The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle (Crosswicks Journal #2)


Last summer a friend came to visit after I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and brought me Madeleine L’Engle’s Crosswick Journals to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one and recently finished The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, Book #4 on my Summer Reading.

Madeleine L’Engle is most famous for her Newbery award-winning A Wrinkle in Time which she wrote in 1962. In this book, Madeleine and her family are staying at the Crosswicks. Her grandmother is staying for the summer and she is deteriorating both in her mind and her body. L’Engle takes us on a journey as she shares memories of her mother and grandmother and how they have influenced her.

I am the primary caregiver for my 86-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s. With my diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer in the bones my family had to become even more involved in my mother’s care though they have always have been there. I related to lots of the stories shared as it is hard to see your parent change before your eyes and lose their memory. It was also great to read the stories L’Engle shared that made her the person she became.

I think any reader would appreciate this book as we all have family stories. It will bring to mind some of your stories and cause you to appreciate those who have gone before you and made you who you are. It will also cause you to appreciate even more those who are still with you. L’Engle realized how important those stories were not just for her but for her to pass on to her children.

I am dying so reading this was even more poignant for me and somewhat therapeutic. My family has always been close and shared stories. During this time that we are creating new memories that will become the stories my siblings, nieces and nephews share after I am gone. I urge you to read L’Engle’s The Summer of the Great-Grandmother or one of her other delightful books whether for children or adults – you won’t be disappointed.

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God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World by David F. Wells

WhirlwindI have enjoyed many books by David F. Wells, so I was looking forward to reading  God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World. It is Book #2 on my Summer Reading list. He starts in the first chapter entitled ‘God Our Vision, Culture Our Context’ by focusing on Scripture: “The shaping of our life is to come from Scripture and not from culture. We are to those in whom truth is the internal driver and worldly horizons and baits are not. It is always sola Scripture and it should never be sola cultura, as Os Guinness puts it. This is a two-sided practice: “Yes” to biblical truth and “No” to cultural norms if they damage our walk with God and rob us of what He has for us in his Word. Being transformed also means being unconformed.” (p.17)

This set the course for this book. So often in 21st century America, Christians let the culture shape their lives. There are many who proclaim this viewpoint from the pulpit, on their blogs, in books,and on twitter and in Facebook comments. We have often lost our message as we are so intertwined with the culture. Our attention has gone in all kinds of directions losing sight of God as Holy-love: “When postmoderns think about life in a psychological framework, they do so from a center in the self… When we think about life within the moral framework that Scripture gives us, then we are thinking with God at its center… Christianity uniquely combines love and holiness because in God’s character they are, and always have been combined.” (p. 34)

We are so distracted by the struggles of this world. Wells states that “Withdrawal and ordering are the two keys to attention – being able to withdraw from the alternatives and focus the mind on something that we have isolated.” (p. 37)

What do we focus on? God’s truth. Wells starts with the Gospel. He explains the Gospel looking at Grace, Faith, Jesus Christ: His Love, His Holiness, the Incarnation and the Cross. He takes these well-known truths and explains them using God’s Word. There are things that have not changed “the cause of our acceptance before God, – it is grace, nor does the instrument of our acceptance change… it is faith, and the ground of our acceptance is also unchanged – it is Christ.” (p. 43) “The difference is that in the Old Testament, God’s loving-kindness was invisible, in the incarnation, though, his grace and truth were made visible in the person of Christ.” (p. 45) Wells then takes us through Israel’s history showing how “Christ was recapitulating himself, becoming all they had never been.” (p. 68)

How then do we walk with God? Wells looks at Justification and Reconciliation, followed by Worship. The answer is found in God’s holy-love. “We misconstrue the nature of God if we imagine that the cross was the resolution of competing and conflicting attributes, his holiness and his love.”(p. 155) It is God’s holy-love who crushed our sin on the cross and “in Christ vanquished all that has fractured and broken in our world” (p.156)

In his section on worship, Wells addresses modern evangelicalism and some trends such as the worship wars. Are we focusing on God or on our experience? Is it Christ-centered or based on my needs? Wells thinks we are so focused on the forms that we are overlooking things about the content. “Worship loses its authenticity when it becomes more about the worshiper than about the God who is being worshiped.” (p. 202) Recently in a conversation, a middle-aged woman was expressing her views on worship and it was all about her. She wanted music that made her feel good. The music was much more important than the preaching of the Word. I wish I could say this is an isolated case but I have heard this opinion many times. People are less concerned about the preaching. “From biblical sermons we have moved to inspirational, how-to-do-it, therapeutically driven talks” (p. 215)

We wonder why Christians are not as knowledgeable of the Bible. In this modern world, evangelism has watered down the Gospel and with its shallow theology has lost its voice, its influence. Wells urges the church to remember who God is and the powerful message we as the church have to proclaim. I urge Christians to read this book and hear these great truths of the Gospel.

Here is an affiliate link if you would like to order this book.  God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World.

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United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newberg

I choose United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity for my Summer Reading because I became Facebook friends with the author, Trillia Newberg and enjoyed her words of encouragement and posts about her family and faith. I wanted to get to know her better but also with so much tension between whites and African-Americans being in the news recently I wanted to read further about God’s view of diversity.

I live outside Baltimore so I was riveted to the TV watching local channels as we saw the rioting and burning, in April. I also lived in South Carolina for 14 years and have been to Charleston many times so I again watched the news about the horrible murders at CHURCH. In both cases Christians came forward. In Baltimore, local pastors were walking through neighbors keeping the peace. Churches came out and helped with the clean-up. In Charleston, the African Methodist Episcopal church set an example by forgiving the gunman.

Trillia Newberg is African-American and married to a white man. Her children are adorable with her daughter having her traits and her son has her husband’s. She wants her children to appreciate their diversity. She asks good questions about why churches today are not diverse and what we can do to change that.

Newberg discusses Imago Dei – “As God’s Image bearers we are all equal. We are all equal in dignity and worth. We are created equally in His image. We are also fallen equally…Understanding our equality as image bearers changes everything we think about our human relationships.” We would do well to remember we are all made in the image of God when we see  differences.

I grew up in a small town church that was all white and there were not many African-Americans in our area. After college I attended another church and it too was all white. When I moved to South Carolina there were a few African-Americans in my church and one of them, who also was a Young Life leader, became a dear friend to me and my family. I have had countless young African-American students both in SC and MD and have become close to number  of the families. I am thankful for what I have learned from all of them about what it is like being in a minority. I remember when I first taught I was well aware of the different races but now there is such a delightful mix that I hardly notice the racial make-up. I’m glad I have had close African-American friends who have helped me to grow and to understand my own prejudices.

Having friendships with a white and Asian friend helped Newberg to grow in her Christian life. She learned that “being black is a part of my identity, but it isn’t my entire identity.” This book is written in a personal way and I felt like we were sitting around a kitchen table drinking coffee and sharing stories. We need more conversations like that with those who are different from us. The body of Christ includes blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and more. We need to work harder to build closer relationships with diverse people.

“God loves diversity. Diversity has been on display from the moment He began creating the world”.

Here is an affiliate link if you would like to order this book. United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newberg

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Summer Reading

As a teacher I have always enjoyed summer reading. It started as a kid. We did not live near a library but early on Mom signed us up for the Weekly Reader Book Club. We loved when they came in the mail. There is only one year difference between my sister and me, so when the chapter books arrived we would have to take turns reading them. My younger brother and sister shared their books too.

Years later we would look for our favorites Weekly Reader Books at a book sale or on eBay so we each could each have our own copy. The Secret of Crossbone Hill by Wilson Gage was one of my favorites along with Secret of the Old Post Box by Dorothy Sterling which my younger sister couldn’t wait to have her son read.

I read all year-long but in the summer as I am not working there is much more time. Since the 80’s I have kept a list of the books I read. Now I’ve computerized it and put it all in a spreadsheet. I love having a list of when I read a book.

This year has been different with my diagnosis of breast cancer in the bones. I have less free time and more doctor visits. My energy is not the same. In addition, I am my mom’s primary caregiver and she has been in the hospital twice since December and in a rehab center for a month. Even with extra help from my family and a part-time care assistant, Mom has needed a lot more help.

Early in the spring I started a pile of books to read this summer (posted below). A few are rereads and I still am waiting on the arrival of another one! I tend to read a nonfiction book and fiction book at the same time. My nonfiction books include theology, education and history. For fiction I enjoy mystery, fantasy, poetry, young adult books and award winners. This year due to my terminal cancer I have chosen quite a few books dealing with cancer and suffering.



Here is a list of the books. You can click on the book and order it if you want to read it also. As  I write reviews of the books, I will update with a link to the review. I hope this inspires you to some good reading this summer.

Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret of Story of the Early Game by John Thorn

By Book or by Crook: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought by Marilynne Robinson

Dear Deb: A Woman with Cancer, a Friend with Secrets, and the Letters That Became Their Miracle by Margaret Terry

The Devotional Poetry of Donne, Herbert and Milton (Christian Guide to the Classics) by Leland Ryken

Father Brown Crime Stories: 24 Short Stories by G. K. Chesterton

Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia J. Newbell

Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism and Other God Substitutes  by Nancy Pearcey

God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reinvents Our World by David F. Wells         Review

He Gave Us a Valley by Dr. Helen Rooseveare

Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas

Imagination Redeemed: Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind by Gene Edward Veith, Jr and Matthew P. Ristuccia

Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin

The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson

Luther on the Christian Life by Carl R. Trueman

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My Stronghold, A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts by John Fornear

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Queen’s Man: A Medieval Mystery (A Justin De Quincy Mystery) by Sharon Kay Penman

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by J. Todd Billings

The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life and the Imagination Work of C. S. Lewis edited by John Piper and David Mathis

Sickness, Suffering and Scripture by David Leyshon

The Storytelling God: Seeing  the Glory of Jesus in His Parables by Jared C. Wilson

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal Book 2) by Madeleine L’Engle     Review

Theological Fitness by Aimee Byrd

United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newberg       Review

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

The Golden Treasury of Puritan Quotations compiled by I. D. E. Thomas

Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath

What are you reading this summer?

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My Times Are In His Hands

I have been absent from my blog for while for good reason. In June 2014 lots of things changed. I had double vision and went to my doctor who told me if it returned to go to the ER. It did return so I went to a local ER and had a CT scan but I was not given a correct analysis. I was sent back to my doctor who forwarded the files to a neurologist and I was sent directly to an oncologist. To make a long story short my breast cancer of 2002 has returned and is now in my bones. Stage 4 – terminal with a life expectancy of 2-3 years.

Several weeks of doctor’s visits were shortened to a paragraph. I had some time to process it all and thought it might be cancer but I was surprised at the extent it had taken over. My family surrounded me with their presence and love and continue to be there for me. Dear friends near and far are encouraging me and praying for me.

I have now been in a cancer drug study for 6 months. I get two shots once a month and take two different drugs each day. The shots are the real thing but the pills could be placebos. I did have extreme pain in the beginning and was given some pain patches to use. I was up to a 75 gram patch at one point and this month only used one 12.5 gram patch one time. My back does get stiff but usually some naproxen will handle the pain. I sleep majority of the time in a lounge chair as it is much more comfortable than a bed.

In the midst of all this I have continued to tutor at a classical Christian tutorial for two mornings a week teaching two classes of high school students. I also continue to be Mom’s primary caregiver and am grateful for my family who jumped in to help. I plan to continue to keep my readers up-to-date here on this journey.

Psalm 31:14,15 has been dear to me – ‘I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands’.

This life, therefore, is
not righteousness,
but growth in righteousness,
not health,
but healing,
not being,
but becoming,
not rest,
but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be,
but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished,
but it is going on.
This is not the end,
but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory,
but all is being purified.                         Martin Luther, 1521


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Whiter Than Snow


Psalm 51:7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalms 51:7

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

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Psalms 51:7

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Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd

Sometime this past year I started reading hosted by Aimee Byrd. What she wrote resonated with me and when I found out she had a book, Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary coming out, I couldn’t wait to read it.

Some may find it odd that I, a single woman wanted to read a book called ‘Housewife Theologian’. I love theology – I read a lot of it, listen to tapes, have discussions with friends and even teach some in my Omnibus class. So the theology part really appealed to me. But I am single and not a housewife though I do have some things in common with housewives. I am a woman, have a home and am the caregiver for my mother who has Alzheimers. I keep the house, tend to the garden, cook the meals, do the laundry and care for mom but I am not married and do not have children. I did not know whether the book would speak to other singles, teens, or widows but I wanted to read it.

I quickly found out that Byrd wrote this book for all women: “It is for all women who want to know God, or better yet, want to be known by God.” page 11. She writes with clarity and passion and she encourages us as women, whether housewives, singles, teens, or widows to know what we believe and why we believe it. Beginning with what it means to be a woman and moving to what is beauty, she draws in all women. She presents a clear Reformed view of who we are in Christ. She explains how we as women need to be thinking Christians. She encourages us to have close deep relationships with other woman – older and younger women. This meant a lot to me as I have been in churches where Sunday School classes are divided by married vs. single and married with children according to the age of the children. So much was lost, as we all needed each other so the older Christians could disciple the younger ones. The stories and examples given in Housewife Theologian are encouraging and challenging. I appreciated how she brought in examples for those with children and for those who were not married. Her goal was to have women live their lives before God regardless of their present state.

There are 12 chapters that lend themselves nicely to being used as a once-a-month study group for the year. At the end of each chapter, there are journaling questions that make you think and help you to apply the principles. This also makes it a great book for small groups, Sunday School classes, etc. to use. Aimee Byrd has strong convictions and writes with authority. She backs up her writing by quoting many other great theologians in the Reformed faith.

I highly recommend Housewife Theologian to those who want to grow in their Christian walk, as understanding theological principles will cause you to grow. It is also for those who feel they have a great theological background. This will reinforce your theology and be a tool you can use to help others in their walk. I teach high school in a Christian classical tutorial and the high school girls meet at least once a month at my home that is on a large farm. We have fun, food and great conversations. I plan to give each of them a copy and having it be a book we study together. The world gives them so many messages about who they are but I want them to know that Jesus “is our true identity” (p.238). I want them to be theologians. Pick up a copy to read and share it with the women in your life so you can more greatly experience ‘how the Gospel interrupts the ordinary.’ and know God and be known by Him.

On Reformed Forum Aimee Byrd discusses Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary, with panel members Camden Bucey, Nancy Guthrie, and Melissa Kruger.


What kind of conversations are you having with the women in your life?


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Holiday HoHoHo Hop – Win Two Pendants

Christmas pendant

Festive Christmas Abstract Pendant Necklace at Palmetto Pendants















I enjoy artistic jewelry, so I am excited about this giveaway. I met Dina, the artist about 20 years ago when I taught her daughter and later her son. She later became a teacher’s aide at the school I taught at and then taught art. She was in the room next to me and I could hear her teaching. She imparted her love of art to her students. I was excited when at Christmas she designed some pins and I got one as a gift. Now she is creating beautiful one-of-a-kind pendants.

The winner of this contest will get to pick out two necklaces which will make wonderful Christmas gifts. Check them out at Palmetto Pendants.

Pendant #2

Gun Metal Finish Rust and Teal Batik Pendant Necklace















a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure you stop by The Review Wire to Enter the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a large Teach My Learning Kits of choice {RV $39.99} PLUS a Second Prize Winner will receive Teach My Kit of choice {RV $14.99}. Holiday HoHoHo Hop

Disclaimer: This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on December 6, 2013. The Holiday HoHoHo Hop Event Bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.

Companies and bloggers, if you would like to participate in group giveaway events like this one, sign up to be emailed about future events hosted by The Review Wire.

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Alzheimers and Caregiver Month

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month. I knew about the Alzheimer’s Awareness but not the Caregiver part. I became aware when my sister wrote an article on her blog, Di Doodlings called Tips for Talking to Alzheimer’s Friends where she gave great information and also honored me, my mom’s primary caregiver.

I have written before about mom and Alzheimer’s here:

Honor Your Commitments

Mom, Alzheimers and Imago Dei

My family is committed to caring for mom as she took care of all four of us when Dad died unexpectedly from a brain tumor. Mom was 37 and had four children from 9 to 16. She went to work full-time and at times worked 3 jobs. She was determined that all four of us would go to college and we did and continued with advanced degrees. Things were not always easy and there were hard times but Mom worked to keep her family together. We saw her caring for her parents, who lived with us for a time when my grandfather lost his job. She cared for my grandfather when he had a heart attack and was put in a home. He developed dementia and she faithfully visited him daily. After he died, my grandmother got stomach cancer, and after her surgery she lived with us. Mom was caring for her, cleaning her bandages.

You see we saw our parents caring for their parents and so we are just modeling what we saw. We are committed to mom living in our home. I am thankful for my family and their support. I still teach two mornings a week and my sisters arrange their lives to care for mom so I can do that. All the family visits, calls and help with tasks around the house. The nieces and nephews, call and send cards. My brother and brother-in-law help with all kinds of repairs and heavy lifting. I always say ‘it takes a family’. I am thankful for my family and how they care for mom and me.

When I made the decision in 2007 to leave Columbia, South Carolina, a job at Covenant Christian School that I loved and been doing for 14 years, a church family at First Presbyterian Church with pastors like Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and so many dear friends, there were some who thought it was not a good decision. I can say after 6 years I have no regrets. I love mom more today than I ever have and am thankful to God for my family. I realize not all families can do what we have done but I do think we as Christians should set the standard for how we care for our parents. The world is watching and so are our children.

Mom and Max

Mom and her great grandson



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Win Chocolate Fondue Entertaining Set

I am a huge fan of Christmas and I found the perfect gift to give–a Velata Chocolate Fondue Maker. What is Velata, you ask? Glad to tell you!!

Velata is a Latin word meaning ‘veiled’ or ‘covered’. The perfect description of a chocolate covered strawberry! The warmer features a silicone dish for warming and serving food. The dish is microwave and dishwasher safe. The warmer technology keeps the melted chocolate at the exact temperature. No scorching, stirring or watching needed. Now that makes Velata warmers the perfect party centerpiece. The quality is excellent, since Velata is from the Scentsy family line of products.

These warmers are available in 14 unique designs. They use a 25-watt light bulb, the same as in the Full-Size Scentsy Warmer.

I have been using my Velata Warmer for almost a year now and it has been a WINNER! People naturally gather around and enjoy tempting treats covered in delicious chocolate. Have I mentioned the premium Belgian Chocolate?! There are currently four flavors available, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel milk chocolate. Something for every chocolate lover. The chocolate comes in a microwave-safe pouch. Pop it in for a minute or two and then pour into the silicone dish. It will stay at the perfect temperature–til the dish is empty. If you don’t have a microwave, the chocolate pieces can be poured into the dish and melted, it will just take a bit longer. Once it is melted, turn the switch to LOW to keep the chocolate at the perfect temperature.

One of you is going to win a Velata warmer, 5 packs of chocolate and 4 fondue forks in a matching color. The retail value is $60. This giveaway is sponsored by Do Fondue Right. You can check out her Facebook page and her online store. There are some great deals available only for the month of November. Continue reading

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