Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 8/17/14 at 8:37 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

The Fruit of the Vine’s New Poles to Climb

When I was a boy I was a climber. I may have been part cat! I climbed every tree on our place but I also fell out of most of them. Miraculously, while I broke numerous tree limbs I never broke any of my limbs. I hit the ground flat on my stomach so hard once that I knocked the breath out of myself. I frantically tried to holler for help but couldn’t get a sound, or a breath, to come out. As I lay on the ground, dazed and confused about what had happened to me, I’m pretty sure I heard angel bands singing, “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming forth to carry me home.” Much to my amazement, I lived to climb again.

The worse thing I ever scaled was grapevine poles. They only rose about six feet out of the ground so by no means were they the tallest, or the hardest, but they left an impression that caused me to never climb another one. I don’t remember what the grapevine climbed originally but one summer Dad and I built a new fence for it to run on. We dug holes, put posts in the ground, and then we fastened a large strip of wire garden fencing to three poles. Before we fastened the wire to the poles, and long before the grapevine made its way up them, I gave them a climb - all three of them. The problem was that the poles had been treated with creosote. I didn’t realize that meant trouble but before that day ended I had acquired a new education about creosote. FULL POST

Posted 8/13/14 at 1:43 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Why Write a Story?

In my “inspiration” folder, I keep an obituary for Madeleine L’Engle, the author of the children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time and many other stories, some for adults and some for children.

As I reread it, certain bits of the biography in The New York Times, September 8, 2007, catch my attention.

“Her writing transcended genre and generation,” Douglas Martin wrote in the obituary.

The series that included A Wrinkle in Time “combines elements of science fiction with insights into love and moral purpose . . .”

Yes, I think, some of our current literature could use a bit more “love and moral purpose.” FULL POST

Posted 8/10/14 at 11:38 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |

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Comedians Cry Too!

I was saddened to learn that Chonda Pierce’s husband, David, passed away. As a popular Christian comedian known as the “Queen of Clean,” Chonda’s made thousands, perhaps millions, of people laugh over the years.

Now it’s her turn to cry. Yes, cry. Sometimes I think we forget that comedians feel pain, grief, sadness, even depression. Yet Chonda’s been quite open about her dark night of the soul in her book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression.

Truth be told, many professional comedians admit that turning to humor helped them cope with a sad or abusive childhood. But as Proverbs 14:13a says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” (NIV).

I discovered this phenomenon as a child in school. Invariably, at least one class clown occupied every grade and kept us kids entertained all day long, often disrupting lessons, which only added to our glee. When I would go home after school, Mom, in the kitchen ironing most days, would ask me how my day went. I’d tell her about the fun we had at the expense of the class clown. She’d calmly reply, “You know, Eileen, often the person provoking the most fun is the person with the deepest hurt. He’s laughing on the outside, but on the inside, his heart is crying out for help.” FULL POST

Posted 8/8/14 at 12:31 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Float Like a Dragonfly; Sting Like a Bee

I don’t like to fight but last Friday I got into one; actually two - in the same day. I can’t say that I got the best of either. It was a fist fight, of sorts, and I ended up at the docs with a swollen left hand that looked like one of those inflated latex gloves that pediatric nurses sometimes give to children in hospitals. My knuckles disappeared and eventually I could hardly bend my fingers. The worst part was that I had a concert the next night. Have you ever tried to play stringed instruments with a hand that looked like a small ham hock?

My first fight occurred that morning as I trimmed the hedges in my back yard. I did not realize that a family of hornets had taken up residence there. I suppose they mistook my hedge trimmer for a giant invading wasp from another swarm, perhaps even from another planet, and doped up on steroids. Fortunately for me, the swimming pool was within running distance so I only got hit once in the back of the arm. Those rascals hurt! FULL POST

Posted 8/5/14 at 12:50 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

What It’s Like to Mother Missionaries

My husband, Chuck, and I never prayed that our children would become missionaries. We simply prayed that they would do whatever God wanted them to do, using their unique gifts, talents, and interests to serve Him.

With that backdrop to parenting, we provided an atmosphere in our home that fostered a heart for others, whether next door or around the world. When a new neighbor moved in, we played welcome wagon, showing up on their doorstep with cookies and card in hand. We hosted missionary families during our annual mission conference. Our kids played and studied with the missionary kids and formed ties that last to this day. We prayed with others at pro-life rallies. Each of our girls worked as summer counselors in the Christian camping ministry in which I grew up. During the year, we often visited the sick and lonely, gifting them with our music and crafts. We witnessed to people we met, in their homes, on the street, and in our neighborhood. FULL POST

Posted 7/31/14 at 11:25 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

How Do Stories Begin? Where Do You Find Your Ideas?

That’s what people ask writers: Where do your stories come from? Where do you get your ideas? I try to remember how some of mine began. I’m never sure.

The idea for Tender Shadows, perhaps began when I pulled down a book I bought years ago, Permanent Things, edited by Andrew A. Tadie and Michael H. Macdonald. The essayists discussed G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and Evelyn Waugh. Perhaps—I say perhaps because I don’t really know—those thoughts may have started a thread that led ultimately to Tender Shadows, in which a woman wonders if she’s traded permanent things for something transitory.

Maybe, as Flannery O’Connor suggested, some stories begin with questions. How are we to live in a digital age surrounded by multitudes of instant tragedies? Kaitlin Sadler in A Sense of Mission wants to know how to cope with a world that is never secure, that she knows from an early age, may turn tragic in the turning of a terrorist’s mind. FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 12:32 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Seasoning the Seasons

We are told that we, as Christians, are to be the salt of the earth. We are, therefore, to season our world, add flavor by spicing it with the love of God. The root of season is the Anglo-French season, to bring to a desired state. The same “desired state” became our calendar season, with the root meaning “an appropriate time,” from the Latin serere, “to sow.”

So to sow – that is plant seeds in the ground -led to the season of planting, and from there to the other growing seasons, for man’s living off the bounty of the earth will always be of primary importance to his life on earth.

As Christian writers we plant seeds in the minds of our readers. We want to bring them to a desired state, one in which they sense God more fully, one in which they meet Christ. We want them to experience the full flavor, the deliciousness, the sweetness of life as a Christian. How do we do this?
Magdalene Mystery
We too must await the right season for God to plant the seeds, the ideas, the means, the time, in our own minds and hearts. These waiting times are fallow times, time to listen for his voice, and watch his world – his creatures, flora and fauna, noting the exquisite detail of his creation. We read his word, we pray with his Body the Church. We await the appropriate time, the season he chooses for us to, in turn, season our readers with his own life. FULL POST

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

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