Many people have been saying they’re bored, twiddling their thumbs, feeling restless. I find myself restless with feelings related to confinement, but not necessarily boredom. My daughter has been keeping me plenty busy–there’s been a lot more cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, teaching, engaging, etc. and I kind of miss having my own time in the mornings. Nevertheless, I will share some of my favorite (fiction) books because you may be in search of a good read or an escape during this isolated time.
A side note: My favorite genres are comedy/satire and mystery, with well-written prose. There are many books that are quick and entertaining, but not necessarily well-written. My favorite books lean more towards classics and dense material. If you find yourself cooped up indoors without work or kids hanging onto your ankles, here are my recommendations:
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: Laugh-out-loud funny
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Another funny one, and original
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Pick any story, any volume; they’re all so good.. and unexpectedly humorous
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: Thrilling
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: Nostalgic
Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Dickens’s best, somewhat relatable to current times (amidst epidemics), and detective work for the reader (following characters, plots/subplots)
A Lover’s Discourse by Rowland Barthes: Heartfelt, metacognitive
The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel: Perfectly written endings
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Thought-provoking, not as dense as his other novels
(Poetry) The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins: True to life poems
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7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[d] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 aswe look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
I’ve been asked this question a number of times and thought it would be worthwhile to post something about it since it is a life-relevant topic that someone might search for on the internet or might simply be wondering just in case a situation occurs.
I want to preface this by acknowledging that everyone is different and what I think would be thoughtful and/or appropriate may not be to someone else. I also want to add that unless you’ve gone through the same exact situation (even cancer experiences differ), there really isn’t anything that would/could alleviate the matter.
Try to understand the person’s personality and situation: Is he/she sensitive? emotional? reserved? Is he/she young/old, with/without children? Is he/she currently in a distraught state? acceptance state? hopeful? in denial? etc. Knowing the person’s personality and situation can help determine what to say and not say. Don’t go about saying things that you would like to hear, but put yourself in the other’s personality. For example, if you are an emotional person but the person who is diagnosed is not, it doesn’t help to try and console using emotions.
Ask how they’re feeling. What’s been on their minds/hearts. But do so with discretion. Sometimes the diagnosed may not want to share, and again, knowing the person’s personality helps. Sharing may be burdensome or overwhelming. But some may appreciate being heard.
(For believers) You are praying for them, and praying. This has been the most meaningful to me because people I personally never knew or met have come to me to share that they’ve been praying for me. And this has been the most uplifting because I know that God is listening, and to know that I’ve been in someone’s thoughts and prayers simply means a lot, especially because I know that everyone is going through their own troubles in life.
(For unbelievers) I would share that I love him/her, that God loves him/her. And because God loves him/her, I need to share the gospel, even if it may seem unwelcome. Sharing the gospel and my testimony seems like the most loving thing a believer can do. I guess a non-believer may think, “If God loves me, why is this happening to me?” and this could be a good segue into sharing why there’s suffering in the first place–another segue into the gospel.
God loves you. The reminder is heartfelt and brings me to tears almost always. To know that our almighty God loves me and knows my suffering is the most comforting. He is the only one who knows my heart, my burdens, my worries; He hears my cries, sees my tears, feels my pain, knows how much it hurts, how tiring everything can be.
It’s been 3.5 years since my diagnosis. The hardest has been my first year. It was spiritually, emotionally, and physically the most difficult; I felt the most vulnerable and distraught. Year two had its ups and downs. Year three has come with some peace, maybe because I have been stable for the most part, but I have also come to terms with death. During my first year, I felt as though I was given a death sentence and I would soon be separated from everyone I loved. Now… well, it’s still heartbreaking, but I also long for heaven where there is no more suffering. (Oh, how I long to be completely healed! Physically and from sin). A period of time would pass until Christ’s coming, a period of time which I would not be aware, and I would wake in a moment to see those I love around me (so I desperately pray for my daughter’s salvation), and it would be a time of celebration. Everything will be perfect and there will be no more pain.
To those who have been diagnosed and to those who have loved ones who are diagnosed,
This is the last post related to spring break as we near summer.
Ojai was beautiful and it was especially true staying at Ojai Valley Inn. The quaint city just above L.A. is surrounded by green valleys and blue skies. I am not a country girl and I do not particularly enjoy wilderness and its creatures, but Ojai was like a manicured country with no signs of pestilence and stress, if you know what I mean. ;)
The resort is a vacation spot in itself because they have everything you need to relax–coffee shop, spa, juice store, pools, golf, bikes, great food options; it has everything in order for you to step away from reality and everyday obligations to enjoy some peace. The workers were kind and helpful and everyone staying there seemed happy and relaxed.
Some highlights: swimming, dinner at The Oak (fresh and excellent dishes), s’mores at the fire-pit, biking and playing at the local park, walking around downtown, eating tacos and playing at the park some more, Bart’s books, Beacon Coffee. My favorite part of our stay was biking because the route was so pretty it felt like diving into a scene from Anne of Green Gables. Bart’s Books was also great because I love browsing through bookstores, especially ones that have labyrinths of shelves filled with old and new titles–hidden gems everywhere!
Spring has gone and now onto summer!
My tentative plans: lavender field, Palm Springs, Boston/Cambridge, NYC, cherry picking, and Universal Studios. Huzzah!