Monday, January 31, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 23

A way in which you want to be remembered.

I had had ideas about what I'd write in this post for a while, but something I read today gave me a fresh perspective and helped me form more definite thoughts about it.

I was reading my mom's most recent post on Family Heirlooms and in this post she quoted part of the obituary of her great-great-grandmother, Katherine Daniels.

"All her life was spent in the east until 5 years ago, when she accompanied her family to California and had since made her home in Roseville, where her kindness and helpfulness to those in distress and her sweet and cheerful disposition endeared her to all who came in contact with her. She was a devoted Christian and an earnest worker in the Baptist church, of which she was a member, and her many acts of kindness will ever be remembered." 

As I read, I thought, "Wow.  That's how I want to be remembered."  And then I thought about this post. 

"Kindness." "Helpfulness." "Sweet and cheerful disposition." "Devoted Christian."  Katherine Daniels was remembered in this positive way.   I then think of other people who've reached heaven before me.

You all know my fandom of Eric Liddell... :-) It was said of him by an intern at Weihsien camp that he was "the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet. In all the time in the camp, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody".

I remember Aunt Leah being so cheerful and so full of life, serving the Lord and blessing others and raising her children to love the Lord.

My dearest memory of my own great-grandma,  whom I got to know during our visit with her in April-May 2006, is of her faithfulness in prayer and her love for her family.  According to my mom, Great-Grandma prayed for her daughter, her son-in-law, and each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren by name every day, and her journals reflect her heart of love and care for the people God had brought into her life.  When she was living, we always knew she was praying for us.

That's how I want to be remembered.  Loving.  Caring.  Joyful.  Faithful.  Selfless.  Courageous.  Not just as a fun person or a good writer, but as a vessel of the Lord-- someone emptied of self and full of Christ, ministering God's love and gospel to people, praying for them, encouraging them.  Whether I die young, or whether I die old, I want to be remembered as someone who loved God with all her heart and ministered the love of Christ to others in every way.

Hannah had a great post for this day in the challenge too, which I'd encourage you to read.  (Ditto what she said. :-) )

Sunday, January 30, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 22

A website.

First, allow me to apologize for my lack of posts this week.  I asked for prayer about my oral surgery and failed to give you all an update on that.  Please forgive me!  The surgery went well and I had no complications, except a brief panic afterwards where my blood pressure plummeted and they had to put me on oxygen for a couple minutes... after that, I was fine.  I enjoyed lots of rest the first couple days, watched movies and read books and just relaxed.  The last couple days, the swelling has pretty much gone away and I can finally smile regular now, and I'm beginning to chew my food now (though no chips or steak :-) ).  Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes this last week; I have been so blessed by the kind notes I've received!

Now for the blog challenge. A website. :-)

My mamma just started up this blog last week to catalogue her collection of pictures, newspaper articles, and documents she's gotten in her genealogy studies.  The family history is really quite interesting.  Mommy's most recent posts are about her great-grandparents who were settlers in North Dakota and Saskatchewan!  Anyway, she has been posting pictures and other things she's found over the years, and I thought some of my friends interested in history might enjoy looking at them!  I am! :-)  Here's a sneak peak of her pictures--North Dakota homestead!
 I'm sorry my post was not more detailed; I was going to share more websites of various topics but somehow it didn't save when I left my computer, and it's late now and I need to head to bed.  :-P

Sunday, January 23, 2011

30-Day Challenge Postponed ~ News

Hello folks!

We now interrupt this program for a little prayer request and a little rest. :-)

I'm getting my wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow! Mm-hm.  *smiles real big*    Don't I sound excited?
I'm actually very nervous.  Very.  :-/  Not so much about the surgery but not being myself afterwards. :-S  So if you could all pray, not only that it would go well but also that I would trust the Lord and rest in Him and not be afraid, that would be wonderful!

I had been planning on writing several days' worth of posts in advance and scheduling them to post on their respective days, but I couldn't think of what to write, and so I just decided to postpone the whole thing until next Sunday.  That doesn't mean I won't posting at all this week (it might mean that, but not definitely ;-) ) but the blog challenge is put off for a week. 

Thank you so much! 

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 21

Something you know you do differently than most people.

Amanda says I deal from the bottom of a deck of cards, not from the top.... I didn't know that was different from other people until she mentioned it. :-)

I also pour the cream before the coffee... most people I know pour the coffee in first and then the cream. :-)

I can't make it through a movie without critiquing on the style or historical accuracy of the costumes and planning to make a re-make of at least one gown in the film.  I suppose other historical costumers do that, but not most people in general. :-)

What about you?  Did I miss anything? ;-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 20

A hobby of yours. 

Sewing doll clothes....
 Sewing historical costumes...
and the weird one that gets me some strange looks...

collecting American Girl dolls.
But then, we live in a time and place that prizes individuality, so people really shouldn't have a problem with it anyway. :-)

What are some of your hobbies?

30-Day Challenge, Day 19

 A talent of yours.

Well, it seems kind of self-centered to write about a talent of mine.  :-P  But then, talents are gifts given by God, and everyone has talents to do different things for God's glory.

God has given me a desire to, and ability to, write, particularly to write novels.  I think he's given me that ability to write effectively (several people have told me something I wrote made them cry ;-) ) so my desire is to use my writing to change people-- to point them to the Saviour.  After all, since God gave the talent to me in a first place, it only makes sense to use it for His glory!  I also strive to use my writing to encourage people, through blog posts, emails, letters, and Facebook statuses.  There are so many hurting people who just need an encouraging word and I hope the Lord might use me to do that in my writing.

Now, by reading this post, you probably think I don't actually have a talent for writing because that was very, very short.  But it's kind of awkward to write about oneself. ;-)  You can read more about my writing by clicking the tag on this post, "books I am writing". :-)

30-Day Challenge, Day 18

A time when you felt passionate and alive.

This one kind of makes me chuckle because it sounds like the person doing the challenge must be old, tired, and decrepit. ;-)  Though I have to admit, the last couple days I've felt very tired.   But that's because I stayed up too late at night. ;-)

Anyway, this category is slowing me down and making me get behind on the challenge, and I have several posts to write before Monday because I'm having oral surgery on Monday and won't be feeling like writing for a couple days after that, so.... I'll just skip this one for now and come back to it later .;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 17

An art piece.

Here is one I really like.   I'm not sure what it is about it... it's just sweet and homey and peaceful looking.  :-)
 I love this too.  The sea... the flowers... the book... the tea... that's where I want to be right now. :-)
 I also have several other "favorites" with sheep/shepherds theme but I've posted them quite often in various posts on this blog, so if you go back through "devotional thoughts", you should find them....

There.  Now I think I'm caught up.... ;-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 16

A song that makes you cry.

Good grief.  I didn't even have to think about that one.
Probably the song that makes me cry the most is "When Somebody Loved Me" from Toy Story 2.  When I watched that song on Youtube, it left me depressed for the rest of the day.
Watch at your own risk.

But that was just a "bad" kind of cry.  There are plenty of songs that make me cry a "good" kind of cry. :-)
The one--or some-- that comes to mind first is actually the whole CD, So High the Price, by the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team.  The first several times I listened to it, it brought tears to my eyes with each and every song.  The theme of the whole CD is Christ's sacrifice for us.  When I listen to the songs, my heart is filled with awe as I consider my sinfulness and God's love and Christ's sacrifice for me and the glory of His resurrection...  I nearly always get a lump in my throat now when I hear the triumphant words in one of the numbers, "Death is dead!  Love has won!  Christ has conquered!"  Then the words of another song on the CD... "I was blinded by my sin/ Had no ears to hear Your voice/ Did not know Your love within/ Had no taste for heaven’s joys/ Then Your Spirit gave me life/ Opened up Your Word to me/ Through the gospel of Your Son/ Gave me endless hope and peace" ....

Here is another lovely selection from that CD:

30-Day Challenge, Day 15

A person you admire.

A life lived for the Lord.    

A courage that risked everything that lives and souls might be saved.  

An endurance and steadfastness amidst physical suffering. 

A pen that dripped with beauty and passion and love for her God.   

A heart so closely knit to the Father's.  

P.S. I'm afraid I've really slacked off on this challenge.  It's been a super busy week... we had church and company on Sunday, a friend over on Monday from 1:00 to 9:00 ;-), and dentist appointments and shopping today, PLUS two sewing orders. So yeah, busy. :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 14

A vacation you would like to take.

Well, first, here's the vacation I would like to take RIGHT NOW. 

  HAWAI'I !!!
 and WARMTH!!!!!

But actually, my big dream trip is to England.  Studying for a book in London, visiting "Cranford" (a.k.a. Lacock), meeting my English cousin Louise, attending the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.....  *sighs*  It's a nice idea.  Hopefully it will become a reality one day. :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 13

A guilty pleasure.

A what?  Would that mean something I enjoy but feel guilty about? 
I'd have to think about it.... Would getting a $3.50 cup of Starbucks flavored coffee every once and a while be considered a guilty pleasure?

30-Day Challenge, Day 12

A song that you want played at your wedding(or was played).
I'm afraid I failed to do this one yesterday, for the overall reason that I don't know what I want played at my wedding because I really don't think much about my wedding.  I think I know who I'd like to sing at my wedding, but besides that, I'm not sure. 

I thought it would be lovely to walk up the aisle (or back down) to a Jane Austen soundtrack piece. "Hole in the Wall" would be a lovely processional (it was for some friends of ours). The main theme of Pride and Prejudice (1995) or the end credits piece of Emma would make delicious, exciting recessionals.  As for a song to be sung?  I don't know.  I'm not much into love songs right now, not being in love myself, so I haven't thought much about that.  Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Speechless" would be nice, even though it isn't a love song as in, love between a man and a woman, but it is about the greater, more amazing love of God for us.  And the person I want to sing at my wedding would sound amazing doing that song, if I could convince him to.  But then, that's a couple years away at least, so I don't have to worry about it yet.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 11

A photo of you taken recently.

This one was taken on Sunday... of my new haircut. :-)

This is from the Christmas Ball in December.  I like the "movie feel" of the picture.  Photo by Brandon Pieplow.

That was a pretty easy post. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 10

A photo of you taken over ten years ago.

Oh dear!  We've got heaps of those and I am absolutely addicted to "old" photos.  Anyway, here are some, because I did not take time to scan more, and besides, most of you probably wouldn't be as interested in them as I am. :-)

 Okay, now I'm the one with my tongue sticking out, as usual. :-P

At the airport on the way to California, when I was six

 probably watching a movie right here...eating popcorn...hanging out with my pal (my sister ;-) )...wearing my favorite pajamas (Disney's Pocahontas themed) :-)

At Campobello with my aunt Lois, when I was seven
 And probably my favorite from the "era"... the Christmas I got Kirsten (1998...?)

 I LOVE pictures from when my sisters and I were little!!  :-D :-D :-D

Monday, January 10, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 9

A photo you took.

Card game, anyone?
 Kitty's pretty full of herself... she thinks she can beat you at cards.  I dunno, I think she might not have all the rules down yet-- particularly Number 1 Rule: Don't let the other players see your cards! :-P

Sunday, January 9, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 8

A thank you letter to someone who has changed your life.

To a Very Special Friend:
It seems strange to write a letter to you for all the world to see, though I do it often enough when it's just you and me to read it. But I couldn't really think of who else to write a letter to. I suppose almost everyone that comes into our lives changes us in some way, which makes it harder to decide who to write this publicized letter to, especially as if I featured one person in particular, the others who have meant just as much to me might feel hurt and left out. However, you've made such an impact on the lives of so many of my friends that I am confident they feel the same as I do and will not feel left out in the least. :-)

Anyway, there really isn't anybody more deserving of a public "thank you" than you! You've known me all my life... even before I could see clearly or distinguish one word from another, and what's more, you've loved me. To this day, I'm not sure why you did, or why you still do... after all I've done to hurt you and disobey you! The fact that you keep loving me through all that fills my heart with amazement. When I complained about the food you put before me, you could have taken it all away, but you continued to give me food to help me live and grow. When I fought over toys with my little sister out of pride and selfishness in my heart, you could have thrown your hands up in the air and left me alone to have my way and hurt others, but instead you lovingly disciplined me and taught me what selflessness and humility and true love are. When life took its terrifying turns and I found people or things I loved falling from my grasp and I kicked against what you were doing, you could have cast me off as a hopeless case, but instead, you showed me that through it you were always there for me, you would help me through whatever the situation was, and that all I needed, in reality, was you.

And oh-- you remember those times when I got so depressed? Those awful times (and not all that seldom either) when satan was really after me, telling me life was pointless, that I was worthless, that I could never be good, that I might as well not exist? Ohhh, dearest friend, you were so wonderful in those moments. When I felt like I was in despair, you whispered to me, "Let me help you," and I feebly called out your name and asked for some ray of light. You could have ignored my cry because you knew my lack of faith, but instead you spoke in your beautiful, authoritative voice-- you bid satan be gone, and then you wrapped your arms around me and whispered, "Peace, be still." Each time that has happened, it has made me love you even more, because in those times I see your strength and your authority to rebuke those demonic forces that surround the walls of my soul with their battle axes and fiery arrows; I see your steadfast love and kindness in your words of comfort and continual presence; I see your goodness and faithfulness in keeping your promise to hold me in the palm of your hand and never let go. Wow. Even as I write, I remember more and more that I have to thank you for. THANK YOU!!

I'd have to say the biggest thing of all of those thankworthy deeds you have done, it would have to be the day you saved my life. You remember that, I know! I was sentenced to death, and rightfully so. I'm ashamed to think of what I did... so many things, most of which I'd hate to admit... But when I was to die, you stepped up and took my place. Yes-- you died in my place, thereby clearing me from the punishment of my sin and washing my sin away. Then-- oh, this is the best part!!-- you came alive again and gave me new life-- because you are not just like any other person. You are GOD. And because you are God, death couldn't possibly keep you in its chains. You arose a Victor, and I arose with you.

It is for all this and more that I thank you. I know that this was supposed to be a "thank you NOTE" and it turned out to be more of a letter, but how can even a blogpost of this length sufficiently thank you for all you've done?? You are so wonderful and so good and so great that if I had all eternity to thank you, it would never be enough.

Thank you again, dearest Friend! I love you, Jesus!

Love from your ransomed,

"We love Him because He first loved us."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 7

Five things you couldn't possibly live without.

  •  FOOD.  Neither could you.  (Sorry, I had to put that one first for effect. ;-) )
  • GOD.  And for more than one reason too.  Think about it.
    •  He created me.  Nothing exists without some intelligent mind outside of itself coming up with the idea and creating it.  I honestly couldn't live unless God created and sustained me.
    •  He loves me.  He is love.  If He was not, I would be gone a long time ago.  In His patience and goodness, He grants me life and forgiveness when I don't deserve it. 
    • He saved me.  He granted me His Holy Spirit.  This gives me peace and strength in the trials of life, hope of a future with Him, joy in His amazing unconditional love. "I could not do without Thee, O Savior of the lost." <3
  •  FAMILY IN CHRIST.  That includes my immediate family and those related not by blood but by Spirit.  We all need that encouragement we receive from brothers and sisters in Christ... insights others have had in their walk with the Lord, guidance from more mature Christians, encouragement during difficult times, and just the same love for Jesus Christ and the common factor of being sinners saved by the amazing grace of God.  I am so glad God did not leave us alone in our walk with Him but has surrounded us with people taking the same narrow way.
  • COLOR.  I love color.  More and more I love it.  I am so glad we don't live in a monochromatic world or one of those sci-fi places where everything is white.  I love blue, green, pink, orange, yellow, silver, gold, maroon, aqua, lavender, brown, turquoise.... <3 <3 <3
  • WRITING.  Whether it be on computer, or pencil and paper, or slate, or just in my own mind.  If I didn't have some avenue for my passion for writing and creating , I'm not sure what I would do. ;-)
 What about you? 

P.S. I have a "new look"! :-) :-) :-)  "Snip snip, here we go!"  I'll see if Beth can get a picture tomorrow so I can post it for you to see. ;-)

Friday, January 7, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 6

A moment you wish you could relive.

Goodness. You might have asked me on a day I was feeling sentimental, and I've been trying not to be lately. :-) I guess right now I am of the mind that each day God gives us is precious, but once it is passed, it is passed, and we have a new day to live and to use as best we can for God's glory... that we can look back on memories but not let ourselves be stuck in them. While I greatly dislike fluffy nostalgic songs, I do tend to live in my memories, and the last year or two have had their harder moments of seeing childhood flitting away and the memories of it slipping farther and farther into the past. I am just recently getting to the point where I can accept the fact that I am growing up, I am where God has put me, and it's best for me to embrace the moment and move forward for God, while still appreciating the special moments He's given me in the past.

That said, I can't really think of a particular occasion I'd wish to relive, and I'd better not think about it too hard or I'll get myself depressed. :-) But I am thinking of some more general moments that I wished at the time that I could capture and wrap up and carry in my pocket to relive now and then. Moments like...

...standing on the beach with the wind blowing in my face and the waves crashing up onto the beach with a mighty boom...
...sitting with my feet hanging over the rocky ledge at Sunset Park, watching the sun sink into the calm waters of Lake Erie...
...climbing up Windlass Hill and being nearly blown away at the top by the strong Nebraska winds...
...walking in the woods when the sun was just at the right angle to light it up and cast golden patches everywhere...
...walking in bare feet with my buddies or my little friends, around the lawn at church, breathing in the warm summer air and just enjoying friendship...

...oh no. I'd better stop there. :-)

Well, lest I bore you any further with my ramblings about sentiment and memories, I'd better close up shop on my computer, read another chapter in my new volume of C. S. Lewis's nonfiction works, and then get to bed. I'm trying to get into the happen of getting to bed early and waking up early. Not sure if it'll work, but it's worth a try. ;-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 5

A Favorite Quote

Listen, folks. I collect quotes. It's a hobby. I must have at least 500 quotes in my One Note quote collection. Anyway, here's just a sampler:

"I will not try to convince you of anything about God. I cannot. You must know Him. I only tell you I believe in Him with all my heart. You must ask Him to explain Himself to you, and not take it for granted that He has done you a wrong because He has done what you do not like. Whether you seek Him or not, He will do you justice. But He cannot explain Himself unless you seek Him."
~George MacDonald

" "Trust Me, My child," He says. "Trust Me with a fuller abandon than you ever have before. Trust Me, as minute succeeds minute, every day of your life, for as long as you live. And if you become conscious of anything hindering our relationship, do not hurt Me by turning away form Me. Draw all the closer to Me, come, run to Me. Allow Me to hide you, to protect you, even from yourself. Tell Me your deepest cares, your every trouble. Trust Me to keep My hand upon you. I will never leave you. I will shape you, mold you, and perfect you. Do not fear, O child of My love, do not fear. I love you." "
-Amy Carmichael

"Courage, dear heart."
~C. S. Lewis

"The heart set to do the Father's will need never fear defeat. His promises of guidance may be fully counted upon. Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting His sheep where He wants them to go than they care about getting there?"
~Elisabeth Elliot

"Victory over all the circumstances of life comes not by might, nor by power, but by a practical confidence in God and by allowing His Spirit to dwell in our hearts and control our actions and emotions. Learn in the days of ease and comfort, to think in terms of the prayer that follows, so that when the days of hardship come you will be fully prepared and equipped to meet them."
~Eric Liddell

(I just realized that all the quotes I just posted are by the favorite authors on my sidebar. :-P See, I told you they were my favorite authors. :-) ) Anyway, I thought I might mention a few more:

"Difficulties afford a platform upon which He can show Himself. Without them, we could never know how tender, faithful, and Almighty our God is."
-J. Hudson Taylor

"God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives."
~ John Piper

"What am I? Well, here is what I am. I am the worst sinner I know. And by the grace of God I am doing better than I deserve. For I deserve the righteous wrath of God because of my sin. I deserve to be punished eternally. But in the mystery of His mercy, God sacrificed and crushed His Son on the Cross--as my substitute--so that I might be forgiven of my sin and know God as my Father rather than my Judge. What am I? I am truly amazed by the grace of God. That's what I am."
~ C.J. Mahaney

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
~Paul the Apostle

Click the "quotes" label under this post to see a wider variety of my collection. ;-)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 4

A Favorite Television Program

Well, most everyone who knows me well knows that, in general, I hate TV shows. They're so repetitive and end up being such nonsense (I think). Therefore, if there is a TV show I remotely like, it would have to be called my favorite because I don't like any others. :-)

Granted, I don't mind the Andy Griffith show or Storm Stories, if they're playing, and now and then I'll sit and watch one of those old shows from the 50s or 60s. But I wouldn't say I like them especially. One show, however, that I've recently been introduced to and like very much is...

Now, I've only watched a few episodes of the first season, and it may be that as I watch more, I'll find them to end up being as repetitive and nonsensical as the other shows I've watched. But as it stands right now, I really actually do like the show.

Emergency! was a very popular show when my mom and dad were growing up, and both of them watched it on the opposite ends of the country. It's no wonder they were so popular. They're packed with action, and Johnny Gage (played by Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (played by Kevin Tighe) are downright cool. :-P

Actually, I think the reason why I like Emergency! would be the close connection it has with my family. The show charts the very beginnings of the paramedics in the 70s--people were beginning to realize that people were dying one the way to the hospital who would have lived if they had received professional medical treatment on the scene of the emergency. The first episode shows the true-to-life loopholes the early paramedics had to go through to make it legal for them to administer medical help to patients on the scene. This holds great significance to me, because my dad is a paramedic, and my granddaddy was greatly involved in starting up the paramedic service in our area during the 70s (around that same time). We take it for granted these days that we have paramedics who can come when we need them and help us in an emergency, but it wasn't always so. While Emergency! isn't a Christian show, and the characters and most of the events are fictional, it reminds me that God was at work, preparing the details thirty/forty years ago to work out His plan in people's lives even today-- the saving of lives so that they might have another chance to find Him here on earth.

The episodes I've seen so far are very exciting. The characters deal with emergencies from house fires to California forest fires, from broken limbs to heart attacks, from car crashes to caving tunnels. They keep you on the edge of your seat, and what's nice is, at least in the early ones, is that you don't have to worry about seeing graphic details of the injuries. The only thing that bugs me is a negative comment in one of the episodes, where the doctor mentions "helping God to make up his mind" or something like that... an all-too-common attitude among doctors, I'm afraid. Oh, another thing that bugs me is Dixie's false eyelashes and Hollywood-influenced nurse outfit, but that's just because I think it looks really stupid. ;-)

But overall, it's actually a show I pretty much enjoy and I look forward to seeing more. I only wish I was familiar with them a couple months ago when Daddy got to meet Randolph Mantooth at a symposium. Lucky. :-P

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 3

A Favorite Book

The Wingfold Trilogy/The Curate of Glaston

There are times when read a book, set it down when you're done, and forget after a while what the story was even about, but the underlying message of the book remains with you forever.

This was the case with The Curate's Awakening; indeed, with the whole Thomas Wingfold trilogy.  After I read it, I remembered the basics of the story, but what remained foremost in my mind was the spiritual theme.  It is the story of a curate whose world is shaken by an atheist's question, regarding his preaching: "Tell me, do you really believe one word of all that?"  The curate, Thomas Wingfold, comes to realize that he doesn't even know what he believes; he only claims to believe what has always been taught him.  This question plunges him into the study to know, "Is Christianity true?  Was there really such a man as Jesus Christ?  What does he require of his followers?"  Through the help of a wise little dwarf named Polwarth, Wingfold digs into the Word of God to find the answers and finds what is it to know God-- to believe Him and obey.  He challenges his congregation to do the same, to ask themselves: "Do I obey His word?  Have I ever, have I once, sought to obey it?  Am I a pupil of Jesus?  Am I a Christian?"

The following two books in the series develop this topic through a wide variety of lives such as Thomas Wingfold the curate, Polwarth the dwarf, Leopold Lingard the murderer, Paul Faber the surgeon, Richard Tuke the bookbinder, and others.  In the events of their lives, they find themselves asking some of the most crucial questions in life:  Is there a God?  If there is, how are we to find Him?  How can we share with those who doubt it?  If we say we know God, does our life show it?  Is our Christianity real?   How does God relate to us?  Does He care when our hearts ache?  Can He forgive even the most heinous sins?  Can any person, however benelovent and good, earn God's favor by his own works?  Is God still good even when innocent people suffer?  This trilogy looks seriously at these questions and answers them with the Bible as its guide.  It has challenged me to think about these things and to look into God's Word to see what our Source and Creator has to say about them.  It has encouraged me to look at my own life and evaluate whether I am living out my Christianity and obeying what God has commanded me in His Word.

These books contain more plot than what I have just related, but this is the thread throughout which has stayed with me, making it one of my favorite series of books.

"My dear sir, no conviction can be got-- or if it could be got, would be of any lasting value-- through that dealer in secondhand goods, the intellect.  If by it we could prove there is a God, it would be of small avail indeed.  We must see Him and know Him.  And I know of no other way of knowing that there is a God but that which reveals what He is-- and that way is Jesus Christ as He revealed Himself on earth, and as He is revealed afresh to every heart that seeks to know the truth about Him. . . . Your business is to acquaint yourself with the man Jesus; He will be the one to reveal the Father.  Take your New Testament as if you had never seen it before, and read to find out.  The point is, there was a man who said He knew God and that if you would give heed to Him, you should know Him too."
~Joseph Polwarth in The Curate's Awakening, page 60

Monday, January 3, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 2

A Favorite Movie

I don't usually post about movies on this blog, so this will be a little different. ;-) You're probably expecting me to post about a period drama, but since I already post about those on my other blog, I decided to go with another kind of movie. I had a hard time deciding between It Happened on 5th Avenue (a new favorite) and Balto (an old but recently renewed favorite). I decided to go with Balto. And yes, it's a cartoon, but most of you know I love animated films.

Balto is based on the famous story of the little town in Alaska that fell under a terrible epidemic of diphtheria, and of a dog who saved the day by bringing in the medicine despite hindering weather conditions. The movie keeps only to the very bare bones of the true story (in most ways it's terribly inaccurate), but it makes up for it by an exciting story and excellent characterization.

Balto is an outcast. His heritage is a mix of dog and wolf, and most of the dogs, particularly the lead sled dog runner Steele (who is, in my opinion, Gaston re-incarnated ;-) ) , treat him as inferior because of this. Everyone, except a beautiful husky named Jenna and a comical goose named Boris, fail to see the strength and speed that will become Balto's greatest assets.

Panic descends when diphtheria sweeps over the town of Nome and begins claiming lives. The hospital runs out of medicine to treat the illness, and the weather is too heavy to allow anything but dogsled to go fetch and bring back the medicine. Steele's team is chosen for this, even after Balto proves himself to be the fastest runner. However, when the sled team team is reported lost in the blizzard, Balto determines to go find them and bring back the medicine that will save the town of Nome. It will be a journey full of peril on all sides-- weather, wild animals, natural forces...and Steele.

Balto is definitely a lovable hero. He is faced with odds, not only external but also internal-- he feels unwanted and useless, but he does not let this interfere with doing what is right. He also has a very patient and selfless heart, and does not fight to defend himself against Steele, but only to defend those weaker than himself. He is aware of others' needs. When he makes the decision to go and find the lost team, Boris exclaims in dismay, "He's going out into freezing cold to find a dog he doesn't like to bring medicine back to a town that doesn't like him!" And yet Balto does it, not to prove himself, but to save the children of the town and the lost dogs, even though they never gave him any reason to care about their well-being.

Muk and Luk
Balto also has its share of endearing characters. There's Jenna, who is quiet and gentle, and yet surprisingly brave; she is faithful to her owner Rosy and supportive of Balto. Boris is a hilarious Russian snow goose that can't fly; he hates bears; he is usually outwardly skeptical but stands behind Balto and encourages him; he also has some of the best lines in the film. Muk and Luk are two fat, fluffy, adorable polar bears whose oddity is that they can't swim (or at least, they think they can't.) Muk speaks in a cute British accent and Luk doesn't speak at all; they love Boris and are very simple, yet lovable.

Balto was a favorite of my sisters' and mine when we were little, but we only just got a hold of a copy again and watched it as adults. I think I like it better now than I did then! It is technically a kid's movie, but I'm allowed to like a kid's movie, right? It has all the qualities for a good film-- strong storyline, good characters, thrilling character arcs and climaxes, stirring music (James Horner ;-) see previous post ;-) )...Unfortunately, the film didn't do well in the Box Office (possibly due to the fact that it is a Universal picture, not Disney, and was overshadowed by Disney's Lion King, which came out the same year) and isn't sold in stores anymore. We borrow it from the library, but it has also been uploaded online.

Here's the trailer... beware, it gives away a lot of the story, but at least it doesn't give away the main climax. ;-)