Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leave a Comment! Win a Free Book!

1. As promised several weeks ago, I have a review (just posted on Amazon) of my dear friend Kimberlee Conway Ireton's new book, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis:

This was a tough book for me to read. I lived with depression long before my two children were placed on the autism spectrum, so I still struggle to reconcile my Christian faith with the suffering of my family. So many times, I have longed for "God to show up with power and might, to raise His victorious right hand and for all to be well" (19). 

What I love most about "Cracking Up" is the eloquence and emotion with which Kimberlee describes the same darkness I have known in my own life, desperately praying and holding on to my faith with my fingernails, uncertain about my next breath because I am certain I am going to drown in my present circumstances. She has described the story of one year of her life so exquisitely that I can now point my family and friends to this book and saw, "This is how I live. This is how I feel. If you want to understand my brokenness, read this."

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to Kimberlee for describing a life in Christ while suffering anguish over children you dearly love. I am a longtime fan of her writing because it encourages me to remember that even when parenting seems an impossible task, it is still a worthwhile endeavor that God honors.

2. Let me share some of my favorite quotes:

But in this dark season, I do not want a God who humbly meets me in brokenness. I want a God who exercises enemy-annihilating power.... I want God to obliterate the cancer that is eating Michaela's bone marrow. I want God to eradicate my pregnancy-induced queasiness--both the physical and the emotional kind. I want God to make an agent love my novel as much as I do, to make a publisher love it, and readers, too. I want God to show up with power and might, to raise His victorious right hand and for all to be well. (19)

'[J]oy sounds to our postmodern ears like an emotion, something you feel, whereas celebration is something you do. And since you can't change how or what you feel--it's not like you can force yourself to feel joy--it might be better to focus on what you do, on how you're actually living, rather than what you're feeling or not feeling.' (60)

How do I hold those things in tension? The goodness of my life, the many gifts I have, and the fact that I still find my life so difficult? And the more sobering fact that it could easily be so much harder? And the horrible reality that even if my life is good, others' lives aren't good in the same way? (194)

3. To encourage my legion of blog readers (ha!) to read Kimberlee's new book, I will give away one copy of Cracking Up to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment at the end of this post between now and Saturday night, November 2. It will arrive on your doorstep from Amazon as soon as possible after that time.

4. I am also grateful to Kimberlee for explaining to me how a writer thinks and how much writers love their works. As you may well remember, my mother is also a writer who talks animatedly about her characters and titles and plot points and I now realize that the reason I can't seem to match her enthusiasm is because I'm not a writer. Kimberlee understands you perfectly, Mom.

Then there's my husband and his Volkswagens, but that's a different story for a different time.

5. My emotions have been rather roller coaster-y lately and I realized this week that because Alex's anxiety is (relatively) stable and has been for a few weeks, I can emotionally start processing all the grief and pain I stuffed away for  the previous 9 months plus. Alex was one minute away from exploding, all day, every day, for all of those months, which wears on a person. Last summer, I described it to Marshall that it was as if we were living in perpetual agony, not waiting for the other shoe to drop, but for it to explode. It would also explain why my blog updates were few and far between.

So I've been taking naps, walking in the autumn wind, and reading lots of books. Mary Balogh has three different series that I working my way through simultaneously; I read 4 of her novels yesterday. Some people drink wine to relax, or watch reality television. I read romance novels.

6. I've been staring at my DVR listings lately and finally gave up on a couple of series that have been sitting there for months or years and I've never watched one single episode. Good-bye Continuum, Defiance, Copper and Perception. If I really want to watch them later, I can always see them on DVD. Or not.

7. Next week is Miranda's birthday (Wednesday) and Halloween (Thursday). Alex doesn't understand why he has to wait another 3 weeks until the family party. I keep explaining we have to wait for my parents to return from points West. Miranda doesn't understand why she can't have every friend she's ever had at the party. Someone please tell me she will eventually realize the universe does not revolve around her.

Here's Cari, who's standing in for Jen this week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grump. Grump. Whine. Whine.

So I had a bad week. All I could do was whine or grump or complain about something. And I had planned to read my friend's new book, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis, and offer a copy for free for some fortunate commenter. Well, I haven't read the book yet. I read a few other worthy books, especially Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but not hers. I don't even watch any of those television shows, but I was interested in how they became popular and why. Anyway, it seems silly to beat the drum for a book I haven't read yet (this week, I promise; really, I mean it this time!), so I'll save that for next Friday.

And to try to kick myself out of my funk, I'm going to be thankful for 7 things:

  1. Miranda stayed home from school on Wednesday with a scary cough so we went back to the doctor for another strep test, but it was just bad allergies. The trees just do not like my poor girl. 
  2. My local library continues to buy books that I'm interested in reading, just because I request them via inter-library loan, like The Darwin Elevator
  3. Alex refused to do his homework Monday and Tuesday nights and after I realized this was his way of communicating that the work was too easy and he'd already done these same worksheets too many times previously, I asked his teacher to find something better which she did and so homework Wednesday and Thursday nights was a breeze. 
  4. The lady who cleans my house came Thursday, so for a few brief and wonderful moments, the whole house was clean and the paper piles were reduced to a memory of their previous glory. 
  5. My mother-in-law is coming for supper tomorrow so she can then stay with Alex while I take Miranda to dance class because Marshall is on late schedule at work this week. Taking Alex with us to dance would be . . . difficult. 
  6. Pacific Rim was released on BluRay this week and Costco had the best price, as I expected, so I bought it yesterday and we watched it last night. Still a cool movie, for those who want to watch giant robots fight giant monsters from outer space. I do; I'm sure I'll watch it again, but probably not every day.
  7. The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals are going to play in the World Series, starting on Wednesday. I'm not a huge fan of either team, but this was a more positive outcome than other options. But do we really have to call it the World Series? All the baseball teams, except for the Toronto Blue Jays, are from the United States. I mean, seriously. 
  8. Bonus: I think I'm going to go see a silly movie this week. Escape Plan should fit the bill. 
Here's Jen.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wait, I Have a Blog? I Totally Didn't Know That!

1. So, where have I been the last few weeks? Well, we had that trip to Atlanta on our double wedding weekend, which was fun, which took a week to prepare for and another week to catch up from, and then I got some viral something and when I finally saw my doctor a few days ago, after 11 days sick, he said I was doing the right thing (lots of naps and drinking water). And then, last weekend, both children got sick and when I dragged them to the pediatrician for throat cultures, it was strep times two. And that pretty much sums it up.

2. The new television season has started and we like a few new shows:

  • The Crazy Ones - I've loved Sarah Michelle Gellar forever but Robin Williams is pure genius. And I am not a sitcom watcher, until this summer, when I started watching TBBT
  • Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The first two episodes were fun, although the characters, aside from Coulson, are a bit bland. Still, a cameo from Fury? Awesome.
  • Sleepy Hollow - Good actors. Hopefully, the writing will improve. It seems like Grimm-light.
  • I've picked up The Blacklist and The Tomorrow People but haven't watched them yet. 
  • Still looking forward to Almost Human, which premieres next month.
3. Some of my film friends may be disappointed, but The Grandmaster was my first Kar Wai Wong movie. Marshall and I saw it in Atlanta because we had the time then to see it. It was either that or Riddick and we can see Vin on DVD.

I now understand why people rave about Wong's movies. This is a breathtakingly beautiful movie. There is a quiet scene near the end at a tea house between Ziyi Zang and Tony Leung Chiu Wai that had me in tears. So, now, apparently, I need to see Days of Being Wild, In the Mood For Love, and 2046.

I keep asking my husband, with all his years and training in acting, how do people make their faces show emotion so carefully? I know I can't do this. David Tennant is the master of the elastic face, as is Timothy Olyphant. Hero is an excellent film for many reasons, but the high quality of acting seems to set it above and beyond reproach. Ziyi Zang and Tony Leung Chiu Wai are in it, along with Jet Li, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen. And Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon depends almost as much on the faces of Yun-Fat Chow and Michelle Yeoh as their fighting skill. Andy Lau should also be on this list. Their faces and expressions make me believe.

4. And now for something completely different. Alex has been on Laurie Berkner music kick for several weeks now, singing at the top of his voice (remarkably in tune), so we've been listening to it in the car when we go anywhere. And the song stuck in my head, for all these weeks is this:

Maybe because we've been sick for two weeks and I haven't been able to bake any cookies? I dunno. My favorite song is still "I Know a Chicken" but I couldn't find a good video link for it. Just go out and buy the We Are The Laurie Berkner Band DVD. You'll be glad you did.

5. I have read a few books lately, like the latest Eileen Wilks, Ritual Magic, and Mary Balogh's The Proposal. What I need to sit down and read is my friend Kimberlee Conway Ireton's new book, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis. My life is rather intense, so I tend to read fluff. But if you come back here to my blog next week, you might win a free copy.

6. Last weekend, Marshall took his dad to see Gravity for a belated birthday present. I know everybody is raving about this film, but I'm afraid of getting motion sick. My first IMAX experience, in HS, made me very ill and I still have difficulties on planes, trains, automobiles, boats, escalators, elevators, etc. Besides, my permanent babysitters are leaving for Hawaii tomorrow.

7. Must read for a good laugh: Simcha Fisher's Ten Reasons You Should Get a Dog, Like, NOW. I was howling.

And here's Jen.