Last Post

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This is my last post at the Ignorant Historian, as far as I know. Between this blog and it’s predecessor, Tale of a Kansas Girl, I’ve had 8 great years of blogging. But it’s not hard to see that my interest has waned. I’ve struggled to post regularly for some time now.

But I’m not done with blogging: I’ve just found new interests. My sister-in-law, Amanda, and I have decided to go into blogging together. Our blog is Striving Stewardess.

I hope that if you have been a reader of me here, you’d join me at Striving Stewardess. I think that you’ll find a lot of what you may have liked at the Ignorant Historian there, just more focused. Plus, you’ll get to know my sister-in-law as we discuss our passions for being good stewards of what has been given to us.

Thank you for reading the Ignorant Historian.

Drift by Rachel Maddow (Book Review)

driftI’ve been wanting to read about the US military for a few years now, since something seems off with one country having military installations in 28 other countries (this is my rough count, from here).

Unfortunately, I’m not particularly interested in military equipment, tactics or battles which is what a lot of military writers focus on, so this is the first book on the topic I’ve read.

Rachel Maddow’s Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power is thankfully not a book about such things. Instead, Maddow applies the wit and thoughtfulness you’d expect from her show to the topic. (An aside: when I had cable, I always enjoyed catching Maddow’s show on MSNBC when I had a chance).

Maddow walks through modern military history to explain how we got to a place where we could perpetuate 2 wars in the past decade with little perceived cost to American domestic life.

The author is a notable liberal (and is particularly hard on Reagan, darling of the right), but she doesn’t give Democrats a pass, showing how each president and congress has led us further down what she would argue is the wrong path. Each reasonable obstacle that our Founding Fathers put in place to keep us from going to war without considering the cost has been carefully removed.

In the end, Maddow argues that we re-erect the reasonable obstacles to war (putting the decision back in the hands of the many, instead of the few) and stop outsourcing military duties to those who are not ultimately accountable to the American people.

If you are an American, I would recommend reading Drift regardless of your current stand on our military. I doubt most of my readers would come to the same conclusions that Maddow does, but I think she makes a carefully argued point that demands consideration.

Review: Scripture Typer iPhone App

scripture_typerI’ve never written a review for a phone or tablet app. I really don’t think you need to know what I think of the Facebook or Twitter apps. But beside those, the app on my phone that I have used the most in the last 6 months is called ScriptureTyper.

My heavy use of this app (I probably average an hour a day) has led me to share with you why I use this app and why I would recommend it. This review is unsolicited, uncompensated and unexpected by the ScriptureTyper team.

I bought the ScriptureTyper app with an iTunes gift card for $5.99 at the recommendation of the director of my college ministry. Because of the giftcard, I was willing to try it out…this was my first paid app. They also have an app for Android devices (I haven’t tried it as I don’t think Google will accept an iTunes giftcard in payment), and a free online application on their website.

In college, I really got into memorizing Bible verses using a verse pack (like mini index cards), walking around campus. That worked great for me then, but since then I had struggled with keeping consistent in memorizing and review.

I’ve always found the intimacy with God’s Word that Bible memorization provides encouraging, so I tried out this app to see if it might help me become more consistent.

You can guess when I say that I spend an hour or more a day using this app, that it has. This is because my phone is always with me, and it gives me a better use of those few minutes of downtime than scrolling through my Facebook feed. Because it can take me less than a minute to review a verse, it’s as easy as the verse pack was…but less cumbersome.

While I would recommend supplementing the ScriptureTyper system as far as initial memory of a verse (I usually go through a verse initially an additional 10 times, but may add to that), it’s absolutely the best thing for reviewing verses. It will queue up the verses to review based on how many times you’ve reviewed it previously and how long it has been since that last review. Basically, it handles the system, so you get to focus on going down the line, reviewing as many or few verses as you have time to.

At first I thought it might take me some time to get all my old verse pack verses in the ScriptureTyper system, but that is really easy. The app will import the verse if you tell it the reference and the version.

Whether or not you’ve ever made a plan to memorize Bible verses before, I would recommend this app if you do not currently have an app or system that works for you. If you want to try it out, you can use the free online version to get a hang for how it behaves before you make the small investment.

If you have any questions (about this app, or just Bible memorization in general), I’m happy to answer them!

Monster Readathon Wrapup

You can get a lot of reading done when you’re not working. Last week I read 1649 pages and listened to 12 hours and 45 minutes of audiobooks.

In all that reading, I was able to finish 8 books:

Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Oxford History of the Prison ed. by Norval Morris and David J. Rothman
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (audio) by J.K. Rowling
Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
Cities of God by Rodney Stark

Because I still have a few weeks until I start working, I’m going to do another readathon next week, the Bout of Books one. Why not?

Walkable City by Jeff Speck (Book Review)

walkable_cityI love to walk. Ever since I got my first pedometer, I’ve enjoyed walking as exercise. Recently, I’ve also discovered the joy of a useful walk: one that accomplishes a purpose (in my case, it’s almost always a trip to the library).

It’s not surprising, then, that I’d pick up Jeff Speck’s Walkable City and enjoy it. Any one who was around me as I read it was subjected to fascinating (if not sometimes head-scratching) information.

Did you know that the safest streets are those that seem the most dangerous? Visible dangers encourage drivers to slow down, limiting accidents and decreasing the speeds when they do happen.

Increasing road capacity almost always increases traffic congestion and doesn’t relieve it. Makes sense, as the biggest deterrent most of us have from driving is traffic.

For almost a century now, we Americans have allowed the automobile to destroy our cities and neighborhoods. There are lots of reasons that we should embrace alternate modes of transportation (our health, our environment, to meet neighbors)…but how do we do so?

Speck offers 10 steps to increase walkability. While these steps will largely have to be the work of city planners, architects and those who hire them, I would recommend this book to anyone. Since our elected officials make most of the decisions on government-funded projects, it’s our job to make sure that we are electing the right officials and letting them know our interests.

Despite the subtitle “How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” this book is not just for those with interests in the downtown of cities.

I’m thankful to live in a place that is more walkable than most. Still, we have a long ways to go to promote walking as a true alternative than our gas-sucking vehicles.

Apartment Tour

I’ve now been in my Colorado apartment over 2 months and have been settled almost as long. It’s about time I give you a tour of my new place!

I did my living room in brown, navy and lavender. In North Carolina it was brown and navy, so I just added a few touches.

When you walk in, this is the view:

photo2 (3)As you can see, it’s quite bright. In addition to the sliding glass door facing southwest, I have a skylight!

Looking at the couch, you see my painting:

photo1 (11)

 

On the opposite wall, is my “dining room” table:

photo1 (12)The picture over the table was painted my grandmother. Obviously, she is a better artist than I am.

Then finally, when you look to the left of the table, you see into my kitchen:

photo3 (1)I love how cozy this place is as well as how bright it is. It has a better use of space than my last space (which is good since it’s smaller). I didn’t take any additional pictures of my bedroom since I had already shown you my bed.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read Christian Growth Books

toptentuesdayIt’s been a long time since I’ve done a top 10, but this is the week!

This week, I’ll list the top 10 books I’d give to someone who hasn’t read a Christian growth book. While I could have picked other categories, this is one that I have probably read the most widely in and am most passionate about.

This was a hard list to come up with, as I love all of these authors and many of their works. I’ve chosen only what I consider the most important book by each author, but I wouldn’t stop there!

So here’s my top 10 (in no particular order):

1. Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

2. Knowing God by J. I. Packer

3. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

4. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

5. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

6. Reason for God by Timothy Keller

7. Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian

8. Loving Well by William P. Smith

9. Explicit Gospel  by Matt Chandler

10. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

Monster Readathon

Because I’ve enjoyed reading lately (having the extra time to do it) and enjoy doing it with others, I’m joining the Monster Readathon.

pickyourthona

Thankfully, like any Readathon I’d participate in, the rules are easy: read.

My goal this week is to read 1000 pages and to listen to 10 hours of audiobooks. I’d love to read more, but I’m trying to keep my goals reachable.

I’m currently reading:

Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Oxford History of the Prison ed. by Norval Morris and David J. Rothman
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (audio) by J.K. Rowling

I read 20 pages in one book, before moving on to the next, which is why I’m always reading so many books at a time. I should be able to finish most of these books this week and move on to others.

If you’re interested in following my progress (and why wouldn’t you be?), the latest is always on Twitter (@ronnicaz). I’ll post again next week to let you know how I’ve done!

Sacrifice Not

I recently read Effortless Savings, which I reviewed last week. The book was a fairly typical spend-less type of book, which I have read several of. However, the tag line of this book (“A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money without Sacrifice”) really bugged me.

It took me a while to figure out what about it bugged me. Then it occurred to me: I have largely adopted an attitude that we should sacrifice in order to conserve resources (both personal and communal). While I understand the appeal of saving money without having to give up anything that I enjoy, I don’t think that is something we should necessarily be striving for.

I think the desire to not sacrifice is quite common, so I please don’t take this blog post as speaking against Effortless Savings or Richard Syrop, but the cultural values that makes such a tagline appealing to potential readers.

While I often fail, I make it my aim to use as little as possible in order to give more. Because I have so much room to grow in this area, it has been possible for me to significantly improve in this each year…and I’ll be able to do so for years to come.

That said, I don’t want to go so far as being a spartan monk. God has given us great beauty and luxury in this world, and if we reject simply to reject it and not in service to a higher goal, we dishonor Him. But by giving up what we could rightfully claim, in order to bless others in His name, I believe we can better honor Him. After all, when we sacrifice in the little things, we’re echoing Jesus’s great sacrifice on our behalf.

My thoughts on this are constantly evolving (and hopefully maturing). I’d love to hear what you think.