27.5.07

Our Newbery Ranking


Several years ago, we made a (somewhat frivolous) goal of reading all the Newbery Medal books. For those who don't know what we're referencing, this is the Medal given annually by the American Library Association to the book considered to be the greatest contribution to the world of American children's literature. The reason we wanted to do this is that many of our favorite children's reads over the years have been Newbery winners, and in fact the medal has never steered us wrong.

It took us about 10 years, but on September 25, 2015, we read the final one ("The High King")  Here's the complete list.

A few facts first:

1. There is something called the Newbery Honor Book. Do not be confused. Though these books are also usually good, they are the runners up, and the collection is too long to be sidled with all these.

2. The collection started in 1922, so there's a lot of these.

3. Only 6 authors have won it twice: EL Konigsburg ("From the Mixed-up Files..." and "The View From Saturday"), Lois Lowry ("Number the Stars" and "The Giver"), Elizabeth George Speare ("The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "The Bronze Bow"), Joseph Krumgold ("Onion John" and "...and Now Miguel"), Katherine Paterson ("Jacob Have I Loved" and "Bridge to Terebithia"), and most recently Kate DiCamillo ("Despereaux" and "Flora and Ulysses").

4. There is only one "R" in "Newbery".

5. A disclaimer: Eric and Rachel have read some different books (marked by their initials) and some books were read so long ago that they cannot be certain if they liked book x more than book y anyway. Also, Rachel doesn't like books about dogs, really. So don't take this list entirely to heart. We just like making lists.

From Most Favorite to Least Favorite:
  1. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry - 1994*
  2. "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle - 1963
  3. "Holes" by Louis Sachar - 1999*
  4. "Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli - 1991
  5. "From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E.L. Konigsburg - 1968*
  6. "Jacob Have I Loved" by Katherine Patterson - 1981
  7. "A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park - 2002*
  8. "The Wheel on the School" by Meindert DeJong - 1955
  9. "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare - 1962*
  10. "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman - 2009
  11. "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien - 1972
  12. "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead - 2010
  13. "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool - 2011
  14. "Walk Two Moons" by Sharon Creech - 1995
  15. "Secret of the Andes" by Ann Nolan Clark - 1953
  16. "Crispin: Cross of Lead" by Avi - 2003*
  17. "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin - 1979*
  18. "The View From Saturday" by E.L. Konigsburg - 1997
  19. "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor - 1977
  20. "Kira-Kira" by Cynthia Kadohata - 2005 (E)
  21. "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman - 1987
  22. "The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle" by Hugh Lofting - 1923*
  23. "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry - 1990*
  24. "Crossover" by Kwame Alexander - 2015
  25. "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan - 1986
  26. "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare - 1959
  27. "A Year Down Yonder" by Richard Peck - 2001
  28. "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink - 1936 (R)
  29. "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch" by Jean Lee Latham - 1956*
  30. "Up a Road Slowly" by Irene Hunt - 1967 (R)
  31. "I, Juan de Pareja" by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino - 1966 (E)
  32. "The Hero and the Crown" by Robin McKinley - 1985 (R)
  33. "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo - 2004*
  34. "Missing May" by Cynthia Rylant - 1993*
  35. "The High King" by Lloyd Alexander - 1969 (R)
  36. "Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voice From a Medieval Village" by Laura Amy Schlitz - 2008
  37. "Shiloh" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - 1992 (R)
  38. "Rifles for Watie" by Harold Keith - 1958
  39. "Flora and Ulysses" by Kate DiCamillo - 2014
  40. "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate - 2013
  41. "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze" by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis - 1933*
  42. "Call It Courage" by Armstrong Sperry - 1941*
  43. "Dicey's Song" by Cynthia Voight - 1983 (R)
  44. "Bridge to Terebithia" by Katherine Paterson - 1978*
  45. "Dobry" by Monica Shannon - 1935 (E)
  46. "The Midwife's Apprentice" by Karen Cushman - 1996 (R)
  47. "The Grey King" by Susan Cooper - 1976 (E)
  48. "Adam of the Road" by Elizabeth Gray Vining - 1943
  49. "Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon" by Dhan Gopal Mukerji - 1928 (E)
  50. "Waterless Mountain" by Laura Adams Armer - 1932 (E)
  51. "Shadow of a Bull" by Maia Wojciechowska - 1965
  52. "Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis - 2000 (R)
  53. "The Door in the Wall" by Marguerite de Angeli - 1950
  54. "Dear Mr. Henshaw" by Beverly Cleary - 1984*
  55. "Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes - 1944 (E)
  56. "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene du Bois - 1948*
  57. "Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices" by Paul Fleischman - 1989 (E)
  58. "Onion John" by Joseph Krumgold - 1960 (R)
  59. "The Trumpeter of Krakow" by Eric P. Kelly - 1929*
  60. "It's Like This, Cat" by Emily Cheney Neville - 1964 (E)
  61. "Ginger Pye" by Eleanor Estes - 1952*
  62. "A Visit to William Blakes's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers" by Nancy Willard - 1982 (E)
  63. "Shen of the Sea" by Arthur Bowie Chrisman - 1926 (E)
  64. "The White Stag" by Kate Seredy - 1938
  65. "Tales From Silver Lands" by Charles Finger - 1925 (E)
  66. "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold - 1954 (E)
  67. "Thimble Summer" by Elizabeth Enright - 1939
  68. "Rabbit Hill" by Robert Lawson - 1945 (E)
  69. "Julie of the Wolves" by Jean Craighead George -1973 (R)
  70. "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell - 1961*
  71. "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years" by Rachel Field - 1930 (R)
  72. "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse - 1998 (E)
  73. "The Cat Who Went To Heaven" by Elizabeth Coatsworth - 1931 (E)
  74. "Dead End in Norvelt" by Jack Gantos - 2012 (E)
  75. "Criss Cross" by Lynn Rae Perkins - 2006 (R)
  76. "The Higher Power of Lucky" by Susan Patron - 2007 (E)
  77. "King of the Wind" by Marguerite Henry - 1949 (R)
  78. "Miss Hickory" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey - 1947 (E)
  79. "A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal" by Joan Blos - 1979 (R)
  80. "Lincoln: A Photobiography" by Russell Freedman - 1988 (R)
  81. "Roller Skates" by Ruth Sawyer - 1937 (R)
  82. "Miracles on Maple Hill" by Virginia Sorenson - 1957 (R)
  83. "Summer of the Swans" by Betsy Byars - 1971 (R)
  84. "M.C. Higgins, the Great" by Virginia Hamilton - 1975 (R)
  85. "Strawberry Girl" by Lois Lenski - 1946 (R)
  86. "Amos Fortune, Free Man" by Elizabeth Yates - 1951
  87. "Sounder" by William H. Armstrong - 1970 (R)
  88. "Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women" by Cornelia Meigs - 1934 (R)
  89. "The Slave Dancer" by Paula Fox - 1974*
  90. "The Dark Frigate" by Charles Hawes - 1924 (R)
  91. "The Matchlock Gun" by Walter D Edmonds - 1942
  92. "Smoky the Cowhorse" by Will James - 1927 (E)
  93. "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon - 1922 (E)
  94. "Daniel Boone" by James Daugherty - 1940 (E)
*read aloud

22.5.07

Music and Videos

Some places we enjoy listening to music on the web:

1. A full album of Over the Rhine to enjoy.
2. Various songs from the Square Peg Alliance.
3. Pandora
4. Andrew Peterson and friends have a Song of the "Day" (actually a little less frequent) at The Rabbit Room.
5. Noise Trade, founded by Derek Webb, has whole albums available for download, and you can pay what you want, if you want, or make a charitable donation if you'd prefer. Also, Matthew Perryman Jones, Sandra McCracken, Waterdeep, and others.

Some favorite web videos:

Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago" acapella:


Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo's "Diamonds", Zimbabwe 1987:


Seemingly, this was all improv by Chris Thile and Brian Sutton:


The Most Amazing Safari Video:


Flight of the Conchordes: We just watch this over and over:


13.5.07

List To Read

Mostly for my own benefit, I'm keeping this list of books to be read. Feel free to make suggestions:

-Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino: because his reason for the big bang is an Italian mother who needs some room to make pasta.
-The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (when I build up the courage)
-House of God by Samuel Shem
-Book of Sorrows by Walt Wangerin

-Ragman by Walt Wangerin
-The Living by Annie Dillard

8.5.07

Medical Jargon Survey

This formats poorly in blogger, but it's 4 sets of matching, with the choices below the set of terms. Answers at the bottom. Let me know how you did!

Match the word with the one correct meaning (note: not all answers will be used)

1. Cardiac
2. Pulmonary
3. Renal
4. Gastric
5. Endocrine

A. Referring to the stomach
B. Referring to the hormones
C. Referring to the liver
D. Referring to the kidneys
E. Referring to the lungs
F. Referring to the heart

Match the word with its meaning (note: not all answers will be used)

6. Hypertension
7. Cellulitis
8. Osteoporosis
9. Menopause
10. Ulcer

A. Soft, breakable bones
B. Skin infection
C. Sore of the skin caused by infection or disease
D. Low blood level
E. High blood pressure
F. Stopping periods, change of life

Match the word with its meaning (note: not all answers will be used)

11. benign
12. chronic
13. acute
14. oral
15. malignant

A. poisonous
B. occurring over a short period of time
C. condition or disease that can be controlled but not cured
D. not cancer
E. by mouth
F. tending to become worse

Match the word with its meaning (note: not all answers will be used)

16. contraception
17. lipid
18. infertility
19. electrolyte
20. diagnosis

A. fat in the blood
B. lack of ability to get pregnant
C. outer layer of the skin
D. chemical substance in the body, like calcium and sodium
E. identifying a condition by history, exam, and tests
F. birth control




ANSWERS:
1.f 2.e 3.d 4.a 5.b 6.e 7.b 8.a 9.f 10.c 11.d 12.c 13.b 14.e 15.f 16.f 17.a 18.b 19.d 20.e

5.5.07

Zambian stories : Fall 2005

#1: Wailing

There’s a woman wailing outside. Someone has died.

I’ve been staying in this one-bedroom unit for eight days now. The concrete floors make it quite comfortable in the heat, and the mosquito netting makes me feel like I’m spending my nights in some elegant canopy bed. There are paw-paw and lemon trees out my back door, which overlooks a couple of dry hillsides, which I’m told are typical of a Zambian September.

However, the most significant feature of my lodging at this moment is that it is directly across from the front entrance of Mukinge Hospital, where I’m spending these seven weeks. The reason that I’m currently so aware of this feature is that there is a woman wailing about thirty meters from my front door. In the few short days I have been here, I have unfortunately seen enough examples of this to know the basic process. When someone dies, the family exits the front entrance of the hospital, crosses the newly paved road, collapses down on the grass, and wails.

So someone has died. I wonder who it was. I’m praying that it’s not one of the children I’ve been seeing on the pediatrics ward this past week. One particular little girl named Dorothy comes to mind, who has been in the throes of bacterial meningitis for a few days now, but there are several that could have taken a sudden downturn. Maybe it’s one of the adults that I never got a chance to meet.

It’s hard to know whether there is an intentional chant or song in the wailing, since the intrinsic musicality of most Zambians could have infused a melody subconsciously. And I don’t know if there are any actual words, but each line ends by being broken up in sobs. The wailing is loud, and unavoidable for those of us who live nearby, especially since windows and doors stay open most all the time. The unavoidable nature of it is fruitful, I think, because it forces me to pause and realize that someone’s son or daughter has just died, while I live free of disease, with my own stomach full of a lunch of leftover spaghetti. This brings me compassion and humility, which, for all the medical field’s talk of the value of detachment from your patients’ tragedies, are qualities that I know I desperately need more of. It also brings me to prayer, for in the face of such limited medical resources, the illusion that we have control of the situation through our ventilators and broad-spectrum antibiotics is stripped away. And so I pray:

Jesus, you are our wounded healer, who wept at the pain our sicknesses can cause. May the empathy from your own suffering be the comfort that binds up our wounds. Wrap your loving arms around this wailing mother. Let your mercy be a robe for the one who just died. Teach us all to love, to heal, to serve, and to learn. In Jesus’ name, may all this be.

#2: Choir

I love my church. Well, it's not my church, I guess, but rather the church I've chosen to attend during my time here in Zambia. Mukinge church meets in a simple building about a ten-minute walk away from my house. They average a couple hundred people a week, and the service begins around 10:30 Sunday morning and ends sometime in the next 4 hours. I have yet to discover an accurate way to predict how long the service will be.

Generally, the men sit on the right, and the women sit on the left, though there's a little mixing in the middle. Most of the service is translated from Kikaonde into English, so I understand most of it. Each week, one guy is chosen to lead the service. Whoever is chosen starts the congregational songs, gives announcements, and invariably has a huge booming voice. Most Zambians have voluminous voices, but these guys stand out for their lack of need of a microphone.

My favorite part is the choirs, particularly the combined men and women’s choir. There are about 25 of them. Each song starts with everyone doing a little dance step, and only after everyone is in on the chosen step does the first note sounds. I think most Americans have some idea in their minds of how an African choir sounds. If your idea would somewhere contain the phrase "joyous and powerful wall of harmony", then you are likely not far off of the Mukinge joint choir.

There is usually a man on the left side who's a little out of step with everyone else. In fact, he's really doing a totally different little dance, but the joy with which he undertakes it makes you wonder if it's not everyone else who is doing the wrong step. On the opposite end, there's another guy, not too tall and wearing glasses, who is in step with everyone else, but he stands out because his smile is bigger and his dance more vigorous than anyone else's. The women form the front row and the middle of the choir. Most all the choir members are younger, with a few that could be in their late 30's, and one lady in a white head covering whose toothless grin betrays her as notably older than anyone else in the choir. She stands behind the front row, slightly to the left, and though her movements don't have quite the vigor of the others (and nothing near the guy with the glasses), her arms know all the movements, and her mouth shows that she never misses a word.

I've heard Zambia's HIV infection prevalence quoted at 20-25% of the population, which is the 5th highest of any nation. I think about this as I watch the choir, as they revel in the power of their own beautiful music. It rarely strikes me to consider this fact when I'm meeting one individual Zambian (that is, unless in a medical context), but sometimes in the midst of a group, I look out across the bunch of them and think "certainly, 20% of the people I see don't have a lethal virus running through their veins." I notice that it's not just the choir which is quite young. I was told last week that the average life expectancy of a Zambian is in their early thirties. It would seem that there is an obvious reason why there is only one lady in the choir who has lived long enough to loose her teeth.

I have spent 3 weeks here on the Pediatrics wards, and almost 2 on the adult wards. I've seen HIV in both of these places. With the kids, it's usually a child who looks half as old as they are, who has never really known a period of wellness in their entire life. And even with all the resources of the hospital behind them, they probably won't ever know a period of wellness, either. With the adults, the patients waste away more and more, with chronic diarrhea from cryptosporidium and bloody coughing from tuberculosis, holding a desperate hope that they might get included in one of the nation's fledging AIDS medication programs. The diagnosis is more common than high blood pressure in the US, but carries with it a most terrible prognosis and a temptation towards despair for treatment, because you know they will never get anywhere near healthy again.

And so watching my church choir is a source of sorrow and of joy. Sorrow in thinking that so many of these people are going to be so very sick. Joy because I get to see how their lives can be full of life, light, and music.

#3: Epilogue

Five weeks ago today I came back to the states, and now I'm looking out the second story window of my Michigan apartment, starting at the snow. I don't know that any of the Zambians I met at Mukinge Hospital have ever seen snow. I wonder how many have ever looked out a second-story window.

Certainly it's worlds apart. I've been back in the University Hospital here, and I've watched a whole section of the cafeteria fill with young surgeons at lunchtime and thought of all the times in Zambia we needed a surgeon so desperately, but couldn't find one. Here, meds come in by the truckload and pharmaceutical companies market to the patients on TV. There, cancer pain patients at times had nothing more that Tylenol to soothe the agony of their excruciating tumors, and I remember riding the cramped public bus back from the provincial capital eight hours away, carrying four precious vials of insulin, because the hospital was about to run out. I've started to notice just how many electrical cords are required to run a Sunday morning worship service here. A Zambian bible college student told me that his church used to have a guitar for worship, but a string broke, and they can't get a replacement. But then, their rich harmonies hardly need accompaniment to make beautiful worship.

For all the ways in which it really is worlds apart, there were some surprising similarities, too. The reaction of the American inpatient psychiatry patients to the Halloween party the nursing students gave them bore a curiously strong resemblance to the afternoon when a missionary came and blew up balloon animals for the Zambian pediatrics ward. And though it exists on different levels, a trip to the hospital for an average Zambian or American is still a jump into a mysterious system, where the patient knows that what is happening is vital to him or her, but is still struggling to really comprehend it. Thus, there is always some trepidation in the process and some comfort to be found in friends and family to talk it over with.

And of course, I'm not quite the same. The biggest joy and struggle from this trip is to try and integrate the experience into life here. The swift pace of the holiday rush would gladly have me just step back into life like nothing's changed, but there are treasures from my time in Zambia that would be lost if I let it. So I guess writing this little reflection piece is worthwhile for me. At the end of the day, I like to drive home through Ann Arbor in the quiet and imagine some of my Zambian friends looking out the window next to me. I think they would compliment a lot of little things I would take for granted. I think they would marvel at the paved roads and the neon signs. And the snow, of course. And I suspect that all these observations would lead to some interesting conversations about money, happiness, justice, and the love of God. Before I went Zambia, I probably would have been just listening to the radio.

3.5.07

Waves and Breakers

recording finished in 2009


all songs by Eric McLaughlin, except the guitar lick on "Waves and Breakers" by Isaac Meek, a very long time ago.

"When You've Gone Away" engineered by Joseph Bamber, with lead guitar by Trevor Mathieson

Songs put into order by Rachel

1. Traveling Mercies (2005) - written in Zambia, remembering the fun of running around Turkey with Rachel. There's a lovely inside joke in there.
2. Before We Have Given (2009)- the first night Maggie came home from the hospital, she cried for 5 hours, and I realized we all live by grace.
3. Ribbon Road (2007)- another traveling song for Rachel
4. Turning Point (2008)- much of who we are is formed gradually and realized retrospectively, but the moments when you know its happening right then can be intense.
5. Sacred Head (2005)- written in Zambia about a victim of horrific domestic violence
6. Deepest Parts (2004)- just a persistent prayer
7. Aria (2006)- a wedding song for our friends Adam and Kelly
8. Gravity Can Find Voice (2006)- songwriting: the perfect excuse to talk about matters deemed too serious for everyday conversation
9. When You've Gone Away (2005)- written in the middle of observing a surgery, for Rachel, while she was in Africa
10. Until She Does (2003)- Autumn's painting again...
11. Jacob's Ladder Down (2006)- thanks to Chuck Jacob for this idea
12. Waves and Breakers (2009)- it's a crazy thing to try and follow God

Six Years Being Remembered

Recorded 2003

all songs by Eric McLaughlin

All tracks produced by Jeff Bourque, except tracks 3 and 8, produced by Ryan Pryor

Other musicians:
-Jeff Bourque: BGVs on 2,6,9, hammered dulcimer on 1, guitar on 4, mandolin on 5, percussion on 6, 9
-David Ray: Percussion on 1, 2, 10
-Jason Harris: Bass on 8
-David May: Electric guitar on 8
-Josh Cellan: Drums on 8

1. Whiter Snow (2000)- inspired by the slight snows of Tennessee
2. Curling (2001)- of train rides in Scottish hillsides
3. Queen of Flight (1998)- God brings wings
4. Ravensbruck (2003)- Corrie ten Boom and sacrifice at a level that scares me
5. The Peacemaker Himself Fashions a Fit (2001)- for Clayton and Teresa's wedding
6. Still Remembered (2003)- from hopeful people-watching, mostly as a camp counselor
7. The Charis Hills (2002)- even more beautiful from farther away
8. Morning's Brightest Path (1999)- my rock-star debut (and retirement)
9. All I've Seen (1997)- a song from when I was 16
10. End of the Day (2003)- of the subtle moment right before sleep, when everything comes clear

Downloading Eric Songs

These are free.  Free means free, but if you want, you can make a donation to our work here.


Now and Then: Kenyan Recordings
2011 (lyric book - 0.9MB; lyric book no images - 0.5MB)
click to download

1. Now and Then
2. Laying Stones
3. Peace That Passes
4. Sarah's Song (Lit by Starlight)
5. Song of the King
6. Time Blesses the Journey
7. Ordinary Day
8. Swift and Piercing Terrible
9. We Will Rise
10. Wisdom
11. What I've Been Looking For
12. Lullaby

Waves and Breakers
1. Traveling Mercies
2. Before We Have Given
3. Ribbon Road
4. Turning Point
5. Sacred Head
6. Deepest Parts
7. Aria
8. Gravity Can Find Voice
9. When You've Gone Away
10. Until She Does
11. Jacob's Ladder Down
12. Waves and Breakers



Six Years Being Remembered
2003 (liner notes)

1. Whiter Snow
2. Curling
3. Queen of Flight
4. Ravensbruck
5. The Peacemaker Himself Fashions a Fit
6. Still Remembered
7. The Charis Hills
8. Morning's Brightest Path
9. All I've Seen
10. End of the Day

C-Sides
2001-2009 (compiled 2013) (liner notes)
click to download

1. Shot Through
2. Lalibela
3. Lady of the Wood
4. For As He Gives
5. I Just Want To Cover My Eyes
6. Sky and Soul
7. The Years of Man
8. Being Known
9. Rings True
10. Of the Father's Love Begotten
These are all MP3 files that you could burn to a CD, or they'll play on any MP3 player (iPod etc)

Signs We Love

Because they make us, cry, or confounded, here are our favorite signs.
Africa is full of great signs.

Silobwet, Kenya

In Payson, AZ, cows always make a cabaret.

Kasempa, Zambia. There were a lot of awesome signs but I don't have the pictures.

All over CO and NM. I never thought the existence of gusty winds was in question.

Outside Flagstaff, AZ. Do people really bring their pet coyotes?

1.5.07

As if you didn't have enough to do...

A list of recommended books, some I love, some I was transformed by, some just made me uncomfortable (in a fruitful way, of course).  See also our McCropder list of Media That Informs Us.

Nonfiction:
The Bible: it must be said. Particularly favorite parts, both from a theology as well as literary standpoint include Psalm 107, the Gospel of John, and the book of Hebrews.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom: amazing story of hope and sacrifice during WWII.
A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken: a beautiful story of love and loss.
Most all of CS Lewis' work: especially Miracles, The Weight of Glory and Mere Christianity.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard: a rich and honest look at what we can really learn from nature.
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller: Loved for simply being able to resonate so much with the content and the style.
The Reason for God, by Tim Keller: The best modern collection of Christian apologetics, full of sensitivity and clarity
Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner: I wish I could quote this whole book.
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright: A very useful paradigm shift for the work we do.
A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry

Fiction:

The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy: or any other of his novels. This opened me up to a whole new world of literature.
Godric, by Frederick Buechner: Maybe the single most artful story I've ever read.
The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
Narnia, Till We Have Faces, The Great Divorce, and the Space Trilogy, by CS Lewis: yes, this is pretty much all his major fiction. But it's so good.
The Pendragon Cycle, by Stephen Lawhead: Arthurian legend at its best, oddly enough by an American. I also recommend the stand-alone novel Byzantium.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: what a crazy fun book.
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling: Rarely, if ever, was such a long story ever put together so completely and satisfyingly.
Wit, by Margaret Edson: an amazing Pulitzer-winning play from the 90's about medicine, death, and John Donne.
The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency Series, by Alexander McCall Smith: wonderful stories we always recommend, mostly because of their charm and an uncanny depiction of everyday African life.
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr. Animal Farm meets Tolkien
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot Stories
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene


Wind and the Willows, by Graham Greene
Matilda, by Roald Dahl
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman: it does not get more recreational than this.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle: the whole series
Any Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A.A. Milne
A House Is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick


Top "Ten" Snapshots

Maybe more than 10...

Outside Dubai, UAE

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey


Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI


Tamarindo, Costa Rica


Pikes Peak, CO


Arenal, Costa Rica


Our street in an ice storm, Ypsilanti, MI


Eric's Uncle Tim's Cabin, Hayward, WI


Swaziland


Washington DC Cherry Blossoms


Underground Roman Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Indian Ocean, Mombasa, Kenya

Maasai Mara, Kenya

International Travel Log

International travels (and, to a lesser extent, maps in and of themselves) being a great love of ours, we thought we'd post a map with our international travels.


History:

E: 2/15: DR Congo for mobile eye surgery camp
ER: 12/14: Family vacation to Rwanda
ER: 5/14: Conference in Greece
ER: 8/13: Move to Burundi, via 1 month stay at Tenwek, Kenya
ER: 9/12-7/13: Move to Albertville, France, with trips to Switzerland, Italy, and Spain
E: 7/11: Uganda
ER: 9/10: Zanzibar, Tanzania and Burundi
ER: 12/09: Move to Tenwek, Kenya
ER: 8/08: Vacation to Montreal and Quebec City
ER: 8-9/07: Malumghat Hospital, Bangladesh, and brief UAE holiday
ER: 2/07: Cruise to Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Sint Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados.
ER: 1/06: Honeymoon to Costa Rica
ER: 10/05: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany (vacation)
E: 8-10/05: Zambia, Botswana at Mukinge Mission Hospital, side trip to Oxford
ER: 5/05: Turkey (vacation), first int'l trip together
R: 1-3/05: Swaziland, SA at Nazarene Hospital, briefly in UK
E: 2/04: Honduras at Loma de Luz Hospital
E: 5-6/03: Hungary, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Croatia with SOZO Music festival
R: 6-8/02: Cambodia with medical work, also side trip to Thailand
E: 5-7/02: Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania with SOZO Music festival
E: 5-6/01: UK, Ireland (study abroad and vacation)
R: 1/01: All over New Zealand and brief trip to Australia (vacation)
R: 1/99: UK, France, Italy (Study abroad)
E: 5-6/94: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, the Azores (family vacation)

A detail of Europe:

Eric's remaining states:

Rachel's remaining states (none as of June 2012):

Maggie's Remaining states:


Ben's Remaining states (currently the same as our travels during 2011-12):

Toby's Remaining States:

Some Favorite Recipes

A collection of some yummy recipes that we've discovered over the years:


Contents:
  1. Samosa Recipe (link)
  2. Liquid flavored coffee creamers
  3. Chinese dumplings from scratch
  4. Sharon's Oatmeal Bread
  5. No-Bake Cookies

Homemade samosas: Go here.

Homemade liquid coffee creamers: Credit for the base is from this link.
Our created flavors (added to the base in the link of 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 1.5c whole milk): Note the exotic naming which is essential to all coffee creamer success

Bavarian Gingerbread:
2 tbs molasses
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mint Chocolate Truffle:
1 tsp peppermint extract
2 tsp cocoa

Norman Rockwell's Pumpkin Pie:
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Chinese Dumplings from Scratch:
Dumpling Dough: 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup boiling water
Filling: ½ lb pork, 3-4c cabbage (finely diced), 1/4c green onion, 1T cornstarch, 2T soy sauce, 1T sesame oil

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix all filling ingredients.

In a bowl, mix the flour and 1 cup boiling water until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly flour surface about 5 minutes, or until smooth. (N.B. needed more water than prescribed)

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a roll 12 inches long and cut each roll into 1/2-inch slices.

Roll 1 slice of dough into a 3-inch circle and place 1 tablespoon pork mixture in the center of the circle. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch 5 pleats up to create a pouch to encase the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining slices of dough and filling.

Heat a wok or nonstick skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, tilting the wok to coat the sides. If using a nonstick skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place 12 dumplings in a single layer in the wok and fry 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. (N.B. the more oil, the less chance of destroying precious dumpling architecture.)

Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce of soy sauce with dollop of sesame oil.

Mom's Oatmeal Bread

2 packages of yeast,

1 1/4c. warm water,

1 1/4c. warm milk

MIX the above three until dissolved

ADD:

1/2c. honey, 2T. veg oil, 2c. of QUICK oats, 6c. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2c brown sugar

Knead a tiny bit, and divide into 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-60 minutes.


No-Bake Cookies

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/2 cup margarine

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 3 cups quick cooking oats

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a saucepan bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, milk, and salt to a rapid boil for 1 minute.

  2. Add quick cooking oats, peanut butter, and vanilla; mix well.

  3. Working quickly, drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, and let cool.

Our Lists

Yes, we love making lists. Here's a running tally:

Our personal Seven Wonders of the World (our goal: visit them all someday):
1. The Grand Canyon - Arizona, USA (the only one we've both been too)
2. The Great Pyramids - Egypt
3. The Great Barrier Reef - Australia
4. The Great Wall of China - the last of the "great" ones
5. Migration of the Serengeti - Tanzania and Kenya
6. Machu Picchu - Peru
7. One of the following 3 waterfalls:
--A. Victoria Falls - Zambia and Zimbabwe (which Eric has seen)
--B. Angel Falls - Venezuela
--C. Iguazu Falls - Brazil and Argentina

Not really a list, but there is a separate travel goal of visiting all 7 continents (Eric's dad Tim is in on this one):
1. North America: enough said
2. Europe: Rachel and Eric conquered this in college, Tim conquered it before they were born.
3. Asia: Tim in the Navy, Rachel in Cambodia and Thailand. Eric and Rachel in Bangladesh and Turkey.
4. Africa: Eric in Zambia, Rachel in Swaziland, and hopefully Tim will get there this next year or two.
5. South America: Tim has been to Peru, Rachel and Eric plan to visit this coming fall.
6. Australia: Tim and Rachel have toured New Zealand, so the master plan will be for all three of us to meet there and strike out for...
7. Antarctica: where Tim has graciously allowed Rachel the privelege of getting off the boat from New Zealand first.

States left to visit:
1. Rachel: Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana
2. Eric: Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina

2008 New Years Resolution #1:
- Ethnic Bread of the Month
1. January: Naan
2. February: Pita
3. March: Flour Tortilla
4. April: Nigerian Black-eyed pea fritters failed, and then Irish Soda Bread
5. May: Turkish Black olive and olive oil bread
6. June: New Yorker's No-Knead bread
7. July: Focaccia
8. August: French Bread Rolls
9. September: Hungarian Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Kalacs)
10. October: Choreg (Armenian Easter Bread)
11. November: English Muffins
12. December: Cinnamon Raisin and Walnut

2008 New Years Resolution #2:
- Walk to a Local Restaurant of the Month
1. January: Pita Pita: Average middle eastern cuisine
2. February: La Fiesta Mexicana: Great atmosphere and seemingly quite authentic food, but I still missed the chips and salsa.
3. March: Dalat Vietnamese: very tasty, I hope they stay open a long time.
4. April: Garam Japanese/Korean: Mmm, inexpensive Bibimbap.
5. May: Ugly Mug Cafe: very yummy lattes
6. June: Aubrey's Tavern in Depot Town: famous pizza for a reason
7. July: Corner Brewery: Tally Whacker and Blonde beer.
8. August: Thai Thai: quite nice, though we always order the same things at Thai restaurants.
9. September: Cafe Luwak: voted best sandwiches in greater Detroit.
10. October: Haab's: old family restaurant with root beer on tap!
11. November: Taquiera la Loma: Tasty and very very empty
12. December: Tower Inn


1. Trader Joe's and other international grocery stores
2. The Intelligentsia community
3. Things in Walking Distance
4. Eunice gatherings
5. The Arb
6. Plethora of Restaurants
7. Washtenaw Dairy
8. The AATA Bus System
9. Birthday Deals
10. The Briarwood Dollar Theater

Quotables

Ongoing list of some favorite quotes:

"Like all great commitments, love operates simultaneously on two different levels:  the level of gritty reality and the level of transcendent magic." - David Brooks

"People with vocations don't ask:  What do I want from life?  They ask: What is life demanding me to do?  What gap is there in my specific circumstances around me that demands my skill set?  It's not found by looking inside you for your passion.  People have studied this.  Eighty percent of you don't have a passion.  It's found by looking outward, by being sensitive to a void and need, and then answering the chance to be of use."  - David Brooks

"We cannot cultivate health by magnifying our anxieties to the point that they obscure the value of the gifts he's given." - Matthew Loftus

"The sign of a good society is the level and number of things acknowledged to be beyond market values - and thus appreciated for their own sake and not for extrinsic, especially financial, rewards." - Os Guinness

"And I, through woods and fields, through fallen days
Am passing to where I belong:
At home, at ease, and well,
In Sabbaths of this place
Almost invisible,
Toward which I go from song to song." - Wendell Berry

"Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away." - Wendell Berry

"[For the cynic,] the vitality of the old is pathetic; the exuberance of the young is immature; the steadiness of the middle-aged is boredom.  And yet, even for the most disillusioned cynic, an aching longing remains for something true, good, or beautiful." - Brennan Manning

"Suppose for a moment that in a flash of insight you discovered that all your motives for ministry were essentially egocentric, or suppose that last night you got drunk and committed adultery, or suppose that you failed to respond to a cry for help and the person committed suicide.  What would you do?  Would guilt, self-condemnation, and self-hatred consume you, or would you jump into the water and swim a hundred yards at breakneck speed toward Jesus?  Haunted by feelings of unworthiness, would you allow the darkness to overcome you or would you let Jesus be who He is - A Savior of boundless compassion and infinite patience, a Lover who keeps no score of our wrongs? - Brennan Manning

"It is a beautiful night out - a good strong moon, stars, a beautiful black sky, and Wichita all lit up under it.  I listened to "Adagio for strings" tonight.  It is a beautiful sound, and...maybe I will someday write something as beautiful as "Adagio," something as beautiful as this night.  And if I had a child, I'd tell him to let these things speak to him as I cannot speak, and to see in them what cannot yet be seen in himself, and know that a day is coming when the night will envy his beauty and when "Adagio" will sound like a theory assignment compared to the sound that he will be - one vibrant, shimmering answer that silences the noise of proud skepticism." - Rich Mullins (1955-1997)


"Doctor, without your wounds, where would your power be?  It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women.  The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children of this earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living.  In love's service only wounded soldiers can serve." - Thorton Wilder's An Angel That Troubled the Waters

"That anyone at all in the world would set their sad heart and tired hands to the work of wreaking beauty out of chaos is a monument to Grace." - Andrew Peterson

"We actually love ourselves more than we love joy." - G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

"He says he is fleeing from his street because it is dull; he is lying. He is really fleeing from his street because it is a great deal too exciting. It is exciting because it is exacting; it is exacting because it is alive. He can visit Venice be cause to him the Venetians are only Venetians; the people in his own street are men." - G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it's like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." - Frederick Buechner (1926-)

On Theology: "Theology is the study of God and his ways. For all we know, dung beetles may study us and our ways and call it humanology. If so, we would probably be more touched and amused than irritated. On hopes that God feels likewise." - Frederick Buechner (1926-)

On Ugliness: "Who knows to what extent their ugliness has led them too to be despised and rejected and to despise and reject themselves? Who knows whether their acquaintance with grief will open their hearts also to the grieving of others or whether it will turn their hearts to stone? But for the sake of the one who bore it before they did, we are to honor them for the sanctity of their burden. For his sake, we are called to see their terrible beauty." - Frederick Buechner (1926-)

On Prayer: "What about when the boy is not healed? When, listened to or not listened to, the prayer goes unanswered? Who knows? Just keep praying, Jesus says. Remember the sleepy friend, the crooked judge. Even if the boy dies, keep on beating the path to God's door, because the one thing you can be sure of is that down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer the God you call upon will finally come, and even if he does not bring you the answer you want, he will bring you himself. And maybe at the secret heart of all our prayers that is what we are really praying for." - Frederick Buechner (1926-)

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
-Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

"Food is the daily sacrament of unnecessary goodness, ordained for a continual remembrance that the world will always be more delicious than it is useful." - Robert Capon (1925-)

"Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; world's wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood,
immortal diamond
Is immortal diamond."
-Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

"Eternal light shine on our hearts
Eternal goodness deliver us from evil
Eternal power be our support
Eternal wisdom scatter the darkness of our ignorance.

Eternal pity have mercy on us
That with all our heart and mind
and soul and strength we may seek thy face
and be brought by thine infinite mercy
to thy holy presence."
-Alcuin of York (c.735-804)

"It’s when you no longer know where your milk comes from, let alone where you got your opinions, that you have become over-urbanized." - David Warren

"This is the end - but for me, the beginning - of life." Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) on the day of his execution by the Nazi regime

"A moral problem cannot be solved with a technical solution." - John Patrick (1940-)

"The world is looking for those who have scars where they have wounds." - Steve Saint (1951-)

"A silver coin rings down that well,
you could never spend too much.
A diamond echoes deeper still,
and you'll always have what you gave to love."
- David Wilcox (1958-)

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." - Eric Liddell (1902-1945) in Chariots of Fire (1981)

"I will be...kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me." - Max Lucado (1955-)

"Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a shortcut to the nearest chemist's shop... 'Believe this, not because it's true, but for some other reason.' That's the game." - CS Lewis (1898-1963) from The Screwtape Letters

"So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth-reaching to the Fruit, she plucked, she eat.
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost." - John Milton (1608-1674) Paradise Lost

"When we were little, we gave ourselves over to faith. Now we are big, and too heavy to rise above our own understanding." - Rich Mullins (1955-1997)

"Innocence...we never got to say goodbye. But the glory of redemption is the wisdom that we find has taken its place." - Andrew Osenga (1979-)

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. -Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... then you see it!
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores... and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn't. -Return of the King (1955)

"The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature effects a cure." - Voltaire (1694-1778)

"A humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning" - Thomas a Kempis (c1380-1471)

"Humanity is fickle. They may dress for a morning coronation and never feel the need to change clothes for an execution in the afternoon. So Triumphal Sundays and Good Fridays always fit comfortably into the same April week." - Calvin Miller

"There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul." - Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

"Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful." - Dr. G. Venkataswamy (1918-)

"Love is an earthquake that relocates the center of the universe." - Mike Mason

"There is always realistic hope in the Lord Jesus Christ." - April Perry

"Hate was just a failure of imagination." - Graham Greene (1904-1991)

"He who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom." - JRR Tolkien (1892-1973)

"Some seek knowledge for
The sake of knowledge:
That is curiosity;
Others seek knowledge so that
They themselves may be known:
That is vanity;
But there are still others
Who seek knowledge in
Order to serve and edify others;
And that is love."
-Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspections proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours." - CS Lewis (1898-1963) from "The Weight of Glory"

"'You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,' said Aslan. 'And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.'" - CS Lewis (1898-1963) from "Prince Caspian"

"Everyone must give an account to God for every good thing he saw in life and did not enjoy." - Talmud
"He is no fool who loses that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot (1927-1956)

"Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need." - Frederick Buechner (1926-)

"If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love." - Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

"Whoever takes up medicine should seriously consider the following points: firstly, that he must one day render to the Supreme Judge an account of the lives of those sick men who have been entrusted to his care. Secondly, that such skill and science as, by the blessing of Almighty God, he has attained, are to be specially directed toward the honour of his Maker, and the welfare of his fellow-creatures; since it is a base thing for the great gifts of Heaven to become the servants of avarice and ambition. Thirdly, he must remember that it is no mean or ignoble animal that he deals with. We may ascertain the worth of the human race, since for its sake God’s Only-begotten Son became man, and thereby ennobled the nature that he took upon him. Lastly, he must remember that he himself hath no exemption from the common lot, but that he is bound by the same laws of mortality, and liable to the same ailments and afflictions with his fellows. For these and like reasons let him strive to render aid to the distressed with the greater care, with the kindlier spirit, and with the stronger fellow-feeling." - Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689)

The State Race

Race of the ages:

Eric's remaining states:


Rachel's remaining states: