Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"I had little objection to his being seen by Herbert or his father, for both of whom I had a respect; but I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to his being seen by Drummle, whom I held in contempt. So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise."

~from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens~

Monday, June 27, 2016

An Important Lesson from Joe Gargery On How to Progress in Life

In Great Expectations, young Pip's world is suddenly flipped upside down upon meeting the beautiful, unattainable Estella at Miss Havisham's house. As the two children sit before Miss Havisham playing at cards, Pip realizes for the first time some of the disparities between the wealthy and the working classes and that--unfortunately, in his mind--he's on the wrong end of that spectrum.
"'He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!' said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. 'And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!'
I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it."
When Pip returns home that evening and is being questioned about his time at Miss Havisham's house, he ends up telling some pretty outrageous stories about what he saw and did. As no one else had ever been inside of Miss Havisham's house, no one knew better than to believe his silly claims.

Later on when he is alone with Joe, Pip confesses that he didn't tell the truth earlier and begins to lament his sorry, common life. In the course of their conversation, Joe makes some pretty poignant remarks on how to raise oneself out of that state of commonness that is now plaguing Pip.
 "'There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip,' said Joe, after some rumination, 'namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em, Pip. That ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap.'"
 "'Well, Pip,' said Joe, 'be it so or be it son't, you must be a common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The king upon his throne, with his crown upon his [head], can't sit and write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet.---Ah!' added Joe, with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, 'and begun at A too, and worked his way to Z.'"
"If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll never get to do it through going crooked."
Simple, common Joe Gargery who was just a blacksmith with no formal education understood that the only true way to succeed and move forward in life is through hard work and uncompromising integrity. The advice he gave to Pip in Great Expectations (written by Charles Dickens in 1861) was sound and wise, and we would do well to follow it today in 2016.

What wise person in your life always points you in the right direction even when you're too focused on yourself to see it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"It was not because I was faithful, but because Joe was faithful, that I never ran away and went for a soldier or a sailor. It was not because I had a strong sense of the virtue of industry, but because Joe had a strong sense of the virtue of industry, that I worked with tolerable zeal against the grain. It is not possible to know how far the influence of any amiable honest-hearted duty-doing man flies out into the world; but it is very possible to know how it has touched one's self in going by, and I know right well that any good that intermixed itself with my apprenticeship came of plain contented Joe, and not of restlessly aspiring discontented me."

~from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens~

Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Great Expectations

Hello there! I've checked another book off my 2016 reading list, and now it's time to talk about it. After I bought a plane ticket to Japan, obviously one of my first thoughts was, "What books should I take?" Because priorities, people. Nevermind that I'm flying off to a foreign country that I've never visited before and I get to see (and meet!) my favorite people in the world and spend two whole weeks with them--WHAT BOOKS WILL I BE TAKING, for the love?! I quickly decided that taking Great Expectations was out of the question because my copy looks like this:
It's humongous, heavy, hardback, and a heckofa lot to tote around the world and back. So it immediately became my goal to finish it before I left because I really didn't want to start a new novel before I finished this one, but as I already mentioned, I sure wasn't going to take this beast with me. I still had quite a bit left to go, but once I made up my mind to finish it, it really wasn't difficult to do and I finished it last Tuesday with 3 days to spare since my goal was to finish it by last Friday. It's a great book, and I was really into it. But enough with all my goal-setting and accomplishing: let's get down to the actual recap because I leave for Japan TOMORROW, and I probably should start packing.

Charles Dickens wrote and published Great Expectations as a serial appearing in his weekly periodical from December 1860 to August 1861. It was his 13th novel and the 2nd of his novels to be fully narrated in the first person. Dickens began publishing short sketches in London magazines in 1834, and by the time he published his first full novel (Oliver Twist) in 1838, Dickens was already a bestselling writer. 

Great Expectations is set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century and depicts the life of an orphaned boy named Pip from his early childhood to his mid-20s written from his own perspective. It reads almost like it's his personal memoir, and in my opinion, it's extremely entertaining. In Great Expectations, we meet such memorable characters as Joe Gargery (the humble blacksmith and truest friend to Pip), Miss Havisham (the wealthy, witch-like spinster of Satis House who is still an icon in today's pop culture), Abel Magwitch a.k.a Provis (the scary escaped convict Pip meets in a graveyard in the very first scene of the book and who shows back up much later in a twist I did not see coming), and Herbert Pocket (Pip's loyal friend and companion) among many, many others. I mean, when you have a cast of characters including people named Jaggers, Wemmick, Pumblechook, and Wopsle, why wouldn't you want to read this book, amiright?

In this novel, we begin by learning that Pip is living with his sister and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery) and will become Joe's apprentice in the blacksmith trade. Before beginning his apprenticeship, Pip spends some time at Satis House with Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella who are pivotal characters throughout the novel. Four years into his apprenticeship with Joe, Pip is approached by an intimidating lawyer (Mr. Jaggers) with the information that he has great expectations from an anonymous benefactor and, should he choose to accept this offer, he would be off to London immediately to become an educated gentleman under the guardianship of Mr. Jaggers until this mysterious benefactor reveals him or herself to Pip. Pip accepts and off we go on his adventure with him.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It's got mystery, intrigue, romance, adventure, suspense, and death all wrapped up into one delicious package, not to mention poignant quotes which will be occupying our Wednesdays here on the blog for a solid month (as you already got a taste of last week). Dickens masterfully weaves this tale together with very few wasted words. It was long to be sure (59 chapters!), but it was not cumbersome in the least, and it really turned out to be a quick read once I got into it. I would certainly recommend it, and after reading this one, I'm looking forward to reading more of Dickens' work. (Confession: Great Expectations is the first Charles Dickens novel I've ever read all the way through.)

All in all, I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's only lacking that last 1/2 star because I could take breaks from it whereas when I was reading The Last of the Mohicans (another long novel I read this year), I could not put it down.

What about you? Have you read Great Expectations or anything else by Charles Dickens? Who was your favorite character? (I am #TeamJoeGargery all the way.) Which Dickens novel would you recommend for my book list next year? (Your choices are listed above in the picture of my Dickens collection.) What books should I take to Japan with me? Comment quick because I LEAVE TOMORROW!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Casual Fridays

**FULL DISCLOSURE : There really isn't anything casual about this post at all.** 

This past weekend, there was a horrifying shooting in the Orlando, FL area. I'm sure you've all heard about it. It's all over the news. It's all over the internet. It's all over social media. It's everywhere.

And I know I'm not the only one sitting up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, blogging about it. And I'm sure these thoughts are not original and personal to me. But with everything that's happened in the past month, in my own home state less than an hour from my house, I can't just post about ChapStick and my dogs today.

It hasn't even been a week since it happened. 

Let me say that again: it hasn't even been a week since it happened.

Yet it seems like all I'm hearing, seeing, and reading are angry voices screaming at each other, pushing agendas, and casting blame on every possible person or idea that doesn't align with their own.

It was a hate crime against the gays. It was a terrorist attack on America. We need to take away all the guns. We need to arm our citizens. Islam is to blame. Islam is never to blame. All organized religion is the problem. Religion is the answer. The FBI should have protected our country from this. The FBI followed its due process and acted constitutionally. Christians need to speak up. Christians need to shut up.


For the love of everything, please stop.

49 precious lives were lost.

49 beautiful people created in the very image of God Almighty are gone from this earth.

They went out dancing on a Saturday night, and before the sun rose on Sunday, the life had drained from their bodies.

49 families are hurting. 

49 families will never be the same.

Can't we just hurt with them? Even for a week? Can't we just grieve the loss without fighting and debating and blame-shifting? Can't we show the love of Jesus without having to defend, explain, and justify it? Shut our mouths and open our arms? Fall to our knees and groan our prayers?

"Weep with those who weep."
~Romans 12:15(b)~

"Jesus wept."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and some people do the same by their religion."

~from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens~

Is our "godliness" more uncomfortable and unacceptable than sin itself? 

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence."
~Matthew 23:25~

Monday, June 13, 2016


"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried than before--more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle."

~from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens~

Friday, June 3, 2016

Casual Fridays

First of all, can anyone else believe it's June already? Because I can't. This year is flying by so fast. If I want to complete my 20-book goal this year, I'll need to complete 4 books by the end of this month to be (technically) on track. But no big deal because I'll have a 20-hour flight this month on MY WAY TO JAPAN! That's right, people. I booked my ticket this week for a two week trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law/kindred spirit. I am beyond excited to see them. And not only do I get to visit some of my favorite people in the world, I get to check a big-ticket item off my Bucket List: a trip to Asia. It's a personal goal of mine to visit all of the continents. (Except for Antarctica because why? although if the opportunity arose, I wouldn't be totally opposed to going there too, I guess.) After this trip, I will only be lacking a trip to Australia to complete that goal. I've been to North and South America, Europe and Africa. I'll also finally get some stamps in my new passport. #goals 

Major's Mischief
So I think it's about time Major got his own little section around here and, believe me, it's aptly named because this puppy is all mischief, all the time. I got a first-hand experience recently of exactly how strong this guy actually is. We were on one of our 3-mile walks around Lake Hollingsworth the other day, and we came upon a section of the sidewalk that is currently under construction. They had re-routed the sidewalk using gravel and orange construction fencing so that you really had no other choice than to walk through it. Major apparently did not like that orange fence and as soon as we entered, he panicked and decided he needed to get out at all costs resulting with me on the ground before I even knew what was happening and being dragged through the gravel. I got some nasty battle wounds from the experience, and that last mile was a pretty slow one. Ouch. Suffice it to say, Major is one strong puppy.

As you may know, my husband and I recently had our 4th anniversary, and look what he gave me! What a guy. We were actually at Wal*Mart together one day a couple days before our actual anniversary and while I was grabbing something, he started checking out. When I got back to the checkout line, he handed me these two brand new ChapSticks with a smile and a "Happy Anniversary, babe." I tell ya. He's a keeper. These ChapSticks are the bomb, and I've been using both of them non-stop. They are summer-licious and for whatever reason, that Watermelon Splash one takes me right back to my childhood. #bliss #olfactorysensesforthewin (Don't judge me for getting all fancy with my little ChapStick photo shoot. A lei seemed like an appropriate backdrop for these Tropical Paradise ChapSticks, okay? And speaking of the Tropical Paradise Collection, I think I have all of them now what with my Aloha Coconut one and my Mango Sunrise one. Am I missing any? I know, I know. I have a problem. I blog about ChapStick. Somebody stop me.)

Lest you think that all my husband did for our anniversary was pick up a couple of tubes of ChapStick in the Wal*Mart check-out line, look what else I got: four new books for four years of marriage. He so gets me. We finally got to do our big anniversary date this week, and if you'll remember from last year, we like to go to the Melting Pot and Barnes & Noble. This is our 3rd year doing this, and I'd say it's become our anniversary tradition. I chose more classics to add to our library: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, and The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas. I have not read any of these, and I'm pretty psyched about all of them. It's going to be hard to stick to my original book list for 2016 with these sitting on my shelves tempting me. Also, my hubs challenged me to read all four of these before we celebrate our next anniversary. Of the three books he gave me last year, the only one I've read is The Last of the Mohicans which is definitely one of my new favorites. #challengeaccepted

Colonel's Corner
So this guy started favoring his right front paw on Saturday night, and we could not for the life of us figure out why. Cody finally found that one of his nails had started to tear down to the quick and was causing him some pretty bad pain. We finally had to put a sock on him to keep him from licking it to death, and let me tell you, he has been one pathetic little figure lying (laying?) around, not eating like usual, and hopping and hobbling around to avoid putting any weight on it. So naturally, I've been babying him to almost a ridiculous extreme and letting him in the bed with me. Cody held out for over a year not letting him in the bed, but he finally caved. You totally would too if you could see how pitiful he is. Poor little guy. He seems to be on the mend, but he still wants to just sit and lick that paw so the sock is staying on for a couple more days until he gets rid of that compulsion. 

Are you so over me blogging about our dogs and ChapStick? What has this blog even become?! I have one more topic for our Casual Friday, and it's a bit of a confession:
I've been watching old school DCOMs all week, and I couldn't be happier about it. We figured out how to get the Disney Channel app on Cody's xbox and since then, I've revisited such gems as Brink!, Double-Teamed, Motocrossed, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, and the list goes on, but I'll refrain from embarrassing myself further by admitting how many I've actually watched. I love Disney and I love all these cheesy, tween movies. #noshame #disneykidforlife

Did you watch DCOMs growing up? What are some of your favorites? Does anyone want to come over and watch some with me? Do you have an anniversary tradition or do you like to change it up each year? Do you know of a ChapStick support group I could join? Have you ever been to Japan? What's something big on your Bucket List that you might get to check off soon? Don't be scared of that combox, y'all, and have a great weekend!