Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 2/6/11 at 9:20 AM | OakTara

God vs. Science

More times than I can remember people have tried to remove God from the subject of science. We've been inundated by media, teachers, and establishments that the two are exclusive. Well, what if they aren't? What if they are intricately woven together, and you couldn't have one without the other?

The older I get, the more stories I hear of scientists proving a biblical principle true through science. The epitome of this has just been brought to light within the last eleven years. When I say light, I mean that literally. More specifically the deterioration of the speed of Light. Here's an article from Science Daily on the subject. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991005114024.htm

I'm not going to get all technical and into a deep discussion on the subject, but I will say that more and more scientists are being faced with a dilemma about their beliefs. If, in fact, the speed of light is slowing down and is no longer a constant, then all debates on evolution vs. creationism are going to be very interesting, to say the least. Because the fact is that if the speed of light is decreasing, we can measure backward through time just how fast light had been thousands of years ago. No longer does the debate that it took millions of years for the light of stars to reach Earth hold true. One estimate is at 6,000, but I've also heard around 20,000. Whatever the math indicates, it's a far cry from millions and billions. FULL POST

Posted 2/6/11 at 9:14 AM | OakTara

Delight

Recently on the way to work I heard the radio DJs discussing the concept of "un-resolutions." They explained that a pastor had come up with idea that instead of making a list of resolutions, people should choose a word that represented what they want to work on during the year. He calls his idea "My One Word," and says the "process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future."

The concept made a lot of sense, and I decided to join in. The three DJs shared that they had chosen Balance, Patience, and Discipline as their words. Listeners called in to share their words. All of the words were great, and any of them could certainly have applied to my life.

I was leaning toward Balance, with a goal of balancing different aspects of my life: prayer and worship, work and family time, Bible study and service, leisure and writing, etc. I recently re-read Joanna Weaver's book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Joanna wrote about the need to balance sitting at the feet of Jesus with time spent in the kitchen (or serving). Balance seemed to be the word God was speaking to me. FULL POST

Posted 2/6/11 at 9:10 AM | OakTara

Beauty or Beast

Most all of us have met someone so drop-dead gorgeous that we couldn't tear our eyes away. It's difficult to reconcile how some can be so lovely and others so ordinary or even downright plain, isn't it? And if we're honest, most of us have to admit to just a bit of jealousy when one of those beautiful creatures has been sighted.

I've heard comments such as: "Well of course she's beautiful, but it's all makeup. Without all that makeup she's plain as can be!" But all the makeup in the world can't change a truly plain face and body into drop-dead gorgeous. It just doesn't work that way. You have to have at least something there in the first place to work with.

Here's the reality of the situation: even the most gorgeous creature on this earth will age. Beautiful faces become lined with wrinkles and age spots, and sometimes scars and moles. Skin sags and turns sallow, well-toned muscles droop, noses enlarge (and grow hair), and hair becomes limp and turns gray, gums recede and teeth fall out. Even earlobes enlarge with age. No matter how hard we fight it, age happens, and when it happens to a body, it's not usually flattering in the least.

Yes, we all have some vanity. I like to define it as dignity, but if I'm totally honest, I have to admit that I am also vain. Not long ago I went to get a perky little haircut at a new stylist, and she nearly shaved my head. The wiry stubble that was left wanted to stick out all over my head, and all hint of any natural wave was lying on the floor at my feet! When she turned me toward the mirror to admire her work, it was all I could do not to cry. It was the most UNfeminine haircut I had ever sported on my dome. I wanted to ask for a stocking cap just to walk to my car. FULL POST

Posted 2/6/11 at 9:06 AM | OakTara

One Author's Path

I loved the fantasies by C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, E. Nesbit, and others. At age sixteen, I wrote a fantasy of my own. I made a list of publishers without doing any research and had my father wrap the manuscript in brown paper, tie it with string, and send it off to New York City. Thus began the first of what would be three bulging volumes of rejection slips! But this early experience with the publishing world only whetted my appetite and desire to get published.

I grew up, got a teaching degree in special education, and moved to Statesville, NC. I married a wonderful man, Brian Pickrell, and inherited his three sons (twins, age 5, and a 6-year-old). Being a teacher and a stepmom should have filled all the empty gaps in my life. But there was still this burning desire not just to get published, but to make a difference in the world through my writing. I couldn't forget it. It was like God was tapping gently on my shoulder, reminding me of that early desire.

I joined a writers group in Statesville and wrote five novels from 1984 to 1988 that I believed God had given me. Each of these books was about things I strongly believed in and I thought they could be a light for readers in a dark world. I even had an agent who believed in me and my writing. I felt that God had at last given me the fulfillment of my desire. But, alas, it was not to be. By the end of the eighties, when my agent hadn't been able to sell a single one of them, we parted ways. FULL POST

Posted 2/5/11 at 1:01 AM | OakTara

Where to Start?

I've had the pleasure of talking to lots of fun people while at book signings or at speaking events. Many people have expressed their own desire to write a book.

I get so excited for them because, well, it's obvious: I love to write stories.

The big question I get is always, "How?" Oftentimes it can be very hard to be standing at the beginning of something, without thinking, How on earth am I ever going to do that?

Life can get overwhelming sometimes, can't it?

I remember the first day I was alone after I had experienced a miscarriage. I lay in bed wondering, How on earth am I going to even get out of bed, let alone go through the entire day?

I remember when I had some very loud, mysterious, blaring noises in my head and couldn't find a doctor to help me. The day ahead would seem so long, and I would wonder, How on earth was I going to make it?

When another miscarriage happened, I wondered how to even begin to live my life while letting go of a dream I'd had for so many years.

There were also times in the last years, when my husband was out of work, when I've wondered, Where on earth is the next dollar going to come from? And how can we take care of our responsibilities? FULL POST

Posted 2/5/11 at 12:51 AM | OakTara

A Tender Story of Love, Faith, and Redemption: A Review of From Dust to Ashes, by Tricia Goyer (Moody)

In May, 1945, advance elements of the 11th Armored Division rolled into St. Georgen, Austria. What awaited them there would be gouged into the soldiers' memories for the rest of their lives: the Gusen concentration camp.

Sergeant Peter Scott is among the first to arrive at the front gates. The skeletal remnants of men and women cling to the fence and clutter the main entrance to glimpse their liberators and beg for even a morsel to eat. He encounters the gaunt figure of Michaela, a Polish Christian, standing erect among the dead and dying, intent on thanking the saviors of the camp with her final vestige of dignity. He also encounters Helene, the recalcitrant wife of a former SS guard bringing soup and whatever comfort she can to the emaciated prisoners. The lives of the three are inextricably bound together from this point forward.

Sgt. Scott has fought the European war from the Normandy beaches to the Rhine River, his once-strong faith now smothered under too much carnage and destruction. Michaela fights her own war of physical and emotional restoration from years of internment, her faith still vibrant, but confusing in where it's leading her. Helene must deal with her own conscience at too many years of silence, if not acceptance, over the atrocities her husband has committed. Each leans on and learns from the others in winning their own personal battles. FULL POST

Posted 2/5/11 at 12:39 AM | OakTara

Out of the Comfort Zone

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, where cotton reigned as king and small-town drama was his queen. In the fifties and early sixties it was a time when small towns and farms still thrived, as did the comforting presence of extended families. Everybody knew everybody else's business. And that comes to my point. How often today do we find ourselves limited to "small" communities—in other words, secure little microcosms of society where we can be comfortable...where we're not challenged to grow more and be more because we can stay just as we are and be accepted and appreciated. But is that really what the Christian walk is all about?

Sometimes I wonder: Is our faith becoming more fragile and less tested as we expand only into our own membership? Is a weekly schedule of opportunities in a megachurch more like a multitude of choices in a secure microcosm of society? A myriad of Bible studies, social gatherings, seasonal outreach projects, educational opportunities—do they truly impact the weak, the poor, and support our challenge to be fishers of men? Or are we merely trolling in the safe waters of like-minded believers? How will our children be tested by fire and shown to have faith if the church umbrella over their heads is colossal? FULL POST

Posted 2/4/11 at 4:13 PM | OakTara

Welcome to Bindings, the OakTara Authors Blog!

If you're looking for thought-provoking blogs by vibrant, published Christian authors on a variety of topics--including faith, life, current events, good books that are must-reads, and so much more--you've come to the right place. So grab your tea or coffee and settle in for some mind-stretching, spirit-growing, and heart-connecting reads that you won't want to miss.

Ramona Tucker, Cofounder and Editorial Director, OakTara http://www.oaktara.com/home

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