Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 2010 Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:
  • God's Warrior by Frank G. Slaughter - Presented as “a biographical novel of Paul, the crusading apostle,” this book gives an interesting, dramatic look into the life of one of the most influential early Christians. The story is well-researched and follows the Biblical account pretty accurately, though it does, out of necessity for a novel, add in events that may or may not have occurred. From Saul’s early days as a tentmaker in Tarsus, his search for truth, persecution of the church, conversion, and days of preaching, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It made the great apostle and author of many New Testament books seem more human. I do wish the book hadn’t left out the exciting sea journey on the way to Rome portrayed in Acts (it only mentions it in passing), and Paul was portrayed slightly egotistical – which I wouldn’t have thought him to be. All-in-all however, this was an enjoyable book that helped me imagine Paul in a new light.
  • Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology by Karen Clippinger - This textbook goes in-depth into how the body works, specifically as it relates to dance. The pictures and illustrations help you understand the text, and there are many stretches and exercises detailed for help in improving certain aspects of technique. It also goes into common dance injuries, and how to recognize, prevent, and treat them. The text was well researched, but highly technical. I could read and understand it – mostly – but it made me appreciate the conversational and easily understood style used in the Apologia science textbooks I used in high school (and which I highly recommend!). Many of the pictures included also show dancers with little clothes on, necessary for illustrating the techniques, perhaps, but I found quite a few unduly sensual in pose and presentation. It is a helpful reference for a dance teacher, but I may be looking into other books a little easier to digest and remember.
  • Business by the Good Book by David L. Steward - Subtitled “52 Lessons on Success Straight from the Bible,” this book has advice on all kinds of matters relating to business. Some of it is good; however, I stopped the book at the 36th lesson, tired of how it seemed to be teaching a kind of prosperity gospel while sometimes misapplying and even changing details of Biblical verses and stories. The book tries to draw applications for business from Scripture, and some of them are good. But after yet another Scripture misapplication, inferring something different than what I think the passage communicates, I decided the book just wasn’t worth finishing.
  • The Art of Theatre by Downs, Wright, and Ramsey - This textbook presents a broad history of the theatre, along with closer looks at various aspects, from acting to design. It was interesting, and I got some good ideas. However, it made me sad and a little mad at how corrupted a lot of theatre is. This book isn’t from a Christian perspective – rather, it seems to make fun of Christians – and it rejoices in all kinds of evil and perversity done onstage now and in the past. It’s truly sad what goes on. I wouldn’t really recommend this book; there’s better ones on theatre out there. However, it opened my eyes once more to what’s gone on in the name of art, and it was saddening. It made me all the more eager to use theatre for good!
  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp - Written by the mother herself, this book presents a true-life account of the family made popular by the musical and movie “Sound of Music.” The movie having been one of my favorites, I was excited to find this true story at the library. I found the real story to be much more engaging, believable, and down-to-earth than the movie, for which a lot of details were changed. Though a lot of the humor in the movie was fictional, there was plenty of humor in the book that actually made me laugh at loud – which is rare for me to do while reading. It was fun to see the continuing story that the movie didn’t have, about the children that Maria had (making the children a total of 10!), their concert tours all over the world, and finally their settling down and building a life in America. It’s a beautiful story of a family that loved each other deeply, worked together well, and made music that touched lives.
  • Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris - Want to do hard things, but have no idea where to start? This book, subtitled "doing hard things right where you are," will help. It's full of practical advice, answers to common questions, and a continued challenge to do hard things for the glory of God. Something I particularly found helpful is their advice on how to answer people who act as if you're a super-abnormal person because of what you do. As the book says, "We are called by God to be examples, not exceptions," and Alex and Brett and the stories they include give you ideas on living that out while pointing to God, the Giver of the ability to do hard things. It's written mostly for teens, but as I near my 20th birthday, I found it a challenge to keep doing hard things - even new ones - and not just get comfortable doing what I've always done.
Currently Reading:
  • The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
  • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
  • America's Christian History by Gary DeMar
  • The Joy of Natural Childbirth by Helen Wessel
  • The Treasury of Christian Poetry compiled by Lorraine Eitel, with others
  • Life-Span Development by John W. Santrock
  • Mentoring by Bobb Biehl
  • Faith Alone by Martin Luther, edited by James C. Galvin

Miriam's Books

Completed This Month:
  • Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen - This was a very relaxing read, seeing as I haven't read a book in a long time! While there were a couple instances of language, the book was very good on the whole. A high school senior decides to spend the summer with her father and his wife. Having been brought up by her mother, Auden is used to doing as she says to the point of how she dresses and acts. Upon coming to her father's small town, a new way of life is presented to her and Auden makes real friends for the first time in her life. I enjoyed this book, but I won't recommend it on the reasons I stated earlier.
  • Flee The Night by Susan May Warren - Another very simple book, but a suspense story at the same time. I read this on a weekend while I was home relaxing, and again, I enjoyed it, possibly for the reason that it didn't require much thought at the time. =) The first book in a series of three, it kept up the suspense very well but was sweet at the same time. If you enjoy real suspense, then it may not be your thing, but if you need a book to just sit down with and relax, this is a good one.
Currently Reading:
  • Simply Christian by N. T. White

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unshaken



"My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation.
He is my fortress,
I will never be shaken."

~ Psalm 62:1-2



It's easy to get discouraged as we see the world changing around us. Things our parents never imagined are now commonplace. Things we never dreamed would happen in America are now a reality. As a young adult, I look at the world I live in, and I don't have much hope that things will get better. If the years gone by are any indication, things may only get worse.

How blessed I am to know that this world isn't all there is, that there is a far better place waiting for me. How comforting to know that, no matter how much this world changes, my God is unchanging. My hope and salvation are not found in the American government. My hope is in God, and my salvation comes from Him. In the midst of a crazy world, I can find rest in the Lord. When the world is shaken to its core, I can remain steadfast in Him.

It doesn't mean that I don't grieve at times for my country. I hurt for my generation, with all that we have to face as we start out. I wonder - with a touch of despair - what the world will be like when I have children of my own. What will they have to endure?

It's easy to look back on the "good 'ol days" and wish that we lived when times were simpler, when God's Word held a place of honor in our Nation. Why couldn't I just have lived back then?

But, then I'm reminded:
"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions." - Ecclesiastes 7:10

God has placed us in this point in time for a purpose. We may not know why at times, but God does. Instead of wishing things were like they used to be, we must move forward, trusting in God's perfect plan. No matter what is happening around us, God is still in control.

Each generation has had their trials, their times of testing. Even as far back as the early Christians, with the horrible persecutions they endured, each generation has wondered if their generation was the last. The signs of the end seem to be coming more quickly, but no one knows the day Jesus will return. We can only watch, pray, and remain ready.

I don't know the future, but I know the One who holds the future. I don't know if I will have another day, but I'll do my best to serve my King with the time that I'm given. I don't know if our nation will recover from its downward spiral, but I trust that God will not abandon me.

Though God is always with us, He doesn't promise that our lives will be easy. There may be even worse economic times ahead; there may be great persecution, war, famine, and things incredibly hard to endure. But...
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 76:23

Even when there doesn't seem to be much hope, God is still working. I haven't given up on America. But even if things don't get better on this earth, I am secure, knowing that my true home is in heaven.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring 2010 Camping Slideshow

Because there were so many pictures taken during our camping trip, it was impossible to choose only a few to post here. So, I compiled some of the best ones in a slideshow, which you can view below.

Some of the pictures may not make sense unless you were there - we have a few inside jokes relating to games and a certain flashlight that got boiled - but it does give you a taste of what our 3-day campouts tend to be. We've been camping as a group of families every spring and fall since I was 5, and it's a tradition I hope we continue for a long time!



You can watch the slideshow in a larger version by clicking here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Springing

The weather continues to flip-flop between cold and hot, but it's staying increasingly warmer. Spring has been in the air for a few weeks, and beauty is springing up all around our house.

We have bushes of baby's breath that dance in the wind with delicate touches of white.

This bush of yellow flowers is often the first color of spring to appear.

The daffodils are the earliest of my favorite flowers.

Their cheerful faces always bring me joy.

There are so many different kinds of daffodils; it's amazing to see the variety in God's creation!

These purple irises bloom outside our house.

A week ago, I gave myself a spring haircut (with mom's help). My hair needed trimming, and I was ready for a slight change of length, so I cut off around 8 inches. I'm liking the easier care it requires!

The last three days were spent on our annual spring camping trip. The weather was cool and often overcast and a little rainy, so we had a smaller group. Those that came, however, had a wonderful time despite the cold. It was especially fun to spend 3 days with my dear friend Miriam! More camping pictures will follow once I have more time to sort the many taken. :)

Miriam and John flew down with Thomas for the camping trip (and left today), and Lydia and Elijah, along with his friend Stephen, came home for camping and their spring breaks. Today has been spent cooking, cleaning up from camping, playing games, and enjoy the break.

Thomas is growing so quickly! I really enjoyed holding him again. He was a great little camper too!

Thomas won the hearts of all who held him - Grandpa included. :)

Thomas is 6 weeks old and becoming very interactive, loving attention and rides up and down by Uncle Elijah!

It was a beautiful day, so we went on a walk this afternoon. It is such a blessing to have older siblings and to have them around to talk with and enjoy. This is Elijah and Lydia's last break before they both graduate college in May.

I couldn't resist taking some daffodil pictures on our walk. This yard is the first one to greet us as we come out of our dirt road, and it is covered in hundreds of these beautiful flowers!

Ruffly and delicate, springing from the ground and announcing that spring has come.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Signs of a Seamstress

The sewing bug has bit again. I'm currently working on dresses for my nieces Sara and Lisa Beth (late birthday presents), and spring costumes for The King's Praise Ballet. I ordered dresses and/or leotards for each class, but most of them needed alterations or additions added to them. So, I've been busy finding fabric that matches, and am now tackling all the sewing. All together, I have 26 dance skirts/slips to make and 7 necklines to add fabric to.

After staying up late on Saturday night to sew, I was also bit by the writing bug. Put the two bugs together, and out comes a poem about sewing! :)

Signs of a Seamstress
by Anna Naomi Lofgren, March 6th, 2010

*Dedicated to all other seamstress who, like myself, constantly seem to be misplacing their scissors*

When you're about to go into a seamstress's room,
You never know what you're getting into.

There's fabric hidden all around,
In plastic bags upon the ground,

Stacked in bins beneath the bed,
Cramming closet shelves overhead,

Overflowing tubs beside the door,
And on the desk - oh look, there's more!

For a seamstress can never turn down
A deal on cloth she finds in town.

***

Thread is hanging everywhere,
Beneath the chair, tangled in hair,

Clinging to clothes of all shapes and sizes,
Turning up randomly like little surprises,

Caught in the rugs, the blankets, the hope chest,
Until they seem like little pests.

But they're quite crucial to get the job done,
So who'm I to complain about where they've clung?

***

There are pins and needles - please watch your step.
For you see, their sharp points are very adept

At sticking up in the oddest of places,
hiding for days until somebody hastens -

- And ouch! They've pricked a finger or toe,
Drawing pain and a pitiful tale of woe.

But without such sharp objects, we'd surely be stuck,
For they're vital to hem, gather, sew seams, and tuck.

***

There are patterns galore; your pick you can take,
For all kinds of projects that you could make.

Patterns for dresses, from babe to adult,
For many styles with pretty results;

Patterns for skirts of all types and length,
More for dolls, or costumes, or men of great strength.

Sometimes the patterns you make up or combine,
But for each new project, you must have one in mind!

***

There's a machine - maybe more - atop a desk,
Often whirring, but for the moment at rest;

Well-used and well-loved, but confusing at times,
When its tension is off and it's crying of crimes.

You investigate and search until finally you see
What's causing the glitch, which you fix, and proceed.

For despite all their problems, these machines save you lots,
And by using them you get lovely and even results.

***

There never seems to be enough space
For all the gizmos and gadgets to have their own place.

Amidst measuring tapes, fray check, and oh - where's the scissors?
We shuffle and lose things 'til we're all in a dither.

Between all of the elastic, snaps, ribbons and lace,
- and the scraps, for you see, "thou shalt never waste!" -

There's really no room for anything else,
But by shoving and squeezing there's much things've held'st!

***

So you're welcome to enter, but my room isn't perfected.
There's many a place you could deem quite defective.

But please, do come in - and sit down if you dare.
Just wait - let me first check for pins the in chair.

You may have to pick off a few threads when you go,
But let them be memories of the seamstress you know.

For my room truly shows I'm a seamstress straight through,
Blessed with countless supplies and endless sewing to do!

***


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It makes me feel like singing!

Do you have a hard time starting the day? I often do. Especially when it's cold, it's hard to force myself out of my comfy, warm bed and face the day with joy. Somehow the morning always seems to come too quickly.

However, I've discovered an excellent way to give me energy and joy each morning. How? Take a walk!

"But it's cold!" you may protest. Yes, it 'tis. But by bundling up in a winter jacket and mittens, I've been fine. And the colder it is outside, the brisker my walk tends to be. :) Yes, I do admit, I have it better for walking outside since I live in Alabama, but we still get our cold spells. Though it's sometimes hard to force myself out into the frigid air, I'm always glad that I did.

I walk around 7:30 or 8 AM, after getting dressed and having devotions. I grab my small verse binder, slip on my shoes, and step outside to be greeted by my trusty companion, Midnight. Inhaling the fresh air, I head up the dirt road, reviewing Scripture as I walk. These morning walks have given me time to memorize chapters and even whole books of the Bible. Somehow the rhythm of walking helps me learn the passages, and gives me time to focus on them. When the daily review and memorization is completed, I tuck the verses away and enjoy the beautiful creation around me, often praying as I walk. The prayers and thanksgiving well up inside my heart as I enjoy the amazing world God's created.

I'm spoiled, I admit. Not many have the private dirt road I have to enjoy every morning. From summer with its buzzing bugs, to the fall's vibrant leaves, to the frigid, bare trees of winter, to spring's birds and flowers, I enjoy watching the seasons change as I walk. Even if you don't have a secluded lane, however, most neighborhoods have a pleasant sidewalk you could take.

I don't make it out every morning (and usually not on weekends), but I always miss it when I don't. I've even been known to take an umbrella when it's raining and I had my heart set on a walk. :) Sometimes the sky is gray and dreary, but most times, at the particular spot I turn around to head back towards home, I look up at the sky and see the most overwhelming, clear blue through the trees. It takes my breath away every time.

My attitude upon my return is much better than when I left. My mind is clear, my eyes shining, and my body invigorated. My heart is often full of songs. Sometimes I can't help but sing, and as I open the door my family is greeted with a rendition of "Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!" as I blow inside, eager for breakfast.

No matter how busy I am or how many things I have to do that day, my outlook is always better if I first take 20 minutes for a morning walk. Though it takes time, it helps me work faster afterward, so it's time well spent!

What about you? Do you have something that brightens your day each morning?

The included pictures were taken of our road in summer and autumn. Right now it's pretty bare, but spring is in the air - and I can't wait until it's green again!

Monday, March 01, 2010

February 2010 Reading List


Anna's Books

Completed this Month:
  • Ninth Witness by Bodie and Brock Thoene - Having enjoyed the 8 previous books in the A.D. Chronicles series, I anticipated reading this one. Mom got it for me for my birthday, but not wanting to get too caught up in a book, with all the other things going on, I delayed reading it. Our weekend at Orange Beach gave me the relaxing opportunity. Like the other books, this one presents a unique and Biblically-based look at the life of Jesus, this time when he was 12 years old. The other characters woven in are endearing and flesh out the story in a powerful way. If you haven't read this series, I definitely recommend that you do!
  • John Adams by David McCullough - Though masterfully written, this 651-page biography took me 3 1/2 months (including break weeks) to complete. It's fascinating, but not a book I could read straight through - I scheduled it in 20-30 page increments as part of my study schedule. The book presents great insights into a president I knew little about. Though misunderstood by many, John Adams was a man of principle, who sacrificed much for the good of America. From Harvard student, to lawyer, to member of the Continental Congress, he persevered. From signer of the Declaration of Independence, to foreign diplomat, to vice-president, and at last, president, though misrepresented and not without fault himself, he continued to honor God and work for the good of the country as best he could. His wife Abigail was an amazing helpmate to her husband, and it was touching to see their love woven throughout. If you want to learn more about early American history, following the life of one of its great leaders, I would definitely recommend this book! Just plan on it taking a while to complete. :)
  • Seasons Under Heaven by Beverly LaHaye & Terri Blackstock, audio book narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister - With the trip to Ohio and back totaling 24 hours, I checked out this 10-hour audio book from the library to help pass some time. This novel follows the lives of 4 women living in the cul-de-sac ofCedar Circle. Though neighbors and friends, they couldn't be more different, with one an empty-nester, another a divorced mother with three teens, another a frustrated mom of two preschoolers, and the last a homeschooling mother with four children. The characters are uniquely brought to life in a realistic and heart-warming way, and when serious sickness strikes one of the children, the neighbors pull together in an amazing way. Because of some mature themes, I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone under 16 or so. However, the book wonderfully reaffirms the value of motherhood and investing in the lives of your children.
  • Before the Ring by William L. Coleman - Full of questions to be discussed before two people get engaged, this book has a lot of good things to think through. Although I currently am not courting anyone, it's good to be prepared! It's definitely given me more questions to ask whenever that time comes. The book is laid out well, funny in places, and full of good quotes. They do assume you date around somewhat, though, and I disagreed with a few of the husband/wife roles they thought were okay, but all-in-all it's a good book. Perhaps, when the time comes, I'll end up working through it with my future husband.
  • Tenth Stone by Bodie and Brock Thoene - This tenth book in the A.D. Chronicles follows the stories of lepers who were healed by Jesus and the prodigal son of Melchior, one of the magi to visit Jesus years ago. Though loosely based on Scripture, these stories didn't draw as much from the Biblical account; however, they definitely fit with the overall theme, and were an enjoyable read. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you haven't read the A.D. Chronicles, I encourage you to check them out!
  • The Lost Art of True Beauty by Leslie Ludy - To a culture where basic manners seem to be missing, this book is a breath of fresh air. To girls caught between the prissy, "hot" girly look and the rebellious boyish attitude, this book will help you understand the true meaning of femininity. It points you to Author of beauty, and the inside-out loveliness that won't fade, but it also gets down to specifics in the exterior realm, asking questions and giving tips to help you glorify the Lord in the way you dress, talk, walk, and interact, while not getting caught up in legalistic rules. If you're a girl, this book is for you! :)
  • Still Growing by Kirk Cameron - I have to admit; I'd never heard of Kirk Cameron before I saw him in the first "Left Behind" movie; I never knew he was such a popular child actor. But both fans of his early show "Growing Pains" and followers of his later works will enjoy this autobiography. It's full of funny moments as well as serious and touching scenes as you get a glimpse of a normal guy living a not-so-average life. Growing up as a star actor had its benefits and downsides, but Kirk's parents helped keep him on the right path. God also got a hold of his life before highschool was out, and the way He's used Kirk Cameron is inspiring.
  • The Bible and Birth Control by Charles D. Provan - This little book is the compilation of a few essays, rebuttals and responses, and the opinions many historical theologians had on the subject of birth control. It's a touchy subject in today's world, but it's interesting to note that, before the 1900s, Protestants, not just Catholics, were completely against the use of birth control of any kind. The Bible very clearly paints children as a blessing. I don't plan to limit my family intentionally, but trust that God will give me the children He wants me to have in His time, and this book reinforced that conviction. Because of the candid subject material, I wouldn't recommend the book to younger teens. And, I don't think it's the best out there on the subject, but it is interesting in that it presents the views of historic theologians such as John Calvin and Martin Luther.
Currently Reading:
  • The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
  • The Art of Theatre by Downs, Wright, and Ramsey
  • Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology by Karen Clippinger
  • God's Warrior by Frank G. Slaughter
  • America's Christian History by Gary DeMar
  • Business by the Good Book by David L. Steward
  • Faith Alone by Martin Luther, edited by James C. Galvin

Miriam's Books

Completed this Month:
Unfortunately, I don't have any books to add on right now. I'm looking forward to when I can do a lot more reading again.

Currently Reading:
  • Simply Christian by N.T. Wright