Quote of the Weekend 

“And Nimbus the Deer, whose flanks had begun to shiver, who was jerking his head, ready at a crack to leap and flee, Nimbus heard his own name in the mouth of his Lord, and he came to his senses again. Dark was suddenly not so dark anymore. He lay down encouraged–for who had known that he was so well known?

“Pika,” Chauntecleer crowed next, and behold! Nimbus was himself the more encouraged to hear the name; for Hare Pika, whom he could not see, was suddenly with him, a part of his company. Name followed name. Lonely was lost in communion: The company grew as if lights were turning on. And Nimbus the Deer went to sleep.

Happy birthday Imogene

Happy birthday beautiful Imogene! Thank you for inspiring so many stories with your joyful delight in life! I love all your why questions, the fact that you need four of everything, celebrating your birthday for days, and how intensely you love your movies and TV shows. Your a geek in the making!

I love you and am so glad you’re in my life!!

The Book of the Dun Cow and The Flaming Sword

The Book of  Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
I was recently gifted with The Book of Dun Cow by Emily Shiflet with the promise that it would probably end up in my Favorite Books list. That’s quite a promise, but not a vain one.

The Book of the Dun Cow is a beast fable written in a style that is a bit more telling than showing at times and strongly steeped in myth and Christianity. It has some of the most beautiful prose that I have ever read, some wonderful characters, a heart wrenching plot, and so many truths woven skillfully into a gripping story.

This is a book you savor. You could devour it in a few hours, but it’s so beautiful, you want to take a bite or two and then wait, letting those digest fully, before you take another bite.

The weird part about this book is its intensity. I have struggled with where to put it. It’s considered a YA book, but there is some language, a gruesome scene with the villain, and a depth that only gets deeper with age and re-reading. It reminds me a lot of Watership Down in that way. Yes, it’s a story about animals, but no, it’s not for little kids. It’s for older kids. It’s like Lord of the Rings. We often read it to high schoolers, but it’s really for adults…or it grows as we grow requiring a re-reading.

I would have loved this at 14 or so, but I don’t know that I would have grasped all the different layers of humanity and truth at that time. It is truly a book for all ages and one that should be revisited regularly.

Rated: PG-13: intensity, war, language (mild), adult situations (very well written, just sad and to an adult, a bit disturbing)

The Flaming Sword, Book Two of the Tethered World Chronicles by Heather L. L. FitzGerald

The long anticipated sequel to the Tethered World is about to make its appearance. If you loved going on an adventure with Sadie, Sophie, Brady and Brock to the Tethered World to rescue their parents, you won’t be disappointed when they return.

Filled with political intrigue, factions, unexpected enemies, a coming war, and the Larcen family again in danger, Book 2 ratchets up the action and builds towards book 3.

I loved watching Sadie’s character grow as she was tried and tested in some terrifying ways. For fear of spoilers, I won’t talk about my favorite moments with her, but they were many. Her dealings with her dad, the trolls, a nasty villain or two, and her Aunt Jules gave her plenty of opportunities to practice being brave. I was glad to see her rise to the occasion while relying on truth and the love of her family. I enjoyed having parts of the story told from Brady’s perspective. They helped balance out Sadie’s reluctance to adventure and showed Brady growing from boy to man. Heather skillfully jumped from one to the other giving us a very fleshed out story.

There were a few moments I expected the punch to be pulled and it wasn’t. I’m thankful for that…I can’t say more. Spoilers. ☺ Go get the book!

This series is excellent for introducing your family to fantasy. It allows the reader to meet creatures of myth without feeling like they’re trying to learn a whole new language, and with Sadie as the main character, those more reluctant to jump into an adventure are represented. Heather FitzGerald wanted to write a family-safe story that honored home-schoolers, the autistic, and Christianity. She’s done all that with loads of fun heaped on top.

While I missed Sophie’s unflappable courage, I think her being sidelined gave Sadie a chance to find her own courage when faced with ultimate and horrible choises.The slightly anticlimactic ending drove me to look excitedly towards Book 3. I can’t wait to get my hands on the last book of the Tethered World Chronicles.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book and am giving it an honest review.

Rated PG: intensity and war

Pre-order for $2.99: coming Nov 1!!!

https://www.amazon.com/Flaming-Sword-Tethered-World-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01JTEG12S/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470454158&sr=1-3&keywords=heather+ll+fitzgerald#nav-subnav

Quote of the Weekend 

​”Does anyone suppose that [a child] really and prosaically longs for all the dangers and discomforts of a fairy tale?—really wants dragons in contemporary England? It is not so. It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.” – C.S. Lewis
Thanks to Stephanie for sharing this with me!

Red and Mr. Wolf

(Courtesy of Pinterest.)

The Bunsen burner’s blue light heated the water, boiling it, turning it to white steam. The steam rose and rose and rose up the pipe. First one gear, then another spun. Slow, slow, slow, faster, faster faster. The spinning gears spun belts which spun more gears until a large gloved hand poured Grammie a cup of warm tea.

“Mmmmm.” Grammie snuggled back in the pillows, her hands wrapped around the floral tea cup. “It’s a hug in a cup.”

Red grinned. She tugged on her hoodie and slipped her wrench back in her basket. “Well Grammie. It looks like all it needed was a bit of tightening up, some oil for the gears, and some more gas in the burner.”

“You’re so smart. I don’t know what half of that means.”

Red shook her head and gave the Official Tea Automaton 1000 one last look over. “Remember to call me on your vid next time, instead of using your headset, okay?”

“Of course, dear. I just don’t like the vid because then I have to make sure my hair’s neat.”

“Grammie.” Red leaned in over the old woman. “I love you. Your hair doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ve been sick, you know?”

“That’s no excuse.” Grammie tucked a gray curl back in her bonnet.

Red’s vid chimed. She held her wrist up to eye-level and pressed the accept button. “Hey, Mommy.

“Are you almost done helping your Grammie?” Mommy looked away from the screen, disappeared, and reappeared with Red’s baby sister, Blue, squirming in her arms.

“Yep.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Mommy raised the dangerous eyebrow.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Okay. I want you to head straight home. Don’t talk to strangers.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Red frowned. She knew better than to talk with strangers.

Kissing her Grannie good-bye, Red hurried out. Her basket of wrenches, nuts, and bolts banged against her knee. Crisp orange and yellow leaves blew across her path. Heavy dark clouds flew across the sky. Red tugged the ties of her hood to keep out the wind and skipped down the sidewalk. As she came around the corner of her street she saw Mr. Wolf in his top hat, stomping her way. His cane poked the ground with every other step. Poke. Poke. Poke. Red imagine the ground didn’t like to be stabbed by Mr. Wolf’s cane. Poor, poor ground.

Red stepped back behind the large old oak at the corner hopping Mr. Wolf hadn’t seen her.

“Out of my way,” Mr. Wolf snarled pointing his ugly old cane at Red, “or I might just have you for dinner.”

Red shook in her boots. She ran around to the back of the tree.

“Boo!” Mr. Wolf jumped at her.

Red screamed and ran all the way home never seeing the toothy grin on Mr. Wolf’s face, nor the angry look Joshua Woodsman gave him from behind his white picket fence.

Mommy had hot chocolate waiting when Red rushed in the back door. The warm chocolate with three white marshmallows floating in it drove scary Mr. Wolf right out of her mind. Safe in her warm home, Red forgot about the man with the cane, as little girls do.

Early the next morning, Red’s vid chirped. Wiping sleep from her eyes, she saw Grammie on the screen.

“Good morning, baby bear,” Grammie said.

Red moaned something, still trying to wake up.

“Exactly! It’s just beautiful today. I’ve made some cookies and my Tea’s not working again. Can you come fix it?” Red rolled out of bed, strapped her vid on without turning off the screen, and hurried down stairs to ask Mommy. Grammie squeezed her eyes closed, quite motion-sick. The mother and daughter and grand-daughter conferred, and with Mommy’s permission, Red was on her way.

“Don’t talk to strangers!” Mommy yelled as Red flew out the door.

A light sprinkle of rain showered down on Red. She tugged her hood up and splashed through the puddles as she raced down the street, basket of tools in hand. At the corner, by the oak, she stopped and took a deep breath. The air tasted wet and woody, with a hint of burning leaves. A thin trail of smoke rose from Joshua Woodsman’s back yard. Red peeked over his fence. The boy in camouflage, rake in hand, stood beside a pile of leaves. Small orange and yellow flames flickered here and there, accepting their offering of the tree’s once-green foliage.

“What are you doing?” Red called over to Joshua.

He glanced up at her. “Mom asked me to burn the leaves before I go hunting.”

“Is it fun?”

Joshua looked at the fire and smiled. “Of course. “

The smoke circled into the air. Red squinted. Had she caught the flash of a top hat through the smoke? Or the soft tap of a cane on the wind? Last night’s fright surfaced in her imagination with more teeth and claws than reality.

“Why, good morning dear children.” Mr. Wolf appeared from around the corner, unusually cheerful. “Where are you going, Red, on this wet morning?”

“Grammie’s Official Tea Automaton 1000 broke again.” Red shifted from one foot to the other. Why had he stopped to talk with them?

Mr. Wolf raised a sharp eyebrow. “Again?”

“Yesterday it kept making cold tea.” Red saw Joshua frown at Mr. Wolf out of the corner of her eye.

“Today?”

“It spit cold water in Grammie’s face.”

Mr. Wolf laughed. “She may need to invest in the Tea 1000.1.”

“Isn’t that the one you invented, sir?” The way Joshua said ‘sir’ made it sound impolite.

“I keep telling her that,” Red said quickly before Mr. Wolf could snarl at Joshua. “Gotta go.”

“You know my dear,” Mr. Wolf leaned down, now eye to eye with Red. “There are some beautiful yellow and orange flowers over in the park, just down the road. Why don’t you pick some for your lovely Grammie before you go fix her Tea 1000. Old ladies love flowers.”

Red hesitated.

Joshua frowned.

Mr. Wolf grinned, his teeth white and gleaming.

“Than-thank you, Mr. Wolf. I’m sure she’d like that.” Red dodged around him and ran up the road towards the park. Grammie would like some flowers, and, more than that, it got her away from Mr. Wolf. Red ran faster.

The damp park, dripping with the silver rain, boasted a plethora of fall wild flowers. Red forgot creepy Mr. Wolf again as she rushed here and there selecting the best offerings of the wide field. Soon her tools lay buried under handfuls of yellow, orange, and burgundy buds and a few spectacular leaves. Red paused and checked her vid.

“Oh!” She realized she was quite late. If she didn’t hurry Grammie would vid Mommy and Mommy would vid Red and Red would be in trouble for not going straight to Grammie’s house. For the second time that morning, Red ran. She ran back up the street, back to the corner with the oak, down the road, into the forest and the little path that led to Grammie’s house. There it was! No vid yet. Maybe Red wasn’t in trouble today.

Warm light gleamed from Grammie’s cottage windows. Steam billowed out the side chimney, white and welcoming and promising cookies.

“I’m here Grammie, and I brought you flowers,” Red proclaimed as she hurried in the front door without knocking.

“Oh, what a good little Granddaughter you are, Red,” Grammie, sounding hoarse, said from her room.

Confused, Red stepped into the dim bedroom. Grammie laid back on her pillows, hidden in shadows.

“Are you sick again, Grammie? You sounded fine this morning.”

“Come closer, little Red, so I can see you. My eyes are weak.”

Red moved to the side of the bed and started. “Grammie, why do you have whiskers on your chin?”

Grammie pulled back. “All old ladies have whiskers.”

“Grammie? Why are you wearing a top hat?” Red’s heart hammered in her chest. “You’re not my Grammie!”

Mr. Wolf sprang out of the bed, grabbing for Red.

Red stumbled back tripping over his cane, spilling her basket of tools and flowers. He lunged for her. Red hit him with her favorite wrench and bolted into the kitchen. Mr. Wolf caught her hood and yanked. Red smashed her fist down on the Tea 1000’s lever. The automaton spit cold water in Mr. Wolf’s face. He sputtered and Red broke free. She darted for the front door just as it opened.

Joshua Woodsman raised his rifle and shot Mr. Wolf dead.

A muffled thump sounded from Grammie’s bedroom.

Red and Joshua shared a glance and hurried to check the noise. They found Grammie stuffed in her own closet with her own sock stuck in her mouth. She gathered both children close and covered them with embarrassing kisses. Using Red’s vid, they called the police and both their mothers.

Soon the house was in a flurry. The Tea 1000 spit cold water on everyone. Flowers and tools littered the floor. Mommys hugged and hugged and admonished and hugged again. Red and Joshua were bundled up, they must be in shock, and given cup after cup of hot chocolate. After answering all the mustached policeman’s questions, they were sent home.

Poor Grammie had to endure another day of the Tea 1000’s bad manners until Joshua walked Red to her house the next day and Red, armed with a wrench, fixed him. Grammie wasn’t too upset. The Tea 1000 had spit in the evil Mr. Wolf’s face, after all.

The End

Sunday Thoughts: Boredom

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Sometimes the everyday hustle and bustle of life rubs and rubs until you become blind, deaf, and dumb with the wear. You stop seeing magic. You stop seeing joy. You stop seeing life.

But, what has truly happened is you’ve stopped seeing by faith and started seeing with fallen, old-man eyes. Faith no longer clouds your view. Only deep dark shadows fill your world. You fall before the boredom and monotony of eating, sleeping, cleaning, chores, bills, needs, election cycles, loads of laundry, care for the young and old, wars and the rumors of war, birth and death. The repetitiveness of the world weighs down on you until you forget.

(NOTHING CHANGES!)

This malaise seeps into our churches. The preaching becomes only so many words falling together, powerless as autumn leaves. The saints are no longer a glorious army of the Lord riding forth on white steeds under Christ’s mighty banner. They’re dull, ordinary, offensive people you no longer wish to be with. Sunday isn’t our day of rest, or the Lord’s Day. It is an interruption, taking away hours that could be spent trying to maintain control of everything else in life, or actually resting.

Believers see with eyes of the world. Our old, dead eyes. We get lazy. We stop being Vigilant. Our Christian-colored glasses slip off our nose and aren’t pushed back up. We haven’t stayed in the fight. We haven’t kept the hope.

The regularity and rhythm of life bows us down.

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Awake! Awake! Awake, my soul!

Renew. Refresh. Push your glasses tight against your nose and SEE by FAITH!

The Kings of the earth rage and God laughs.

His hand isn’t weak. His kingdom isn’t failing or even losing the battle.

Put back on your armor and fight! Fight, by God’s grace and in His might, the temptation to see life with dead, old, rotten eyes. They lie.

See with truth!

The preached word is our mighty King speaking to us. The church is the body of Christ and our true family. Do not let the world push you down in the rut of life and cover your eyes with the muck at the bottom. See the world around you with the light of the Word! Christ has already won the war. He is King over-all and He is saving His people!

This is our true reality, our true eternity.

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(Inspired by Dr. Robert Oliver’s preaching on Psalm 2)