Our Town

Thornton Wilder wrote the play Our Town in 1938 and it won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

One distinguishing feature of the play is the minimal use of scenery and props. Only a couple of tables and ladders appear on stage at certain points. Actors mime cooking, eating, etc. According to Wikipedia, Wilder said, “I tried to restore significance to the small details of life by removing the scenery. The spectator through lending his imagination to the action restages it inside his own head.”

Another distinguishing feature is the Stage Manager. He’s the main character in the play and directs the action of everything else, but also speaks directly to the audience. He calls in a couple of experts for information and explains some of the things going on. He also plays a couple of parts, like the preacher officiating at a wedding.

The play takes place in the fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, in 1901. The newspaper editor says it’s a “Very ordinary town if you ask me. Little better behaved than most. Probably a lot duller. But our young people here seem to like it well enough. Ninety per cent of ’em graduating from high school settle right here to live.”

The story is told in three acts: Act I, Daily Life, introduces the characters and feel of the town. The two main families are the Webbs and the Gibbs. Emily Webb and George Gibbs are neighboring teens who are just starting to notice each other.

Act II, Love and Marriage, takes place three years later on George and Emily’s wedding day.

The title of the final act, Death and Eternity, gives you a hint what happens there nine years later. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that one of the main characters dies. She wants to go back and spend one day of her past life. The other dead advise her not to, but she insists. As she looks at everything with new eyes, she wants everyone to slow down and savor it. “Oh earth,” she says, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.” She asks the stage manager, “Do any human beings ever realize this life while they live it?—every, every minute?” He answers, “No . . . The saints and poets maybe. They do some” (p. 108).

The ending would almost seem a little depressing, except for the implied message that life goes too fast and we should savor time with loved ones while we have it.

A few observations that particularly stood out to me:

In Act I, the Stage Manager discusses all that the town is putting into a time capsule. He wants to put in a copy of the play because:

Y’know—Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about ’em is the names of kings and some copies of wheat contracts . . . and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all those families sat down to supper, and the father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney,—same as here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and comedies they wrote for the theatre back then. So I’m going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone . . . so—people a thousand years from now . . .This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying (p. 33).

Of the two mothers in the main characters:

I don’t have to point out to the women in my audience that those ladies they see before them, both of those ladies cooked three meals a day—one of ’em for twenty years, the other for forty—and no summer vacation. They brought up two children a piece, washed, cleaned the house,—and never a nervous breakdown (p. 49).

Before the wedding, encouraging people to remember their twenties, the Stage Manager says:

You know how it is: you’re twenty-one or twenty-two and you make some decisions, then whisssh! you’re seventy: you’ve been a lawyer for fifty years, and that white-haired lady at your side has eaten over fifty thousand meals with you. How do such things begin? (p. 62).

Ironically, one of the dead says of the living, “They’re sort of shut up in little boxes, aren’t they?” (p. 96).

At the cemetery:

Now there are some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at’m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . .everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being (pp. 87-88).

Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV): “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

I’ve never seen the play. I read the library book rather than listening to a performance because I wanted to read the stage directions. The play has been filmed a number of times, and some versions are on YouTube. Here’s a scene from a 1977 production with Robby Benson as George:

Have you ever read or seen Our Town? What did you think?

I counting this book for the classic play category of the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge.

Review and Giveaway: The House at the End of the Moor

Michelle Griep’s novel, The House at the End of the Moor, is set in England in 1861.

A woman known as Mrs. Dossett lives at the title house with only a sheepdog, mute maid, and a manservant. It’s obvious she’s in hiding, but we don’t know from whom at first.

So when she finds a severely wounded unconscious man on her property, she’s torn. It can only mean trouble to bring him home. But she can’t leave him to the elements.

As the man, Oliver, heals and his head becomes clearer he and the woman are wary of each other. He’d like to leave, but he’s too injured.

Just as the two are beginning to trust each other, Oliver opens the door to a room where a beautiful gown is displayed along with a gorgeous red jeweled necklace–the very necklace he was falsely accused of stealing and for which he was thrown in prison.

The mystery of who each of the characters are, where the jewels are from, and what the characters decide to do all make for an interesting read. The faith element is naturally woven into the characters’ makeup and thinking.

A secondary character, Barrow, is the constable seeking Oliver since his escape from prison. Barrow is similar to Javert in Les Miserables but is much more cruel. His motivation is seeking justice for righteousness’s sake. But he has to learn what justice truly is and who is supposed to mete it out.

Somehow I ended up with both a Kindle and paperback version of this book. So I’d love to give away the physical copy to one of you. I can only offer it to someone in the US due to mailing costs. If you’d like to enter the drawing for this book, just leave a comment on this post before Wednesday, June 30. I’ll draw a name then from among the entries. I’ll count all comments on this post as entries unless you mention that you’re not interested in winning the book. Also, I must have a way to contact you to let you know you have won. If I don’t hear back from the winner within a couple of days, I’ll draw another name. Best wishes to each of you!

(Update: I originally scheduled the contest to end Saturday, but decided to extend it to Wed., June 30.)

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

EPIC: An Around-the-World Journey Through Christian History

When Tim Challies first mentioned traveling all over the world looking for objects connected with Christianity for a book he wanted to write, I was puzzled. Our faith rests on the unseen—so why all that trouble for objects?

But then I remembered God used physical things all through the Bible. Stones piled up for a memorial. A brass serpent. A tabernacle and temple. A stone to kill a giant. Even His Son took on a physical body in which to die, be buried, and be resurrected to accomplish the means of our salvation.

Plus, Tim was not looking for these items to revere them, but to learn from them.

Tim’s travels culminated in EPIC: An Around-the-World Journey Through Christian History. Tim takes a close look at 33 objects and the stories behind them. They cross the centuries from the oldest known fragment of Scripture to the YouVersion app, from the statue of the Augustus who ushered in the Pax Romana, to the traveling pulpit someone made Billy Graham after observing him struggle in a small one.

Each chapter gives a brief background of the person or situation the object represents, then shares what that object tells us about God’s movement through the ages. None of the chapters are very long, and they include a few pictures each. It’s easy to pick up the book here and there and read a chapter or two at a time.

The most meaningful chapter to me focused on Amy Carmichael. Frank Houghton’s biography, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, was one of the first missionary biographies I read. That book and Amy’s own writings had a deep influence on me since my early adulthood. And Amy had a profound influence on Elisabeth Elliot, who impacted my life even more. So when Tim had a post about visiting not only Dohnavur, but also the room where Amy spent the last 20 years of her life as an invalid—that was when I began to get really excited about his book! Here is his video of that visit.

Another chapter that meant a lot to me was the one showing Nate Saint’s airplane. The story of the five missionaries killed in 1956 by the savage Indian tribe they were trying to reach has had a far-reaching impact ever since. I had not known that parts of Saint’s aircraft, which had been stripped at the time, had been recovered and reassembled.

I knew of most of the people mentioned in the book: William Carey, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and others. Even Selina Hastings, or Lady Huntingdon, as she was known, one of my favorite people in Christian history. I enjoyed revisiting their stories and even learning a thing or two I hadn’t known.

Some of the folks mentioned were new to me: Marie Durand, Lemuel Haynes, and the folks who built the Papallacta Dam just so they could reach people in the area via radio.

Most of the objects discussed have positive stories and repercussions. A couple do not. One is known as the Slave Bible. Some missionaries wanted to reach slaves for the Lord, but “How could these missionaries teach the Bible to slaves without condemning slavery and therefore angering the slave owners?” Appallingly, they cut out “any passages or verses that condemned slavery or condoned racial equality. So pervasive is the message of freedom in the Word of God that only 232 of the Bible’s 1,189 chapters made the final cut” (p. 119).

One thing that becomes clear in a view over large swaths of Christian history is the realization of how God brought so many things together to accomplish His purposes. The Pax Romana and the system of roads created by the Romans allowed for the rapid spread of Christianity in the years after Jesus died and rose again. The invention of the printing press changed the world in many ways, but perhaps none more so than making the Bible available to the common man.

In one chapter, Tim said, “If I learned anything from my journey around the world, it’s the simple truth that the Lord is always at work” (p. 94). It was enjoyable and encouraging to see some of the Lord’s works in Tim’s book.

A DVD series was also made of Tim’s travels here. And here’s a trailer that gives an overview of the book:

I’m counting this book for the travel category for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

With Jesus in the Kitchen

I don’t consider myself the best of cooks even under normal circumstances. But making meals for others can be a special cause of tension. We want to share our best when we cook for others, whether we’ve invited them into our home or we’re taking a meal to share.

I’ve learned the hard way not to get too ambitious under those circumstances. Experiments often go wrong the first time. So I usually make something simple, tried and true.

Several months ago, before the pandemic, I was getting ready for our church potluck dinner. I don’t even remember what I was making. But it was something I had made before for church. It should have come together easily. Yet it wasn’t, for some reason.

As I scrambled around trying to decide whether to fix it (and how) or come up with Plan B, the verse about Jesus being tempted in all points like we are crossed my mind. Irritably, I thought, “When did He ever have to make a potluck dinner?”

Then I remembered the feeding of the 5,000.

And I was pulled up short.

It wasn’t a potluck dinner, but it was one of the biggest crowds ever served, especially by one man.

Of course, Jesus could take care of a meal for such a crowd in ways that we can’t. The whole point of this incident was to show His deity by way of His supernatural ability. Jesus brought this occurrence up later in conversations with the disciples to remind them: don’t worry about your needs. I will take care of you.

One thing I notice about Jesus’s ministry is that He was never frazzled or flustered. Yes, He was God. He knew how things would turn out. But He walked in faith, knowing that His Father would meet His needs.

I’ve always empathized with Martha, “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:38-42). Other translations say “distracted,” a couple say “busy.” But I love the feel of that old word, cumbered. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary, who was listening to Jesus, needed to come and help her. Instead, Jesus pointed out that Martha was “careful and troubled.” (Other translations say “worried and upset.” One says “bothered.”) He told Martha, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Obviously, listening to Jesus is more important than fussing over dinner. But I’ve often wondered—what should Martha have done about dinner, then? Wait until Jesus was done teaching? Probably. Have something simple and quick like peanut butter sandwiches (or the first-century Israeli equivalent)? Maybe. But above all else, just don’t worry about it. Many times Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they were going to eat or drink.

Does this mean it’s wrong to prepare an elaborate meal? No. Some people are gifted that way. We can enjoy their gifts without feeling we have to match them. Sometimes even those of us who aren’t as talented in the kitchen like to try to do something fancy.

But the point is to do whatever we do with a peaceful heart. I learned a long time ago that my husband would much rather have a simple meal than one that stresses me out to prepare.

On a practical level, these things help me:

  • Do as much ahead of time as possible.
  • If one dish takes a lot of time or labor, make the other dishes simple or store-bought.
  • Enlist help, either from the family or guests. People often ask if they can bring anything. Take them up on their offer.
  • If possible, don’t plan time-consuming or new meals during weeks when you have a lot of other things going on.
  • Keep a few recipes or meal ideas on file that consistently turn out well for potlucks or company.
  • Keep a few key ingredients for quick meals on hand for unexpected company or for a “Plan B’ when things don’t go well.

Here are some principles I’ve gleaned over the years:

Watch out for pride. It’s not wrong to want to make food other people will like. But sometimes I notice a subtle pride entering even preparation for a church potluck, a desire for my dish to be noticed, praised, and above all else, eaten. For many years I did not want to bring something store-bought to a church fellowship, until I realized that stemmed from pride. If my kitchen stress stems from wanting to protect my reputation, my emphasis is in the wrong place.

Keep first things first. As Jesus said, Mary chose the better part by listening to Him. Jesus said in another place, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). There have been times when I was so exhausted and stressed getting ready for guests that I just didn’t have anything left when they finally came. My priorities were out of kilter.

Serve God from worship, not in place of worship. The first pastor we had after we were married, Jesse Boyd, used to say:

Worship without service is a hollow farce.
Service without worship is a hectic fervor.
But worship which issues in service is a holy force.

When I am filled with “hectic fervor,” I need to do a heart check.

Be prepared. In a passage about counting the cost of discipleship, Jesus speaks of a man planning to build a tower or a king planning to go to war (Luke 14:25-33). First they sit down, assess what they have, and make plans. Some of my most frustrating meal preparations have been when I didn’t plan well. I forgot a key ingredient or a step in the process or didn’t plan for the time needed for part of the process.

Trust His sufficiency. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Sometimes I shorten that to “all grace, all sufficiency, all things, all times.” In another area of domestic need, I have sometimes prayed over buttonholes or difficult parts of sewing. When we’re getting ready for company, I pray for efficiency and peace of heart as I prepare.

Remember the point of fellowship and hospitality. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Though providing food is important, the main purpose for a meal with others is to fellowship with them and minister to them, to meet their needs rather than show off my skills.

The last stanza of a poem “The Kitchen Prayer” expresses my heart and reminds me to do everything I do—even prepare meals for others—as unto Him.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love
And light it with Thy peace;
Forgive me all my worrying,
And make all grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do–
I do it unto Thee.

Klara C. Munkres

What are some of your tips for serving others?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I’m a little behind on my blog-reading, but here’s a collection of good reads from this week. Some are just in time for Father’s Day.

My 10 Favorite Attributes of God as Father. “Regardless of our earthly-father experience, God as Father, rises above any father definitions we write into our stories. He is Abba Father.”

I Am My Father’s Son (Hope for Failing Dads on Father’s Day). “I know he is anxious about this conversation. I know he is fearful of his accountability of the past. He is well aware of his sins and his demons and his neglect of those he should have loved.”

Honoring Your Father When He’s Evil, HT to Challies. “In our family, I was taught to honor my father and mother, forgive others, and not gossip, but homes warped by abuse have their own language. ‘Forgive’ meant pretend you’re happy, even when you’re covered in bruises. ‘Honor your father’ meant obey him, even when you’re terrified he might kill you. And we were repeatedly warned not to ‘gossip,’ which meant telling anyone the truth.”

A Good Friday Ride, HT to Challies. “It occurred to me to marvel that we’d meet a Muslim man on Good Friday and have him evangelize to us rather than the other way around. And it also occurred to me to pray—even if just for an instant—for this fellow image-bearer of God who would so excitedly and passionately share his faith with us.”

The Good Commission, HT to Challies. “I would trade every kid who takes a mission trip to change the world for one who would stay home and clean his room, treat his brother like a human being and help mom around the house without being asked twice. Changing the world is easy, the latter is harder and far more Christlike.”

Fighting Atrophy, HT to Challies. “Just like our muscles atrophy and weaken through lack of use so our spiritual muscles atrophy though lack of use. The question as things reopen is will we put the work in to develop and grow those muscles that have atrophied in recent months?”

Dealing with Criticism: 7 Truths to Remember, HT to Lisa. “No one likes criticism, but it’s an inevitable and valuable part of life. Here are some truths to deal with criticism next time you’re so fortunate to receive it.”

Happy Saturday, and I hope you have a great Father’s Day tomorrow.

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s been a fairly quiet week. Sometimes those are the hardest in which to find something to share for FFF—not because they’re bad. In fact, I generally prefer quiet weeks! But because they’re fairly routine and ordinary, nothing stands out. But there are blessings in ordinariness.

1. Feeling good. We finally turned a corner with these colds last weekend. I’ve had worse cold symptoms, but this one seemed to last longer and the sore throat was harder to relieve than usual. We’re glad to be done with all of that, hopefully for a long time.

2. Self-serve nights. Ever since my kids were old enough to make a sandwich or run the microwave, Sunday nights have been “fend for yourself” meal nights. I make a big breakfast and lunch that day, then I am happy to be “off” the rest of the day. We often just heat up leftovers. Jason and Mittu will come over sometimes on Sunday nights and raid the freezer–I keep some gluten-free heat-and-eat meals for her and Timothy. We had such an evening last Sunday.

3. A cute new cartoon. Timothy wanted to show us a new cartoon he’s been enjoying called “Bluey.” It’s on Disney +, but there are a few episodes on YouTube. It’s about a little dog family in Australia. I thought the few episodes we saw were good. But what I enjoyed the most was that the daddy dog’s voice and personality were very much like our pastor’s. The accents are a little different–our pastor is from South Africa rather than Australia. But the whole time we watched, I kept “hearing” our pastor and chuckling over the similarities.

4. A trade. Just about the time we were going to shop for a bed for our new guest room, Jason and Mittu asked if we would like theirs, as they want to buy a larger size. We also asked them if they wanted the mini-fridge. It used to be in my mother-in-law’s room, then we kept it in Jesse’s room. But he didn’t want to take it with him when he moved. We figured they could use it downstairs for drinks and snacks or to store cold food when they were eating on the patio.

5. A storage closet. We figure most guests aren’t going to need much closet space, so our guest room closet is a place for some extra storage. I have shoeboxes of photos from pre-digital days that I need to do something with, off-season clothing, and a few other things–and still have some room. It’s been fun to get that set up and ease space in other areas.

Hope you have a great weekend celebrating your dads, husbands, or father figures!

The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi was originally written in serial form for a children’s magazine in Italy in the 1880s. Collodi had ended the series with the fifteenth chapter. But readers clamored for more, so Collodi gradually added eleven more chapters. The series was published as a single book in 1883.

The story was meant to be didactic. A poor woodcarver named Geppetto begins to carve a marionette out of a piece of wood given to him by his friend. Before the puppet is even fully carved, he starts making trouble: sticking out his tongue, calling names, pulling Geppetto’s wig off. He’s wild and self-willed and won’t listen to anyone. And, of course, he gets into various kinds of trouble. Gradually he begins to be disciplined by his hardships and turns into “a real boy.”

Parts of the story are comedic, but parts are scary. Some are darker than I’d expect in a children’s book.

Pinocchio doesn’t have Jiminy Cricket as a companion. Instead a Talking Cricket tries to advise Pinocchio–and Pinocchio throws a hammer at him and kills him!

The Blue Fairy is here the Maiden with Azure Hair. Other familiar characters are the evil theater director, a shark (not a whale) that swallows Pinocchio, the friend named Lamp-wick who tempts Pinocchio to the Land of Toys. And there are several more characters I had not heard of before.

I was glad that Pinocchio didn’t change in one sudden burst of realization. Rather, he gradually learned a bit, fell back, went forward, fell back again. Most of us mature and learn that way.

The chapter titles or headings seem to me to give away much of the story. Chapter 17 is “Pinocchio eats sugar, but refuses to take medicine. When the undertakers come for him, he drinks the medicine and feels better. Afterwards he tells a lie and, in punishment, his nose grows longer and longer.” Chapter 23 is “Pinocchio weeps upon learning that the Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair is dead. He meets a Pigeon, who carries him to the seashore. He throws himself into the sea to go to the aid of his father.” Maybe that was the style then.

I was surprised to learn that Pinocchio is “the most translated non-religious book in the world.” Another surprise learned from Wikipedia is “Children’s literature was a new idea in Collodi’s time, an innovation in the 19th century. Thus in content and style it was new and modern, opening the way to many writers of the following century.”

Most of us are familiar with the Disney version of Pinocchio. I wonder if anyone, particularly if any children or families, read the unabridged original book today. By today’s standards it might seem a little too long and didactic. Then again, kids might enjoy reading about Pinocchio’s antics and seeing him get his comeuppance several times over. Personally, just when I was starting to get a bit tired of the story, Pinocchio began making some real advances.

I read this book for the classics in translation category of the Back to the Classics Reading challenge. In all honesty, I chose it mainly because it was short. I’ve read some hefty Russian tomes, like War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov, for this category in past years. But I just didn’t feel like getting into something like those this year. However, I do also like reading the original versions of familiar stories.

I listened to the audiobook by Librivox which, as it’s read by volunteers, is a mixed bag. But it’s free. I also looked up portions on the online Gutenberg version here. Both use the translation by Carol Della Chiesa.

Have you ever read The Adventures of Pinocchio? What did you think of it? Do you think children today would like the longer original version?

The Orchard House

If you’re familiar with Louisa May Alcott’s life, you may know that one home where her family lived was called the Orchard House (though Louisa called it Apple Slump). Orchard House is beloved by Louisa’s fans not just because she lived there, but she wrote her most famous novel, Little Women, and several other books there. Orchard House is open to the public for tours and special events.

Heidi Chiavaroli wrote a time slip novel, The Orchard House, using Louisa’s time and town as the setting for one plot line.

Johanna Suhre had written to Louisa for more information about her brother, John, whom Louisa tended while a nurse during the Civil War. John had died, and Louisa featured him in her Hospital Sketches. Johanna and her mother and brother longed for any details Louisa could give them.

That’s as much as we know about the facts, but Heidi imagined Louisa’s and Johanna’s correspondence and friendship growing.

When Louisa needs someone to stay with her parents while she travels, she asks Johanna. Johanna is eager not only for something new and different, but delighted to meet her friend in person and visit the town so steeped in literary talent. Johanna had written some poems that she hoped to work up the courage to show Louisa.

While in Concord, Johanna meets the Alcott’s neighbor, Nathan Bancroft. Louisa cautions Johanna against Nathan, but she doesn’t have any specific details to warn against. After Nathan and Johanna marry, however, Johanna discovers another side to him.

The modern timeline also takes place in Concord. Taylor’s mother had abandoned her. The family of her best friend, Victoria, took Taylor in. Though Taylor appreciates the Bennetts’ kindness, she doesn’t quite fit in. Though she and Victoria rejoiced at becoming real sisters, the situation feels awkward.

Both girls enjoy writing and attending a young writer’s camp at The Orchard House. One of Taylor’s most treasured possessions, one of the few things she has left from her childhood, is a beat-up copy of Little Women.

Though Taylor never quite feels like family, she and Victoria work out their differences. At least, they had until Victoria unexpectedly betrays Taylor.

Taylor packs up her things and drives to the other side of the country. She becomes a famous author, writing under a pen name. She keeps her distance until eighteen years later, when she learns that her adoptive mother has cancer. She goes back to Concord, intending to stay for a short while. She and Victoria take tentative steps to at least be civil. Victoria would like to explain and make amends, but Taylor’s not sure she wants to hear it.

Victoria, who now works at the Orchard House, invites Taylor to speak at the young writer’s camp. Then she shares with Taylor some poems by a woman named Johanna Bancroft that were unearthed in the schoolroom. As the sisters try to unravel the mystery of who Johanna was and how Louisa knew her, they learn some things about themselves and each other as well.

I took a chance on this book when I saw it on a Kindle sale back in April. I had never heard of this author, but the story sounded intriguing. Plus the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge was coming up, and this would be a good choice for that.

I’m so delighted I took the chance. I enjoyed both timelines and felt for both Johanna and Taylor in their trials.

I also liked the quotes from Louisa at the beginning of every chapter. One favorite was, “All the philosophy in our house is not in the study; a good deal is in the kitchen, where a fine old lady thinks high thoughts and does good deeds while she cooks and scrubs.”

Though I wouldn’t call this book full-out Christian fiction, there were references to forgiveness, faith, and yielding to God.

I’m happy to recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Since this is the only book I am reading for Tarissa‘s LMA challenge, I’ll let this serve as my wrap-up post as well.

What Are You Looking For?

What are you looking for as you go through life?

Peace?

Love?

Justice?

A good time?

Happiness?

We might find those in some measure. Some of them are God’s good gifts. Some are a foretaste of heaven.

But none will be perfect. This world is fraught with strife, selfishness, conflict.

And such characteristics are not just out there. They’re in our hearts as well.

Whatever troubles or pleases us about this life, none of it will last. Peter says some day “the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10b).

If we’ve staked all our hopes and dreams on this earth, we’ll be in trouble.

Since this earth won’t last forever, what should we do? Peter goes on to say, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:11-14, NKJV).

Others passages echo this truth:

For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Philippians 3:20-21, KJV).

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14, NKJV).

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:27-28, KJV).

Other translations say “wait for” instead of “look for,” but the Greek definitions can be translated either way. We wait with expectation, with eagerness, looking for Him.

Only with Him will we find perfection. Only in heaven will there be no sin, no sorrow, no crying, no pain–none of the negative things that taint life here.

Is this just escapism from reality? No, it’s arriving at reality. We look forward to our true reality, our true home. C. S. Lewis called this life the Shadowlands. In The Last Battle, when the children and animals realize they’re in a new Narnia, the Unicorn says:

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it til now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

Aslan told the children, “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

It was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now, at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Elisabeth Elliot has quoted George MacDonald as saying, “If you knew what God knows about death, you would clap your listless hands.” I remember reading somewhere that one reason God doesn’t tell us much about heaven is that we would look forward to it so much, we wouldn’t be able to get anything else done here.

I admit, there’s much I still enjoy and look forward to in this life. There’s much I’d like to do. One of the most important things I desire is to be a positive influence in my grandson’s life, and hopefully, at some point, in the lives of future grandchildren. God has given us a strong survival instinct. One preacher once said that one reason our bodies start falling apart as we get older is to ready us to let loose of them. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

I need the reminder that this life isn’t all there is. Imagine a rope stretched out east and west farther than we can follow, and let it represent eternity. The piece of the rope in front of us is taped off for a few inches. That taped part would represent the whole of life on earth for all time compared to eternity. Time is short. Eternity is long.

But before we look for Him to take us there, we have to look for Him here. Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” If you don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus, if you’re not sure of heaven, please read here.

We enjoy God’s blessing here. But we know this world isn’t all there is. Like Abraham, we “[look] forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Are you looking for Him?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some of the noteworthy reads discovered recently.

What Changed After C. S. Lewis Came to Christ? We think mostly of Lewis’ intellect, but other areas of his life changed as well. “Lewis was always submitting his life to Christ to be changed. He was always renewing his mind. He understood the New Testament concept of the atonement as involving dying with Christ. He continually submitted habits and attitudes to be killed . . . “

Why I Stopped Calling Parts of the Bible Boring. The theologian she quotes is not my favorite, but otherwise I like this. “Scripture is history, drama, and art. And more importantly, it is the surprisingly simple story of God redeeming his creation. But if in our simplifying or systematizing we end up relegating entire portions of Scripture to boring irrelevancy, we have lost the plot of a God who chose to reveal himself to us in the form of a breathtaking story.”

Helping Our Kids Put On the Armor of God, HT to The Story Warren “Every parent yearns for their child to stand in the face of peer pressure, evil enticements, false claims, and even amidst their own disappointments and losses. Fitting them in these six pieces of spiritual armor will help equip and enable them to stand.”

Cinderella, Strong Women, and the Courage to Be Kind, HT to The Story Warren. “Most of us are strong in ways that go unlauded, and maybe we don’t see our daily routine as strength because of it, or we think we have to be fighting for something—whatever that might look like. But we are strong women when we practice virtues like kindness, when we are patient, when we show compassion and turn away wrath.”

Biblical Submission Does Not Justify Abuse (Or Even Permit It). “Her submission is not your responsibility. Loving her like Christ loved the Church is your responsibility, and abusing her in action or word is a gross violation of the direct command that God has given you. Demanding submission as a cover for acting abusively is a loathsome sin and God notices.”

Midlife, Christ Is. “In midlife, Christ is a consolation for all the things I wish I’d done differently. He doesn’t change my past, but he can redeem it. . . . In midlife, Christ is a companion through all the worries and stresses.”

God Loves Your Perimenopausal Body. “To tell you the truth, the shock as this reality began to dawn in my life left me feeling as though my body might have heard the gospel for the first time even though my heart, mind, and soul had been committed to Jesus since I was a teen. All that time, I’d gotten the message at church that my body was a problem, not a gift.”

Awesome June Activities for Kids, HT to The Story Warren. When school is out and boredom creeps in, here are lots of great things to do.

Just in time for Father’s Day, HT to The Story Warren: a “Try not to Laugh” challenge involving dad jokes:

Happy Saturday!