Monday, July 30, 2012

Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl

Lots of people kept telling me that I had to read ND Wilson's book, Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl. I thought that the title sounded rather strange, but I decided that I'd get it and read it, anyway. I kept forgetting about it, but I finally got it. And I'm sure glad I did :D

It's incredible. The way Wilson's more like painting. Every sentence is beautiful.
ND Wilson reveals such convincing cases for so many aspects of Christianity. Wilson reminds us and makes it clear to us that we are part of a story. The infinite story. The best story. The one full of God's artistic touches. So complete and perfect that no blade of grass, or drop of water, or smile, or touch are without purpose.
"I love being in the story," Wilson writes. "Because there are beetles and my wife and my children with wide eyes and ticklish ribs and dirt that smells and hands that blister and wasps and moths and every-flavored wind. I love seeing the story because it shows me who I am and how far I need to go. Because it knocks me down and waits to see if I'll get up. Because we are always standing on a cliff's edge, and the danger is real. The choices in front of you never go away. Scene after scene is given to you and the teeming universe in the audience waits for your reaction, for your line, waits to see if you'll yell at the fat-faced child who spilled the milk, or if you'll laugh and kiss a cheek. What kind of father will you be in their story? The hump on their back that will always haunt them, the one who gave them damage to overcome? The one who's too busy? The one who drinks? The one who cheats?" 

A big point in Wilson's book is that there are times in the story when you will fall down. Our bodies shrivel up and stop working. We die. Children are abused. Old people are neglected. There are days in your life when you feel like nothing is worth anything. When you think the sun will never shine again. This is not because God is being cruel or selfish. It's because he knows how to tell a good story. Truly good stories are not just happy stories.
"I have killed good people. I have orphaned children and have given villains a period of strength, a time for them to wax fat before they are struck down. I have done all this in novels for children. Am I a murderer? A predator? Of course not....I want my characters free, but my art fails. I am not as big as God, and my characters are so much smaller than His, so much more artificial. His, well, His can really pop their knuckles, really fill their lungs with air, really look goodness in the eye and spit at it...The shadows exist in the painting, the dark corners of grief and trial and wickedness all exist so that He might step inside them, so we could see how low He can stoop. In this story, the Author became flesh and wandered the stage with Hamlet, offering His own life. In this story, the Author heaped all that He loathed, all that displeased Him, all the wrongdoing of the world, onto Himself. Evil exists so that He might be demeaned and insulted, so that the depth of His love and sacrifice could be expressed as much as is possible in the small frame of history."

In short, I highly recommend this book. It's really opened my eyes to things that I already knew, but  I had forgotten the importance of. Things that I never thought of before. And things that I never really understood.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Hidden Talent

This is a true story of an incredible answer to prayer. 

Little Leslie was abandoned by his parents at Milwaukee Hospital because he had cerebral palsy. Because of the disease, his eyes had to be removed. He was hopeless, helpless, and totally unwanted.

But Joe and May Lemke decided to take Leslie into their family anyway. May thought of it as a job to do for Jesus. So she gave Leslie love and care. When they first brought him home, he couldn't move, eat, or even suck on a bottle. May taught him how to do all those basic things. And she prayed for him every single day. Some of their friends thought they were a bit strange to even get involved in such a hopeless case, but to the Lemkes, Leslie wasn't a case----he was a little child who needed love and prayer.

He couldn't stand or move at all on his own, but May spent three years patiently showing him how he could get on his feet and even walk a bit by holding on to a fence. He was twelve before he could stand. And he was fifteen before he took his first step. He showed no emotions, made no sounds, and never moved.

When Leslie turned twelve years old, a change came. May began praying something different for Leslie. She prayed that the Lord would help her find a talent in Leslie. Something he could do. Something special. Leslie just laid there doing nothing most of the time, but May was certain that God had given him some kind of talent. And she was determined to discover what it was.

Convinced that the Lord would answer their prayers, May and Joe put a piano in Leslie's room. They played a wide variety of music for him on the radio. The piano sat in the corner, collecting dust, year after year. Leslie never even seemed to notice it. And they couldn't tell whether he was paying attention the music on the radio or not. But the Lemkes continued to pray.

One night when Leslie was sixteen, May prayed with him, as usual, before she put him to bed. She felt more intensity, more earnestness as she prayed than ever before. At 3 AM, she and Joe were awakened by strains of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no. 1. The music was coming from Leslie's room.

Had the radio somehow been turned on? Was that the TV? They hurried to their son's room to investigate. They didn't find the television or radio on. Instead, they found a miracle: Leslie, who had never spoken; who had never gotten out of bed by himself, had dragged himself to the piano. And he was playing, and singing.

May was laughing and crying at the same time. "Oh thank you, dear Father, thank you. No one, no one can ever tell me that there is no God and Jesus in this world."

In the years following, Leslie continued to demonstrate his extraordinary talent. He only had to hear a song once and it was recorded in his mind. Whether the words were in English, French, Italian, or anything else, he could sing it. Everyone was baffled. Especially the experts. Maybe the part of Leslie's brain that controls the musical ability was stimulated in some way, they guessed. It was beyond the ability of science to explain it.

May and Joe believed so much in God, that they just knew they were going to get something. The fact that He answered their prayers merely reinforced their faith, by showing them first-hand what exactly God can do. But the miracle that God performed was something far beyond anything they could have asked for, or thought of. Or even imagined.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

I thought this one was pretty funny. . . :D

Where did we get the word "muscle"?

From the Latin musculus, which means "little mouse." If you move the "muscles"of your upper arm you will see what looks like a little mouse crawling back and forth. (why do we say it, pg 170)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pink Daisies

This is a story I wrote for school last year. There are quite a few things that need to be changed/edited, but I thought I'd just go ahead and post it anyway.

You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us. –Gungor

            “I already told you. I’m finished.” She looked up at him. “That’s it, I said. I’m leaving.”
He reached out to take her hand. She turned away and picked up the suitcase from the floor.
            “Claire,” he said. “Sweety. We can work through this. I know we can Just, just don’t----.”
            “I hate you, David,” she said and left the apartment, slamming the door behind her.
He sat down in a kitchen chair and pulled off his shoes.
            “Don’t ever come back,” he said through clenched teeth. “Ever.” He jerked his tie loose and unbuttoned his dress shirt.
            “Dad, where’s Mom?”
He turned around and saw his little girl in her nightgown.
            “Why aren’t you dressed for school, baby?”
            “Mom didn’t lay her clothes out,” his son,Tyler, said, stepping out from the shadows and walking across the kitchen. “Why aren’t you at work?”
            “Where are you going?” David asked.
            “Is that really any of your business?” Tyler said. “You didn’t ask Mom where she was going.”
            “Where is Mommy?” Kelsey whispered.
            “Is that really any of your business?” David said to Tyler. He stood up and kicked the chair back under the edge of the table.
            “Uh, she’s my mom,” Tyler said. “I kinda think that makes it my business.”
            “Where is Mommy?” Kelsey said louder.
            “Yes. And you’re my son,” David said.
            “Unfortunate, isn’t it?” Tyler rolled his eyes. “It’s your fault she’s gone.”
David gripped the back of the chair till his knuckles were white. “Don’t say that,” he growled.
            “Where is Mommy?” Kelsey shouted.
David sank to the floor and covered his face with his hands. Tyler walked out and slammed the front door.
            “You never answer me,” Kelsey said, sitting down beside him. She leaned her head on his arm. “I’m gonna be late to school.” She chewed on her thumb nail. “And you’re gonna be late to work. Dad, you gotta get up.” She stood up and pulled his hand. “Come on.”
            David just shook his head.
            “You know,” Kelsey said, sitting down again and putting her chin in her hand. “Tyler ate the last bowl of Froot Loops.”
            David closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall. Why do all the bad things happen to one guy and all the great things happen to another? If there was a god, you’d think he’d divide things up a little more evenly. Not fair. Nothing is fair. I deserve better. Kelsey deserves better.
            “Aren’t you gonna do something about it?”
Do something. Something.

            “Huh, Dad?”
He opened his eyes. “Yes,” he said.
            “Aren’t you gonna do something?” Kelsey asked again. “Tyler hogs all the cereal.”
Ben ran a hand over her hair. “It’s time to leave for school, baby,” he said.
            “You never answer me.”

            “We’re moving,” David announced that night at the dinner table.
Tyler dropped his fork onto his plate. “We’re what?”
            “You heard me,” David said, slicing another piece of bread.
            “Wow.” Tyler shook his head. “Wow. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
David shook his head.
            “What else are you gonna do to ruin my life?” Tyler ran a hand through his hair.
Kelsey picked up her bowl and took it to the sink. “I hate ramen noodles,” she said.
            “Well, if you want to be the one to pay the rent on this old place, then fine, we can stay,” David told Tyler. “But I want to have a house. One of our own.”
Tyler rolled his eyes. “Where are we moving to?” he asked.
            “I’m not sure,” David replied. “We’ll see.”
            “I don’t like this apartment anyway,” Kelsey said, sitting down again. “It stinks.”

            They packed up that week and loaded everything into the U-Haul truck.
            “When are we gonna get there, Daddy?” Kelsey asked, as they pulled out of the driveway.
            “Soon,” David said. “Soon we’ll be home.”

            Three hours later, they pulled off onto a small, dirt driveway.
            “It’s bumpy,” Kelsey said and unrolled her window. “It’s dusty,” she added.
            Tyler slouched farther down into his seat. “It smells weird,” he muttered.
            “It smells like sunshine,” David said.
            “Sunshine doesn’t have a smell,” Tyler laughed cynically.
            “Yes, it does,” Kelsey said, sticking her head out the window and breathing in. “I smell it.”
            They pulled up in front of the tiny, white house. There was grass and trees and nothing. David turned the key and shut off the engine.
            “It’s quiet,” Kelsey whispered. “Can I get out?”
            David nodded.
She opened the car door and stepped out. After glancing at her dad, she walked toward the house. She went up the steps and tried to open the front door but it was locked. She waved at David and then motioned at the door. He got out and took her the key. They went inside. The house was dark. Kelsey walked over to a window and pulled open the curtain. Sunlight poured in; thick and golden. She opened another and another.
            “Come on Daddy,” she said. “Help me let the light in.”
He drew back one of the dusty curtains, and let his face bathe in the warm light. The entire house sparkled now. The rays of sun searched out every dark corner and lit it up.
            “I’m going outside now,” Kelsey said. “I see a pond.” She kicked off her shoes by the front door and ran out barefoot.
            David stepped out on the porch. Tyler crawled out of the car. He squinted in the bright light, and put a hand over his eyes. He staggered toward the porch.
            “Don’t try to hide from the light,” David said. “It’s impossible.”
Tyler climbed the porch steps, and lowered his hand to his side.
            “Why’d we come here?” he asked.
            “Beautiful things sometimes grow out of pain, Tyler,” David said.
            “Beautiful things?” Tyler said quietly. He leaned against the porch railing.
Kelsey came running across the field from the pond. Her hands were full of daisies. Pink ones. David pointed at her.
            “Yes,” he said. “Beautiful.”
Tyler tugged at his earlobe.
            “God brought us here, I think,” David said, sitting down on the top step.
            “God?” Tyler whispered. “Where’s he been all this time?”
            “Here, I think,” David said. “But everywhere too.”
Kelsey reached the porch, breathless. “Look Daddy,” she said. “Aren’t they pretty?” She thrust a handful of pink daisies at him.
            “Yes, Baby,” David said. “They are.” He turned to Tyler. "Here," he said, holding out the flowers.
Tyler reached out and took a pink daisy from David’s hand.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

How did "hangout" come to mean a gathering place?

"Hangout" originally meant a place of business---for at one time almost all professional men, artisans, and tradespeople hung out signs to indicate their occupation and place of business. The term had it's origin in the phrase: "Where do you hang out your sign?"

Sunday, July 8, 2012


July is already, and the land is soon to burn, the sun at midday casting
its least shadow. Across the road, the unmown pasture will whiten
under its glare, and the world goes brittle with heat.
The land loves the light, and suffers from the light, and lets it go
when day is done. The illuminated air has a density, and I feel
as though I should part it with my hands when I step from the shade.
You don't have to look hard to see that the light is always leaving---
even rising towards you, taking its lowest angle down the countryside,
it is passing. The days should be getting shorter but I can't sense  it
in the slow coursing of this one. It is difficult to believe
even the things you've seen; there is nothing that I know
for certain. A mockingbird lands on a post and has more to say
about what will bear us skyward than I do. The day is without music---
or any that is organized in a way I can hear. It is easy to forget
the words you've read in books and all you've been told is true
with the world this bright and close at hand. I am learning to look
with a new kind of wanting. There are few minutes as the day dims
when the details in the distant line of trees becomes clarified,
the tree forms taking on greater depth, their lobed leaves individuated
as the light releases them, the rich texturing of each tree
suddenly present, rendered with a painstaking draftsmanship,
then they blacken and solidify, emptied of every last particular,
a jagged line backed by a sky which will stay brilliant for some time
to come, as though the light that once lay in the weeds now waits
in the air above, wondering, I suppose, why it is we do not follow.

Bobby Rogers