Surrender

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 🙂

41jWZmE8kmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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:

Continue reading

Another great book, short and fun

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

QUOTE (Charles Dickens) – Dec 2

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:

A DEVOTED LIFE

 
English: Detail from photographic portrait of ...

“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.

Resources:
The Faith Behind the Famous: Charles Dickens
This Day in History for 2nd December

View original post

This is a story….

…about a boy and a shoebox.

 

Before you hear the story, you might need a little background information. Have you ever heard of Samaritan’s Purse? This is an organization that was started by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. In the description of what they do, you can read on their site that ‘For over 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering.’ One aspect of this amazing outreach is a program called Operation Christmas Child. “It was a simple idea that became the worldwide ministry of Operation Christmas Child—to minister to children in war-torn and famine-stricken countries. In just two decades it has inspired everyday people to provide more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in 130 countries.” (you can read all about that story in a new book called Operation Christmas Child, A Story of Simple Gifts).

I’ve been a part of this neat outreach over the years, from being a child and packing boxes with my parents, helping pack the shoeboxes that will get sent to the center in North Carolina, and even got to go distribute boxes when I was a teenager once: we went to Mexico to some of the children who received them. My husband had gotten to be a part years ago at the collection center where they check the boxes and get them ready to go.

But this year was different. It was special. And that’s where this story starts…

This story is really about 2 shoeboxes, and a boy and girl. But the story starts with a conflict, as all good stories do. What was the conflict? It was one of those inner struggles where a person (a boy) had a thought that he was wrestling with in the battles of his mind. That was where our story begins.

As we were trying to decide what we had time to do in our afternoon, the decision was made among the adults that the best choice was to take the grandkids shopping for the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. That ended up taking precedence over the zoo or shopping for their own Christmas gifts with Nonna and Opa. Then I informed the kids what we were going to do: go shopping for the shoeboxes and then go out for ice cream. And something unexpected happened:

“No! I don’t want to buy stuff for someone I don’t know!! I don’t even know what to get!”

Although surprised by the defiant response, I took a moment to observe where this disagreement might be coming from – this boy never before had a problem with sharing or giving. What could be the problem? I pulled up a chair, and the conversation began…

“Zeke, how come you don’t want to put together toys for a child who might not have any? Do you know what the shoeboxes are all about?”

“Mamma, I don’t know what to get him! And I don’t have any good ideas.”

“Well, don’t you think you can pray and ask God to help give you ideas of what to pick?”

After a pause, the boy was still unhappy with that. Then he says “Mamma, that’s too easy.”

Hm- asking God for help is too easy, it can’t really solve anything. How often had I dealt with the same struggle myself? But I pressed on:

“Ezekiel, He’s ready to help us, but we have to ask for help first. Do you think we could pray and ask God to give you ideas?”

It was not an easy struggle for him to win, this battle in his mind – he was not ready to see that prayer would really help him through the troubles he had inside. We talked for almost 30 minutes as the boy thought about, argued, asked questions, and then finally, agreed. The moment of turning was when he began to realize that God already knows the future and would know exactly what child would receive the presents Zeke would pick out. He knelt beside me and prayed for help.

“Jesus, please help me know what to get, and give me good ideas.”

Then we were ready to go.  FullSizeRender (1)

The transformation that took place in the boy as we left for the stores was amazing. The girl was much more ready and willing, having the maturity to understand what giving means, and having experienced what it feels like to be the one giving. She was thoughtful and considerate in the items she picked, her heart fully in the task at hand. But the boy with the shoebox was intent: he had a purpose now, and he was on a mission. His eyes scanned the shelves, picked up an item and studied it, then made the serious decision whether that small token would be the right one for the box. And the ideas of what would fill it with treasures started to formulate in his mind as he changed from randomly searching the shelves to seeking out exactly what was on his mind.

IMG_1063

It didn’t take long to fill the shoeboxes. And both children put their entire heart into the choosing, the purchasing, and the packaging. We celebrated a deed well done at our favorite ice cream place in Albuquerque, NM (I Scream Ice Cream – Bill serves the best ice cream in the best restaurant for it. Fun for all 🙂 ) Then it was home for the evening, ready to finish delivering the shoeboxes in the morning.

IMG_1064

(pssst: tune in tomorrow to hear the rest of the story)

 

Finishing Victor Hugo’s masterpiece

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.

Les Miserables

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/135/135-h/135-h.htm

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 9.38.21 PM

 

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.”

Significant insignificancies

IMG_2794photo taken by my friend at stuttgart zoo

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