Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 14 - Memorial Day

Monday, May 31st:

Watching BBC's newest "Emma"

Honoring Memorial Day by wearing the Red, White, and Blue

Sisters of the Heart - together at last!

May 2010 Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:
  • Four Plays by Bernard Shaw – This volume contained four plays, written in the early 1900s: “Candida,” about a clergyman in England and his lovely wife, “Caesar and Cleopatra,” based on the story of the Roman capture of Egypt, “Pygmalion,” from which we get the musical “My Fair Lady,” and “Heartbreak House,” a weird play said to be set in the Russian fantasia manner. They were interesting to read, but none stuck out to me as ones I’d want to be a part of. A few had minor language, and though they didn’t show anything immoral, some themes hinted at it. Love between a husband and wife wasn’t held very sacred, which was sad.
  • The Right Choice: Home Schooling by Christopher J. Klicka – I was homeschooled from the beginning and all the way through high school; I was well acquainted with the benefits of it, and knew that I wanted to one day homeschool my own children. Yet this book has opened my eyes even more to the huge blessing I’ve been given. Those of us that have grown up with relatively easy laws to follow for homeschooling are unaware of the many court battles it took to get us these freedoms; this book documents some of those. Most of us haven’t heard all the statistics comparing the academics of homeschoolers and those attending traditional school; yes, there are exceptions in each case, but by far the homeschoolers are soaring ahead. The book also details the declining morality in public schools, and the statistics and examples they used were from the 1990s; I shudder to think what it is now.
    God has truly worked through the modern homeschooling revival. This book has made me more convinced and excited than ever over homeschooling my own children, should the Lord bless me with them. My prayer is that we will never take our experiences and liberties for granted.
    If you’re curious about homeschooling, or are a homeschooler wanting some of the history of the movement, I highly recommend this book. Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure that all of you homeschoolers out there join HSLDA. It’s something you don’t want to do without.
  • Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy – This book is radical. Subtitled “A passionate communion with God,” it will cause you to want to grow in your prayer life. It is full of vision and a call to go deeper, to not settle for the mediocre Christian life that seems so popular today. It’s challenged me, and I’m praying for growth in this area.
    However, the book did leave me with some disquiet. It seemed almost too far "out there.” Perhaps it’s my wanting a too comfortable life; but perhaps it’s something else. Somehow it doesn’t seem like God calls most people to live as radically as He’s called Eric and Leslie and others throughout the ages. Either the majority of Christians have disobeyed His call, or God uses them in different ways. At times it seemed like the Ludys may be using their own experiences to say that God wants everyone to live as they do. Their application of King David’s mighty men to saying that God has His own band of “Mighties” seemed a bit too broad as well. Eric and Leslie have been blessed in what they’ve done, and they are inspiring… I don’t want to criticize how God may be using them. It’s something I’ll continue to pray about and wrestle with. My desire is for God to use me in whatever way He chooses, and I pray for boldness to follow His call.
  • I Wish You Could Meet My Mom and Dad by Tom Allen – This is a delightful book written by a son about his parents and their family of 10 children. It’s simple and short, but it’s very sweet to see him honoring his parents through it. It’s fun to read (with that many siblings, you’ve got some great stories!), and his parents are definitely inspiring. The dad was a pastor, and this book shows that he truly lived what he preached. At the time of its writing, all of the children were living for the Lord and serving Him – what better testimony can you have? I’ve learned things from the examples in the books that I hope to apply as a parent someday.
  • Life-Span Development by John W. Santrock – This psychology textbook is a book about life, in all its various stages, from a baby in its mother’s womb to the time of death. It was interesting, to read about the various studies and statistics, and the various theories of development. I found the cognitive development of babies and children particularly interesting. However, the book continually presented lifestyles that go directly against God’s Word in a way that made them seem normal and commonplace. It rightly pointed out the failings of our world and culture, but didn’t have a cure for them. It presented wrong choices as a choice we had to make – not as something to avoid. It gave me an interesting view of life as the way the world sees it. How glad I am that it’s not all I’m left with – that I can look at life through God’s eyes and have hope and answers because of Him.
  • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville – What was life like in North America in the 1830s? This book, written through the eyes of a French visitor to the land, presents an intriguing picture. It examines America in all aspects of culture – government, press, family, work, and the thoughts and emotions of the common man. Life at that time wasn’t perfect, but we can learn a lot from them. It was interesting to see how much has changed – often for the detriment of society, but some for the better. It did take a while to get through; I could only manage a few chapters at a time. But I recommend the book to anyone interested in learning more about life in early America.
  • America: A Narrative History by George Brown Tindall & David Emory Shi – This textbook examines life in America from the Indian civilizations to the end of the civil war. It is easy to read, interesting, and helped give a good cohesion to the various historical books I’ve read. Not much of it was new information to me, but it helped me put the various time periods I’ve focused on into a running chronology. Though not from a Christian perspective, it was pretty good in presenting an unbiased view of history, not putting in all of our founding fathers’ Christian roots, but not ignoring them entirely. I am blessed to live in this great nation with its fascinating past.
  • Ballet Pedagogy – by Rory Foster - Are you a ballet teacher? I highly recommend this book to you! It is easy to read, informative, well organized, and practical. It gives a brief history of ballet, then goes through the how-tos of teaching a ballet class: knowing basic anatomy to help your students, finding good music to work with, developing goals and good combinations, and being dynamic in your teaching. Out of all the books I’ve read on teaching ballet, this is definitely the best I’ve found.
  • The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C. Douglas – This novel is based on the life of the apostle Peter. The story is well-written, engaging, and exciting. It’s fun to read a view of how life might have been for Peter before and after Jesus’ call, as well as the additional, engaging characters that were added to flesh out the story. However, the book was disappointing in the way it changed clear Biblical details, made Jesus seem more like a moral teacher, and cut out or explained away some miracles (while leaving in others – a weird double-standard). It was an enjoyable read, but if you read it, make sure you read it with discernment, trying to find the flaws, and ultimately basing your belief and truth in God’s unchanging Word, not a man’s interpretation of it.
  • Dropping Your Guard by Charles Swindoll - Do you have trouble being open and honest with others? Do you struggle with revealing your true feelings? This book, subtitled "the value of open and honest relationships," is a call to open up and truly grow and support each other in the body of Christ. The church has gone for too long with just being superficial and "good" on the outside while ignoring the hurts underneath. The book didn't strike me as the most well-written on this subject, but the message is good.
Currently Reading:
  • Cat and Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren & Gerald Robison
  • Faith Alone by Martin Luther, edited by James C. Galvin
Miriam's Books

Completed This Month:
  • Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy - The second book written by these two authors was pretty good with an interesting and unexpected twist. As with any of Dekker's books, there is the spiritual suspense that makes it fascinating and thought-provoking. I enjoyed Burn, but it's not one that I would reread.
  • A Voice In The Wind by Francine Rivers - This was a reread about the Jewish slave girl, Hadassah, who is brought to Rome after Jerusalem fell and is bought by a Roman family. She valiantly keeps her Christian faith in the midst of decadent Rome.
  • An Echo In The Darkness by Francine Rivers - The sequel to A Voice In The Wind is as good as the first. Hadassah survives the lions in the gladiators' ring and is saved by a Roman doctor. Eventually, the son from the family that owned her becomes a Christian and finds Hadassah to marry her, for he always loved her.
Currently Reading:
  • Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  • Let The Nations Be Glad! by John Piper
Books Read By Both Of Us:

The Shenandoah Sisters series by Michael Phillips:
  • Angels Watching Over Me - Kathleen Clairborne and Mayme Jukes both lose their families in Bisby's Massacre following the end of the Civil War. Katie belongs to a proper Southern family while Mayme is a slave. The two girls find each other after their families are killed and form a friendship that will last forever. They form a scheme to keep the Clairborne plantation, Rosewood, from being taken from them. Katie and Mayme pretend that the entire Clairborne family is still alive and running the plantation and actually manage to convince the few curious townspeople.
  • A Day To Pick Your Own Cotton - A few months later, the girls have taken in another stray girl...a runaway slave and her newborn baby, and later a girl whose mother died. To continue with their secret, Katie and Mayme realize that they will have to work a lot harder. They do their best to harvest the cotton field and get enough money to pay off one of the loans on the plantation.
  • The Color Of Your Skin Ain't The Color Of Your Heart - Katie's uncle shows up and discovers the secret that they have been hiding, but leaves again taking it with him. Then a flood threatens to destroy all the hard work of the girls in the cotton fields...which they need to pay off the last loan before foreclosure. A friend from town arrives to help them save what they can. The uncle then returns and reveals a newly-discovered secret...Mayme is his daughter. Mayme learns the important lesson that it doesn't matter what color your skin is as long as your heart is right as she grapples with having a white father.
  • Together Is All We Need - The family has grown and become much closer and the secret has been kept safe for two years. But when a relative of Katie's father shows up and discovers their secret, he exposes the long-hidden scheme and lays claim to the plantation. But when all hope seems lost, an uncle who is long-thought dead shows up and reveals that he is the legal owner of Rosewood.
What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 10 - Boise, Idaho

Thursday, May 27th:

There is a reason that this is called Big Sky country. It's absolutely gorgeous!

The first night with our friend in Idaho where we'll be spending the next ten days.

We look forward to our other Sister of the Heart joining us on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 9 - Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Wednesday, May 26th:

The drive to the Tetons were longer than we thought it would be - we were guessing an hour, but between delays for roadwork and a bison herd crossing the road, plus a big miscalculation of miles, we were in the car for nearly 4 hours. So, we were famished by the time we got there, and greatly enjoyed lunch!

It was special for Anna's mom especially, for she remembered sitting in almost the same spot 50 years ago with her family, drinking a chocolate shake. So, she had to order a chocolate shake to recreate the memory. :)

The Grand Teton Mountains were amazingly beautiful. God has created such wonder and diversity! This trip has allowed us to enjoy so much of it!

The Lofgren family - We've gotten quite a few comments from various people noticing that we're obviously related. :)

We stopped by Jenny Lake visitor center, and we engaged in an impromptu snowball fight. We're from Alabama after all - we're still enjoying this foreign white stuff! :)

The Chapel of the Transfiguration was lovely; a perfect foreground for the majestic mountains.

We're back in West Yellowstone, Montana for another night, then it's on to new places, and the final travel destination for Anna and Miriam.

Day 8 - West Yellowstone, Montana

Tuesday, May 25th:

We enjoyed viewing various parts of Mammoth Springs. It was so pretty!

A lot of the fun is enjoying the sights with family and friends!

As we drove on through Yellowstone, there were a few delays due to roadwork and animals crossing. We had lovely scenery to enjoy as we waited, though!

What would a visit to Yellowstone be without seeing Old Faithful?

We walked a lot that day, which was a nice break from sitting in the car, but which left us tired out by the end!

We had fun seeing the different pools and geysers, and enjoyed their unique names. There's a story behind this one. :)

One of the prettiest was Morning Glory Pool. It's amazing how the colors are formed from bacteria in the water!

We stayed the night just outside the park, in West Yellowstone, Montana. It's been fun to visit a lot of states, even if we're just over the border.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 7 - Yellowstone, Wyoming

Monday, May 24th:
After only 2 hours of driving, we arrived in Yellowstone National Park. It was cold, but the frozen lake made up for it; stunning.

We were all hungry and enjoyed the warm food served in the general store.

The springs were beautiful, but the sulfur smell wasn't that pleasant...

It was fun to see all of the spots fenced off that had springs or geysers coming up.
Lower Falls was gorgeous - but very windy!

We stayed the night in a cabin at Mammoth Springs. It was nice to get to the place we stayed early enough to enjoy the evening out of the car! We played Dutch Blitz to relax. :)

Day 6 - Cody, Wyoming

Sunday, May 23rd:

A lovely spot to sit after a few hours in the car!

We visited Devils Tower National Monument after lunch; the huge rock was magnificent, showing God's majesty.

There were some rock climbers in various places, so we tried to see if we could spot them.

We took the 1.3 mile hike around, which was a wonderful change from sitting cramped in the car. Of course, we had to stop periodically for pictures. :)

"I wish I could climb it!"

As we drove on, we began to see beautiful, snow covered mountains in the distance. After a stop for ice cream, we learned that we would be driving through them!

Snow is a rare sight for these Alabamians; it was hard driving through it as it snowed, but it was so beautiful!

We stayed the night at a hotel in Cody, WY, but since we got in late, we didn't do anything in town. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at a local restaurant, and it was fun interacting with the friendly people in the West!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 5 - Badlands and Mt. Rushmore, SD

Saturday, May 22nd:

We stopped at the "world famous" corn palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. It was really neat (a whole building covered with corn cobs in different designs), but we couldn't resist posing with this cute corn cob across the street. :)

The drive was again around 7 hours, but it was enjoyable. We drove through 35 miles of the Badlands and enjoyed taking a lot of pictures. Despite the name, the Badlands were breathtaking!

We're in the midst of amazing landscape, yet we find dandelions to pose with! Sometime's it's life's simple things... It was neat to see how the formations were framed in the background.

Anna was wearing her "Do Hard Things" Rebelutionary shirt, so we couldn't resist incorporating it in a picture.

We arrived in Keystone, SD around supper, checked into our hotel, then headed to Mt. Rushmore. It was cold, but we enjoyed looking around in the welcome center, and watching the outdoor program. The work that went in to these sculptures is amazing!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 4 - Sioux Falls, SD

Friday, May 21st:

Crocheting in the car; Miriam's doing edging on a pillowcase and teaching Anna to make a simple scarf.

Enjoying fresh air at a rest area. It's nice after a few hours in the car! The drive was about 7 hours today.

It was beautiful weather when we stopped in Blue Earth, Minnesota, so we took some time to stretch our legs and play frisbee. We had a little problem, though...
The final big throw landed the frisbee on the roof of the welcome center. It took about 30 minutes and 6 people working together to get it down, but we finally did, thanks to Elijah's strong back and Jubilee's bravery. :)

We ate supper with some relatives of Anna at Pizza Ranch, talked for quite a while, and found a hotel for the night. More adventures are ahead tomorrow!

Day 3 - Marion, IA

Thursday, May 20th:

Stopping for lunch in Cameron, Missouri

There were 3 cars on the initial leg of our journey, and we rode with Elijah in his. It was only a 6-hour drive to our destination this time, but it rained the whole way.

Playing Dutch Blitz in the Cedar Rapids mall.

Elijah has a full time job here in Cedar Rapids, and we were able to spend the evening with some of his housemates. He'll be so far from home, but the area and his friends here are nice.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 2 - Kansas City, KS

Wednesday, May 19th:

We spent time with Anna's grandparents, enjoying lunch with them and sharing movies of recent dance and theatre productions. Anna hadn't seen them in 3 years, so it was wonderful to be with them. They've given the Lofgren family a wonderful heritage.

When we got back to Anna's cousins' house, we had to go on a walk and do something active. Our drive yesterday was just too much sitting still!

Elijah enjoyed taking some in-action shots.

When Lydia's around, there's a big chance we'll end up climbing a tree. :)
Sisters and Friends. We're having a great time together!

Day 1 - Driving

Tuesday, May 18th:

All loaded up and ready to go. We aimed to leave at seven,
but got on the road at eight.

Trying out our places in the car.

Our road stretching out before us...what a beautiful day!

Our supper stop right before we crossed into Missouri.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, but there were still many hours
of driving ahead.

We arrived in Kansas City, Kansas at midnight, staying with Anna's relatives. We spent 15 hours on the road - thankfully our longest drive of the trip.