Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Living a Beautiful Life


I read this book for fun, and fun it was. The subtitle says it all: Five Hundred Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life. That sums up the content written by Alexandra Stoddard. Beautiful ink drawings by Pat Stewart add to its appeal.

According to Stoddard, we can create beauty and order in ordinary days by establishing little rituals that enhance the humdrum. Some chapters focus on certain rooms—the kitchen, the bedroom, the bath. She helps you look at your house with fresh eyes to evaluate whether it is supporting your quest for living the beautiful life. Does your d├ęcor reflect your tastes and values? Are there changes you might make to better reflect who you are?

Each chapter ends with Grace Notes, suggestions to create a beautiful life, followed by blank space to add your own grace notes. I read this library book with pen in hand to jot down ideas. There were plenty. An index guides you in locating details you may want to recall. Although this book was published by Random House in 1986, if you enjoy creating a homey atmosphere that appeals to your senses and welcomes guests, you will appreciate Stoddard’s ideas.

I’m now reading another of her books, You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life, which she wrote 20 years later. This book’s 50 essays relate to choices we make every day that affect the quality of our lives. Enjoying this one as well.

Have you read other books of this type? Share a title by clicking on the link below.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Our Window to the World


Dear Friends,

In the early morning, I watch television for 90 seconds. Yes, that’s right. CBS offers “Your World in 90 Seconds,” and if I’m near a TV set, I tune in because I want to know what’s going on. 

Just as I look out my sun porch window to see the world around me—flowers, trees, birds and squirrels—television allows me to look out a global window. But unlike my backyard world that always tells the truth—if the sun is shining, it’s probably going to be a nice day; if I see clouds, I know it might rain—television truth is subjective, truth seen through the eyes of a reporter. And sometimes, like Pilate, I wonder, “What is truth?”

For instance, reporters seem very surprised by gun violence. A man takes an assault rifle and kills dozens of people. This is most unusual. But is it surprising? If he’s a young gunman, he’s been watching violence on television his entire life.

Young people viewing the world through television may think that it’s perfectly OK to lead promiscuous lives. I heard women on a talk show debate whether it’s OK to have sex on a first date. Morality was not an issue. It was simply a discussion about women’s preferences—now or later. Why then are we surprised when entertainment translates into life for our teenagers?

Then there’s what we do not see much of on television: The importance of faith, the dedication of missionaries, the rewards of morality. In a book, The Age of Missing Information, Bill McKibben shares what he learned by watching a single day’s programming on 93 cable channels with what he learned atop a mountain. I read the book years ago and just may reread it. 

Maybe I’m old fashioned—well, there’s no maybe there—but I think we would be a lot better off if we spent more time gaining a perspective of the world from God’s Word and good literature rather than from television. Yes, television offers a window to the world, but as a Christian I want to view the world from God’s perspective rather than that of a sponsor. How about you?

Have a blessed day.

Shirley

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