words received for 2016

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26

"'It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait.' I never saw, till recently, how that word 'both' exactly strikes the balance so needed... Some of us rush ahead with our hopes and are downhearted when they crumble, having never learned to quietly wait. Others go on quietly waiting for a lifetime, without much of the spring of hope anywhere; both hope and wait... in quietness and confidence; that is the answer." 

--Lilias Trotter

"Good books are friendly things to own"--Edgar Guest

Books in 2015...

Best New Life-Changing Discoveries 
Parables of the Cross, by Lilias Trotter
Simply the Story handbook, by Dorothy Miller

Favorite (Albeit Only) Classic
The Faerie Queen, by Edmund Spenser 

Favorite MG Novel
Greenglass House, by Kate Milford

Favorite Mystic
The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith

Favorite Binge Read-Overs
12 Lord Peter books by Dorothy Sayers. Yes, 12.
The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (the perfect way to spend my 29th birthday)

Favorite Sibling Read-Aloud
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham

Favorite Biography
Until the Day Breaks: The Life and Work of Lilias Trotter, by Patricia St. John

Looking Forward To In 2016
Shaming the Devil, by Melina Marchetta (September!)
The Man Born to be King, by Dorothy Sayers
Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle, by N.D. Wilson

many beautiful things

saw a lovely documentary last night at the kansas international film festival... the story of one of my favorite people...

while reading the wind in the willows...

...we were inspired by Mr Toad.

Lines scribbled during breakfast with/for my youngest brother (10)... spawning tears of laughter...

Ten millionaires may carry
Their money to the bank,
Still, they can't hold a candle to
The wealth of Mr Hank

A wooden spoon quite often
Gives naughty boys a spank.
But never spoon has touched the rump
Of perfect Mr Hank

Other men need soap or else
Their skin begins to stank.
But only smells of daffodils
Exude from Mr Hank

The wise men were confounded--
Their minds completely blank.
Who solved the age-old riddle?
The brilliant Mr Hank.

Who is that buff young Samson,
With muscles like a tank?
"I only press nine hundred,"
Protests the humble Hank.

Adonis lived in ancient Greece--
Now let me be quite frank.
The man's a warty toad beside
Our handsome Mr Hank.

when I grow up...

...I want to be just like Sybil Coningsby.

Go and read.

we rest in thee, and in thy name we go

"The secret of [Hudson Taylor's] own strength was not far to seek. Whenever work permitted, Mr. Taylor was in the habit of turning to a little harmonium for refreshment, playing and singing many a favorite hymn, but always coming back to--

Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

...Mr. George Nichol... was with him on one occasion when some letters were handed in to his office, bringing news of serious rioting in two of the older stations of the Mission. Thinking that Mr. Taylor might wish to be alone, the younger man was about to withdraw when, to his surprise, someone began to whistle. It was the soft refrain of the same well-loved hymn:

Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art . . . 

Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not help exclaiming, "How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger!"

"Would you have me anxious and troubled?" was the quiet reply. "That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord."

Day and night this was his secret, "just to roll the burden on the Lord." Frequently those who were wakeful in the little house at Chinkiang might hear at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of Mr. Taylor's favorite hymn. He had learned that, for him, only one life was possible--just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while he dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward, great and small." --Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor

It's tempting to view resting in Jesus as the easy way out. But is it?

Jesus gave himself up to the Father's will, rested in the Father's will--and it caused Him to sweat great drops of blood.

Psalm 69:2 speaks of deep waters... Lilias Trotter wrote this way: “‘I am come into deep waters’ took on a new meaning this morning.  It started with perplexing matters concerning the future.  Then it dawned that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim, but in deep waters it is one or the other:  ‘waters to swim in’ – not to float in.  Swimming is the intense, most strenuous form of motion – all of you is involved in it – and every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up.” 

The children of Israel, backed against the Red Sea... Egypt's entire army at their heels... every impulse would be to run, every nerve would be tensed to flee. But Moses says, Stand still. See the salvation which the Lord will accomplish for you.

In that moment, was it easy for Israel to stand still? Easy to rest in the confidence that God would fight for them? Or was it perhaps the intense, most strenuous form of motion...

Hebrews 9:14 says that Jesus offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit... The Son of Man, the Word made flesh, did not have enough strength, enough will-power, enough resolve, to abandon himself to the Father and rest in the Father. But the Spirit... through the eternal Spirit... Jesus offered himself to God, and rested in the Father.

"...the moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it." -- Andrew Murray

the listening time

Have you ever read Ruth Sawyer? Roller Skates and Year of Jubilo, and The Way of the Storyteller... Storytelling, the traditional art of storytelling, the Irish seanchaí kind of storytelling, was such a part of her life. She was the kind of person who knew to begin a story with--"Listen." How could she not, raised on the stories of an Irish nurse?

Early in the morning the stars drop so close to earth—no, water—that you feel if you cast up in the sky you could hook enough for breakfast…. There you have us, sitting for half an hour, talking in whispers, why whispers I don’t know. Perhaps because the world is enchanted and a loud, harsh voice might break the spell. And as we sat, there came from the four corners of the earth a hush, you know, finger to lips. I’ve sat that way with you so many times waiting for the curtain to go up. And we were waiting for the day’s curtain to go up, and for five minutes no one even whispered.” --from "Year of Jubilo"

At the beginning of this year, I told a friend, oral storytelling is something I've always wanted to study. Can you imagine, obtaining a degree in storytelling and folk lore (as Sawyer did)? Then skipping over to Ireland now and again, just to collect stories (as Sawyer did)? 

Four months later, Jesus brought Simply the Story into my life, the opportunity to learn oral storytelling, questions and discussion--in Ireland of all places (10 wet, green days). To use Lilias Trotter's words, "How wonderful God's timings are. There is a such a strange kind of heavenly poetry about them--& it brought such a strong assurance that His Hand is in it all, working out a purpose worthy of His great thoughts!"

Sabina Wurmbrand tells of a woman who once taught French and English literature, entertaining 84 women in a single, silent train car, telling the story of Dorian Gray over the course of three hours, capturing the imaginations of peasants and intellectuals alike. They experienced something great and beautiful, in the midst of something dark and terrible. 

I've always loved the power of story, but an immersion into the world of oral learners--the 80% of humanity, including developed nations, that cannot or does not prefer to learn through reading--an immersion into the world of spoken story shifts your perspective on the written word, maybe shifts your focus, as well, from a world of your own fire-side and quiet study, to a return to the singing time, when literature was an affair of the market place and the banqueting hall. A return to the listening time, the time of talk and tale-telling, when the longs hours were lightened with stories and conversation much deeper than today's children may ever encounter. A time when there was room for storytelling, and room for listening. 

Simply the Story, this way of sharing that touches the heart, not just the head... The Word who was born and made choices and told stories and asked questions and listened and died and rose again and sits at the Father's right hand. The Word--Logos--opening the doors of our hearts, so that the Spirit may more fully enter in.