Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ape House

Ape HouseApe House by Sara Gruen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

After LOVING Water for Elephants, I thought I would really enjoy Gruen's other titles...not so much. I gave this one 100 pages and just wasn't into it, and actually quite turned off. There was a common theme of unfaithfulness in relationships between the two books. In Water for Elephants I was happy for it because her husband was so abusive and terrible. But in Ape House, both characters are in happy, non-disfunctional relationships. I never got to an actual act of infidelity, but Gruen was strongly hinting at it. At this point in my life this subject is just too close and distasteful (not me and B... we are great), and I just don't have the patience to read about it anymore.

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This book was delightful and refreshing after reading the previous books of the Bible. Up until now I just felt that things were so bogged down and dreary, time and time again God's people are doubting, disobeying, and turning to other gods; they become enslaved, then God rescues them. While comforting in the redeeming nature of our God, it was disheartening in the fallen nature of man. Finally in Ruth we meet some honorable people who love God and do right.

I have always {well as long as I can remember} known the story of Ruth. As a kid my grandma Ruth had this picture on her wall of Ruth harvesting the grain, so she told us the story of this faithful woman and how God blessed her even though she wasn't an Israeli.

Ruth wasn't the only honorable person in this book, Naomi her mother-in-law was also honorable, she still cared for Ruth after her son had died, then when she decided to go to her home land she released Ruth to go back to her people rather than to travel to a land of strangers. Also Boaz, a relative of Naomi's, allowed Ruth to gather the grain the harvesters missed, even telling them to purposely drop some of the grain stalks. He knew that the responsibility fell to the family to care for Ruth and Naomi since the men had died, but he wasn't first in line to buy Naomi's land and marry Ruth. So he went to the man that was, and in the presence of town officials Boaz was given the right to buy the land and mary Ruth.

God not only blessed Ruth by providing food, land, and a husband for her but he blessed her decendants. From Ruth and Boaz eventually came David and from David eventually came Jesus.

Learned: God uses and blesses whoever is willing and obedient, even in the times of the Bible, He used a Moabite -not a Jew- as the lineage to bring His sone into the world.

You Had Me at "Algorithm"

When I opened my browser today, there was an article titled An Israeli Algorithm Sheds Light On the Bible. Well since it was about an algorithm {math} and the Bible, I was intrigued...

The short of it is this algorithm has been applied to texts and it can sort out different authors. For example they took two books of the Bible that are know to be written by different authors, condescend them into one, and it sorted them out almost perfectly. The probable controversy of this comes when they apply it to the first five books of the bible, the books of Moses, that were supposedly spoken by God and transcribed by Moses, but the algorithm shows different authors. For me personally this is not foundational faith shattering, even the Jewish creators of the algorithm said that it is not beyond God to speak in different voices.

I am pretty intrigued with the application of the algorithm on other texts or uses. They discussed how it could be used in law enforcement to identify suspects, and businesses to create seamless written documents where there are multiple contributors. Even another tool to detect plagiarism in colleges.

Learned: I am continually amazed at math, at its applications, and how amazingly brilliant people are to come up with stuff like this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The book of Judges is all about the people that God called to deliver the Israelites out of oppression. From my {very limited} understanding this covers a time period of the first few hundred years after the Israelites had taken over the promise land.

Remember back in Joshua, when they were conquering the land, and God said to drive out ALL the inhabitants, but they didn't... well this book is pretty much the result of them not doing that. In the first chapter, God tells his people that because they disobeyed him by not driving out the inhabitants, he would no longer drive them out for them, they would be thorns in their flesh.

Basically this is the cycle: The Israeli people live for and love God for a while, but eventually turn away from him and begin worshiping the gods of those original inhabitants, because they disobey God, they are turned over into slavery and are oppressed by other nations (remember Deut. 28), then they repent and God chooses one of his people to deliver them and restore them, they live happily ever after... at least for a few years, then again are enticed away from the one true God. This happened again and again... just going back and counting I quickly saw 11 or 12 judges! How patient and steadfast is our God to do this time and time again.?

One thing that stood out to me was who God chose to rise up and deliver his people. Many times it was the most unassuming people; Gideon was said to be the least person from the least tribe, Deborah was a woman- this was the first I had heard of a woman leading Gods people, and Jepthah who was a great warrior, but because his mother was a prostitute he was viewed as worthless by his own brothers. This really isn't surprising to me, as God sees people so differently than we see them, and by using someone the world deems weak it proves all the more how powerful God is, bringing him more glory. For the past few months it has been heavy on my heart to not judge others, and really try to see people as God sees them, to love them where they are at and who they are now, not conditionally.

Another thing that stood out to me was the book was quite gory!! {don't read on if you have a weak stomach} One of the first judges, Ehud, kills the king with a dagger, but the king is so fat that the dagger completely disappears in him and his guts fall out on the floor. When Deborah is judge, the commander flees and hides in a tent, but when he falls asleep, the woman of the tent drives a tent stake through his skull and into the ground. I was pretty grossed out several times while reading this book.

I really liked the story of Gideon, the lease from the least. Gideon was called to deliver the people but he was so unsure of himself, so he laid out the fleece to get a sign from God, and two different nights God proved himself to him. When Gideon rounded up the troops he had too many and people would say it was the huge army that had won the victory so God had him filter men out. The final filter was to have men drink from a spring, those who cup the water with the hands and lap it like a dog in one group, and those who kneel and drink from the water with their mouths in another group. 300 of the men drank with their hands and this is the group God used to deliver Israel from their oppressors. Again Gideon was doubtful so God told him to go into the camp and listen, there he overheard men discussing a dream and its interpretation which was that Gideon would have the victory. Gideon and his men surrounded the camp at night and blew their horns and raised their torches and swords, and the enemy was is such confusion they fought and killed each other. After defeating the enemies and delivering his people, they wanted Gideon and his future descendants to be their king, but he said he would not rule over them, that God would. I just felt like Gideon was a gentle meek soul and God treated him so tenderly, supporting his insecurities and doubt.

The most upsetting story for me was the one of Samson. I just felt like he was boastful, proud and arrogant... and stupid! Delilah THREE different times tried to get the secret to his strength from him, three different times he told her a lie then awoke to find she had attempted to use that to take away his strength and turn him over to the Philistines. After she had done this 3 times, he gives in and tells her the truth of his strength {his hair} so he awakes with his hair cut and no strength and is captured. In his despair he gouges out his own eyes {again gory}. I guess he gets some revenge because after his hair grows back in he knocks down the Philistine temple killing himself and more people with this act than he had his entire life.

After several cycles of judges I was thinking enough is enough! and in chapter 10 God does too, telling his people no, I won't rescue you anymore. But the people still serve him anyway. After some time of obedience God raises up another judge, Jeptha, the prostitutes son. The only sense I can make of God continuing to help his people is to look at myself as a mother, though my children often make me angry, or disobey, there is not a single thing that they could do to change my love for them. I do think that there would be a point where I could say, no I am not rescuing you any more, but if they were able to show that they were making better choices and making a change in themselves, I would again open my arms to support them. And because God's love is so much more infinite and unending than mine it really isn't hard to believe and even understand how he can continue to rescue his people.

Learned: How thankful I am that my God loves with out end, his patience and mercy endure for ever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Olympic Athlete in the Family!

My cousin Krista is competing the Special Olympics World Games in Greece!!! How amazing it that experience... competing in the the birth place of the Olympics. Check it all out here.

I have had the opportunity to be a part of the Special Olympics in our town; every year my students accompany our schools Special Olympic Team to the track and field games. This is probably the best experience of all my teaching, and my students all agree saying how it was the best day of all their schooling. The atmosphere at the games is one of community; everyone is cheering for everyone else no matter their finishing place. Every competitor is smiling with the success of competition and crossing the finishing line. It is a day that makes your heart swell with so much joy you think it may burst! I can only imagine how magnified the experience is on a global level.

Just before she left for the Olympics, Krista was inducted into Pennsylvania's Special Olympics Hall of Fame. For the induction she wrote and gave an impressive speech that she says "had then all in tears!"

Krista has been playing tennis for as long as I can remember, and we've played several times over the years when she came to visit... she soundly kicked my booty a majority of the time!

I am so proud of my cousin! GO Krista! Go Team USA!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wedding Bliss for Nik and Megan

Saturday June 11, my little {the middle one} brother got married, and it was an absolutely beautiful even!

My Highlights:

Grandma Betty {not sure if this counts as a highlight, because after the laugh it is disturbing}... introducing herself to Nate's wife who responded "I know, you were at my wedding." and Betty replied "Well I know that!" Then she introduced Nate to our cousins Jessica and Amanda, whom we have known our entire lives.

All my brothers were there, making this the first time in at least 5 years {probably longer} we have all been together!

Mother Son Dance: As soon as Maddox heard it was the mother son dance he could hardly wait to take me on the dance floor. He even twirled me and attempted a dip. It was a priceless moment for me. Yet another example of the gentleman we are raising.

Father Daughter Dance: Brian and Madison danced together, Madison is not the same little girls he danced with at our wedding 9 years ago.

Maddox cutting a rug: Maddox rocked the dance floor the entire night busting moves from the hippy hippy shake to break dance spins.

Madison was stunning: This was the overwhelming comment of the evening. Everyone came up to me say how grown up and beautiful she looked. It was a proud and difficult thing for both Brian and I to endure.

Learned: I continually gain appreciation and respect for the covenant of marriage. I pray that Nik and Megan will embrace it and honor it, learn and grow together in the journey. I am so blessed and thankful for my husband, and how much I have grown through our continuing journey.

Friday, June 17, 2011


The book of Joshua picks up after Moses has died in Deuteronomy, and Joshua becomes his successor to lead Gods people into the land and driving out the inhabitants. It covers a pretty long time period as the Israelies have to drive out many different people, then divides the conquered land among the different tribes. When Joshua dies {at the conclusion of the book} most of the inhabitants have been driven from the land, and Joseph's bones have finally been laid to rest in the land God had promised him many generations ago.

A few things that really stood out to me in this book:

In the very first chapter God tells his people to "be strong and courageous" 3 different times in 3 verses{vs.6-9}. , This was just another reminder to me of how fickle our nature is...These people have just experienced 40 years of daily miracles in the wilderness, they know that God is on there side, and yet He has to remind them 3 times in as many sentences to be strong and courageous as they take over the land that God had promised them. But, how true is this of me? How often have I seen and experienced God's favor, power, or mercy, in one area of my life, but then doubted him to take care of another area of my life? Also in these verses He tells them to meditate day and night over everything in the book of instruction Moses had written, then they would prosper and succeed in all they did. Again God is urging His people to constantly remember His covenant with them. God {obviously} knows what will happen in Judges and through out the old testament, to that His people will forget about their covenant, and turn to other gods.

Joshua is the home of another famous children's bible story, when Joshua marched around the walls of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down. {Love that Veggie Tale episode!}

The instructions God had given His people had been to make no treaty with any of the people in the land they were taking over, but in chapter 9 they do just this. Some of the people in the land had heard about the overwhelming victory of the people of Israel, and feared for themselves. So one group sent a group of ambassadors all dressed in old, dirty, worn out clothes with moldy bread and broken wine skins. They came to the Israelites and said they were from a far of land, {see how old our food and worn our clothes are} and wanted to make a treaty with them. The key in this chapter is that Gods people did not consult Him before they made this treaty, and in the end were deceived. Because a treaty, a commitment, your word, actually meant something in those days, the Israelite people were bound to honor this treaty which means this group of people were allowed to stay in the land. This ends up playing a huge part in Israels future broken covenant with God. My self reflection on this... how many decision do I enter in to with out consulting God, with out praying about it first?

The final chapter is basically Joshua's final words to the people, and a renewing of the covenant. It's a reminder of what they have been through, and they are told "choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the lord" {vs. 15}, and Israel chooses to serve God.

Learned: Joshua was a book full of foreshadowing, cliff hangers, and beautiful resolution, all the makings of a great book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hitch, Take Two

About 3 years ago I had my own episode of the movie Hitch, but we never figured out what had caused that reaction. Last night I experienced the sequel... but I can pinpoint the culprit this time...

Over the past few years peaches have gradually started causing me problems, but none have been severe enough to make me give up my favorite fruit. It started with mild itching in my hands and forearms when I would peel them, I just attributed this to the fuzz. Later this progressed to itchy lips and throat when I would eat them, but I could sap the peach in the microwave for a few seconds and it took care of it.

Then last Thursday, I got some peaches out of the freezer to make cobbler, after pealing and slicing them I got a pretty set of hives on my hands, but didn't really think much of it. After we pulled the cobbler out of the oven I snitched a few bites, but didn't eat much since it was pretty late. About an hour later while laying in bed reading I was feeling super itchy, and noticed that I was breaking out in hives and a flush rash up my neck, into my scalp, and all the pits - knee, elbow, arm... pretty much any warm place. So I jumped in the shower, took some Benadryl, and a few puffs of my inhaler and made myself lay in bed and be calm.

Well, because I love peaches so much, and am completely sutbborn, I refused to believe that it was the peaches that caused this reaction, so yesterday I pulled the cobbler out of the fridge and had a pretty good slice. With in 20 minutes I was having horrible stomach and intestinal pain. But I busied myself with some weed pulling and yard clean up. As I was doing these chores I was getting really hot, and itchy, but again in denial, assumed it was just the heat and weeds. A bit later Brian got home from work and commented on how red I was, and when I took off my sunglasses he immediately told me to get in the shower and take Benadryl. That's when everything went completely crazy and my tongue felt tingly and swollen and my lungs started closing.

So off to the ER we went... the whole way there I was still battling nausea, and as soon as I walked in the door I emptied the contents of my stomach... I guess that's a key to getting treatment in the ER more quickly- that and being the color of a stop sign- because they immediately took me back and got me hooked up to all the gadgets (pulse was racing at 127, and my blood pressure was really low) and an IV started with a drug cocktail of more Benadryl, Pepcid (also has a histamine blocker), and a steroid, and gave me a breathing treatment to open my lungs.

Once things seemed under control, and I awoke from the drug induced sleep, the Dr. discussed with me that I should probably avoid peaches (duh), and said that systemic allergic reactions like this just compound, meaning the next one might be worse, so he gave me an Epipen which I have to carry with me from now on. He also said that it is likely that my body will have another flare up in the next few days until the peaches are completely out of my system, so until then I have to take an oral steroid to help keep that from happening.

The worst part of all of this is not that I have to carry the stupid Epipen, or even that I can't ever eat peaches again(no more peach poppy seed cake from Slice of Life), but that our goal and dream of owning a peach orchard some day can't possibly happen. I guess it will have to be hops (which the nurse said would be a much worse allergy to have than peaches.)

So my plan now is to fast from fruits for at least a week, contact an allergist to see what other foods are in the peach family and possibly have more allergy tests. But I am seriously freaking out about eating anything right now...

Learned: Trust your body the first time.. .being stubborn and choosing denial really isn't a good plan.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In All My {unedited} Glory...

If you have ever paid any attention to the blogs I follow over there on the right hand side of you screen... you will notice Skinny Runner. (I obviously follow her because she is the ambitious runner I would love to be if I had no children, and lived in a more moderate climate, with several hours a day to commit to running). But the other day she posted about a devotional she was reading and quoted this:

Today it is easier than ever to create an image of yourself that seems much cooler than you really are. All you have to do is post a few good pictures, a couple choice status updates and announce a handful of key connections on your Facebook profile and you can instantly appear as your best version of yourself.

I think I am pretty good about being transparent here. I mean this blog is more for me to reflect on my life, than it is about notoriety; and there is not a person out there that can say that everything in their life is always bliss.

So, I felt challenged to go completely unedited {though my mom thought I hadn't really done anything except learn to photo shop}.

Here is before:

and after:

And because I am being completely open and unedited: my room on a daily basis does not look like either the before or the after, but somewhere closer to the later {maybe a bit more laundry to put away, and the bed's not made}.

As I tackled this project I couldn't help but wonder "How in the world did it get this way!" My explanation... the last month of my life has been crazy busy... no change that insanely busy! Soccer has consumed every weekend, the weeks have been full of practices (T-ball and soccer), and the school year didn't come to a gradual end but was full speed ahead until I officially checked out for the summer. This means that I have had no time to do laundry, or even unpack and put luggage away.

This is not an excuse but just a fact of life, a life that Brian and I have chosen for us and our family. We are parents who believe it is extremely important to provide opportunities for our children to be involved and active, and encourage them to try new things, even to the detriment of our social lives {but not to the detriment of our marriage, mind you}. In order to do this it requires sacrifices, maybe the laundry doesn't get done every Monday, maybe the floors get neglected for a week, maybe our house becomes the pit-stop between laps and my room becomes the holding tank...

... but if I had to choose between a spotless home and this life we have... well I think you know what choice I would make.

Monday, June 6, 2011


It has taken me a while to finish up Deuteronomy, but alas it has drawn to a close. Deuteronomy is the final leg of Israels journey to the promise land, and the final instructions of the covenant between God and Israel, and the death of Moses.

The overwhelming message of Deuteronomy is OBEY. God outlines how to worship Him and treat others, the festivals to observe and why, harvesting, tithing, debts, and slaves. God clearly explains the blessings that will come for obedience as well as the curses for disobedience.

As I reflect on what I read there is a whole lot to chew on, and at first it seems disjointed...

All the festivals (well not all, but 3 of the 7) that God wanted His children to observe... Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread was to be observed yearly so they would remember the saving of their first born sons and their flight out of Egypt. The Festival of Harvest was to be celebrated 7 weeks after the first harvest as a way to remember and thank God for the bounty of the crops. The Festival of Shelters was to be celebrated at the end of the harvest "after the grain has been threshed and the grapes have been pressed", it was to be a happy time of celebration, for "it is He who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work." These festivals were a call to remember and thank God, as well as remember where you had come from.

Deuteronomy 28... I had only known this chapter for the proclamation of blessings, but the whole second half (or more) of this chapter spells out the curses of disobedience. Just before I read this chapter, I happened to be reading Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Rob Bell gives a brief synopsis of the rise of King Solomon and how Solomon begins dishonoring the covenant with God, and then what happens to the nation of Israel because of this disobedience. Now turn back to the second half of Deut. 28, de ja vu...everything that I just read was foretold "you will attack enemies in one directions, but you will scatter from them in seven." The Lord will exile you and your king to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors. There in exile you will worship gods of wood and stone."

Now I am not surprised that God could foretell this, it's just amazing to me that I happened to read about this event taking place before I read its foretelling... it made so much more sense to me... And it brings all of Deuteronomy together. Here God is telling His people again and again to remember and obey. He has them observe festivals yearly as a way to continually remember what He has done for them, where they came from. Having read the Solomon part first, it brought a whole new tone to this reoccurring theme of obey; instead of hearing the dictatorship tone of "you must obey!" I could hear the heartbreaking tone of a God that so loves His people and is pleading with them to just obey, take heed, listen, to not loose sight of their God, even though He knows they will.

In the end, before he is shown the beauty of the land promised to his ancestors - a land he will never enter, Moses is told that Israel will take the path of disobedience, he still gives his final blessing to the people...

"There is no one like the God of Israel.
He rides across the heavens to help you,
across the skies in majestic splendor.

The eternal God is your refuge,
and his everlasting arms are under you...

How blessed you are, O Israel!
Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?"

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Solitude of Prime Numvers

The Solitude of Prime NumbersThe Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you know me and what I do then you should be able to guess why this book caught my attention on the stand at Target. If not, well it's a numbers thing...

When I saw that Paolo Giordano was the youngest writer ever to win the Primo Strega award I thought it sounded pretty impressive! I don't know Italian but "Primo" I know has to do with the best of the best. As it turns out the Primo Strega is quite the accomplishment, it's the most prestigious Italian literary award. Then, when I saw that this book sold more than a million copies in Italy I thought it must be worth reading.

...and why not broaden my horizons with a little foreign literature... (the last time I did this it turned out poorly with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.)

I am not really sure what I was expecting from this book, but I really should have guessed at how depressing it would be. When you write about how two people are like prime numbers, solitary and alone, and how they got this way it is bound to be dreary. I kept reading, waiting for the characters to expose some endearing trait or action, but I was left with two really messed up people (and for good reason), who's personalities were less than enjoyable. One bossy, manipulative, and selfish, the other disengaged in life, only brought back to some form of reality by inflicting his own pain.

Then there is the writing... I cannot deny that Paolo is highly intelligent and has a way with words. They flowed freely and yet rhythmically, which is a feat accredited to either Paolo or the translator since the book was originally written in Italian. The only problem I had was at times it felt forced, like he was trying too hard.

I can't be too hard on the book because I do think it was well written, I think my dislike comes from the constant dreary tone and lack of feeling any emotion while reading. It has more to do with me as a reader than Paolo as a writer... I like books to evoke emotion, I like to be brought to tears or to the edge of anxiety, I like to laugh, I like to feel the heart ache and excitement. I want to connect with characters, so that I miss them when the book is over.... but in the end I want to have resolution, a feeling that I have accompanied the characters through some sort of change, be it good or bad. And this book just didn't do any of that for me.

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