Resurrection Sunday 2015

I’ve been trying to think of how I can share with anyone who reads this blog about the most important thing in the world to me. I love books. I think stories are very important; in fact, I believe we are made to think in story and feel others’ stories and live our lives as stories. When I read a really good book or hear a really good lecture or talk that reflects truth and beauty, I am not just entertained—-I am fed, mentally and spiritually. C.S. Lewis wrote, “[L]iterary people are always looking for leisure and silence in which to read and do so with their whole attention. When they are denied such attentive and undisturbed reading even for a few days they feel impoverished.” I guess I’m one of those “literary people,” and I tend to think we’d be better off if all of us were at least a bit “literary”. Nevertheless, as important as stories and books are to me, they are not the most vital center of my life.

I also love my husband and my eight children. I think of them and pray for them and text them and write letters to them and send them emails and talk with them and just live life with them almost all day long every day. My family is the thing that gives me energy and the thing that uses a great deal of my energy every day. I scheme and plan ways to bless them, and sometimes I get frustrated with them and try to change them or make them do what I want them to do, for their own good, of course. But underneath it all, I love them desperately. I would give my right arm for them. However, those nine people in my immediate family are not the center and support of my life.

My church and my homeschooling community are another very significant part of what makes me tick. I depend on the people in my church body and in my community of friends to pray for me and commiserate with me and comfort me in sorrow and rejoice with me in times of celebration. I discuss ideas with them, and they give me feedback that refines and sharpens those ideas to better conform to the truth and to reality. We all know that we are fallible people, and we try to give each other grace and mercy and forgiveness and a second (third, fourth, fifth . . . ) chance. I depend upon these people.

And yet, if you take away all of my church friends and my homeschooling friends and my neighbors and my Facebook friends, if you take away my fantastic Engineer Husband and every one of my eight wonderful children, if you take away all of my books and even my eyesight and my hearing so that I can never read or listen to another story, one thing would remain. Only one hope endures past stories, beyond family, transcending the communication and encouragement of friendship. Someday all of these other things will most likely be taken away from me. I may get so old that I forget all of the stories that I can’t read or hear anymore anyway. My family and friends can’t go with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and in fact, some may precede me in going there. Then, when everything else is stripped away, it will be just me and Jesus. Just me and the God of the Universe who became flesh and dwelt among us and suffered and died for my sin and who gloriously LIVES so that I can live with Him for all eternity.

I hope you know Jesus, too. I hope you have turned your back on your sin and your idols and trusted Him for salvation and for forgiveness and for life. I hope that whatever wonderful, important, significant, good blessings you have in your life, you know that in the end it will be just you and Jesus. Or not. He calls you to repent (turn around), leave your fallible and flimsy God-substitutes behind, obey His unshakeable Word (The Bible) and look to Him for all that you need. It’s a good deal. You should jump on it because whatever you’re holding on to in the place of God, whatever is keeping you from trusting Him alone, whether it’s pleasure or stuff or family or friends or religious rules or intellectual pride or fame or fill-in-the-blank, only God satisfies. Only God forgives sin completely and forever through Christ. Only Jesus will be there for you when everything else is gone with the wind.

Happy Resurrection Day!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (II Corinthians 9:8)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Saturday Review of Books: April 4, 2015

“Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. Many will read the book before one thinks of quoting a passage. As soon as he has done this, that line will be quoted east and west.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

You can go to this post for over 100 links to book lists for the end of 2014/beginning of 2015. Feel free to add a link to your own list.

If you enjoy the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon, please invite your friends to stop by and check out the review links here each Saturday.

Of Psalms and Semicolons

I am taking a blog break for Lent, but I thought I’d share some of my old posts from years gone by. I’ve been blogging at Semicolon since October, 2003, more than eleven years. This post is copied and edited from April 2, 2005:

Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.–Adrienne Rich
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

I must confess that my creativity is somewhat limited. When I started this blog, I called it “Sherry’s Blog.” Imaginative, huh?

Eldest Daughter gave me the name “Semicolon,” and I liked it. I like semicolons; I use them judiciously. However, I still didn’t have any idea that the title would actually say something about the purpose of this blog.

But it does. I blog to communicate. I also blog to connect with others and to connect other people with each other and with the information and ideas that will help them to ultimately connect with the God and Father of us all. Jesus is my Semicolon; He is the connection between me, in all my sin, and a Holy God. So in a way that could probably be expressed better in poetry were I gifted in that area, I want to use this blog as a semicolon to connect you to small things and big things, good and wise and wonderful.
Language really is quite powerful, and even punctuation has its place in holding the universe together.

The psalms, written as they were using the poetic device of parallelism, almost beg for the frequent use of semicolons in English translation. I don’t know what kind of punctuation they used in ancient Hebrew, if any.

Poem for Today: Psalm 93

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.

The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O LORD ,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea–
the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days, O LORD .

Here’s a good introductory discussion of Hebrew poetry, in particular the psalms by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson.

The Poetry of God’s Word

Did you know that about a third of the entire Old Testament can be considered poetry? There’s not as much poetry in the New Testament, but there are several poetic passages, including some of Jesus’s words such as the Beatitudes and the Lord’s (Model) Prayer.

Hebrew poetry wasn’t exactly like English poetry or modern poetry. Little or no rhyming. There is some wordplay and alliteration, but it’s often not easy to translate. However, the basic elements of Hebrew poetry are just as understandable in translation as they are in the original language IF you think of the passages as poetry. The following poems or songs are some of the most famous, lyrical and meaningful passages of the Bible, other than the Psalms, Proverbs, The Song of Solomon, Job, and the book of Lamentations which are also written in poetic form.

The Song of Moses and Miriam: Exodus 15:1-21
The Song of Deborah: Judges 5
The Song of the Bow: II Samuel 1
The Burden of Nineveh: Nahum 1:10-3:19
The Song of Mary, Magnificat: Luke 1:46-55
THe Song of Zacharias, Benedictus: Luke 1:68-79
The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3-10
Who Shall Separate Us? Romans 8:35-38
He Humbled Himself: Philippians 2:5-11

Trustworthy Saying, I Timothy 2:11-13

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

The value of studying poetry as poetry in the Bible:

“The Bible is filled with images as well as theological ideas. Life is a journey down a path, God is a shepherd, depression is a valley, salvation is a feast. These images, and not only doctrinal ideas, should be prominent in biblical teaching and preaching. Tracing them through the Bible is as valid an approach to doctrinal content as is systematic theology. God trusted such images to communicate the truth people need to know.” ~Leland Ryken

“From Homer, who never omits to tell us that the ships were black and the sea salty, or even wet, down to Eliot with his ‘hollow valley’ and ‘multifoliate rose,’ poets are always telling us that grass is green, or thunder loud, or lips red. This is the most remarkable of the powers of poetic language: to convey to us the quality of experiences.” ~C. S. Lewis, The Language of Religion

Where I Am From

I am taking a blog break for Lent, but I thought I’d share some of my old posts from years gone by. I’ve been blogging at Semicolon since October, 2003, more than eleven years. This post is copied and edited from May 3, 2005:

NO JOKE/HAPPY POETRY MONTH!

I am from back-yard sheds and front porches, from Holsum bread, Imperial Pure Cane sugar (it’s quick dissolving) and Gandy’s milk.

I am from the edge of the Edwards Plateau, the two bedroom house on the unpaved block of Florence Street, dusty road dividing the widow ladies from the Methodist Church across the street on one corner and the Church of God on the other.

I am from pecans and apricots, mesquite and chinaberry, the tree I sat in to read my ten allowed library books every week and to watch the neighbor lady brush out her long grey Pentecostal hair that had never been cut.

I am from cranking homemade ice cream with ice and rock salt packed into the freezer and going to church every time the doors were open.

From Mary Eugenia and Joe Author, Lula Mae and Monger Stacy, Bonnie Leota and Kenneth Dale.

I come from teachers and preachers and hard workers, the kind of people who could fix your car or sell you a ticket to the drive-in picture show or teach your children to read and write.

From “don’t sing at the table” and “we only expect you to do your best”.

I’m from cars with names like the Maroon Marauder and Old Bessie, from carports and driveways instead of garages, from swamp coolers instead of central air, from shade trees and pavement so hot it could burn your bare feet.

I am from Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, Girls’ Auxiliary and Training Union, The Old Rugged Cross and It only takes a spark, from old ladies playing the autoharp in Sunbeams and young bearded men playing the guitar around the campfire. From Kumbaya.

From the Heart of Texas, the Heartland, the center of the universe, the kind of town everybody wants to be from.

I come from Wales and Arkansas, Comanche, Sweetwater, Claude, and Brownwood, fried chicken, fried potatoes, steak fingers and fried okra.

I’m from y’all and pray for rain and fixin’togo.

From the grandmother who sewed and the Mema who taught music, the grandpa who could sell ice to an Eskimo, and the grandfather who worked on cars and died before I was born.

I am from a house full of memories and craft projects, some completed and hung on the walls, some never finished, waiting for younger hands and newer minds. I’m from dreams and places where doors were not locked and neighbors never let you pay them back when you borrowed an egg or a cup of milk.

This poem began with a poem by George Ella Lyon called Where I’m From. You can read more at the poet’s site about how the poem became a writing prompt and a phenomenon.
Pratie’s Place has a list of links to bloggers who have written poems participating in this meme.

If you write your own I-am-from poem, let me know in the comments, and I’ll link to it.

Saturday Review of Books: March 28, 2015

“I really demand a lot; sometimes, I think, too much. But I don’t want to waste time on a bad book. A bad book is any book you don’t like. A good book is any book you like.” ~Nancy Pearl

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

You can go to this post for over 100 links to book lists for the end of 2014/beginning of 2015. Feel free to add a link to your own list.

If you enjoy the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon, please invite your friends to stop by and check out the review links here each Saturday.

Happy Birthday Mr. Houseman and Mr. Frost

I am taking a blog break for Lent, but I thought I’d share some of my old posts from years gone by. I’ve been blogging at Semicolon since October, 2003, more than eleven years. This post is copied and edited from March 26, 2010.

A.E. Houseman, b.1859.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry

Robert Frost, b.1874.
The Door in the Dark
Fire and Ice
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
A Time to Talk
A Prayer in Spring

Saturday Review of Books: March 21, 2015

“I need to read more. There are so many good books I want to read and so little time. If I added up the few minutes here and there that I spent checking Facebook this past week it wouldn’t be an insignificant amount of time. I’d rather give that time to reading.” ~Joshua Harris

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

You can go to this post for over 100 links to book lists for the end of 2014/beginning of 2015. Feel free to add a link to your own list.

If you enjoy the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon, please invite your friends to stop by and check out the review links here each Saturday.

Events and Inventions: 1944

January 27, 1944. The Red Army (Russian) relieves the German siege of Leningrad, pushing the Germans back beyond artillery range. Leningrad has been under German guns for 900 days, and over one million people have died of hunger, cold, starvation, disease or from direct warfare.

January 22, 1944. Allied troops land on the beaches of Anzio in southern Italy.

March 18, 1944. Mt. Vesuvius erupts for last time in modern times.

June 4, 1944. The U.S. Fifth Army under the command of General Mark Clark enters Rome, freeing the city from German occupation.

June 6, 1944. Allied troops storm Normandy in northern France. Operation Overlord brings over 100,000 U.S., British, and Canadian troops to the beaches of Normandy under the orders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied troops in Europe. See the movie, The Longest Day, for a dramatization of the invasion of Normandy.

June 13, 1944. Hitler unleashes Germany’s flying bomb, the V-1, on southern England. The deadly V-1’s are launched from catapult ramps at Pas de Calais in northern France, and they have already made direct hits on several buildings, including a convent, and hospital, and a church.

June 20, 1944. An attempt by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails. See the movie, Valkyrie, for a dramatization of this event, with Tom Cruise playing Colonel von Stauffenberg, the main conspirator and assassin. Hitler takes his survival as a sign that fate has intervened to preserve his life for the further glory of the German people.

August 25, 1944. Paris is liberated by Allied troops, led by the Free French. General de Gaulle marches in triumph through the crowds down the Champs Elysees.

October 26, 1944. General Douglas MacArthur and the American Navy return to the Philippines after the Japanese are defeated in a three-day battle off the coast of the island of Leyte.

December, 1944. Civil war breaks out in Greece in the aftermath of the country’s liberation from Nazi occupation. British troops fire on a demonstration organized by the EAM, made up of Communists and other leftists. The People’s Liberation Army (Communist) seizes part of Athens, but they are defeated and dispersed for now.

Quiet, A Servant in the Discernment of Truth

“I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. A thoughtless word hardly ever escaped my tongue or pen. Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. We find so many people impatient to talk. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world. It is so much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.”

~Mahatma Gandhi, from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.