what i read in july ~
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
i’ve read about half a dozen of Gail Carson Levine’s juveline fiction books and i love them! most of them are fanciful tales of young girls who find themselves in situations requiring courage, strength and intelligence to get through. there is such a sense of innocence and old fashioned loveliness in her stories that draw me in and make me smile all the way through. additionally, levine is delightfully creative with the tales, characters and worlds that she spins! a tale of two castles was no exception. here’s the plot summary from amazon.com:
“Newly arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries. Their most important case concerns the town’s shape-shifting ogre, Count Jonty Um: Someone is plotting against him. Elodie must disguise herself to discover the source of the threat amid a cast of characters that includes a greedy king, a giddy princess, and a handsome cat trainer.”
there were 2 things i particularly enjoyed about this little story. first was that when elodie arrives in two castles she is quite sure of what she wants. but when obstacles arise and she has to adjust, she rises to the occasion and makes the best of it. she doesn’t give up on her dream, but she realizes that maybe the path to her life’s goal will need to wind about in ways she didn’t expect – but that path can still be an incredible adventure. second, is that by the end of the book elodie has a different perspective on life, the nature and character of those around her and her own personal hopes and dreams. the adventure that she experiences changes her into a more mature, discerning and empathetic girl and it was neat to see her character develop with each page i turned.
while books like these may be “fluff” for someone like me to read, i also find myself encouraged to know that there are still good, sweet, adventure stories out there for young girls. as one who read voraciously as a youth, it gets me excited for any daughters i may have!
the attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink
july was a rough month. during the first part of the month i had another miscarriage. it was almost exactly like the miscarriage we had last july (we had only known for a week, essentially was just like a heavy period with lots of cramping, etc). except this one was way harder on every other level. i wouldn’t go so far as to say it was devastating, but it was really really hard. we had been “trying” for a baby for almost a full year and this was the first positive pregnancy test we’d had since the last miscarriage. so to lose that one too felt so much more disappointing. i hit a low point of hopelessness that weekend like i had never experienced in my life. i told zach that it felt like the question was no longer “when?” but “if?”
in the midst of intense and fluctuating emotions i knew that i needed to draw closer to God as the ultimate source of hope and comfort. so i reached for my copy of the attributes of God. that may sound like an odd book to go for when needing comfort, but i’ve found that i can’t help but be affected and changed deep in my heart when i simply read more about who God is – His faithfulness, His goodness, His sovereignty, His mercy.
i know that it’s ok to feel emotion, engage with your feelings, weep, cry out to God honestly, be sad because of the loss and to hurt because we just don’t understand why. and i definitely did all of those things – several times over. i wasn’t reading as a means of ignoring what i felt or to try and overcome it all by being super-spiritual or anything. as with all things in my life, i need balance. and i’m not always very good at walking a balanced life, especially when strong emotions are involved. the chapters of this book seemed to at least keep me relatively tethered to objective truth and kept me from being completely tossed about by my emotional state. i can’t even say that reading this book made me feel “all better” and that everything was fine and dandy a few chapters in. it actually took a good 8 weeks before i felt that my heart was actually headed confidently down the path of healing, calmness and held some semblance to normalcy again.
we have begun the process of the standard battery of medical tests just to check and see if there is anything glaringly wrong with either me or zach that may be causing the miscarriages. thus far everything has come back completely normal, which is pretty much what we expected. while “no news is good news,” in situations like this, “no news” can sometimes be even more frustrating because it means no clear answers. we don’t feel the need to arrive at any conclusive statements about our ability to have a biological family at this point – after all, something seems to be working since we’ve technically conceived twice. but we feel that it is the prudent and responsible thing to prayerfully pursue medical testing (along with some of our own naturopathic research) and see if God might reveal something to us through those means.
we would definitely appreciate your prayers for us! having children is a strong desire of our hearts! we absolutely believe that God has children for us and we want to trust in His methods and timing for bringing that about in our lives.