Sunday, November 20, 2011

In case you were wondering.... life if CRAZY right now!  I haven't given an update for a while, so here goes...

We are mostly living in PA at this point.  My parents have been so generous and hospitable as 5 of us and all our stuff descended on their home.  Patrick started his new job three weeks ago, and it is going really well.  He splits his time between Baron Family Practice and a clinic in inner city Lancaster for now.  He has off on Wednesdays (LOVE THAT!) but works late on Thursdays (so they can have some evening hours at the clinic).

We've been working on renting our home in MD, as we would lose too much by selling it.  The market has tanked everywhere, but it seems to be especially bad in the DC area.  It stinks if you want to sell your home, but it does create a rather nice rental market.  Anyway, we just agreed to a lease this week, and the new tenants are moving Dec 1!!!  That means we need to get out....SOON!!!  The packers/movers are coming the Monday after Thanksgiving, and we will spend a few days bonding over the work of packing most of our worldly goods, which will then go into storage until we close on a house in PA.  To close on a house in PA, we first need to have a contract.  To have a contract, we need to have a loan.  Having a loan largely depended on having a tenant.  Ah, now you see how this is all coming together.  We are hoping to hear news about our loan tomorrow (happy news, please!!!), and put in an offer this week.  The owners of the house we want don't want to move until January, so if all these little details work in our favor, that is when we will finally settle here.  God is so good.  Thank you for your prayers.  Please keep praying!

Having a house here will probably help reality to set in that we now LIVE in Pennsylvania.  I've been working on and off in MD, and we've been down to visit on a few weekends, so we still pop in at church and Bible studies on occasion which really makes it seem like we're not really gone yet.  I guess not having a house there anymore will help the feeling of permanence.

We've also begun to plug into life in our new town.  It helps that this is "home" for me, and we already have friends and family here.  We are really excited about church and the people we are meeting there.  I joined the flute choir.  Patrick is planning to sing with the men's choir in a few weeks, and he will probably join one of the noteveryweek choir options.  The church offers dinner every Wed evening for $12 for your whole family.  LOVE THIS!  After dinner, there are various rehearsals, Bible studies, classes for the kids, and nursery for the babies.  How nice to not have to cook dinner or find childcare to be involved in church activities.  I've also been going to a mom's group (at another church) that several of my friends attend on Wednesday mornings.  I've run into old friends that I haven't seen in years.  It feels good to be home.

So, that's us.  That's why I haven't been blogging.  I can't find my shoes some days, let alone compose coherent sentences.  Most of the pictures that go with posts in my head are on the computer we still have in MD.  I keep reminding myself that this is not a normal season for us.  My kids may watch more TV than I ever thought I would allow.  I might not read to them as much as I like, they might have candy before breakfast some days, and we may have to skip many of our holiday traditions.  It's okay.  This isn't our home.  Our stuff is in a million places, and I don't have to do it all.  Can you hear me preaching to myself?  I'm tough to convince....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I've Been Reading...

I'm already starting to forget some of these books, so it's high time I did a "What I've Been Reading" post.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is based on the true story of a tiny village in England in 1666.  When the plague visits their quiet town, they make a pact to stay together in their village rather than infect the surrounding area.  A neighboring town brings them food/goods at a designated spot in exchange for their vow to not spread the disease.  The book is slow at times, but still worth the read.  As well as describing this distinct place and time in history, there are elements of faith, love, morality, witchcraft, sacrifice, and healing.
I just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which I believe is Jamie Ford's first novel.  I don't know what it is with me and books about WWII and/or Asian culture, but this one has both.  I had a hard time getting into the story, but about 3/4 of the way though, I really wanted to finish it.  The story is based on Henry's life, a Chinese boy raised in the US in the 1940's.  He meets a Japanese girl at school who becomes his best friend and later love interest, which is not an option for his traditional Chinese family as Japan is "the enemy." The story oscillates between Henry's life in the 1940's and his life 40 years later.  If you cut out 1/3 of the book, the story would be great.  The title suits the story well as the love story weaved throughout is truly bittersweet.

   I haven't read a Tim Keller book yet that I wouldn't recommend, and Counterfeit Gods is no exception.  I read it for book club, and appreciated it so much more after the discussion.  Before the meeting, it wasn't my favorite Keller book (still isn't), but I gleaned so much from the discussion, and I think I would glean even more from the book if I read it slower and more intentionally.  As the cover explains, it is about "The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters."
Okay, so I'm not QUITE done with Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, but I'm close.  This book made my list of "books I didn't finish" at one point, but this translation is SO much more reader friendly.  The ladies from our church in Maryland have been studying it under the direction of Barbara Coleman.  As I always advise new ladies attending our church, "If Barbara Coleman is leading a study, go if at all humanly possible."  I am taking my own advice and traveling from PA to MD for a few of the meetings this month.  I arranged it so I could work during the day (in MD) and then have dinner with friends from church before going to the study and driving home.  Long day, but SO worth it.  Read this book.  Read it with a group so you will have accountability and learn together from this amazing allegory.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is unlike anything else I'm reviewing here.  I DEVOURED this series.  Honestly, it sounded corny  and science fiction-y to me, but a friend recommended it, so I thought I would try the first one, and I was hooked!  I finished The Hunger Games before vacation and read the second one, Catching Fire on the plane (it's a PERFECT travel read).  I finished the third, Mockingjay, about two days after I got home.  Really well written, emotional, action packed.  Add this to your list.
I want to love One Thousand Gifts.  So many of you reviewed it and recommended it.  I won it on Sara's blog (which you should check out if you haven't.  She's awesome).  I was drawn in by Ann Voskamp's unique writing style, but after a chapter or two, I found it flowery and annoying.  I thought her message was fabulous, perhaps even life changing.  The importance of thankfulness is something we all take for granted, and Ann teaches us how to find joy in the mundane through nurturing an attitude of thankfulness.  Not just trying to be more thankful, but actively, intentionally, practicing and looking for the gifts God lavishly gives to each of his children.  He loves us more than we could ask or imagine.  I had a hard time getting through it, but I am glad I read it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Road to Sedona

This the first of four posts with pictures of our recent vacation to Sedona/Grand Canyon/Las Vegas.  The following were taken on the way to Sedona from Phoenix.

Montezuma's Castle

Detail of the Castle

I was fascinated by the trees in the Southwest.  Lynn got this picture on her iPhone.

This is the picture I was taking above.  A juniper. 

Montezuma's Well, a natural spring in the middle of the desert.

Resting at the well.

Stay tuned for the red rocks of Sedona!