Tuesday, April 29, 2014

the peonies are getting ready to break my heart

Dear Friend,

Lately I've been getting to know the poetry of Mary Oliver. I'm really enjoying what I've found so far.

Today I was very excited to discover she wrote a poem about my favorite flower!

by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready

   to break my heart
     as the sun rises,
        as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open--

   pools of lace,
      white and pink--
       and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes

    into the curls,
      craving the sweet sap,
        taking it away

to their dark, underground cities--

   and all day
      under the shifty wind,
       as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
   and tip their fragrance to the air,
     and rise,
       their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness

    gladly and lightly,
      and there it is again--
        beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
    Do you love this world?
      Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
       Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,

   and softly,
      and exclaiming of their dearness,
       fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
    their eagerness
      to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
        nothing, forever?

From New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press) 

And to answer, I would say -- Yes. Yes, I do.

Taking pictures of my flowers before they become "nothing forever" helps ease the loss.  

My peonies will be blooming soon!

Peace & Joy,


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Night Vlog: To Calm and Restore Your Spirit

Dear Friend,
I had another opportunity to create another video for you last night. I hope this passage will help to calm and restore your spirit for the week ahead.   
Pride imitates what is lofty; but you alone are God most high above all things. What does ambition seek but honor and glory? Yet you alone are worthy of honor and are glorious for eternity. The cruelty of powerful people aims to arouse fear. Who is to be feared but God alone? What can be seized or stolen from his power? When or where or how or by whom? Soft endearments are intended to arouse love. But there are no caresses tenderer than you charity, and no object of love is more healthy than your truth, beautiful and luminous beyond all things. Curiosity appears to be a zeal for knowledge; yet you supremely know all. Ignorance and stupidity are given the names of simplicity and innocence; but there is no greater simplicity than in you. And what greater innocence than yours, whereas to evil men their own works are damaging? Idleness appears as desire for a quiet life; yet can rest be assured apart from the Lord? Luxury wants to be called abundance and satiety; but you are fullness and the inexhaustible treasure of incorruptible pleasure. Prodigality presents itself under the shadow of generosity; but you are the rich bestower of all good things. Avarice wishes to have large possessions; you possess everything. Envy contends about excellence; but what is more excellent than you? Anger seeks revenge; who avenges with greater justice than you? Fear quails before sudden and unexpected events attacking things which are loved, and takes precautions for their safety; to you is anything unexpected or sudden? Or who can take away from you what you love? There is no reliable security except with you. Regret wastes away for the loss of things which cupidity delighted in. Its wish would be that nothing be taken away, just as nothing can be taken from you.
Confessions of St. Augustine Book II, (14)

Peace & Joy,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Eleven Second Vlog (Very Serious and Intelligent, Of Course)

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I published my first vlog-post.

Here's a quick peek behind the scenes at Take 3:

Hope you're having a great weekend!



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vlog: A Reading from Gulliver's Travels

Dear Friend,

I like to read aloud, so I've made a short video for you.

How embarrassing! But also fun.

Why in the world did I pick this particular passage? Just tonight I was telling my oldest two kids not to talk about such things on social media!

Oh well. :-)



Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Little Celebration: Liebster Award

Dear Friend,

Ruth at A Great Book Study has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much, Ruth! I love your wise insights about the classics and life and I'm grateful for your friendship and encouragement. 
The Liebster Award is a way of spreading the word about blogs in the vast community of book bloggers. It's somewhat like a chain letter or a slam book, but a lot more fun.
The Rules:
*Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog.
*Display the award somewhere on your blog.
*List 11 facts about yourself.
*Answer 11 questions chosen by the blogger who nominated you.
*Come up with 11 questions to ask your nominees.
*Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think deserve the award and who have less than 1,000 followers.
*You may nominate blogs that have already received the award, but you cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.) 
*Go to their blog and inform them that they've been nominated.

 Eleven Random Facts About Me:
(I've tried to list things I've never shared on this blog before.)

1. My middle name is the title of a Beatles song.

2. I can touch the tip of my nose with the tip of my tongue. (Of my five kids, only one has inherited this unique gift. He's very proud of it!)

3. I was a Bicentennial Baby.

4.When I was born lots of friends and family gave me commemorative bicentennial dollars. I cashed them in when I was seven to buy my first piano.

5. One of my dreams is to become a Tricentennial Lady in 2076.

6. I'm an INFP in the Meyers Briggs Personality Indicator. My type is known as "The Idealist" or "The Healer."

7. Many people -- even some people I've known my whole life -- mispronounce my name. This doesn't bother me, though. Here are some of the names I often answer to:  "Andrea," "Andreanna," "Adri-ON-ah," "Yo Adrian!," "A," "Adri," "Adee-anne," "Adranna," "Drannie," and "Miss A."

 Vince Gill gets it right:

8. When I was four I met my great-great-grandmother before she died. She asked me to pray for her, so I knelt beside her chair and said a little prayer.

9. My husband taught me how to change a diaper. (I think I have a little more experience than he does now!)

10. Last summer I found the grave of my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother.

11. Today is my birthday. I'm 38.

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1.  Share a favorite quote from a book or author.
Who is to be feared but God alone?
What can be seized or stolen from His power?
Soft endearments are intended to arouse love.
But there are no caresses tenderer than Your charity,
And no object of love is more healthy than Your truth,
Beautiful and  luminous beyond all things.
~Confessions of St. Augustine

2.  Is there a book you have disliked immensely? 
Which one, and why? 

If you mean titles on the WEM list, then no. I've liked some much more than others, but I haven't felt immense dislike for any of them yet.

How and when I read a classic can affect the enjoyment factor for me. I did not enjoy Don Quixote because I read it before I discovered blogging! I think I might have enjoyed it if I had had some friends to joke about it with. I read it alone during the winter while living in a basement apartment with two babies who were fourteen months apart. It nearly drove me crazy!

Half way through The Book of Margery Kempe, I started feeling exhausted and constantly nauseated. A surprise pregnancy helped me develop a keen sense of empathy for the physical travails of medieval women! 

3.  Why did you start blogging? Has your purpose changed?  How did you come up with the name for your blog? 

I started Classical Quest to help me process life. Writing in a journal is not enough -- I need conversation! I need to take in many perspectives. The blogosphere is my classroom. I get lots of encouragement, accountability, and even some push back now and then. This feeds me.

Has your purpose changed? 

No, but I think my tone has changed! In the beginning, I probably came across as more of a teacher and now I think I sound more like a student. I have less answers and more questions. At the same time blogging is helping me develop the courage to be authentic. I've crossed through some barriers lately by writing about subjects I was too timid to breach previously.

When I was young there were people who warned  me that receiving an education would make me "wishy-washy" and "too broad-minded." Instead I think it's stripping me of pride. Albert Einstein said it best: "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know." 

How did you come up with the name for your blog? 

I came up with "Classical Quest" in about two minutes. I was shocked it wasn't already taken!

I've always loved the idea of a "quest." When I was a little girl, I had a swing set in my back yard. I would often hop on the two-seated face-to-face glider (sometimes with a friend; sometimes alone) and go on long journeys to far away places.

I really don't like to hurry! I like to spend time savoring things. This blog is all about the journey. I keep making new lists in addition to WEM, so there's really no end in sight for me!

4.  Have you ever counted how many books you own?  If not, estimate.

Estimate??? You mean use math?!

5.  Which author have you read the most?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

6.  Which book have you reread the most?

The Psalms

7.  Do you have a memorable childhood book? 

Yes. I remember being very proud of myself for reading Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman all by myself.

8.  Have you ever imagined an actor/actress to play a character in a book you were reading?  (For example, I always thought Sharon Stone would make a great Dominique Francon in the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.) 

Wow. I don't think I've ever done that! Sounds like a fun idea, though. Off the top of my head, I think George Clooney would make a great Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind.

9.  Is there a book you would like to see in film version, permitting they kept it true to the book. 

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck would make a great family film. 

10.  Name a character from classic lit that you would love to be neighbors with. 

Hester Prynne. We both like needlework; we both like living on the outskirts of town. I admire the way she overcame her social stigma. I think we would benefit from each other's company and perhaps become great friends. Plus, my kids would love to play with her daughter Pearl.

11.  What book are you avoiding, and why? 

The next book on the WEM list, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I'm avoiding it because I've seen the movie (Robert Redford version) and I didn't care for it at all. Plus, I'm a little weary of high-society novels at the moment. A few friends I admire have listed Gatsby as one of their favorites, so I'm sure I'll read it eventually.

While I'm on this subject I might as well tell you, I've decided to take a break from the novel list for a while.  I've come to realize that I really need to be in sync with my friends at A Classic Case of Madness in order to get the most out of my reading. I miss hanging out in the blogosphere with them, making up silly ditties about our reading. So I'm going to coast for a few months -- just read whatever I want and try to write some blog posts about the great books I've read over the past year. When CCOM starts the Autobiography List I'll be leaning forward on the front row with notebook and pencil in hand.

I nominated these great bloggers for the Liebster Award:

Here's my questions for the nominees: 

1. Why did you start your blog? (If your purpose has changed since you started blogging, share how and why.)

2. Which post did you most enjoy writing? Or, what post is your favorite? (Please provide the link)

3. Which post was the most difficult to write and why? (Link, if you wish.)

4. Share a favorite quote from a book or author.

5. Name a character from classic literature that you would love to be neighbors with.

6. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five books would you need?

7. What are you currently reading?

8. Where is your favorite reading place?

9. Can you name a book that you thought you would dislike, but ended up liking?

10. What do you do when you're not reading? 

11. You are on vacation in a foreign country. What do you make sure to fit into your itinerary? 

+ + + + +

Thank you for stopping by for my little celebration today! Please take some time to visit the blogs I've nominated.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eavesdropping on Bill Gothard

File:Blaas Eugen von The Eavesdropper.jpg
The Eavesdropper, Eugene de Blaas. source.

Dear Friend,

In my last post I told you I would share a bit about my personal encounter with Bill Gothard, the founder of both the Institute in Basic Life Principles and the Advanced Training Institute.

Recently Gothard's name has made headlines  since thirty-five women have alleged that he harassed and abused them. Four women have alleged molestation. These testimonies have been published by Recovering Grace, a website "founded and operated by adults who were raised as children in Bill Gothard's Advanced Training Institute."

In the Spring of 1993 I was in Moscow serving as a volunteer with ATI. For two months our home was a ship on the Moskva River. Bill Gothard's room was located directly across the narrow hall from my room.

Upon arrival I received a list of guidelines. Here's one:
Rule #6: Ladies and fellows will have their own designated floors.
This should have been my first red flag about Mr. Gothard. His room was located on the young women's floor. Perhaps he reasoned he was there to guard the "ladies"?

Here's another one of the guidelines:
Rule #12 Blue and white is the ministry uniform for all school visits, official meetings, seminars, and ministry opportunities. "  . . . For man looketh on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart . . ." I Sam 16:7. Because man looks on the outward appearance we can uphold God's standard of dress by staying as close as possible to blue and white. (No distracting prints, stripes, or different colors.)
+  + + + +

One afternoon while nearly all the other students were in the dining room, I slipped up to my room to retrieve something --breaking Rule #8 to do so.

Rule #8: Be punctual for all meals, and remain until announcements are made.

As I neared my door I overheard Mr. Gothard shaming two young women. 
I couldn't make out what he was saying at first, but I understood his tone: condescending and reproachful. A duo of young women replied in a higher pitch; they sounded penitent.

I quickly gathered up whatever it was I had come after and left my room. I paused for a moment to lock my door and to eavesdrop.

They were nearing his doorway now, because I could hear the conversation more clearly.

He said they should smile more and wear their hair longer -- in gentle curls. He also said they both were a bit overweight and should focus on losing those extra pounds. "Man looketh on the outward appearance," he said. "Russian dignitaries are observing our every move. We must show that we have the joy of the Lord! We must be energy givers!"

As the door began to open, I moved briskly down the hall toward the dining room, pausing once to look back over my shoulder. I saw the girls emerge from his room in an attitude of repentance. They stood at his doorway for a moment, receiving the last of his reproach with wide, tear-filled eyes. Then they walked away together, wiping their faces.

"Now there is an energy giver!" he called out.
My heart began to pound. No one else was in the hallway. He was talking about me.
"Who is that person walking ahead of me?" Mr. Gothard said.
 I turned to him and introduced myself. He extended his hand to shake mine.
"Are you Russian?" he asked. 
I thought this was funny. Did I sound Russian? 
"No," I smiled, feeling self-conscious suddenly. I was being inspected. 
"You radiate such joy!" He said at last.
I felt more relieved than flattered by this compliment. I certainly didn't want to be the recipient of the lecture I had just overheard.
He went on as we walked side-by-side -- "The Russian people are wonderful -- don't you agree?" 
"Oh, yes," I nodded. "I've enjoyed spending time in their homes. They are very generous and kind to us."

Our conversation ended as we entered the dining room, where a hundred smiling navy and white clad students awaited his usual mealtime exhortations.

+ + + + +

I'll post more memories of ATI experiences as they come to me. Much has been shoved to the corner of my mind! I was content to think of Mr. Gothard as a kindly grandfather until the collective memory of hundreds of former ATI students brought the reality of the situation to light.

I see now that while I was feeling guilty over the fact that I occasionally listened to soft-rock music on my Walkman, Bill Gothard was scarring young women with his words. While I was feeling dirty for sometimes imagining what it would feel like to one day be touched by my husband, Mr. Gothard was playing footsie with 17 year old girls in his sock feet.

+  + + + +

My heart goes out to all young people who are trapped in oppressive systems such as ATI!

With Love,


I wanted to write about "courtship vs dating," but I've deleted several drafts and the topic is wearing me out. The truth is I'm scared to death of both! Maybe once all five of my kids leave the nest I'll have an opinion. I imagine I'll have five stories to share that won't look a bit alike. But if you are interested in what it was like to come face to face with a handsome young man after having made a commitment to courtship, I can paint the picture for you sometime! ;-)