Thursday, June 2, 2011

Monster in the Hollows book review, rabbits and more...

neighborhood rabbit sighting

Today I received a link to a posting in the Rabbit Room.  How fitting it came from my husband especially since our recent close encounter with our very own neighborhood rabbit.  Another story for another time.  I know you are all breathlessly waiting to hear how Andy and the kids attempted to corner the poor beauteous animal but for now onto the link.  Andrew Peterson posted "write a review of The Monster in the Hollows (and the Wingfeather Saga in general) for your blog...  winners will receive an original hand-drawn picture from the Wingfeather Saga. Hand-drawn by me, that is, just for you."  Oh, I was all over that.  We received the most recent book, book number three in The Wingfeather Saga series just the other week.  A few days later our son had fully devoured each and every page- wanting to show me pictures along the way and trying his hardest to not speak of where the characters were headed or what they were doing.  Perfect, get him to write a little bit about his experience in the book and maybe win his favorite character to put up on his our wall!

In the humble opinion of my 12 year old son, his own typed words as to why this series is a good read:

The books by Andrew Peterson are very well written.  They make me feel like I am inside the books filled with adventure but also taking on the personal aspect of the story.  The third book, The Monster in the Hollows still gives us this feeling of anxiety and adventure. 

When they arrive at the green hollows what will happen to the family?  When they don't fit in and everyone makes fun of Kalmar what should they do?  And does Kalmar's change effect how he will act without knowing what he is doing?  Then read and find out the secret of the Hollows.

To the Rabbit Room for your purchasing pleasure...

I have not had the opportunity to begin reading this newest addition to the Wingfeather series as I am looking for the perfect time of quiet and space to entrench myself back into this world.  It would be preferable to read it before Caleb gets too chatty about what has transpired and I know the ending before I have even begun!  I have to admit, the maps and the background given in the first one had a hard time drawing me in but before I knew it the pages had flown by my fingers and I was completely immersed in this new world.  A world where a fair ruling system had gone awry when evil infiltrated it.  I agree with Caleb, the writing is such that even though it is so otherworldly you feel the characters pain and triumphs.  It becomes very personal as you walk the journey with them.  Peterson writes in such a way that you almost feel that if you were to sneeze the people on the pages would offer you a tissue.  It's real stuff the characters wrestle with, choosing between what's best and what's better, struggling with where your allegiances lie, who you are going to choose to follow, wanting the power of recognition and fame but knowing your place is to serve with humility and forgo gain for self. 

Speaking on behalf of my husband and I, we don't know when or how it happened, just that it did, we encountered Andrew Peterson.  We have never met him personally but we were first touched deeply by his music.  He paints a picture with words that goes way beyond the surface.  Joy abounded when Slugs & Bugs & Butterflies (Peterson and Goodgame) entered our world.  So much joy that during a family vacation we were asked politely to turn him off for awhile because the kids kept replaying some of the songs over and over and over again!  We have laughed and we have cried with him.  I know I speak of it often... but Peterson's music was a comfort to us when when we were processing the death of Andy's brother while working the land.  

Lay Me Down

...Oh, and I recall
We rode the combines in the fall
And there comes a time
For gathering the harvest after all

So when you lay me down to die
I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die
You lay me down to live...

As Peterson's music has been timely in our life and in our healing of day to day happenings so have his books been able to transport us into another realm.  One of fantasy yes, but more importantly it has brought up questions in my mind such as how do I deal and react to injustice in the world and how far would I go to protect those whom I love?  Even if it meant losing myself and my ambitions in the process?

I can't tell you why or why not to read this series of books.  I can tell you that they make you wish for something more, for something greater to challenge all the bad guys in the world and to right all the rotten cards you feel you have been dealt.  Whether it be physical challenges or emotional ailments as the lots you have been been dropped and planted in- you will bloom if your face is towards the light.  We were created to crave something more, to serve something more.  So much darkness has filled this world that it's easy to give in, to succumb, to feel defeated, to join forces with the darkness.  If you choose to read the Wingfeather Saga books you will be inspired to take up your sword and fight awhile.   In the end, God will triumph.  I sure do want to be on His side when it all comes down.   

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

Last week the rain came. My feet were stuck in molasses and my mind didn't want to move me. Tears threatened to rain down my face to match the precipitation outside. I knew I had to get dressed and get going out the door but I didn't want to. I thought for sure my heart had stopped, I couldn't breathe. It was a familiar sinking feeling yet very unwelcome. I wanted to sit and keep on sitting. The energy it took to get ready was about enough to make me keel over. I had to will my arms to care to move and my mind to get past dwelling on all that has been considered lost to me and the failures I had yet to fail at but just knew I would. It came out of nowhere. Funny how sorrow has a way of creeping up on you and settling into your bones.

The feeling of being unworthy and sad and lonely and confused is almost too much for a heart to bear at one time. The weight of the world threatens to overtake and push down til life is all but extinguished except for a weak pulse. Ok, so a bit dramatic but trust me, it's quite stifling! I did manage to get myself moving and into the car. Amazingly God quickly brought to mind His presence within me, something I began to feel so forcefully while surrounded in emptiness over a year ago- I am known by Him. If I feel invisible to the world around me, I am KNOWN and LOVED by HIM.

I constantly fall into the trap of basing my worth on what I have to offer, how I am doing as a friend to those I care about rather than basking in the glow and privilege of being created in God's image for His glory. There I go again, "feeling" my worth, setting my eyes on my progress, meeting or not meeting my standards, thinking through what I can or can't do and finally coming to the conclusion that it's more of what I will or won't do and then the cycle begins anew... I know too much. I know what I need to be doing, how I need to be living, how I should be serving. Many days I wish I didn't know so much because the responsibility that comes with that knowledge can be super overwhelming and way too convicting that I give up before I've even begun...

Our church called a new Pastor.  You would think this would be a happy time of fresh blood to instill vision and healing. Instead it has caused me to reflect on the fact that there are so many people in my life who don't really know me, who can't offer me affirmations of who I am, who weren't close by when I couldn't stand on my own two feet and needed shoulders to lean on. I miss friends who noticed me when my teeth were crooked and supported me when we fell so far down financially that I couldn't see my way clear. Whether it's reality or not I feel that I am surrounded by people who don't know the depth of my heart and the stories that God has given me, who most importantly haven't witnessed the transformation of His redeeming power and provision in my life. Hence, the invisible feeling.

It lingers, the pressure of a lifetime worth of tears waiting to push over the threshold. My husband has said to me before that I am stronger than I think I am. I know it to be true but I wish it were not so. I don't want to be strong. I am full of contradictions. I want to be noticed yet when I am I shrink away fearful that the spotlight was wrongly placed.  I desire and crave community, a group of people growing together and meeting the needs of the body. Yet I fear what I want the most. I fear you getting to know me. I fear you not liking me. I fear God. I fear the power and glory of His name.  

I know I have worn down trails with the sameness of my daily living and when I have stepped off the path and branched out I have found many rocky patches, places where the trees haven't been trimmed and lined with boulders not wanting to budge. I bump my head and watch as my feet get bloody and don't want to push on. I run back to the well worn path because I fear not knowing if the pain is worth it. I am a creature of habit, be it or for good or bad. I desire to go and blaze a new trail yet crave the comfort and ease of knowing the way. I have driven the same road for the past 3 years to take my daughter to the gym. A few months ago I decided to find a different route to get there. It took many weeks before I could will my mind and arms to not get in the turning lane when I desired to make a change and go straight. Now it's easy for me to make the choice at the light. My hands don't go left instinctively anymore when I want to continue on straight ahead. It took time and effort to get to that place.

I still fear the changes taking place that were set in motion over the last couple of years within my church.  Most of all oddly enough I think I fear that not enough has changed. Everything is strangely too familiar and has carried on pretty much the same.  It's too easy to remain the same old me in my present circumstances.  God has graciously carried me through this time despite my kicking and screaming and wanting to run off to another country for a fresh start. In my perfectionist personality I have a tendency to want to scrap something and start all over again if it's not quite right. That's what I have been fighting within myself. I fear living with my failures in plain sight, always having to work through them, struggling with relationships that aren't pretty which need lots of prayer along with a heavy serving of grace.  I am a warrior yet often I live as one defeated and resigned to status quo. I want to be radical and live as one known to be loved and see what that love can do through me. 

I heard this song while driving in the rain... wow.  These lyrics coupled with the acknowledgment of my worth from a new friend in the presence of others the very next day helped to drive my mental rain away. Yes, I was shrinking inside but I was more amazed at how the Lord knew what I needed at that very moment.

                      Times (Tenth Avenue North)

I know I need You
I need to love You
I love to see You, but it's been so long
I long to feel You
I feel this need for You
And I need to hear You, is that so wrong?

Now You pull me near You
When we're close, I fear You
Still I'm afraid to tell You, all that I've done
Are You done forgiving?
Oh can You look past my pretending?
Lord, I'm so tired of defending, what I've become
What have I become?

I hear You say,
"My love is over. It's underneath.
It's inside. It's in between.
The times you doubt Me, when you can't feel.
The times that you question, 'Is this for real? '
The times you're broken.
The times that you mend.
The times that you hate Me, and the times that you bend.
Well, My love is over, it's underneath.
It's inside, it's in between.
These times you're healing, and when your heart breaks.
The times that you feel like you're falling from grace.
The times you're hurting.
The times that you heal.
The times you go hungry, and are tempted to steal.
The times of confusion, in chaos and pain.
I'm there in your sorrow, under the weight of your shame.
I'm there through your heartache.
I'm there in the storm.
My love I will keep you, by My pow'r alone.
I don't care where you fall, where you have been.
I'll never forsake you, My love never ends.
It never ends."