Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I read or reread three series this past year or so and they are all favorites. In order of "favorite-ness," the Mitford series (Jan Karon), the Harmony series (Philip Gulley) and the Yada Yada Prayer Group series (Neta Jackson.) All three series are now completed, which means no more installments to look forward to.
As for stand-alone fiction, Mowgli gave me A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini) for my birthday last year and it took me awhile to work up the courage to read it. Like his previous book The Kite Runner, it was heartbreaking because its setting, Afghanistan, is heartbreaking. The characters in this one are even more poignant and unforgettable, probably because they are women. It took me weeks to completely recover from this book; at the same time, it is hopeful and inspiring, too.
I also really enjoyed Digging to America (Anne Tyler) and East of Eden (John Steinbeck). I also enjoyed reading all of Kaye Gibbons' books (they're shorter than average). The Preservationist (David Mains) was hilarious and interesting and I'm looking for more from him. The Shack (William Young) may have to have its own post.
Boo and I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (a childhood favorite of mine) together and we read the final installment of the Harry Potter series (I thought it was a winner, but I love the whole series, so I'm biased.) Reading with Boo is a joy . . . her dyslexia makes it necessary, but her enthusiasm for reading makes it a blessing.
It makes me sad to read back through the titles of novels I know I enjoyed but now don't really remember. I guess that for me, reading fiction is an in-the-moment experience. I wish I remembered more about them, though. Does anyone else have that experience?
Friday, September 26, 2008
But this I don't understand: how smart and capable men can knowingly destroy their own country's economy while stuffing their own pockets, how they can continue to gorge on their own obscene excess even after their greed has been exposed, how they seem to have no remorse. I am sick and tired of hearing economists and pundits on the news. I want to see just one CEO or CFO come on TV and tell us his point of view. I just want to hear him describe what this is like for him, how he feels about it now, how he sleeps at night. Does he feel any remorse? What was he thinking? I just want to hear it from him.
Don't get me wrong. Wealth itself is not the evil here; greed is. When someone risks their money in the stock market and it goes their way, they should make money. When someone risks their own capital to start a business or create a product, they should walk away with the gains if their idea works. I have no problem with Bill Gates being the richest guy in the US. But corporate executives are employees hired to do a job. How is it that they walk away with obscene amounts of money--even if they fail? That can only be about a greedy form of cronyism and an insanely inflated sense of self.
What I don't understand most is the lack of concern for the common good. Before I voted for the first time, my father gave me a brief but memorable talk about how important it was to vote for people and policies that would benefit the country, not just those that would benefit me and people like me. So . . . I don't understand.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
New blog is: http://www.austinmarriage.wordpress.com/
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This is a photo of Ike, taken in Clear Lake by someone who didn't evacuate (obviously). C went to Houston this week to check on his parents and grandmother. They live in the northwest part of town and still don't have power. Neither does Mamaw, who lives on the east side near the ship channel.
They all went over to Mamaw's house to check out the damage (mostly a large tree that fell from a neighbor's yard and is blocking her front door) and clean out the refrigerator/freezers.
Then he went out to Clear Lake, delivered some milk and produce to friends and then drove by our old house and church. He said that most houses look mostly undamaged but that there is debris piled 6 feet high all along the streets. Traffic lights are still askew, blown sideways by the high winds. Many trees and fences are down or damaged. Quite a few businesses were open but didn't have everything in stock. He talked with our friends who did have catastrophic damage; they are still waiting to see what will happen next.
To really get a feel for what things are really like, read this blog, written by my friend Robert, who is the pastor at a "sister church" in the Clear Lake area. I think he captures the in-the-moment-ness of the aftermath.
I know that I have really enjoyed reading spiritual memoir this year and so I will start with that genre. I loved Take This Bread by Sara Miles and have reread it twice since the summer of last year (I remember when I first read it because we were living in the one-bedroom/study apartment before we moved into this house.) Sara was a non-religious liberal radical who found a relationship with Jesus when she participated in the eucharist at a progressive Episcopal church near her home in San Francisco. Out of gratitude for being "fed" spiritually, she began to feed people literally, giving away food and starting food pantries. This book reads like Traveling Mercies (a favorite), although it is a little less whiny and occasionally a little more preachy. Her understanding of how the church is supposed to work is breathtakingly inspiring and her description of how the church actually does work will make you nod knowingly.
OK, so what else . . . I also enjoyed Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup. In this book, she weaves together the story of the tragic death of her husband and her ministry as a chaplain. Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor has also stayed with me this year. Beautifully written with Taylor's characteristic depth, it was also sad for me because it so poignantly describes the way that we leave our ministers empty and burned-out and the way they want to please us so much that they let us. eat pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert was a trip--literally! It's a fun and sometimes thought-provoking travelogue-meets-spirituality book by an extraordinarily self-absorbed author. But as you read, you get to visit Italy, an ashram in India and a guru in Indonesia and I enjoyed the ride.
And I know you might think it's cheesy but I really, really, really liked The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, especially after I saw the video he made for Oprah and then the piece that Diane Sawyer did after his death. It touched me in a deep place and I keep going back to it.
So that's all for now. I'll choose another genre tomorrow and try again. I hope it's helpful.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It took much longer for me to build this practice than I imagined it would when we moved. I've done a good job of meeting people and then meeting the people that they suggest I meet and then the people that they suggest I meet and so on but the referrals were slow coming in. I now have about 25 clients referred from more than 15 sources and my name-recognition is definitely improving. Also, I have two events coming up that should showcase my ministry and lead to more referrals. And, thankfully, I've kept all but one of the clients who have come to see me (and I really think I'll hear from the one soon.)
Yesterday, I was happy to see that my stamina was still intact since I hadn't seen clients back-to-back since moving here. I have to say, too, that having a lighter load was a blessing--I've been doing some of the best work of my career, partly because I've had the time and emotional energy for it.
Since moving here, I've often prayed, "Lord, I know there are people here in Austin who need the ministry I have to offer. But you have to help them find me!" It appears that prayer is being answered and I'm grateful.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The good part was that almost everyone reported less-than-catastrophic damage--beautiful trees down and no power for days on end but no one hurt and homes mostly intact. The bad part was learning that several dear friends and family had severe damage to their homes due to rising water and falling trees.
Now everyone from Austin has returned to Clear Lake and we're getting updates by the hour as people work to rebuild their own lives and, especially, the lives of others more devastated by the storm.