Monday, February 27, 2012

Love and Romance

After my post about the book The Inheritance I started thinking about the idea of romance. Whenever I hear the word “romance,” my mind jumps to two images. The first is of a couple at our church that are old enough to have all their children out of the house. One Sunday I watched them walk back to their car holding hands. Watching them made me want that type of marriage, a marriage that doesn’t become boring after a couple of years. They have held hands during both the happiest and heart-breaking days of their lives together. To me, holding hands today, represents all the other times they have needed to hold each other's hands for support. No other person on the planet can appreciate what they have gone through, except each other. When I imagine the romance of marriage, that is what I think of, holding hands. It seems to symbolizes where strength and comfort are found.

Another image that is burned in my mind happened this past summer at a wedding my family attended. One of the groomsmen and bridesmaids were married to each other and had five children under the age of eight. One might think that with that many children and trying to get them ready for a wedding the parents would be tired and frustrated. But I will never forget the look on the husband’s face as his wife walked down the aisle. His beaming face showed that he was head over heels in love with this woman, both as a friend and lover.

He truly looked more in love than the groom did watching his bride walk down the aisle. It was not because the groom didn’t love the bride, because he did immensely. Yet, he didn’t have the same knowledge and understanding that the couple who had been married 10+ years had. Raising five children and educating them at home brought the couple closer together, because they had had to work through many more things than the couple getting married. Instead of letting differences drive them apart they used them to draw them closer to God and then each other. As she walked down the aisle I imagine he thought of their own wedding day, and how much more he loved her today, and how much more he would love her in ten more years.

I pray that, Lord willing, when I have been married 30 years my beloved will still look at me the way he did on our wedding day, but with even more love in his eyes and thankfulness to God for all that He has done in our lives and will continue to do till death do us part

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Inheritance


Earlier this year I promised I would write one book review each week… as you can see I’ve been a little distracted by traveling to Africa and afterwards trying to adjust back to my American way of life. Even though I have not written any reviews I did not stop reading. Today, I’m reviewing The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott.

The Inheritance is the first book Alcott wrote, at the tender age of 17. Unlike her others, it is short and does not dive into characters as much as her others. To me, it is evident that this is her first novel since her writing style greatly improves with her later works. Interestingly enough, this novel was not found until 1988 in the Houghton Library. Alcott wrote it in a little red notebook and inside was a slip of paper that read, “My first novel written at seventeen.” Sadly, this is where the interest of the book ends for me.

Alcott sets the book in her own times, the mid 1800s. The novel begins with the story of a poor orphan Italian girl who has been adopted into the rich Hamilton family as a companion for their daughter. The girl, Edith, is a sweet loving girl who seeks to serve everyone. Amy, the Hamilton’s daughter, is also sweet and loves beauty and adores Edith. Lord Percy comes to visit Amy’s brother and forms an attachment to Edith, but without telling her. Ida, Amy’s cousin, is jealous of Lord Percy’s love for Edith and strives to keep them apart, even framing Edith for stealing. I’ll let you imagine the ending. SPOILER warning: Of course she marries him at the end and she discovers she is actually a great heiress with more money than she knows what to do with. I do not doubt that this situation may have actually happened on occasion, but not very often!

While there is an interesting story line, the language is unrealistic. Not so much the vocabulary, but the expression of the words. Maybe, they spoke romantically 200 years ago but I have yet to hear a man comment in public on the beauty of a women’s heavenly hair, the sparkle in her penetrating eyes in the evening sun, or how he would serve her as a princess. Perhaps I simply haven’t met any yet, but I do not think they exist. And singing in a boat on a still pond lit only by moonlight? Seems a little unrealistic if you ask me.

As is common in 19th century literature there is a “perfect” character, Edith. While her behavior is to be admired, I feel such distance from her since--she never makes mistakes and tries to love everyone while I dwell on my dislike for others or selfishly serve myself.

Personally, it’s over the top romantic, in language and actions. Maybe men used to act that way, but I have yet to meet anyone like that, and do not desire to either. I do not want men to speak in poems to me and tell me how beautifully I sing and how I remind him of his mother. Neither do I want to only to take walks through flower-covered meadows and sing while he rows in a moonlit pond. I would rather sit at the dinner table and discuss books, life, and debate theology.  But that’s just me I guess.  To each his own.

Would I recommend the book? If you are looking for a book to enjoy and encourage, no I do not. There is not much substance to it, just exaggerated romance. But if you enjoy other Louisa May Alcott books such as I do, I do recommend it. I found it quite interesting to read the difference between the first book she wrote and some of her later ones. She evolved into a better writer as her life continued.

Friday, February 17, 2012


 Whenever I make a blog post Emily usually asks if it's all about her (in a silly way). I always say no. But today, since she turned 16 yesterday, I am devoting an entire post to her. 


And you can see how far she has come. This is her at her 15th birthday wearing a lamp shade on her head...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Our last three days in Congo were spent in Bunia. It's dusty. Very dusty. Beyond dusty.

We visited some other hospitals so Dad could do some more teaching.

Makeshift wheel chair

The hospital

On our last morning there Emily and I had our hair braided

Apparently they don't make sure their angles are lined up...

This is the guesthouse where we stayed. 

Yes, I have already posted pictures of him but he is just too cute not to include him again!

Because most people either walk or have motorcycles, gas is sold in small amounts. 

Friday, February 10, 2012


We had to keep this picture secret from mom. She was worried enough without having dad on a motorcycle in Africa...

These baby goats played around our house each day. We named the brown one Nigel and the black and white one Dixie

It rained for a couple of minutes one afternoon and it was just enough to clear the sky from some of its smoke and let us see the mountains in the distance. 

I followed Dr. Cooper and Dad on the rounds in the morning. Here they are with a little boy with a hemoglobin of 2.6. 

Love the colors of Congo!

The shelter where the families of patients cook and wash their clothes

Me attempting to communicate in French. Not sure if my point quite got across though...

Em and I with the girls that taught us french and we taught them English

Us with Dr. Mike, the doctor in charge of the hospital (in blue scrubs) and Dr. Warren Cooper

This is Jonathan, when he came to the hospital he couldn't bend his legs and the day before this picture was taken he had surgery to help him bend his legs. 

The room Em and I stayed in at the guest house

Dad's room

The women here carry almost everything on their head--notebooks, pots, buckets, and clothes. Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense. It leaves your hands free and improves your posture.

We saw of a lot of these men on the way to Bunia. They pack a ton of charcoal onto their bikes and then walk an entire day in the hot sun and dust to Bunia to sell it. The next they come back and do it all over again. 

Congo doesn't have laws about seatbelts, so two men rode on the back of the truck we were driving in.