Friends to the End

Do you ever wish you had the power to fix everyone’s problems and just make their lives better?  I’ve been feeling this a lot lately as people tell me about their heartbreaking struggles.  I listen dumbstruck as they tell me of loved ones they have lost, hostile in environments they have lived in, and battles they have fought.  At a loss for words my only thought, my only wish is to go back in time and make those horrible things not happen to them.  What words of affirmation and comfort do you offer to people fighting battles that seem impossible?  What can you do to fill their lives with joy and happiness when all they have known is grief?  I think the most heartbreaking thing to see is someone who is resigned to their grief.  The people my heart bleeds for, the ones I want to help the most, are the completely closed-off-open-books.

The closed-off-open-books are the friendly people that make you feel like you know them so well right from the start, but then slowly you begin to see that you know nothing about them.  These are people who have been broken. They accept the fact that life has and will continue to beat them down.  Is it enough to tell a broken person that Jesus loves them?  Is it helpful to tell someone who’s fighting that God is still in control?  The truth is, I don’t know the answer.

Often times you read blogposts from people who come prepared with answers to the questions they are asking.  Most bloggers are that one kid in school that ALWAYS does the homework and is always prepared for class.  I’m not going to lie; usually, I am that kid.  But today, I don’t know.  Today I have more questions than answers.  I do know that I believe God is in control of every situation.  He is using His power to work good in the lives of all those who love Him, no matter the circumstance.  But when someone is watching a loved one die from cancer, is that knowledge comforting?  I know that I believe that God uses hard circumstance to make people stronger and draw them closer to Him.  But when you can’t find a job to pay the bills, does that knowledge help?  Today I’m the student who didn’t do her homework and is asking a plethora of questions in an attempt to try and mask my unpreparedness in the school of life.  All I know is that I long to help those in need.  To offer comfort and to give them some happy thought.  To help them find joy in times of peace and strength in time of trouble, because that is what good friend does.  And I would have no idea what it means to be a good friend, if Jesus didn’t show me.  For there is no greater friend than the one who would die a painful death to right your wrongs and save your soul.  So, who knows perhaps just being a good friend is comfort enough?

Journeying to Distant Lands

Many people are born with a love of words burning deep inside their soul.  However, not everyone is born with that passion.  For some it is developed over time and for some sad souls it is never experienced at all.  Today I thought I would share with all of you my journey into the beautiful world of literary imagination that I now inhabit.

As a young child I loved being read to by my parents and older sister.  They would read me books like Butterfly Kisses and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  In school on the other hand, I hated to read.  I refused to read anything more than Jog Frog Jog or Sue Likes Blue until I has halfway through 1st grade and my parents made me.  I hated to read, I was so far behind.  My first chapter book came in second grade it was The Box Car Children.  I then spent the next 4 year in land of mystery.  I read The Box car Children, Trixie Belden and Mandie.  I enjoyed mystery and intrigue, but at this point I had still not developed a true appreciation for the beauty of words and literature.  That was all about to change.

When I was in sixth grade Anne came into my life and changed my entire view of reading.  Who is this mystical Anne?  Well, she is Anne of Green Gables of course.   These books were recommended to me by my mother.  Of all the things my mother hastaught me over the years, things like walking, talking, and eating, telling me to read these books has been the most life changing.  Anne inspired me to love not only reading, but writing, imagining and creating.  After devouring all eight of these masterful books I went on to read things like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, and many others.  I now enjoy reading a variety of different books, but it is always the classic novels with a strong female lead that grip me.  I believe I have Anne to thank for my love of literature.  She changed the way I saw books, the way I saw my life, and the way I saw the world.  I used to want to be a nurse, Anne changed that for me, now I want to write.  I was able to relate to Anne; like her I had a vivid imagination and a love of words bigger than myself.  I never saw these qualities as a gift or as a way to make a living, but Anne showed me the truth.  I want to create characters as powerful as Anne and change people’s lives the way L.M. Montgomery changed mine.  This is my attempt t sum up my life through reading, but it is hard to try and sum up my reading life, because I am still in the middle of it. I am still learning to read in many ways, because with every book I read, I learn something new about literature and ways to interact with it.

Shattered Reflections

When I was very little there was a red jay that used to come to our back porch every day, all summer long.  We had a glass sliding door that lead out onto the porch and a wood-railing that wrapped around the porch.  Every morning, like clock-work, that bird would perch upon the wood-railing, look at the glass, and then with all his might he would spread his wings and fly head-first into the glass door.  He would bounce off the door, then go back, sit on the railing, and do it all over again.  Over and over again we would hear the ping, ping, ping of his little beak hitting the glass. He would fly at that glass door from sun-up to sun-down every day until it was time for him to fly South, but we knew he would be back the next summer.  For 5 years we saw that bird, he chipped our glass door a few times.  For a while we could not understand what he was doing then we figured it out. That bird saw his reflection in the glass and he was trying to fly through the glass and get to himself.  A few years ago the red bird stopped coming to our house.  I don’t know what happened to him, maybe he died, maybe he finally broke through the glass.  I guess well never know, but I’ll never forget the bird who almost broke his neck trying to shatter the reflection he saw of himself.

Art is Important!

Hello All,

I apologize for the lateness of the post.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything particularly special today.  This week in my reading I came across this great quote about art, so I just wanted to share it with all of you to remind you of the importance of art and to encourage you to keep on creating.

“Without the symbols of art, in all their many manifestations – painting and music, costume and architecture,, poetry and sculpture, – man would live culturally in a world of the deaf, the dumb, and the blind.”
-Lewis Mumford

An Eternal Rock Concert?

So last night I was so blessed to be able to cross off the number two thing on my Bucket list.  I got to see Bon Jovi, my absolute favorite band, live, in concert.  It was the most fantastic experience of my entire life.  When the opening band came out on stage I suddenly got very emotional.  You see my mom introduced me to Bon Jovi at a young age.  I’ve been listening to him my whole life and so many of his songs help me express my feelings.  I have been dreaming about this day for as long as I can remember and it finally came!  I honestly was on the verge of tears when I realized my lifelong dream was about to come true; I was about to be in the presence of Jon Bon Jovi!

As I fought back these tears another realization hit me.  If this is what it is like being in the presence of Bon Jovi, how much more fantastic will it be for me when I am in the presence of God?!  Do not misunderstand me, I am not equating Bon Jovi to God, but I am drawing a parallel between the experiences I have had with each of them.  As I already mentioned I grew up singing Bon Jovi songs, waiting for the day I would get to see him perform live.  Similarly, I was raised in a loving, Christian home.  I grew up reading God’s word, singing His praises and I continually wait for the day I will get to be in His glorious presence.  If I almost cried at a Bon Jovi concert, I cannot imagine what an emotional wreck I will be when God finally calls me into His glorious presence, and you know what?  I can’t wait!

Being A Nation That Trusts

It is almost impossible to scroll through Facebook (or whatever social media forum you choose) without being bombarded by political posts that turn into squabbles or even out-and-out fights.  In his work The City of God, St. Augustine addresses the importance of maintaining peace amongst human beings and trusting that God is in control of the earthly kingdom as well as the heavenly one.  We must understand that people are going to have different political opinions and whether or not we agree we should still strive to live in harmony.  Augustine says, “from one individual a multitude might be propagated, and that this fact should teach mankind to preserve a harmonious unity in plurality” (68).  Yet when people face an unknown that they do not like, they often respond to their fear with anger.  When a president is elected and his polices frighten some, they lash out in anger against those who may support that president.   Those who support that President respond in anger to protestors leading to a vicious cycle of fear and anger which disrupts harmony.  St. Augustine addresses this idea as well saying, “For no event is to no purpose under the all-embracing government of God’s providence, even if the reason for it is hidden from us.”  We all must trust God, and understand that whatever leader we have, He has given us for a reason.  It is only through this trust that fallen, angry, and frightened people can hope to live in harmony.

Do you hear the people hurting?

In a world that is all about efficiency, people are constantly forced to ask themselves, “what is my worth.” As a society we are focused on getting things done faster and better.  Everything is about financial gain, and since time is money, there is nothing more sinful than wasting someone’s time.  If a friend comes to us and is struggling emotionally, it is a waste of time.  People are afraid of being open about their problems, because they don’t want to be a burden.   If someone does speak up about a struggle the reaction they receive is often one of, “how can we fix you.”  We live in a mechanical age where most “problems” can be fixed.  As a result, we have lost the art of listening and supporting.  I am guilty of this; I have never been very good at being empathetic.  When someone opens up to me, before they have even finished telling me about their struggle, I have stopped listening and already begun thinking up ways to help them fix things.  I read a book by theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called Life Together, in which there was a section entitled ‘The Ministry of Listening.”  This portion really struck me,

Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.  Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.”

People are so quick to offer help, and so slow to listen to someone who really needs it.  This adds to a person’s struggle instead of making it better. Your struggling friend or acquaintance will sit there and listen to you come up with ways to make it all better, and wonder what is wrong with them that they can’t seem to change their situation.

So often the struggle is one of someone seeking to find their worth in a world that demands their personal output.  They become anxious when they cannot see an immediate way that they will benefit society.  They become depressed when they see others around them functioning with purpose and value.  Then, worst of all, they begin to think the most productive thing they can do is remove themselves from the equation of life.  This is a truly tragic reality of the world we live in.  And through it all we refuse to listen, and we continually look for solutions.

Do not misunderstand, I in no way wish to assert some sort of authority on the issue.  I have never struggled with severe anxiety or depression and cannot begin to understand what it’s like.  I have however struggled with being a good listener and being supportive of those in need.  So the goal today is to offer a new take on helping those who have severe physical and emotional struggles that cannot be fixed with a formula of actions, but can be helped with a listening ear.

There and Back Again, a Writer’s Holiday

This past Tuesday, January 3rd, would have been the 125th Birthday of author and professor J.R.R Tolkien were he still alive.  I also just finished reading his novel The Hobbit.  This being the case I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate him with today’s post.

Let’s start with a few facts about Tolkien.  He was the professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, where he worked with C.S Lewis.  He and Lewis become good friends over time.  Tolkien, a devote Catholic, spoke often to Lewis, an agnostic, about religion.  Eventually Lewis, due to the influence of God through many Christian friends, converted.  Tolkien fought in and lived through World War I.  During his time in the trenches he began formulating one of the most intricate fantasy worlds of all time, Middle Earth.

I just took a trip through Middle Earth with Bilbo Baggins.  I am sad to say that my time there has been short.  I have only read two of Tolkien’s novels, a defect I am working on remedying.  Many years ago I started reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it was over my head.  I also remember thinking that I did not like Tolkien’s poetry.  I have since changed my mind.  So I will leave you with this, two of my favorite poems from The Hobbit that, in a way, tell the story.


Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale
And men they looked up with faces pale;
The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!

Poem #2

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains of the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.