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C.S. Lewis

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I know, I know. I’m a bad blogger. But in order to earn your forgiveness, I’m letting you know about a great sale on C.S. Lewis books for Kindle. Here is the complete list. And here are the ones I bought:

The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis
On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves (Harvest Book)

I can’t wait to start reading! How about you?

Goals for 2013

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So New Year’s in traditionally a time to set goals for the year ahead. And they say that the best way to work on your goals is to write them down and to share them with others. This is both, so here we go:

    Spiritual

  • Follow promptings from the Spirit without delay
  • Finish reading The Message Bible
  • Start giving regularly (monthly) in addition to tithing to our local church

    Financial

  • Buy and completely pay off a new truck for DH
  • Max out our Roth IRAs
  • Start automatically saving in MB’s college fund

    Physical

  • Work out for 20 minutes at least 3 days a week
  • Find a way to consistently track my eating habits

    Social

  • Make more comments on Facebook instead of just liking things
  • Send Christmas cards

    Mental

  • Build a computer
  • Read security-related blogs more regularly
  • Write an Android app
  • Read 80 books, including one non-fiction book and one classic each month

    Career

  • Take part in another study group
  • Get CISSP certification
  • Review and update resume at least once a quarter

    Family

  • Spend some time working or playing with Meredith each day
  • Start having date nights with Brad

I realize that some of these aren’t good, measurable goals – it’s still a work in progress. I’m thinking of following Jon Acuff’s 7-part plan (which I already shamelessly stole my categories from). That way I can come up with a more bite-sized and measurable goal for each of my time chunks. I’ll let you know as my goals evolve this year. So what are your plans for 2013?

My Hopes for Fringe

WARNING: Here there be spoilers! If you haven’t watched the latest episode of Fringe, you should do so before reading this post! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

So I was all into Fringe for the first three seasons. (Which, as you know, I got into late and just got caught up at the beginning of this season.) The fourth season was a bit off for me, though. The whole Peter being removed from the timeline at the end of season 3 was a great curve ball, but I didn’t feel like season 4 explained sufficiently why and how he came back. Then, Olivia had that whole alternate history, which wasn’t explained if the only difference between the timelines was that Peter was never in her universe. Then she forgot it all by being near Peter, anyway. So it seems like they are the same characters that we’ve been following for five seasons, but everyone else is slightly different.

But on the other hand, they don’t act any different. Unlike their doppelgangers in the alternate universe, they seem like the exact same people. Perhaps it’s because most of them didn’t meet Peter until they were adults, but what about Walter? I would have thought that seeing both Peters die would have had an affect on him, but maybe the removal of bits of his brain and subsequent insanity has something to do with it. Nina may be a little more attached to Olivia, but she was always sort of weirdly protective of her, even before Olivia supposedly was raised by her.

I was also disappointed that season 4 saw the gateway between the two universes was sealed, presumably never to reopen. We’d invested a couple of seasons in these alternate characters, and now they seem to be gone for good. Did they have any purpose beyond driving a conflict in the show? Now that the two sides have made peace, we have to lose them?

Then we came to season 5. It got off to a rough start with me. The finale of season 4 was great, but it seems like the whole plot with William Bell trying to create a brand new universe should have happened earlier in the show. All of my difficulties with that season were still outstanding, too. And season 5 seems really disconnected with the previous seasons. I think it’s because of the loss of the alternate universe. And maybe the jump 20 years into the future, as well. In addition to the time they’d been in amber, we also lost the years between the end of season 4 and the team ambering themselves. If we’d had a season about the Observer invasion, I think that might have helped some, although it may have also removed all the drama of figuring out Walter’s plan.

It really turned the corner for me when Etta died. I liked her, and her death shook things up, both for the characters and the viewers. I started realizing that Walter’s plan was not going to be easy, and that the characters we love are no longer safe.

Now – you have watched everything, right? Including the 12/21 episode, “Anomaly XB-6783746,” right? Because if not, I’m about to seriously spoil you. I’m going to talk about the previews they showed for the last three episodes, too. If you don’t watch the previews, stop reading now. Don’t blame me.

After last night’s episode, though, I am dying to see the rest. Nina’s now gone, too. I wonder what Michael showed her? Was it scenes from her past, like he did with Walter, or something else? The plan, maybe? Plus, now that we know Donald is September, I’m wondering if the boy is actually September? Will he somehow grow up to become him? The most exciting revelation for me, though, was in the preview for the final episodes. Someone said something about having to reset time. I’m really hoping that somehow the whole Peter being part of the timeline will be straightened out. What if September changes his own past, or eliminates himself, so that he never distracted Walternate, Walternate was able to save his Peter, our Walter saw it, and so he never tried to cross between the universes? Would that somehow prevent the Observers from ever being?

Darn it, my head hurts now. The good thing is that I’m more excited about Fringe now than I have been in a while. The bad thing is that it will be three more weeks before we get a new episode. I can’t wait!

Labor and Delivery

I could no longer deny what was happening. When I had dismounted the donkey in favor of walking, despite Joseph’s protests, I thought perhaps the back pain was from the long, bumpy journey. When the contractions began, they were light, and I thought it was only the walking. But this one forced me to stop, my entire body clenching around my womb, as if to embrace the child within.

As the pain receded, I became aware of Joseph’s solicitous concern. “Can you go on? We are almost there.”

“How much longer?” I asked.

“Maybe a quarter hour. The shepherds back there said it’s just over the next hill.”

“Yes. I’ll make it,” I declared. “We’ll find a bed, and a midwife, and our son will not have to be born on the side of the road.”

The minutes stretched into nearly an hour, however, as I had to stop for several more contractions. Joseph had helped me back onto the donkey so we could walk faster, but he still stopped to steady me during the worst of them.

Finally we entered Bethlehem. The streets were packed with people, vendors, residents doing business, travelers like us. Joseph asked directions to the inn as I fought against the worst pain yet. Thankfully, it was not far. I stayed on the donkey as Joseph went in to secure a room for us.

By this time, I was engrossed in a private world of pain, but it seemed to be taking a very long time. Finally Joseph returned, followed by the innkeeper and a woman I took to be his wife. The woman came over to me directly and asked, “How is it? Will it be soon, do you think?” I was unable to answer, as a fresh wave of pain and pressure washed over me. But she nodded over her shoulder, saying, “She can’t go any farther. We will have to put her in the stable.”

The stable? With the animals? Joseph and I didn’t have much, but before leaving Nazareth we had carefully packed money that we had hoped would purchase a small, private room, at least for the birth, if not for our whole stay.

As the pain lessened, I became aware of the woman’s gentle, soothing stream of chatter as she led me into a surprisingly large cave partitioned into stalls. “I would give you my own bed, my dear, but it has already been rented out as well.” This she said, casting a dark look over her shoulder at her husband. “But we still have room in here. It’s not as comfortable as the house, but it will perhaps be a bit more private. The stable boy has put down some fresh straw, so it’s as clean as we can make it.”

She escorted me into a stall with high walls not far from the entrance. The straw was indeed fresh and clean, and Joseph threw his cloak over it for me to lay upon. As the pains began again, I was glad for the chance to at least rest my weary legs. They were coming faster now, with not much time between to catch my breath.

The innkeeper’s wife shouted orders to someone outside the door. The dear woman stayed by my side the whole time, encouraging and comforting me through the worst of the pain. It seemed like a long time, but I don’t think it was actually very long before she told me that the child was almost here. One more contraction that felt like it must either free the child or tear me in two, sudden relief, and she was holding up my son. He gave a gasp, pulled in his first breath, and let it out in a small, piteous wail. She laid him then on my breast saying, “You have a fine, healthy son.” She provided towels to clean and dry him and soft cloths to wrap him. I held the small bundle to my chest, finally holding the tiny boy that I had been promised. That day now seemed a very long time ago.

“He is your first born. Will he be named after his father then? A little Joseph?” she asked as she bustled about, removing the soiled straw and replacing it with fresh.

“No,” I replied. “Joseph and I have agreed that his name will be Jesus. His…his father’s family asked us to give him that name.”

“A fine name for a son of David,” she said, kneeling next to me and gently brushing her hand over his head. “Yahweh saves.”

“Yes,” I agreed, hugging the little boy tighter to me. “He does.”

Updates

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I know, it’s been almost two months since I’ve updated. Strange how sometimes I have tons of ideas and find writing therapeutic, and other times there’s just nothing there. So they say the only cure for writer’s block is to write, so here’s a few updates on what’s going on.

The Kid

MB is doing great in Kindergarten. So far she’s gotten a star every day! She started Girl Scouts (Daisy Scouts) about a month ago, and she seems to enjoy it (at least she says she does), although she acts really shy while she’s there. She does seem to be opening up a little, though, so I’m hoping it will be a good way to get to know some different kids.

We’ve been doing less well at home. We moved her bedtime up, and that seems to be helping.

The Job

Well, not exactly, but I’m doing an Android development study group with some co-workers. We just started a couple of weeks ago, but I’m blaming that retroactively for sucking up quite a bit of my time. It’s fun, but a lot of reading, listening, and experimenting.

TV

I finished watching Fringe season 4 on DVD, so I am now watching the fifth and final season along with the rest of the world, which is exciting. Strangely, though, I’m finding this season somewhat weaker than the previous ones. That deserves its own post, so I’ll try to get to that soon. Expect spoilers if you’re not caught up.

Hmmm, I just realized that my last post was about the time that I received the DVDs. I’m blaming my blogging hiatus on that, then.

However, since I’m no longer devouring Fringe like a crazy person, I’ve had to branch out to some other show. In particular, DH and I are both enjoying Last Resort, which is a minor miracle. I’m worried that they won’t be able to keep the premise going for long, but I also worried about the same thing with Lost, and that turned out fine (in my opinion!). We’ve also given Nashville a try, but I’m probably not going to make an effort to keep up with it. I’m not sure how DH feels about it, but I think it’s a little too soapy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still watch it if I happen to catch it, but I’m not going to make an effort to catch it, or to watch it later if I miss it. On Netflix, I have discovered Twin Peaks. I’ve heard so many good things about this show that I’ve wanted to give it a try, and I’m enjoying it and pretty much watching it straight through. There are only two short seasons, plus a movie, so it’s not a huge commitment, and I don’t feel too bad about taking a break from my other Netflix viewing.

Books

Ah, books. I’m still reading as much as ever. I made a goal a couple of months ago to read one non-fiction book per month, and so far I’ve done it. My most recent read was When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, which was excellent, and I’ve started The Historian, which is turning out to be a great Halloween read. I’ve actually read quite a few pretty amazing books in the last few months that may make it into a future post. Stay tuned. Oh, and I’m still rocking along on the Outlander audio books – I’m almost finished with the third book, Voyager.


Well, I’m at almost 600 words, so it looks like I haven’t done too bad for not knowing what to write about! I’ll try to do better. I’m also wanting to start writing on my other blog, Marianne Plays With Computers, which I haven’t updated for over a year. (See how good you have it over here?) Till next time (hopefully sooner rather than later!).

Blood

I couldn’t help it. When I first heard that He was coming this way, my heart started beating faster with the old hope. Perhaps this was the One who could help me. I immediately tried to quash it. I had tried so many times before. All any of them had ever done for me was to dash my hopes and lighten my purse. I had long ago stopped looking for the next physician or holy man who claimed he could cure me.

I’m not sure why I decided to go. As always, changing my routine required a major effort. Just thinking about it usually made me tired. But this seemed different. He couldn’t help me, I told myself, but they said that He was a great Rabbi. It would be interesting just to see Him. And maybe, maybe…no. I had heard that sometimes He would stop and speak to crowds. I would just hope to hear some of His wisdom. That would be enough. That would have to be enough.

He wasn’t hard to find. I just had to find someone to follow. It seemed like everyone in town was going to the same place. The crowd was headed toward the nicer end of town, and I was almost out of breath by the time I reached them. My uncleanness kept most far away from me, but I did overhear someone say that He was going with Jairus.

I realized that He was actually at the tail end of the crowd, with most of the people running ahead toward Jairus’s house. I knew that Jairus’s daughter was very ill. Much more ill than I was. He must be going to see her. To heal her, perhaps. No one wanted to miss the miracle.

A sudden surge of bitterness twisted my insides, at the point of my illness. The girl would die soon, or she would get better, but what of me? Who else knew what it was like to live as I did? Who else had to watch their lifeblood seep away, not in a sudden surge, but a trickle at a time, day by day? Who else had a womb that was worse than barren, one that would not stop bleeding no matter what the physicians did? Who else had to bear the dual burden of perpetual uncleanness and the contempt of everyone around me?

A sudden energy, driven by anger, carried me to the very heels of the Rabbi. Desperation made me foolish, and I reached out to Him. If He was the miracle Man that everyone said He was, perhaps just a touch of His cloak would be enough. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed into Jairus’s house with the others; it was my last chance.

As my fingers brushed the fringe at the bottom of His cloak, I felt something. I don’t know how to explain it except to say I knew that as of that moment I was well. The pain was gone. The rags I used to catch the blood were still damp, but I could no longer feel the slow seep of blood.

Then the Rabbi stopped and announced that someone had touched Him. I recoiled with horror at what I had done. Even then I was still unclean from the bleeding; I had not even changed my clothes yet, much less purified myself. I had defiled His cloak, and therefore Him, with my filthy touch. He would no longer be allowed into Jairus’s house, so I had taken away a young girl’s chance to be healed. I dropped to my knees in shame.

I vaguely heard the muttering of the crowd through the tears that blinded me and the sobs that I tried to hold in. I crawled to His feet and through my tears admitted to Him that it had been me who had touched Him. I found myself pouring out the years of pain, illness, and shame onto His feet. I told Him that I could feel that my body was now well.

Then the true miracle happened. He reached down and put a hand on my head. Slowly, I looked up into His eyes. They were filled with compassion and kindness. “Daughter, your faith in Me has made you well. Be well and go in peace.”

I remained in that spot, unable to move from this place where I had touched Him, and He me, even after the excited crowd had pulled Him away. Finally, after I was sure that I would remember every detail of His kind face and gentle hands, I turned and headed home to begin the purification rituals. Twelve years of blood, and in seven days, I would finally be ritually clean again. But my heart already felt clean.

© 2012 Marianne Gieseckee

Something Different in YA

It’s been a crazy few weeks around here. School started this week, so first there were all the pre-school fuss with teacher visits, meet the teacher night, and making sure we had everything MB needed. Then there was the first day. Then there was parent orientation. And figuring out how the logistical stuff was going to work now that MB is closer to home, but farther from both of our workplaces. So that’s what’s been going on and why I haven’t been able to think much about blogging lately. I do have a few ideas, though, so stay tuned.

I’m still reading as much as ever, though, so today it’s about a book I read recently that is a little different from anything I’d read before, and it’s a YA book, too. It’s Liar by Justine Larbalestier.

Micah Wilkins is a liar. Since the story is told in first person, she is the most unreliable narrator you could wish for, despite her initial promise to tell us the truth. One thing does seem to be true is that her boyfriend, Zach, is dead, and no one is sure what exactly happened to him. Micah and his other friends, including his “real” girlfriend, are being questioned by the police, and Micah may be a suspect because of her illicit relationship with him.

The book is divided into three parts, “Telling the Truth,” “Telling the True Truth,” and “The Actual Real Truth.” Each begins with Micah’s confession of lies in the past and a resolution to now tell the real truth, complete with a confession that throws a whole new light on the story told in the previous part.

The story is intriguing. Personally, I just went with whatever Micah was saying at the time, expecting to be able to figure it all out in retrospect. When it was over, I still wasn’t sure exactly what the truth was, although I certainly understood more than I had before. And I had realized that Micah was so deep into her lies that she probably didn’t fully understand the truth, either.

Sorry if that’s a really cryptic description, but the book itself is as well. Despite (or more likely, because of) its weirdness, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me in suspense until the very end. Actually, beyond that. If you look at the reviews, it’s clear that people aren’t quite sure what to think of it. If you’re OK with having to stay on your toes and not having complete a complete resolution at the end (ie., if you are a fan of Lost), you will probably enjoy this book in the same way. If that kind of thing drives you crazy, stay away.

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