Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Advent and Experiencing God

Our church is presenting a weekly small group series on Advent. Last night was the first session, and the text was Luke 1:1-25, which is the account of the priest Zechariah, and the news from the Angel Gabriel that he and his wife Elizabeth will soon have a son. This son will become John the Baptist, who was to prepare the people of Israel for the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zechariah and Elizabeth are childless, and are also quite advanced in age, so when Zechariah hears this news he questions Gabriel.  As a result, Zechariah is struck mute until the child is born. 

Having grown up in the church, I've heard this story hundreds of times, but God always has a way of teaching me something new about His Word. One thing that I learned from this passage is that God is faithful. Zechariah and Elizabeth had probably been praying for many years for a child, yet remained childless. Finally, when they had most likely given up all hope, they are blessed with a child. As Gabriel tells Zechariah, "Your prayer has been heard."  God heard the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and answered them in His perfect timing. How many times I've prayed, and when my prayers weren't immediately answered given up, assuming that God didn't care or was too busy with more important things. This passage shows me that God does hear our prayers and answers them in His own time. It reminds me that I have such a small view of God's Kingdom; yet God, who is omniscient, knows what I need, and when I need it. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned last night is that I often miss the presence of God. Zechariah was alone in the temple offering incense to the Lord when the Angel Gabriel appeared. What a privilege to be in the presence of the Angel of the Lord! Now that we have the Holy Spirit, we are able to be in God's presence at all times.   But how often do I take this for granted?  How often am I too busy to spend time In prayer and reading His Word, and when I do, how many times am I too distracted to focus on Him?  And even more so, how often am I too busy talking to him rather than listening to what He may be telling me?  How many blessings have I missed by not being present to God?

The last lesson I realized last night is the importance of studying God's word with others. While my own individual Bible study is valuable and instructive, it is also beneficial to meet with others to study His Word.  Here is where I learn new things, and gain new insight into the scriptures.  This is one reason why it's impossible to be a Christian without the church, and one reason why the Lord created the church- to teach one another and to build up one another so that we may be ready for Christ's return. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Working in the Periodical Room circa 1992
Twenty-five years ago tonight, I walked into the Deerfield Public Library to begin a new job. I'd just spent 4 1/2 years as a preschooler teacher in Evanston, and now that my son was starting Kindergarten I needed a part-time job that would allow me to be home with him after school and during the day at vacation time. I saw ad for a library page, and the hours were perfect- 5-9 Tuesday evenings, and 1-5 every other weekend. After about a month I added Monday evenings to my schedule. 

For me, this was as close to the perfect job as I could get.  I was surrounded by books, and was able to satisfy my sense for order. I quickly remembered the Dewey Decimal System I learned while
working in the Hastings College Library, and became an efficient shelver. I also spent a great deal of time in the Periodical room, fetching magazines and newspapers for students and other researchers.  

After five years working as a page, I was ready to move onto something new. An opening came up for a full time Circulation Assistant, and as my son was now entering fifth grade, I felt it was something we could handle. I enjoyed my time at the Circ Desk, and learned so much about how libraries work. 

After six months at the Circ Desk an opening came up for a Youth Services Library Assistant. I was hired, and moved down there in February of 1996. I knew I was finally where I belonged. It was challenging at first; I had no computer skills, and my knowledge of children's literature was extremely limited. But through perseverance, and by taking stacks of books home every day, I eventually developed the skills needed to succeed. 

In 2000, I finally took the plunge and started working on my Masters in Library Science at Dominican University. Jack Hicks, the Director of the Deerfield Public Library, was especially encouraging in this endeavor, and the library was able to provide some financial assistance, for which I am eternally grateful. 

Going to school while working full time was a challenge, but I loved it, and learned so much. After graduation in 2003 I became a Youth Services Librarian, a job I held until we moved to Maine in 2006. 

Twenty five years ago I had no idea that my part-time job would lead to a lifetime career, and that I would eventually become the Director of a Public Library. I am so thankful that I was able to find a job that not only met our financial needs, but would allow me to use my gifts and talents.  There have been rough patches along the way, but for the most part I have loved working in a Public Library. 

I'm retired now, and whenever I visit my local library I'm reminded of how much libraries mean to me, and am grateful for the opportunity to spend so much of my life in them. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Random Thoughts on a Spring Day

Our Backyard - April 24th
I'll admit that over the past few weeks I've been down in the dumps. It's been cold, I'm missing my friends, and the back pain that my Dr. had diagnosed as "disc slippage" continues to plague me. 

Adding to my dark mood is the fact that our backyard still looks like the surface of the moon. Granted, it looks better than it did last summer when it was overrun with weeds, but I'm so used to my garden in Maine where crocuses and daffodils would be poking through right about now. There's a lot of work to do, and it gets a bit overwhelming at times, but I try to remember the words of a friend, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

This morning Steve and I dug out the dead arbor vitae bushes, then I went to the library and for a walk.  Near the library is a small pond
The Pond with Walking Path
with a walking path around it.  Next to it is a xeriscape garden that is tended by volunteers.  The volunteers were there today weeding and cleaning up.  

My Turnaround Point
After a couple of loops around the pond I decided to try the paved bike path that runs along McCulloch Boulevard  I walked for about 15 minutes then headed back to my car. This was the view at my turnaround point.

On the way back to the car I started thinking of the past weeks and my dark mood.  I realized that while things aren't always sunshine and skittles here, I do have many things to be thankful for.  I've been richly blessed, and there is much for which to be thankful.  As I walked, I compiled this list:

Grandpa and Grandson
1. Family.  The reason we moved here was to be closer to our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.  And every day that I get to spend with them is a blessing. My husband is happily retired, and enjoying our new life.
2. Health.  Even though I'm still dealing with slipped discs, I'm in otherwise good health.  And my family is healthy as well.
3. Home.  We had the good fortune to find a lovely home in a quiet, rural area.  There's space for a garden (eventually), and there's plenty of room for guests. It's warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and comfortable year-round.
4. Food.  There's plenty of food in the cupboards, and if I run out I can easily get to the store and get more.  There are places in this world where people can't say that.
5. Faith.  I have the ability to worship God freely.  Again, there are places in this world where this is not possible.

There are so many other things I could list.  Friends, extended family,a long bike ride,  ice-cold watermelon on a hot summer day...

At the xeriscape garden
after my walk.
This morning during my quiet time I read this from Psalm 121: I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121: 1,2 (NIV)

As I walked on the path today I lifted my eyes to the mountains and remembered where my help came from.  And I was filled with joy.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Reading List 2014

A new year is beginning, and like everyone else, I'm taking a look back at the year now behind us.  For me it was a year of big changes, mostly good. After recovering from the cross-country move, I was able to get down to some serious reading. When all was said and done, I managed to complete 61 books in 2014.  There were some excellent books, some not-so-excellent, and a couple of hard-to-get-through.  There are a few that I'd read years ago, and read again this year, either for book discussions, or just for fun. 

Here are a few highlights of my reading year:
  • I read my first James Patterson novel,NYPD Blue and found it not terrible. I picked it up because the co-author was Marshall Karp, and I've enjoyed his Biggs and Lomax mystery series.  I don't know if I'll continue reading the series he writes with Patterson, but I do now see the appeal that Patterson has for millions of readers.  
  • I discovered a new author.  A co-worker had told me about Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret, but I'd not had a chance to read it earlier. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and eagerly picked up her latest, Big Little Lies, which I liked even better.  I also learned that Moriarty's sister, Jaclyn, is the author of some of my favorite YA novels.  
  • I discovered a not-so-new author.  A couple of years ago when it was discovered that J.K. Rowling had written a mystery novel under the name Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo's Calling. I started it, but time did not allow me to finish it.  I picked it up again and really liked it. I then read the next book, The Silkworm and am looking forward to more in this series.
  • I had been wanting to read Ken Follett's The Century trilogy, and I was finally able to read the first two volumes.  The third volume was released in September, and I'm hoping to get to it this year.
Here's the complete list of books I read in 2014. Let me know if you want any more information about any of them.  Also, please feel free to let me know what books you read this year that you loved.  I'm always looking for suggestions.
  1. Berg, Elizabeth              What We Keep
  2. Joyce, Rachel               Perfect
  3. Cather, Willa                  My Antonia
  4. Verne, Jules                  Around the World in 80 Days
  5. Anderson, Neal             Victory Over the Darkness
  6. Kingsolver, Barbara       Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
  7. Beaton, M.C.                 Death of a Policeman
  8. Batstone, David             Not For Sale
  9. Diamant, Anita              The Last Days of Dogtown
  10. Cleave, Chris                 Little Bee
  11. Denise Brennan             Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States
  12. Kingsbury, Karen           Divine
  13. Nguyen, Bich Minh        Pioneer Girl
  14. Cook, Kevin                  Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America
  15. Ackerman, Diane           The Zookeeper's Wife
  16. Zevin, Gabrielle             The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
  17. Caletti, Deb                   He's Gone
  18. Patterson, James          NYPD Red
  19. Lively, Penelope            How It All Began
  20. George, Alex                 A Good American
  21. Gladwell, Malcolm         David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
  22. Bryson, Bill                   One Summer: America, 1927
  23. Yancey, Preston            Tables in the Wilderness
  24. Paton-Walsh, Jill           The Attenbury Emeralds
  25. Heyer, Georgette           Why Shoot a Butler
  26. Heyer, Georgette           Death in the Stocks
  27. Heyer, Georgette           They Found Him Dead
  28. Benjamin, Melanie         The Aviator's Wife
  29. Smokler, Kevin              Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched                                             Since High School
  30. Hustad, Megan              More Than Conquerors: A Memoir of Lost Arguments
  31. Weiner, Jennifer            All Fall Down
  32. Galbraith, Robert           The Cuckoo's Calling
  33. Moriarty, Liane              The Husband's Secret
  34. Hosseini, Khalid             And the Mountains Echoed
  35. Galbraith, Robert           The Silkworm
  36. Chast, Roz                    Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant
  37. Follett, Ken                   Fall of Giants
  38. Follett, Ken                   Winter of the World
  39. Kemelman, Harry           Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry
  40. Rowell, Rainbow            Landline
  41. French, Dawn                Oh Dear Silvia
  42. Lockhart, E                   We Were Liars
  43. Von Bremzen, Anya       Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking
  44. Todd, Charles               A Matter of Justice
  45. Wood, Naomi                Mrs. Hemingway
  46. Todd, Charles               An Unmarked Grave
  47. Crombie, Deborah         To Dwell in Darkness
  48. Moriarty, Liane              Big Little Lies
  49. Kinsella, Sophie            Shopaholic to the Stars
  50. Winspear, Jacqueline     The Care and Management of Lies
  51. Baldacci, David             The Innocent
  52. Chesney, Marion           Snobbery with Violence
  53. L'Amour, Louis              Lonesome Gods
  54. Trollope, Joanna           Sense and Sensibility (The Austen Project)
  55. Campbell, Jen               Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores
  56. Trollope, Joanna           Brother and Sister
  57. Pym, Barbara                Some Tame Gazelle
  58. Bryson, Bill                   Mother Tongue
  59. Hillenbrand, Laura          Unbroken
  60. Valentine, Genevieve     The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
  61. Brett, Simon                  The Cinderella Killer