Sunday Blessings

29 January 2012

{painting by Frederick Morgan}

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

— "O For a Closer Walk With God" by William Cowper

It is my prayer that this old hymn will become true in my life as well as the lives of those reading this post. 'Tis so easy to grow lax as we stride the narrow way, but it's never too late to turn back to His loving arms.

"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you . . ." — James 4:8

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

Poem of the Week: If by Rudyard Kipling

27 January 2012

Today marks just two years of this little blog o' mine's presence on the world wide web. Two years of blessings; two years of lessons; and two years that would not have been the same without each of my precious readers. Although I do not always have the time to read every one of your blogs, please know that the fact that you take the time to follow and comment on this little page of my heart's musings means the world to me. 

As this blog progresses into its third year, I thought it ever so appropriate for this week's poem to focus on the purpose I have for this blog. 

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

'Tis a hefty thing to achieve, but I know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. By His grace, I will continue growing and learning this next year of blogging. I hope you will join me!

On another topic . . . Partly in celebration of two years of blogging, and partly because it's been simply too long since I've had a contest of some kind, I am pleased to introduce that Living on Literary Lane will be hosting a writing competition! 

What type of writing, you ask? It can be anything you please: short story, poem, historical fiction, nonfiction -- the possibilites are endless! 

{Prizes to be announced in a later post.}

Sharpen your nibs, dust the cobwebs from your imagination, stretch your fingers, and begin! I hope to receive many delightful poems and stories!
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." — Romans 15:4

Movie Review: North & South (2004)

25 January 2012

This post is for you, Gwen. :)

Well, I saw it. After nearly a year of saying I would, I finally watched North & South. I probably shouldn't have delayed it as long as I did -- sensing a pattern here? :P -- but it worked out nicely, because Momma and Daddy gave it to Bree and me for Christmas, making for a delightful surprise. Normally we borrow movies from the library before purchasing them (unless we saw them in the theater and are already certain of the quality of the content), but in this case, we all knew it was bound to be good, and we were willing to run the risk. And our assumptions proved correct. 

North & South (2004)
Starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe
*Summary taken from the back of the movie

As the daughter of a middle-class parson, Margaret Hale has enjoyed a priviledged upbringing in rural southern England. But when her father uproots the family, she is forced to adapt to a new life in Milton -- a northern mill town in the throes of the industrial revolution.

Margaret is shocked by her new surroundings. Appalled by the dirt, noise and gruffness of the people of Milton, she saves her greatest contempt for the mill-owners. When John Thornton, charismatic proprietor of Marlborough Mills, becomes a "pupil" of her father, she makes her distaste for this vulgar and uneducated new class abundantly clear.

Over time, Margaret's attitude towards the mill workers begins to change and she joins their workplace struggles against poverty and disease. But will she ever change her view of their employers -- in particular, one who has secretly become her admirer?

My Thoughts: Although some of my siblings commented that this movie was "too sad," and "not cheerful enough," I found it to be a beautiful story with a beautiful ending. It has a plot rather similar to that of Pride and Prejudice, but is -- in my opinion -- a much more developed story. We actually get to see both sides of the story and grow to love Mr. Thornton just as much as we love Margaret. Pride and Prejudice, although a wonderful story, always seemed to me rather abrupt when it came to Lizzy and Mr. Darcy's love story. One gets to know every aspect of Lizzy's character and what she thinks of Mr. Darcy, and we think she's right -- who else are we to believe? . . . until the end, when, lo and behold, Mr. Darcy is good, kind, not as proud as he seems, etc., etc., etc. So, I confess, I do like Mr. Thornton better than Mr. Darcy; his character is much more rounded, by my way of thinking. 

The interactions between the characters in N&S are beautiful. I loved Margaret's relationship with her father. Although he is shown to be rather confused about his beliefs (my one complaint with the film), she supported, defended, and loved him anyway. That is something you do not see often in movies, what with all the promotion of rebellion, disrespect, and "my parents don't understand me!" Mr. Thornton's relationship with his mother was also sweet; his protection of her and devotion to her, and her dependence on him and faith in his abilities were lovely things to behold. ♥

Pros: The story is much more dramatic and real to life than some other period dramas I've seen, including details about the outside world and not simply focusing on whether or not this young lady walked out with that young man, how many lumps of sugar you desire in your tea, what time the ball begins . . . you get the idea. In North & South, the characters are faced with real-life situations and how real people could have dealt with them. I felt very drawn in, and it was hard to stop each night when the clock approached bedtime. And the end was just. perfect. Aren't you just dying to know why? :)

Cons: Some violence when the factory workers go on strike; a character is wounded in the head -- for the sake of those who have not seen N&S, I won't say who; a man commits suicide/drowns; a few other characters die. 

Memorable Quotes:

John Thornton: [When Margaret is leaving Milton in a carriage] "Look back at me."

Nicholas Higgins: "My poor Bess! She lived the life of a dog. Hard work and illness. She never had one moment of rejoicing. I'm not saying I don't believe in your God, but I can't believe He meant the world to be as it is. The masters ruling over us, the rest of us left to live a half-life in the shadows."

John Thornton: "Was... was it Miss Hale who told you to come to me? You might have said."
Nicholas Higgins: "And you've have been a little more civil?"
[Thornton glares at him and leaves] 

Mrs. Thornton: "A mother's love holds fast and forever. A girl's love is like a puff of smoke -- it changes with every wind."

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars . . . but only because it wouldn't make sense to give it 12 out of 5 stars. :)

Sunday Blessings

15 January 2012

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. ~Proverbs 15:33
I came upon this verse during my devotion and prayer time this morning. The sunlight gently filtering through my bedroom window fell upon the page, lighting the words so that they stood apart from the rest of the text. It made me pause in my reading for a minute and reflect upon what those words meant. 

So often I have found myself dreaming of what it would be like to be a published author. Seeing my books in bookstores, where others can freely read them, sends a thrill down my spine. In these times, I'm tempted to get a big head about my writing or my self-importance. For one short moment, I forget to give honor to Him who deserves it. 

Have you ever experienced this yourself? I know we've all had those moments where we start thinking a little too much of ourselves, just like we have those moments when we think we're worth nothing. Sometimes it seems impossible to maintain the right balance: humility coupled with content, pride in oneself without arrogance. 

The Bible gives us a very clear vision of that for which we should aim in this short verse. Before we can expect to be honored, whether as a published author or a dearly-beloved wife and mother, we must learn to instill in ourselves a sense of humility. 

humility |(h)yoōˈmilitē|

a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.

Humility does not mean you think of yourself as worthless. Rather, it means you have the proper perspective, where your worth is in Christ Jesus and not in your own works. Humility is placing others before yourself and valuing their wishes over your own. It's hard -- I'm not denying that fact. So many times I think I'm "being humble," and then I realize the very act of praising myself for being humble is, well . . . not humility. 
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. ~Saint Augustine
What are some ways you can practice humility in your daily life?

Poem of the Week: Only One Life by C.T. Studd

13 January 2012

Only One Life
By C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, 
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God's holy will to cleave;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e'er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,"Thy will be done”;
And when at last I'll hear the call,
I know I'll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last. 

How appropriate is this poem at the start of twenty twelve, when we all are evaluating our lives and realizing what areas need improvement. It's important to remember that material things, though enjoyable, fade away. Only what's done for Christ will last . . . Any thoughts you'd care to share relating to this topic?

One thousand gifts.

09 January 2012

This year has already begun to feel different than the rest. This is the year that I have chosen to blog purposely and not for numbers or any other status symbols. This is the year that I have chosen to begin releasing my own ideas to His perfect plan for my life. And this is the year that I have chosen to record the many blessings He gives me on a daily basis. 

Inspired by Barbie's post, I have decided to take the Joy Dare in 2012. Reading Les Misérables has been making me extremely aware of every little blessing in my life that I don't even notice. I want to be grateful -- wholly and completely grateful -- for everything He gives me. Discontent is a seed that needs to be rooted out of my life, and I have found this to be a beautiful way in which I can do it. 

Mrs. Voskamp has challenged all of us to record 1000 gifts or blessings in 365 days. That's only three blessings a day, a small feat. I'll be recording them on a page on my blog's sidebar, which will be updated every day as I add new things to the list. 

This is not something for the faint of heart. This is for those of you who want to live wholly, intentionally, and God-centered. So will you take up the Joy Dare with me and dare to find 1000 blessings in twenty twelve?

Sunday Blessings

08 January 2012

{painting by John Everett Millais}

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, 
God of glory, Lord of love; 
hearts unfold like flowers before thee, 
opening to the sun above.  
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; 
drive the dark of doubt away.  
Giver of immortal gladness, 
fill us with the light of day!

All thy works with joy surround thee, 
earth and heaven reflect thy rays, 
stars and angels sing around thee, 
center of unbroken praise.  
Field and forest, vale and mountain, 
flowery meadow, flashing sea, 
chanting bird and flowing fountain, 
call us to rejoice in thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, 
ever blessing, ever blest, 
well-spring of the joy of living, 
ocean depth of happy rest!  
Thou our Father, Christ our brother, 
all who live in love are thine; 
teach us how to love each other, 
lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the mighty chorus 
which the morning stars began; 
love divine is reigning o'er us, 
binding all within its span.  
Ever singing, march we onward, 
victors in the midst of strife; 
joyful music leads us sunward, 
in the triumph song of life.

— "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" by Henry J. van Dyke

I hope you are having a blessed Lord's Day thus far!

"My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed." — Psalm 71:23

Poem of the Week: The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson

06 January 2012

{painting by John William Waterhouse}

The Lady of Shalott
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

   On either side the river lie 
Long fields of barley and of rye, 
That clothe the wold and meet the sky; 
And thro' the field the road runs by 
To many-tower'd Camelot; 
And up and down the people go, 
Gazing where the lilies blow 
Round an island there below, 
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 
Little breezes dusk and shiver 
Through the wave that runs for ever 
By the island in the river 
Flowing down to Camelot. 
Four grey walls, and four grey towers, 
Overlook a space of flowers, 
And the silent isle imbowers 
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd 
By slow horses; and unhail'd 
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot: 
But who hath seen her wave her hand? 
Or at the casement seen her stand? 
Or is she known in all the land, 
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early, 
In among the bearded barley 
Hear a song that echoes cheerly 
From the river winding clearly; 
Down to tower'd Camelot; 
And by the moon the reaper weary, 
Piling sheaves in uplands airy, 
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy 
Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colours gay. 
She has heard a whisper say, 
A curse is on her if she stay 
To look down to Camelot. 
She knows not what the curse may be, 
And so she weaveth steadily, 
And little other care hath she, 
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear 
That hangs before her all the year, 
Shadows of the world appear. 
There she sees the highway near 
Winding down to Camelot; 
There the river eddy whirls, 
And there the surly village churls, 
And the red cloaks of market girls 
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad, 
An abbot on an ambling pad, 
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad, 
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad 
Goes by to tower'd Camelot; 
And sometimes through the mirror blue 
The knights come riding two and two. 
She hath no loyal Knight and true, 
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights 
To weave the mirror's magic sights, 
For often through the silent nights 
A funeral, with plumes and lights 
And music, went to Camelot; 
Or when the Moon was overhead, 
Came two young lovers lately wed. 
"I am half sick of shadows," said 
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, 
He rode between the barley sheaves, 
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves, 
And flamed upon the brazen greaves 
Of bold Sir Lancelot. 
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd 
To a lady in his shield, 
That sparkled on the yellow field, 
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, 
Like to some branch of stars we see 
Hung in the golden Galaxy. 
The bridle bells rang merrily 
As he rode down to Camelot: 
And from his blazon'd baldric slung 
A mighty silver bugle hung, 
And as he rode his armor rung 
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather 
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather, 
The helmet and the helmet-feather 
Burn'd like one burning flame together, 
As he rode down to Camelot. 
As often thro' the purple night, 
Below the starry clusters bright, 
Some bearded meteor, burning bright, 
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode; 
From underneath his helmet flow'd 
His coal-black curls as on he rode, 
As he rode down to Camelot. 
From the bank and from the river 
He flashed into the crystal mirror, 
"Tirra lirra," by the river 
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom, 
She made three paces through the room, 
She saw the water-lily bloom, 
She saw the helmet and the plume, 
She look'd down to Camelot. 
Out flew the web and floated wide; 
The mirror crack'd from side to side; 
"The curse is come upon me," cried 
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining, 
The pale yellow woods were waning, 
The broad stream in his banks complaining. 
Heavily the low sky raining 
Over tower'd Camelot; 
Down she came and found a boat 
Beneath a willow left afloat, 
And around about the prow she wrote 
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse 
Like some bold seer in a trance, 
Seeing all his own mischance -- 
With a glassy countenance 
Did she look to Camelot. 
And at the closing of the day 
She loosed the chain, and down she lay; 
The broad stream bore her far away, 
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white 
That loosely flew to left and right -- 
The leaves upon her falling light -- 
Thro' the noises of the night, 
She floated down to Camelot: 
And as the boat-head wound along 
The willowy hills and fields among, 
They heard her singing her last song, 
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy, 
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly, 
Till her blood was frozen slowly, 
And her eyes were darkened wholly, 
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot. 
For ere she reach'd upon the tide 
The first house by the water-side, 
Singing in her song she died, 
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony, 
By garden-wall and gallery, 
A gleaming shape she floated by, 
Dead-pale between the houses high, 
Silent into Camelot. 
Out upon the wharfs they came, 
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame, 
And around the prow they read her name, 
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here? 
And in the lighted palace near 
Died the sound of royal cheer; 
And they crossed themselves for fear, 
All the Knights at Camelot; 
But Lancelot mused a little space 
He said, "She has a lovely face; 
God in his mercy lend her grace, 
The Lady of Shalott."

Brownie points if you read the whole thing. :) Have a blessed day, dear friends!

For Authenticity's Sake

05 January 2012

Trends. They come and go in this world, and there are some who live to follow them. They constantly go around, changing their colors faster than chameleons, and only succeeding in becoming a lonely echo of what they think they are meant to be. They want to be noticed, but because they're only doing exactly what everyone else is doing, they're ignored. 

In the community of inspiring and lovely Christian bloggers that I know, you'd think these trends would be nonexistent. Alas, we seem just as prone to this mistake as we go around and imitate "those bloggers" -- the ones with over 1000 followers and at least 30 comments on each post. The trends of the blogworld nowadays seem to be anything vintage, anything antique, lowercase letters, being adorkable, and being real. 

That last trend may sound somewhat odd -- why is being real a bad thing, you ask? Well, it's not . . . when it's really the focus. But when bloggers say "I want to be real", oftentimes all they're doing is copying the words of five others blog posts they read this morning. Their definition of "being real" is only an imitation, because they are only acting like an imitation. 

Just like how many friends you have on Facebook has become a status symbol, in the blogworld, how many followers you have and how many comments you receive measures you up. The more followers you have, the more people value your words, because they think you're "important." I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I believe it needs to be said. Followers and comments do not define you! If you really want to be real, write reality. Don't say you love vintage and lowercase letters if you don't! Blogging is about being real, natural, and helping others to see the world through your eyes. We as Christians should blog to Christ's glory and for Him alone, not for comments!

I realized a while ago that I probably would never get a lot of followers. I don't take amazing pictures, my posts are not constantly amazing and inspiring, and I'm not perfect. But I know that I am a work in progress. I am but clay in the Potter's hand, and He is constantly molding and making me into the young lady He wants me to be. I may not be loved and adored by everyone in the whole world, but I'm loved by Him . . . and that's enough. 

Just so we're all clear . . . I'm an old-fashioned young lady named Elizabeth Rose. I love wearing  swirly skirts, reading books on rainy days, wordcrafting, dancing, anything and everything Irish, the bagpipes, British accents, Les Misérables, Italian food, and a good cup o' tea. I'm taking my second year of Spanish and hope to learn Italian, French, and German one day. My heart's greatest hope is to marry the man He has chosen for me and have a houseful of children someday. I'm a stubborn soul who is constantly reminded of how much I need my Saviour. It truly is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I hope you enjoy your stay here at Literary Lane.

To the followers I have: you each mean so much to me and I am truly grateful for you. It's hard for me to stay in touch with everyone, but I would love if you would leave me a comment and let me know how you found me and a little about yourself. I want Literary Lane to be a real community of friends, not followers, where we can gather together and enjoy a cup of tea and a respite from the stress of the world. I want my wee little blog to be a place of peace and rest. 

Ladies, I'd like to challenge each of you to something this week. Next time you go to post something on your blog, ask yourself, "Does this glorify God?" And then ask yourself, "If I saw this on a blog, with nobody pressuring me to like it or comment, would I enjoy reading it?" Because if you don't honestly enjoy what you're posting on your own blog, you have a problem. 

My followers do not define me. I am defined by my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He gave His life for me — He thinks I'm worth dying for. And that's ultimately all that matters to me. 

Behold, all things are become new.

01 January 2012

I'm not quite sure what to say. 2011 flew by so, so fast. I am still clinging to the memories, trying to keep but a few within my grasp before it all fades away.

2011 was a year of life lessons. A year of blessings. A year of growth. I'm stubborn by nature, and I'm not the type of person who dives into new situations with both feet. I like to test the water slowly, and then tiptoe in, still with trepidation. This year I was pushed out of my comfort zone in some ways, but it forced me to grow and mature. And I am so grateful for that.

I'm going to share a few of my precious memories from twenty eleven . . . 

going en pointe in june. It hurts, yes, but it's worth it ten times over.

finishing my first book. Now on to publishing! 

winning nanowrimo for the first time. That was an indescribable feeling. 

falling in love with the spanish language. Mentally translating songs that I love into Spanish is a good thing, right? :)

learning to dance for Jesus alone. There is no greater joy.

finishing my regency gown and wearing it at my first english country dance. Ahh, blissful memories . . . ♥

visiting williamsburg, va for the second time. Oh, for a colonial gown! *envious sigh*

the promise of my first dslr camera. More about that later . . . :)

My one word for 2012 is release. Life is a journey, an adventure. We're not to simply plod along with a grim smile pasted on our face, determined to "make it through." Life is hard, but it is also meant to be enjoyed. My most treasured memories have been made when I let go of my schedule, my plans, and what I think will make me happy. I need to release my own dreams and trade them for God's plan for my life. Hidden treasures, little blessings, all these wonderful things He often brings into my life . . . but only when I give Him full control.

What are your plans for 2012, ladies?

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 

~II Corinthians 5:17~
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