Monday, August 24, 2009

Lord, take my children by the hand...

Ah…..7:15 am, and the whole house is quiet. My boys—all three—off to school. Now, to tell the truth, the house has been quiet at 7:15 am all summer long, but that was when they were all snoozing away until the digital clock read double-digits. But this morning, they were all up before me, showered, dressed, gelled, fed and brushed, only to sit nervously on the edge of the couch waiting to pick up their back-packs and go. And so, in the quiet of my house, I scrambled an egg, sipped a cup of tea, and prayed that this day—this year—would be one of wonder and joy. Kids deserve that, you know?
So, in-between studies right now, I sat down with my Bible and did the “flip.” You know, where you just let the pages fall open…and for a reason I didn’t understand at first, the Lord led me to Daniel. First chapter. Daniel? Really? So I read about the selecetion of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, plucked from their homes and brought in for special training in the king’s service. Immediately they were re-named (Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego).
By the end of the chapter, I knew why God brought me to this book.
See, my older sons are starting high school today, and I have enough experience teaching it to know that those four years change a kid. Of course there are the natural, physical changes that come with the transition to being a young adult, but that’s nothing compared to the changes in their hearts. So many more temptations, such scarier options—all of it seeming so wonderful and glamorous and powerful and promising.

Just like special training for the king.

But Daniel, and his buddies, all refused to eat the rich diet of the king. They held to their values—the ones they came in with—and were deemed stronger, better, healthier at the end. Now, in this first chapter the trial lasted just ten days, but I looked beyond that. Think about it, nobody’s ever read the book of Belteshazzar, have they? No, we read the book of Daniel. Through it all, at the end of it all, Daniel remains Daniel.

So I change my prayer a little. Yes, I want the boys to have a wonderful, fun, exciting, enlightening, fabulous year at school. But more than that, I want them to remain true to who they are. I want them to remember what they’ve been taught, who they love and Who loves them. Christian kids in public schools aren’t just entering a spiritual battle, they’re entering into training for service to a pagan king. May they, like Daniel, refuse to be defiled.

(P.S. – taking a break from book give-aways for a while…winner of By Reason of Insanity is Kelly. Congrats!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ticket Stub: Time Traveler's Wife

I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since the first little Hollywood blip slipped about it. So, in a rare display of eagerness, I was at the Friday afternoon matinee--along with about 20 other women. Ticket price: 5.25--roughly what I paid for the Starbucks balanced in my carefully-carried over-sized purse. (don't judge me)

Now, reviews have not been kind to the movie, and I can understand why. If you've read the book (which you should!), you'll quickly recognize this film as a pale shadow of a great story. Serioulsy, I spent well over 100 beautifully crafted pages working to wrap my brain around Henry's traveling. The movie blurts it out within the first 15 minutes: "I travel through time! I'm from the future!" All of a sudden, it's like George Lucas is writing the screen play. And that ain't good. There were just so many changes--some I can forgive, some I can't. Some necessary, most not. Most seem to be motivated by the need to give the film a bladder-friendly running time. But, come on. If we can get through nearly three hours of Benjamin Button, certainly Time Traveler's Wife deserved another 45 minutes or so.

But enough with the griping--here's the positive side. One, it was a lovely excuse to spend an afternoon with a dear friend--a fellow book reader who was quicker to point out the inconsistencies than I was. And if you haven't read the book, it's still a harmless bit of romantic escape. Believe me, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching Eric Bana. More than that, though, there's one aspect of the story that I absolutely embrace: the life-long love between Claire and Henry.

See, Claire has loved Henry since she was a little girl--when he travels back from the future to see her (just go with it...). It makes me think about the fact that God has a mate chosen for each of us--how out there somewhere is a young woman, or even a little girl, who is destined to be the wife of one of my sons. Our lives are crafted beyond our knowledge, our days planned out before our conception. I think about my hubby, too, how very much I love him--how wrapped up I am in his life and he in mine. When I think about who I was growing up, I think I've always loved him, because he is everything that I adore--funny, sweet, honorable, a fan of John Hughes movies. Goodness, wouldn't my life have been simpler if I had simply patiently waited to turn 22 and meet him?

So, if there's a lesson from the movie (NOT the book), it might be this. Take your daughters. Let them know that God has a plan for their lives, and it's a plan worth waiting for. Take your sons (tell them you're gong to GI Joe and distract them with popcorn). Let them know that those girls they see in school are--deep down--little girls waiting for the man they love. There are worse movies. There are worse messages.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Reason for Insanity

So, it seems this week I've been answering almost all of my emails with an apology for the delay in response. See, for the past two weeks I've been taking a course in writing instruction, and while it is engaging, enriching, fascinating and fulfilling, it's also exhausting, draining, mind-consuming and depleting. It's also, however, finished, and this evening I embrace the first evening in a long time not dominated by homework.

I'm late announcing the winner of my heart remembers, and it's Kimberly! Congrats and I'll get that to you soon.

This week's give-away is as different from a sweet historical family saga as can be. The book is By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer, and it's a tight, tense courtroom drama. Here's the blurb:

How did crime reporter Catherine “Cat” O’Rourke wind up in prison? It starts with “visions” involving victims of a high-profile kidnapping, twin children adopted by the family of a well-connected defense attorney. In her first vision, Cat sees the children being executed. Nightmares? Maybe, but why do they occur when Cat is awake? She seems to know so much information about the missing children (and other grisly crimes) that she becomes the key suspect. Could Cat possibly have an alter ego committing these heinous acts? Enter defense attorney Quinn Newberg, who recently invoked the insanity defense to get his own sister acquitted for murder. Quinn decides this will be Cat’s defense as well, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. At the center of the heart-pounding action are the moral dilemmas that have become Singer’s stock-in-trade. In addition to scrutinizing the insanity defense from an ethical point of view, Singer offers similar appraisals of the death penalty and vigilante justice.

And, my take: This is the first Randy Singer book I've ever read, and it definately won't be the last. Now, I'd never judge a book by my own ablility to figure out a story, because I can never figure out the whodidit in a whodunnit. This book gets high marks from me because I actually cared to know--enough to stay up far past my reading time. The story was complex without being confusing, exciting without being manic, insightful without being intrusive. Great writing, great story, great message.

So, playing off the title for a minute...for the past few weeks, my reason for insanity has been an insane, hectic, crazy schedule. Class all day, obligations all evening, editing all night. How about you? been feeling a little insane lately? What's your reason?