Books I am reading

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Billion Rising

Recently, a friend posted on FaceBook about an event planned for Feb 14: A Billion Women Rising event. It is in support of women around the world to help end abuse and exploitation against women. The article by Joan Chittister that talks about this event is: One Billion Women Rising

I hope you will read the article, and consider getting involved. With all the negative actions in this country toward women, especially during this past election, it is important that people stand up and say that respecting women is a priority!

Look at the movement site and decide what you can do to support bringing justice and respect to women everywhere: One Billion Rising

I haven't danced in years, but I am going to get down and dance on Feb 14. I will be attending the Tucson, AZ events all day long. I invite all of you, women who want to speak out, and, men who want to support them, to find an event near you and join. You can also plan an event if there isn't one near you. 
I hope you will become involved. 

Many years ago, I participated in a "Take Back the Night" event in Philadelphia. It was a movement to speak out against the attacks on women who were just trying to go about their life. Attacks and rapes were happening at an alarming rate: on the subway, in downtown, along neighborhood streets. It was so empowering for 10, 000 women to go down into the subway system in Center City Philly, walk the corridors and platforms. No one dared to bother all of us. There was incredible strength in numbers. Out of that movement, subway platforms were upgraded with better lighting, increased transit police presence, and emergency phones were installed. 
Take Back the Night History

In an atmosphere in our country where it feels as if some people are trying to erase women's rights, it is important to stand up and be counted. Don't just "Like"! Get involved. And blessings to each of you who do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Before I Was Formed, God Knew

Today's meditation in Disciplines is JEREMIAH 1:4-10, where God tells Jerimiah, 

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
    I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
    that’s what I had in mind for you.” 

This scripture brought back strong memories I have of God being present with me when I was a very small child, some of which I was still in my crib. I have since come to realize that few people have these types of memories, at least in our culture. Historically Gaelic cultures acknowledge these types of "God awareness" memories in small child, and the "thin places" between this world and seeing God face to face. 

I certainly went through some periods of anger with God (when my father died), and some periods of questioning God's existence (especially during pretty severe postpartum depression after my second child was born). But for the most part, I sought God's Presence throughout my life.

I have always found it comforting when I come across scriptures that remind me that God has known me even before I was born. I am comforted my hearing that God has given me gifts and ministries before I was even born. My frustration has been that God doesn't always easily reveal WHAT I am being called to do and WHERE I am supposed to do it.

Two years ago i retired from my work here in PA, in preparation for moving to AZ, and, because I was burning out physically and emotionally at my job. After two years of preparing our PA home for sale, and setting up our AZ home, I feel more ready to become involved in ministry again. I don't know if God will give me a new job, or have me do volunteer work, but I want to get more involved again. ANd I feel this desire is being stirred in my heart by God.

I do not know what my future holds, but I know that I am in God's hands. I am in a waiting and watching stance, one of my least favorite. I want to "know" what my future holds. But in not knowing the details, I am forced to watch intently for God's movement in my life. I am open and looking. I am paying attention to ways God is piercing through the thin places in my life. And I am grateful that I do not have to figure these things out by myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Keeper of Lost Causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen


's review 
Jan 23, 13  ·  edit

5 of 5 stars false
Read from January 19 to 21, 2013

The publisher review said that this series is reminiscent of the Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who..." series. I agree that there are descriptions of grittiness and physical abuse that are vivid and disturbing. This book is not for the faint of heart.
But is is also well written with interesting characters. The lead character is Morck, a recently injured detective, who had one comrade die and another paralyzed in the same incident. He struggles with guilt that he should have prevented the attack, and he no longer cares about the job he has always been motivated to do well. His supervisor does not know what to do with him when he returns, and, sees an opportunity to receive more funding for his department by setting up Morck as a one man department of cold cases.
His first case seems a dead end from the beginning, but step by step, little glimpses of a different conclusion begin to emerge. He is able to hire a janitor/assistant who is Arabic in heritage and mysterious by nature. Where is he from? What kind of work has he done in the past? Whatever his past, he clearly has skills for charming people, whereas Morck seems able to only alienate others.
As they stumble around trying to piece together clues, there are flashbacks to the situation they are investigating. I will say no more so as to not spoil the story for others.
Though gruesome at times, the narrative is also touching, interesting, funny, and intense. If you enjoy stories set in another culture, with complex characters and enough stress to bring on agita, this book is for you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Working Together

I have watched at least part of each inauguration since President Kennedy was sworn in to office. For me, it is a day for putting aside party politics and for celebrating the amazing gift of peaceful transitions from one president to the next. Our founding fathers developed an amazing process to ensure our future without need for revolution or violence.

I respect the office of president, and even when Presidents such as Bush, Reagan and even Nixon, were sworn in, I celebrated the peaceful transfer of power and the office of the President.

I wasn't able to watch the inauguration today, but I will listen to Pres. Obama's speech on line later this evening. I think it is very special that this inauguration is celebrated on Martin Luther King, Jr Day. It somehow highlights how profound it is that Pres Obama was reelected. Though we have far to go in equality for all, we have come so far since those turbulent days in the 1960's when Dr. King was campaigning for civil rights.

  I am proud and grateful to be an American. My heart fills with thankfulness for this experiment in democracy that grows and evolves over the years, but continues to move forward in allowing each voice to be heard, each dream to be worked toward, and each need to be addressed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Water to Wine

I used the Upper Room's Disciplines 2013 for my morning devotions most mornings. The readings for Sat & Sun are from John 2, the wedding at Cana story, where Jesus does His first miracle and turns water into wine. Here are the versus from Bible Gateway.

John 2:1-11

The Message (MSG)
1-3 Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”
Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”
She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”
6-7 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.
“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.
9-10 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”
11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

The reading from Disciplines for Sunday, JANUARY 20, (Upper Room Disciplines 2013 (p. 23). Upper Room. Kindle Edition.) brought a different perspective to this passage than I had heard before. 

The author for this week's reflections is AMORY PECK, a retired teacher/trainer, living lakeside in the Pacific Northwest. He talked about how this passage reflects God's creativity in taking what is at hand and making a miracle. He talked about how many churches bemoan the fact that they don't have enough resources to run a Web site, publicize or (my addition) offer enough interesting classes, etc, to attract more people.

Mr Peck had begun the reflection by relaying a story of a family reunion in which the kids had made their own drums and formed a drum choir to entertain everyone. Mr Peck felt it was the highlight of the gathering, showing creativity, enthusiasm and love. He said we often overlook the simple resources available to us and, if we just work with God we can  re-create them into a miracle.

With all the work I have done for the last 2 years cleaning so much "stuff" out of this house, the idea of being creative with what is at hand really grabbed me. I have not been happier in my living situation by having more "stuff". I have actually been "drowning" in it. I have been more comfortable in the sense of having more stability and knowing that my basic needs will be met. I do not minimize what a luxury that is. But I have not been happier.

When Ted and I first got married (1970), materially, we had nothing. I was an undergrad student and Ted was in graduate school. My tuition was paid for by a savings account my mother ha created when my father died. She faithfully put 7 months of my Social Security survivor benefits in the savings account from the time I was 12 years old.

Ted had a small stipend for being a graduate assistant, and I had a small income from my work-study part-time job. There were many weeks when we wouldn't have had enough food, but my mother brought us a bag of BOGO groceries she had bought, and Ted's parents invited us to Sunday dinner every week and sent us home with leftovers!

It was a very exciting time both personally and in our country. College was fun (and crazy at times too). We were part of a ground-breaking Christian community. We were trying so hard to live as Scriptures described the 1st century churches. We spent many hours together, shared meals, child care, money, and homes. Ted and I lived in a large Victorian style home with 4 bedrooms and a finished attic. We often had folks living with us. Sometimes it was students who needed low rent in order to stay in school, and sometimes it was a ministry to fragile folks who needed love, support and stability. Ted and I did the best we could. It always fell short, but grace would intervene and create something good out of our immature muddling.

When we moved to Philadelphia, we were part of a church fellowship that challenged our understanding of Christ as a social leader. Our church in Ohio had been very Evangelical and conservative. I can only described Jubilee Fellowship in Philadelphia as radical. We began to see how following Jesus entered our public lives as well as our private lives. It was good to care for people individually, but it was also important to carry those beliefs with us into the voting booth and public arenas. 

In both churches, we had very little of material value, but we had love and care for one another, a sense of mission to those around us, and faith that God would provide our needs. And Ted and I rarely had serious needs, but when we did, our church family came through; money for unexpected car repairs, or plumbing repairs, babysitting when we needed to go out, sharing our car with others who needed to go somewhere where public transportation didn't go, etc. In Jubilee Fellowship, we shared one lawn mower for the whole community, and one member macramed a tennis net for the public tennis courts since the city no longer provided nets. We were creative with what God had given us!

I don't want to romanticize those early years in our adult lives.  Examining all of our beliefs, learning new ways to live, butting heads with many wonderful but strong personalities was often painful. But there was a vitality of life that I look back on nostalgically. I often wish that God would fill me with that energy and commitment once again.

So how does this play out today. In our current church, we have limited money. Folks give sacrificially so that we can have a full-time pastor. A member donates his skills to build and maintain our Web site. But we are full of love and care for one another, and those who visit see and feel our commitment to God and to one another. that is how we draw new members. They will know we are Christians by our love.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Little Night Music

Last night I was privileged to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra.
It was an all-Mozart program, so the "chamber" sound of the orchestra was highlighted. David Kim lead the orchestra and Imogen Cooper was the piano soloist. 
We almost didn't make it to the concert. Our daughter gave us the tickets. She bought the season ticket for the seats we have had since the Kimmel Center opened. It was hard to let go of those seats, but I knew with the trips to AZ, I would miss more concerts than I would be able to attend. Becca had given me the tickets last weekend when we had a family dinner. I put them in my purse. As Ted and I were getting ready to leave yesterday, I decided to change from my everyday, BIG purse, to a small clutch. Yup, I forgot to transfer the tickets, and didn't think of it until we were in Center City heading to a parking garage. Luckily, I called Becca, and she arranged with the box office to have replacement tickets for us! I was so grateful for computer systems that made this possible!
I have heard Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Serenade in G major, so many times, i didn't think anyone could make it "fresh" for me. But i was wrong. The small ensemble stood, except for the cellos and basses, and they danced while they played. There was movement in their feet, and, in their music. The tempo was quick, energizing. It was as if I was hearing it for the first time. David Kim is a talented leader and hope he will find his own conducting gig, although I would hate for the Philly Orch to lose him!
I have never heard, or heard of, Imogen Cooper before. There was little personal info about her in the program, so I went searching on line. She was born in England and studies in London, Paris and Vienna. She is one year older than I am, and has what appears to me to be a grueling schedule this year. She obviously has a lot more energy than I do.
Symphony 25 closed the program. For all my Mozart listening over the years, I don't believe I have ever heard this symphony before. No one wanted the concert to end. There were three curtain calls for David Kim and the orchestra, and there may have been more, but Kim dismissed the orchestra after the third bow.
As a little girl, I used to close my eyes as we traveled long distances and listen to the rhythm of the car. In short order, orchestra music would infuse with the rhythm. It was a magical time for me. I could listen to the music in my mind for hours, making long trips go by quickly. When I attend concerts, I like to watch the players part of the time, but I also like to let my imagination engage with the music. Sometimes I dance, or the music is like background soundscape to a movie that develops in my mind.
I will miss attending the Philadelphia Orchestra. They are a world class orchestra, and their new director, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, is bringing back a vitality and hopefulness that has been missing for many years.

I became a music therapist in the 80's, mostly because music has always been a source of healing for me personally, and, because I wanted to help others move into a better place in their own lives. There is a lightness and energy in Mozart that lifts one above the fray. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

One Was a Soldier


's review 
Jan 11, 2013 

5 of 5 stars false
Read from January 01 to 09, 2013

I really like this series, and suggest that if you want to read it, start at the beginning with In The Bleak Mid-Winter.

In this book, Clare Fergusson has recently returned from active duty as a helicopter pilot. She is in a support group for returning vets, helping them to re-assimilate back into civilian life. The plot develops as each vet finds his/her way back. I don't know how real vets feel about the portrayal, but the issues with which they struggle seem genuine to me from my therapist perspective.

I am fairly uncomfortable with the group's therapist, Sarah. There are too many times her comments and behavior seem very unprofessional to me. But I am also afraid it may be a very accurate representation of what is available for our vets.

Clare is an Episcopalian priest in civilian life, and, she is in a relationship with the chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne. As their relationship deepens, the fears that Clare has come to the surface. Being an old romantic, I like the way they resolve their differences, and, address her concerns.

The characters are interesting, multi-dimensional, and humanly complicated. I enjoy the series because Julia Spencer-Fleming brings true-to-life characters to life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Treading Along

I'm  on the treadmill doing my quarter mile for today. I know that is a ridiculously short distance, but I have to begin where I am; totally and completely out of shape. I have set a long-term goal of walking the Susan G Komen 3-day in AZ in Nov. I have struggled with being overweight my entire life, and, as my weight has increased, my exercise has become non-existent. 
All of a sudden, last week, I signed up for the 3-day walk. I am scared, but I also feel hopeful. I have been praying for years to overcome the inertia that has kept me strapped in my chair. What suddenly changed? I am not sure. But for what ever reason for this timing, God is answering my prayer. And as I have to start at 1/4 mile a day, God is meeting me where I am right now. In the past, I would have had an inner voice criticizing me for being such a wimp. This time, I am grateful that I am up out of my chair, and, I feel hopeful that I will continue this journey all year.
It has helped that I set a concrete goal. I have a target. Paul talks about setting our eyes on the goal of Jesus Christ as we live our daily lives.  Jesus is in my heart now, as I walk each day. And living eternally with Jesus is my long-term goal for eternity, as the 3-day walk is in earth time. But all my attempts to set a goal in the past have generally ended in failure or not being able to sustain the change. I accept God's grace for today and walk on the treadmill toward a new future. 
I guess my message is, "Don't ever give up!". My goal of wanting better health is in line with God's desires for us, so I knew I was praying for something within God's will. I knew that my bad health was a major reason I had to retire early, but I desire to be useful to God throughout my life. If I hope to serve God, I have to be in better shape.
Waiting for God's timing is hard for me. I want quick results in order to stay motivated! But God had a few lessons for me to learn. I am not even sure what they all are at this time, but I will probably recognize them as I keep walking. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I am starting a long journey to better health. I have done this many times before but have trouble maintaining changes. The longest success I had was in the 90's. I lost 40 lbs, and kept 20 of it off for 10 years.  

I am using a particular product and their support as well as support from friends. I have signed up for the Susan G Kolman 3-day Walk for the Cure for the November walk in AZ. This helps give me an external goal as well as my own personal goal to become healthier.

When I began the journey to better health in 1989, I tackled my life on many fronts. I began counseling, taking medication for my depression, seeing a spiritual director, began with Medi-Fast to jump start my weight loss, and worked out at the Y.

I am in a much stronger place this time. My mental and spiritual health are so much stronger than 23 years ago. It is comforting to recognize that I have made significant progress in some areas of my life.

If you are on a similar journey, I am more than happy to be one of your supports! I am open to suggestions and encouragement. What has worked for you?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Georgia S's review of Bel Canto   
by Ann Patchett
Dec 06, 2012

5 of 5 stars false
Read from December 01 to 06, 2012

I have been completely enthralled by this book. I am writing this review at 2am because I couldn't stop reading until I finished the book, and now I can't get to sleep; I am so filled with the characters, the opera singing, the unfolding of life and love.
The story was first conceived during the Japanese Embassey take-over in Peru in the mid-1990's. The idea of how the terrorists and the captives would interact intrigued Ms. Patchett.
There is a gentle unfolding of trust, friendship and even love. Hidden gifts bloom is this space where it seems there is nothing to do.
If you love explorations of characters, the struggle to understand those who are different from us, and then to discover similarities, this book is for you. I felt as though I was taken to the heights of that is good in humankind, and plunged to the depths of hell that is created when fear reigns.