Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our God: The Restorer

"Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

I had that verse going through my head all day yesterday so I decided to take some time and read through that Psalm. I was so surprised as I imagined myself in King David's place; writing this Psalm after committing the devastating sin of adultery with another man's wife. I can't say that the words David expressed to God would have fallen from my lips had I been in that situation...I can more see myself crawling into the deepest, darkest cave and hiding.

If you read through the entire Psalm, you'll find that David was sure of the Lord's love for him and of His forgiving power. He speaks of God's lovingkindness and the greatness of (His) compassion. He actually has the boldness to ask God to hide his face from David's sin and to blot out all his iniquities!

How many of us would call out to God in this way after committing such a sin? David's faith in the Lord's love for him was strong!

David didn't let shame overtake him. He knew how to be washed and made whole again by God---not through penance...not through righteousness...not through obedience to the law---but by asking, with a contrite heart, and believing that God was faithful to restore him.

What a loving and patient God we serve! We don't have to fear him as he always desires restoration and relationship with us!

Illiterate? Or Just Immature?

I was thinking this evening about a reading list that my 12th grade Advanced Placement English instructor handed out to us at the beginning of the 1996 school year. She said that it was a list of all the books that our college professors would expect us to have read, or at least be familiar with, when we began our freshman year. I remember panicking because I had only read a couple---even though I considered myself very well-read at the time.

Now that I've had a good 11 or 12 years to work on the list, I find that I've still only read a few. However, I am now familiar with many of these...and, after thinking it through a little, have decided that this reading list is ridiculous for the average teenager. Even though I was a very good student and had a high understanding at 17 years old, there was a lot that I still hadn't experienced. I've read a few of these books just in the last couple of years and can honestly say that had I tried them at any younger of a maturity, I just wouldn't have "gotten it". There is a reason that they remain timeless classics---but it's not because these titles make a college freshman successful. It's because they speak to a higher level of understanding that only an adult who has been out there in the "real world" can really possess.

The list below looks very similar to the list I was handed 12 years ago in AP English. I've highlighted in red the books I've read. I wonder, how many on the list have you read? What is your response to the idea that these stories require more maturity than the average highschooler possesses?

The Three Musketeers (1844) Alexandre Dumas
Ivanhoe (1820) Sir Walter Scott
The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) Alexandre Dumas

Last of the Mohicans (1826) James Fenimore Cooper

Moby Dick (1851) Herman Melville

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Charles Dickens

Robin Hood (1883) Howard Pyle

Arabian Nights (1704) Antony Galland

Les Miserables (1862) Victor Hugo

Robinson Crusoe (1719) Daniel Defoe

Don Quixote (1605) Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle (1819), The Headless Horseman (1819)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1883) Robert Louis Stevenson

Westward Ho! (1855) Charles Kingsley

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) Harriet Beecher Stowe

Gulliver's Travels (1726) Jonathan Swift

The Deerslayer (1841) James Fenimore Cooper

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) Victor Hugo

Huckleberry Finn (1884) Mark Twain
The Corsican Brothers (1845) Alexandre Dumas

3 Famous Mysteries: The Sign of the Four (1890) Arthur Conan Doyle, The Flayed Hand (1880) Guy de Maupassant, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) Edgar Allen Poe

The Pathfinder (1840) James Fenimore Cooper

Oliver Twist (1838) Charles Dickens

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) Mark Twain

Two Years Before the Mast (1840) Richard Henry Dana Jr.

Frankenstein (1818) Mary Shelley

Marco Polo (1921) Donn Byrne

Michael Strogoff (1876) Jules Verne

The Prince and the Pauper (1882) Mark Twain

The Moonstone (1868) William Wilkie Collins

The Black Arrow (1888) Robert Louis Stevenson

Lorna Doone (1869) Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Sherlock Holmes Stories: A Study in Scarlet (1887) Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) Arthur Conan Doyle

Mysterious Island (1874) Jules Verne

Last Days of Pompeii (1834) Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Typee (1846) Herman Melville

The Pioneers (1822) James Fenimore Cooper

The Adventures of Cellini (1562) Benvenuto Cellini

Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Bronte

Edgar Allen Poe Mysteries: Pit and the Pendulum (1845), Adventures of Hans Pfall (1845), The Fall of the House of Usher (1838)
Twenty Years After (1845) Alexandre Dumas

Swiss Family Robinson (1813) Johann Wyss

Great Expectations (1861) Charles Dickens

Mysteries of Paris (1842) Eugene Sue

Tom Brown's School Days (1856) Thomas Hughes

Kidnapped (1886) Robert Louis Stevenson

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) Jules Verne

David Copperfield (1850) Charles Dickens

Alice in Wonderland (1865) Lewis Carroll (C.L. Dodgson)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) Mark Twain

The Spy (1821) James Fenimore Cooper

The House of the Seven Gables (1851) Nathaniel Hawthorne

A Christmas Carol (1843) Charles Dickens
The Man in the Iron Mask (1850) Alexandre Dumas

Silas Marner (1861) George Eliot (Marian Evans)

Toilers of the Sea (1866) Victor Hugo

The Song of Hiawatha (1855) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Prairie (1827) James Fenimore Cooper

Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Bronte....currently reading
Black Beauty (1860) Anna Sewell

The Woman in White (1860) William Wilkie Collins

Western Stories: The Luck of Roaring Camp (1870) Bret Harte, The Outcasts of Poker Flats (1870) Bret Harte

Man Without a Country (1863) Edward Everett Hale

Treasure Island (1883) Robert Louis Stevenson

Benjamin Franklin (1817) Benjamin Franklin

The Cloister and the Hearth (1861) Charles Reade

The Scottish Chiefs (1809) Jane Porter

Julius Caesar (1607) William Shakespeare

Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) Jules Verne

The Pilot (1823) James Fenimore Cooper

The Man Who Laughs (1869) Victor Hugo

The Oregon Trail (1849) Francis Parkman
The Black Tulip (1850) Alexandre Dumas

Mr. Midshipman Easy (1836) Captain Frederick Marryat

The Lady of the Lake (1810) Sir Walter Scott

The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) Anthony Hope (Hawkins)

The Iliad (962 B.C.) Homer

Joan of Arc (1801) Frederick Schiller

Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) Edmond Rostand

White Fang (1906) Jack London

The Odyssey (927 B.C.) Homer

The Master of Ballantrae (1889) Robert Louis Stevenson

The Jungle Book (1894) Rudyard Kipling

Edgar Allen Poe: The Gold Bug (1843), The Tell-Tale Heart (1845), A Cask of Amontillado (1845)
The Sea Wolf (1904) Jack London

Under Two Flags (1868) Ouida (Louisa de la Rame)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1855) William Shakespeare

Men of Iron (1891) Howard Pyle

Crime and Punishment (1866) Feodor Dostoevsky

Green Mansions (1904) William Henry Hudson

The Call of the Wild (1903) Jack London

Henry W. Longfellow: Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Evangeline (1847)

Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) Mark Twain

David Balfour (1893) Robert Louis Stevenson

All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) Erich Maria Remarque

Daniel Boone (1939) John Bakeless

King Solomon's Mines (1885) H. Rider Heggard

The Red Badge of Courage (1895) Stephen Crane

Hamlet (1603) William Shakespeare
Mutiny on the Bounty (1932) Charles Nordhoff & James Hall

William Tell (1804) Frederick Schiller

The White Company (1891) Arthur Conan Doyle

Men Against the Sea (1933) Charles Nordhoff & James Hall

Bring 'em Back Alive (1930) Frank Buck & Edward Anthony
From the Earth to the Moon (1870) Jules Verne

Buffalo Bill (1920) William F. Cody

King of the Khyber Rifles (1916) Talbot Mundy

Knights of the Round Table (1903) Howard Pyle

Pitcairn's Island (1939) Charles Nordhoff & James Hall

The Speckled Band (1892) Arthur Conan Doyle

The Talisman (1825) Sir Walter Scott

Kit Carson (1873) John S.C. Abbott
The Forty-Five Guardsmen (1848) Alexandre Dumas

The Red Rover (1827) James Fenimore Cooper

How I Found Livingstone (1872) Henry M. Stanley

Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bottle Imp (1891), The Beach at Falesa (1892)

Captains Courageous (1897) Rudyard Kipling

Rob Roy (1818) Sir Walter Scott

Soldiers of Fortune (1897) Richard Harding Davis

The Hurricane (1936) Charles Nordhoff & James Hall

Wild Bill Hickok (no author listed)

The Mutineers (1920) Charles Boardman Hawes

Fang and Claw (1935) Frank Buck

War of the Worlds (1898) H.G. Wells

The Oxbow Incident (1940) Walter Van Tilburg Clark

The Downfall (1892) Emile Zola

The King of the Mountains (1857) Edmond About

Macbeth (1606) William Shakespeare

Davy Crockett (no author listed)

Caesar's Conquests (51 B.C.) Julius Caesar

The Covered Wagon (1922) Emerson Hough

The Dark Frigate (1923) Charles Boardman Hawes

The Time Machine (1895) H.G. Wells

Romeo and Juliet (1597) William Shakespeare

Waterloo (1868) Emile Erckmann & Alexandre Chatrian

Lord Jim (1900) Joseph Conrad (Korzeniowski)

The Little Savage (1848) Captain Frederick Marryat

A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) Jules Verne

In the Reign of Terror (1890) G.A. Henty

On Jungle Trails (1936) Frank Bucks

Castle Dangerous (1831) Sir Walter Scott

Abraham Lincoln (1952) Benjamin Thomas

Kim (1901) Rudyard Kipling

The First Men in the Moon (1901) H.G. Wells

The Crisis (1901) Winston Churchill

With Fire and Sword (1890) Henry Sienkiewicz

Ben Hur (1880) Lew Wallace

Lafitte the Pirate (1930) Lyle Saxon

Off on a Comet (1878) Jules Verne

The Virginian (1902) Owen Wister

Won by the Sword (1899) G.A. Henty

Wild Animals I Have Known (1898) Ernest Thompson Seton

The Invisible Man (1897) H.G. Wells

The Conspiracy of the Pontiac (1851) Francis Parkman

The Lion of the North (1890) G.A. Henty

Conquest of Mexico (1632) Bernal Diez Del Castillo

Lives of the Hunted (1902) Ernest Thompson Seton

The Conspirators (1843) Alexandre Dumas

The Octopus (1901) Frank Norris

The Food of the Gods (1904) H.G. Wells

Cleopatra (1889) H. Rider Haggard

Robur the Conqueror (1886) Jules Verne

Master of the World (1904) Jules Verne

The Cossack Chief (1839) Nikotai Gogol

The Queen's Necklace (1849) Alexandre Dumas

Tigers and Traitors (1880) Jules Verne

Faust (1808/1832) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Very Present Help

Psalm 46:1--"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

When faced with troubling circumstances, why do I feel the need to beg, plead and twist God's arm into helping me? Why do I feel like the level or amount of God's help is directly proportionate to the amount of time I spend praying about something? Granted, it may be that way in some cases---I'm not so naive as to claim that I've got this one licked---it's just that a lot of times, when I call on the Lord, I'm under the (mistaken) impression that He's been lying there dormant and unaware until the time that I call Him into service.

Psalm 46 tells us that in times of trouble (and I'd be bold enough to add---in all other times too) God is "very present". You can't get much more "there" than that!

I am beginning to understand that in these times when I call on him, it's not God who has been awakened from his Holy Sleep to help me---it's me who has been awakened from fear and self-pity and who has remembered the One Very Present Help---the only one who can remedy the situation.

I seem to have this mentality sometimes that God comes out when summoned, saves the day, and then goes back into hibernation until he's summoned once again. I need to remember the promise of Psalm 46---he's always there---right next to me like a constant companion. Not only is he available in times of trouble---he's present at all times.

If I want to spend more time in His presence, I don't need to always find a quiet moment or a secluded spot. I need only to remember that he's right there---my very present help in trouble---and in all other times too!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ha Ha Ha...Very Funny....

So, I just got done, about an hour ago, writing up this post on one of my other blogs about supporting my husband and challenging myself to make sure I was nurturing our marriage and all this... http://bloggingwhilewaiting.blogspot.com/2009/01/michal-snotty-hottie.html.

Little did I know, I'd have the chance to rise to the occasion before the night was over...alas, before it had even begun.

We live about a half hour away, in another town, from my husband's place of employment. He had gotten home from work, gotten all settled with his dinner, and we'd turned on a movie---when his phone began ringing...and ringing...and ringing...

Finally, he answered it only to learn that he had to go back into town to turn off the screwy alarm system that has been giving him problems for a couple of weeks now.

So I, good wife that I am, put on my fake smile, choked back the impending tears and wished him safe travels as I kissed my husband, and my relaxing night with him, goodbye.

Isn't it just so funny how the Lord actually takes us seriously when we commit to something that will better our character...

Michal the Snotty Hottie

2 Samuel 6:12-23 (New American Standard Bible)
"Now it was told King David, saying, "The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God."
David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into
the city of David with gladness. And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.
So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.
Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that
Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
So they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it
in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and
David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house. But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!" So David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the LORD. "I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished." Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death."

And now, let the conviction begin!!!

Wow, I don't know about you but I really feel ashamed when I read this passage. Not for Michal, but for myself. How many times have I discouraged my husband with a haughty, self-righteous, or (gasp!) jealous attitude?

Here's David, on perhaps the most joyous day of his life yet, shamelessly praising the Lord and honoring Him---and what does he come home to? His snotty first wife with her nose in the air and a chip on her shoulder.

Now, I understand that she's got a little bit to be jealous over. By now she's been through a lot with this guy. She started out adoring him, claiming to love him from an early age. The Bible doesn't seem to indicate whether or not her love was returned. However, shortly after her marriage to David, she's given in marriage to another man---and shortly after that is taken back by David to join him, and his several new wives, as one big, happy family. This has to be a situation that sparks some resentment---even if it was a common practice for the times.

I can just imagine her standing at the window, watching her handsome hunk dancing before the Lord, and despising him in her heart. A heart that was not right with the Lord---but was, instead, filled with jealousy and hurt. If Michal's heart would have been turned toward her husband and the Lord, she would have seen this situation for what it was---an honest act of worship by David. Instead, all she could see from that window was that her beloved was bearing his BVD's before all the blushing beauties below.

When I put myself in this situation, I can find many instances where I've let my jealousies kill my husband's spirit. He comes home from work to tell me about this great business luncheon that he had and all I can think about is the fact that he went out to lunch without me...and were there any girls there??? He scores high on a college assignment and I can't get past my bitterness that his schooling is taking up so much of our time to congratulate him. He shares with me the details of a fun day he had with the kids while I was out and all I can do is think about how I would have done things so much better had I been home.

Even though our men are strong, both physically and emotionally, we've got to be careful to nurture their spirits, rather than treat them so carelessly. We've got the power to build them up or break them down. As the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, "The power of life and death is in the tongue". Today, I challenge myself to make sure my words, thoughts and actions are producing good fruit in my marriage.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Year of Change

Well, here we are in a brand new year; I, personally, feel a lot of hope and anticipation for this new season!
There are at least two big changes coming for our family this year. First, we will be welcoming baby #6 to the family in early March. Soon after that, we'll be gearing up for a move...somewhere... My husband has decided it's time for us to pursue buying our first home this spring!
I've made a few resolutions, six actually, that I will attempt to follow throughout 2009. Here they are:
1. Read 60 books
2. Read the Bible daily
3. Stay on Weight Watchers 3 consecutive months: start day to be determined after baby comes
4. Make monthly blogging goals and stick to them
5. Offer at least one fresh fruit and one fresh vegetable to my kids each day
6. Continue to make myself accountable to online group of friends for daily goals
Anyone else care to share their resolutions?
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