Exploring where life and story meet!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lonely places

The time between the Prophet Malachi and the Birth of Christ is referred to as the 'intertestamental period.'  Israel was waiting for their Messiah and yet for 400 years there was no word from God.  Sometimes I feel like the week between Christmas and New Year is like that (at least it seems like 400 years).  Everyone is suffering a post-holiday hangover, it is still the old year, work and school schedules are interrupted with the extended holiday season, the weather is usually ugly, life as we knew it is done yet the new has not yet come.  Down right depressing for the modern soul, yet it would be a perfect time to reflect upon the old year, to rest from the hectic holiday joy, and to contemplate what is to come.         The ancients called it meditation, this practice of reflecting on ourselves, on the world around us, on God.  Even Jesus sought out lonely places to pray and He is God!  How much more, in this era of technology and never ceasing interaction do we need time to sit quietly and reflect?  I know it feels like you are coming off a drug high this week, but perhaps it is time to 'be still and know,' to count your many blessings, repent of those forgotten sins, dig deep into the Word, reflect on your relationship (or lack thereof) with God, consider what this new year might bring.  Seek out that 'lonely place' and listen for 'the still, small voice.'

Monday, December 23, 2013

Impaired frustration

I really want to be frustrated right now, but I can't.  If you look at the big picture, at all the blessings in life, at the rest of life that is functioning really well, it is harder to be frustrated.  Then when you consider the season (no, not the pink lighted hippopotamus next door) but rather ponder the mystery of the God who was 'made flesh and dwelt among us' and then look up the road to Easter, it really makes whatever is bugging you seem really insignificant.  What is health insurance compared to my immortal soul?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV).

These are some of my favorite verses in scripture, strange that I so rarely am able to apply them to life!  The 'peace of God that surpasses all understanding?'  Sounds nice, I should rely on it more!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On epic adventures of the yuletide sort

We watched a movie the other night (exciting right), as is our tradition this time of year.  It is not exactly considered a holiday classic yet, on par with Rudolph and Charlie Brown, but we enjoy it, but it reminds me of taking things for granted.  We've all probably heard the Christmas story (perhaps read by Linus in the aforementioned Charlie Brown Christmas) at some point in our lives and many can probably say it by heart, but it was interesting watching The Nativity Story again, which is a live action film done in 2006.  They do an excellent job portraying all the things you do not think about when you think of a baby in a manger and a bunch of animals gathered around in adoration.  Particularly Mary's struggle with her role in the whole thing.  First she has angels speaking to her, then she's pregnant in a culture that may kill you for such a thing, then her fiance wants to dump her, and can you imagine what her friends and family think?  After things are straightened out with Joseph, now she gets to make a long journey while eight months pregnant, only to give birth in a stable and end up with the local ruler sending his henchmen to kill you and your kid.  Sounds like an epic if I ever heard of one.  The movie does well depicting the human drama, but what it and we often fail to appreciate is the divine drama.

Can you imagine the richest man in the world agreeing to give up everything and live as the poorest, most despised man on the planet and then willingly suffer a brutal death for another person's crimes?  Now pretend you invented the universe and get to do the same, but on a level completely unimaginable to the likes of us mere mortals.  'God with us,' is the name.  Now there is an epic!  Merry Christmas!

The search for Faerie

I found Faerie the other day, the long sought realm of the fairies or perhaps simply it is the lost innocence and wonder of youth.  My grandmother had a wonderfully illustrated book of nursery rhymes that I remember as a child and I wanted to find the book on my last visit.  We sought high and low, hither and yon but to no avail.  I was rather disappointed but life goes on and I forgot about it until the other day at a thrift store I came across the same book but a different edition.  I bought it for the mere pittance they asked for it and went home a happy creature, strange how little true joy costs!  So now I have lived again that wonderful book and shared it with my own family.  My husband thinks I am a little silly, but that is okay, mortals do not tend to understand these things at time.  Look for Eric Kincaid's 'Book of Nursery Rhymes' if you want to explore this wondrous world for yourself.  The illustrations are wonderful, even to a jaded adult.

Tolkien fans rejoice

Dear Tolkien enthusiasts, rejoice for the season is upon us: yes the new movie is out.  I have yet to see it, but here is a good overview.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A confession...

Like most people, I have a love hate relationship with technology.  I love being able to type quickly, neatly, and efficiently as my handwriting is horrible and my hands get very sore after only a few words.  This gives me a real appreciation for those who had to write manuscripts by candlelight with a quill pen, ouch!  But then when something goes wrong it takes eight times as long to fix the problem as doing it the old fashioned way.  I remember life before the internet yet am young enough to have grown up with a little technology thus am not afraid of it.  I still prefer the now prehistoric windows 95, but do not miss the electric typewriter on which I filled out my college applications.  Those mini keypads for various portable devices drive me crazy and we will not even mention what texting and spell check have done to the literary skills of modern generations.

I remember using a mac in college for a computer art class, back in the Cambrian period I think, and thinking my scientific calculator was a tad smarter, of course those were back in the zip drive days, but the things froze constantly and it was like speaking a foreign language to one semi-fluent on a windows PC, but times and macs have apparently changed.  I have not met a windows laptop I have liked for ten years or so, and recently I have been having dubious flirtations with an apple PC and I am afraid I may be a convert.  I just published a few more stories in ebook format and it was much smoother on the mac than my last attempt with windows.  I wonder what Gutenberg would say if he were told about the advent of ebooks?  I suppose whatever the language or the format, the written word has inspired generations and will continue to do so regardless of changes in either.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Proof in the pudding or the particles?

Everyday magic!  Here's a good article about taking nothing for granted, not even subatomic particles.  It is a wonder we can get through the day at all, we should just sit there and gasp in awe at all the wondrous things He has done.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

After which we seek

Being a nomad of late has given me time to reflect on that which most of the world takes for granted at any given moment yet is one of those things most vital to human flourishing, namely that mysterious thing we call home.  If we are lucky, we are born into one.  If we are truly blessed, we enjoy this phenomenon all of our lives, but whatever the current status of our abode, it is a thing we yearn for and desire above all other things our entire lives.  I do not speak of a house or any other particular sort of dwelling place but rather a place where our hearts are at peace and one can often find companionship, love, and joy.  We all have some place we sleep and go about the rudiments of living, with or without some sort of family, roommates, or friends, but this may not actually be home.  Home is that place where the strife and clamor of the outside world ceases, where peace and love dwell.  Many of us have little known such bliss, yet we long ceaselessly for it.  It is the place where all true stories begin and end and thus, so does this story called life.  Before God made man, he made a garden to settle him in and it was this place above all others that the Enemy most despises and wishes to destroy.  So it was in the Beginning and so it will be until we find that ultimate home where one story ends and another is about to begin.

Perhaps one reason I love The Lord of the Rings so much is that it is a book/movie ultimately about home.  Certainly our heroes set out on a journey, but they set out to, ‘save the Shire,’ as Frodo puts it in the movie and the prequel is rightly titled, at least in part, ‘There and Back Again.’  The world can be a cold, cruel, and lonely place, but a light left on at night for the errant wanderer’s return can drive away the chilliest claws of loneliness.  We think power or money or fame will make us happy, give us contentment, but really only home can do that.  A place of family, friends, warmth, music, light, joy, food, fun, contentment, and peace.  Yet we can never find home if we seek only our good, our own selfish ends.  Home requires love, commitment, and sacrifice on the part of all for the good of everyone.  It is the same God asks of each of us and in Him we find our true home, no matter how cold the winds of the world blow.  So it was with a little baby, He who made the Universe in fact, on a cold night, born in a stable somewhere with only a couple of young peasants and a few scruffy shepherds for company, yet there was home.  Home in a cattle stall as the old hymn goes.  So too can we find Home, wherever and whenever we are, if only in our hearts.  For where the peace of God dwells, there are His people at Home.