harder, do better” approach to contentment. or that it was more objectively about the topic, than how to actually become or grow in contentment. like, “contentment is good thing and here’s why. you want to be more content? ok, well then BE more content!” and not as much “you need grace and the Holy Spirit if you’re going to grow and change. yes, obedience and diligence are necessary for growth, but only in Christ and His strength can you do all things (Phil 4:13).” so while i felt that my soul benefited from several aspects of the book throughout, i found myself having to sort of coach myself through it, coupling it with other teachings i’ve received and truths from scripture in order to glean as much as possible.
fun/fiction – The Princess and the Goblin, by George McDonald
i actually read this book using the kindle app on my iphone ($1.99 for the complete works of george mcdonald?? um, ok!), but i wish i had read the hard copy pictured above – doesn’t it look lovely?? you might be noticing a pattern here – i’ve been reading a lot of classics for my “fun” reading. that’s no accident. while being an avid reader growing up, and while i did read a fair bit of classic literature, my interest was largely directed toward juvenile fiction, especially of the mystery persuasion. 🙂 so i’m doing a little bit of catching up in that area. but i digress… The Princess and the Goblin was super sweet. i enjoyed it immensely and repeatedly thought to myself, “now THIS is the kind of children’s story i can’t wait to read to my children!” particularly because it was a delightful adventure story, had creative and beautifully descriptive language, some fantasy and a hint of romance, but it also upheld strong moral character – not only by example in the characters, but also directly, ie “being a princess, she obeyed at once, since that’s what real princesses do.” i’m eager to read the sequel, The Princess and Curdie.
growth/spiritual – Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross
my primary motivation behind reading this book in the month of march is because it’s all about the passion of christ. i figured it would be a great read leading up to Easter (which seems a little early this year – april 8th). the book is a complication of teachings on various aspects of Christ’s death and resurrection – from the garden of gethsemane to our life in Christ as a result of His resurrection. each chapter is written by a respected evangelical individual, some long dead (John Owen, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, CH Spurgeon) and some still faithfully serving God today (John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, John MacArthur, Tim Keller, CJ Mahaney). I found this book so very encouraging to my soul and helpful for exactly what I had hoped – to direct my thoughts and heart more toward all that is encompassed in celebrating Easter.