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Tag: books

Biweekly Wrap-up: Back to school 2012-13!

The 2012-13 school year started this week with a bang.


I got rear-ended on the way to Jacobs High School in Algonquin on Monday, the first day of school in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in Carpentersville. It was raining, and I heard tires squealing, and I glanced up into the rearview mirror and thought, “The first day of school!” I ended up halfway across the intersection. Luckily, the light just had turned and nobody had started into the intersection yet. Not luckily. Miraculously.

The other driver was terrified and apologetic. She’d never been in an accident, much less caused one before, she said. I hugged her and said it was OK, it was raining, it was slick, it was just my bumper, accidents happen. And, hey, usually when my car gets hit, and this isn’t unusual with all the miles I drive between work in the suburbs and home in the city, it gets totaled and I end up in the hospital. When the very kind Carpentersville policewoman arrived, she asked if I wanted her to write the other driver a ticket. My car just had spun out on some rain on top of oil on the expressway the week before, so I had a lot of grace for this sort of thing. And I said, no, I didn’t want to put her through that; I just wanted her insurance to fix my bumper, cracked and dented and hanging off one side of my car. The policewoman wrote her a warning. I still made it to school before the back-to-school assembly I’d planned to cover for the newspaper.

For a delirious moment, it felt like the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived on earth. Things were working as they ought, with honesty and grace and forgiveness and humor. This was salvation — not just in eternity, but in the here and now, salvation from the trouble she could have caused me and unglued reaction I could have had. And then the other driver’s insurance let me know yesterday they won’t be sending me the full price to replace the bumper. There was a small dent already in the bumper, so they don’t have to, they said. I looked this up, and they’re right: in Illinois, at least, they don’t. Which seems unfair. And also like a great deal of money I would rather not spend.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the Name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21). And while we join Christ in the work of His new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, we ain’t yet perfect and it ain’t yet here (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 3:13-15).

Also, there is no owl.

Hopefully, the start of the school year next week at Elgin Community College and School District U46, the second-largest in Illinois, will be a little quieter. Here’s what I’ve written the past two weeks leading up to that:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.




Why Christians could use a little adventure (Her.meneutics)

If you stopped by from Her.meneutics, welcome!

I already started my day with an adventure: I was awakened before 4:30 a.m. by banging on our front window. This went on for a while before I sent my brave and gracious husband to go make sure it wasn’t the sexual assaulter who’s been roaming the neighborhood (and also reportedly caught, but, at 4:30 a.m., who really can be sure about these things?). It wasn’t. It was somebody named Marisol, who wanted to know if “Michael who lives upstairs” was there. This was strange, since Michael Who Lives Upstairs ostensibly lives upstairs. But she very much wanted us to let him know she stopped by.

I left a note for Michael Who Lives Upstairs inside the front door to our apartment building, letting him know Marisol was here, and I really would like to hear this story. I hope he comes and shares it with me.

Then I thought, since I already was up, I’d be a real “Proverbs 31 Woman” and read today’s Proverbs 31 devotional on Women Living Well “while it is still dark.” (That’s Proverbs 31:15— see what I’ve learned from this study?) Instead, there was a note “Unglued” by Lisa TerKeurst is out today. So I clicked through to the “Unglued” website, which is where I ran into this:

“If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s still a pretty good day.”

Lysa has a pretty great Agent, if He’s all but sending people to my front door, waking me up and telling me I ought to read her book. I downloaded the audiobook. That’s how I “read” her last book, “Made to Crave,” and it was a pretty great pep talk on my hours-long commute to work each day (read my review here on Lean Girls Club). The first time through, it inspired me to spend more time exercising and thinking about what I eat. The second time, at the start of the year, it inspired me to spend more time alone with God. In short, it inspired this whole blogging-freelancing adventure.

So there you have it: adventure. You can read more about adventure, rightly considered, in my post today for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. If you live in the Chicago area, you also can buy a wedding dress with a pretty good story — on Craigslist, naturally.

An adventure doesn’t have to mean sneaking onto a set or sending your husband up a tree with a spear or getting banned for life from Disneyland and somewhat inadvertently faking a doctorate degree like the guy who wrote his own obituary this week in The Salt Lake Tribune.

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered,” G.K.Chesterton writes in On Running after One’s Hat, as London was flooding and his Battersea neighborhood was “particularly favoured as a meeting of the waters.”

The author was in the country at the time, and imagined his neighborhood as a “vision of Venice,” or, as “perfectly poetical” as an island. He imagined running after one’s hat in the wind was no more inconvenient than running after a ball during a game or pulling on a jammed drawer; no more tiresome than tug-of-war or pulling a lifeboat from the sea.

In this way, every day is an opportunity for adventure. Every day is an opportunity to hear the sometimes inaudible voice of God: To know Him better, to discern his will.

For the rest of the story, read Why Christians could use a little adventure (Her.meneutics).

To see (or buy!) the wedding dress that started it all, read my posting on Craigslist, Elegant wedding dress (with a story!) — $200.

Also, congratulations, Obehi Janice! Random.org has picked you as the winner of my first-ever giveaway! I’ll be in touch soon to get you my review copy of “Stress Point” by Sarah Francis Martin. To purchase “Stress Point,” if you didn’t win, visit Sarah’s website.

Linking up with:

Beholding Glory

Photo credit: The front page today of Her.meneutics. Unglued.

Love You More: An interview with Michael and Monica Watson, stars of “The 5 Love Languages” book trailer (Start Marriage Right)

If you popped over from Start Marriage Right, welcome! You might be interested in this post, about how and why I got involved with Start Marriage Right. Or this series, on planning my wedding. And most definitely my first-ever giveaway, which ends next Monday, Aug. 6.

When I asked my then-boyfriend Joel if he ever had heard of “The 5 Love Languages,” I think he eye-rolled me. When I asked what his love language was, though, he knew right away.

Love languages are the five ways people primarily give and receive love: through quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Gary Chapman describes each in his book “The 5 Love Languages,” published 20 years ago. Since then, it’s been a perennial best-seller, spawning versions for children, applications for the workplace and more. And now, if you grew up in the church, the love languages now are pretty ubiquitous, maybe even eye roll-inducing. They’re like “stop, drop and roll,” only maybe cheesier.

For its milestone anniversary, “The 5 Love Languages” is back with a beachy new cover (much better than the hearts and filigrees on the decade-old copy on my bookshelf); additional resources that are hip with the kids like Chapman’s book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married,” the Love Language Challenge app, the Start Marriage Right website and the Staying Engaged email newsletter; its own song; and a three-minute video. That video stars songwriter Michael Watson of West Coast rock-pop band Above the Golden State and his real-life wife, Monica Watson, a model and actress and associate producer for Faceout Films, the Bend, Ore.-based production company behind the book trailer.

I interviewed Michael and Monica about how the song, the video and how the book still is relevant today. They, in turn, made me want to move to Bend, Ore., immediately.

P.S. My love language is gifts. Do with that what you will.

Start Marriage Right: So how do you decide what to take and what not to take, and how do you stay true to those boundaries you’ve set or that mission you’ve purposed in that environment?

Monica Watson: I think a lot of it is kind of what Michael and I have decided as a married couple what we stand for and what we want our mission to be. When we talk about projects that come in, when we’re trying to decide whether we say yes or no to them, or whether to take a gig or not take a gig, I think it all comes down to, “Does this line up with the mission God has for us?” I think that knowing that mission is really huge, so you can reflect that off the project: “Should I take this role or not?” “Should I take this gig or not?” There isn’t really an easy answer.

For the rest of the story, read Love You More: An interview with Michael and Monica Watson, stars of “The 5 Love Languages” book trailer (Start Marriage Right).

For more ideas on creating “your marriage mission” with your spouse, read this excellent article by my fellow Start Marriage Right writer Samuel Rainey.

Photo credit: Start Marriage Right, courtesy of Michael and Monica Watson. Squiggles divider by IROCKSOWHAT.

Author tells positive stories in new U46 book (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — When Traci O’Neal Ellis of Elgin tried to think of places she could give back to her community — places where she had “sucked the most resources” — it was School District U46.

Ellis attended U46 schools. She met her husband, Elgin Public Works Supervisor Rick Ellis, in fifth grade at Century Oaks Elementary School in Elgin. Their children attended U46 schools.

Her mother, Carolyn O’Neal, was a teacher and principal of Oakhill Elementary School in Streamwood. Her late father, Ron O’Neal, was a teacher and longtime principal of Elgin High School, the first black U46 principal and a Kane County Educator of the Year.

Ellis now is a member of the U46 Board of Education, and hers is just one of the stories shared in Elgin author George Rawlinson’s just-released book “Looking In, Looking Up: A Year with School District U46.”

“It was very cool. It kind of captured, for me, the essence of how I feel about U46,” she said.

Rawlinson, who has written for The Courier-News and now published four books, signed copies of “Looking In, Looking Up: A Year with School District U46” at a publication party Thursday night at the Elgin Public House. More than 75 people passed through the event, including Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain, U46 Superintendent Jose Torres, U46 Board of Education members, administrators, teachers and students.

The book is “part daily diary, part academic travelogue,” according to Rawlinson, recording his travels from school to school, looking for positive stories in the Elgin school district, during the 2010-11 school year.

For the rest of the story, read Author tells positive stories in new U46 book (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

Elgin survival training ‘Games’ (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — How long would you survive in an outdoor arena if your name were drawn for the Hunger Games?

Gail Borden Public Library will help you up your chances in two events Thursday, March 22, to celebrate the release of the first movie in the “Hunger Games” Trilogy later at midnight. The movies are based on the best-selling, futuristic young adult book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

The main library will host a Hunger Games Survival Camp for adults and children in sixth grade and up from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the community rooms of the main library, 270 N. Grove Ave. The Rakow Branch, 2751 W. Bowes Road, will stay open late for a similar “Hunger Games: Movie Release Extravaganza, starting at 8 p.m.

For the rest of the story, read Elgin survival training ‘Games’ (Sun-Times Media).