Saturday, August 19, 2017

Recent Book Reviews...

I have had such a busy, harried spring and summer that only this week did I transfer my book reading list to Goodreads; I still need to add them to this blog (see sidebar...well, after I update it, perhaps...). Anyway, I'll try to post a few of my thoughts (which are not nearly as extensive since I'm trying to remember books that I read months ago) about each book. Fortunately, my list this year is more varied than the past few years; while I still have a good number of Austen variations listed, I've been reading other books, too. Yay!! So here are a few of the books I've read in 2017:


The Blythes Are Quoted The Blythes Are Quoted by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very different book than the first eight Anne of Green Gables, these stories are told by the Blythes and revolve around different people in Glen St. Mary and environs, only touching now and then on the Blythe family. Interspersed among the stories are poems supposedly written by Anne, and a few written by Walter. Some stories are ghost stories, most are human-interest. It was a very entertaining short story collection which was supposedly sent off to L.M. Montgomery's publishers the day she died. While some of the stories have been republished over the years, this collection is the first time that the book has been published in its entirety, and it's definitely worth a read, especially for those who loved the Blythe family from Books 5-8 of the Anne of Green Gables series.


Longbourn: Dragon Entail: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Longbourn: Dragon Entail: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Maria Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite Pride and Prejudice variation series...and I was fortunate enough to be allowed to proofread it!! In this second book, Darcy and the baby dragon Pemberley have removed to Rosings Park where Rosings, an ancient firedrake dragon, has taken on the training of the baby. Lady Catherine continues to insist that Darcy marry Anne who is Junior Keeper to Rosings, despite the fact that Anne knows nothing about dragon care. Pemberley pines for Elizabeth's presence since Elizabeth possesses an uncommon affinity for dragons and tends to enjoy their presence more than she does most humans.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, remains at Longbourn Keep where the dragon of the same name, a grouchy wyvern, insists that she marry Mr. Collins, the dragon-deaf heir to Longbourn. Collins is horrid, hates all mentioning of dragons, and abuses the minor dragons (which he sees as birds, cats, and other creatures) of Longbourn Keep. Finally, Mr. Collins and Longbourn the dragon push Elizabeth past her endurance, and she escapes to London, accompanied by Wickham who is abnormally curious about all things dragonish. Elizabeth's Dragon Friend, April, a fairy dragon of unusual perception, warns Elizabeth of revealing too much to Wickham.

Darcy and Elizabeth run into each other at the Blue Order buildings in London, and Darcy requests Elizabeth's assistance in nursing the pining Pemberley back to health. He accompanies her to Rosings Park where the dragons all fall in love with her, as they usually do, for Elizabeth truly understands dragons...much better than she does Mr. Darcy who also seems to be respected by the wise dragons of Rosings. And then everything begins to unravel, with Pemberley's imprinting called into question, leaving her young life hanging in the balance at the dragon Conclave...which will also decide Elizabeth's future with Mr. Collins.

This is a delightful story mixing the secret world of dragons and Jane Austen's Regency world beautifully while continuing to develop the various characters of Pride and Prejudice. I've read this book no fewer than five times; I just can't get enough of it!

And the good news is that the third book in the series, Netherfield: Rogue Dragon should be written and released by the end of the year or early 2018; I'm so thrilled and hope to proofread it as well. :)



Conceit & Concealment: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Conceit and Concealment: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first book that I've proofread for Abigail Reynolds...and it may be my favorite of all of her books. In fact, Abigail's books were the very first Austen variations I ever read, and she became one of my favorite authors in this genre. So it was a privilege to be able to assist with the proofreading of this novel.

In an alternate timeline, France defeats Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, and France now occupies all of England. Elizabeth and her family must deal as well as possible with the French forces who think nothing of conquering the local gentlewomen as much as those who oppose them. Elizabeth befriends Mr. Darcy in the fields around Longbourn before she discovers that he seems to have made a deal with the French which allows him to come and go as he pleases and gives him also some power in the occupying army forces. Elizabeth, a patriot, despises Darcy...until he uncovers a secret to Elizabeth that could expel the French forces from the shores of England forever.

When Darcy is captured and accused of murder, Elizabeth must pick up the mantle of Darcy's secret and do everything she can to protect Darcy's precious charge and get her safely into the hands of the resistance forces. Elizabeth then becomes part of the resistance in London, working to defeat the French and force them to leave Britain behind.

This is such an amazing adventure!! I finally had to just read it for pure enjoyment first; then, I went back and prooofread for errors once I knew what happened. ;) It's a beautiful romance, a patriotic tale, and a spy novel all in one...as well as being a variation of Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice. I don't give many "5" scores to books that are not classics, but this variation of P and P is so extraordinary that it well-deserves this "perfect score." Brava, Abigail!!



Darcy's Hope: Beauty from Ashes: A WWI Pride & Prejudice Variation Darcy's Hope: Beauty from Ashes: A WWI Pride and Prejudice Variation by Ginger Monette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book and the second book in this series are among the best Austen fan fiction novels I have read. Ever. Set against the backdrop of the Great War, Elizabeth and Darcy hate each other and then love each other, just as in the original Pride and Prejudice. And of course, there's Wickham to gum up the works, and Jane and Bingley are seen along the periphery as well. There is all the intrigue of being stationed at a hospital near the front in Belgium, with Elizabeth as a nurse and Darcy as the CO of the army hospital, plus spies afoot as well. An exciting, edge-of-your-seat story that continues neatly into a second book before being tied up neatly. I'm thinking that it's time for a second reading, actually.... ;)



Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey: A WWI Pride and Prejudice Variation by Ginger Monette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darcy and Elizabeth are finally in love, and he sends her to Pemberly while he takes on a dangerous assignment. But Wickham has messed things up, and Elizabeth is accused of crimes that cause her to go underground, hiding from Darcy himself so that her "shame" will not affect his career. The Great War fights on, and Darcy is severely injured and eventually improves enough to be sent to Donwell Abbey where he is nursed back to health. To say more will give it away, but it's a wonderful continuation of Monette's first Great War Romance. Together, these two books are among the very best of Pride and Prejudice variations.



Books of a Feather Books of a Feather by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed this tenth book in the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle. Brooklyn is a bookbinder who somehow happens upon dead bodies, and with the help of her now-fiance, Derek, (former British agent), she helps solve mysteries.

This latest installment involves the Audobon Book of Birds, a copy of which I have seen myself at the Huntington Library in the Los Angeles area. Brooklyn's eclectic upbringing with her hippy-dippy but lovable parents in the Bay area contrasts with Derek's upper-crust British childhood, but he has come to love Brooklyn's family, most of whom still live in or near the commune run by Guru Bob...and also happens to be where Brooklyn was first taught bookbinding and restoration.

As a booklover myself, I adore all of the details of the restoration of various books that occur as part of the mystery series, plus Brooklyn is snarky and fun yet always sees the best in people. This is my favorite "cozy mystery" series; it's warm and funny and very, very smart without being pretentious.

*****

I'll post a few more books with reviews next week as I try to keep up with at least weekly blogging!

Have a lovely week!!

Reading with you,



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fall Classes at Brave Writer


This school year marks 15 years of teaching and working at Brave Writer. Julie Sweeney Bogart started Brave Writer in January 2000, and I joined the Brave Writer team (of four other employees) in 2002.

Over the past few years, I've settled into a great schedule at Brave Writer; I'm teaching 48 weeks a year now, with some overlap of classes. I love teaching kids and families, mostly homeschoolers, via these online classes. I've written most of the materials I teach; the only class I teach that I haven't written is Groovy Grammar; the rest I've either overhauled and largely rewritten or have written from scratch.

So here are the classes, with dates and links, that I'll be teaching this fall at Brave Writer:

The Groovy Grammar Workshop: August 28-September 22 (4 weeks). This family workshop turns grammar on its head! Rather than relying on boring workbooks and grammar rules that no one can keep straight, we explore how words work together to create clarity and meaning. We "collect" words, play games with them, make up words by creating a "fictionary," and then explore how words work together in Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky." We conclude the class with writing our own Jabberwocky-style poem using nonsense words. Much family fun is in store in Groovy Grammar!!

The Shakespeare Family Workshop: August 28-September 29 (5 weeks). In this family workshop, we explore Shakespeare's life through a scavenger hunt, draw or create models of the Globe Theatre, and examine the language of Shakespeare's time. Then we'll have an informal study of Shakespeare's sonnets before we explore Shakespeare's plays, spending a week each on comedies (focusing on Much Ado About Nothing), histories (focusing on Richard III), and tragedies (focusing on Hamlet). So if you want a fun and extensive exploration of Shakespeare and his works, this family workshop is ideal!

The MLA Research Essay: September 25-November 3 (6 weeks). This class is intended for high school juniors and seniors only, with a small class size of only ten students to provide maximum teacher-student interaction. Using the college textbook The MLA Handbook, 8th Edition (2016), students will research and write a 5-7 page college-level persuasive research essay using the most recent format of the Modern Language Association (MLA). Students do not need to purchase the textbook; all posts will include materials from the text, and students may contact the teacher with additional questions. Students will finish this course with a college-level essay and much knowledge of how to do academic research.

Playing with Poetry Workshop: November 6-December 12 (5 weeks). This family workshop class focuses on writing many kinds of poetry: free verse, visual poetry, Japanese poetry, traditional rhymed verse, and alternative poetry forms. We'll also explore reading and analyzing poetry, and there are several fun optional activities such as song lyrics as poetry. This workshop is a wonderful way to introduce families to the fun and games of writing poetry, providing a solid foundation in poetry analysis and the history of poetic form. So much fun!!!

I'll be teaching the same courses in the spring in a slightly different order, with the addition of a high school literary analysis course on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. More on that class in December when I post the spring schedule!!

Fall registration began on Monday, July 31, so please enroll as soon as possible since all of our classes were full for the entire 2016-2017 school year!! Be inspired!! Write bravely!!


Writing with you,


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Pentecost: The Arrival of the Holy Spirit

An Eastern Orthodox icon of the Christian Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. (Source: Wikipedia)

A repost from the Archives as I frantically attempt to keep up with my wonderful Brave Writer students in our discussions of Macbeth....


I just do not understand something. Why don't evangelical churches celebrate Pentecost? Scripture tells is that the Gift Jesus promised His disciples has arrived: the Holy Spirit! We read Christ's promise in the 14th chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, beginning at the 15th verse:
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.... 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you....(English Standard Version--ESV)
Then on the Feast of the Pentecost, with Jerusalem filled with Jews from around the known world, Christ fulfilled his promise fifty days after His Resurrection. We read in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles:
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested [1] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." (ESV)
Peter then preaches to the astounded visitors to Jerusalem (also in Act 2), quoting the prophecy of Joel hundreds of years past as well as passages from the Psalms of David while also relating what he and the other disciples witnessed of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection as well as the many sightings of Christ following His resurrection from the dead until His ascension to the right hand of the Living God. Peter concludes:
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing (Acts 2, ESV).
And then we read the response of the crowd listening to Peter:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38 And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2, ESV).
The events of this Pentecost were simply incredible, and it is from this amazing Gift of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God, that the Gospel of Christ first began to spread and the Church first began to form. Why evangelical churches do not celebrate Pentecost is a mystery to me. It always lands on a Sunday and thus it can be easily celebrated with Scripture readings, with praise songs and hymns about the Holy Spirit, with sermons grounded in the Holy Spirit, and perhaps even with baptisms since approximately 3,000 people were baptized and added to the Church on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection in Acts 2. Pentecost is a Biblical holy day, and we can celebrate it Biblically, too, with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart[s]" (Ephesians 5:19, ESV).

In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, one of the Collects (collective or public prayers) for Pentecost reads thus:
Almighty and most merciful God, grant, we beseech thee, that by the indwelling of thy Holy Spirit, we may be enlightened and strengthened for thy service ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
And the Book of Common Prayer 2011's Collect for Pentecost (also in the sidebar of this blog):
"O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen." (References: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)
The Anglican Church has an interesting name for Pentecost: Whitsunday which comes from the white garments worn by those who are baptized this day, just as over 3,000 people were baptized on that first Pentecost in Acts 2. In the above hyperlink to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry of "Whitsunday," an interesting fact is given:
Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day's duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide [Eastertide].
So why is this important Biblical Holy Day, celebrated from the very earliest days of the Christian Church, hardly mentioned in evangelical churches, including my own? I don't know. I simply don't get it. But I pray that the evangelical churches will indeed start to celebrate Biblical Holy Days more and more in the future, honoring the rich, 2,000-year heritage of Pentecost/Whitsunday.

Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Solemnity of the Annunciation

Annunciation of the Lord by Leonardo da Vinci

From today's American Catholic Saint of the Day:

The Story of the Annunciation of the Lord

The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, was first celebrated in the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan. From all eternity, God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.
Mary is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).
Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.

Reflection


Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby, discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her. Perhaps such an observation is misguided. God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal. We have scarcely begun to realize the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love. The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us to wake up to the marvelous creatures that we all are by divine design.
*****
From the Book of Common Prayer 2011, here is the Collect for the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary:
LORD God, we ask you to pour your grace into our hearts; That as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, by his cross and passion may we be brought to the glory of his resurrection; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: Hebrews 2.9-10; 13.9; Romans 1.3-4; 5.2-5; Matthew 1.18-21; Philippians 2.20-21) 
Wishing you a blessed remembrance of the Angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary,


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ready For Lent!



Updated from the Archives....

As Elizabeth and I plan to make pancakes (gluten-free and grain-free varieties this year) for dinner this Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Tuesday as it's known in our household), I'm also preparing myself spiritually for the beginning of Lent.

Tomorrow morning I'll attend the Ash Wednesday Imposition of Ashes with the kind folks of Blessed Trinity Anglican as we meet together in Father Acker's home in Alpine. (Message me if you'd like to come, and I'll give you the directions. It's mind-blowing and soul-blowing ancient worship!)

I have my Lenten fast decided and my Lenten additions ready. I don't usually tell either one publicly--only my family knows so that they can help keep me accountable.



A few years ago, I had continued all year with the previous Lent's addition of The One Year Book of Hymns to my Compline prayer time before bed each night, last night's hymn struck me, and I want to share it here as well as copy it into my Common Place Book (quotation journal) as it expresses many of the reasons why Lent is my favorite time of year:

Lenten Hymn
by Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898)

Lord, who through these forty days
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passiontide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!

The Scripture verses accompanying this hymn in this devotional is Mark 1:11-12 from The Living Bible: 

"Immediately the Holy Spirit urged Jesus into the desert. There, for forty days, alone except for desert animals, he was subjected to Satan's temptations to sin. And afterwards the angels came and cared for him." 

So Lent consists of the forty days before the Resurrection, not including Sundays (which are always a celebration of the Resurrection) and thus Lent parallels the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before starting his earthly ministry.



Lent prepares our hearts for the joy of Easter--the celebration of the Resurrection of our Living and Loving Lord. How can we truly celebrate without suffering just a little first? Through fasting and prayer, we draw closer to the heart of the One who loved us first.

Can we fast and pray at any time? Sure. But do we? Not enough--or at least, I know that I don't fast and pray enough. Lent reminds me to do so, to allow the Holy Spirit into the dark corners of my soul and do a spiritual "spring cleaning," showing me my sin so that I may confess it and be cleansed.

To read more about Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent you may read my post On Lent using this hyperlink or by going to the "On Lent" page beneath my blog header.

I wish you all a Holy and Blessed Lent as we all draw closer to our Lord and King!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Own Green Thoughts

Daffodils in my front garden a few years ago....

This morning I read Melissa Wiley's lovely blog Here in the Bonny Glen in which she wrote about her gardening adventures in a post called "Green Thoughts." Since she, a well-known author of children's books (and now a Brave Writer instructor!), also lives in San Diego, I felt a true affinity for her post and all of the lovely green things--even "weeds"--that her family has grown. I meant to write just a short reply to her post, but it soon took on a life of its own. Yep, I ended up writing a blog post in reply to her blog post! (Sorry, Melissa!)

So here it is...which some additional "green thoughts":

I've found that San Diego is a pretty forgiving place for gardening. I loved gardening when we lived in North Park; our century-old Craftsman had enough Victorian to it that it was a stand-out on the block naturally, and the family who had own the home before us (from 1945-1991 when we bought it) had planted calla lilies beneath the porch railing. Oh, when they bloomed, honey, they BLOOMED.

And, as I said, I found that I could pretty much ignore all of the gardening "rules," and everything turned out beautifully...most of the time, anyway. I could never get Canterbury Bells to grow...which I loved for the name even more than the flowers themselves. (Does anyone else do that? Choose seed packets or even six-packs of blooms based more on the name of the plant than the plant itself? No? I must the the weird one, then....)

I sowed wildflower seeds on either side of the front walk and ended up with a host of pincushions, cornflowers, Queen Anne's lace, and other English garden-y things. As much as I wanted to try foxgloves, I had little ones back then and wasn't going to chance it. Along the east-facing long side of the house I had hollyhocks (which my husband has always called "hockeypucks") growing so high that they were curling under the eaves--and that's with a significant stone foundation and then the house itself! They were close to fifteen feet! Amongst the "hockeypucks" I had six different kinds of lavender, plus rosemary and other herbs galore (and sunflowers that grew almost as high as the "hockeypucks"!). My husband put in a brick-lined rose garden for me along the backside of the fence separating the back and front yards, and roses of all colors held riots there. Gardening was definitely my "thing."

Our old house, repainted by new owners. We left it gray with white and burgundy trim....

And the kids reveled in the spring clover's "sour grass"; we'd let the lawn keep growing until we were losing toddlers in the vast greenness, and then the kids gathered up armloads of the beautiful bright yellow flowers on their long, juicy stems--the very definition of "cheerfulness." Unfortunately, they never kept long, of course, but I had bouquets of them, overflowing the jam jars as they lined my kitchen counter before the lawn mower heartlessly took 'em down. We had to watch Monty Python & the Holy Grail to calm our nerves and get us laughing again.

But up here in Pine Valley, I must choose what to plant carefully, with an eagle eye for frost-hardiness. We've had frosts as late as June 12th (our middle son's birthday--which also killed our Pippin crop that year!) and as early as the end of September, so the delicate blooms I adored in the city either need more time than I can afford them between frosts or will wilt in our summer heat (sometimes above 110!). Fortunately, two of my favorite old-fashioned flowers, pansies and stocks, are quite frost-hardy, and rosemary abounds. Lavender is a bit touchy--no Spanish lavender here--but the French and English varieties do fairly well. But with the arrival of my autoimmune challenges, I haven't had the strength to garden much, plus, we now have half an acre vs. our little city plot, so the sheer size of it is daunting.

Our mountain home since 2001

This spring I do want to plant more. The daffodils (still blooming after the 15 years we've been here and who knows how much longer before that!) are sprouting, and the purple irises will follow. I've done tulips in the past, too. Now that middle son has worked landscaping, we're going to sit down and plan out our spring plantings and see what we can rescue and what we'll need to replace and what we can add. ;)

And yes, there are a few "hockeypucks" lurking along the back fence, a true homecoming for me when we first moved in and still stubbornly self-sowing. And a few old rose bushes, half-wild now, that need some TLC. But I really want to get out there and make something beautiful in our garden this year.

As I pondered my garden today, I remembered a lovely quotation from L.M. Montgomery's sixth book in the Anne series, Anne of Ingleside:

One gold-grey smoky afternoon [Anne] and Jem planted all the tulip bulbs....
"Isn't it nice to be preparing for spring when you know you've got to face winter, Jem?"
"And it's nice to be making the garden beautiful," said Jem. "Susan says it is God who makes everything beautiful but we can help Him out a bit, can't we, Mums?"
"Always . . . always, Jem. He shares that privilege with us."

So, thanks be to God for the privilege of sharing a bit in His Creation as we plot and plant the bounty of His Beauty!!

Counting on the daffodils,






Saturday, February 4, 2017

Candlemas

Anna and Simeon seeing Jesus and His parents in the Temple
Updated from the Archives...

Yesterday I attended Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, and as it was the day after Candlemas, otherwise known as The Presentation of Christ in the Temple OR The Purification of Mary--all of which are celebrated on February 2 (yep, the same day as Groundhog Day), we celebrated Candlemas during our weekly Healing Service. 

But what is Candlemas exactly?

The site ChurchYear.net defines Candlemas as "The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, traditionally called Candlemas, commemorates the presentation of Christ in the temple, and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. The feast falls on February 2nd." 

Basically, Candlemas marks forty days after Christ's birth when Mary went to the Temple to be purified after giving birth to her firstborn. We read about this day in the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 22-39) which was one of our Scripture readings yesterday in the English Standard Version (ESV):

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.


Here's a wonderful explanation of the Holy Day of Candlemas from Project Britain: Candlemas Day.

Pope John Paul II gave this wisdom in one of his homilies: 

"Be light and comfort to everyone you meet. Like lighted candles, burn with the love of Christ. Spend yourselves for him, spreading the Gospel of his love everywhere. Through your witness the eyes of many men and women of our time will also be able to see the salvation prepared by God 'in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.'" 

And here is the Collect for The Presentation of Christ in the Temple from The Book of Common Prayer 2011:


ALMIGHTY and ever-living God, we ask that, as your eternal Son was presented in the temple, we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; Who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: Luke 2.23-30; Galatians 4.4; Psalm 24.3-4; Revelation 1.6)

So have a wonderful 5th Week After Epiphany as we approach the pre-Lenten season!


Soli Deo Gloria,




Friday, January 6, 2017

A Blessed Epiphany


Updated from the Archives....

Today the Anglican Church, along with other liturgical churches, celebrate Epiphany. For once, Epiphany lands on a Friday, so we'll be celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany at our Friday Morning Prayer and Holy Communion service at Father Acker's home. I usually attend this weekly service which includes prayers for healing and anointing with oil, but this Friday we'll be celebrating Epiphany and thus we may have some additional attendees joining us . . . even though we gathered just last night to celebrate the Twelfth Night of Christmas and the Eve of the Epiphany.

The Epiphany, January 6th, marks the close of the Christmas Season with Twelfth Night (the Twelfth Day of Christmas) on January 5th. Epiphany, then, is a kind of extension of the Christmas season as we remember the events of Matthew 2 in which "wise men from the east" come to Judea, looking for the "infant King of the Jews." Herod asks his advisers about the Messiah, and they tell him that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
--Matthew 2:1-12, ESV

The Baptism of Jesus is celebrated a week later, on the Octave (8th day) of Epiphanytide, the day in which Christ was manifested as the Son of God, as related in Matthew 3:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest upon him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
--Matthew 3:13-17, ESV

From the CRI website:
The Season of Epiphany
Dennis Bratcher

In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King's Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany. The Season of Christmas begins with the First Sunday of Advent, marked by expectation and anticipation, and concludes with Epiphany, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. The one or two Sundays between Christmas Day and Epiphany are sometimes called Christmastide. For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. In some western traditions, the last Sunday of Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.

The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King. In some Central and South American countries influenced by Catholic tradition, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents. The colors of Epiphany are usually the colors of Christmas, white and gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year. 

As with most aspects of the Christian liturgical calendar, Epiphany has theological significance as a teaching tool in the church. The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and so were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few. 

The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by "showing" Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often create between God’s children.


***


Our Collect for Epiphanytide from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, to be prayed throughout the Octave of the Epiphany:

O GOD, by the leading of a star you revealed your only eternal Son to the peoples of the earth; In your mercy grant that we, who know you now by faith, may after this life behold your glory and power face to face; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
***

The lyrics to the most popular Epiphany carol, often sung at Christmas:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Refrain
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Refrain

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshiping God on high.

Refrain

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Refrain

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia!, Alleluia!,
Rings through the earth and skies.

Refrain


Music and lyrics by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857

Note: Wikipedia tells us, "John Henry Hopkins, Jr. organized the carol in such a way that three male voices would each sing a single verse by himself in order to correspond with the three kings. The first and last verses of the carol are sung together by all three as 'verses of praise,' while the intermediate verses are sung individually with each king describing the gift he was bringing."

***

So as we enter Epiphanytide, the time in which Jesus was made manifest not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles--basically, the fact that He came to save everyone, no matter which gender, race, religion, creed--we welcome Him into our hearts with joy and grateful hearts, "for this is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118.24).

Rejoicing with you this day,

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin