Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

Okay, loved that song as a child. But you know what? It's more than just a children's song.

I've noticed this over the years working with preschoolers. It doesn't matter what I'm singing... they don't even have to know the words... but the second Miss Erin starts going crazy, singing some song, they're mine. Singing gets them to that "happy place" where they just might actually pay attention to me as I try as much as possible to keep 15-20 preschooler's attention for a story. So back to the song...

It's not about a happy "place"... how I feel based on the externals. Call me a crazy former English Major, but I believe there's a semantic distinction between "happiness" and "joy"... well, at least I make the distinction for myself. Happiness is situational, depends on those externals, while joy is deeper. For me, true joy is from Christ. C.S. Lewis wrote about the difference in Surprised by Joy. So I know that while the crazy world around me might threaten my happiness, it cannot take my joy, because this world and its craziness is temporary, but my God is eternal. I know not everyone might believe it, but that's what I know to be true.

What does that mean in "real life"? It means that situations in my life can be difficult, and things may not be running smoothly... even chaotically at times, but that I can still have joy. This week, work was not easy. Nothing with my patrons. Kids can make me smile any day! I know I'm blessed to get to work with them. There were some other things going on. But despite that I still know that God has given me this job. There are so many reasons that I know this is where God has placed me, this is what He's wired me to do (at least for now), and I am thankful for it. I've been told by numerous people that I'm lucky, and I don't take it for granted. Not everyone even likes their job, let alone loves it. (Hey, you have to considering what librarians get paid!) And the rest of my life outside of work is at times, smooth, at other times... not so smooth... but as long as I keep my focus on the right place... on God... I have my joy. It's a fight some days when I lose that focus, but as another verse in the song says, He also gives me peace that passes understanding. It's all past understanding sometimes! But I'm no less thankful :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

To Twilight or Not to Twilight?

Okay, I've avoided it. A Breaking Dawn review. I've been sharing my thoughts in person, but it's hard to get it across in print (without lots and LOTS of words!)... but here we go!

You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of the Twilight Saga and the fourth and (supposedly) final installment, Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer. You'll have to go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for a summary, and I'll try to steer clear of spoilers (send me a message if you want more information), but I want to share my thoughts.

First, with the series as a whole, I am not, NOT, NOT a vampire story kind of girl! But I felt when it became popular with teenage girls a few years ago that I should read it. The story takes place in rainy Forks, Washington, where teenage Bella Swan moves to live with her father, the town police chief. She meets Edward and is immediately drawn to him. As you might know, Edward and his family are the stuff of folklores: vampires. But the Cullens (all seven of them) are "vegetarians"... they drink from animals, not humans. There's more supernatural characters and much more to the story, but that's the general plot of the series.

In it's favor, I did like the series overall. A fast read, getting millions of teens (mainly girls) to read. The story's entertaining. The caution: while we can all relate to Bella's clumsiness, trying to fit in and first love experience, she becomes rather obsessive about Edward. So as a parent, the best thing if you choose to let your daughter read this book (like any book they read), talk to them about the choices Bella makes. Best to read the books as well. Talking points: Bella's obsession with Edward, disobeys/lies to her parents, takes a lot of risks.

Now, specifically Breaking Dawn, the latest in the series. Honestly, not my favorite of the series. At a whopping 750 pages, it gets a little drawn out at times, and I found myself trying to remember what happened in the beginning of the book! Meyer takes the story places I didn't expect. Normally, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but this was a bit extreme. Teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy, obsessive/irrational behavior... and when Bella makes a certain long-awaited transformation (trying to keep spoilers to a minimum!), everything falls so neatly into place. A little unrealistic and a little unrelatedable. Even taking my faith out of the context, most professional reviews agreed that Bella became unrelatedable as a character. Fans have said they're choosing to remember it as a trilogy. While I think some have gone too far in attacking the author (because as an author, it's her right to decide the direction her story and characters will go), it's fair to say this book was not what I expected. There are good things about this last volume and I'm glad that I finished it to find out what happened to Edward and Bella, but it was certainly an interesting read!

So To Twilght or Not to Twilight? That's the question for parents. If you're getting your daughters or students asking about reading the series, I think you have to know about the fourth book. If you allow a girl to read the first three, chances are likely she'll get hooked, and then it could be difficult to not let her finish the series. Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crawling Out of My Summer Hole

Okay, I have to bite the bullet and just write, even though I'm not going to get everything in that I'd like to! It was a crazy summer... my first doing the Summer Reading Club programming on my own, not as the assistant. The summer is the busiest time for a public library children's program, so basically, everything else gets neglected! ;) Yeah, non-stop. But good :) It's just that Miss Erin was busy at work and busy outside of work, so there wasn't much time to write. And here's a little insight into my personality, but I'm definitely one of those "there's so much I want to write, could write, and where do I begin to write... that it's easier to just keep putting off. So yes, this post doesn't serve much point! But I will say that I'm going to get back into it!

A little teaser of what's ahead: reviews on the (in)famous Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, Traction Man Was Here and its sequel Tractioin Man Meets Turbo Dog; maybe some information on my "special intestests": keeping boys reading and emergent literacy; and finally, some of the really cool things God has been teaching me the past few months. So check back soon! (I promise!)