August 7, 2014

Beginning Again

Posted in Blogging, Books, Favorite Quotes, Just Life tagged , , at 8:38 pm by catsinboxes

It has been a long summer. There has been so much to write about . . . I have started to compose blog posts in my head. Then I have stopped.

What is the point? I love to write, but I have been busy, and working. But there is another reason I have not been writing, the reason for my last post:

Granddaddy. I miss him. Memories come back and catch me, sometimes unexpected.

Making coffee in the French press yesterday, I suddenly remembered his detailed instructions last year, when I was visiting. He showed me how to use a French press, explaining carefully just how to manipulate the plunger.

So I smile, and catch my breath, and blink before I can cry, but it hurts. And then, with that memory, comes another.

That is the funny thing about memories, how they flow together. For some reason, I keep thinking of a time, probably over a decade ago, when he visited Wisconsin. We went for a walk in our woods, just the two of us.

Fall

The path was rough, it was a new path then –not the beaten old path it is today. I think it was fall because the woods were bare, but the weather was perfect for a walk. As he walked along, he gave me a lecture about the correct use of words. He told me how many words today are not used properly, like effect versus affect. He told me about the sometimes comical misuse of some words in advertising. (Illustrating this with a story about a restaurant though I cannot remember which word was misused!)

P1080293And then, just as quickly, comes one, final memory. Why? I do not know, but I am so thankful. My grandfather was a soldier. He was gruff, yet he loved us so much, and he did not mind showing affection. He would give me hugs, and I remember them, brisk and slightly awkward, and then I –being female and affectionate– would finish by kissing his cheek -rather dry and slightly rough. And I remember the kiss.

Why? I don’t know. But I am so thankful that I have that memory.

What does all of this have to do with blogging? Because in the past couple years, I was so busy, and I blogged for him. He was so darn proud of this blog. He would remind me that people read it, so it was important I updated it. He was proud of all I have done as a writer, and he liked to see my writing. And so I would write, and I would write for him. Because I knew, in the faceless blogosphere, that hardly anyone would see my work . . . except that one person. I had one faithful reader, and that was reason enough to write.

I know other friends read this blog, and I am so thankful for you. But I know your lives are busy, I know you do not have time to catch every post. But he did. And he cared. And so I would write. Or I would intend to write. Sometimes a post became an email, sent off to him.

And now he is gone. And why should I write? Oh yes, I write for other things. I write letters, and I love writing for Redeemed Reader, but this blog is different.

Yet, as the summer concludes, and as fall stares me in the face with a daunting schedule, I need to write. And I need to write here. It is time to begin again. I pray I will be more consistent, especially now that I do not have a loyal reader (who never really understood blogging!) there to remind me, mournfully, that I have not posted for months.

In Out of the Silent Planet, there’s a beautiful line that I have been thinking about this summer:

And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back -if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?

There is a place for sadness, that is why I cried as I wrote this post, but there is today and tomorrow and the beauty and glory of everyday grace . . . and how can I help but write?

June 6, 2014

The Love of a Good Man

Posted in Faith, Just Life, WWII tagged , , , at 8:55 pm by catsinboxes

70 years ago, today, a young soldier landed on Omaha Beach. He arrived in a later wave, not one of the first waves, waves that were mown down by machine gun fire.

Charlie - Dover - April 1945

Later, he would remember and tell his grandchildren about the dead rabbits he saw. Since the Germans had blocked the beaches, the rabbit population had thrived, but the initial allied bombardment had killed many of the rabbits. He never mentioned the bodies, just the rabbits.

He was 18 years old the summer of 1944, the son of a Georgia sharecropper. He had wanted to join the war and fight for his country, and he was glad when he was drafted. His employer was not glad and quite upset to be losing such a fine, hard-worker.

In the days following D-Day, the young soldier’s unit moved across theNormandy. He remember these days and would tell the light-hearted stories . . .

The time he hit the ground during machine gun fire, only to find himself in a bed of the most delicious strawberries. . .

Or, sober stories:

As a forward observer, his pack got tangled and his buddy, Private Walter Moore from Chatanooga, TN, was trying to loosen it. Moore had just given up when a German round, probably a mortar, exploded right next to them. Moore took the full impact of the explosion.

Years later, after the war, the young soldier took a train through Chatanooga. He wanted to stop, to find Moore’s family and talk to them, but he was not able to do it. Like many soldiers, he would be haunted by the question, Why him and not me?

Only God knows the answer to that question, but I know the rest of the young soldier’s story.

Charlie at Siegfried Line, Germany March 1946

He served in Europe through the rest of World War II. After the war, he became an officer. He returned to Europe during the postwar years, and also served in China until the Communist take-over.

While in Germany, he met a young, American school teacher. He returned to the United States, but a correspondence blossomed. He proposed in a letter, she accepted, and they were married.

Charlie and Jan in front of Chapel - July 14, 1962

He served in two more wars: Korea and Vietnam.

He was the father of four daughters and, in time, the grandfather of 11 grandchildren.

Charlie with Holly - 10 weeks

Last Sunday, he went home to be with the Lord. He was 89 years old.

P1080293

He loved God. He loved his family, and he loved his country.

;

He was my grandfather.

;

His story is not unlike the story of many other men whom we remember today, yet for me it is so much more than a story. It is a life well and fully lived. I am proud to be his granddaughter.

P1080368

May 21, 2014

Wordsworth Wednesday

Posted in Bible, Creative Writing, Faith, Favorite Quotes, Just Life, Poetry tagged , , , , at 7:31 am by catsinboxes

No, this has nothing to do with Wordsworth except that it has something to do with poetry.  Also, in light of the popularity of Wordless Wednesday, and since in the English language there is not a day of the week to lend alliteration to poetry, I will get creative.  I am not very familiar with Wordsworth, and though I would like to better my acquaintance, I will not quote him at the moment.  Instead, I will share my own poem.

Today, I read D.A. Carson’s commentary on Hebrews 7.  In closing, he urges his readers to meditate upon verses 23-25.

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him , since he always lives to make intercession for them.

I love those words.

Sunset on Superior

Praise His name, the Son of David,

Praise His name, the reigning King.

Praise His name, He saves the broken,

Praise His name, He intercedes.

Praise His name, He reigns forever,

Praise His name, He saves the lost.

Praise His name, He is returning,

He vanquished death upon the cross.

May 18, 2014

Half a Year -Practically

Posted in Adoption, Blogging, Just Life, Travel tagged , , , , , , at 12:21 am by catsinboxes

Have you ever had this experience?  You stumble across a blog.  You read it.  You enjoy it.  You keep reading.  And then you realize that it has not been updated for months.  As my grandfather reminded me today, my blog is e pluribus unum, one out of many blogs causing this unpleasant experience.  For that I am sorry.

I do have several excellent excuses.
Boyce College

1.  I went off to college.

In January I became a transfer student at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky.  Two weeks ago, I finished my first semester.  I absolutely love college.  Not enough said, but I will move on.

2.  I have a job.

Well, I had several jobs before, but this is a writing job, a writing job involving books.  I serve as executive assistant at Redeemed Reader, a Christian book review website.  Over the past year, I have become increasingly involved with Redeemed Reader and my own blog has been, well, neglected.  But I have been writing about books as well as Ukraine!

I could keep going, but you, dear reader, are intelligent and –I hope– understanding.  Should I write about books?  I certainly have been reading!  I have read theology, and I have read history, and I have read quite a bit in between.  That is for another post . . .

Instead, I will tell you what happened after I finished my semester.

photo

I took a double-decker bus to Chicago, ignoring the mild undertone of vomit aboard the bus.  In Chicago, I narrowly avoided missing my train connection and only made it due to the kindness of helpful strangers and a confident ticket master.  What brought me to Chicago?

It was excellent and worthy of a post in and of itself.  My mom was there, and it was so fun seeing her and getting to enjoy the conference with her.  My favorite part of the conference?  Meeting Christians from around the world who are passionate about orphan care.  Also, getting to see and hear Karyn Purvis, a Christian psychologist.

Following the conference, we did have a little time to spend in Chicago.  It was a gorgeous day, absolutely gorgeous.

photo

Look at the sky!

 

Ooh, horses!

Naturally, I found the horses.

photo

It was a beautiful, wonderful day.  And then?  It got better because I went home.  I spent almost two weeks at home, two weeks with family and friends, and I am so blessed.  Now I am back in Louisville for the summer, and ready to work.  What else will I be doing?  Lord-willing, I will be blogging.

There, how is that for a post?  If you lasted through the end of this one, please know, tenacious reader, that it does get better!  Usually I write about much more interesting things, like books.

Your errant blogger and her faithful steed 

 

 

December 5, 2013

A Book Lover’s Christmas Gift

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Favorite Quotes, WWII tagged , , , , , at 6:49 pm by catsinboxes

Looking for a good Christmas gift for a history, aviation, and/or WWII lover?  Look no farther, for I have a perfect suggestion!

A Higher Call: The Incredible Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World   War II, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, 2012, 371 pages

This has made the New York Times bestseller list for good reason.  On December 20, 1943, a  remarkable incident occurred in the skies over Oldenburg, Germany.  It was an event that would not be told to the public until decades after the war.

A Higher Call traces the lives of the two men who ultimately would encounter each other that day.  The book is highly readable and incredibly interesting.    Unlike many books, it focuses more on the German side of the war.  Through the eyes of Franz Stigler, readers will learn about Germany’s elite class of fighter pilots.  The perspective is fascinating and well-researched.  It is also a poignant reminder of a nation’s folly:

“When Franz looked at Mellman [young pilot], he knew he was looking at Germany’s great tragedy –a generation of innocents too young to have seen the rise of Hitler or The Party who now were forced to pay for their leaders’ sins.”

November 20, 2013

When in Doubt . . .

Posted in Blogging, Humor, Just Life at 9:50 pm by catsinboxes

About how to get back into blogging . . .

20131120-215015.jpg

Post a guinea pig picture!

August 24, 2013

City of Bones

Posted in Blogging, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Movie Reviews tagged , , , at 9:21 pm by catsinboxes

I might not be blogging here, but I am doing some work over at Redeemed Reader. Here’s my latest post: a movie review of City of Bones. If you aren’t familiar with this fantasy series, I can’t say that you are missing out, but the movie was quite fun!

http://www.redeemedreader.com/2013/08/city-of-bones-movie-review/

20130824-212354.jpg

August 1, 2013

A Story

Posted in Blogging, Faith, Just Life, Ukraine at 9:11 pm by catsinboxes

Let me tell you a story: once upon a time, 16 years ago, a baby boy was born in Eastern Europe. Remember him, he is important. At that time, on this side of the world, there was a young family with 3 children. Well that family grew. They grew and they grew and they grew. They were a happy family, and they loved God, and they knew they had been blessed, blessed with 7 beautiful children. And that was good, but it was not all. No, not the end of the story in the least but only the beginning.

You see, this family loved people, and they loved bringing people into their home. They had one exchange student, and then another, and then another, until soon they had hosted a dozen times. And that was good, but it was not all. Because God had a plan for that family, a special plan. He slowly opened their eyes, and He showed them a need: a need written in the faces and names and lives of thousands of children around the globe, a need for love.

They heard it, and their hearts broke a little, and they knew that they must do something. So they prayed, and they helped others bring children home. Then they brought two brothers into their home for a month during Christmas. This was a different kind of hosting, a Christian hosting program for orphans from Eastern Europe. And their hearts broke some more. They loved these boys, and learned more about God’s strength during that month than they could ever have imagined. It was grueling, it was draining, but at the end of it, they were ready for more.

Then God directed their hearts toward another country in Eastern Europe. And he showed them a 16 year-old boy. Remember him? I told you he was important. They decided to host him for 5 weeks in the summer. They looked forward to his arrival, and they prayed for him every day. When it was time for him to arrive, they were so excited. They didn’t know what it would be like, but they knew that God was good and sovereign over all.

Five weeks passed. God showed himself good and loving and sovereign in more ways than the family could ever have imagined. When it came time to say goodbye, it was one of the hardest things they had ever done. But they knew that God was good.

They know that God has an amazing plan for this 16-year-old, and they know that one way or another they will see him again. They trust in that. They are a happy family, and they praise God, and they know they have been blessed, blessed with a bunch of beautiful children.

20130801-211111.jpg

I don’t know what the next chapter of this story holds, but I’m excited to see it unfold.

June 10, 2013

Mention it Monday, Mississippi Version

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Favorite Quotes, Fiction, Freebies, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Travel at 10:10 am by catsinboxes

Greetings from Mississippi!

20130610-091604.jpg

Though to be more accurate, it looks a bit more like this today:

20130610-091640.jpg

I woke up this morning to thunder rumbling and pretty soon a torrential downpour was ensuring that 1) I didn’t take the dog out for a walk and 2) Bible time on the porch was out of the question!

I must admit that I had hoped to do more blogging on this vacation, but that is not how it worked out, and that’s okay. Still, no reason I can’t do some before I head home. So, here’s another Mention-it Monday!

Red to Black -by Alex Dryen

After reading World Magazine’s review of Dryden’s latest novel, I checked out all three of his books to date and started reading the first. I’m not usually one to read thrillers; Joel Rosenburg’s Last Jihad and Last Days are the extent of my reading in this genre! Still, having just travelled to Eastern Europe, I was intrigued by the Russian side of this novel. So, I started to read. And I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a thriller, but it’s also a fascinating look at modern Russia that is written by an author who knows his facts. The book is told in a series of flashbacks which I normally find annoying, but this time it absolutely worked! The story was engaging and kept me interested and reading. The main storyteller, Anna, –a Russian KGB agent caught up in an intricate plot involving a British spy– is interesting and well-developed. What’s more, she is likable, and you definitely find yourself pulling for her! There is occasional language, but I appreciated the fact that it was used sparingly and wasn’t gratuitous. There are also some sexual references: the KGB is happy to use Anna’s sexuality in getting what they want, but nothing was explicit. All in all, it was quite a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Alex Dryden.

Merlin’s Blade -by Robert Treskillard

I won’t say much here because this book deserves a whole review and post in itself. In fact, I probably will be reviewing it for Redeemed Reader this summer. I started this book on the plane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthurian aficionados, you should read this! Right now it’s only $2.99, Kindle version, on Amazon. What’s it about? I love how the cover puts it:

Before the Round Table . . . Before Arthur was Crowned . . . There was Merlin.

20130610-095650.jpg

The Explicit Gospel -by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

This is my theological vacation read, and so far, I haven’t made much progress though I have enjoyed everything that I’ve read.  Having heard Matt Chandler speak, I appreciate that his unique voice is very clear in this book.  Chandler is passionate about the gospel; that is very evident.  From a mere evangelistic point, I love the title of this book.  It’s eye-catching: a good book to read at the airport!  (If you’re like me, you do your best, via casual glances, to figure out what your fellow passengers are reading . . . This title is provocative enough to get more than one glance.  They’re reading the explicit what???)  As it happens, The Explicit Gospel is Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month, so I might be finishing it via audiobook.  If you’re looking for a theological read or audiobook this summer, I’d highly recommend this.  (And you can get the audiobook for free this month, remember!)  In closing, here is a quote from The Explicit Gospel that I quite enjoyed and is very applicable to this post:

How deep is the wisdom and the knowledge of God?  God knows every word in every language in every sentence in every paragraph in every chapter of every book ever written.

June 5, 2013

What’s So Great About Aaron?

Posted in Bible, Faith, Just Life at 9:54 am by catsinboxes

Currently in my Bible reading, I am moving chapter by chapter through several books of the Bible including Leviticus.  And in the past few days, I was really anticipating getting to Leviticus 10 though I couldn’t quite explain why.  It definitely has action and conflict, and it’s shocking to say the least.  Yesterday, I finally reached it, and ended up spending my whole Bible time focused on that chapter!  As I finished up my Bible time, I thought “I should write a blog post with some of the notes I’ve made”, so here it is!

Something I didn’t realize until today is that Nadab and Abihu were probably drunk when they offered profane/unauthorized fire.  I inferred that while reading and confirmed it in the footnotes.  The point here though is that God is jealous for His glory, and “will not allow his holiness to be violated, not even by members of the high priest’s family.”  (ESV notes)  Their installation not even complete yet, and two of the priests –in the vernacular– screw-up with deadly results.

You know, I don’t know why people like the name Aaron so much!  He could speak, sure, but he succumbed easily to peer pressure, he lied, he didn’t always support Moses and he had 2 sons who couldn’t even make it through the priestly installation process!  You can’t judge a man by his offspring, but a look at them will tell you a lot about that man, and I think this holds true for Aaron.   His sons had seen their father not always follow the rules; goodness he heard the 10 commandments and then made a golden calf!  Why shouldn’t they try something different, too???  Being drunk surely wouldn’t have helped their logic either!

What can we learn from Aaron?  In God’s words to Aaron (v.8-11) we see the “three major rules” of the priesthood.  –And this is the only time God speaks directly to Aaron.–

The priests were (courtesy of the ESV footnotes for the breakdown)

  1. To distinguish between the holy and the profane
  2. To separate the clean from the unclean
  3. To teach the people the laws of God

It was a holy calling and one that no Levite could fulfill perfectly.  Aaron couldn’t, his sons couldn’t, none of their children, or children’s children could, until one day a child was born with Levite blood from his mother’s side.  He was the Christ, the anointed one, perfectly fulfilling the roles of prophet, priest, and king.

And that is why I could like the name Aaron, because Aaron, in all his fallibility, pointed toward something –rather, someone– so much greater.  Aaron stands for me, for you, for each of us as we live and sin and screw things up.  We can’t make it on our own, but by God’s grace, there is a way.  A way though the ultimate, perfect priest whose sacrifice made it possible for all of us Aarons to come to God.  Because of Him we can draw close without fear to a most Holy LORD and even call Him, “Father.”  How great is our God!

Next page

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers