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Friday, May 25, 2007

Spring Reading Thing 2007 Book Reviews

I sat down at my computer this morning to post a review of two books I’ve finished for the Spring Reading Thing 2007, “Digging to America” by Anne Tyler and “Stepping Heavenward” by Elizabeth Prentiss.

I’ve been struggling with partial writer’s block (the real thing) where these two books were concerned, because though it’s really easy for me to review a book that I absolutely loved, reviewing one, or two that I would only give a B- or C is kind of difficult – maybe because I still have that “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” tape playing in my head.

What can I say, when for me, there’s really no great material to work with?

So, anyway, Deena, over at A Peek at My Bookshelf, has rescued me! She tagged me for the Literary Meme, and this is how it works:

1. Grab the book closest to you.(I will do both books.)
2. Open it to Page 161.
3. Find the fifth full sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence to your blog.
5. Don’t search around for the coolest book you have, use the one that is really
right next to you.
6. Tag five people to do this meme.

How convenient that I am sitting at my computer with only these two books on my desk!

So, though I don’t normally just post memes – (I guess because I use this blog to discipline myself to write pieces with content and substance, and that’s my own personal preference, though I enjoy reading the fun and funny stuff posted by others) I intend to take this as a challenge! Intro my post with the meme, then post something worth reading about the results! This may turn into a really good writing exercise -- or maybe not.

So, here goes:

Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss
Page 161, 5th full sentence:

“Next to that, if I could have one thing more, I would choose to be a thoroughly unselfish, devoted wife.”

Digging to America, by Anne Tyler
Page 161, 5th full sentence:

“But the song she had selected seemed anything but a dirge, with its jaunty, perky melody and its chorus of Oo-la-la-la-la’s.”

You know, it strikes me that both of these quotes reflect something about attitude – unselfish, devoted, perky, jaunty, even melody – all speak of a heart attitude that I need to cultivate.

For me, it’s occasionally a challenge to stay upbeat, perky, cheerful. I surrender quite easily to stress, and selfishness. I rather like having my way too much, and get out of sorts when the needs, demands, or presence of others ruffle my feathers. It’s true too often.

Maybe it’s PMS; maybe it’s middle-agedness; maybe it’s just a lousy attitude. But I know it is something in me that cries for more discipline, because I do long, like Katherine in “Stepping Heavenward” to be a “thoroughly unselfish, devoted wife” and mother. I spend my days at home, with three teenagers. We homeschool, and though they have many friends and are all members of the work force, they still spend a great deal of time with each other, and with me. One of the things you learn, spending all your time with the same people, is that any attitude, good or bad, can be contagious.

Stepping outside of my selfish self, I find that my heart does so want to project a self-less, generous, and patient attitude with them.I want my family to love being here, in our home – and to be truthful, the atmosphere is usually dictated by my heart attitude. Oh, Father, let it be an atmosphere of love.

You know what else? I find that the quickest way to adjust the thermostat on my heart is through music. Right now I am in love with Chris Tomlin’s CDs, and my ipod and stereo are playing his new album more than any other.

The song "Amazing Grace" holds great significance for me. It is a treasure because it is my Mimi’s favorite. It is one of the few ways to get her attention through the fog that prevents her from recognizing her loved ones. When someone sings "Amazing Grace", this quiet, beautiful woman begins to awaken. She remembers. She ‘sings’ along.

My true heart’s desire is to be a billboard of mercy. I want people whose lives intersect with mine to clearly see God’s mercy – His amazing grace – all over my life. I want them to know that this same mercy is theirs, freely offered.

Chris Tomlin’s new version of Amazing Grace contains a chorus:

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, My Savior
Has ransomed me
And like a flood
His mercy reigns
Unending love
Amazing Grace

When I hear it, I can help but to sing along – aloud – my heart cries out with these words. My chains are gone.


Washed away in a flood of mercy, love, grace.

That is amazing.

When I focus on his mercy, my attitude softens, it’s easier to love, to be patient, to be self-less.


Sing it again, Chris!

P.S. The_Queen_Bea, SimpliciTea, some1krazy, mamaglop, and The_Fluff_of_Steve – TAG, You’re It!


Deena said...

Oh, I'm SO glad I tagged you...I almost didn't...but God changed my mind.

Precious friend, you are a rare jewel...so infinitely rich and beautiful...

There's another meme at Wholly Devoted...of a more serious nature...check it out...

Nise' said...

Awesome post about the importance of attitude! The last couple of days my attitude has been "stinky" and whenever I would turn on praise music it was changed instantly!

melody said...

I haven't visited in a while, and think there was a reason why I was moved to come here now. Thanks for the attitude adjustment.

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