Category Archives: authors

Digging Deeper for Lent, Week 3: Books for Spiritual Formation

godsbooklover-gravatar991This Lenten season, I’m taking a moment in this mid-week slot to recommend resources for spiritual growth. Previous suggestions have included a news periodical with a Christian worldview, and a collection of prayers written hundreds of years ago.

Today I turn to my favorite medium, books–real, hold-in-your-hand books. I have three from my personal library in front of me; each offers a somewhat different approach to spiritual formation.

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me-i-want-to-be-coverThe most recent addition is by an author I have enjoyed in the past, John Ortberg. His 2010 book, The Me I Want To Be, is written with his signature blend of pithy anecdote, biblical insight and practical teaching points, complete with helpful call-out frames (or whole pages) which provide overview or outline of his main points. Its design is eye-catching and its format makes it very readable.

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Digging Deeper for Lent, Week 2: Puritan Prayers

godsbooklover-gravatar991I am using the Lenten season of the Church year to present a series of varied resources for spiritual formation. Last week I highlighted an excellent print and online news publication which is extremely helpful in developing/maintaining a Christian worldview.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to a body of work which exists in several formats. It is at least a couple of  hundred years old… and I just discovered it a month ago.

I have to give a hat tip once again to The Park Forum’s devotional blog, 843 Acres, which reprinted one of these extraordinary prayers and noted its source as a book titled The Valley of Vision. This book is still available in paperback and hardcover, both from Amazon and Christianbook.com.

Valley of Vision

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The Thread of Faith

Princess illus1“May I feel the thread?” asked Curdie.

“Here it is,” said Irene, guiding his fingers to where she was holding the thin, shimmering strand.

“I feel nothing!” he exclaimed.

Irene looked at him, sad and solemn. “And so you still do not believe me. But I do feel it. And aren’t you glad? I found you in that cave, and brought you out, and I couldn’t have done it without the thread.”

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Scene from all for One's production, 2/6/14.

Scene from all for One’s production (2/6/14)

Sometime later, Irene led Curdie to see her great-great grandmother. But Curdie could neither see nor hear her. Sure that Irene was mocking, he stormed off home. “I’m obliged to you for getting me out of that hole, Princess. But I wish you hadn’t made a fool of me afterwards!”

“What does it all mean, Grandmother?” sobbed Irene.

“It means, my love, that Curdie is not yet able to see some things…in the meantime, you must be content to be misunderstood for awhile. We are all of us very anxious to be understood. But there is one thing much more necessary:  to understand other people.”

(Retold from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald)

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Each time I heard the above lines spoken onstage, it was well-nigh impossible not to think of that famous prayer:

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On Trust, Belief and Hope

Princess & the GoblinOur theater company is preparing to perform a stage adaptation of George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin. It is that intense and exhausting period known as “tech week”–today was the day we loaded our massive set into the theater we rent four times a year for our productions. I spent the day painting portable flooring.

The Princess and the Goblin is a delightful fantasy for children. It is also a beautiful story about faith and trust. Believing precedes seeing. Indeed, as one character wisely says, “Seeing is not believing. It is only seeing.”  Irene and her great-great-grandmother embody something of the relationship that Christians have with the Holy Spirit. We are led by an invisible hand, and we trust that we will be led to safety–but we are surprised along the way by some of the places it takes us!

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Stories for Cold, Dark Days

The view out my front door...

The view out my front door…

It’s been a long month. Bitter cold and snow on snow have cancelled classes and events, leaving us huddled in our houses for days on end. And what better way to pass the time than with story?

Our granddaughter has just fallen in love with one of my favorite fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast, and has been let’s-pretending it all day long, for days now. I am startled to find she knows snatches of dialogue by heart, and is singing along on key…just past her third birthday, she seems to have made a quantum leap forward.

Beauty and BeastI’m pleased that she has taken to a story which involves a loving father, a beautiful act of sacrificial love, and a relationship which isn’t based on good looks. Add to that a heroine who loves to read–it’s perfect! I know Lucy is probably not reacting to all these positive character qualities for their own sake…she loves the story. Presenting her with stories worth loving is my most important job at the moment. Later there will be time to show her why they’re worthy. Continue reading

Life Among the Thorns


“Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.”
 Mark 4:7 ESV

thorns

The parable was referenced in a book on fasting. A book I’ve read multiple times. And of course it’s a parable I’ve read dozens of times. But a little voice in my head whispered, “I think I’m living in the thorns.”

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May the Advent-ure Continue!

five Advent candlesThe Advent season has come and gone…we waited for the arrival, it came and went. Odd, isn’t it? A season which is named for a Coming is about waiting…and by the time we actually celebrate the arrival, the season of Advent is official over.

That’s probably why for years I assumed–unthinkingly–that Advent must mean waiting. Because that’s what Advent has meant to me, a time of great anticipation for a momentous occasion. Continue reading

“A #Christmas Hymn” for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, I could write something original, something of all I’ve been reading and pondering lately.

But I suspect that, three days before Christmas, you are either (A) still frantically trying to get things done, or (B) just beginning, like me, to really enjoy the season. After a week rich in blog content and variety, thanks to my brother, JTR, you don’t need anything long or weighty today.

So here, instead, is my very favorite Christmas poem of all time. (Not that it’s fluff! Far from it. But good poetry has a simple sense of inevitability which gets inside without fanfare.)  One year our family (myself, husband and both sons) memorized it to recite for gathered family on Christmas Day. I wish we’d done more things like that during Advent.

This poem has stuck with me. Although I hadn’t recited it in years, it came back to me easily when I spoke it for a friend’s grandfather at an informal Christmas concert. I invite you to take your time and read it aloud…or perhaps come back and read it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

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