Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lullabies and Fairy-Stories

I like to listen to lullabies. This must be qualified. My taste is for certain lullabies, not ones of nonsense or comforting cooing, but gentle, lulling melodies that have words of simple truth. Michael Card produced two albums: Sleep Sound in Jesus and Come to the Cradle which, though they sing of infants and cribs, teach wisdom. He is not alone. There are many profound lullabies.

Adults, in our stressful world, probably have as much need for these calming bed-songs as anyone. I enjoy the comfort they bring, the hope for the next day and peace for the night.

In general I have a skepticism of anything directed to a segregated age group. "Only old people like classical music," is nonsense to me, because I certainly reserve the right to enjoy music if it is well-composed and performed. For a parent to say that teenagers will be rebellious is just as ridiculous. As a teenager, I did not feel innately obligated to rebel. In fact the impulse came more from the pressure of knowing it was expected: if I'm to be interpreted as rebelling there is no point in working hard not to. Finally there are children's books. Dr. Seuss had catchy rhymes, but he cheated by inventing words for poor children to sound-out which served no purpose but to rhyme. Other children's books are either so silly and empty that they serve no purpose beyond diversion, or they are quality. The latter, however, have just as much appeal to me as an adult, and so should not be identified as "for children" at all.

Winnie the Pooh borders between these. Blessed with creative genius, A. A. Milne wrote stories and poems. Embarrassed by popular opinion that these fantastic tales are supposed to be for children, he attempts to disguise them into the nursery tales "belonging" to babes, by misspelling words and speaking condescendingly as the grown-ups who are rarely in the company of juveniles would talk if they encountered a kid. Nevertheless, Milne did not entirely succeed, and I love his books.

Having grown up reading Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien has had a pretty big influence on the way I think. His stories affected me before I knew his comments (found in his letters and such), so that when I heard what he felt directly about the main topic of his books, for instance, I could say, "Yes! I totally agree." Professor Tolkien wrote this quote:

"But an honest word is an honest word, and its acquaintance can only be made by meeting it in a right context. A good vocabulary is not acquired by reading books written according to some notion of the vocabulary of one's age group. It comes from reading books above one."

He expounded this philosophy in the essay On Fairy-Stories from The Tolkien Reader. Basically he abhors works done simply for children. If something is childish, it is rubbish. He was from the old school, I suppose, that believed the responsibility of adults with respect to children was to grow them into excellent adults. On the flip side, he said that some genres of stories that would normally be considered appropriate only for children are, if well done, just as necessary for adults. Therefore his tales are not for children. But they are, for they grow children, as they grew me, into thoughtful adults. Long ago a reviewer for the New York Times, Donald Barr, wrote,

"This is not for children; nor is it for whimsy-lovers and Alice-quoters. It is an extraordinary work - pure excitement, unencumbered narrative, moral warmth, bare-faced rejoicing in beauty, but excitement most of all..."

Also, Loren Eisley from the New York Herald Tribune Book Week:

"...the adult mind has, if anything, greater need of fantasy than that of the child."

And so have we a greater need for lullabies.

To God be all glory.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I learned a new word today. Rather, I learned that an old word does not mean anything near what I thought it did. This is one of the problems with reading books containing words you don't know. It is also one of the advantages.

Since I was in elementary school, I have been reading The Lord of the Rings. I counted twelve times reading through the three volumes, and then stopped counting but kept reading (less frequently). JRR Tolkien was such a master of language and a fan of Old English that he used many words whose meanings I ignored or took for granted. One of the last couple times I read the books I looked up every word whose meaning I didn't know. I also compiled a list of my favorite very English words from the book.

Tonight I realized I missed a word. In the very first chapter, the hobbits are discussing the adopted heir of Bilbo, the famous adventurer. The heir is an orphaned cousin, Frodo. Said the Gaffer, "Anyway: there was this Mr. Frodo left an orphan and stranded, as you might say, among those queer Bucklanders, being brought up anyhow in Brandy Hall. A regular warren, by all accounts. Old Master Gorbadoc never had fewer than a couple of hundred relations in the place." (from The Fellowship of the Ring) Now, having read the book so many times, I have a pretty good mental image of what Frodo was like at different periods of his life. As a child he was a bit of a rascal (in fact the book uses that word a few chapters later), but in the child-like sense. I don't want to say innocent, because stealing isn't innocent. But he was never going to be a permanent criminal.

So all my life I have applied that meaning to "warren." I've never used the word until tonight. I suppose I compared it to warrant, which is an order for arrest. And the context of the Fellowship of the Ring makes me think of kids without proper parenting, left to fend for themselves and get into trouble because there were too many kids to look after. You may know kids like that. They get into trouble, scrapes, and run confidently through the world as if they'll never get caught. Such know exactly how to manipulate their authorities to get what they want and escape consequences.

The problem is, that isn't what the word means. "Warren" refers to, basically, a rabbit hole or den; a crowded place (taken from the idea that rabbits have many babies frequently, and so their homes are abounding with tenants). Tolkien was of course making a play on words, since hobbit sounds so much like rabbit; they have hairy feet and live in holes. The word is perfectly appropriate for the context of Brandy Hall (which has nothing to do with the beverage so far as I've learned).

Now another problem: "warren" was the only word of which I could think to fit the meaning I was trying to indicate in my previous post. Rascal is too dark. Terror comes to mind. My grandpa, in fact, uses a word beginning with a 'p' to describe his grandkids when they're not behaving, but it has escaped me. So I left "warren," hoping that you'll be curious enough to learn a new word. And who knows? I could initiate the murder of an English word by totally transforming its meaning. If I keep using the word to mean ill-mannered brat, will it catch on?

On a similar note, another word to whose mistaken meaning I was alerted this week is "peruse." It does not mean "glance" or "skim." Peruse is really a word meaning to examine in detail, to read through thoroughly. Dennis Prager had a grammarian on his talkshow and a listener called in to ask her about the word. confirms this as a common mistake. I thought you might want to know.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What Kind of Mother?

Amy posted this article about not being the mother she imagined. Funny, because I've been thinking this weekend of things I'll teach my children. For example, I want my children to learn some sort of musical instrument. Musicians are just so much more well-rounded and intelligent. (I can say that because I only tinker; I'm not a musician - yet!) Also my children will have large vocabularies from reading and hearing read books of excellent quality (even and especially those books above their "level"). Incessant interruptions while I'm talking won't be tolerated. Neither do I intend to interrupt them.

They will hear me pray and apologize. I'll homeschool them. They'll probably have a different sort of education, as I don't like homework and, well, see the futility of certain things. I intend to let them know to the best of my ability why they learn the things they do. One of my favorite subjects is rhetoric (all the communication disciplines). As Christians, that is so important in sharing our faith and teaching and even being taught. We will do chores together as much as possible. They will know how to sit and be quiet for periods of time. Our home will be one, though, of lots of fun and freedom.

I know it's crazy, but I was telling a friend after watching Newsies that I wish my kids could dance on tables. Why not? The table might break. Fix it. Better yet, get a sturdier table. Their arm might break. That heals too. They can be careful. Shhh! When I babysit I have that philosophy, too. If they won't be seriously hurt (which with other people's kids would include broken bones), I usually let them. What does an extra cookie hurt? So what if we have a newspaper war? That you can clean up, and we certainly have the energy!

Being the oldest of six kids, I feel I have few illusions. Kids will argue. They'll ask questions. Accidents happen, following Murphy's Law, at the most inconvenient times. Disappointment comes. Love hurts. Love also never fails. Perfect love casts out fear. I've been around enough new parents to understand that babies and kids are hard work, steal sleep, and are huge challenges to refine selfishness away. However I also believe that is a work for which I was created, and God will supply the strength I will need. Honestly when I envision motherhood, the difficulties are some of the dearest images.

Do I care what my kids wear? Hopefully the girls will wear dresses. None of the kids will wear stripes until they're in junior high. Sound weird? Look at your old photos. Did you ever look good in stripes as a kid? Should they smell of ivory soap? I don't care. If the whole church thinks my kids are warrens*, and I have a clear conscience before God, that's that. If the church thinks my kids are angels, I'll probably be failing in hospitality. Something changes when you see life at home.

Here is the one thing I'm probably too idealistic about: I expect other women to be around to share my days. Letters, phone calls, lunches, emails, church, prayer, Bible study, mentoring - I picture these as integral parts of the job. Yet experience has taught me that precious few people in a given location have the same priorities as I have. They're busy. They think they have to go it alone. For some reason having a spotless kitchen floor means more than talking to a friend. Amy quotes a woman named Mel on this subject. No, friends do not drop by on a regular basis with fresh pumpkin bread to sip coffee.

Which brings up a question. Why not? The foremost answer is I'm not doing any of those things now. My example is important. I can't expect others to provide what I won't. How can I bless mothers I know? And if I am going to have all these high ideals, don't you think I'd better be training now?

To God be all glory.
* please click on link to take you to the following post (this could take a while)

Sermons or Parables?

Do you ever sit in church or a Christian gathering and just think the devotional or sermon isn't really necessary? The songs said it all, or the fellowship, or the Scripture read all by itself? Last week in church I was content to meditate on the Scriptural basis and beautiful hope of We Will Dance by David Ruis. If you've ever studied wedding ceremonies in Bible times, you may have some concept of the joy and purity involved. Fortunately, similar ceremonies are making a comeback.

"As one of the men selected to officiate in the ceremony, I had the glorious, ringside seat to the very first romantic kiss in the life of both the groom and the bride. This is now the fourth or fifth time in my life that I have had the privilege of watching such a “first kiss” as an officiating minister to a wedding ceremony. Here are my conclusions:

"First, these beautiful kisses are worth ten thousand sermons. They are an antidote to the cynicism of the age. They are instructive and inspiring. They give hope to mothers and fathers, young men and ladies, and the children we hope will also grow up in purity before the Lord. We are all better off as a community of saints when a pure woman marries a pure man. Our job as parents, elders, friends, and relatives is easier, because of this godly example."
~ Vision Forum reporting on a wedding of their friends and associates

At an Awana conference last year one of the students did a dramatic recitation of a chapter of Daniel. Sometimes a sermon will begin with the reading of Scripture. I wish they would just keep reading. Josh Harris dedicated a large portion of time to reading from 2 Timothy in his address at the New Attitude conference, Humble Orthodoxy.

All this to say, sometimes it's ok if there isn't the four point, alliterative outline and the illustrations, or even biblical exegesis. In fact it can be frustrating when a relationship-building conversation is interrupted at a fellowship event by a pastor or spiritual "leader" who feels obligated to give a short (pastor speech for under an hour) devotional talk ("talk" is supposed to be the non-intimidating word for sermon). Michael Card writes about the living parables, which Jesus demonstrated as recorded frequently in the Gospel of John. Lessons are often more impacting when they are personal, and lived out.

To God be all glory.


Acronym. It's a good word. I like the word "anacronym" too, which is the reverse of acronyms. Anacronyms are puzzles they give you in school. Take your name, for example, and using one word for each letter, describe yourself. I could do Literary Intellectual States Absolutes.

Acronyms are very popular, especially if they are pronounceable. Ladies against Feminism is abbreviated LAF, pronounced cleverly just like "laugh." In the military, for no particular reason they name their gear, bases, maneuvers, groups, etc. with large, meaningless titles then abbreviate them into acronyms. If you're motivated and immersed, you can catch on to the important ones. If you're just a friend or a sister, like me, military men are speaking foreign languages.

On PBS, whose documentary on fighter jets I am watching right now, they are very good. They say, "Surface to air missiles, or SAMs" or "SAMs, Surface to Air Missiles" so that we the abbreviation illiterate can understand. Until my friends and brother learn to speak documentary, I have to raise my hand to ask or whisper to a friend sitting by for a translation.

For my brother's birthday we went to an army surplus store, which is a large building crammed (you have no idea, really) with camoflage, coats, hats, belts, boots and tons of other stuff to whose uses I am oblivious floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with only space for two people to march shoulder to shoulder between each aisle. They are all identified with acronyms. Add to this the more understandable abbreviations like XL (extra large), symbols like $, and I'm just the most confused, overwhelmed little girl ever.

Another field that uses acronyms all the time is the computer industry. DOS, RAM, gigabytes (or is that a word?). My other brother understands computer language. Does HTML stand for something, or is its cryptic title depictive of the code-world you enter when you "view source" on a web page? Is this stuff supposed to make sense? Wasn't it hard enough to learn spelling and grammar for my language?

Speaking of learning languages, in the nursery at our church this morning I was working with a little girl, trying to get her to talk. Before this morning it never occurred to me to teach children English in the same way high school students learn a foreign language. We start with simple words, usually nouns. Then we form them into basic sentences. Slowly we teach sentence structure and verb agreement. If you apply the same to English, does it work? I always assumed language just happened to infants immersed in company. Following the pattern for foreign languages, I guess the rest of your life you'll be working on teaching objectives and subjectives and perfect tenses.

If I ever learn acronym language - really master it - maybe I'll write a dictionary or glossary. The Quick Reference Glossary of Military Acronyms. Actually my brother tells me it would be several inches thick. Sounds overwhelming, like when I read Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis and Ransom envisions publishing a Malacandrian grammar. Good thing he was a philologist!

To God be all glory.

Fueling Obsessions

A confession: I'm in love with Chicago. When I'm there, I feel at home. It was said once that "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." That is how I feel about Chicago. The trees are perfect, the buildings beautiful, and spring enchanting. People there are full of character.

On TV this holiday weekend there was a commercial for Southwest. For Christmas a man gave his wife a box containing a Chicago-style hotdog to let her know he was giving her a trip there. "I love you," she says as she throws her arms around his neck. She's my kind of person. However, just for the record, I hate hot-dogs, even from Chicago.

As a cheaper way than paying for plane tickets (which I have done), I more frequently satisfy my Chicago cravings with movies and pictures and memories. That said, I'm up for more movies set in Chicago. My favorite for the sights so far is Lake House. Does anyone have any suggestions?

To God be all glory.

Changing Church Part VII

Pastor Will came home after a day full of visits. He had made it a point to meet with each of his deacons this week. Other families called with questions, and he scheduled them in as well. He had traded hourly updates of his daytimer with Anne, who was running the home phone. Now, at eight thirty, he was finally finished for the day. Anne had picked at a lonely dinner. She sprang from the couch to greet him when he walked in the door. A soft quilt fell to the ground as she rose. Her book still in hand, she threw her arms around him. He let his book bag fall carefully at his feet. They were in the way of the door closing, but he didn’t care. Here was one adoring face. He stooped to kiss it. Slowly, letting the weariness of his day melt away, his arms tightened about her.

“Guess what,” she whispered when his ear got close enough.

“I’m beyond surprises. What?”

Anne only giggled, and led him by the hand into the kitchen. The door slammed shut behind them. “How was your day?”

Will looked around for a clue as to where the surprise had gone. “You know.”

“You look distracted.”

“You said there was something I was supposed to guess.” He had learned in a short eight months of marriage that his wife expected to be quoted accurately, even when he was quoting her to herself.

“How would you like to start a family?” His beloved curled her lip over her tongue and bit it expectantly.


“How ‘bout already?”

Realization finally dawned on him that his little Anne was pregnant. He swung her off of the counter onto which she had hefted herself. Then he set her down. She was beaming. “But what if I lose my job?”

“No buts now, dearest.”

“Oh yeah.”

“God knows.”


“You want to talk about your day?”

“All I want to do is look at you.” Will’s hand reached out to caress Anne’s cheek. Her eyes shone with happiness. She slid his hand to her belly. There was no swelling in her abdomen yet, no kicking to feel. Yet he thrilled, knowing.

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving! This is the one thing I've written that I most want lots of people to read. If I had only found it in a book I would have sent a copy to everyone I know, too. Please laugh, and please have a grateful holiday.

The etymology of Turkey:

Turk - M.E., from Fr. Turc, from M.L. Turcus, from Byzantine Gk. Tourkos, Pers. turk, a national name, of unknown origin. Said to mean "strength" in Turkish. Young Turk was a member of an early 20c. political group in the Ottoman Empire that sought rejuvenation of the Turkish nation. turkey - 1541, "guinea fowl" (numida meleagris), imported from Madacascar via Turkey, by Near East traders known as turkey merchants. The larger North American bird (meleagris gallopavo) was domesticated by the Aztecs, introduced to Spain by conquistadors (1523) and thence to wider Europe, by way of Africa and Turkey (Indian corn was originally turkey corn or turkey wheat in Eng. for the same reason). The word turkey was first applied to it in Eng. 1555 because it was identified with or treated as a species of the guinea fowl. The New World bird itself reputedly reached England by 1524 (when Henry VIII dined on it at court). Turkeys raised by the Pilgrims were probably stock brought from England. By 1575, turkey was becoming the usual main course at an English Christmas. Meaning "inferior show, failure," is 1927 in show business slang, probably from the image of the turkey as a stupid bird.

My dad was asking, so I looked it up. The reason we have a bird and a country with the same name (and the slang use for a stupid or goofy person), Turkey, is as follows:

1. Turkey is named, obviously, for the Turks, and Turk is a Persian word that referred to a nation somewhere when Persia was still a big thing. In Turkish, the word "turk" came to mean strength.

2. Turkeys are native to two parts of the world: Madagascar and the Americas. Way before America was discovered by Columbus, merchants imported turkeys from Madagascar to Europe, by way of Turkey (which wasn't called Turkey then). Since the Turks were the salesmen in the middle of the trade route, the birds came to be named after them. Aztecs in America also bred turkeys. Perhaps we should call the birds aztekies.

3. Once America began to be colonized, esp. by the Spanish in the south, conquistadors sent turkeys over to Europe. The name "turkey" wasn't applied to them until after this, and the name originated in Europe, where people figured out the two species were similar.

4. One website I encountered suggested three other ideas for where turkeys got their names, but I found them unscientific. Since they were still entertaining, I'll give them to you.
  • You have probably heard that American Indians were called that because Columbus landed here and thought he'd reached India. Thinking this, and seeing the plumage of native wild turkeys, Columbus may have named them the word for peacock in the tongue of India (where peacocks were found), which is "tuka". Sounds similar, almost, but it doesn't convince me.
  • Native Americans (before they knew they were supposed to be Indians) called the birds "firkee" which, as I'm sure you can hear in your head (or out loud if you are one of those loud people), sounds a whole lot like "turkey." Basically, just change one letter, and that has happened converting English to English, let alone foreign languages. Actually, if you go to Africa, our translations of the words we hear there can be quite different from others who visited. It depends on the ear gene you inherited or something. = )
  • When turkeys are afraid, they make a sound as they run, not a gobble, but "turk, turk, turk." This does not mean that the Ottomans are chasing them. That's just what they say. Hmm. Maybe that's where the Turks got their name, though? I won't go there, at least not yet. Ok, yes I will:

5. There once was a man from the region east of Anatolia, which was east of Greece. I think it was also west of Persia and south of Russian and north of Africa and southwest of... never mind. He liked to travel, so he sold all he had, took his three sons, and sailed to a little island SOUTH, called Madagascar (actually, I don't know if that was it's name then, but since you probably don't know what its name was then, it would be useless for me to waste time finding out and using it, since you wouldn't know what I'm talking about. On a similar note, Anatolia is the region known in the Bible as Asia Minor and on your most modern map as Turkey). While he was vacationing there on the beach, he feasted on a native bird similar to the pheasant. It was so delicious, that he wanted to take some home.

So when he finally got tired of all the sun and cannibals, he and his two sons (guess where the other one went) packed up along with some of the birds and sailed home. He threw a coming home party, and all of his neighbors loved the poultry he fed them. They wanted to know what it was and how to get some. This man from the region east of Anatolia was poor after being gone so long without working, so he decided this would make a good business.

A sign was soon seen in front of his house reading (in what language, I've no idea; it probably doesn't exist anymore) "Poultry for sail. Taking orders." (ok, so he couldn't spell sale, but he wasn't in the sign making business, so it didn't matter.) All of his neighbors signed up for at least a week's supply, and prepaid him. His sons went with him to brave the cannibals and to collect a supply of birds to bring home. The first trip was successful, and eventually they made friends with the natives, who agreed to breed the birds for him in recompense for the loss of his third son. It became quite a thriving business, and a few of the enterprising neighbors also got involved. They built boats and began shipping the birds also.

The delicacy became famous all over the known world, even Persia. To get the birds up to Persia, the men from the region east of Anatolia herded them north and east. Birds are frightened easily, and herders scared them into running the direction (hopefully) they wanted them to go. Coming into Persia, they always had a big welcome, because the noise of the birds could be heard miles - or at least yards, meters, cubits or whatever they used back then - away. People who were especially fond of the meat would chant as the herders entered the city, "Turk, turk, turk!"

Later when these men no longer herded birds, but men instead, the Persians ran in fear, screaming, "turk, turk..." The men took up the name, and it came to be a chant of their strength. Back home, they reminded themselves of their strength (for pride accompanies power) by calling themselves Turks. The birds they kept and sold couldn't keep their name of turk, since it meant strength now and the birds were stupid, not strong.

They were called turkey. This term was also used as a nickname for those among the Turks whose behavior resembled the turkey's. In Europe the names caught on, and they passed it to America, where a bigger version of the bird was bred by scalpers, not cannibals.

*I must inform you that although some parts of this story are factual, a whole lot is fictional. Please do not include any of the information found in #5 for a scientific report or to attempt to astound your friends with your incredible knowledge. = )

To God be all glory.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Changing Church Part VI

The brown-suited man sat down with a humph. “What about offerings?” asked the head of the stewardship committee. Anne smiled. This was one she had asked. After all, her husband’s salary came from offerings.

“Here’s the deal,” Will said in the manner that revealed he hadn’t been out of high school all that long. “If God lays on our hearts a need, we’ll take a special offering. Other than that, there will be envelopes as always in which you can mail your check. You may also leave it in the office. If our funds suffer, we’ll have to take a good look on Sundays at what God says about money, both in your personal accounts, and in the church’s. There’s a lot to study. I’ll be busy. I hope you will too. I almost forgot. If in your study during the week you have a question that you can’t answer, Sundays will be a good time to ask those. I’d appreciate the head of a household presenting the question.”

A trembling woman in a smart pale pink suit with matching heels stood to ask a question. Anne rolled her eyes. Apparently the women hadn’t gotten the hint. Maybe God would forgive them until they got it figured out. Will acknowledged her anyway. “You said a woman can’t ask questions in church, let alone teach. She should ask her husband or father. My husband doesn’t come to church, and I know there are several single women, or women whose husbands are not involved. What do you expect us to do?” Her voice edged on irritated.

Pastor Will had discussed this morning with his wife for weeks. They had prayed together over every name in the church directory. They had also discussed potential objections. He was, therefore, prepared for such questions. “See me after the service,” he looked around at various women single, divorced, unequally yoked, “all of you, and I’ll assign you a deacon whom you may call with questions, with needs. And, as I said, you can always call me or Anne.” Anne nodded.

“You’re mighty young to be changing things,” objected an elderly man in a quivering voice.

“I intend to set you an example. If you ever hear me present my own opinion, without reasoning from Scripture, stop me.”

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Elections, Conservatives, and Iraq

One week ago last Tuesday, national election results left me reeling. History could have taught me to expect a shift of power. History could have taught us to know better than let that happen. At such a time as this in world politics, I thought there was no way the American people would entrust their defense to those who would surrender to terrorists, grant amnesty to foreigners who break our laws, and spend money on the destruction of our economy and infant population. I was wrong.

Given my track record the past two weeks, perhaps I should not be surprised, then, at the reaction to Democrats’ victories in the press. Already stories are filling papers and television news stations of the Democrats’ plans. What went wrong? Did the people vote Democrat because of Iraq? What are the people saying?

Under similar circumstances a quarter of a century ago, President Ronald Reagan said that the results of the election were not determined by the dissatisfaction of those who voted, but of those who stayed home. All that is required for evil to conquer is for good men to do nothing. Nothing is exactly what too many good men did.

The most shocking result of last week’s election is the transformation of conservatives. President Bush has issued press releases hinting that he is reconsidering his policies in Iraq. In meetings with the Congress majority leaders-elect, he has indicated willingness to compromise in many areas. Conservative talk show hosts, who just weeks ago were defending the war in Iraq as just, well-founded, a struggle with evil, and necessary for the security of the American people, are now doing segments on what went wrong in our war. Doubt creeps into their minds, and screams from their comments. Was the war a good idea? Did we misjudge? Would it be better to just get out? Is Iraq’s new government really doing all they can to take charge of their own country?

What changed? Do popularity ratings determine what is right? Is national security a matter of politics? Will a Democrat-controlled congress really offer our safety on the altar of power and spite?

“Maybe isolationism was right all along,” they’re saying. “We have nothing to gain in Iraq. The war on terror is propaganda. Citizens of countries we liberated from oppressive terrorist regimes don’t want us there. Iraq is too tribal a culture for democracy. More soldiers die every week. We’re losing. It was all in vain.”

I sigh, remembering history. “Peace in our time,” cheered Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of England, trusting a signature on a peace of paper to prove the victory of diplomacy and compromise in the cause of peace. Just two years later an emboldened Fuhrer Hitler marched into Poland, trampling the theories of containment. His fighter pilots dropped bombs even on London. America tried to stay out of the European conflict; that is until Germany’s allies in Japan flew hundreds of miles to attack an “isolated” naval base in Hawaii. Does containment work? Pacificism? Isolationism?

“What can we gain in Iraq?” some ask. What can we gain by surrendering? What would it cost to have a terrorist-infested country in the world, encouraged by our retreat to continue using terror to accomplish their will? How long would it take before they were attacking us on our land again?

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter.
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace.
The war is actually begun!
The next gale that sweeps from the north
will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!
Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?
What is it that gentlemen wish?
What would they have?
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,
as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death!"
~ Patrick Henry

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Studies keep coming forth that sing the praises of vegetables. Nutritionists tell you how much of which kinds of vegetables to eat. Major news media informs you of recalls on certain vegetables so you won't get sick. The juicers and juice-makers go crazy with the latest vitamin and anti-oxidant crammed drink. Cartoons and Spiderman movies also remind children of the incredible results of consuming a balanced diet (not one third soda, one third pizza, and the final third chocolate, which would be my idea of a gourmet meal).

All along, moms have been telling kids to eat their vegetables. Before all these studies were able to isolate the vitamins and properties that make you strong and healthy, mothers knew. Before thousands of people participated in university-sponsored studies, already there was the family ritual of moms watching at least a few token bites of green beans into the mouths of their little ones.

How do they know? Come on! Who ever met someone who really ate their vegetables?

Ok, I take it back. My life has yielded friends who diligently ordered salads instead of burgers, who know how to cook other green plants and squash and all that. Can you really tell whether they're healthier, though? The real life modern men who look like Popeye eat a lot of red meats and energy drinks, not spinach.

How did I ever decide to write about vegetables? No, my mom did not force her adult daughter to eat the token green beans (though those are edible). I was thinking about my health, wondering why I don't feel and look as vibrant as I have in the past. The theoretical conclusion is that I haven't been eating my vegetables. See, women just know; it must be intuition.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Since the holidays are almost upon us, I'll play some holiday trivia. Without researching, answer the following two questions.

  1. In what book is the main character named Ebenezer?
  2. What is an Ebenezer stone?


3. Describe the biblical story in which Ebenezer stones are introduced.

To God be all glory.



Late at night
Awake again
Does this wondering
Ever end?

See the stars
Over head.
There I stand
Not in bed.

Looking out,
Waiting there,
Facing future:
I’m so scared.

Let me go;
Hold me tight.
The sky is grey,
But I’ll be all right.

Dream the dreams,
Look above.
I want so much
To fall in love.

Hoist anchors,
Set the sails.
Can I still believe
In fairy tales?

They say time flies;
Is it true?
Lord, how long
Must I wait on You?

I want to live,
Let me dance.
Tell me when
I’ll get my chance.

I need to know
If it’s all a lie.
Forget faith and
Just let me cry!

Stand up straight or
May I slouch?
Should I smile when
I want to pout?

Speak with ease,
Or close my mouth?
I’ll get through,
Don’t ask me how.

Pressure me –
See what you get:
Know what to do;
Haven’t done it yet.

One year past
Another comes.
Tell me, please,
Is this the one?

Living the now
Today is great;
Happy here
Yet I can’t wait.

“Eighteen means old,”
My friend said.
To me it seems
Life’s all ahead.

To God be all glory.
(hey, I wrote this. All rights reserved, you know?)

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Let's have a math lesson. Who knows what an integer is? I'll admit that number sets was a weakness when I took math in school. However, this is interesting, so play along. Do you know? Let me tell you in case. An integer is, officially, a whole number or a whole negative number or zero. So -3, 0, and 118 are all integers. 6.5 is NOT an integer.

Moving on from mathematics, do you know what integral means? You've probably heard it used: "She was an integral part of the team," meaning one player was indispensable. The team would not have been complete or functional without her.

So what is the definition of integrity? Perhaps you noticed these are all from the same root. Integrity means wholeness, without a chink, not fractured, complete and in working order.

Used as in "a life of integrity," the word means a life consistent with beliefs and morals - at all times. I once heard that integrity doesn't come by degrees. You can't have half integrity, or 99% integrity. By definition a life of integrity is all or nothing.

Personal and doctrinal integrity are essential attributes of church leaders. The church is to be the "pillar and ground of the truth," and elders are required to be able to "[hold] fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." The phrase "sound doctrine," used in four verses of the pastoral epistles, is similar in meaning to integrity, meaning wholeness (especially in regards to health) coupled with fundamental and comprehensive truth.

Just because I like etymology, I'm going to close with the etymology of integrity:
c.1450, "wholeness, perfect condition," from O.Fr. integrité, from L. integritatem (nom. integritas) "soundness, wholeness," from integer "whole" (see integer). Sense of "uncorrupted virtue" is from 1548.

and integer:
1508, "whole, entire" (adj.), from L. integer "whole," lit. "intact, untouched," from in- "not" + root of tangere "to touch" (see tangent). Noun meaning "a whole number" (opposed to fraction) first recorded 1571.

To God be all glory.

Changing Church Part V

“We’ll take it slow. Those are sufficient for now,” he finished. “Any questions?” At this he moved from the stage and sat by Anne. He needed to press her hand. This was the bravest thing he had ever done, and he was not up to facing all their questioning alone. Hands shot up. Resting one knee on his chair, he turned to face them. One at a time, he called them out.

From a well-meaning woman in her sixties, “This sounds like chaos. We just read God doesn’t like confusion. Well, what if one man brings a lesson from 1 Timothy and another wants to tell us what he’s learning from Isaiah? What if no one has any ideas for songs?”

“I’m trusting God to lay on our hearts messages and songs that will communicate to us as He wills. I’m trusting you all to be respectful and to heed God’s leading. Our schedule is abandoned. We start at 10, in here. We may not end until 3. If you have to leave prior, we’ll understand. If you want to bring sandwiches, that’s ok too. Don’t you think they broke bread when the early church gathered? Two or three may teach.”

A Sunday school teacher asked, “Will we still have Sunday school?”


“Look, everyone is being very calm about this, but who gave you the right to go and change everything? I’ve been at this church since it was founded, and there’s such a thing as a church constitution. And what about job description? Sounds lazy to me.” A man who filled his brown suit stood to object. He, at least, was not being calm.

Anne cringed. She squeezed confidence into her husband’s hand, then released it. Pastor Will used his hands to talk. “The church constitution says nothing about the changes I am instituting. As your pastor, who is a leader and protector and teacher of the church, I see God as both giving the authority and the job description. I did not arrive at these conclusions lightly. If I were not completely convinced that God’s Word is explicit on these things, I would not have risked your indignation. As to laziness, far from it. It may only seem so to you because I am asking you all to take responsibility for your church. You will no longer be able to sit in church on Sunday and trust your leaders to have a relationship with God for you. You will have to spend time with Him yourself. I’ll be here to teach, to guide, to help, to answer. You can call me with your questions at any time of day. I’ll be there.”

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Love in Waiting... by the movies

While I'm posting about movies, particularly Wives and Daughters, which I had to put in to transcribe the quote in the prior post, I thought I'd throw out this comment about heroines in movies.

My favorite (romantic) movies are ones in which the heroines prove that love is worth the wait. Even if the movie is not one of my favorites for other reasons, if that is part of the plot, I'm encouraged. In Wives and Daughters Molly loves Roger very selflessly, for a long time, without ever pursuing him. She waits for him to come after her, and in the end, as you can imagine, their love is very sweet.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is another movie in which the theme of waiting, while blurred, stands out to me. In the end there is no need to rush to expressions of romance. A love worth waiting for is content to express itself every day, to rest in the security of knowing the other's love.

As a little girl I loved Brigadoon, and one of the main songs: Waitin' for Me Dearie. "Waitin' for m' dearie, and happy am I to hold my heart 'til he comes strollin' by." There is no need to trifle with the hearts of others along the way. "For you see, I believe that there's a laddy weary and wanderin' free, who's waitin' for his dearie, me."

Pride and Prejudice nearly opens with Elizabeth's confession: "nothing but the very deepest love will induce me to matrimony... so I will end an old maid." She is willing to hold out for real love even if it never comes. Compare her opinion with her sister's and her best friend's. Lydia sacrifices real love for rushed lust. Charlotte despairs of love and settles for comfort.

A new movie with this theme is The Lake House, in which the characters wait for years without meeting in person. And there is nothing like Jane Austen's Persuasion (best in book form so far; look forward to the BBC production) for encouraging one to hang on.

To God be all glory.

Love by the Movies

If you believe the movies, and I don't recommend that you do, you may have noticed that most people can fall in love if they are trying. Even if they're only trying to give the impression of falling in love, they end up suffering from romance anyway.

Though I advise you not to base your view of reality on the movies, to some extent I do. So I'm left wondering what is wrong with all the good Christian men in the world who don't buckle down, accept responsiblity, and choose a girl with whom to fall in love. Allow me to quote a movie, Wives and Daughters. Father: "I don't see why you don't put up for her still. Don't you think you could like her if you tried?" Son: "No need for trying to love her, that's already done." Father: "...Tell her you love her, and if she won't have you now, then wait a while and ask her again. And don't give up trying until you've made her safe."

Love is a choice, right? That's the mature, reformed view of things? In my opinion there is nothing more romantic than two people trying to fall in love, even if they're already married trying to keep falling in love. There are shows in which two characters try not to fall in love, and that can be entertaining, but I stand by my statement. Trying to be in love is better. Maybe that's why God made marriage, and not just the temporary relationships caused by the dating mentality.

If love is a choice, though, it is also something which we can choose not to do. This means we are not the slaves of emotions. Teenagers need this message. If your feelings are controllable, you are able to wait and to save them for God's timing. I rest in that.

To God be all glory.


I have many favorite movies. If you ever read my profile, you would notice that. I think I hit the limit, and no more will show. The movies are mostly very long, too. What's more, for me to consider a movie my favorite, it has to be one that I am inclined to rewind and play over again immediately.

One such is The Two Towers. Despite the departures from the book, the tone of the movie, the scenes with Eowyn, and the score are all fantastic. You have to see the Helm's Deep battle scene.

A theme through the movie is names. Pay attention to how many times the recovering King Theoden clings to names. Gimli demands, "Give me your name, horsemaster, and I shall give you mine." Aragorn asks a frightened young soldier for his name before encouraging him. Gandalf's name changes. Treebeard figures out what name to call the hobbits (after he realizes they're not little orcs). Gollum's recovery involves remembering the name given by those who loved him first. If you're interested, I would recommend you watch the movie and let the use of names touch you.

Have you ever considered how seldom people actually use your name? Friends will walk up and start talking. Moms will use your name to call you from across the house. When you're introduced, people prove they know your name. Names are listed to define groups. Picture a conversation, though. How often does someone say, "I am convinced, Lisa, that God has a plan for me in this"?

When people do use my name in that meaningful way, I am touched. They're paying attention to whom they're speaking. What they say is intentional. However someone says my name reflects on what they think about me.

On the flip side, how and when and what version of my name I use indicates the level of familiarity I am in the mood to communicate. First, my parents gave me my name, so when I write to them, I use my first name. A nickname I call myself goes to my close friends. In my business or online, I am usually "Lisa of Longbourn." My full name with middle initial indicates an official signature to less familiar acquaintances. Of course my legal signature doesn't have the middle initial. Finally, when I want to be as anonymous as possible, I am "Lady of Longbourn."

So now I've confessed, and you will all know how I think of you when I sign. However, one thing is always the same. Every letter or post ends with "To God be all glory," indicating my commitment to being God's minister to everyone. And I like to return-address my envelopes with my title, Miss.

What have you noticed about names?

To God be all glory.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Joseph: The Man God Intended

In light of many events this past week, Joseph has been on my mind. Let me refresh your memories.

Joseph was the son of Jacob, the envy of his brothers. They maliciously sold him as a slave to Egyptians, and left his father assuming he was dead. Never did they intend to see him again.

A famine came many years later to both Israel/Canaan and to Egypt. The brothers were sent by Jacob to Egypt, where they heard there was food stored. Through a series of touching events, the brothers were reunited with Joseph, now acting as prime minister to Pharaoh, and the instigator of the food rationing program that would save not only Egypt, but the life of his family.

After Jacob's death, the brothers feared Joseph would take revenge on them. He answered,

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

So, in all the political and spiritual turmoil attacking our land, I have taken peace remembering that what men intend for evil, God means for good.

Romans 8:28 ~ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I also noted that Joseph did menial things wherever he was, not knowing how God's plan would work out. He didn't demand an explanation of God. Wherever Joseph was, he was all there, serving his God. Joseph fulfilled the requirements of Romans 8. He loved God, and was called according to His purpose, even as a slave, and even in prison. Praise God our callings are not so discouraging!

My preference for life is that mine not be normal. I don't want to be someone that you can know for a few years and forget. My prayer is that I would bless and impact people, that life would be an adventure, and that I would be a part of "big" things. Like Eowyn, I fear the walls of my life would close in about me, to trammell me. So I take heart that those men in the Bible who would eventually participate in God's deliverance of His people: Joseph, Moses, and David, for example, started late, and were busy with daily chores until God's time for them came. Those times of servanthood were even training for them to be great leaders. Moses is remembered as the meekest man that ever lived, and David, of course, was recognized as the man after God's own heart. Life is heart therapy.

To God be all glory.

Who Can Find a Virtuous Wife or a Valorous Man?

In my first ever blog series, a short story entitled “Changing Church,” a relatively young man is the senior pastor of the average Baptist church. Aiming to be faithful to his calling as shepherd of his church, he institutes some major (biblical) changes. Will there be objections? Of course. Are they legitimate? Should anyone that young be a pastor? Aren’t pastors called elders? Doesn’t elder mean “older”?

At my state’s homeschool conference this summer, Vision Forum teamed up with our Christian home educators association to include sessions on Uniting Church and Family. After one of the more practical and inspiring classes, I overheard two young fathers discussing what they had learned. Their conclusion was, in effect, that they were passionate about the vision for uniting church and family, but their churches were not like that. Starting a church (another topic at the conference) seemed the most viable way to get the family fellowship described. But neither of them felt qualified at their age to lead a church. What should they do?

Also over the summer, my church studied church leadership in Sunday school. The youth class (yes, there is one) struggled to find application in 1 Timothy 3:1-13. “These standards are really high,” they said. Implied in their conclusion was that they weren’t up to the task. Or only older men are able to, for example, be sober (serious, intentional).

I listened sadly to the account of what took place that Sunday morning. This chapter is a challenge to young men.
Look! If you want to be worthy of leadership in the church when you are elder, you have to get to work now! Don’t make decisions today that will forever prohibit you from certain areas of ministry. Set this as your example, your goal. Be inspired!

Don’t young men today desire the work of a bishop (overseer, elder, pastor)? The Bible says that desire is a good thing. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul encourages Timothy to let no one despise his youth, but be an example of the believers. Paul enumerates: in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Being young is not an excuse for being frivolous or ungodly. The epistle to Titus elaborates: "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded." And in 1 John: "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one."

This reminds me of the various reactions to Proverbs 31. I say reaction. Proverbs 31 causes reactions in me. I am challenged. This is my example. Doesn’t every girl want to be the treasured woman in the passage? Some women respond to Proverbs 31. They don’t do anything. Only words explain how the admonition affects them. It’s discouraging. How can anyone be like her? The list is too long. These are, after all, rare virtues. Who can find her?

Specificly as a single young woman, I am challenged, too. Being a maiden in waiting is not being a maiden in whining. The Bible does not give us that option. If you are married, you are to be fulfilling the role of wife instituted in Genesis 2. 1 Corinthians 7 tells unmarried women to be about their Father’s business: "There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit" Titus 2, again, pictures what holiness means for young women: "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

The part about blaspheming the word of God is very true. If
God’s Word is good, if it does not return void, and if these are to be our examples, and we are not putting them into practice, God’s Word is defamed and broken. His purpose is not being accomplished. God did not write the Bible so we could have interesting discussions once a week on Sundays. He intended… obedience rather than sacrifice. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24)

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Changing Church Part IV

“For example, the Bible doesn’t really talk about preaching in church. What did it say? When you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a prophecy, has a tongue.” Everyone shifted uneasily in their seats. “This passage and others tell us that it is only the men who stand up and speak in church. Women should ask their fathers or husbands if they have questions. I’m talking about changes. Changes not only here on Sunday mornings, but in your life during the week. We all know how many questions women have. My Anne is always peppering me with them. We’re going to have to make time during the week to listen to those. And men, we may not always have the answers. We may have to do some personal study to find them. But you know, I believe it will build your families. I believe God knew what He was doing when He gave that instruction.”

A child asked his mommy if he could go play. Everyone heard it. Everyone looked much more willing to play than to sit through this. Scattered across the congregation were those curious persons, leaning forward to catch every word. The microphone had never been turned on. Pastor Will’s voice alone was projecting. Whether it was truly his tone or the lack of electronic alteration, his voice sounded more sincere and conversational.

“This is going to take a few months to get straight. They’re big changes. But the first changes are these: there will be no nursery service, no scheduled worship songs, and no sermon. Instead I’ll ask families to keep their children with them. Keep them from screaming and running, but beside that they’re just being kids. I expect everyone twelve and older to bring a Bible and to be willing to listen. I, as the pastor, will be the moderator, and I may sometimes have a teaching to share. Men, I encourage you to be praying during the week whether God wants you to share what He’s been teaching you. You may want to request a song. We can have our pianist or a guitarist start us out and play. That’s the great thing about hymns: they’re in the hymnal in front of you. But we can sing praise songs, too. We all know lots of those. And we can learn…” Will had been going without stopping. His excitement at the changes lit his eyes. He had a vision. But he also knew the opposition he and his congregation would face.

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Thanksgiving Contentment

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. Every Thanksgiving I turn my usual daily prayers into praises. The perspective provided by this practice is great. Then there's family. Usually my mom's side of the family gathers for a feast and we do crazy things like watching parades on TV, playing poker for pretzels, and listening to my mom and her four sisters reminisce.

I love the colors of Thanksgiving, and the memory of American history. Turkey is a really good dish, and football is my favorite sport to watch. Am I born for Thanksgiving or what? We rake, and color of leaves to make pretty patterns. Light candles, pull out the throws. The season is warming up for Christmas.

Contentment goes way down in the fall. I'm about to have another birthday. The holidays are family time. Family I haven't seen in a while checks up on the progress of my life. What do you say? What do they want to hear? What do they need to hear? Carolyn McCulley addresses this very issue, nay, problem in her blog. Read it.

Some day I'm going to invite or drag my fiance/husband to this wonderful ritual of family life. That image is probably the source of my discontent. I can't wait to introduce him to everyone. Instead, I have to pray that his Thanksgiving is thankful, and less lonely than mine feels.

Why is that? Why can't I take Jim Elliot's advice: "Wherever you are, be all there"? In Carolyn's blog, the answer is pride. I'm tempted to believe that. Self-pity, believing I deserve something more than the incredible grace God has given me - is pride. The solution, in my experience, is to fill myself with God. Read lots of Scripture and spend dedicated time in prayer, just pouring my heart to Him about all the dreams, the concerns, the struggles, and the praises.

Back to praises. Giving thanks. What do people do who have no one to thank? This past month I read Recapture the Wonder by Ravi Zacharias. In it, he writes that an integral part of wonder is gratitude. Feeling gratitude causes generosity. The whole experience is wonder-ful. I want a life of wonder, of delight, and of adventure. So this year, I'm going to be intentional about gratitude and generosity and seeing that others are blessed.

What about you?

To God be all glory.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Changing Church Part III

“Take your Bibles, and kids, this means you, too. And turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14.” After waiting for the shuffling of pages to quiet, Pastor Will opened his Bible at a bookmark. He had no notes, and he didn’t sound to anyone as though he was reciting a sermon. They wondered when they would sing.

Beginning at verse one, he read straight through the whole chapter. His head tilted and his voice raised for emphasis, as though he was telling it as he had heard Paul speak it. At last he finished, and he took a deep breath. His eyes settled on the older members of the congregation, each look a prayer that they would accept his next words.

“I know that this will be hard for most of you to accept. I know I’m risking my job. But in good conscience, I cannot be your pastor without letting you know that what we just read, only one of many passages in which God tells us how we should conduct our church gatherings, doesn’t match how church is done in America today. From this Sunday forward, we are going to abandon tradition and go back to the book. This book.” He held it over his head.

Some people gasped. A few cheered. Most just stared. What was he saying? This was a Baptist church.

What did he mean: the Bible said they were doing church wrong? From this Sunday forward? Forever? Surely not. What would they do on Sundays? Maybe it was only a preaching style. After all, he’s young.

To God be all glory.

See index for first and additional chapters.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Night With the King

When last Wednesday I watched One Night With the King, I was struck by a series of parables. Biggest to me was that my God is King of Kings, which means the splendor of His court is greater than the Citadel of Susa. With marble steps, hangings, a tiered city, and the magnificent lion springing from behind the throne, my breath was taken away.

Next would be the butterfly effect. One act of obedience - or disobedience - can sway history. A king's insomnia changes the course of history. King Saul obeys half of a commandment, half a millennium earlier, as was his wont. Esther bravely enters the hall of the king. Still, that did not take her whole life to accomplish. Her courage took no more than a week.

Esther is compared to both David and Daniel. As Daniel refused the royal food in Babylon, she didn't adorn herself with anything except what her guardian gave her. David also declined taking Saul's armor to battle Goliath. She talks about David, saying his victory was not by fighting well, but by believing well.

The use of the story of Jacob and Rachel, one of the most curious stories in the Bible (which I might add the Thoenes just used in Fifth Seal), was especially effective in connecting the king's emotions to the revelation of Esther's heritage. Esther weaves the tale of Jacob and Rachel through the whole movie.

Esther was chosen by the king. In the Bible we aren't given any reasons. The king did what he wanted. God chooses His people. The Bible doesn't give any reasons. But God does what He wants.

King Xerxes was in the movie a man who deep down wanted truth and love, but in real life needed answers and someone to trust. Does that not resonate with you? In moments of worship we feel as though we could live on love and truth. Someone knocks at your door and asks you to do something hard, and suddenly you have questions. Who do you trust? How hard life is when you don't know that God is the ever-trust-worthy One!

Oh, how Esther prayed to God her Father! She sounded so humble and sincere, but also comfortable. Her prayers were familiar. The relationship she had with God (in the movie) was very real. She drew strength from it.

The lack of honor given to Mordechai for saving the king's life is reminiscent of our failure to honor God for His grace. No, we plot against Him instead.

When Esther answers the king about the value of love, "If it has a price, it is not love." I like those concepts.

There is a lot about democracy being biblically supported, with mention of Messiah (in a theatrically released movie!) who "will set all men free." "All men are created equal?" screams Haman to a violent crowd, "Are you equal to a slave?" He mocks the teaching of Judaism. His words might also sound familiar to students of American history.

My primary objection is costumes: I didn't receive one with the price of the ticket.

The queen is a night owl, preferring to walk and watch the city than to sleep. She reads, even having some Bible stories memorized. Children love to hear her tales. Esther lives looking forward, not back. She lives for others, but with joy, freedom, and penetrating insight.

To God be all glory.

Wonder of Change

I am often amazed that I have seen the start of things. I remember a world that “once was” and now is different. Life is not all a retreat, a moment of activity with no impact on the future. Each day progresses from the previous night. One cannot escape untouched.

Today I was marveling over a little thing: I saw the beginning of Soup or Salad, of Jason’s Deli, and of Sweet Tomatoes. These eateries represented a fad in dining. Now, while they still stand offering soup, salad, subs, or a buffet of vegetarian cuisine, they are not as popular. A fast food fashion gone out is the Pizza Hut buffet. For a while I remember big banners attracting many patrons to the local Pizza Hut for their sample of as many kinds of pizza as you could crave (along with salad and the best part – chocolate pudding). Where once stood our dine-in franchise is now a Greek restaurant, slowly transforming the Pizza Hut trademark building by paint and through renovations.

Last week at church I realized – and how often I laugh at the obvious things that require realization – that my involvement in the women’s ministry is not temporary. I am not anonymous. Things I do there cannot be undone. Relationships are being built; truth acquired, and change FOREVER affected. People feel towards me, think thoughts about me. And the marvelous thing is that I feel towards them, rejoicing when they rejoice and weeping when they weep. I think of them during the week. Quotes, verses, communications arise that I want to send to them.

When I was younger, the world was, and I was content (usually). There was no Jason’s Deli, and I did not care. Pizza Hut served lunch buffet for $3.99 and I took it for granted. There was an embracing community, but it had always existed as far as I knew, and ever would. Experience has birthed wonder in me. First I experienced loss, and change. So the world was not stable as I had depended. No, it is ever-changing, ever-growing. I can be a part of maturing.

Change brought me to my knees. When first life revealed itself a fluid sea, and not a bedrock, I cried out in bitter lost-ness. My reaction was not “What is this?!” with the triumphant curiosity, but a “Why not that?” the childish know-it-all nature that says, “I pronounced my world good, and it changed. Who’s responsible?” Isn’t it productive to ask questions, though?

Who is responsible? In the search for a culprit I found the anchor, the stability in a world of change. With confidence that God is I AM, the unchanging One, I can laugh with wonder at the new mercies every morning, the new gifts rained down on me. More, I can join in the activity, pushing my world and my life toward strength and growth and health. Still He astounds me. Still the realization of something that ought to have been obvious brings a smile to my face.

To God be all glory.