“It’s called the ‘dinner party problem’: A table of four or fewer people may happily converse as one, but a party of five or more will splinter fairly quickly into separate conversations of two or three or four people each. What is it about the number four?”
I loved the Great American Read series this summer/fall. While To Kill a Mockingbird is not my all-time favorite (and #2 Outlander wouldn’t make my list at all!), I’m good with the remaining top 10. It was fun being reminded of favorite books and discovering new ones to read, such as The Prayer of Owen Meany. I’m almost finished with it.
This is the last year for #Write31Days with Crystal. I decided on a new theme at the last minute—Handmade: Find God in Your Story. It about wore me out keeping up. But I’m glad I did it.
THANK YOU to all who commented on the three questions a day throughout the month, either here on my blog or on Instagram! I learned so much about you and your walk with God.
You have encouraged my own faith!
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2. Great American Read
While we were killing time in Nashville waiting for a Rob Bell talk, we stumbled across a book fair. And a PBS booth with The Great American Read!
Jeff’s pick, The Alchemist, ended up coming in at #70. One of my favorites, The Book Thief, was #14.
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3. Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K
We finished the Ribbon Run again!
Jeff volunteered for the fun job this year of holding the grandbaby while we did the race.
I walked for Christi, the daughter of one of my best friends. Christi was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and went through chemo. And now appears to be cancer-free, praise God!
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4. Hurricane Michael Cleanup
Jeff and I got to go to Panama City, Florida, last week to do cleanup work with our PAR disaster relief group. It was difficult to see all the destruction. But we were blessed to meet family after family who are doing their best to get back on their feet.
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5. My Favorite Bee – First Halloween
My favorite little bumble bee and Winnie the Pooh, too. We were so glad Morgan and family got to come up for our family’s Halloween Party again this year.
Sometimes you have to get close enough to see. With your own eyes.
To touch with your hands. To hear with your ears.
So you can feel with your heart.
I’m in Panama City, Florida, this week. But not on vacation.
We did that a month ago. Stayed on the beach. Played in the water. Ate fish at night.
Hurricane Michael Visits
Then 2 weeks later, Hurricane Michael visited Panama City, Florida, too.
Now we’re back getting closer to this place than we’ve ever been before. Now we are in homes and in neighborhoods and meeting people who live and work here year round.
And they are hurting. Around Panama City and further east is a war zone. So many beautiful trees were broken off or ripped from the ground and became missiles in roofs and windows and vehicles. Homes.
So as we get our hands on the mess, we are closer to Panama City than we’ve ever been before.
No longer will the wait staff at our favorite restaurants here be nameless faces. The staff at the condos will now be more real to us than ever. The cashiers at the grocery stores will be personal to us.
The people will run into around town might be one of our new friends.
Because this is more to us now than a vacation destination. This is somebody’s home.
And it’s personal.
Please don’t forget the survivors.
Keep praying. They want that. They need that.
Here are our three questions of the day:
(1) If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been, where would you go?
(2) Do you have a favorite vacation spot from your childhood or currently?
(3) Who do you think God wants you to really see that you’ve previously overlooked?
It was a struggle. English is a difficult language to pick up as an adult.
But we kept working through our ESL lesson together.
I’m brand new at teaching English as a Second Language. This was only my second week. I was discovering there were many words I take for granted that she couldn’t understand.
Between her minimal English and my minimal Spanish, we were struggling to communicate.
A Different Tongue
When we speak different languages, it’s sometimes easier to just ignore each other and walk away.
And different languages don’t have to be tongues like Spanish and English.
Our different language may be Christianese.
It may be technical work jargon.
It may be a series of private sayings within a family.
Within our own subcultures, these languages work. We can communicate well when everyone knows the same words.
But once we step outside our boundaries, we have to broaden our vocabularies.
Learn someone else’s language. Then teach them yours. Do it with intention. Do it with frequency.
The English lesson with my student may not have been super successful that night. She eventually called in her 8-year-old daughter to help translate and bridge the gap.
But we did have fun along the way. We laughed a lot. She tried telling me a story in Spanish about either her husband or her brother. Her speech was so fast I couldn’t understand the details, but maybe I got the gist of it. Body language helped fill the gaps.
I hope in weeks ahead we’ll be able to laugh more when we look back at how far we’ve come.
Because when we learn new words, not only are we picking up a new language, we’re also making new friends.
Here are our three questions of the day:
(1) Did you learn pig Latin as a child?
(2) What foreign languages do you know or are you around?
(3) How has God used voices from others to reveal a different part of his character to you?
(2) The foreign language I hear the most consistently in Alabama is Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn it for years, but I’m slow.
(3) Spending time in El Salvador and Guatemala showed me how God can inspire contentment in people who live on far less than I could ever imagine. If they can be happy with God in their lack, I have no excuses in my comparative wealth.
We usually associate most comfortably with people who are similar to us.
Even if we want to meet people outside of our culture, it’s not always easy to do if they’re just not here and not available where we are.
Except. . .
Books! They can bring us together in unexpected ways.
Books introduce us to people we wouldn’t know otherwise. And places. And circumstances.
And who knows? We might later use our new knowledge even among the people we already do know.
The four books I finished this month brought me together with other cultures that I don’t live in and brought me closer to God.
Here are the 2 novels and 2 non-fiction books I recommend from what I finished reading in October. Once a month we share our current reading list at Jennifer’s.
Books I Recommend
by Hillary Jordan
It’s 1940s in the Mississippi Delta. White city-girl Laura McAllan has had to move to farming country to live her husband’s dream. She befriends a family of black sharecroppers on their land. Each character in this novel has a unique struggle as they are forced to make a life together.
2.Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo
Set in Nigeria, this book travels back and forth in time to tell the polygamous love story of Yejide and Akin. It’s painful at times as Yejide struggles with infertility, and as she learns her husband has taken a second wife.
3. How Not to Get Shot And Other Advice From White People
by D. L. Hughley
This book is by a black comedian and satirist D. L. Hugley. He writes suggestions for how black people can avoid getting shot in encounters with police and white people. It has some rough language at times, and it is quite funny in places, but the message of danger and injustice is a serious one and it comes through loud and clear in between the laughs.
4. God of Tomorrow How to Overcome the Fears of Today and Renew Your Hope for the Future
by Caleb W. Kaltenbach
Pastor Kaltenbach writes on a huge range of cultural issues. I don’t agree with all of his biblical interpretations, but I do agree with his tone of love and trust and hope. He invites us to respond to each other with more grace than we have been. He successfully repeats the truth again and again that relying on the God of tomorrow helps us live better today.