The Sense of Wonder

 

traveling-companions

Traveling companions of Susan and me–Waddy, Piglet, Curious George, and Kermit

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”          —From The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

 

It’s been at least 25 years—maybe more—since I first read this book. My soul leapt with joy as I recognized this defining characteristic of myself, one I could never identify and passed off as many other things over the years. The fact that I never wanted to grow up. The fact that I write for children. The fact that my children were young, and I was relating to them. I was an adult and still had this “quirk”

There it was, confirming my way of life as a good thing, not an immaturity or a defect. It was okay, even desirable, to maintain this childlike, not childish, way of looking at life, and I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Being able to observe everything around me with the eyes of a child gives me great joy and awe at the wonders surrounding me, no matter where I am or my circumstances. Jesus himself encouraged us to maintain that childlike sense of wonder in our faith and relationship to him.

This past weekend was a perfect example. My dear friend, Susan, (one who also lives life with wonder and awe) and I took a weekend trip to Coudersport, deep in the Allegheny Mountains, where there was a meeting of fans of Margaret Suttons’s beloved children’s book series, the Judy Bolton mysteries. While Susan had gone in previous years, this was my first time. As a children’s writer and childhood reader of Judy Bolton, it was pure joy to visit the places where Margaret Sutton grew up and drew much of the inspiration for her books from the surrounding area and events that occurred there.

But in addition to that, I craindrops-on-branchesouldn’t drink in enough of the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, each tableau different from the one just passed. Rows of water droplets from the early morning rain outlined bare tree branches just above a branch of dancing, dazzling red leaves. The welcome I received at private homes where I was treated as a long-lost family member filled me with warmth. The starkness of the failed Austin Dam contrasted with the beauty of the trees and wildflowers that have grown around and even in the cracks of the crumbling cement structure. Even in the sad, derelict, abandoned church we explored, Susan discovered a Bible by the still-in-place lectern open to the passages we are currently studying in our weekly women’s Bible study. I marveled at everything.

I challenge you to re-open your eyes of childhood. Remember what it felt like to begin each day with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Expect to see wonders all around you. Discover that the ordinary is, in reality, truly extraordinary—and it is still there, just as it was when you were young. And revel in the wonder and awe of it all.

Thou Shouldst Buy This Book

Today’s post will focus on a new book by my good friend, Bob Hostetler. Bob is an award-winning Christian author who has also co-written several books with Josh McDowell. As an avid lover of both t…

Source: Thou Shouldst Buy This Book

Thou Shouldst Buy This Book

Bard and the BibleToday’s post will focus on a new book by my good friend, Bob Hostetler. Bob is an award-winning Christian author who has also co-written several books with Josh McDowell. As an avid lover of both the Bible and Shakespeare, Bob had a brainstorm, an “aha” moment, that resulted in this literary and readable devotional. Below is a review I wrote for Amazon and Goodreads. As Bob (and Shakespeare) would say, “Thou shouldst buy this book!” And I say it as well.

 

REVIEW:The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional by Bob Hostetler

The Bard and the Bible is a wonderful and creative way to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This new devotional works on a number of levels. One of the first and most obvious is the language. The King James Version of the Bible is still one of the most used and best-loved. It’s a natural to combine the insight of scripture to the insight of many of Shakespeare’s characters, and in fact, is clear that this version of the Bible influenced much of Shakespeare’s writing.

Each entry in this 365-day devotional follows a format that begins with a quote from one of the Bard’s plays (as well as sometimes from one of his sonnets or other poems), followed by a verse of scripture that aligns with the quote. Next comes the devotion text which gives background into the play and/or character from which the first quote is taken and its context. It segues into the Bible verse and how it not only relates to the Shakespeare quote, but how it relates to and is relevant to one’s daily life. The devotion ends with a thought-provoking question dealing with the issue at the heart of the devotion. Then comes what I consider to be a bonus; a short section of facts and trivia about Shakespeare himself, word trivia, modern incarnations of his plays, and more. A prayer as such is not included but the question at the end of each devotional entry leads the reader into reflection, self-examination, and prayer.

There is much to like about The Bard and the Bible. While still following the basic form of a devotional, Hostetler’s approach is fresh, unique, and interesting. He pulls the Bard’s quotes from each play in order of appearance so there is continuity within Shakespeare’s works rather than random quotes from random plays. It provides another layer that will delight fans of the Bard. A third layer within The Bard and the Bible is the depth of Biblical truth and its applications. Christians will be challenged to daily obedience to Jesus and to lovingly act out their faith by using the godly principles Hostetler brings to remembrance. This book also gives a slice of insight into Shakespeare’s faith and his great familiarity with scripture. It will resonate with any Christian who is a lover of literature and words. But more than that, The Bard and the Bible is a book that can be gifted to anyone interested in literature as a way to introduce them to God’s truth and love.

(In case you missed it, click on this link, The Bard and the Bible to buy a  copy of Bob’s book!)

Blessings Indeed

View at dusk Indianapolis

The view from our hotel room–Indianapolis at dusk

 

 

Tom and I have just come back from the International Gideons Convention that was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. People were there from over 90 countries from around the world. One of the things I love about convention is meeting and getting to know folks from countries that are so different from my own—and hearing of the difficulties many are facing with faith, courage, and perseverance.

As I listened to how God is working, especially in countries where it is hard and even dangerous, to be a Christian, it made me uncomfortable and sometimes ashamed to be a Christian in America. I thought of Luke 12:48: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” I have been given so much and was reminded of my responsibility!

In my last blog, I shared my experience of packing food aid for Syrian refugees. The prayer of my heart is that I will be more mindful of the ways I can make a difference for the Lord and for this hurting world. I don’t ever want to take for granted how much I have been blessed. With that in mind, here are just a few of my recent blessings:

    • Hosting Jean Marc, a gentleman from France for two nights in our home and getting to know him

      Jean Marc 2 (2)

      Tom and Me with Jean Marc

    • Having more food available than I could possibly want or eat
    • The availability of fresh, clean water to drink
    • Being in air-conditioning, protected from the dangerous and excessive heat we were experiencing
    • The view from our hotel room
    • Having dinner with Glen, our new friend from Jamaica
    • Celebrating the two-year-anniversary of my miraculous healing (July 24)
    • The hospitality of Tom’s sister and her husband, Barb and Roy
    • The beauty and peacefulness of their home on a lake
    • That I was able to do these things freely and without fear of attack or fear for my safety

I could bore you by going on and on, but I think you get the picture. I am especially thankful for the blessing of refreshment this time away offered me. And now, it’s time to get back to work to change the world in whatever way I can from my humble home in Pennsylvania.

The most important thing I can do is to treat everyone I meet with love and respect, no matter who they are, no matter their circumstances, no matter their beliefs. If we all acted this way in our own corner of the world, we would make a difference. Smiles and love ARE contagious! Will you join me in doing this?

 

SO LITTLE TIME; SO MUCH FOOD

Recently I participated in a food packing event sponsored by my friend, Joey Payne of the Global Aid Network (GAiN). This organization sends humanitarian aid of every kind all over the world, including things such as clothes, food, wheelchairs, walkers, washable fabric menstrual pads, refugee bags, blankets and quilts, motorbikes, regular bikes, small stuffed animals, toys, soccer balls . . . The bottom line—if you donate it, they know someone who needs it and will get it to them.

At any rate, Joey brought her show on the road to her hometown of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. She enlisted the help of local churches to raise the money needed to buy the bulk food and supplies, and to round up the volunteers necessary to prepare the food for shipping. The aid from this event was earmarked for the refugees flooding Greece, escaping from the war in Syria. It didn’t take long for both goals to be met.

Upon arrival and registration, each of us was assigned a station and a specific job at that station. Mine was to check the inner seal of the rice-filled bags to be sure not a grain could escape. Other jobs were measuring rice, filling bags, and sealing bags. (Some stations packed lentils, and some packed rice.) Over 200 of us gathered in the large open space of the Big Run War Memorial on a hot and muggy Pennsylvania Saturday (no air conditioning!)

The event was only scheduled for two hours, and I wondered how much could really be accomplished in that short amount of time. A WHOLE lot, I discovered! The final count: 46,282 meals were packed! That translated into being able to feed over 330 refugee families for an entire MONTH.

Even more important has been the response of the people receiving the aid. When GAiN volunteers deliver the meals, they are asked by many of the mostly Muslim refugees, “Why are you Christians doing this for us when our own people are the reason we are here? Why do you care?” It has opened many opportunities for them to talk about the love that rules us as Christians and the love that compels us to action. These volunteers return with testimonies of hearts being touched because we are seeing them hungry and are giving them food (Matthew 25:35).

I started to think. If we could do that much in just two hours, how many we could feed if we did that for 8 hours or for 5 days, or for a month? While I’m not good at numbers, it is obvious, even to me, how many lives could be touched exponentially.

Each of us can do something. And when that something is added to someone else’s something, before long, we ARE making a difference. We are being “God with skin” to these folks. And as Christians, it’s what we do. 

What one thing can or are you doing to help others at home or around the world? Share your experiences in the “Comments” section.

My American Heroes

Jenna

Jenna reading her essay

Here in the United States today is Memorial Day. While we normally spend the day having picnics and spending time with family and friends, what my family and I did this morning is what Memorial Day is really about. Rather than going to our town’s parade and remembrance ceremony, we headed down the road to my sister’s town.

 

Jenna, my 14-year-old niece, marched in their small parade. She was the first place winner in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen Essay contest. During the ceremony at the VFW, she received a medal and read her piece on “What Freedom Means to Me”. Her words were eloquent and meaningful. In the essay, she talked about the death of a family friend who died in 2007 as the result of a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq.

Russell KurtzThat young man, Sgt. Russell Kurtz was not only a family friend, but Tom and my godson. His death, just days after his 22nd birthday, shook us and our community to the core. I can never again look at the fight for freedom in the detached way I viewed it on the evening news, as something that happens to “other people”. It is real and raw and heart-wrenching.

But the keynote speaker at the ceremony said that while 79% of people between the ages of 59-64 have close relatives who served in the military, in the 18-29 age group that number drops to 33%. Jenna’s essay won in the middle school category, but the VFW commander said there was not one single entry from the high school students. Without the personal connection, do our young people take their freedom for granted? Will they forget the price that has been paid over the generations to pay for and secure our freedom?

I hope and pray not. Today, I view Jenna as a hero for reminding her generation of what freedom really means. And after the ceremony, my husband, daughter, and I honored and visited the grave of the bravest American hero we have ever known.Russells grave

Beginnings

Embarking on a new endeavor brings both excitement and trepidation. Having to deal with a learning curve usually produces some anxiety. Excitement spurs us on to new experiences. Each day is filled with beginnings, whether we realize it or not. Sometimes it will be a big event like a wedding, birthday party, or get-together with friends and family. Most days our beginnings consist of the simple things in life, things that have never happened before in this particular time and space. It may be fixing the next meal, taking a walk, or diving into that new book you’ve been dying to read.

All beginnings have one thing in common–they give us HOPE! Beginnings by nature imply forward movement. No matter what our endeavor, hope prompts us to look ahead, to anticipate the process and the end result.

My life has been full of twists and turns, something with which I’m sure you can identify. As I begin this blog, I hope you’ll join me for the ride as I mull over the past and look toward the future, and that my musings will strike a chord in you. Find a comfy spot, wrap your hands around a hot mug of tea or coffee, relax, and let’s begin!

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