Monday, February 24, 2014

God's Faithfulness and French Paymasters

La Paye des Moissonneurs by Léon Augustin Lhermitte  

Someday I would love to have a large scale copy of this painting...a daily reminder to act upon the goodness and provision of God.

In it is shown the whole circuit of life–from the plump baby feeding at the mother's breast to the old grandfather, his arms strong and sinewed from a life of toil and labor. There is the basic multi-generational aspect–from the old man to the young man and his wife to the baby. There is also the sense of community, typified by the man in the center with back turned and scythe over his shoulder: family community, local neighborhood community, and–I would add–church community, brothers and sisters in Christ–our fellow laborers. As to the paymasters themselves, I haven’t yet decided whether they would be angels or rather us as God’s people co-ruling His creation.

That interesting point aside, we come to the whole time and season in which this painting is set–harvest. Harvest language of course, runs all through God's story, popping out again and again at key points. Christ is the first-fruits–the first-born from the dead. We are a harvest; the fruit of our hands is a harvest; the world is a harvest. And all of this harvest happens through faithful toil and dying–“...assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)

And now for the thing I find extraordinarily exciting, the shade of their clothes–particularly the blue tones running from the old man's socks to the woman's overdress to the blouses of the paymasters (and trousers in the case of the man on the right). I'm sure blue is absolutely authentic and was probably their regular dye color, but (apart from the fact that I love blue and think the whole color scheme of this painting would coordinate beautifully in a living room) blue is also the color of constancy and fidelity.

From conception to the death of His people to the final harvest–the resurrection from the dead when the kernels of grain will spring up anew–God is constant and faithful, pouring out His lovingkindness and care always, even to the other side of death, and promising for all our labor and toil and daily dying a goodly reward and abundant fruit.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Literary Heroines Blog Party - 2014

First off, a delighted thank you to Kellie (of Accordion to Kellie) for putting on this lovely party! It was wonderful and thought-provoking fun. Thank you!

~The Questions~

1. Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random! ~ I’m a daughter and sister living at home who loves to write, read, (and organize!) books.
(I’m currently working on an entire “study of history” course using literature for my sisters.) My dearest wish–in God’s good and perfect timing and provision–is to be a wife and mother. I find the geography of the world fascinating and since I was a wee thing I’ve found the zoo thrilling. Eventually I’d like to learn even more on the horticulture and animal life of other countries. I love the color blue–French blue, periwinkle, turquoise, and sapphire–the hue of chicory flowers–and the living blue of the Columbia River under the summer sky. I love where I live. I love all my dear, creative, stimulating family–and all my dear and delightful friends. Most of all, first and foremost, I love the One who has bought me–body and soul–claiming me as His very own.

2. What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? ~ She is feminine and gracious; clear-eyed, but genuinely charitable. She loves much; she is comfortable leaving time and silence to ripen her words; she is known for her discretion, fortitude, perseverance, honesty, and forgiveness.

3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. ~

Lizzie – I admire her for her family loyalty and how she isn’t too (proud, really) to change her mind and opinions

Anne Elliot – For her sweetness and her patient waiting 

Margaret Hale – For how she strives and perseveres–and for how she learns to rest 

Theria (The Perilous Seat by Caroline Dale Snedeker) – For her–in a sense–clarity of vision and steadfastness of soul 

4. Five of your favorite historical novels? ~ I love how this question is phrased! Not “Your five favorite”, but “five of”! :-) Leaving aside all the obvious ones like P&P, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings, etc., we’ll go with a few others:

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Constance Garnett translation) – I’d only recommend this for older/adult readers, but it’s stunning in it’s exploration of what sin really is and its consequences 

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – This one’s on the “obvious list”, but somehow it made its appearance here, too 

The next three form a trio (to me, at least) as they were some of the first “grown-up” books (that is, books where romance was involved) that I read myself. :-) And they were probably instrumental in starting my own writing adventure–at least on the historical-fiction end–so this is kind of an honorary selection:

The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedeker – The story of a Greek slave girl in Italy, it’s so fresh and vivid you can smell the herbs on the mountaintops 

Journey for a Princess by Margaret Leighton – Amid all the strife and struggle about her, King Alfred’s youngest daughter blossoms into womanhood 

Song of the Voyageur by Beverly Butler – On the early Wisconsin frontier, a young woman must decide where her heart and future really lie–in the sparkling, cultivated life of the East or in the rough and untamed wilderness

5. Out of those five books who is your favorite main character and why? ~ In the end, I’d have to say Margaret Hale. There’s so much there, but here’s for a quick summary: part of it is wrapped up in the way the book is written–its tension and reticence, but mostly it’s in how Margaret remains–through all the buffeting and testing (both external and internal)–a true lady, and a true and faithful woman. Taken to utter weakness, she learns to grow and change and let each day build on the last and yet also to let the past go–looking forward and taking everything she has become to step faithfully into the next place God has assigned her.

6. Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? ~ This would be a toss-up between Baudouin (Journey for a Princess) and Jean (Song of the Voyageur). But then, of course, there’s Thornton. If we’re speaking of the film, it gets a lot more complicated–so we’ll stick with the books. Between the books…we’ll go with Baudouin–the battle-weary young warrior because–well–if I told why it would give away the story. :-)

7. If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? ~ Wyoming, Yellowstone, the Colorado mountains in the spring. Yellowstone particularly. God’s creation is so incredible there and His hand so visible. I’d walk–and breathe–and soak up the expanse of earth and sky–and know again–intensely–that I’m living anywhere but near a tame lion.

8. What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? ~ In fiction the 1800’s. In non-fiction ancient Egypt.

9. You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of? ~ “Why, thank you! I’d be thrilled to dance for you. A ballet number would be–oh, you’d like me to make sound? Oh, hmmm… Then I’ll play the fiddle and sing. Delighted, of course!”

10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? ~ Lizzie :-)

11. What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? ~ Chocolate? Did someone say dark chocolate? And truffles…? Truffles with caramel?

12. Favorite author(s)? ~ Jane Austen, Josef Conrad, John Buchan, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, Howard Pyle, Jean Bothwell, Madeleine Polland, Charles W. Whistler, the Brontë sisters, Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Rosemary Sutcliff, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, (Dickens)…you get the idea. :-)

13. Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? ~ My camera! (or is that an essential?) and my butterfly identification guide. Someday I’d love to see some of the tropical Mexican and South American species.

14. In which century were most of the books you read written? ~ The 19th (though the 20th runs a very close second).

15. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… 
~ Mr. Darcy. Two others near the top are Aragorn and Faramir (in the book–I haven’t seen the movie) and George Bevan in Wodehouse’s Damsel in Distress.

16. Describe your ideal dwelling place. ~ A little house looking like it grew out of its landscape (whatever that landscape may be) with somewhere about it a potager garden with dark soil, feathery dill, roses, and currant bushes…

17. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. ~ Comfortable, feminine, and oft-times historically inspired.

18. Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? ~ Yes, actually. Valancy’s in Montgomery’s Blue Castle. It really trips you up, but then…it’s supposed to…and I’m not sure what a good alternative would be.

19. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... ~ Leaving aside all the deserving Crawfords and Murdstones of this world, I’ll say Archimago in the first book of Spenser’s “Faerie Queene”. The Faerie Queene is done in magnificent verse (making it ever-so-much-more-so) and by the end you’re simply sick of his sly, clever, insidiously recurring attacks.

20. Three favorite Non-fiction books? ~ Paedofaith by Rich Lusk, No Idle Hands: A Social History of American Knitting by Anne Macdonald, and Pharaohs and Kings by David M. Rohl

21. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? ~ Writing! (though I have been known to get distracted in my garden with the camera). If the temperature really soars on this particular summer afternoon, I might settle down in the basement with some sisters for a good period drama fix. :-)

22. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. ~ A Regency bonnet (historical, feminine, heroine-ish) having a straw brim with gathered fabric over the crown portion–the sturdy and the delicate combined together to make an intriguing whole.

23. Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. ~ I was honored to be in a close friend’s wedding this past fall (which was a most wonderful and blessed experience!), I got my first two books up for sale on Amazon…and I started blogging!

24. Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently. ~ Psalm 139–when I’m both on the heights of the mountains and in the depths of the valleys:

“…Thou knowest all the ways I plan,
My path and lying down dost scan;
For in my tongue no word can be,
But, lo, O Lord, ‘tis known to Thee…

…If I the wings of morning take
And utmost sea my dwelling make,
Ev’n there Thy hand shall guide my way,
And Thy right hand shall be my stay…

…Search me, O God; my heart discern;
And try me, every thought to learn,
And see if any sin holds sway.
Lead in the everlasting way.”
(from The Book of Psalms for Singing)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On David's Shoulders - Character Faces #1!

Edit February 2015: Since the time of posting here, my current work-in-progress On David’s Shoulders, has undergone a huge shift including “recastings” for most of the main characters. Accordingly, I’ve decided to take down the contents of this post. If you’d like to see the current story summary and more details, you can visit its page on my author website here.

Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Placed by His Call

One I've been going over lately...

“A Christian should follow his occupation with contentment. Is your business here clogged with any difficulties and inconveniences? Contentment under those difficulties is no little part of your homage to that King who hath placed you where you are by His call.” 
Cotton Mather, 1663-1728

...trying to remember that all through the day when the "difficulties and inconveniences" come along-but oh, the delight and the richness of joy He gives through it all! 

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