The Reading List…


Although I believe I am far from a tyrant, I must admit that Stacey and I have some pretty high expectations for our daughters. 

Their mother and I believe that within those invisible boundaries of our family, we need to actively work towards building an environment where all four of us work hard and play harder. 

As part of this belief, we have stressed to the girls, that each of us have our roles and our jobs in our family.   Just like Mom and Dad, who get up during the week and drive to work each day, both the girls have a job, and it is our expectation that they succeed at it.     Their job is school and learning. 

We have laid it out very clearly that all the other things that we do as a family (all the times of fun, relaxation, and play) come because we are willing to spend the time working.    We have tried very hard to stress that work isn’t something that we do begrudgingly or with our shoulders slumped, but rather we look upon as a blessing. 

Our work, whether it is going to school, running one, or selling light bulbs, is that which allows us to do all those things as individuals and a family, which we enjoy and find passion in. 

Too many adults see work as something to be avoided at all cost, rather than wrapping our arms around it, and enjoying what it can bring to our world. 

With all this said, for the girls; their work is their learning and school. 

At the same time, just because school ended has ended for the summer, does not mean that starting the next day, we were going to indulge in a blur of complete laziness  (a good portion of laziness sure, but not 100%!) 

Each of my girls will have expectations and responsibilities (at this point, those who know me from my college, high school, and middle school days are saying;  “What the heck happened to this guy?”  That’s another post for another day).  For my oldest, her mother and I are in the process of developing a reading list for her this summer.   

It won’t be too bad but we hope to give her a couple hundred books and ask that she read them and summarize them by the end of the summer.   Okay, maybe not 100, but a dozen maybe… 

I have some great books on the list already (and I would love to hear some of your suggestions)  they include… 

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • The Red Badge of Courage 

So far the listing contains the books that both challenged and stuck with me when I was younger.     

Top on that listing was a book I was required to read in eighth grade:  A Tale of Two Cities.

In case you haven’t read the book, the two cities are London and Paris, and the story is basically about the beautiful and innocent Lucie,  the victimized Charles, and the drunken Sydney. 

By way of the briefest introduction and as not to spoil it for Annie;  the story centers around the beautifully innocent Lucie. 

Charles has been arrested in London for treason, and Sydney is hired to be a lawyer at the trial.    Oddly the two look very similar and because of that similiarity Charles gets off.  Lucie is a witness at the trial, and instantly captures the hearts of both Sydney and Charles who both try to woo Lucie.  Lucie chooses and weds Charles.

As the story progresses Charles is the victim of more bad luck and arrested in Paris and sentenced to death. 

Because of his love for Lucie, the drunk Sydney decides to take Charles place. 

In researching the book for its inclusion in the listing, I was reminded (via a sermon from one of my favorite preachers) of a particular subplot that sits heavily in the book.  We learn that each day there was a grim procession through the streets of Paris of prisoners on their way to the guillotine. 

In one of those processions we find Sydney.   Beside him there was a young girl eternally known as the “seamstress”.  It marks the start of what some folks believe to be the most captivating romance in all of literature…even if it is contained in only a few brief meetings.   Those meetings have prompted some -the aforementioned preacher being one- to even suggest that this is a story about God, redemption, resurrection, you name it. 

They had met prior to that dark day in the prison, and the girl had noticed the gentleness and courage of the man’s face. 

She said to him on that final procession to both of their deaths… “If I may ride with you, will you let me hold your hand? I am not afraid, but I am little and weak, and it will give me more courage.” 

So they rode together, her hand in his; and when they reached the place of execution there was no fear in her eyes. 

She looked up into the quiet composed face of her companion, and said “I think you were sent to me by heaven”.    Sydney, in a instant a new man, replies simply “Or you, to me” 

That moment in the novel stuck with me, and I think of it from time to time.  Maybe this is not the best for Annie.   Travelling through this book without the associated discussion is tough…but its still on the table. 

I mention it today, because there are hints of that brief moment of the novel, found in the foundational aspects of the  church.    Each of us is on a journey where we might find ourselves a bit afraid.   If not afraid, then we feel little or weak. 

The thought of doing it alone, is scary.   We want the courage to take the steps we need to, to face the challenges that this life throws are way, and to do more in this life that to just get by. 

We need a bit more courage now and again. 

For the seamstress it was Sydney’s hand,…   For you and I its quite possibly that hand that is offered up by a fellow believer.  We might be the one whose hand gives courage to another, or quite possibly, the one who receives it.   

In either case, we are practicing what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

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