Sunday Blessings

29 April 2012

 He looks! and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks! and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

Dear Shepherd! I hear, and will follow Thy call;
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice;
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my all,
And in Thee I will ever rejoice.

— Excerpt from "O Thou, In Whose Presence" by Joseph Swain

May our rejoicing in our Shepherd and His wonderful love for us last not just on Sundays and even Wednesdays nights but every minute, every hour, every day, and every year of our lives. He sacrificed Himself — gave up His all — for the sake of His children. That alone is reason enough to rejoice until the end of our days.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul . . ." — Psalm 23:1-3

Voices, Words, Music

28 April 2012

I hear in my mind all of these voices
 I hear in my mind all of these words
I hear in my mind all of this music
And it breaks my heart . . . 
Fidelity by Regina Spektor

Becoming a writer is an interesting undertaking. There are certain discomforts with which we are forced to put up in order to improve our craft. We are the toughest self-critics you'll find because we can't help but compare our latest literary endeavours with those of Dickens and Shakespeare. We go about with shadows under our eyes because we woke up at 3 A.M. with an incredible idea for a short story or novel and couldn't bear waiting until morning to write it all down. We treat our thesauri like Bibles, never leave the house without a pen and paper, and can always be found with a cup of coffee or tea near at hand. To put it bluntly, yes, we can be perceived as strange.

Probably the most groundbreaking difference between "normal" people and those creatures known as wordsmiths is the matter of characters. Though some of the more "refined" writers would laugh at this notion, yes, we do have characters that live in our heads. And they are very much real.

Sometimes my characters remind me of the aunt everyone has in classic literature — the one who always comes and overstays her welcome, and you can't think of a single polite way to ask her to leave. The slightest thing can be perceived as an invitation to spend the summer holiday, and before you know it, there she is at your doorstep, boxes and bags spilling out of her arms, her tongue already running a mile a minute. A day in her company feels like a year.

Characters never have good timing for their visits. Whether you are in the midst of an especially harrowing Spanish exam or doing repeated ├ęchapp├ęs sur la pointe, they care not. They knock on your mental door when they feel you are not giving them enough attention and demand a stage on which to pour out their emotions. You try to tell them to be quiet, and they only snap back in a harsh tone, criticizing you for your lack of sympathy.

Then I won't write, you say. Unfortunately, that doesn't exactly solve the problem. True, your characters will not be quite as fluent if you have not written them yourself, but anyone who read prolificly can attest to the fact that the characters stick themselves in your head . . . and stay there. And do they ever come when they are in chipper, sunshine-y moods? Hardly. Instead, they choose to visit right after they have had the most harrowing experiences, the most romantic proposals, the most frightening injuries. The only true remedy is never reading, never writing, and never watching movies that possess the slightest value. But that sounds like a rather dull existence, does it not? ;)

The worst part about obstinate characters is you can't explain it to anyone. If I attempted to tell one of my friends about the things that go on in my head, she would think I had two heads. There is a barrier between the writer and the non-writer that can never be crossed, no matter how hard you try. The only remedy is either accepting the fact that there is one thing you will never share or convincing your friend to take up his cross and join you on this literary journey.

So the next time you find your friend weeping in a corner over a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel, don't try to make factual sense of her garbled words about Sir Percy and Marguerite and something to do with the terrace steps. Pull out your pocket handkerchief, comfort her as best you can, and try to see the world through her eyes.

Sunday Blessings

22 April 2012

Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout
The universe displayed

Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great thou art
How great thou art
Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great thou art
How great thou art
Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art 

— Excerpt of "How Great Thou Art" by Carl Bobert

Rather than worshiping "Mother Earth" today, I'd like to challenge you to turn your eyes to the Creator Himself. He alone knows the number of stars in the skies, and only He can make the mountains tremble at the sound of His Name. This hymn acts as a wonderful reminder of His power in a world where people seem more concerned about preserving the trees, rather than looking to Him who called them into being.

I hope you have a blessed Lord's Day!
"I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." — Psalm 121:1-2

Poem of the Week: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

20 April 2012

{photo via pinterest}

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

The world has dressed herself in pearl and grey this morning, the folds of her gown billowing out, fluffy and translucent, above my head. I could let her moody, petulant outlook spoil my day. But instead, I choose to drink in the words of this poem and write them on my heart, for it reminds me yet again of all the beauty that spring brings . . . yes, even on the grey days.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

18 April 2012

The irony behind my history with this book is the fact that years ago, Daddy purchased it for us children, insisting that it was a good book and a worthwhile read. Glancing at the cover only long enough to form a biased and unexperienced opinion, I decided that the book was "dull" and not worthy of my time. Years later, when it appeared on my tutorial's reading list and I was made to read it (why is it that we listen to the world before our own parents?), I was forced to admit that my early assumptions were incorrect. To Kill a Mockingbird, though quite sad at some parts, is most definitely a worthwhile read, as Daddy had assured me all along. 

To Kill a Mockingbird 
By Harper Lee
*Summary from

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

My Thoughts: I think TKAM is well on its way to becoming a favorite among my other well-beloved titles. The characters, the setting, the dialogue — everything about it endeared me to the story. Lee's manner of writing appealed to me because it was so easy to forget you were reading a book for school and get caught up in the twists and turns of the story. I fell in love with Scout almost immediately, and only a few pages later, the whole town of Maycomb, with its sleepy habits and family ties. Yes, it does have its issues, but there is something so very endearing about the old ladies on their porches, sipping iced tea under the shade of wide-brimmed hats. Does that not make you want to drop in for a visit?

Pros: As previously mentioned, the story is an enjoyable, comfortable sort of read, and the sentences flow together as smoothly and placid as Maycomb itself. The premise of TKAM may seem light on the surface — a young tomboy of a girl growing up in a small Southern town — but the more you go back and reread certain sections, the more you realize the underlying current of deep truth. Lee also has a pleasant way of mixing little bits of humor in with the more melancholy scenes, so the reader neither gets a story morbid and dark or sickly in its sweetness. It's a well-written book and certainly work reading over and over.

Cons: Words like h--- and d--- are used several times, most from Scout's tongue. She thinks using swear words will make her father think she picked such language up at school and he will keep her at home, but other than that, she has no malevolent intents. Later, her uncle chastises her for this. Themes such as rape, racism, and abuse are present, and though not discussed in detail, they make this book appropriate for the more mature reader.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 14+

A Bit O' Reading for the Day:
"Atticus said to Jem one day, 'I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
'Your father's right,' she said. 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'" — To Kill a Mockingbird, chapter 10

What have you been reading lately?

Sunday Blessings

15 April 2012

{source: via Elizabeth Rose on Pinterest}

Recently I've been feeling convicted about how very little real time I spend productively. Sure, I complete all my schoolwork by the time its due, and most of the time I finish the chores that are prescribed to me for said day. But what I wish to address today is my free time and how I spend it.

Sometimes it feels beyond wonderful to come home from a long day spent out at my tutorial and dance studio to a cup of hot tea and a book. The problem is . . . that doesn't happen enough. In my mind, reading a good book and sipping some Twinings Irish Breakfast tea would be my ideal. But all too often, I am distracted by the computer for an hour or so, and then its bedtime and my day is through. And when in bed — because all my deep thoughts cannot come in the middle of the afternoon and simply must come knocking when I require sleep — I reflect upon the fact that I have traded the opportunity to "improve my mind through extensive reading", or even better, spend time meditating on Scripture, all for an hour spent pinning things on Pinterest.
"I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." — Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
Is it worth it? In the long run, will the photos I pin and repin on Pinterest make any lasting impact on my life? Will they guide me in the Scriptures and the ways of the Lord? Will they help me learn better how to follow in His ways? Will they teach me anything meaningful?

It's a touchy subject, I know. And sometimes my brain is too exausted to do much more than look at pretty things on Pinterest — especially when it seems I've spent every waking minute up to that point either stretching my mental capacities at tutorial or my physical capacities at dance. But that sort of weariness does not happen as often as I get on Pinterest, or Google+, or Gmail, or Blogger. And I'm passing my valuable time in a manner that is not necessarily wrong, but not very productive either.

{source: via Elizabeth Rose on Pinterest}

Wrenching myself away from the computer is hard, I confess. It's something upon which I need to work. A lot. But I am growing increasingly aware of the fact that time is short. Days slip through my fingers like sand, days I can never reclaim. I don't want to waste a minute of it.

Poem of the Week: Women and Children First by Douglas W. Phillips

13 April 2012

Tomorrow night/Sunday morning is the centennial of the night the "unsinkable" Titanic hit the iceberg ('twas at 11:40 P.M., to be exact — yes, writing historical fiction does do strange things to you :D). In honor of that horrible, frigid night and as a commemoration to the 1500 souls who lost their lives, I have chosen to feature the following poem this week. It so poetically captures that night and the heroic men who bravely stepped aside in order for the women and children to go first. I hope it touches you in the same manner it did me.

{via Google Images}

"Women and Children First!"
By Douglas W. Phillips (1997)

The North Atlantic icefields are perilous and rough,
And only should be tested by those of sterner stuff;
They’re filled with fearful hazards for nautical machines —
Icebergs that look like mountains, with jagged peaks and mean.

But on this eve in 1912 a monarch of the sea
Traversed her waves with brazen strides amid a night of glee.
“Unsinkable!” they called her, yes unsinkable, their claim;
But pride, not strength, would give this ship a destiny of fame.

Near half a hundred thousand tons — the largest ship at sea!
A mighty maiden of the waves, in length: eight eighty-three.
A monument to science? No, a legacy of pride.
A testimonial to those who needlessly would die.


While children’s heads lay nestled warm and snug through midnight hours,
And husbands huddled next to wives asleep in love’s sweet powers,
In upper decks men smoked and sang and toasted with a drink,
Not knowing that the virgin ship would soon begin to sink.

First rang the bells, then came the cries, and last the dreaded panic,
And now all knew t’would be the end of R.M.S. Titanic.
But in that hour of foul despair and fear unmitigated
A manly Christian cry to all was quickly circulated:

“Women and children first,” they cried,
“Women and children first!
To save your souls you must give your lives,
Women and children first!”


Amidst the tumult and the toil of lives then gripped with fear,
A holy calm prevailed on those whose hearts and minds were clear;
The cause was right, the mission pure, the path uncompromised;
The men must die that others live — the men must give their lives.

No greater love hath any man than that he lay down life
For family: for little ones, for dearest bride and wife.
What manly breast would shirk the call, or fail with any breath
To give his life for womankind, a sacrifice of death.

“Women and children first,” the cry,
“Women and children first!”
Some must live while others die;
“Women and children first!”


As water surged upon the decks and chaos reigned supreme,
The band played on sweet hymns to God, which quieted the screams.
Some raised their hands, or cried aloud, while others genuflected,
In fleeting hopes that dreams and lives might still be resurrected.

Across the deck a thousand scenes of lives held in the balance,
With prayers delivered unto God in heavenly reliance.
While stokers, stewards, officers and gentlemen en masse
All lifted women into boats without regard to class.

Women and children first — the law!
Women and children first.
The men would act — No fight. No flaw.
Women and children first.


One faithful father searched the deck to find his family,
And rushing forward grabbed a girl near tossing into the sea.
But though this little golden hair was to the man a stranger,
He strapped to her his own life vest to save the babe from danger.

At last he saw the face he loved and pulled her from the throng,
Along with tender tiny ones who thought him bold and strong.
A little boy, a little girl — the world he held so dear,
Were waiting ignorant that time would bring their darkest fear.

Women and children first-praise God!
Women and children first.
This principle we ever laud!
Women and children first.


Five minutes he had to say goodbye, five minutes then all was lost,
But giving his life for the woman he loved was hardly a weighty cost.
“To the boats! To the boats, my darlings,” said he, “to the boats!” and his words did race,
Then low’ring them into those cradles of life, he paused ... just one more embrace.

And now he kissed those tender lips, and now he squeezed the hands,
And now he hugged and spoke the last of love and wedding bands.
“Be brave my love. Be brave my son. Be brave my little dears.
God’s ways are just, Christ rules above, and faith must hush our fears.

“Women and children first,” said he,
“Women and children first;
to be a man I must set you free.
Women and children first!”


At last he said goodbye to eyes which longed for him and home,
At last he watched them pull away to safety through the foam,
In moments he would be submerged and ’neath the icy brine,
Content to know his sacrifice had given them more time.

Just yards away a mother gazed back at the sinking boat,
Her children bundled in her arms, warmed by their mother’s coat.
A prayer of hope upon her lips, a Bible in her hand,
A testament of love, of faith, and of her husband’s stand.

“Women and children first,” she wept.
“Women and children first,”
Stroking the curls of the infant she’d kept,
“Women and children first.”


Into the liquid tomb he fell, moments from paradise,
With one last grasp he clawed the waves and caught his dear one’s eyes.
His frozen face, his numb-ed hands, his body stiff and cold —
An ocean legacy of heroism told.

Down through the depths Titanic sank, and into her watery grave,
Bound by such forces that God had decreed would render the hulk its slave.
Downward she plunged though the darkness so cold, taking no inventory
Of perishing hundreds who crowded her decks, bound for Hell or Glory.

For women and children first they died,
For women and children first;
They put their faith before their pride,
For women and children first.

Humbling, is it not? 
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." — John 15:13

"Someone's publishing my book! Hannah, someone's publishing my book!"

11 April 2012

Exuberance is . . . seeing that promising, slim brown box on the front step.

Frustrating is . . . feeling as if your legs cannot carry you up the brick steps fast enough.

Happiness is . . . finally holding your very own book in your hands.

Bewilderment is . . . realizing you wrote every one of those words yourself; that this is your story, your characters.

Emotional is . . . not knowing whether to laugh, scream, or cry. And feeling like doing all three at once.

Nervousness is . . . when the officialness of it all hits you — there's no turning back now.

Bittersweet is . . . realizing that this emotional but rewarding journey is so close to an end.

Hopeful is . . . knowing that this is only the beginning of the adventure.

Interested in winning a copy of Violets Are Blue? Click here. 

p.s. brownie points to anyone who caught the Little Women reference in my title. ;)

Resurrection Sunday Blessings

08 April 2012

What kind of king would chose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars
To win my heart?
What kind of Love tells me I'm the reason He can't stay
Inside the grave?

You. Is it You?
Standing here before my eyes,
Every part of my heart cries

Alive! Alive!
Look what Mercy's overcome
Death has lost and Love has won
Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord
The only One I fall before

I am His because He is alive.

— "Alive (Mary Magdalene)" written by Nicole Nordeman and Bernie Herms

I have always loved this song. The vulnerable, almost broken lyrics perfectly display Mary's emotions upon the resurrection of her Savior, her intense gratitude to Him, and her joyfulness that He is alive. I feel a sort of closeness with this song because of how much I can relate to it. Like Mary, I often feel wordless and uncomprehending at the power of Christ. But that is what is so beautiful about it. I don't need to speak, I don't need to prove myself in any way. All I need to do is run into His arms. Because He made the eternal sacrifice for me on Cavalry, my sins are no more. I am His beloved, His daughter.

I am His because He is alive.

I pray each of you have a blessed Easter Sunday, celebrating the miracle of His resurrection and triumph over death for eternity. He is risen; He is risen, indeed!
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." — 1 Peter 1:3-4
Related Posts with Thumbnails