Well, hi! It’s been a while! I’ve been busy with family, travel, and trying to get back into the swing of ‘normal’ life.
So to get back to blogging, I think I’ll start with this, a seemingly random post, but a story I’m walking lately, and have been for a while. Then I’ll bring you all up to speed on my travels and happenings, music news upcoming and what-not, as I get back to writing, with the intermittent good read for reflecting 🙂
The book I’m reading right now, Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, says where my thoughts are and where I want to be the best. So the rest of the words of this are hers, not mine:
So just before Christmas, a friend loaned me the book, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I didn’t get to it until after Christmas while my husband was away for a few weeks. So it made a perfect companion a few of those quiet late evenings. Unfortunately, such a good book doesn’t last long, so it couldn’t keep me company the entire time, just the first 5 days.
I rarely ever read a fiction story twice – unless it fits certain criteria 1) it’s a classic with so many life-truths in it I need to read it a second time to soak in all the ones I missed while being so focused on the story line or 2) I learn something about the author that puts all of what they wrote into a new dimension.
I’ll be reading this book again for the second reason. And I recommend if you only want to read it once that you read the author’s notes at the end of the book first – because it brings a completely new depth to the ‘fun’ and entertaining way it’s written. But although not necessarily a ‘classic’ in the strict sense, there are some truths weaved into the story that are worth pouring over. Here are a couple of quotes to whet your appetite:
“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”Continue reading →
We are getting to the end of Dicken’s classic, A Christmas Carol. Last night, we finished reading about the ghost of Christmas Present. And when it came time to go to bed, my daughter was upset – I had ended reading on a bad note (I really had just ended at the end of a chapter, which to me makes sense). She was left with the images of the two grotesque children, Want and Ignorance, and the last ghost walking up to Scrooge in the mist and fog. After she described it in her words, I did see that it was a pretty disturbing thought to be left with in light of the jolly tone of the rest of the chapter.
I suggested she think about the rest of the story of their travels we read, not the last part that was pending doom. But what I should have told her was to look forward to how Scrooge, she knows, is going to change and become a better man. That’s one benefit we have of reading stories that are familiar, is we know what will happen in the end. We can have the big picture view.
But then, in light of real-life, I guess looking back is the most helpful, so we can see and hold on to the good things that God does. Now, as a person who trusts in Jesus for my future, I can do both. I can look back on the things that He has worked out for good, and I can look forward to what He has promised.
Now, I am opposed to ignoring the ‘grotesque’ and sad things, the not so nice and ugly (both in books and in real-life). My option would never be to skip over the next chapter, even though it’s dark and not light hearted. I’ll use some wisdom in when I read it, being sure to leave enough time for things to turn around before the kids have to sleep. And the reason is, Charles captures in his contrast of these two things the consequences of our choices. And the opportunity to see them for what they are – and make a turn around when needed like Scrooge did when faced with all of it, the good and bad. Just like I can apply to life: I can look at and learn from the bad and the ugly of events of the past, and make a change when I need it. And hopefully become a better person, too.
I just started following JD’s blog, and I am encouraged by his practical words and love for the Bible – something we share in common. Last night, I decided to start reading “A Christmas Carol” again since I’ll be seeing a live play of the same this month. And so, it was very timely to see this post of A Devoted Life:
“I put a New Testament among your books, for the very same reasons, and with the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you, when you were a little child; because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world.… ”
~ Charles Dickens; a note written to his child upon leave home
In honor of Charles Dickens, considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, who held his first public reading in the United States on this day in 1867.
I’ve just finished Le Miserable. It’s not just a book I finished. It was a journey, with Jean Valjean. With Cosette. With Marius. I’m not embarrassed to admit that the last few pages tears were streaming down my face. Why, you might ask? It’s just a story, and not even a true one.
I’ll tell you why. Because in the end, these two young people are faced with a grave neglect they had both made. For Cosette, the neglect was simple and less profound. She had forgotten the one who saved her. Oh, she still loved him (Jean Valjean). But she no longer spent time with him. He still represented in some distant memory the father who had protected and cared for her, had taken her out of a desperate situation and given her a new life. But her devotion to him had faded into the distant memory as well. I cried for Cosette because even though she rushed to his side in the very end, she missed out on the sweet fellowship that could have been when he was close.
For Marius, the situation is complicated. He distrusted this man, because he was ignorant of the salvation that had taken place on his behalf personally from the man, Jean Valjean. He misjudged Cosette’s father figure, refusing to ever touch the wealth that was his to have since Marius had married the young lady. He coldly turned away any friendship with the man who had given all to make that marriage possible. And in doing so, he added to the sin of neglect done by the daughter in discouraging their relationship from continuing. But all this, when it came to light and the truth was known to Marius, hit him in desperation to right his many wrongs. I cried for Marius because it was too late to know the man who had done all this for him, whom he dismissed in ignorance.
But there’s a parallel reason I cried: because these two mistakes are made by people every day with the One who has saved them, offered to remove them from the path they are on, and who turn away the riches He has to offer out of ignorance of who He is. These same two kinds of people – those who know who that Savior is, but have lost touch with Him, and those who live in their ignorance that they have even been saved if they would choose to know it – are all over. Are you one? Your savior’s name isn’t Jean Valjean. It’s Jesus. And He’s not a fictitious man: He is God.
As I am nearing the end of the book (and it has taken me more than the summer to do so, reading kind of slowly, but enjoying every part) I have to share another tidbit with you. I’m hoping to whet your appetite to engage in this powerful tale. Who is Jean Valjean? I’ll say it in Victor Hugo’s own words:
At that moment Jean Valjean entered the redoubt [barrier], nobody noticed him, all eyes being fixed upon the five chosen ones [to leave the certain death] and upon the four uniforms. Jan Valjean himself, saw and understood, and silently, he stripped off his coat [of the National Guard], and threw it upon the pile with the others.
The commotion was indescribable.
Who is this man?” Asked Bosseut.
“He is,” answered Combeferre, “a man who saves others.”
I’m reading Les Miserables. It’s taken me all summer; but as I near the end, there is a paragraph in the book, in IV of Book Tenth, “June 5th, 1832” that may seem completely insignificant. And yet it holds the significance of the writing of the entire novel:
“….One observer, a dreamer, the author of this book, who had gone to get a near view of the volcano, found himself caught in the arcade between the two fires. He had nothing but the projection of the pilasters which separate the shops to protect him from the balls; he was nearly half an hour in this delicate situation.”
Why could Victor Hugo write such an epic novel with such insight to the Parisian culture of the time? Because he was there. He felt, saw, heard, smelled, and took part in the events – and so is able to write about them so descriptively and powerfully. This story is one of those that will remain a classic throughout time in a way that is celebrated again and again – either through a play, new film, or required school reading.
I think of someone else who ‘was there’ at important events. A man whose name was John wrote about being in the middle of it all:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled….” Continue reading →
As I continue to read Charles Spurgeon‘s sermons on “The Life and Works of our Lord Jesus Christ” God continues to give me poems, like the first one I shared (“God gave God“) based on the powerful ways he states biblical truths. Here is the paragraph from the book that inspired this poem:
“Blessed be God, we can be thus saved. Our entrance to heaven can be as justly secured as our banishment to hell was rightly deserved. How justice and peace have kissed each other is now made known. That secret is told us in the Word of God. Is it not written on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
“I know that I speak to many who long to be saved; but will you give up your sin? For Christ has come to save Him people from their sins. If you do not wish to be saved from sinning [turn], then you will never be saved from damning [burn].”
And so, with that quote, here is Turn or Burn, a poem I wrote on June 5th 2014:
As I’m reading through Charles Spurgeon’s “The Life and Works of Our Lord” I am so inspired by the way he speaks. When talking about the picture of Isaac being a typology of Jesus, Spurgeon says, “In order to save … Continue reading →