Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.
Orville Prescott


We are reading a lot these days, some of us more than others. In April and May, I attempted to read N.T. Wright. We parted ways amicably before the book was over, but I don't think we will meet again. Right now I am knee deep in Wilberforce's work, Practical Christianity, but wading through his rich language is proving too much effort for my snatched moments with a book. I am embarrassed to admit that, but it is so, and I am taking pleasure in realizing how much reading is going on around me.

This month as a family we thoroughly enjoyed Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. The mystery captured us, and clever characters and fascinating history kept each child in turn asking for another page. Monte B. has been working through a stack of titles this spring, but when I tucked him in tonight, he was enjoying Bruchko, while Malcolm poured over his new favorite, Nature Anatomy: the Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World. MyLinh is rarely without a book in hand. We are so grateful for our library's extensive list of downloadable audiobooks, and in the last couple of months she has listened to several titles from The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place series, Peter Pan, Anne of Avonlea, Because of Winn-Dixie, and Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes. She has poured over the first Nancy Drew titles, Mr. Popper's Penguins, a handful of Beverly Cleary books, and Anne of the Island. But the very best reading that has happened over these sweet spring days has been her reading aloud to me... Little Women. She has been chuckling outloud at Jo's adventures and lamenting her troubles, and I am delighting in her discovery of this, one of my favorite books.

What a gift to read...and to be read to.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Meaning of Marriage

As I looked ahead at my year in January, I was also looking at my bookcase and my "to read" list. Both held titles that I have wanted to or needed to sit with, to think through, books that required more mental or emotional energy than I found when the quiet moments of my day allowed for pages to be turned.

This year, I decided to tackle one "meaty" book a month...just one. I wrote about January's, and February's books here. In the past four weeks, I have read the beautifully poignant Lila by Marilynne Robinson and the useful and delightfully penned manual Family Dog by Richard Wolters. I have bookmarks in half a dozen titles just as diverse as those two are from each other.

But the book that I mulled in March was The Meaning of Marriage written by Timothy and Kathy Keller. Alex read this aloud to me over the early spring weeks, and it was such a gift to be the one just... listening. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God was written for married and unmarried folks alike, and that perspective made it especially refreshing.

The Kellers point always to Scripture:
"...when the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone."

They draw on other wise teachers, my favorite being C.S. Lewis:
"The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the greatest secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."

For a culture attempting to define and understand marriage, this book is an excellent read... and I did not take for granted that it was read to me by the man who loves me so patiently and faithfully.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Dorwin is a man who shaped things.
On Sunday mornings my family sits beneath arched windows trimmed in fir that Dorwin's hands bent and bowed. The clear grain, the curves, are beautiful, but these lines are even lovelier as reminders of the lives he shaped.

My father's life was molded by this boatbuilder, this man whose hands changed the geometry of wood -- sharp angles into curves that would weather storms on our rivers and bays.

Dorwin and his bride were newlyweds with my grandparents. They have lived as neighbors for most of their lives and raised their families together, sharing church pews and picnics and camping trips. Their lives were connected at every turn, and my father speaks always of Dorwin with respect for his character. He talks about his integrity and the investment of time that Dorwin made in his life.

Thus, this quiet boatbuilder shaped my life. My father's integrity and gentleness and kindness were learned from fine teachers...and Dorwin is one.

Dorwin's quiet sparkle and low chuckle were a background to many milestones in my life, and the photo here was a snapshot taken at MyLinh's "welcome home" party. He and his family had driven an hour to share in yet another chapter of our story.

His granddaughter wrote to me yesterday, and Dorwin is failing. Cancer is claiming his slight frame, and the tears in my father's eyes last night were evident of grief...and thanksgiving for this man who helped to shape him.

I am thanking God for this man today, reminded of how quietly we shape those around us. May the result be beautiful.