Sunday, March 30, 2014

March's Reading List

I used to keep extensive reading lists/reviews on the blog. It got tiring. I am no longer reviewing books for publishers.  I have been trying to stretch my brain, as well as relax, and thought I'd share what I've been reading in my spare time this month.  When family read alouds, and devotional study are added to this; it's an o.k. list.  I'd love to hear what you are reading! Leave me a title and author. I'm always looking for new reads. {Click the titles for Amazon links.}

A silly foodie mystery series - I can't remember the name but it involved cupcakes and was total brain candy....3 or 4 or maybe even 5 books of brain candy from the shelves of the county library.

A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study: A Refreshingly Unique Way to Look at God's Word  by Jen Hatmaker
It's no secret I'm passionate about the Word. I know how much stability it has brought to my life and I wish the same for my friends. Some know I've taught "hard core" Bible study workshops - but in recent years have been reworking to teach things in bite size steps which can be applied in 15 - 30 minutes a day. I'm very familiar with inductive studies and a quick look told me where Jen was heading with this book. I don't like pot shots at other ministries...I had to get over an opening sentence about calling women, "Beloved." I know why that term is used and I also know it's dated.... I did get tired of being called "Girl" and "Girls" by the end of THIS book - dating myself here....but... I kept  reading because Jen's heart shines through these pages.  I found this book an easy and fun read.  Jen makes getting into the word and feeding ourselves easily accessible to all, with very practical suggestions. I would even dare to say everyone could find one or two things to glean from this book. I did.  The back of the book includes a five week group study guide. The first week is reading  five chapters of the book. From there on out you read one chapter and spend your other days in the word practicing a new study tool.  A leader's guide is included, as well as several options of smaller books in the Bible to study through after her book is finished.  The beauty of learning TOOLS is  you can feed yourself from any book of the Bible - alone or with a friend. The format reminds me of a group where we went through another book and e100 a few years ago. We learned tools and explored together, with the Holy Spirit as our teacher.   I recommend this book to those wondering HOW to get anything out of their devotional reading of the Word, as well as to those in leadership looking for a great mentoring tool.

AMMA: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael  by Elizabeth R. Skoglund
I found this book at the library and LOVE it. I like it so much I've searched and purchased a personal copy.  The author of Amma tells us a bit about Amy's ministry in India, but most of the book shares Amy's writings  on a variety of topics. I plan to read this book again, slowly, with a highlighter in hand. I devoured it.   Reading this library book, without a pen and marker,  nearly killed this quote, "If I fear to hold another to the highest goal because it is so much easier to avoid doing so, then I know nothing of Calvary love." Or this one, "We must not be surprised by attack, as if it were a strange thing. We must be more spiritual in outlook and in expectation, more brave every way, more radiant." And this, "I wish to have no wishes left, But to leave all to Thee; And yet I wish that Thou shouldest will, Things that I wish should be." THIS, "We make His love too narrow by false limits of our own, and we magnify its strictness with a zeal He will not own."   Fourteen chapters that speak to suffering, ministry, parenting, death of a child, spiritual training, burn out, friendship....great book!  I did not find this to be brain candy. ::smirk::

Apples of Gold  By Betty Huizenga
This six week mentoring plan has been used by women's groups around the world. The basic premise is seven mentors (one cooking mentor and six topic mentors) invite a group of 10 - 16 women into a home for six weeks of mentoring based on Titus 2:3-5. They are served by the older women, they are welcomed, a safe environment is created and relationships are built. The topics included are kindness, loving your husband, loving  your children, submission, purity, and hospitality.  I've heard of several PWOC groups adapting this program to work for them. One, skips the meals, and has the weekly topics covered one a month during an evening tea/program. The book is used by the mentors as a resource, but meetings are not held in a home and meals are not prepared. The other group has done the program as written - subbing other meals. I finally read this book.  This book  DOES provide structure for mentoring. It also provides a group format, in a home, which I have found to be meaningful. There is a bit of "homework" for participants to begin thinking along the lines of the topic before the meeting. The cons I see are the cost of doing the program as laid out - $1000 - $1200 for a six week program and that does not include the books for each participant.  They share this can be gotten around by having "tastings" instead of dinner...but they do stress gourmet/special meals. I like the topics they've chosen to begin with - but I think there are many more topics just as important to spiritual formation.  If done weekly, there is a potential for burn out, both from those cooking the gourmet meals, as well as the ladies who need to attend each week and may have other studies to attend as well.  BUT the group I know who has done this has not seen ladies drop out of other chapel programs and participation has stayed high.  I'm still pondering...

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen
As the publisher's review states, "Jennie Allen and her husband Zac prayed a courageous prayer of abandonment that took them on an adventure God had written for them.....'God, we will do anything. Anything.' Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move us to stop chasing things that just make us feel happy and start living a life that matters. A life that is...Surrendered. Reckless.Courageous. If we truly know a God worth giving anything for, everything changes."

This is a good book. The premise is life-changing. I love Jennie's heart. I did find myself slogging down a bit - wanting to dig deeper into the topic rather than restating with new examples. 

Your God Is Too Safe  by Mark Buchanan
Michael asked me to read this book. I've been reading a lot of "airy," women's books and when I began to read this it felt "hard." I picked it up again and raced through it. This is an excellent book. Mark Buchanan explores why Christians get stuck in the place of complacency, dryness, and tedium - and how to move to new levels of spiritual passion!  He describes a spot where believers often get stuck --borderland --an in between space beyond the "old life" but not quite too the abundant adventure promised by Jesus.  Mark shows our problem is that our God is too safe. 

"Why does our life in Christ so often gather moss rather than bear fruit?" In Part two of this book,  Mark describes "holy habits" which help us move into an abundant adventure with Jesus - living in the Holy Wild. 

Here's a quote I loved from Mark, "We are overly prone to see legalism lurking behind every exhortation to strive and make an effort to be holy...grace and effort are not opposites. Grace and EARNING are opposites. Working FOR your salvation is heresy. Working OUT your salvation is basic Bible. Grace and effort are allies." 

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard
I am working my way slowly through this book with a friend. This is considered a classic and explores what it means to "apprentice" ourselves to Jesus. It fits nicely into the chapel's theme on discipleship and has kept the theme fresh for me. I've got a ways to go....This is one I read, put away, read again and mark ON MY iPAD, come back and copy the marks to the hard copy book and read it again. I don't really catch Dallas as quickly as some must - but this is a challenging book in many ways.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

CA State Railway Museum

We made great use of this rainy day! Arielle and I had manicures.  I had gel polish put on 3 weeks ago and it lasted well. Arielle had it put on today and one has already come off. 

We picked out glasses for me. The lady said they were "bold," and said, "I wear glasses and I don't care. I'm 50 and it doesn't bother me."

Arielle swore she didn't hear it say all that. ::snort:: I hope I can get used to the progressive....

When we got home, we loaded into the van, for a family field trip.  Arielle drove us to Old Sacramento!  She did a great job. 

We bought a family membership at the CA State Railroad Museum...we'll begin saving money on our second trip. One trip through proved we'll need more trips to cover the riches in this location. 

Alex is happiest to sit and watch the crowds meander by.

I kept looking to show him something exciting and he would have found a new spot to perch. ::snort::

Stacia, on the other hand, enjoyed exploring the hands on exhibits.

Which one is scarier? 

One exhibit was a sleeping and dining car on was fun. 

This set up was a bit alarming when you rounded the corner. In the trains heyday they served 300 dinners a day from this care. 

Dining in style 

We really enjoyed the postal car. We met Leo (we think that's his name), who actually worked in a postal car from 1962-1966.

The sign to the right is a crack up.

He was fascinating!  History always comes alive when you meet someone who is passionate about their topic.

 Michael asked Leo what a typical day looked like for him when he worked on a postal car. The stories flowed! He walked us through every part of the car.   He is an engaging story teller and filled in lots of fun details.....he even demonstrated throwing and catching the mail at the stops where the railway refused to stop. ::grin::  I'm not sure how often he works at the museum, but it would be worth it to find out. BTW -that is Michael's "thinking face," combined with the near-sighted squint.
This is a really nice museum. We are impressed and will be back. It was a great rainy day trip.

We were hungry as we left the museum, so we walked around Old Sac until we found spots to please each of us. Arielle and I settled for fried veggies, while the others found an Italian buffet.

Arielle drove us safely home, where we sat in the hot tub, did some laundry, made s'mores in the oven and overall - just chilled.
Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Is It?

It's my birthday balloon. My birthday was 24 January. It got loose. Michael said, "It will come down in a couple of days." It hasn't. 

We guessed when it would come down. I thought I was guessing LATE so the kids would win - I guessed 18 March.  It WAS flat against the ceiling....but it's starting to come down. We've all missed our dates except STACIA! 

Stacia guessed 31 March.

After wishing the thing would come down for a month, I'm now hoping it stays up a few more days so she can have the excitement of having guessed correctly. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


A group of homeschoolers from Beale went to The Worm Farm in Durham, CA.  This is a fantastic field trip. Arielle and Nolan went with us. Arielle does NOT like worms, has never touched one, avoids them at all costs - but she got to drive. ::snort::

We arrived earlier than the group who lives on base. Rachel and kids were there already. The owner was nice to show us a few things and we enjoyed chatting.  I actually am surprised how fascinating he made worms.

This is about the time he told the kids you can eat worms. He was joking. 

I counted 31 of us. He gave a great talk inside about worms bodies, lives et al.  We learned there were some very worm wise kids in our midst.

Isn't that logo darling?

After our talk we headed out to the worm beds.

The kids had a good time handling worms - and searching for mating pairs, eggs, and cocoons (?).
 She's holding one....

And THERE - Arielle finally touches a worm! 

                                                       A mating pair of worms
Nathan had a handful....which he bedded down safely
This had all been fun - the kids were interacting and seemed to be enjoying themselves. We'd certainly learned new thing....but the best was yet to come. They had piles and piles of compost....he led us to a giant pile inside a barn....I wasn't sure the older kids would participate...Arielle was the oldest student on the trip...and she couldn't resist the lure of giant piles of worm poop!

 Love Stacia's face....she had a hard time getting over the idea...
ACK - get your hair out of it! 

Arielle and Seth went down several times together
I think all the walkers went down.

After thoroughly washing, the kids were all given juice and cookies.  

Some went home after this. It was drizzling and a picnic in the park was iffy! HOWEVER, the park was great and had a covered pavilion. 

The rain let up and we had a nice hour or so of playing. I have many more photos but don't want to post them without parent's permission so you get photos of Matt and Rachel's and ours.  

I was impressed at this parking job....notice the wheels...didn't even hit. 

This little one greeted me with "Gemma," but she won't often let me hold her. Ah well. 

I was enjoying Mom Talk and didn't really take many photos at the park! We stopped and picked up Papa Murphy's for dinner. I was freezing when we got home - and took advantage of the hot tub. Eventually, Stacia and then Michael joined us. It was a perfectly lazy afternoon - followed by pizza and episodes of, "I Love Lucy," "Star Trek" and "The Cosby Show. " 

AND we got two more weeks of our core curriculum done this week. One more week of doubling it and we can go back to a normal pace and still finish the last week of May. We're THAT good! ::snort:: 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, March 24, 2014


After thirty years, what I've personally believed, is finally official.  *I* am the responsible adult in this marriage.  This is confirmed by several medical forms signed by both Michael and me, which will be laminated, kept in my wallet and available upon request. I used my new status to insist he did not want DNR on his records. I almost walked out at that point as I tried to figure out how "camera work" could turn into "do not resuscitate." 

I don't want to confuse anyone - so let me say - about 2 1/2 years ago Michael had a unexplained pain. They diagnosed Acid Reflux and gave him meds. The pain continued. A new pain flared up and led to emergency surgery on a gangrenous gall bladder. After the surgery, Michael kept mentioning this pain was still there! They immediately thought it was related to surgery - which seemed to make sense...except,  it was the original pain he went in for before the acid reflux or the gall bladder. They've thought it was various things and even did a second surgery to fix it - but they fixed something other than the cause of the pain.  (Which we've been assured would have needed fixed eventually.) They've thought it was a pulled tendon, hernia, adhesion (that started before the surgery?), troubles with the large intestine and small intestine, ulcer and whatever. Basically, they don't know. 

Recently, he was offered another surgery to take a look see. He declined.  

He had a CT scan about a week ago. It came back showing thickening in the colon walls. They told him they'd do some more tests in May. They called Friday and  decided they wanted to do the tests today. We are now the proud owners of beautiful, 3-d, COLOR photos  no one in their right mind is going to want to look at.  The doc did some biopsies and we'll know more in a couple of weeks.  I would know more at this point,  except I tuned out the doctor when Michael sat up and began to converse with him about various parts of the intestine and such. I had no clue what they were talking about and didn't sense a need to know as Michael obviously understood what the doc was saying.  NOW, I discover Michael doesn't remember this conversation and maybe I shouldn't have tuned out. ::grin:: 

Thus goes my first day as the responsible adult in this marriage. ::snort::  I messed up the informational part of it - but by George - I got a photo!!!

In all seriousness, we're fine. God is on the throne. We're walking this out with peace. Michael's pain is increasing, he's not sleeping well,  and they can't seem to fit any symptoms/diagnosis with the pain. We'd appreciate prayers for either 1. healing manifested by a lack of pain or 2. a cause which can then be treated or at least known.

Michael insists a day is coming when he'll sign a form as the responsible adult and he promises to have that framed. I've avoided this by simply not going to the doctor since I turned 50. Thank you very much.  

If "someone" gripes about this photo, I can scan the other photos and include them instead. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun Times with Friends

Tonight was a nice ending to a very busy week.  There are few joys as sweet as relaxing with friends. The C family moved here in February. This is their first military assignment. Brenner is a chaplain. Their kids love our kids.  We've been looking for a chance to visit their new home and tonight was the opportunity. 

I KNEW the "golden" (dead) hills of CA would be beautiful when they "greened up." 

Cole was excited to have the kids visit HIS home. He's been to our home a couple of times and played with our toys. He was the perfect little host - showing the kids all his favorite things and willingly sharing.

One thing Cole wanted us to do was go down to the Pond. Stacia, Elise and Clara rode down....

The rest of us can see their home to the right of picture

Watching Stephanie with the girls at dinner and Brenner playing with them after dinner brought back memories of the season when ours were all young. 

Elise enjoys flying....

Clara needed a turn.... 

Pure joy

We enjoyed the bonus of meeting Stephanie's mother as well. This was a great transition into the weekend.....

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Remember....Lot's Wife

Three simple words which I have meditated, studied and journaled for three days.

This is a command, "Remember Lot's wife." Remember - be mindful of, keep in mind, recall -  and so I did and I will.

Background is found in Gen 19. Lot and his family are fleeing judgement and destruction in Sodom. They are COMMANDED  not to look back. Mrs. Lot can't help herself and glances back. She becomes a pillar of salt. Both Josephus and Irenaeus, a Jewish historian and a theologian, from back in the day, write about SEEING this pillar of salt in the area during their lives. There IS something called "Sodom Salt" which is said to be harder than most salts, mined in bricks as if from a rock quarry. There is also "Mount Sodom" which is a mountain of salt outside of the city of ancient Sodom.

So Mrs. Lot was fleeing from her known life, her possessions, her neighbors, possibly her extended family, if Lot had married a woman from Sodom, and is commanded not to look back. She does look back, and becomes a tower of salt. BTW Jewish tradition gives Mrs. Lot the name of Adith or Irith.

Luke is retelling Jesus' teaching on the coming judgment in chapter 17. He is telling readers to be alert. To be ready to flee when judgment comes. There is the sense  we are to remain unattached from material possessions - don't take the time to get the scrapbooks - just get out.

Remember Lot's wife.


Sodom Salt Cave @ Mt Sodom - via Google images
WHY did she look back? I pondered. I came up with some ideas. I read what others had pondered.  Leaving a life behind is hard. She may have been curious. She may have been sickened by the sounds or sights of judgment. She may have been longingly looking back at her past possessions, experiences and relationships.  She obeyed - but grudgingly.  She obeyed, but gave that lingering final glance, "MUST I say goodbye?" This is not a picture of wholehearted obedience - and it cost her very life - which mattered more than anything she was leaving behind.

WHY does Jesus want us to remember this? WHY does it matter? These stories are written for examples for me (2 Cor10:6-12). I am commanded not to shrink back to destruction in Hebrews 10:38 - 39 - and Mrs. Lot did shrink back.

WHAT is he trying to show me? He wants wholehearted obedience - not grudging acceptance of His plans. Verse 33 gives another key.  Jesus says, "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it."  If Mrs. Lot had surrendered her life - she may well have gotten it refined and returned. It's in the nature of our God to restore.

Is it wrong to remember the past? Is it wrong to look back? No....not if we cherish those memories while wholeheartedly following Jesus in THIS season. Am I looking for what He is doing NOW - or am I clinging to what He has done in the past?

I won't look back to the way things used to be or have always been done.

I won't look back at past betrayals and let them color future interactions.

I won't Look back at sins (mine and others), but will look forward with forgiveness.

I won't cling to past places, relationships and seasons.

I won't look back at past successes and try to recreate them in a new season.

I won't glance longingly at the "financial security" the world offers.

I won't drag my feet when He leads in a new direction....

I will look for Jesus and follow him here - in a new season and a new place.

I will surrender past hurts, successes and cherished memories to Jesus.

I will trust Jesus to refine and preserve that which is valuable.

I will set my will to obey joyfully and wholeheartedly.

I will trust the Shepherd's leading.

I will endure.

I follow.

What about you? What does the Holy Spirit speak to you when you obey the command to  remember Mrs. Lot?

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


A friend noted today she wanted a chauffeur, a cook and a maid. I'm living the life! I was driven around today by a 16 yo with a driver's permit, we ate leftovers, and I had the younger ones do their chores! I love my life. ::snort:: 

Arielle has invented a new style of driving - a style I've not seen before - and, yes, she is our sixth to learn to drive. 


Arielle jumped out of bed and offered to drive us to PWOC today. This would be 30 min each way. She had a motive.

I was not prepared for the fact that all little gnats and spiders must be helped out of the van or killed before she will touch the wheel!

We started down the road and she was doing GREAT. Until....well..... You wouldn't want to hit a BIRD.

A BIRD? No amount of cajoling on my part would convince her  the bird will fly out of the way!

One would also not want to hit squirrels, rabbits or deer.... It was HILARIOUS.

She  made the gate guards day cheery! It SAYS to go 10 mph; I'm sure most don't. As we pulled up, I thanked them for being gracious and informed them it was her first time to drive through the obstacles....evidently they'd guessed! ::snort::

Arielle drove us around for errands and then asked me to drive into the gas station. She took us out and home.....

Why didn't *I* ever figure out this is the way to reach the top of the windshield if you are under 6'4"?

There was ONE moment (which she has told me I can share) on a really bad road...without a shoulder...where she got distracted by cows, birds and a curve and went off road....I was terrified and yet....pleasantly surprised to see she did NOT over-correct and got us going right back down the road. We were both laughing....

BTW - in case you are wondering - an ECO DRIVER brakes for TURKEYS! ::snort::

 Arielle drove us BACK to base tonight for Bible Study.  She's a great sport and the other kids were fairly cooperative. Stacia HAS taken to calling out speed limits and shoulder warnings for Arielle. ::grin::

Below is ONE of my most humorous memories of the day....wouldn't every girl want her first days of driving to be celebrated by a staff of chaplains?
 Evidently, Ch. S, saw I was about worn out being the driver in charge......He explained to Arielle the difference between turning and cutting a wheel when backing up. LOL

She actually did a great job parking - it took a bit of time -  and a village!

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...