Operation Red Wings

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86a24dcfff1e9cb5bb684af917fedde3It’s hard to believe that this tragic even happened 11 years ago. My heart goes out to all the families that lost their men that day. I have read their stories, watched their movie, cried, and felt great honor that we have such heroes defending our country. Their story of the ultimate brotherhood has served as an inspiration for my own stories and “Never out of the fight” is something I chant often to myself.

I’m thankful God shows such common grace to sinners to still give us brave warriors.

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Sunday Thoughts: The Dangerous

“Jesus retrieves those who are dangerous.” – Jarrett Downs (Luke 4:31-37)

We are insignificant monsters hidden in closets.

We are diseased.

We are murderers of innocence.

We are dangerous thieves.

Who will save us, the wretches wondering in the shadows?

Who will save the unsavable?

Who would want to?

The great SoulDefender arises.

He turns from the whole, the healed, the clean, the good.

He brings the light into darkness.

He touches the sick.

He befriends the villain.

He retrieves the dangerous.

The great SoulDefender. He is not a doctor of bodies, but of dirty souls.

He heals the rips and tears, re-knitting us. He battles and fights, great warrior, to win back, to save, that which others would only reject, leave, rightly abandoned.

Humbled by our undeserved rescue, by our undeserved adoption, we redeemed monsters follow our great Captain!

– Abby Jones

(Inspired by the preaching on Luke 4 and 5.)

Quote of the Weekend

“At first glance, they were a sight to pity. No face was without a scar or a peeling scab, not even Fin’s. Their cheeks were hollow, their beards thin. They were bent with infirmities, twisted by abuse, purples with bruise, and winnowed down to clattering bones. But their eyes, their eyes were fierce. Their pupils radiated color, and they held their heads high and unbowed. They’d among them seen wonders and horrors both, and they breathed yet to think on them and carry forth their hard-bought memories like badges to confound lesser men. They collected around them a silence that no man deigned to sully, and they stood in their rags, resplendent.” – The Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson

The Fiddler’s Green and The Stories we Tell

Due to my regular need to rest, I am reading a lot of books these days. I was trying to do a detailed review on my blog for each book that I read, but I found that to be too stressful. Instead, I’ve decided to try and hit the highlights, focusing on books I really loved.

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The Fiddler’s Green

By A.S. Peterson

As a writer, one of the questions you get asked periodically is who you write like. You know the: If you liked this, you’ll like my book comparison.

Until I read Fiddler’s Green I was at a loss as to how to answer this question. I could tell you it was a bit like Lord of the Rings meets WW2 meets Steampunk, but that doesn’t really give you much information. All it does is tell you what has influenced me.

Then a dear friend put this book in my hand.

What a surreal experience to read something so very much like my own soul, my own voice, my own loves. Here was a book of visceral beauty, harsh reality, battles, loves, comradery, adventure, and faith. I read his battle scenes with great joy both for their poetic rhythm and the way they mirror my own desire to write something terrible in a beautiful way.

Peterson also doesn’t pull punches with his characters. As the story progresses, he constantly ratchets up the level of suffering.

I tend to prefer lead males, but Fin is a wonderful exception to my rule. Her journey from orphan to pirate ship captain and the men she leads is one you can buy into. Her struggles to find herself and her place in the world are heart breaking. Her loyalty is perfect.

I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. It is well written, with exceptional prose, meaty paragraphs, and a fun and exciting world…plus, it’s a tiny bit like me. 😉

Rated: PG-13: This is a very clean PG-13. Minor language, well-handled adult situations.

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The Stories We Tell

By Mike Cosper

I have often found great joy in noticing Christian themes in movies that didn’t intend to have any. I think the best stories resonate with us because they have captured a tiny amount of the real and true Story written by God. Even men who hate the Lord can’t escape that His stories are the best stories. They try and try, but in the end the tales of friendship, love lost and regained, redemption, self-sacrifice, family, saving, good winning over evil are what resounds with the every-man. From action flicks, comic book movies, war movies, and well done love stories, the writers just can’t escape the fact that to tell a good story they must include elements of Christianity.

This book basically teaches the same thing.

I found it encouraging to know that I wasn’t the only one who looked at movies and TV shows through Gospel-colored glasses.

I also found it very interesting to see how far he took this idea, even into paradise lost, fallen and flawed heroes, violence, and reality TV. Before this book, I’d never looked at the negative sides of the Redemption story as also being re-told over and over again in various forms.

If you’re a movie buff, or a story buff, I highly recommend this book. It can be helpful in starting conversations with people, giving you ideas on how to express your views, and further training your eye to see the mark of being made in the image of God.

This book would be a great book for home-schoolers as well. It is a great way to help your kids think through what they’re watching, along with sparking lots of good conversation.

I have seen many of the movies he talked about, though not all of them. I’ve only seen a few of the TV shows he talked about. As he repeats often, just because he can see a facet of Christianity in something doesn’t make it 100% worth watching. Pulp Fiction is one of the movies he covers in the chapter on Redemptive Violence. It is not a movie I casually recommend, even though I think it’s brilliant. Please keep that in mind as you read this book.

Here is a sample:

“Fall stories help orient us to a world that doesn’t work out how we expect. They help us make sense of the ruin we see around us. They help us know we’re not alone in our sorrows and failures, and they point to the deep need we all have for answers, for hope, and for redemption.

We have all lived our own fall stories in one way or another, and most of us hope that they’re not the last word on our lives.”

Rated PG-13: Some of the movies and shows talked about are very rough.

 

 

Quote of the Weekend

“What do you know of the Knights?” he asked.

Fin shrugged. “I thought knights were only in children’s stories until a few days ago.”

Jeannot smiled. “A man could do worse than to live in the stories of a child. There is, perhaps, no better remembrance.”

“Until the child grows up and finds out the stories aren’t true. You might be knights, but I don’t see any shining armor,” Fin said.

Jeannot stopped near the gate of the auberge and faced her. “Each time a story is told, the details and accuracies and facts are winnowed away until all that remains is the heart of the tale. If there is truth at the heart of it, a tale may live forever. As a knight, there is no dragon to slay, no maiden to rescue, and no miraculous grail to uncover. A knight seeks the truth beneath these things, seeks the heart. We all it the corso. The path set before us. The race we must run.” – The Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson

 

Job’s Hope in My Infertility

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A friend of mine recently shared on her blog her difficult journey through secondary infertility, how the Lord used that in her life along with lessons from the book of Job, and the happy conclusion to this specific trial.

I’m so thankful for RJ’s open honesty about her battles during this trial and the goodness of the Lord that she experience. Her testimony got my own wheels turning and, as us writers do, I decided to share my own thoughts on the hope found in Job as someone else struggling with infertility minus the happy earthly ending.

How do I process watching someone struggle, find a place of contentment, and then have their desires fulfilled, when I have had many of the same struggles, come to a similar place of contentment, but haven’t had my desires fulfilled?

Funny enough, I do the same thing that helped me find a place of contentment first. I go to the Scripture.

Here is Job enduring great suffering, enduring bad advice from his friends and his wife, coming face to face with God, realizing God is the creator and he is the creature, that God is in control and God is good, repenting in dust, and having all he lost restored above and beyond.

Is there hope for me there? Of course.

Two Kingdom theology is so helpful here. It teaches that Job was in the time of the Old Testament when promises and blessings were very earthly. I live in the age of the New Testament, the New Covenant, when the Kingdom is no longer a physical nation, but a heavenly nation. That means that my life, from birth to death, is the time of Job’s suffering. My restoration, my blessing, comes after death in the next life. My blessing is something of faith and not sight. I don’t look around for earthly physical blessings as something to be expected, though God is materially very kind to me and others. I look to the future and at the church by faith.

The Lord has seen fit not to give me children. At every point of moving into adopting, He has shut the door. Instead of despair, instead of heartache, instead of bitterness, I have hope.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3/ 33-35)

The church. The church is where I find familial comfort here on earth. The older believers are my mother and father, others are my brothers and sisters, and younger are sons and daughters. We may not be tied by blood, but we are tied stronger and more deeply by the baptismal waters of Christ.

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

(Galatians 4/26-27)

The story of Job teaches me that I can’t see all that God is doing in my suffering. It shows me how I’m to view others in their suffering, and how not to view them. It shows me the creature/creator difference so that I can have hope in God’s goodness and God’s glory. It teaches me to repent of the ways I don’t cling to and trust Him. It reminds me to be faithful in the midst of sufferings and trials. And last, oh hope of my heart, it shows that God will restore my fortune to me. He is worth waiting on. He’s worth suffering for. He has given me a hope, not in this life, not in this physical earth, but in heaven to come. And while here, he has given me pilgrims to walk beside me, young and old, as the truest parents, siblings, and children a woman could have.

So, while God chooses to bless one sister with an end to her infertility and chooses to leave another in that particular difficulty, He has not changed. He is still in control. He will use this to bless His church and glorify Himself. He is still Good!

Quote of the Weekend

“As sailors kept by long bouts of shipborne boredom do, they bloodied each other with a sort of grim amusement. Tables and chairs flew about, splintering here and there on heads or hinds, and despite all the broken knuckles and noses, there didn’t seem to be an angry man in the room, save Jack Wagon and Captain Mullan. The Irish however, far surpassed amusement and appeared to be in the throes of pure glee–much to Fred’s misfortune.” – The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson

 

Sunday Thoughts: Repetition

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Courtesy of Bing.

 

This should probably be titled Wednesday Thoughts, since it was inspired more by our Wednesday night lessons on the Trinity, but since it’s inspired by preaching, I’ll just leave it Sunday Thoughts.

My husband has been preaching on the Trinity for about two years now, or about 71 lessons. He just finished up. What a challenging blessing this journey had been for our congregation. We’ve covered the basics of the doctrine, its historical development, the heresies surrounding it, and the theology of it. You can listen to all it on his blog, Rod of Iron.

I’ve had an interesting journey as I’ve listened to the preaching on the Trinity. I started out treating the doctrine as something I couldn’t understand and thus was exempt from understanding. Halfway through, I was terrified I was constantly thinking of God in error. Now, I am aware of how much I don’t understand, feel like I have a grasp on some things, and am more thankful than ever for the gift God gives us in our Pastors and Teachers.

One of the books I’m reading right now is By Common Confession, essays in honor of James M. Renihan, edited by Ronald S. Baines, Richard C. Barcellos, and James P. Butler. In it, there is an essay by Stefan T. Lindblad on the Eternal Generation of the Son. This was the first essay in the book that was way over my head. The language and subject matter are far above my normal reading level. And yet, due to the diligent preaching of the word by faithful men, I followed for more of the essay than I would have otherwise.

This led me to have a greater respect for repetition. You know that bit of review a pastor does at the start of every sermon in the series? You know that sermon almost exactly like the one he preached before his break? You know, that part at the beginning where you only half listen cause you just heard this last week?

That part.

I always viewed that part as necessary for people who weren’t here last Wednesday/Sunday. (Sounds so prideful doesn’t it?) I often encouraged my husband to not do so much review. I thought if he stopped reviewing so much, he could finish the series faster. And we’ve all heard it before. Thankfully, he didn’t really take my advice. The concepts, truths, and theology he was teaching are hard to understand, hard to hold onto, hard to processes. We want to skip it, so we don’t have to wrestle with it.

Over and over, on Wednesday nights, he repeated the same things about the Trinity. Over and over, we sat and listened. Things got deeper, bigger, broader, and my view on review started to change. From one Wednesday night to the next, I eagerly awaited the review because I knew I wasn’t holding onto all that had been taught last week. I needed to refit it all in my brain. Then I’d go home, meditate, worry I wasn’t thinking through it right, and be ready for the repetitive review by the next Wednesday night.

Repetition became one of the biggest aids in a difficult and often misunderstood or abandoned doctrine. It familiarizes us with the terms, re-aligns our thinking, and helps us gather up what we’d forgotten. Repetition gave me hooks to hang thoughts on allowing me to sort of follow an article about the Trinity written far above my normal reading level. Repetition is helpful.

This is why we never get tired of hearing the Gospel. I’ve been in church my whole life, was saved at a young age, and still, I come to church each week hungry for the gospel. I’ve sinned, fallen short, and I need to hear of grace again.

So, this is a remainder to me, and hopefully and encouragement to you, don’t check out when the Pastor is going over, yet again, the same thing he went over last week, and the same thing he’ll go over next week. It’s for our good. Listen.

 

Story of the Writer: Abby Jones

My writing story! 🙂

The Writing Train: Join the locomotion

Story of the Writer

Interview Series

with Abby Jones

Howdy all, welcome back  to the Train. Today we have another special guest…They’re all special right? Everybody please welcome Abby Jones! She’s actually a friend of the first interviewee of this series, Bethany A. Jennings. Thanks for joining us today Abby.

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Here we go folks, let’s learn a bit more about Abby….

Are you married with children? 

I’m happily married to a man who is Licensed Teacher (Recognized Gifted Brother) in our church, with a desire for the eldership. We haven’t been blessed with any of our own children, but we have 11 nieces and nephews. I often write children’s stories for them, which I hope to publish as picture books someday. You can read some of them on my blog.

That’s awesome you already have an audience! 

Where are you located?

I live in the great state of Texas near…

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