Book Review · Reading

Lit! (a review)

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I loved this book.  Tony Reinke has written one of the clearest arguments for why we, as Christians, should read, how to read, what to read, when to find time to read, etc.

The beginning of this book was super helpful.  Reinke spent nearly the first half explaining the theology of reading.  Essentially, why we read.  I’ve always loved words and these chapters opened up to me the beauty of letters and phrases and sentences in a way that I had never seen before.

We are made to be a people of words.  Our culture has placed such an emphasis on the image and the sound-wave, while dropping the significance of reading.  God has created us to be a people who read.  It stretches our minds to greater heights of knowing Him, seeing His beauty, and seeking His glory throughout all of life.

The second half of the book is a practical guide to reading and I enjoyed it just as thoroughly as the first half.  It has encouraged me to persevere in finding time to read and to say no to the distractions that seek to keep me from the discipline of reading.  I now feel better equipped to read well for the glory of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(Picture taken from Goodreads)

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Confession: I read the 12th chapter of this book first.  Before everyone starts shooting me for degrading the proper way to read a book or any other outlandish things you wish to shout at me, I had a purpose in this.  The 12th chapter was entitled, “Marginalia” and it is essentially a how-to chapter for writing in books.  I wanted to be able to know how to write well in books, so I could mark up the entire book.

I know.  Writing in books is evil.  The fear of writing in books was put in me at a very early age and I still feel a delicious rebellion when I write in my books now.  But, as Tony Reinke points out in chapter twelve, there are very good reasons for writing in books and now I fully agree with him.  I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of the book, read chapter twelve, and start brandishing your reading pen (or all of them, if you’re like me and believe that the inside of a book should look colorful).

Writing

How to Fail at Writing

How to Fail at Writing

People are always telling you how to accomplish things.  Not quite as often do they give you the insider advice on how to be an expert at failing something.

I happen to be an expert at failing at writing.  So, here’s a very brief, simple five-step plan to becoming an expert like me.

(1) Don’t write.
While it seems fairly obvious, the fastest way to failure is to simply not do something.  I have become quite good at this and have been known to stop writing for days, weeks, even months at a time.  If you try hard enough, I’m sure you can do it too!

(2) Always stay up late and sleep in.
When your body is deprived of a healthy sleep cycle, it will rebel against daily disciplines like writing.  To really make use of this tip, I would stay up until at least 11 and then not get up again until 7:30 at the earliest.  Trust me.  When you put in the effort, you can get good at this.

(3) Eat only junk food and never drink anything other than soda.
This is one that I still struggle with.  I just like water way too much.  Make sure you’re cutting out vegetables and piling on those carbohydrates.  Pop-Tarts are your new best friend.  That and drinking lots and lots of carbonated drinks.

(4) Never exercise.
I can’t begin to tell you how important this step is.  You can be diligent in the other steps so far and be getting good at failure, but if you exercise, it will actually wake your brain up, ruin the progress you’ve made, and you might even feel the urge to write.  Run far, far away from any form of exercise.  Wait a second, don’t run.  That would be exercising.  Just sit on the couch and repel it with your light saber.

(5) Fill your mind with useless thought material that numbs your mind and *Attention: this is the most important part of the entire stinkin’ process* NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES are you to make following God the highest priority in your life.
Okay, so first you need to concentrate on knowing lots of facts about things that interest you, but aren’t really helpful to normal life.  This would include my mass knowledge of LOTR behind the scenes information and my IMDB type brain that can usually recognize at least one actor in every single movie I watch.  (I’m rather obsessive.)  Now, you don’t have to do this in just the movie realm.  This step can be accomplished in virtually any area of life.  Try to find your fulfillment in your vast knowledge and not in concrete things, especially not in God.

This is the most important thing.  If you make following God the highest priority in your life, you’ll slowly stop failing more and more.  You don’t want this.  To be a true expert at failure, you need to avoid reading your Bible, stop going to church (or at least stop mentally/actively participating), and definitely do not pray.  As long as you avoid these things, you should be good.

Well, there you have it.  My five proven steps to becoming an expert at failure.  It’s worked for me time out of mind and I know it will work for you.  Just try and see if you can’t fail a little better tomorrow because of it!

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(As I hope everyone already knows, this post is completely facetious and meant to kick you into high-gear doing the complete opposite of what it suggests.)

Book Review · Reading

The Awakening of Miss Prim (a review)

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After starting this book a few months ago and then never finishing it, I resolved to finally finish it today.  Approximately five hours later, my eyes fell on the final words and it was over.  Now comes the difficult part.  How am I to express what I think of it?  To say I have some mixed emotions would be like saying that the sun rises in the morning and sets at night.

I have always loved books that make me laugh out loud and this one certainly did.  I was squirreled away in my basement bedroom for the five hours and there were many loud exclamations of laughter floating out my door over that time frame.  The dialogue was VERY well-written and I found myself continually cheering on one character or another as they bantered amongst themselves.

I must admit that I foresaw the coupling of two particular characters right from the beginning.  I mean no offense to the authoress if she didn’t mean it to be so, but it was about as plain as the nose on my face.  What I did not see coming, was the way she kept them separated.  I was in mental agony as the pages started to run out and I could foresee no resolution that would make my happy ending.  There were many scribblings of Agh! in the margins.

I can’t say that I am completely satisfied with the ending.  It was somewhat confusing and I didn’t fully understand it until I read a Q/A on the book’s Goodreads page.  (Not that I completely understand it now.)  I find myself fluctuating between adoring the book and wanting to pitch it across the room.

In the end, I don’t think it was time wasted, though.  There were a couple of positive things that I gleaned during those five hours.  First, this book speaks very highly of homeschooling and encouraging a more classical approach to education.  It makes me yearn to continue learning as long as I am able and, if and when God chooses to give me children, to teach them as much as I can, as widely as I can.

Second, this book shows how important it is to be equally yoked.  Enough said.

(Picture taken from Goodreads)

Book Review · Reading

Don’t Waste Your Life (a review)

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As an eighteen year old living in the 21st century, it is all too easy to waste this life that I’ve been given.  I am grateful to men like John Piper who are burdened with the desire to save my generation from the folly of wastefulness.  With this burden in mind, Piper penned a book in 2003 called Don’t Waste Your Life.  I just finished reading this book and I have to say, I think it is one of the most meaningful, convicting books that I have ever read.

He starts by documenting his search for fulfillment, the tumult he felt without it, and the great joy that overwhelmed him when he realized Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of everything and that to bring Him glory is to take joy in Him.  He continues to weave this thread throughout the remainder of the book, which caused my heart to yearn towards Christ and also forced me to come to grips with the shallowness of my current life.  I know that I am wasting my life, but I am also given hope that that can change.

I would more than likely have been even more convicted if I had had the time to sift through this book more slowly.  Piper’s writing style was a bit deeper than most of the nonfiction books I’ve read in my life.  He doesn’t beat around the bush when he says things, but sometimes it can seem to take longer to describe the bush.  I needed to read this book in a relatively short amount of time and found it difficult sometimes to really grasp what he was saying in my lack of time to stop and meditate.

All in all, though, it was a very good read and I can foresee reading it again in the future.  To you, my fellow readers I would say, “May the cross of Christ be your only boast, and may you say, with sweet confidence, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Piper 179)

Piper, John. Don’t Waste Your Life. Crossway, 2003.
(Picture taken from Goodreads)

Writing

Dome (a character introduction)

I was going to wait a couple weeks for this post, but I just couldn’t.  I am almost ready to pop to share these characters with the few people who read this blog.  Lovely readers, I give you Jamara, Shastiana, Cooper, and Keona…

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Jamara (Age 19 / MC) – Raised by the midwife who delivered her, Jamara is a young girl who has grown up in hiding.  When the assassin Mikar captures her mother, Jamara is sentenced to a living death in the sealed Cove within the Dome community.  As she grows older, she is told stories of the sky and she longs with all of her heart to escape the Dome and return to her mother’s home, perhaps even to find her father.  But the Unsealing will happen in less than a year.  Unless she escapes now, what sweet memories of life in The Cove that she has will be wiped and she will enter life in the main Dome community, never to see the sun.

Shastiana

Shastiana Tonric (Age 37 / SC) – A midwife captured by Mikar at the age of eighteen and forced to raise the children of the women she assists in birth, Shastiana loves all of “her” children dearly, but she longs to reunite them with their true mothers.  Her life however, is guarded within the sealed Cove and she is never permitted to leave.  She contents herself by spinning dreams of the land for her children and making plans for them to all one day escape The Cove and seek out their King and his kingdom.

 

82b87494c5e1543e73cce3e18ce58733_pi_250x250Cooper (Age 23 / SC) – Placed in The Cove at the age of 4, Cooper has very few memories of the land above or of his birth mother.  Being one of the older children in The Cove, he has had a lot of responsibility since it was sealed.  It weighs heavily upon his shoulders and his main concerns in life are taking care of his blood sister Keona and his best friend Jamara.  As the Unsealing grows closer, he struggles to find a way to keep them safe.

 

 

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Keona (Age 19 / SC) – As the last child to be born in The Cove before it was sealed, Keona is the baby of the makeshift family and one of the few to actually have a blood sibling.  She and Cooper are very close and are rarely ever seen apart.  Her best friend apart from Cooper is Jamara and they have grown up doing everything together.  Keona is very headstrong and used to having her own way.  Her chief goal is to escape The Cove and the Dome and find the land.

(Keona is not as well-developed yet, because she literally just showed up on my proverbial doorstep yesterday and demanded to be allowed into the story.)

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Well, those are four of my babies.  There are many more awesome characters in this story, but these ones hold a special place in my heart right now.  (Especially Shastiana and Keona…but don’t tell anybody. ;P)

Which one is your favorite character?

Writing

Shastiana (a Dome character sketch)

Shastiana

Shastiana Tonric, a newly trained midwife, is only eighteen when the rebel Mikar tries to assassinate the King, Queen Ellowen, and their young son and heir, Rifdan.  Upon his failure, the wanted assassin drew together his forces and led them into the water, building an intricate Dome on the floor of the sea.  Along with his armies, Mikar forced many of the innocent people to follow him to the Dome.  Shastiana was within the castle at the time of the attack and she and Ellowen were forcibly taken by Mikar’s men down to the watercraft that would carry them out to sea and then down into the Dome.

As Shastiana cares for the pregnant women on board, she becomes more and more afraid of Mikar, but she also grows secretly defiant against his terrible rule.  When she is called to deliver a dying woman’s baby, she refuses to kill the child as Mikar demands, but hides it away in her quarters.  Upon arriving at the Dome, Shastiana and the remaining pregnant women are sent to live in The Cove, a guarded area of the Dome, concealed away from the main community.

As the pregnant women each eventually give birth, they are ripped away from their children and their memories are erased.  They are each then sent out into the Dome community, without any remembrance of their babies.  The infants are placed in the care of Shastiana and The Cove is sealed, not to be opened again until after 20 years have passed.

But Shastiana has other plans.  So does Mikar.

Depression · Identity · Life

Soul’s Dark Night

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My soul has been lacking in spiritual fortitude of late.  It seems like every time I turn around, I’ve fallen down yet another flight of stairs and landed in yet another sticky pile of sin.  Which of course does not just brush off with one swish of a Clorox wipe.

My heart is heavy with defeat.  Sluggish with the bitter aftertaste of forbidden things that have lied their bitter lies.  I hate the look of my face in the bathroom mirror.

Funny, I keep growing up more, doing more, obtaining more things that promise satisfaction, full and lasting.  And I’ve come up empty so many times, not the least of them today.

My heart is scraped clean of all goodness and I find myself raw.  Flayed open to the core.  I am spilling out with every heave of my burning chest.  There is nothing left of me.

I need You.  I breathe it out into the dark night of my soul.  I’ve lived too long like this.  The ache for redemption is pushing itself into every corner of my soul and it hurts.

Are You there?  Tentatively, I stretch out my fingers, feeling through the blackness, reaching.  Are You there?

My fingertips collide with something in the darkness.  A book.  I grasp it with a sudden desperation.

You are here.  I drink You in through the pages.  My soul fills to overflowing and still I thirst for more of You.

I search You out in the words.  Your beauty shines through every brush-stroked letter.  Slowly, I find You have written my story in these lines.

I see my search for peace in foolish things.  I see my loss of hope and my crushing despair.  But everywhere, woven as a thread through an entire tapestry, I see You.

Wooing me to You.  Offering a pathway of redemption.  Holding out Your hands for a lifetime of grace.  Preparing an eternal home of peace.

I will follow You, my King.  Lead me down this pathway.  Take my hand and show me grace.  Carry me home when the night is spent and Your light shines brighter than the sun.

And until then, chain my heart to Yours.  I am lost without You.