The winter continues on. There is hope in the color of the birds that visit our feeders, though. The goldfinches are looking a little more gold, the house finches are cranberry and there have even been a few robins grubbing about under the feeders. It's all a promise of Spring. I won't complain about the snow, unlike friends (and, -ahem- family - immediate family members, to be more precise) here and on Facebook. Growing up in Tidewater the anticipation was so firmly engrained that it remains when the skies grow dark and the temperature is below freezing. We have snow on the ground mainly in the woods and on slopes that receive little sunlight. There are also expanses in shady yards and of course where snowplows did their job. But with temperatures being over 40 for the last several days and a sapphire sky, even I have to admit that it is a nice change.
I've been doing a lot of reading in my usual shotgun blast style. This means I have about 4 texts going on at once. I always think you can learn much about someone with their reply to the question, "what books are on your nightstand?" For the last couple weeks my nightstand has held:
The History of Christianity (Zondervan)
Eats Shoots and Leaves (Truss)
An Amish Gathering - Three Amish Novellas (Wiseman, Fuller & Cameron)
Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World (Jeremiah)
The Man Who Moved a Mountain (Chapman)
A Woman After God's Own Heart (George)
The Message/NASB Parallel Bible
and this month's unread Cooperative Living, Woman's Day, All You (for the coupons!) and Southern Living.
I get an idea or a recommendation for a book and, impulsively, get it from the library, E-Bay or Alibris.com and stack it on up. Then I read through it feverishly for a couple nights until another strikes my fancy, and on the stack it goes, replaced by the new text. Eventually, I'll finish them all, become burnt out on reading for awhile and clear off my bookstand for a couple weeks until it all starts back up again. The only book I've recently been unable to finish was Elmer Gantry. It was published in my favorite period of American history (next to our own, of course), the mid-1920s. Updike writes about a narcissistic, unethical, womanizing man who eventually becomes a Methodist minister. It is actually rather depressing when contrasted with The Man Who Moved a Mountain, a true story about a man who dedicated his life to the Lord and ministered in the Blue Ridge mountains in the early 20th century. Besides the uplifting story, the fact that it takes place mostly in Floyd and Carroll Counties, an hour or two south is inspiring. In reading "The Man," I've learned about the culture of Appalachians and have gained valuable insight on the heritage of mountain folk that makes them who they are.
I asked our Associate Pastor, Chris Chesley, if I could borrow a book on the history of the modern church and he loaned me The History of Christianity. Pat Robertson's controversial statements following the Haiti earthquake led me to wonder about the origins of the charismatic movement. Well, I'm stuck in Byzantinium. At least I made it through the early Roman Empire. I have a feeling I'm going to fast forward through much of the Dark Ages, so I can answer my questions. Actually, the sections on the early church movement are fascinating. I had no idea that there was so much controversy - and when you read about it from a historical point of view, it is a miracle that we even hold God's Word in our hands at all. It is a textbook, though, and I tend to get bogged down in the different offshoots of Christianity and 'isms, and besides, it's a pretty thick book and it takes up a lot of space, so I'm going to move it to the top of the stack after I read....
Eats Shoots and Leaves. Are you familiar with this book on punctuation? It's described as "The Runaway #1 British Bestseller." Improper use of punctuation truly irks me and I've often chosen to take the low road and ignore it after getting peculiar looks from friends (like when I recently pointed out to a local coffee shop owner that the proper spelling of the dark Italian coffee is "espresso" and doesn't begin with "ex-" unless it has already been drunk). (And I know that's not punctuation but the illustration is just to give you an idea of what I am up against.) Here again, I've learned that I am indeed right (as I suspected all along) about many of my punctuation choices (it is = it's but the cheese belonging to it = its). But this is punctuation taught in the way I wish I'd been taught in school - the only dryness is the sense of British humor. I'm going to stash it away for a homeschooling text in the years to come.
You might already be aware that I have a thing for Amish and/or Mennonite literature as My Life's One Regret is that I did not grow up in their culture. Sorry mom, but that might actually explain a lot about me, right? An Amish Gathering is on the level of Beverly Lewis' books and was a new fiction offering at Clifton Forge library. I snagged it on my way out, already burdened with a pile of Dr. Seuss and American Indian books for you-know-who, but ja, I would be ferhoodled if I didn't get my Deitch fix.
I'm doing a Bible study with some wonderful ladies (girls? women?) and we're using A Woman After God's Own Heart as a jumping-off point. I really enjoy that book because it touches on so many aspects of a woman's life. From housekeeping (an area in which I certainly need all the help I can get) to being a wife and mother, there are lessons that abound in how to do all while giving glory to God. I'm excited about our Tuesday fellowship. And, due to my short attention span/disorganization/failing memory, I've ordered a second copy of the book. So if anyone wants a paperback copy, please let me know and I'll send it your way. This is how it goes. Told you I was ferhoodled.
Living with Confidence...well, I'm going to get to that review in a later post. Stay tuned.
Finally, I have The Message beside my bed to read Proverbs to the girls and for my own reading in bed. I generally use my Living Bible for quiet time, and I keep that in the kitchen near the rocking chair (and picture window and coffee maker). My NIV "church Bible" is either hanging off the post of my bed in its holder or is in the trunk of my car. Were I a bit more organized, that Bible would be by my bed too and I could make notations like I see in others' Bibles. My grandparents gave Andy and me matching Life Application Study Bibles back when we were first married, making them at least ten years old. It is certainly not as marked up as I'd like it to be. But then, that is not necessarily a sign of a good Christian, now is it?
So, friends, thus ends your visit to Heidi's library for the day. What books do you have on YOUR nightstand? Please comment below!