Friday, May 29, 2009

The American Patriot’s Bible edited by Richard G. Lee

This beautifully-created version of the New King James translation would make a great study Bible for any student of United States history. Its presentation and family record pages would also make it useful as a family devotional Bible. This Bible contains many features that teach the reader the spiritual significance of key events in United States history.

I was very impressed with the historical scholarship as well as the spiritual application that the editor brought to this work. This Bible contains all the standard study features of a NKJV Bible such as notes, concordance, and Bible maps. The meat of this special edition, however, is in the thematic introductions to the 66 books, the 254 articles, and the 12 sections that delve deeply into how the teachings of the Bible are connected to U.S. history. These in-depth studies are enlightening, but it’s also fun to read the shorter notes that are scattered though out--to learn interesting things such as how the prophet Malachi influenced Hamilton’s writing of the Federalist Papers and on which verses U.S. presidents chose to place their hands while taking the oath of office.

In so profound a work of scholarship (not to mention that this is indeed a Bible), I feel shallow commenting on one of my favorite things about this edition . . . but it is graphically very beautiful. The 48 full-color insert pages are gorgeous and the large typeface as well as the two-color treatment throughout the rest of the book makes it particularly enjoyable to read.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for allowing me to review this study edition of the Bible. I am a member of their book review blogger program.

A You Tube video featuring The American Patriot's Bible

The American Patriot's Bible (NKJV): The Word of God and the Shaping of America | Bible | Thomas Nelson | Publisher of Christian Products

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Power of a Sincere Compliment

Shortly after Christmas, someone on Ravelry started a forum thread titled, "What is the best compliment you ever received as a knitter?" Over a hundred responses quickly followed. Some of the compliments were received during the recent gift-giving season, but many were years or even decades old, yet still fresh and sweet in the minds of the knitters.

I smiled, cried, and laughed out loud at the poignant range of expressions that had touched these knitters' hearts. Here are some of my favorites:

The woman who had spent all year knitting hats for each family member and said she would never forget the feeling of seeing her loved ones all sitting around the Christmas dinner table still wearing their hats while they ate.

The hilarious mother who asks for one of everything her daughter makes. She has even tricked her by requesting socks for the "pregnant daughter of a friend" and then kept them for herself. Gotta love her.

The woman who is happy (and hopeful) because her estranged sister still requests hand knits for her children at Christmas.

The young woman whose little sister texts her every time she wears the hoodie she knit for her--telling her how much she likes it. She said it brings tears to her eyes each time.

The woman whose grandmother was a master knitter who didn't give compliments freely. When her grandmother moved into a nursing him, she acquired her stash and knitted her a lap blanket from it. The grandmother didn't ooh and ahh over it, but held it up, glared at it, and critiqued it. When she was done, she told her granddaughter that she had a gift and that she was proud of her.

The girl whose little brother only said "thanks" when she gave him a hat, but never takes it off--even indoors, and calls her a knitting ninja to his friends.

The woman who, after her father passed away, found the gloves she had knit for him more than 15 years prior. They barely had a thread of the original brown wool left in them. He had been patching them with different little bits of yarn for 15 winters.

My favorite compliment that I've ever received as a knitter came from my daughter Anna--even though she called the wool and silk scarf I made for her “an insult.”

I was about a week late finishing her Christmas present and so when I finally sent the scarf, I included a note requesting admission to a fictional club that she and her husband used to joke about belonging to when they were in college. It was called the “Slackass Losers Club.” Here’s Anna's thank you email . . .

From: Admissions Committee, SAL
Re: Application
Status: Denied

Dear Ms. Layton:
We appreciate your interest in SlackAss Losers. We accept a limited number of new memberships each year, and these are reserved exclusively for slackass losers. Your Christmas present's belated arrival does not qualify you for membership. Exquisitely crafted, hand knit gifts (especially beautifully designed scarves that cause the recipient to Oooh and Ahhh for hours after opening, and wear around the house despite the temperature being in the 70s) are an insult to everything we stand for at SAL. Please refrain from re-applying to SAL in the future.

Membership Services

I wasn't the only one who loved Anna's response. My post received more "love" and "funny" clicks than any other post on the thread!

Here's another knitting compliment that I really like. This poetic thank-you was given to Mara Mori for the socks she knit for the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

    by Pablo Neruda (translated by Robert Bly)

  • Mara Mori brought me
    a pair of socks
    which she knitted herself
    with her sheepherder's hands,
    two socks as soft as rabbits.
    I slipped my feet into them
    as though into two cases
    knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin.

    Violent socks,
    my feet were two fish made of wool,
    two long sharks,
    sea blue, shot through
    by one golden thread,
    two immense blackbirds,
    two cannons,
    my feet were honored in this way
    by these heavenly socks.

    They were so handsome for the first time
    my feet seemed to me unacceptable
    like two decrepit firemen
    firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
    of these glowing socks.

    Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
    to save them somewhere as schoolboys
    keep fireflies,
    as learned men collect sacred texts,
    I resisted the mad impulse to put them
    in a golden cage and each day give them
    birdseed and pieces of pink melon.

    Like explorers in the jungle
    who hand over the very rare green deer
    to the spit and eat it with remorse,
    I stretched out my feet and pulled on
    the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

    The moral of my ode is this:
    beauty is twice beauty,
    and what is good is doubly good
    when it is a matter of two socks
    made of wool in winter.
And, if I might add a thought to this beautiful ode . . . Beauty is also "twice beauty" when appreciated.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

$1 Sun Dress for Allie

Since Emily Post considers it poor manners to let slip what you spent on a gift, I'm guessing it's a major faux pas to actually blog about it. But Anna will like the dress I knit for Allie even more when she learns how little I spent on it. She's weird like that.

Like our hip, green friend who could have any wedding dress she wanted, but found a classic "Jackie O" gown at Goodwill for $20. A clerk saw how amazing she looked in it and how excited she was and reminded her, "Honey, you don't have to tell anyone how little you spent."

She replied, "Are you kidding! That's the best part! I'm going to tell everyone!"

So, without admitting to be cheap (only environmentally conscious and hip) here's how I knit Allie a cotton sun dress as well as a bear with a matching dress--all for about a dollar. But first, isn't Allie darling!

I started with an XL women's 100% cotton sweater that I found at a thrift store for $3. I'm glad the soft green color worked for this project because you can't dye cotton with food-grade dyes.

I unraveled it and have enough yarn left over for at least three more dresses. I'm knitting one for Bella now.

I made the bear from an XXL men's 100% wool sweater from Goodwill for $3.75. The bear used only a fraction of the yarn from this big sweater. This wool can easily be dyed for socks, hats, fingerless gloves, or more bears. (Princess has excellent taste in fibers.)

I embroidered the daisies with the pricey Cotton Rich that Bobbie gave me on Valentine's Day. I messaged a fellow Ravelry member who had white Cotton Rich in her stash and we made an even trade--some of my lemon for her white. Cost was only postage--about $1.

You know you have an expensive hobby when suppliers use in-your-face marketing blurbs like, "And you thought college was expensive." (I saw that in a Vogue Knitting ad the other day.)

The nicest yarns are definitely worth it, though. It only makes sense to work with the best yarns you can because of the time invested in projects. But when nice yarns can be harvested from high quality garments, that's cool too! More money saved for airfare to see Allie!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In the Footsteps of Paul by Ken Duncan

I won't read the book of Acts the same way again. Thanks to Ken Duncan, Saint Paul now seems real. Maybe not like “Yo, Bro, what up with thee?” but definitely a flesh and bones man.

In the Footsteps of Paul wasn’t what I expected, and even though the amazing photographs engaged me, I felt a little disappointed . . . but only at first.

I was expecting a more linear representation of Paul’s travels, perhaps a small map on each page with text like, “Paul stayed here for three months, wrote to the Galatians, and then sailed away to. . . .” Something concrete to help me make peace with those Bible maps I attempted to entertain myself with during sermons when I was ten.

Whoa! What was I thinking! After reading this gorgeous book, I see that my original concept is probably impossible and quickly would have become tedious.

Now that I’ve told you what this book isn’t, let me tell you what it is! It is a collection of absolutely stunning photographs of cities Paul visited, objects and landmarks he may have seen, and historic art through the centuries. The variety of photographs was masterful and didn’t become tiring. Modern cities, ancient landscapes, recreations of objects like the basket Paul rappelled in, mosaics and more kept me guessing and provided a fascinating mix.

Each page shows a related quote from the New Testament. I love the way these verses contain highlighted words that give emphasis to the struggles and triumphs that Paul experienced in each location. Words like expelled, persecution and filled with joy. Yep, all from the same verse.

Many pages also include a quote about Paul from notable Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis, and Beth Moore. Such a varied collection of folks and yet the bond of brotherhood weaves their thoughts together seamlessly.

And that’s another thing I liked about this book--all of its elements flow together so well. People, places, things, quotations, and works of art spanning twenty centuries--and yet it forms a cohesive, beautiful thing. The result is not only an enriching river of information and inspiration about this esteemed apostle, but a greater picture of God’s power and grace to work in the lives of all of us fleshy, boney people.

The editor in me can’t help but note that the page numbers for the acknowledgments were incorrect. And, I would have liked for the maps to have been more accessibly placed in the back of the book.

This is a beautiful book that didn’t meet my expectations, but far exceeded them. Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for allowing me to review it. I am a member of their book review blogger program.