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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This Blog Has Moved

Please go to to see the archives from this blog and all new posts.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm Moving!

No, not to my 36th residence (well, OK, yeah, that's happening too, but that's not the subject of this post).  After nearly two years on Blogger, I'm moving over to Wordpress.

I've also got a fancy new domain name, one that I think will make it simpler for people to find me.  See, when I started this blog in June 2011 (pretty much on a whim), I foolishly chose a long name for my blog and went with the free blogspot domain name.  That resulted in my URL being, which I think you'll agree is pretty awkward.  I also had no idea what I wanted this blog to be.

In the nearly two years of writing this blog, I've begun to figure out who I am as a writer.  Perhaps the greatest discovery I've made is that I am a writer, not just someone who likes to write.  So I haven't published a book yet.  So my publishing credentials consist of a couple dozen sermons at and a single newspaper article that made it out of my journalism class and into the town paper back in high school.  I have this blog.  I have my independent publishing house Quiet Publications, where I'll begin publishing inspirational daily devotions on Sunday, May 19.  That's also where I'll make available some bible studies I've written, and I have a number of longer writing projects I'm working on for that, both nonfiction and fiction.  I'm also getting ready to launch another blog that will focus entirely on homeschooling, since that seems to be taking up a great deal of my time and attention these days, and I'm just at the very beginning of that journey!

But I also have opinions on politics and religion.  I'd like to share some of my observations about what I see going on around me.  I'd like to talk about the process of writing.  I'd like a place where I can just be me and write whatever strikes my fancy, whether it's a profound insight on the human condition or a silly meme.  As I continue to find my place as a religious writer, homeschool blogger, and novelist, I'd like to have one place to tie all that together.

So that's why I'd like you to bookmark and/or subscribe to the new home of Karen's Take on Life, the Universe, and Everything at  (Creative, huh?)

I have ported all my archives (though not the comments--sorry!), and from now on, all future posts will be at  I truly hope to see you over there!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Boston

I woke up this morning to a scene from a Bruce Willis movie.  There was a robbery, an MIT police officer shot and killed, a carjacking, police chase, shoot-outs, even grenades!  The entire city of Boston and some of its surrounding communities were on lock-down.  With the images of bombed-out Back Bay still fresh in my mind, this insomniac regretted the inability to go back to sleep and escape from the nightmare unfolding.

Of course, I'm watching all of this on my computer 42 miles away from the chaos.  My community isn't on lock-down.  Police aren't warning me to stay away from my windows.  But the very first blog post I ever wrote talked about where I'm from, and I proudly answered the question by saying, "I'm from Boston."  I might currently live in New Hampshire, but I'm from Boston.  I find a reason to visit my city at least once a month, sometimes more.  My kids can recognize the Boston skyline, and they get really excited whenever they see it.  They've been asking me all winter when we can go back and have another picnic in Boston and ride on the swan boats again.  Spencer plans to attend MIT when he gets older, and Naomi has her heart set on Harvard.  (I didn't program them to say this; they came up with it on their own!)

Back Bay is one of my favorite areas of Boston, and it was attacked on Monday.  Its media profile has been one of chaos and carnage.  I drive through Cambridge nearly every time I go in town, and now that's being associated with the terrorists as well.  And Watertown?  Watertown is currently experiencing a door to door search by police, with residents being warned to only open the door for uniformed police officers.  When I lived in Arlington, Watertown was home to one of my favorite restaurants.  It was also the home of a boy I had a serious crush on in high school, and it was where my mother's best friend bought her first house.  Now it has SWAT teams and a tank.  Those are the images being broadcast to the world.

But that's not my Watertown.  This isn't my Boston.  I understand that events have happened which are outside of our control and that we must respond to them.  I understand that many people's lives have been forever changed by what has happened and is happening this week, and in many ways they will never be the same.  In some ways Boston will never be the same; we will always know that it can happen here.  But we can incorporate that knowledge without it redefining us.

I've lived in the greater Boston area for more than three quarters of my life.  I have lots of memories of the areas that have been affected this week.  And I choose to keep my memories unsullied.  I won't deny what happened, and I won't forget, but I won't let the events of this week replace everything I know of Boston.  I expect Back Bay to be restored.  I'm sure it will include some memorial to the victims, as it should, but that memorial will be incorporated into Back Bay.  It won't replace Back Bay.  Watertown will see the departure of the SWAT teams, guns, and tanks, and go back to being Watertown, with the memory of today slipping into the overall consciousness of the town but eventually losing its power.  The T will run again, businesses will reopen, and Boston will again be Boston.  We'll continue our fierce rivalry with New York, exchanging boasts and insults as we always have, but knowing that when things get serious we've got each other's back.

As soon as the weather's nice enough I'm going to take my kids to the Boston Public Gardens so we can have a picnic like we did last year, and ride on the swan boats again.  I'm going to drive past MIT and Harvard, and listen to my kids talk about their futures.  ("Does M-I-T spell MIT?"  Hey, he's only four!)  We'll go back to the Children's Museum, the Science Museum, and I think it's time I introduce them to the Museum of Fine Arts.  We'll probably go back to Symphony Hall for Cartoon Fest next October.  Because all of that is MY BOSTON, and I'm not going to give it up that easily.

The world is looking at Boston and calling it terror and chaos.  And right now it is.  But that's only temporary.  I know what Boston really is, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Liebster Award

So about two weeks ago I was nominated by Jenn Flynn-Shon over at Random Lunacy for the Liebster Award, which is an award for bloggers with smaller (less than 200) followers.  Thanks Jenn!  From the research I’ve done, it appears that the Liebster Award is a pay-it-forward kind of thing, and to accept it I must follow a few rules.  Which is what I’m doing in this post.

Rule #1:  Post the award on your blog.

Rule #2:  Thank the blogger who nominated you for the award and display a link back to his/her blog.

Rule #3:  Post 11 random facts about yourself.

Rule #4:  Answer 11 questions that the presenter of the award asked you.

Rule #5:  Nominate 11 more bloggers with less than 200 followers that you want to pass the award on to.

Rule #6:  Ask your nominees 11 questions.

So the award has been posted, Jenn has been thanked, and a link has been provided back to her blog.  (Though a link to Jenn’s blog resides permanently on my sidebar—she’s someone I’ve been following for a couple of years now!)

Now for 11 random facts about myself:

1.  I’ve burned a few suppers because I was paying more attention to writing a new blog post than monitoring the progress of the meal.

2.  I thought of my first random fact when I smelled a sudden charring along with the raisin sauce that’s currently simmering on the stove.

3.  Earlier today I coated the bottom of my oven with burned jelly when I was attempting my first ever blackberry turnovers.

4.  Despite random facts 1-3, I’m really a very good cook.

5.  I regularly bake my own bread (in a bread machine) and haven’t bought a loaf of bread since October 2011.

6.  The October 2011 loaf of bread was only purchased because we had a week-long power outage and didn’t want to run the bread machine on the generator.

7.  I don’t usually talk about food this much, but supper’s almost ready and I’m hungry.

8.  To date I’ve only written two blog posts about food.

9.  Last winter I participated in a local-ish CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where I receive about 12 pounds of organic, locally and naturally raised meat each month, and am having trouble going back to grocery store fare now that it’s over.  The CSA stuff really did taste better!

10.  I’m researching other CSAs in the area, hoping to find one that has a pick-up location closer than an hour and twenty minutes away.

11.  When I sat down to write this, I had no intention of making all eleven random facts about food!

Now to answer the 11 questions Jenn asked:

1.  What’s your earliest childhood memory?
I remember standing up in my crib and looking over the side, through my open bedroom door and across the hall at my parents’ closed bedroom door.  My room was dark, as was the hallway, but I could see light shining through the cracks around my parents’ door.  I don’t remember making any noise, but I must have, because the door opened and my mother came into my room and reached for me.  She was wearing a long black nightgown.  If I had to guess, I’d say I was probably about two years old.  I’m pretty sure I was out of the crib and in a bed by the time I was three.

2.  What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
Cocoa Puffs.  I haven’t allowed myself that luxury since I was about twelve.  These days I’m eating Trader Joe’s Bran Flakes.  Yeah, adulthood sucks, especially because I’m still shaped like I eat Cocoa Puffs for every meal.

3.  Do you remember your third grade teacher’s name without looking it up?
Miss Gnecco, I think.  (And I probably didn’t spell it right, either.)

4.  Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
Historically I’ve always said ‘too cold’ because I figure you can always put more on, but there’s only so much you can take off.  However after spending the last couple of years always being cold, I’d like to change my answer now.

5.  Have you ever traveled outside your own country?
Yes, several times.  The first time I was eighteen years old and I went to the Soviet Union (back when, you know, it was the Soviet Union).  Most recently I’ve been to Germany.  Although I got there and came home via Canada and the Netherlands, so I’m not really sure how to count that one.  I’ve been to several other places, as well, but that may turn into a blog post of its own someday.

6.  Where do you think would be the scariest place to discover a body?
Inside my home.

7.  What is your favorite book and why?
Can’t narrow this one down.  The entire Harry Potter series because of the excellent storytelling and characterization.  Stephen King’s The Stand because of the excellent storytelling and characterization.  Lord of the Rings because of the excellent…you get the picture.

8.  What is your name?
Too late to hide it now.  Karen Goltz.

9.  What is your quest?
To simultaneously be a phenomenal wife and mother and a published and respected author.

10.  What is your favorite color?
Forest green.

11.  What is the air speed and velocity of an unladen swallow?

Now for my nominees.  I’m supposed to nominate eleven: I’ll do two.

(If anyone else would like to play along, grab one of my nine empty slots and have at it!  Just let me know in the comments, so I can be sure to look you up; I’d love to read your answers!)

And for anyone who does accept this nomination, here are my eleven questions for you:

1.  Why did you start blogging?
2.  How many different social media platforms do you use?  (You can name them if you want, but you don’t have to.)
3.  What book do you wish you’d never read and why?
4.  What movie do you wish you’d never seen and why?
5.  What’s your biggest pet peeve?
6.  What did you want to be when you grew up?  (I want the answer from when you really were a chronological child!)
7.  Name the one thing you really want to do before you die (be realistic!).
8.  What are you doing to make sure you accomplish #7?
9.  What was the name of your best friend in seventh grade?
10.  What was/is the name of your imaginary friend (at any age)?
11.  If money were no object, what car would you like to own?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review - Cell War Notebooks

This is a follow-up post to the Blog-a-Thon I did on January 31.

On January 1, 2009, Julie Forward DeMay began her blog cell war notebooks to document her “journey to healing;” she was battling cancer.  On August 10, 2009, Julie died peacefully at home, only two days after her thirty-seventh birthday.  This book is the collection of her blog posts.

Each post is given its own chapter, separating the book into short and easy to read segments.  The book itself is short and can be read in a single sitting.  The chapters are loosely centered around themes, but mostly chronicle Julie’s thoughts on any given day.  Her writing style is casual and inviting, and the reader is drawn into the personal reflections of a young woman conscripted to fight a battle no one would ever choose for themselves, but which far too many must face nonetheless.

She begins optimistically, determined to defeat this invader in her body and resume her life.  She is surrounded by the support of family and friends, and her love for her husband and five-year-old daughter are recurring themes throughout the book.  But as treatment after treatment fails to deliver on the promise of good health, her optimism begins to turn to desperation.  Continue reading...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Literary Pursuits - April 2013

Welcome to the second installment of Literary Pursuits.  This is a monthly-ish feature of my blog intended to keep me honest about what I'm reading and writing.  I last posted on March 1, and I missed my April 1 deadline by a few days.  Oh well.

Anyway, here's where I stand with my reading:

1.  Ingathering: The Complete People Stories by Zenna Henderson:  Still slogging away on this one.  It's a decent read, but I'll be happy when it's over and I can move on to other things.  There are a lot of characters, many of whom are interrelated and not mentioned for multiple chapters at a time; it's tough to keep track when I'm only able to pick up the book for a few minutes every few days.  I'm not abandoning it, though.  I'm up to page 389 (up from 217 last month).

2.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:  Love having the classics on my phone for those random moments!  I'm about halfway through chapter 16 (up from chapter 12 last month).

3.  The Acts of the Apostles:  I really need to get going on this one.  My self-imposed deadline for publication of my "Gospel Agendas" bible study is the end of this month, and I can't edit the fourth session until I've reread this.

4.  When "Spiritual But Not Religious" Is Not Enough by Lillian Daniel:  I plan on writing a review for this book on Quiet Publications, but it's taking longer than I'd hoped.  Not the book's fault; I've just gotten in the habit of reading my books for review on the stationary bike at the gym, and some things have gotten in the way of that lately.  I'm currently on page 139 out of 215; I hope to finish soon.

Since last month I've finished reading How the Other Half Lives by Jacob A Riis and The Gospel According to Luke.  I've decided to abandon Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for now.  I'll pick that one up again when I'm not stretched so thin (whenever that mystical day may appear!).

And here's how I've progressed with my writing:

1.  Quiet Devotions:  My May 19 re-launch is bearing down on me, and I'm trying to get as many in the vault as I possibly can.  I'm up to 85, which means I've written 27 since I last checked in.  That's not a good start, since it's been 34 days.  If I were already publishing, I'd be down 7.  That's why I want so many in the vault before I begin!

2.  Gospel Agendas Bible Study:  I have finished rereading Luke's Gospel, but I haven't done any additional editing yet.  DEADLINE APPROACHING!  DEADLINE APPROACHING!  GET TO WORK, KAREN!

3.  Novel:  I've actually made some good progress on this one, though I'm embarrassed to admit that the only way I can make time for it is by ditching the adult Sunday School at church and working on it while the kids are in their Sunday School class.  My word count is now 8,423, so I've added 2,372 words in the last month.  Stephen King advises writing at least a thousand words a day, but Stephen King never had my life.  I'll take what I can get.

4.  Memoir:  I was putting a lot of work into this for a while, but have decided to slow down a bit.  I need to let more time pass before I can even think about publishing it, so the pressure is off to get it done.  I'll still work on it a bit while the memories are fresh, but mostly I'll be prioritizing my other projects.  My current word count is 7,224, so I've added 763.

5.  Quiet Publications Misc:  Nothing active (other than the devotions) but another book review is coming soon.

6.  Blog:  I did a little better this month, with three original posts since the last Literary Pursuits.  I've got two more planned (one of them sort of a meme, the other one original), and we'll just see where it goes.

7.  Sermons:  It's pulpit supply season!  I've got two sermons due this month, and then sometime next month I'll begin covering a six-week paternity leave, so plenty more writing there.

Actually, when I add up the average length of my devotions, my novel, my memoir, and my four blog posts (including this one) my total word count since April 1 is 15,602, which averages out to 459 words per day, every day.  It's still not King's 1,000, but it's nothing to be ashamed of, either.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Savior's Love: A Poem

In the virgin light of morning
In the fields with flowers adorning
In the vibrant sun that’s setting
In the mercy of forgetting
I see my Savior’s love.

In the widow’s lonely cry
In the untimely good-bye
In regret for misspent past
In fear of death at last
I see my Savior’s love.

When my joy is made complete
When I’m bowed down in defeat
When good fortune’s sent my way
When the bill demands its pay
I see my Savior’s love.

In all things, good and bad
When we’re joyous, content, or sad,
In every time and place
We see him face to face.
Our Savior brings his love.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little Boo Boo, Big Problem

I am a writer, and writers write.  Primarily, I type.  But last Tuesday I was cutting some pork chops for supper, and I was going too fast with the knife my husband had recently sharpened at my request.  No one noticed when I was suddenly standing in front of the sink, water from the faucet diluting the blood that was running down the drain.  My husband noticed when I was kneeling in front of the sink, my hand still dangling over the basin, choosing to sit before I fell.  My kids noticed when I ordered them to pause their TV (they've never watched anything that wasn't either on DVD or DVR) and get off the couch, because Mama needed to lie down.  Tom brought me the blue bucket that is better known for catching throw-up than mopping floors, just in case.

Fortunately the bucket wasn't put into service, Tom finished cutting the pork chops, and the cut on my finger, though deep, didn't require stitches (or even a trip to the emergency room).

But it did make it very difficult to type.

OK, so the picture makes it look like just a little boo boo, but believe me, it bled and it hurt!

My boo boo wound was located on the tip of my left index finger, exactly where I press down on my old, somewhat heavy IBM keyboard.  If I twisted my finger enough to avoid hitting that part of it, all the other fingers on my left hand missed their keys.  So I had to take a short break from most of my writing.  The fact that I couldn't type well enough to write a new blog post wasn't a big deal, since I only blog sporadically anyway, and a two-week or more gap between posts is not unusual even under normal circumstances.  But I'm frantically trying to get a large cushion of devotions for my May 19 relaunch of Quiet Devotions on  The goal I've set for myself is to write at least seven each week, preferably ten.  Last week I wrote two.  I've fallen behind again this week, but hope to catch up.

On the other hand (or perhaps I should say 'with' the other hand, if I'm going to be literal about it) I've been getting a little more done on my novel.  While most of it is typed in a Word doc on my desktop, I also keep a copy of it on my phone for reference.  And I keep a little notebook and pen in my purse, for when I have some extra time and don't happen to be near my computer.  Or, in this case, for when my computer keyboard closely resembles a medieval torture device.

I'm able to type better now, but it does still hurt after a few minutes.  So I'm writing this post and I'll try to catch up on this week's devotions, but I'm going to wait a bit before I type up the new handwritten pages for my novel.

And I've been a lot more respectful of that knife!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Banking on Our Ignorance

The FDA is currently soliciting opinions regarding a petition they've received from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).  In brief, the petition is requesting that the definition of 'milk' and seventeen other dairy products be changed to include the addition of "non-nutritive" sweeteners (such as aspartame) as an optional ingredient.  This would mean that while aspartame would be included on the list of ingredients, it wouldn't be called out anywhere else on the label.

There are so many posts I could write about why this is a bad idea.  I've already mentioned in another post about the challenges involved in not letting my family be a chemistry experiment at mealtime, but dozens of other bloggers have already covered that territory.  Google 'aspartame in milk' and you'll find plenty of them.

What bothers me about this is the reasoning behind the petition.  Putting non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame in milk and milk products is already allowed, but the label has to advertise the addition by calling it "reduced calorie" or the like.  According to the IDFA and NMPF, however, "nutrient content claims such as 'reduced calorie' are not attractive to children."  They also state that "consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar..[and] milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can 'more easily identify its overall nutritional value.'"

In other words, milk sales are down and people are too stupid to understand what they're drinking, so let's not confuse them with too much information so they'll just buy our product.

Where do I begin?

I appreciate the fact that they at least stated the real cause behind this petition: they're trying to combat slumping sales.  Of course, this statement was buried towards the end of the petition after several paragraphs detailing how this action would enable the milk industry to promote healthful eating practices and combat childhood obesity.  Particularly amusing, however, is their assertion that redefining milk to disguise the fact that it contains artificial sweeteners would somehow "promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace."

Explain to me how allowing the exact same label be displayed on milk-as-we-know-it and on milk containing aspartame promotes honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace.  The argument they're making is that the difference is called out on the ingredients list, but the truth is that they're counting on the fact that most people don't read the ingredients list.  People glance at the label, process the data that is readily available, and make a quick value judgment.  That's why products that claim to be "all natural" sell so well, even if there's nothing healthful about the 'all natural' ingredients.  (Did you know that cyanide is all natural?)  Many people buy wheat bread thinking it's healthier than white bread, but several brands of wheat bread have no more dietary fiber than their white counterparts.  People would know that if they read the nutritional value information, but they don't.  They just take a quick look at the label, see the word 'wheat,' and assume it's healthier.  The requirement that added sweeteners currently require the label to say "reduced calorie" turns off some buyers (and attracts others, but apparently not the ones the milk industry is targeting: children).

At present, the IDFA and NMPF claim they just want to be able to add these artificial sweeteners to milk products that are already being sweetened by regular sugar (i.e. chocolate milk).  However, the wording of the petition makes no distinction or limitation.  If this is approved as written, plain, regular milk may suddenly sprout aspartame with no indication other than a tiny notation in the ingredients list.  Given that there is evidence that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are addictive, I can see how this could certainly help solve the problem of slumping sales.

The IDFA and NMPF know that consumers are largely ignorant of what's actually in what they consume, and they're banking on that ignorance.  When's the last time you looked at both the nutritional information and the ingredients list of a product you buy regularly?  Or even of one that you only buy every once in a while?  Would you notice if your milk suddenly included an artificial sweetener in the ingredients list if the label stayed the same?

Pay attention to what you're eating and drinking.  Regularly check the nutritional information and the ingredients list.  You'll probably be surprised by what you see; I know I was.  And I've drastically changed my shopping and eating habits as a result.  You may, or your may not.  But whatever you do, you should do it will full knowledge and awareness.

The IDFA and NMPF think we're stupid.  Let's not prove them right.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Literary Pursuits - March 2013

I have a tendency to start projects and then, well, not finish them.  It happens with crafts, books I'm reading, and writing projects.  Since crafting is not a priority right now, my quilt, the kids' bedroom curtains, Naomi's dress, my sweater, and my latest afghan shall continue to languish in silent anonymity.

But I want to have better accountability with my reading and writing projects, and public humiliation seems as good a way as any to achieve that.

So as a (more or less) monthly feature of this blog, I'm going to post an update about my various literary pursuits.

First off, reading.  It's been quite a while since I've only had one book going at a time.  Currently I'm reading four-ish books (you'll understand the -ish when you get to it on the list).  Most of this information is also on Goodreads, but I've decided to post it here, too.

1.  How the Other Half Lives by Jacob A. Riis:  First published in 1890 (yes, that's eighteen-ninety--I didn't transpose my numbers there) Riis chronicles his experiences in the tenement neighborhoods of New York.  I love sociology and picked up this book eagerly, but while it's been informative (disturbingly so) it's also been a bit of a slog.  I started reading it last summer, and I'm still working on it.  Almost done, though.  Currently on page 232.  Hopefully this book will not appear on next month's installment of Literary Pursuits.

2.  Ingathering: The Complete People Stories by Zenna Henderson:  Recommended by my husband, this science fiction book has an interesting premise and is very well-written.  However the chapters were originally independently published serials, and reading them one after the other is a bit tedious.  It's a long book (571 pages) so I may be here for a while.  I'm currently on page 217.

3.  Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  I might have been a little premature picking up this one.  I'm reading it partly because I've always wanted to, and partly because I'm planning to edit and publish a bible study I wrote several years ago based on themes in Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship.  I believe there's no such thing as too much Bonhoeffer, so I'm reading Ethics before I re-read Cost of Discipleship in an effort to better get into Bonhoeffer's thinking.  It's very dense, but brilliant.  I'm currently on page 41, though I haven't picked it up in over a month.

4.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:  A favorite I've read several times.  I keep a library of classics on my Android so I'm never caught someplace without something to read, but my reading of a book this way is sporadic at best.  Hard to say what page I'm on since phone versions are so variable, but I can say with confidence that I'm in chapter 12.

-ish.  The Gospel According to Luke and The Acts of the Apostles:  I'm trying to put a bible study I wrote last year into a format I can publish through Quiet Publications, and that's requiring me to go back and rework some of the lessons.  Originally I had Luke-Acts as a single lesson, which was way too long.  However separating them into two separate lessons has enabled me to expand my treatment of each slightly, so I'm rereading these two books to figure out how best to do that.  (It's an -ish because they're part of the bible, which I'm not currently reading in its entirety.  Or you could consider them two separate books in a single bound anthology.  Or you could consider them one book in two volumes.  Numbering it -ish was just easier!)

Now for what I'm writing.

1.  Quiet Devotions:  Last time I started Quiet Devotions, I only had six in the vault.  With a daily publication schedule, I soon began to struggle to keep up.  I fought stubbornly and kept it going for nearly ten months before I had to admit defeat.  I plan to relaunch Quiet Devotions on Pentecost Sunday (May 19) and have been trying to write a few each week (minimum seven, preferably ten--I usually fall short).  Currently I have 58 in the vault (up through July 15).  Each month I'll indicate the number written since I last reported.

2.  Gospel Agendas Bible Study:  This is my reason for rereading Luke and Acts.  I've completed the introduction, Session One, and Session Two.  I'm currently expanding Sessions Three and Four.

3.  Novel:  I'm going to be vague on the details of this one until it's closer to being finished.  My official word count is at 6,051, plus some handwritten pages in my travel notebook.

4.  Memoir:  This will chronicle my faith journey and ministry.  Working title: Failed Pastor.  You get the picture.  Anyway, current word count is 6,461.

5.  Quiet Publications Misc:  I'm not working on anything this moment (other than the bible study), but I've recently published an article and two book reviews on Quiet Publications.  I hope to continue doing that sort of thing on a somewhat regular basis.

6.  Blog:  Looking at my posts since the beginning of the year I see that I've been cheating by doing mostly memes or promotions for Quiet Publications.  I'm in the process of revamping this blog (hence the new look), and it will soon have another new look, and a new address.  But more on that later.  In any case, it's time to start getting back here again a little more often, and letting all my adoring fans (go ahead and roll your eyes--I just did) know what's going on with me.  This post you're reading now is a good start.

So those are my literary pursuits as they stand now.  What are you reading or writing?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: The Marriage Manifesto

I'm now writing book reviews over at Quiet Publications.  I was just getting ready to cross-post my second review when I realized that I neglected to cross-post my first one.  Oops!

So without further ado, here is a link to my review of The Marriage Manifesto by Kelly M. Flanagan, PhD.  I'll provide a link to my second review in a week or so (though it's there now, if you want to read it).

In his first e-book, Dr. Kelly Flanagan addresses how the consumerism that shapes modern life infects and damages marriages as well.  Using examples from his personal life and popular culture, Flanagan clearly outlines what the reader can expect in the preface and introduction.  His first two chapters frame his argument nicely and provide realistic expectations for people who are looking for help with their marriages.  He also provides advice for those who feel they are in abusive relationships, and recommends a course of individual—opposed to marital—therapy.  Flanagan is careful to affirm the inherent worth of the individual regardless of whether the marriage ultimately thrives or fails.

That affirmation of the individual’s inherent worth, along with a call for acceptance of one’s imperfections (both one’s own and one’s spouse’s) is the strongest message of the remaining chapters, even stronger than the threat from consumerism in marriage.  (Continue reading.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Top 100 Movies

So another meme is making its way around the blogosphere, and in the absence of anything compelling of my own to publish, I thought I'd jump on this bandwagon too.

As the title of this post suggests, this is a list of my favorite 100 movies.

Only I couldn't quite come up with 100 movies I can call my favorite.  Sure, there are more than 100 movies that I've enjoyed, but for a movie to make my list, it needs to be  a) something that I still want to watch today,  b) something that I'm badgering my husband to watch with me, or  c) something that will be built into my kids' homeschooling curriculum.  So to all those childhood and adolescent favorites--if I haven't spent the money to include you in my personal collection and I haven't put you in my Netflix queue, then thanks for the memories, but I've moved on, and I hope you will too.

Since my eyes tend to glaze over when confronted by a long list, I've broken it up by genre.  Other than that, they're in alphabetical order (not because I'm really that anal, but because I accidentally sorted by the wrong column on the Excel spreadsheet where I prepared this.  Because, yes, I am that anal).  Trilogies are listed as a single entry, even when I'm omitting one of the installments.

I've begun with the movies that tend to show up on a lot of people's top 100 lists.

1. Back to the Future Trilogy
2. Casablanca
3. Contact
4. Gone With the Wind
5. Indiana Jones (Original Trilogy - NOT the latest travesty from 2008)
6. It's a Wonderful Life
7. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
9. Star Wars (Original Trilogy)
10. The Princess Bride
11. The Sixth Sense
12. Wizard of Oz

13. A Chorus Line
14. Annie (1982)
15. Fiddler on the Roof
16. Labyrinth
17. Little Shop of Horrors
18. Mary Poppins
19. Oliver!
20. Sound of Music
21. Sweeney Todd (1982)
22. West Side Story
23. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

CHICK FLICKS (I can't believe I have so many in this category!)
24. A Room With a View
25. Bridget Jones' Diary
26. Far and Away
27. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
28. Romancing the Stone (first one only)
29. Shakespeare in Love
30. Terms of Endearment
31. Titanic
32. Under the Tuscan Sun
33. While You Were Sleeping

34. 28 Days
35. A Beautiful Mind
36. Forrest Gump
37. Out of Africa
38. Sleeping with the Enemy
39. The Color Purple
40. The Shawshank Redemption
41. White Nights

42. Clue
43. Foul Play (1978)
44. Much Ado about Nothing
45. My Cousin Vinny
46. The Court Jester
47. Victor / Victoria

KIDS (only half of these have been added since I had kids of my own; the rest have stood the test of time!)
48. A Christmas Story
49. Freaky Friday (1976)
50. The Incredibles
51. The Parent Trap (1961)
52. Toy Story 3
53. Wall-E

DIFFICULT (these aren't movies to be 'enjoyed' per se, but are important and should be watched at least once; some of them I've seen only once, and hope to never see again)
54. A Time to Kill
55. American History X
56. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight
57. Platoon
58. Saving Private Ryan
59. Schindler's List

CLASSICS (not already listed under another category)
60. Auntie Mame
61. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

62. Hunt for Red October
63. Matrix (just the first one)
64. Terminator (1 and 2 only)
65. True Lies

HUBBY'S LIST (movies my husband thinks should be on this list even though I haven't actually seen them yet)
66. 1984
67. A Clockwork Orange
68. Blade Runner
69. Citizen Kane
70. Dr. Strangelove
71. Enemy Mine
72. Farenheit 451
73. Rollerball
74. Soylent Green
75. Westworld

76 - 100.

You can tell a lot about a person by the movies they watch.  I’m not sure I want to know what this list says about me.

I'm really more of a book person than a movie person anyway, so I'll be putting together a list of my top 100 books soon.  I won't have any trouble coming up with 100 of those, though I promise to keep it down to 100 for your sake!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Indies Forward: The Cell War Notebooks Blog-a-Thon

January 31st is IndiesForward day – a special blogging event dedicated to spreading the legacy of Julie Forward DeMay and her touching memoir, The Cell War Notebooks.

What would you do when faced with a battle for your life? Author, photographer and creative spirit Julie Forward DeMay took on her fight with cervical cancer like she was playing for the new high score in her favorite video game, Asteroids. Inspiring, witty, beautiful and brutally honest, The Cell War Notebooks is a compilation of the blog Julie kept during the last seven months of her life. It’s a powerful read for anyone, whether your life has been touched by cancer or not. Check out the paperback on Amazon and keep up with the latest news on Facebook. All proceeds from book sales go to Julie’s nine year-old daughter Luka.