Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Anyway... a couple of weeks ago during storytime, I was making my preschool boys happy with a “truck” themed week. I was reading “Hansel and Diesel”, a takeoff on “Hansel and Gretel”. Does anyone remember how twisted Grimm Fairy tales are? Or nursery rhymes? You kind of forget… block it from your memory. Do you remember that the witch wants to put Hansel and Gretel in the oven? Do you remember that “Ring Around the Posey” is about the Plague, “London Bridges” is about the big fire in London and in “Jack and Jill”, Jack fell down and broke his crown… cracked his skull, poor Jack! Yet, we remember them as “classics” and block out their more morbid bits… and most of us are quite normal functioning people despite exposure to them!
Well, I was reminded of the grimness of Grimm tales after reading “Hansel and Diesel”, but had two thoughts. First, kids have a strange curiosity for scary. A bunch of the kids had a lot of questions… especially when I forgot to skip the whole “wicked winch and the metal shredder” part! *yikes* They were kind of scared, yet they wanted to edge up to that fear and were curious. Second, as scary as those stories are, they have a moral (a slightly twisted moral, but a moral nonetheless). If Hansel and Gretel had remained home and safe and not gone anywhere without Mom and Dad, they wouldn’t have had to face the witch on their own.
So why am I thinking of this so much? Over-analyzing (as I often do) for a deeper meaning? Life is full of these situations. Kind of scary or hard. We have a strange curiosity toward them. We’re scared. Yet, I think there’s something deep down in us that wants to step up and stand up. And it might be hard, but if we do stand tall, we learn a valuable lesson. One thing God has taught me and reminded me time and again is that happiness is more situational… depends on all the people and events surrounding us. And let’s face it, life can be crazy at times! But joy from Him is something I can claim no matter whether I’m in the mist of something joyful or deep down in something hard.
And this musing from my mind is courtesy of thinking too long on fairy tales and nursery rhymes ;) I'm also reading a very thought-provoking book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. More on this to come, because it ties in and it definitely makes me think... and it's making me act. But that's the tease for now...
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Well, first, purely from "an enjoyable read" standpoint... I laughed out loud. The book actually came in a few days ago (perks of being a librarian), but had to keep it mum until it was released. But I promptly made my joy known by, the second my sharp eyes saw it on the cataloguer's truck, squealing like a little kid, swiping it off the truck and sitting down promptly to read the long-awaited masterpiece. Okay, I'm being *slightly* dramatic, but it was so good. I proceeded to annoy my coworkers by obnoxiously laughing out loud, interrupting their work to read lines and bounce up and down in my seat. Seriously.
The story revolves around the lunch lady. Three friends innocently ponder whether their lunch lady has a life outside school. "Nah, she probably lives at home with her hundred cats" type comments ensue, only to cut away to a very James Bond-ish lunch lady. Her faithful sidekick makes super-cool spy gadgets like spatulas that turn into helicopters and a lunch tray laptop. Back to the Cyborg Substitute plot. Something fishy's up when a beloved teacher's class is taken over by a sub. The kids are suspicious. The lunch lady's suspicious. And the kids are suspicious of the lunch lady. I'll save the rest of the plot, but you're left with a cliffhanger, so I can't wait to see what happens in League of Librarians!
As for the "professional" part of the review, the illustrations are amazing! Jarrett Krosoczka is one of my favorite if not the favorite. His illustrations shine in a graphic novel format. I'm not a huge graphic novel lover. But I loved this. The white, yellow, and blue only of his illustrations seems odd, but perfect. The story is fully told, even in graphic novel format. The font lends to the story; for example, when the cyborg substitute is unveiled, the font of his voice just screams "robotic". The book will appeal to both boys and girls, but especially boys. It's probably for the 7-11 year old crowd, mainly, but as always, that can swing. Fans of everyone from the Stink books to Captain Underpants and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd will love it! It's definitely got the corny humor... when the lunch lady sees the spatu-coptor, she says "Sweet potatoes!" But it's spot on perfectly funny!
So can't say enough. He's one of my favorites. The first Lunch Lady did not disappoint and I can't wait to get my little hands on the League of Librarians! For another good read in the same genre, check out Eric Wight's Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom (how could a book with that title go wrong??)
Now... which of my young patrons will get the pleasure of "first reader"...
Thursday, July 23, 2009
As Mo Willems said on his blog, it's "summer hours"... which means I don't usually have much time to write with how crazy living life is, but I emerge from insanity because of something that God's been showing me repeatedly this week. I have the power to choose.
Yes, people are inconsiderate and often lack common courtesy. Situations are so chaotic you think someone was dispensing free crazy pills. You struggle through something. You just experience life and life is not easy. (Thankfully though, a lot of times it's amazing!) But in the midst of living, think of this quote I read.
You might not be able to control the first thought that pops into your head, but you can control your second and third.
I saw that in action this week through the famous saluting construction worker with his skeleton sidekick, making the most out of their stretch of roadwork near the intersection of Brookside and Lower Macungie Rd. Directing traffic in a construction area could be boring. It could get motorists... someone perturbed. But how could you not smile in response to this guy? He's choosing a different response from the norm.
And I want to, too.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
There is a budget in the Pennsylvania state senate right now, to be voted on July 1st, that will cut state funding of libraries 50%. That's right. HALF. If that happens, libraries stand to lose from federal aid as well, since the federal budget won't pick up the slack for the state's inability to at least produce level funding. What happens if that passes? Power Library databases, used by schools, public libraries and students across the state: gone. Access PA, used to interlibrary loan items libraries don't have in their own collection ("library sharing") for their patrons: gone. Collection sizes? At state minimum. Staff? My library (and others) forced to lay off or cut hours when we're already grossly short-staffed as it is. And I don't even want to think what that could mean for programming.
So the very thing that people need in a recession: free materials, free programs, free computer classes, free wireless internet, research databases, quiet places to study, and much more... all provided to anyone, regardless of whether they are employed or not... devastated. I know the whole economy's hurting right now, but why is it always the education and community service related things that get cut? The things community needs at times like this? Yes, I'm biased. I love my work. I also want to keep my job. But I have to trust God's in control of that. But I still don't get it. I know the people reading this have probably already received my email, but please, please, please... write your lawmakers! Let them know how you feel! If you need to know what to write or who, let me know. But they need to hear us! We've already received updates from the President of the Pennsylvania Public Library Association that legislators are feeling the heat, calling him to "call off his library attack dogs"! Great! Keep up the good work, Pennsylvania! Keep hitting them until they see how much we care!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
God's been kicking my butt through a Watchman Nee book called The Release of the Spirit. Ouch. Seriously. Not that I agree 100% with everything said, but it's really made me think and challenged and convicted me. And it's been a long while since a book has made me "actively read" so hard. What do I mean by that? I mean my brain had to be engaged or I got nothing. It was the opposite end from beach read, yet not so difficult that I was confused or frustrated. Actually, I take back the confusing part... but definitely in a good way. It talked about how believers must be broken in order to serve God best. And just knowing about Nee's life as a man on the front lines of the early 20th Century Chinese Church... his life was pretty amazing.
And work? It was crazy getting signups out for this year's Summer Reading program. 75 programs over 2 months. No assistant this year, but luckily I have an intern and a former Teen Advisory Board member helping. But Saturday when the signups went out, there were once again 10+ moms outside the doors before we opened. A constant stream of parents for the first four hours. I forget when the K-1st grade program filled last summer, but I think it was at least the end of the day or maybe even the beginning of the next day. One day... that's pretty crazy for 8 programs, 15 spots per program. But I was shocked this Saturday when they were filled by 10:30am! An hour and a half!?!? I don't know how I can fit another program into my summer schedule, but after seeing a couple kindergarteners cry this week because it was already filled by the time their parents came in, I'm determined to try to add another time for the program next summer. It was one crazy fun day, explaining the programs, seeing all the families who came out, and I'm super excited for the programs this summer! I'll have to write about what I've chosen to do for the book discussions sometime soon! High school's reading The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. Middle school's doing Jeff Kinney's extremely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-it-Yourself, and 4-5th grade is using the Daring Book for Girls/Dangerous Book for Boys. But what makes these programs so exciting is what we're doing for the "discussions"... that's all the tease you'll get for now!
And at youth group, the school year's winding down, so that means that we have to say goodbye to our 8th graders. But thankfully, it's not really goodbye. I love the "fluidity" between our high school and middle school groups. And come Red Carpet Night, we get to meet a whole new group of 6th graders! This has been one amazing school year, and God's done some great things through this group! I've been so proud of our middle schoolers through the Lucid Service Series. We've welcomed a youth pastor and his family who all sides know God has placed in our church family. It's been a very good year!
See, so much going on. It's hard to sort through myself sometimes, let alone write about it!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
But that's not the timing I'm really talking about. I've just been struck recently by how perfect God's timing is. Little things, like once again, the timing in reading a book. Something as little as that. I have a ridiculous amount of books on my to-read list (seriously, over 200). So it could seem very random which book I actually choose to read at any given point. There have been times that I've bought a book, all excited to read it, but just don't get into it like I thought (or get sidetracked and never start it) only to pick it up months or even more than a year later (once, I picked up a book two years after I bought it), and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
Today at work, because of scheduling, I ended up working an hour later than I normally do on every other Thursday. That last hour, a four year old I'd had in storytime a few years ago but who hasn't been coming due to preschool conflict came in with her grandmother. I've known the family for three years, and the whole time, her father has been battling cancer. I found out today from grandma that this little happy-go-lucky girl lost her father three days ago. Her grandmother took her to the library to distract her, and the whole way there was telling grandma how she hoped Miss Erin would be there. My heart broke over hearing about her dad, but I was beyond thankful that I could spend a little bit of time with this sweet girl. And I know it was no coincidence that I was there an hour later than usual.
Those are just a few of the ways that God has shown me He is in the details of timing. His timing is perfect. It might not coincide with mine, but how many times have I realized that to have gotten whatever I wanted right then in my own timing would not have been best. And there are a lot of things I'm "waiting" on right now... a lot of unknown variables. So that's another reason these little provisions are sticking out. He's showing me through these "little" gifts is that I can trust Him and His timing. If He cares about the little details, how much more so will He provide in the big ones?
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
But suffice it to say, there are a lot of things I'm learning (some harder ways than others) and a LOT of cool books out there, so I need to get back to posting! There's been new Fancy Nancys and Mo Willems, Summer Reading to discuss, and much more! I don't quite know if I'm ready for the summer (and its insane pace), but it's coming whether I am or not, so *breathe* ready, set, GO!
Monday, February 16, 2009
All you need is love. Hmm. And if it's not there, man, do you know it! I'm not talking about husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, family, friend... don't get me wrong, all that is important! But the one Love I can't do without is God's love. Time for a little honesty. I never lost faith in God or loved Him. But I had lost my love for Him a little. If that make sense. My passion. My first Love. I still saw Him at work in my life and I desired more of Him, but there was still this something missing.
At times, I thought it was because I'm too busy. And I still am. But I also realized that simply taking things off my plate... only to fill them with other things or nothing substantial... was useless. I wasn't using much of the time I gained by removing things for more time with God. I still had my quiet times and was learning. But I was still just missing the point. It's so easy to do in the busyness of life.
So this little feeling deep down and realizing I want more than this... led me to yesterday. Sunday morning. I have to say, I am SO lucky to have found a church family that is family. I look forward to going, am sad to miss a Sunday, and feel so energized after worshipping and fellowshipping with my family there. I'm usually one of the last handful of people to leave, and most Sundays go by without having had a chance to talk to everyone I wish I could. So yesterday was like many other Sundays, but something... more. Sunday School was great. Not because of anything in particular, but I did see something new about a familiar story. My Sunday School teacher is one of the best I've had and just knows how to open up discussion, make it a safe environment, and push you to see things you didn't see before. Then, our new youth pastor gave a great message on family discipleship; it left me wanting to dig deeper in the Word, always a good response. One thing he said stuck out... God's plan for our lives is something we stumble upon while on the path of obedience. For any of us wondering God's plan for our lives, wow, does that help. And I got to talk to many friends and laugh and catch up and see how their lives were going. Just a good morning. I remember seriously wishing that every morning could start like that!
Then, when I got home, I had a good conversation with my parents, got to go on a walk, and read a book that had been neglected for a few weeks... but surprise, surprise... it was just the moment I was ready to hear what the author had to say. It's called The Most Loving Place in Town by Ken Blanchard, and it's about a local church elder who realizes he's become so focused on doing he's forgotten his first Love. It hit home. And so this long post is drawing to an end.
All you need is love. As much as I hadn't turned from God and still loved Him, my heart had grown complacent. And for me to love anyone else... close relationships or not-so-close (like some patrons who make me want to turn and run)... I have to be grounded in my love for God. If I'm not filled to over-flowing with His love, how can I possibly love others well? I will never love everyone perfectly... don't expect miracles! But keeping my heart filled with Him is a start. I can't even explain the difference. As I said, it's not like I had turned my back on God, but I did know I wasn't where I wanted to be. So while it may not look like anything changes, for me, it feels like night and day.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Anything illustrated by David Catrow! (Particularly if written by Karen Beaumont.) We just got Doggone Dogs in, but I Ain't Gonna Paint No More is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers during storytime. The Silly Dilly songs books (by Alan Katz), I Like Myself and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon are also great!
Monday, January 26, 2009
So, huge Children's book nerd that I am, I was up and watching the webcast. This announcement is like the Oscars for librarians and children's authors. Here's the ALA press release on the winners. The Caldecott Medal went to The House in the Night, a Good Night, Moon-ish picture book. The Newbery was more a shock to me, going to the not-so-shiningly reviewed The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. That one I haven't read yet, but it's about a boy named Nobody who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. I plan on reading it soon so I can have an opinion. But, as always, the amazingly awesome Mo Willems can't stay away from the ALA Award circuit. His first Pigeon book and both Knuffle Bunny books were Caldecott honors, while one of his Elephant and Piggie books, There is a Bird on Your Head, won the Geisel Award last year. This year, he returns with another adventure for the crazy duo, Are You Ready to Play Outside? The man is pure genius. This is the fourth year for the award and he's won half of them!
Monday, January 19, 2009
In case you've been living with your head stuck in a hole, you know what our economy's like, that there's about to be a historic inauguration of the first African American president, and people in general are just weary. You either are full of it or fully aware you're missing it. Let me just first say that I know this is a huge moment in history and am proud of the United States that we have moved even further past that horrible time of slavery and racial inequality to be able to have a non-WASP president. And I will be praying for Barack Obama as he takes over the office of the President of the United States of America. But let me go back to something I wrote days after the election last November:
The same way that we need to respect and pray for Barack Obama, we need to respect our current president. We give one (hu)man way too much credit if we believe that this one man alone is the cause of all our nations problems, and on
the flip side, we give one (hu)man way too much credit to believe he is the answer it to it all. I would believe this no matter who had won. These are men, albeit powerful men, but men. In my knowledge there has only been one time in history that God has walked this earth in human form.
Leading up to tomorrow's inauguration, I've seen TV specials, newspaper articles, books, hear conversation, etc. And it's all about how "now we have hope." I think this desire for change and something to hope in is 1) because of how times are difficult now (but that's a natural part of life... some times are hard, some times are easy, some times are in between)... and people want to believe that new leadership is capable of bringing change, and 2) because the desire for hope is evidence of the hole in our heart for God. You may be reading this and not have the same faith as I do. So let me say this to you in apology: I think the Church (universal) has done a very poor job of displaying the realness of God. He's not just some Sunday/Wednesday only thing. No, He is a real part of every part of my day. (Although, sometimes... often times... I mess that up and don't act like it because of my sin.) There are definitely Believers out there getting it, but I think why we're seeing so many people turn from faith in God is that we're not showing people how a relationship with God changes your life. How you should be different because of it. Life won't be easy, but you have hope for something better. Hope that you will be changing to become more Christ-like. Hope that you'll one day be in Heaven. But in a world where people want to know what makes Christians different, we don't always do a good job showing them. We don't show how Christ is real, in the flesh (through our flesh) working in our lives and on this earth. So people continue to search for something or someone to hope in.
But without Christ, there's no hope.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Okay, it's not that disgusting. But God recently showed me a somewhat disgusting-but-true reminder.
I work with kids. I work at a public library. You interact with a lot of people and items that are "contaminated" (for lack of a better word!) People are sick. People read books and take movies when they're sick and put their infected hands all over library items. It's a fact of life. Can't change it. I try to be careful about washing my hands at work, but I can't be anal. And inevitably, it happens. I get sick. I've never been sick (or borderline sick) so many times as I have since I started working with kids. In fact, I rarely got sick in college! But now, between a crazy busy schedule that leaves me less than full strength at times (I'm working on that!) and constant contact with "carrier monkeys" (as Friend Jen lovingly calls her adorable girls!)... well, you get sick! So the disgusting thing? All that "bodily secretion". Pus. Mmmm. Anyone eating?
But what did God remind me of? The fact that we all have "infection" in our lives... sin. And for that infection to be healed and cleaned out, our body needs to fight it. It needs to produce the nasty stuff. That's a sign that our body is healing. The infection is not good. But the signs of healing are. So while colds and the like are not fun, the end result is good. I was recently driving into work and just struck by how cool our bodies reaction to infection is! (I know, weird.) But it's just amazing that God designed that system so our bodies would heal (and not get worse!) and that the gunk serves to warn us "hey, something's wrong here... go to a doctor or take some cold medicine!" (so the problem doesn't go untreated.) Just like sometimes, junk in our lives is hard, painful, challenging, etc. It's our warning "hey, something's wrong here... go to God and clean up the sin infection!" Just think about both cases, if what was wrong/infected continued to get worse with no warning... where would we all be? So yes, I'm thankful for the nasty signs of health returning. It means the infection's getting kicked to the curb!
P.S. I just got Mo Willems' new book, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Classic Mo. Hilarious. Grand-pah Mole Rat is wise. And seriously, who else but Mo Willems would think of a title like Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed??