Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 7/23/14 at 1:16 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Saying Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever

My husband, Chuck, and I stood on our front stoop waving to our oldest daughter as she pulled out of our driveway on her way to Tennessee. With a sly smile, Chuck uttered through clenched teeth, "She doesn't have a clue where she is going." I thought to myself--neither do we! Rachel was concerned about finding her way to a summer camp. We were concerned about finding our way through the transition years to the empty nest. Rachel did make her ultimate destination. Sometimes I wondered if Chuck and I would.

As Chuck held the storm door open for me, he joked, "Parenting reminds me of that line in the Jurassic Park movie, "First comes the oohing and aahing, and then comes the yelling and the screaming." One of the main characters, a scientist, who had previously been to the dinosaur reserve was explaining the typical reaction of a new comer to the park. Then when faced with an actual life-size dinosaur, reality set in. As new parents, we had experienced our share of oohs and aahs. No longer new kids on the block, we now embraced the glaring reality that parenting is just plain hard work and at times, down right scary. Some days we just wanted to scream--at our kids, at ourselves for handling a situation badly, or simply to release the pain we felt at saying goodbye to our grown children. FULL POST

Posted 7/21/14 at 12:53 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

How Hope Overwhelms the Shootings at Seattle Pacific University

Which of us hasn’t sorrowed at the school shootings which seem to happen regularly these days? The one at Seattle Pacific University earlier this year, however, especially affected me.

Seattle is the closest major city to my home. More than that, I’ve attended a writers’ conference there. I receive SPU’s Response magazine each quarter in the mail. I know at least one writer on the staff there. Each week, a guided Bible reading from the school arrives in my inbox that I use in my daily devotions.

SPU is affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination. The college lays great stress on the connection between faith and service in the wider world.

According to news reports, a lone gunman entered a building on campus and killed one person and seriously wounded two others. Another student is credited with saving more individuals from harm by attacking the gunman with pepper spray and disarming him. FULL POST

Posted 7/17/14 at 1:18 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

How Do You Lose Something as Big as a Truck?

I had been to South America on a mission trip. I was gone from home a total of eleven days. I spent two days traveling, six days in Paraguay, two days in Brazil, and one day looking for my truck in the parking deck of the Birmingham airport. I was so excited about the trip that I paid little attention to the section or level where I had parked. I remembered driving up several levels. I thought there were six or seven floors so I assumed I had parked on the third or fourth level. I had not paid attention to the letter of the section either but I remembered it was in the interior. All I knew for certain was that I had parked inside a deck!

After we landed back in Birmingham, I grabbed my luggage from the carousal, and headed for the parking deck. I jumped on the elevator and pondered which button to push. I decided on number three. I got off and headed toward the inner part of the deck, pulling my bags behind me. I searched sections C to M but failed to locate my truck. I got back on the elevator and went up one more floor and repeated the process – still no truck. I knew for certain that I had not gone up as far as the fifth floor, but further than the second, so I didn’t bother to look on either of those. I figured I must have overlooked it on the third floor so I returned there. This time I tried something different. I walked to the interior and pressed the panic button on my door opener. I waited for the horn to blow but I didn’t hear a thing. I rode back up to the fourth floor, got off, and pressed the panic button. By this time I began to panic. Then I heard a horn in the far distance but I couldn’t tell from which direction it came. As I walked deeper into the level the horn stopped. I went back to the edge of the deck and pressed the button again. I heard the horn again but could tell it was not on that level. The problem was I couldn’t tell if it came from up or down. I have been told that I didn’t know up from down so maybe that was the problem. I rode the elevator so many times that one man mistook me for an elevator operator. I went to floors three, four, and even tried two. Each time I could hear the horn blow but I never could find my truck. FULL POST

Posted 7/14/14 at 12:36 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Ever Had One of Those “I Wish I Hadn’t Done That” Moments?

It was one of those decisions that immediately caused me to know I had made the wrong choice. Hey, I lived through the seventies when many of us bought leisure suits and platform shoes. My generation knows about poor choices! My suit was green but when I look at throwback Thursday pictures I give thanks that at least it wasn’t lime green. This latest decision did not involve a critical matter, or a new suit, but it was still one I quickly wished I had not made.

I had enjoyed a lazy Saturday afternoon. I decided to make a quick trip to Tiger Town to pick up a couple of things. I made it there in about ten minutes on the back streets. Tiger Town is located directly beside the interstate so I decided to jump on it for my return trip home. This was the “Wish I had not done that” moment. If I had only looked down as I crossed over the bridge I would have known better. As soon as I turned onto the entrance ramp I saw the sea – the sea of vehicles. The highway looked like a Wal-Mart parking lot on black Friday. I knew there must be a blue light special somewhere ahead. I hit my brakes as the temptation to back up the entrance ramp called to me. I changed my mind as I remembered the last time I answered a call like that. I met one of the nicest Georgia Highway Patrolman that day. He gave me a gift, tipped his hat and told me to have a nice one but it was too late for that. FULL POST

Posted 7/9/14 at 1:50 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

How a Death Led to a Few Books Becoming Many

Anne Smedinghoff’s colleagues wanted to mark the one year anniversary of her death. Anne, a twenty-five-year-old diplomat, was killed with several other Americans, in 2013 by a car bomb while delivering books to a school in Afghanistan.

Anne’s colleagues and their friends, stationed in various U.S. missions all over the world, did the following:

—In Islamabad, Pakistan, they raised $1,300 to buy books for a local non profit that educates street children.

—In Prague, Czech Republic, they collected over 100 books for a university library.

—From the U.S. mission in Jerusalem, they visited a West Bank school and donated sets of English and Arabic books to children there.

—In Lima, Peru, volunteers collected dozens of books to start a library in a daycare center and shelter.

—In Abu Dhabi, they donated over 200 books to a rural school.

—In Riga, Latvia, they gave books to an alternative family home that supports children in need. FULL POST

Posted 7/7/14 at 1:16 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

The Fourth is Really Independence Day

Independence Day has become known as The Fourth of July, or simply The Fourth. I’m not sure how old I was when I realized the true meaning of this holiday. I was grown before I preferred to refer to this holiday as Independence Day. In my younger years I knew this was one of the rare days when my Dad didn’t go to work and we did special things together as a family. In my mind, that automatically constituted the fourth as a holiday. My earliest memories of this special day included going to a community fair in a neighboring town that we simply called “The Sylvania Picnic.” The picnic had Shetland Ponies to ride, sawdust covered grounds, cold bottled Cokes soaking in wash tubs filled with ice, cotton candy, hot dogs, and a hand full of carnival rides and games. I had never heard of Six Flags or Disney World at that time (I’m not sure either existed yet), but even if I had they couldn’t have compared, in my opinion, to The Sylvania Picnic. There were other fourths when we simply cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on a charcoal grill and made homemade ice cream in a crank freezer. One year we had watermelons. I’m talking about lots of watermelons. Dad had bought an entire semitrailer full of watermelons to sell. He pulled that thing up in front of our house and said, “Eat all you want.” I didn’t want any more watermelon for a while after that! FULL POST

Posted 7/1/14 at 12:41 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Ritual and Aha: Why We Need Them Both

Shared ritual speaks to us. We gain from union with those who’ve gone before, with rites steeped in historic transformation. Communion reminds Christians of Christ’s sacrifice. Easter celebrates his resurrection. Pentecost remembers the beginning of the church’s mission.

But if we fail to experience Christ anew, such ritual becomes empty and lacks force to change lives—our lives or anyone else’s. Each generation needs fresh insights for the journey. How does Christ lead toward the prophetic message that calls Christians to serve in each age?

Yet, too much dependence on personal experience may tie us only to what we feel. Pure emotion dies on the hard trail after the initial exuberance. Without community and ritual to bond us, it is the seed that springs up with enthusiasm but dies when the soil is too shallow to nourish it.

We don’t advance Christianity merely on the basis of culture. Cultures change. At the other extreme, we may wander from one feel-good fashion to another, never bothering to root our faith in the wisdom of those who went before. FULL POST

Posted 6/27/14 at 1:13 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |

1 comment

A Classic Quest: The Desert, by Susan Prudhome

I knew I was going to love this book when I read the first sentences:

"The Great Eagle's wings banked in a slow curve. Weskin grasped the feathered body with his knees to keep from slipping. Far below lay the Forest, spreading over the hills in waves and billows soft as the white, puffy clouds."

Flying on the back of a bird (or other creature) brought home stories from my childhood. Was it C. S. Lewis or George Macdonald or Madeleine L'Engle? I wasn't sure, but I was hooked.

The Great Eagle says to Weskin, "The going may be a bit rough, but you will find your way. The One has brought you here. He has some purpose for you. And he loves you... The One will guide you. Listen for him."

And so we begin our own listening, as we read this winning tale of God's presence and purpose and love, echoing not only J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings but the Old Testament exodus of the People of Israel as well. FULL POST

Posted 6/24/14 at 1:17 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

It was Not That Kind of Bar, Billy Bob

Ole Billy Bob Bohannon and his lovely bride, Thelma Lou Jean, recently spent a few days in the beautiful old city of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation. The city was founded by the Spanish in 1565 lead by Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles. It served as the capital of Spanish Florida for two hundred years. Since the late nineteenth century St. Augustine has been a major tourist attraction. The old historic section of town is absolutely charming with all its Spanish influenced period buildings. There are numerous shops, museums, old buildings and churches, a fort, and of course delicious restaurants. There are a multitude of old homes that have been converted to modern day bed and breakfast inns. Billy Bob and Thel stayed in one of those in the heart of the historic district.

On their first night there Billy Bob asked the resident inn keeper for some suggestions for dinner. He gave him several. One of them was a place directly across the street called The Tasting Room. He said, “They began strictly as a tapas bar but have since added full course meals.” Now ole Billy Bob had never had tapas, never heard of tapas, and furthermore had no clue what tapas were. As you may know, tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold foods, such as olives or cheese, or they may be hot, such as chopitos, which is battered and fried squid. FULL POST

Posted 6/19/14 at 2:04 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

A New Program

I just made a trip to Ft. Stockton, Texas, to present a workshop to the Critique Café, a local writing group that meets at the public library. I was going to say that it was the first time I had presented a workshop based on our new book, Writing in Obedience, which I cowrote with editorial assistant Linda Yezak. But I suppose that is not quite true.

Because the book is a compilation of subject matter I’ve presented in previous workshops, we simply consolidated the material into a new format and added a lot of new content, much of which is directed to those interested in writing for the Christian market. Writing in Obedience

But I also added material from my book A Writer’s Survival Guide to Publication for those who want to write for the general market, which, surprisingly, is not all about the craft of writing but the importance of proper grammar and formatting, as well as how critical it is to have a good proposal. FULL POST

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