“We ought to be ashamed of deeming the everlasting values of less account than the shadowy and fleeing pleasures of the present life. ” – Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life by John Calvin
Once upon a time, the plague struck and everyone got sick. Jules and Ellie, Constance and Joshua, Bruce and Jude, Imogene and Remi, and even Rook and Aunt Abby. Everyone got sick.
Grammie strapped on her apron, put all the pillows and blankets on the couch, and made all the cousins lay down. Nine children and one grown-up had their temperature taken, water refreshed, essential oils applied, and hot tea drunk.
“I’m bored,” Bruce announced once everyone was settled in.
“Me too!” Ellie agreed.
“No!” gasped Aunt Abby. “Don’t say the B-word!”
Jules propped her head up on her elbow. “The b-word? What’s that?”
“It’s a bad word,” Aunt Abby explained. “Like the s-word.”
“What’s the s-word?” Bruce said.
Imogene and Jude’s mouths dropped open.
Constance rolled over on her tummy. “I thought the s-word was Shut Up.”
“Sometimes it is.” Aunt Abby coughed and closed her eyes.
“Are you sick?” Bruce asked.
“Yes. Aren’t you?”
“Yes. So is Jude.”
Joshua frowned. “Aunt Abby, why is bored a bad word?”
“Cause when you say you’re bored, Mommy gives you chores to do.”
All the cousins grimaced.
“That is bad,” Constance said.
“What are we supposed to do, then?” Rook asked.
Remi nodded in agreement pulling her stuffed dolly closer.
Aunt Abby sipped her hot tea. “Well, Uncle Price always says, ’boredom sets into the boring mind’.”
“What does THAT mean?” Jules said.
Ellie took a sip of her tea and so did Imogene watching Aunt Abby closely.
“It means that if you’re bored it’s cause your brain is boring.”
Bruce flopped back on his pillow. “My brains not boring.”
“Mine either,” Imogene and Ellie both said at the same time while flopping back on their pillows too.
“Then think of something to do.”
Jules sighed dramatically. “I can’t and it’s making us all say the b-word over and over.”
Constance straightened Remi’s blanket. “She’s right.”
Aunt Abby closed her eyes in thought.
“You could tell a story,” suggested Imogene.
Aunt Abby shook her head and pointed at her throat.
“We could play chase?” Bruce threw out next.
Aunt Abby groaned.
“We could eat a snack?” Ellie smiled.
“My tummy hurts,” Joshua said.
“Me too,” everyone else said.
“I know!” Aunt Abby sat right up.
“What!!??” Jules, Ellie, Constance, Joshua, Bruce, Jude, Imogene, Remi, and Rook all said at once.
“The best way to avoid the bad word and get well as quickly as possible is to build a fort.”
Everyone completely agreed.
With Aunt Abby directing, books were gathered to hold the ends of blankets and pillows were stacked to make walls.
Grammie came into her rearranged living room with everyone hidden under the fort and said, “What happened in here?!”
“We’re getting better!” Remi declared.
“I see that.”
“And we’re not saying any bad words and we don’t need any chores,” Jules clarified.
Aunt Abby snorted.
Grammie hesitated. “I’m glad you’re not saying any bad words and I wasn’t coming in with chores, but to see who might want to watch a movie or color?”
The nine cousins glared at Aunt Abby.
“I though you said she’d give us chores,” Jules said.
“No. I said your Mommies would. Grammies always bring good things.”
“That’s true,” said Joshua.
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
I grew up devouring E. Nesbit’s children’s stories. She is probably one of my biggest subconscious influences as a writer. In a random article, I heard about this sequel to Five Children and It, which was for obvious reasons (I’m one of five) one of my favorites, and just had to read it.
After Amazon had to order it from London, I was able to snuggle in with this book. I cried in the first chapter and several times through. This amazing book captures perfectly what it’s like as siblings in a large family growing up and trying to hold onto their love for each other while also going their own ways by reintroducing the magic of their childhood to the youngest two.
This amazing book tackles beautifully the horrors of WW1 through the life and magic of the family. You see the war through the magic and also through its effects on the family.
If you grew up with the Five Children you must read this book…just keep a box of tissues at hand.
Rated PG: Adult Issues because of the war.
The Village by Bing West
Sometimes it seems like there are no positive stories about brave warriors from the Vietnam war. There is no praise offered up to the men who fought in the war and no honoring of their acts and valor.
This book goes against the Vietnam grain and tells the story of a group of marines who live, sweat, laugh, love and die in a Vietnam village protecting it from the Viet Con. Not a long book, or overly challenging, it never the less pays honor and homage to these men.
I really enjoyed the book. It was well written, straight-forward, not to gory or gross, but offered a balanced and honest view of life in the Vietnam war. I found it fascinating to read about how the Americans had to learn what the Vietnamese considered a victory or a defeat. They weren’t always in agreement. The soldiers learned to work beside the villagers, trust them, and help them. The soldiers loved the village and protected it at all cost. It was wonderful to read a real life story about Vietnam not reduced down to hate.
This is a great story about some real American heroes.
Rated R: violence, sex, language.
Valkyrie: the story of the plot to kill Hitler, by its last member by Philip Freiherr Von Boeselager
I really enjoyed this book from the perspective of the story I’m writing, because I have a character who is on the “wrong” side of the war and decides to stay because of his men. Philip Boeselager was in the cavalry in WW2 under the command of his brother part of the time and also part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. He didn’t flee the country. He didn’t abandon his men. But he also didn’t stand by while horrible things where happening.
Told by the last living member of Operation Valkyrie, this book takes you through the life of Philipp and his brother Georg as German officers in WW2. It is touching, sad, inspiring, and wonderful to know that some Germans did stand up against the Nazis and all they tried to do.
I found it very interesting to learn that one of the leading men in the plot against Hitler was a Protestant. He believed very keenly that they must try to the very end to assassinate Hitler so that the world would know the Germans hadn’t all agreed with him. He pushed them forward when they thought about quitting by reminding them of the number of people dying every day under Hitler.
Another interesting point was their understanding that Hitler’s death wasn’t enough. They also knew they had to deal with the SS which coincides with stories you hear from the end of the war about Allies and Germans fighting the SS together.
Much of the story takes place on the Russian front which I haven’t. read much about. According to this book, there were Russians joining the Germans so they could fight against communism. That’s not something you hear about very often.
I think I read this book in about two hours. It would work well for a high school student wanting to flesh out their understanding of the war.
Rated: PG-13: not graphic, just war. No sex. No major language.
“A voice in the dome
tells us behind each star we can see,
the night hides millions more,
like the words we don’t say
behind the ones we use to
get through moments like this when
too much time has passed between us
and every visit could be the last.” – Home on Leave, The Warrior by Frances Richey
From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson
I enjoyed this series more than I have any other so called “Christian” speculative fiction. The characters grew, were interesting, and everything wrapped up into a nice happy ending. Things weren’t happy-go-lucky for all the good guys and the bad guys were pretty evil.
I have just a few complaints:
1) The lack of major deaths of anyone we really cared about left me feeling bored with the last book. I never really felt like anyone was in danger. And when one person did die, it was convenient not heartbreaking. The author had no problem putting her characters in dangerous situations and even wounding her main character, but after multiple battles with no death, I was no longer engaged emotionally.
2) Lead Female was less annoying than book two but still very annoying. She constantly disobeyed orders, even in the middle of a battle, and out shown all males present . . . right. Her escapades were crazier than the hero’s most of the time. I found her decisions to be unrealistic and made me want to bob her over the head half the time.
Overall, I enjoyed the first book a lot, and the other two are okay. I enjoyed the story enough to finish it and be engaged through the whole thing. I would recommend it for any teen to read, especially if they enjoy fantasy.
Psycho by Robert Bloch
I read this book in about two hours a few days after watching the movie. One way or the other the ending is going to be spoiled…so pick your poison: Movie or Book.
The book was a quick read, and for its genre, pretty clean. It doesn’t go into a lot of the gore or sexuality present in most “serial killer” type thrillers. While it is gory and does deal with some sexuality, they are mentioned but not soaked in. This would be a good book for a “newbie” in the serial killer criminology world because it would let you get your toes wet without dumping you in the deep end. As far as my own research goes, this is a nice, cleaned up version of the real Ed Gein case. It leaves out much that they found in his house of horrors, but still uses him as a basic template for Norman Bates.
The book is creepy, interesting, has a good ending and isn’t overly sexualized or gory though those things are present. The book, or the movie, would be a good start before, say, jumping in with Silence of the Lambs to see if this is a genre that interests you.
If you’re looking for something with more details about how the Detectives deal with serial Killers, the actually psychology of serial killers from the law enforcement side, this book won’t be as interesting. It is a very “layman’s” version.
Still fun and creepy.
“. . . People. The guy bent over at the sink trying to work the sludge out of his knuckles with solvent, and his wife at the stove with her hair in curlers, shushing the kids over the booming racket of the radio. Her faces catches the light in a certain way, or that tender, dreamy look comes over it as she watches the baby, and the guy at the sink straightens and moves up behind her and steals a kiss, and she laughs, fussing a little because he’s still wet and soapy–and then turns and hugs him in the middle of the kitchen floor, wit the kids squabbling over the toys and the radio yammering away . . . All the men and girls with their with their dreams and derelictions, their quarrels and reconciliations, wrenched away from those intimate things now, those naked things, snatched up and flung harshly into jungles, mountains, burning desert sands for the preservation of this way of life we believe in so passionately–and which has so many glorious things about it that the simple contemplation of it, late on a hot, still night like this one, between the jungle and the see, 10,000 miles from home, can move you almost to tears . . . .”
– Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
(People. I love the beauty of this paragraph.)
“It meant nothing. Nothing at all. Words. What did his mother care for citations, or medals, or letters of condolence? Her boy was dead.
Well. Sometimes they were all we had–words. They had to serve, flesh out the heart’s soft cry . . .”
– Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
(The general writing the mothers after the battle. Seems appropriate for the 71st Anniversary of D-Day. )
By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson
This book really surprised me. Typically, when you say something is “Christian Fantasy” I expect a sever lack of creativity, poor storytelling, and unconvincing and convenient conversions. To my great joy, this book was creative, had a great story, a little grit, and great fantasy. I will admit to a few times struggling to keep up with the characters but it didn’t stop me from reading. I will also admit to finding the girl Sparrow a bit unconvincing at the end. I felt like my chain was being a bit yanked by her. But, I was still very invested in all the characters. I wasn’t bored by the politics. I’m intrigued by the world and the hero is a real hero. Well done. I can’t wait to start book two!
Parental Warning: a few adult issues meaning she deals with such things as evil kings trying to take a mistress and the reality of being a girl dressed like a boy and needing to use the bathroom. Nothing inappropriate happens but they are dealt with…meaning I think most teens would be fine with this book. It’s clean, just honest. A nice combination.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry
This brilliant, silly, moving, clever retelling of the story of Peter Pan needs to move to the top of your reading list. I laughed. I cried.
This is the story of how Peter became Peter Pan, Hook became Hook, the Lost Boys became the Lost Boys, and Tinker Bell Tinker Bell. I have always been slightly inamoured by the fairy tale of Peter Pan and this version only makes me love it more.
My only warning is that reading it can cause a strong case of adventure longing and possible excessive use of imagination. The audio version is delightful. This is a story that anyone of any age can enjoy and would be perfect for family reading time. I can’t suggest this story strongly enough. It was perfectly wonderful.
As you all know, I’ve been struggling with my health this year. I’ve been making slow but steady progress for the last few months, until about a two weeks ago when I regressed terribly. Back to the doctor! Guess what? I’m anemic. In fact, I have a severe case of anemia. Now, thankfully this is something easily fixed with a diet change, some supplements, and patience. More meat for me!
Within less than a day, I was feeling much better.
Here’s the interesting part: prior to the diagnosis, I not only felt drained physically, I also had no stress threshold of any kind. I had zero emotional control. Every little thing became a point of high anxiety for me. Mole hills became mountains. I cried over things I normally am able to shrug off. I explained all this to my doctor and she said that was totally normal for an anemic person.
Iron. Iron, or the lack there of, affected my emotions.
We live in a day and age when we encourage everyone to follow their heart except my heart was way off point because I didn’t have enough iron in my blood. My emotions are once again proven to be untrustworthy because they can be affected by such a small thing, like diet. My Mom likes to quote Dickens from The Christmas Carol:
“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”
All this to say, guard your heart. Your emotions are not the most trustworthy way to divine truth. They can be manipulated by something as straightforward as a low iron intake.
After learning all this and feeling better after some meat, I realized yet again how thankful I am for the doctrine of Divine Impassibility. My emotions get yanked around. God is without emotions. He loves me now as he has always loved me and will always love me and nothing great or small can change that. God can’t suffer from a low iron count that makes him cry over the smallest thing or seize up in terror at some perceived fear. God is not like me and for that I am truly thankful because I can trust him. His love will not change. He will not suddenly fear for me. He holds me safely in his might. He will never lose me, or be annoyed by me. He is unchanging. His love will never change. I am the creature. My emotions affect things like my love. They misguide me. I can’t trust them. But, I can trust an impassible God. My God.
God without Passions by Samuel Renihan.
This book was probably one of the most theologically rich books, or deep books that I have ever read. I tend to go for books which are heavy on life application as opposed to books that are rich in doctrine. This is a trait that I’m working on changing thanks to my husband’s teaching on Systematic Theology and Amy Byrd’s book Housewife Theologian. I’m slowly learning that Systematic Theology and doctrine are completely applicable to life, and rich in head and heart knowledge.
It took me a while to get through this book. I took it in small chunks. Some of it was hard to read and follow based on the English language at the time of the writer. Some of it was just really deep requiring a logical following of the argument to gain the point.
All in all, it was a very encouraging read and mostly for this point: reading the work of other Christian brothers over the last several hundred years gives you a sense of connection. We are not an isolated bubble in history. No. We stand united with many many other dear saints who have gone before us and have held to the traditions as dearly as we do and should. We are not alone in this river of time. We are joined in one great battle against the darkness with our fellow saints. You want proof? Here are men going back and back writing about the same issues we so recently dealt with in our association and still continue to wrestle with. We are not alone in this. Our older brothers also thought through and examined this doctrine. Our older brothers stood their ground and upheld the doctrine of Divine Impassibility and we may count ourselves in their number now. God is good.
My favorite quote from the book was from John Tillotson and his book The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God:
“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness, we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”
God’s gracious mercy to us to come to us the creature and make himself known to us, doesn’t mean we can turn around and subject him to our creaturely way of looking at the world.
My other favorite quote was by Benedict Pictet and his book Christian Theology:
“. . . thus he did at the same time decree to create men, and to destroy them by a deluge some ages after.”
God’s repentance at the flood wasn’t a changing of his character but a stooping down to us to help us understand. God decreed the flood from the beginning. He doesn’t change, but he does gently stoop down to his children.
I found this quote interesting as a storyteller because we plan the suffering, change, and growth of our characters without, on a human level, changing ourselves. Everything may change in the character’s life, including death, and I’m the same me. I had a character who was the worst of reprobates, a betrayer of friends, who was forgiven and redeemed. He changed, not me. I planned his salvation from the beginning. (Obviously, this analogy breaks down because I change and I change my mind, and sometimes out of the blue, I’ll think of something for my story, but it still helps me to grasp the idea of Impassibility.)
The more I contemplate Divine Impassibility the more beautiful it becomes. One, I’m secure in a God who doesn’t change and can’t be change. Two, I have Christ. Oh, the beauty of God who became man with all that we are, without sin, and died for me. Christ suffered. Christ felt. Christ died. He did all that we long to have in a Savior. Why try to change the very nature of God, making him passible, when we have Christ? What more do we need? We have divine God, who is impassible, and Christ, who in his human nature, is passible.
Christ is our mediator. He bridged the gap between God and Man, and in him, in the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility I find heart. I find great love beyond understanding. I find all the emotion I could ever want because God became Man and dwelt amongst us.
If you wish to have a better, historical sense of Divine Impassibility I suggest God without Passions. It may be weighty, but it is good and worth the work.