Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Hideaways

I am...
... trunk to trunk with a lilac, hind end rooted to the ground, decked in thick green foliage.
... one with the woodvine, wrapped in its vining tendrils, hidden in its embrace.
... laid down upon a bed where corn and tomatoes grow, a blanket of leaves covering me.
... playing hide-and-seek in the yard with my big and little menfolk.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Good Reads Follow Up

Thanks for all the great book suggestions many of you posted a a couple weeks back!  My "to read" list is now much longer (which is a good thing, since our library is rather limited, and only every fifth book I search for is actually in the database).

I read and fell in love with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society between Hettinger and Missoula.  A ten-hour drive was the perfect time to read a book that would have been very hard to put down, had I been reading at home!  However, it did make the delight of a novel pass far too quickly.  What, the story's already finished and we're not even there yet?

I also read The House at Riverton on the trip, but wasn't real impressed.  It kept getting better as I read, so I had high hopes of it actually getting "good" by the end, but I was left unsatisfied.  I realized during this book that authors truly should stick to writing what they know about.  This one described the sound of snowflakes hitting the windows, and I thought, you've never actually experienced a snowfall, have you?

I tried A is for Alibi after we got home, but put it down after four chapters.  After the letdown of the previous book I just wasn't feeling up to investing much time in something that didn't grip me from the start.

A scant hour into Sam's Letters to Jennifer, however, I know this is a book I will finish.  I love letter-type books.  It feels sneaky, like snooping around someone else's house.  Not that I do that.  Although given the chance....  Better lock your doors -- I might sneak in and take your books!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


It's been nearly five years since we packed up our clothes, furniture and monster picnic table and moved from the lushness of western Washington State to the rolling fieldlands of North Dakota.  

As we emptied our house, one question kept haunting me:  How can we possibly leave all this behind?  As we attended our church one last Sunday:  How can we possibly leave all this behind?  As we hosted our last "Wade & Ker's":  How can we possibly leave all this behind?  As we cried goodbye to family and friends:  How can we possibly leave all this behind?  In the first lonely months in our new home:  How could we possibly have left all that behind?

It's been nearly five years since we moved, and The Question rarely rears its head anymore.  We've made friends.  We've found a church family who is truly a gift from God.  We've learned that though God takes away, He also gives so much more than we ask or deserve.

But as we left Washington last week, after a week-long visit with my parents, a visit to my aging grandma, a girls' night with childhood friends, camping with my family at my favoritest place in the whole world, pinochle and other games with my family, Boggling with my Mom, seeing my sons going on half-day-long fishing trips with my Dad, The Question rushed back with all the force it had five years ago:  How could we possibly have left all this behind?

It's been five days since we came back home to North Dakota, but The Question is still haunting me.

To Tithe or Not to Tithe

I have a love/hate relationship with understanding Biblical truths.  I love coming to a better understanding of God's will; I hate discovering that I may have been wrongly understanding (and purporting!) God's will.

I was taught at church and by my parents (who were taught the same at church, I'm sure) to tithe to your local church and, if able, to give love and thank offerings above the tithe to other worthy causes.

Now this has always been easy for me -- not always financially easy, but mentally easy.  If I was giving ten percent, I was giving enough.

But I recently read "Tithing Today," a free, short, downloadable book by Gary Arnold (find it here:, and am considering that what I understood as the rule isn't quite the principle that Jesus taught.  Mr. Arnold describes in (great) detail the rules and regulations of the Old Testament tithe, which was an obligatory payment, and contrasts those with Jesus' New Testament teaching to give generously and "not under compulsion" -- in other words, a freely bestowed gift rather than a mandatory payment.  

It's been very eye-opening, and as of yet I still haven't quite figured out if/how this is going to affect the way Wade and I give (he's in the midst of reading the booklet right now, so we'll have some discussion later on).

One last thought here, a quote from Mr. Arnold's book that struck me as poignant and frighteningly convicting:

"I believe that God is more concerned with how much we keep for ourselves than He is with how much we give."  

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on tithing and giving, especially if you choose to read the booklet and have comments on that as well!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Searching for a Great Read

I've got a five-volume-high stack of books, fresh from the library, ready to go on a 2500-mile-round-trip road trip.  I know I won't get through all of them.  Likely, I won't get through half of them.  But I thought it best to pack them all in case one or two are duds.

At the top of the list is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a recommendation by my mom who gave it glowing reviews.  And Mom doesn't give glowing reviews to just any book.  So this oughta be good!

A is for Alibi was a recommendation of a librarian friend.  I'm not sure I would have otherwise picked this one off the shelf, but I'm in search of a new series to love and am giving this one a chance to be it.

The Time Traveler's Wife, "now a major motion picture," must not be half bad or it wouldn't have been made into a movie, right?  I know nothing about this book or the movie, but like I said, I'm searching.

I grabbed Sam's Letters to Jennifer because I just finished Sundays at Tiffany's by the same author and thought it was adorable.  I'll give James Patterson another chance to impress me.

And finally sits The House at Riverton.  I was looking for Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden, but this was her only book on the shelf, so now it's on mine.

There are quite a few titles on my "to read" list that aren't available at our local library.  I love our little library, and the fact that's it's only a block away.  But the selection is rather limited.  So to expand my options today I searched for a few of my favorite books on Amazon and perused the "others who purchased this book also enjoyed..." list.

I'm not terribly optimistic though, except about The Guernsey... one.  I've read a few exceptionally enjoyable books lately, which is fantastic, except that it makes books that would otherwise be pretty good seem only so-so in comparison.

Anyone out there have some great suggestions?  I'm open to all genres, love fine-worded authors who can skillfully twist a phrase, and prefer to keep the content to a PG-13 rating.

Here's hoping my stack gets me through the vastness of Montana and back, and that there's a great list of devour-able titles here when I get back!