Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Year's Non-Fiction

Okay, so here are my top picks for 2012. Again: these are books that I read in 2012, or at least finished in 2012.

1. Secret Believers, by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen. This book gave me a look into what it's like to be a Christian in a Muslim country. It means losing family and friends and often enough life and freedom. It also showed me how to pray for these believers.You can read my original thoughts here.

2. The World-Tilting Gospel, by Dan Phillips. This is one of the best books I have read on the gospel, covering everything from creation to why we need salvation to the means of salvation to what comes next. You can read my review here.

3. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. I read this one for school and rather enjoyed it. I think the author stretches his analogy by the end, but it's still a good book. At the very least, you can learn a lot about sheep.

4. Give Me This Mountain and He Gave Us a Valley by Dr. Helen Reseveare. These are her autobiographies of her time as a missionary in the Congo, including her trials and capture during the uprising, her rescue, and that she went back.

5. When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch. One of the elders had me read this when I was coming to grips with just how big God is. You can read my initial thoughts here. I found it very helpful not only when I first read it, but over the months as I've pondered some of the thoughts.

6. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric J. Bargerhuff. This is a solid work and it puts the verses back in context; I wrote about it here.

7. Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson. I will admit: I skimmed the chapter on Greek fallacies because my Greek was not up to the challenge. Overall, though, I think people might enjoy this one. I found some fallacies that I've heard in sermons, some of which I've wondered about.

8. Knowing God by J.I. Packer. This is a classic and an excellent, excellent book. I meet with a small group of ladies every couple weeks (or so...with time off over the summer...or when we're too busy) and we spent about a year going through this book. I would definitely recommend it to everyone.

9. Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp. This is another one from the elder (who is patiently waiting for a book review). It's one of his biblical counselling books so I was a bit concerned, but it manages to avoid being all "let's talk about our emotions." It's about how we are all called to help each other grow and change, and it focuses on heart changes rather than just behavior changes.

Those are the big ones. I also read a pile of the Christian Heroes Then and Now biographies, which I always enjoy. There were a few other books for school, some good and some not-so-good (or at least not-so-interesting) as well as a couple other biographies. Overall, it was a good year for reading. Now I'm ready to get going on the books of 2013!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Fiction Round-Up

Since the year is drawing to a close, I thought it was time for a post about my favorite books of the past year. I've read well over 70 books (and the year isn't over yet) so I decided to split it up between fiction and non-fiction this year. Today is for fiction, and I'll get to non-fiction before the end of the year.

For the record: my lists are of books that I read this year, not necessarily books that were written or published this year!

Okay, my top fiction books, in no particular order:

1. Terry Pratchett. I read 18 of his books this year, so he's definitely a favorite! He writes fantasy with proper British humor. His books should not be read in public unless you enjoy people wondering why you suddenly started laughing out loud.

2. Jeffrey Archer, And Thereby Hangs a Tail. This is, I believe, his newest book of short stories. Archer also writes novels, but I've never read any. I have, however, read all of his collections of short stories. I like the way he writes.

3. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games trilogy. I started them to see what the kids were reading and rather enjoyed them. The first book is the best, and I found that by the third book she was getting a bit preachy. Her views would have been easier to take if she had been more subtle. Still, the story was good.

4. Lian Tanner: Museum of Thieves, City of Lies, Path of Beasts. This is another trilogy, written for children and very, very good. It's one of the few trilogies where I found the last book to be as satisfying as the first.

5. Madeline L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Dragons in the Water. This was really a re-read, since I had read all of them before. I started re-reading them because one of my students is writing book reports on a couple of her books. They seem a lot shorter than they did when I was a child! I still enjoy L'Engle's writing style and stories.

There were more (a lot more) but these are my favorites. A lot of what I ended up reading in the fiction category was children's fiction. I enjoy any story as long as it's written well, and I find that reading children's and youth fiction is very relaxing.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Christmas Concert

This year's Christmas concert at the church went well. We had it Sunday evening. Preparing for it always seems stressful, with the worry that no one will know his or her parts and everything will fall apart. We have one full rehearsal on Sunday morning during Sunday School time and never once have all the students shown up for the rehearsal. In the end, though, it works.

Some of my favourite parts:
1. The girls singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." They didn't practice until Sunday morning (and argued that they only knew about it for a week, which is nonsense). In fact, some of them weren't there in the morning for the rehearsal, so they were still rehearsing at 5:30 Sunday evening (the concert started at 6). They actually did a very good job.

2. One of my small shepherds played "Angels We Have Heard on High" on the piano during the angel and shepherd scene (and did a great job because his parents had him practice a lot). He had his music book tucked into his housecoat (we believe in simple costumes) and pulled it out to play his song. Then, as he rejoined the other shepherds, he tucked it back into his robe.

3. Mary and Joseph managed to stay relatively still the whole time they were on stage. They were up there for a large portion of the concert, just kneeling by the manger (okay, doll crib, but we had real straw in it). Mary had a lovely pink pillow to kneel on (I think it was a Disney princess pillow) which happily no one could see) and Joseph was wearing his Jedi robe. It seems that "male Bible character" and "Jedi" are rather interchangeable!

4. One of my little guys sang "What Child is This" while his sister played it on the guitar. I think they had the mic turned up: the first word blasted out! It didn't bother him at all, they adjusted the mic, and he sang out wonderfully. His sister played very well also.

5. At the end, Pastor Lyle usually does a sermon or short talk. This year they brought up a rocking chair for him and the children sat on the floor around him as he read the story of Christmas to them. They started out mostly on the floor beside him, but by the time he was done they were crowded close on both sides and behind (looking over the top of the chair) to see the pictures.

6. As the ending, we sang Silent Night and had the candles lit and it was all properly Christmas-y.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Here's a Christmas song for the Dutch out there. Singing this at the end of every Christmas service was part of my childhood. For years I didn't know what it meant, but I sang it anyway. Mostly I sang the "sounds" rather than the words!


When I was young, we always sang it in Dutch. Later, as I recall, the English words were also given and people sang in whichever language they chose. I stuck with Dutch (although it's all the Dutch I know), I think because it sounds "right" to me that way. It's a part of my childhood.

For those of you who don't know Dutch, here's the translation:
Glory to God! (2X) In the highest! (3X)
Peace on the earth, peace on the earth to the people who have God’s favor.
Glory to God in the highest! (2X)
Peace on the earth. (4X) To the people, to the people who have God’s favor.
To the people who have God’s favor, who have God’s favor!
Glory to God! Glory to God! In the highest! In the highest! In the highest!
Peace on the earth, peace on the earth to the people who have God’s favor.
Amen, amen.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This week the older girls lit the candles. They were the most worried about it, mostly because they were the most focused on people looking at them. They did well, though, and there were no accidents.

We rehearsed for the Christmas concert. Most of the children were there. Things went....not as bad as they might have! I think we'll be okay tonight.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Third Sunday of Advent

Today my boys lit the candles. They're older: 9-12 year olds, so there was less worry. They did a very good job, and for the first time we had the timing down so they didn't come up the aisle too soon! One more week and candle stress will be done.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Second Sunday of Advent

The candle lighting went well today. I had two of the grade 2 girls lighting the candles. They made it up the aisle okay (although a bit early, so they had to stand and wait a bit). There was a bit of trouble lighting one of the candles, but they managed. They were excited and the trouble lighting the candle almost made them giggle. They fought it, though, and brought their candles back to me without breaking into laughter. Their faces were pretty red!

Advent is a past event: Christ has already come. It is a present event: He enters individuals and their lives. It is also a future event: He will come again.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The First Sunday of Advent

We lit the first Advent candle at church today. I'm supposed to find the children to do the lighting and oversee stuff. Today we had one of my 3 year olds lighting the candle. He did a great job, although he was too short to reach the candle; I had to pick him up so he could light it! Anyway, he made it all the way down the aisle without dropping the candle or stopping to stare at the flame.

And to commemorate the coming of Christ:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Too Much

Too much work.
Too much school.
Too many kids around.
Too many obligations.

Not enough time.
Not enough sleep.

It all threatens to overwhelm me.

But I keep clinging to the knowledge that God is God and He is sovereign and He is my strength and I cling to Him.

And it is enough.