Thursday, August 15, 2019

Throwback Thursday...Calming the Storm

Original Post Published 3/8/2012

Allow me to draw your attention to Mark 4:37-41:

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, 
so that it was already filling.  38 But He was in the stern, 
asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, 
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 
“Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 
  40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you 
have no faith?”[d]  41 And they feared exceedingly, and said 
to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind 
and the sea obey Him!”

Now, I've read those words approximately a hundred times, and I'm guessing everyone else has too. And I've always gotten out of it what the disciples did--wow, did you see that? The wind and waves obey Him! This Man rules the weather!!

Which is awesome. Truly, amazingly awesome.

I've also been struck before by His rebuke of the disciples--they'd just witnessed an amazing miracle when He fed the 5,000. But they still didn't quite get it . . . and Jesus calls them on that, on their lack of faith.

But as I was reading this section on Monday, something new hit me. 

He didn't have to do any of that. Ever pause to consider that? It wasn't His time to die. He still had a whole lot to do. There was no possible way that the storm was going to hurt that little boat with its most precious cargo, and Jesus surely knew it. He had no fear, and it wasn't just because He knew He could calm the storm--it was because He knew it wasn't a threat.

And yet.

When his friends, his disciples wake him in a panic, what's his first reaction? He calms the storm. He doesn't first try to explain it to them. He doesn't roll his eyes and go back to sleep. He calms the storm. He does that for them--not to prove He can, but because He loved them. Because He didn't want them to fear.

And, maybe, because He knows they wouldn't have heard him until that fear was gone. 

I don't know why I'm constantly amazed when I realize how far out of His way our Lord goes for us, but it hit me anew here. Jesus could have done any number of things in this situation, and no matter what He had chosen, we know the outcome would have been a safe arrival on the other side. He could have done any number of things that resulted in the disciples seeing His glory.

But He chose the one that calmed his friends. That soothed their fears. And then, then he reminded them to have faith.

Thank you, Lord, for knowing me so well. For knowing that when the storm's upon me, I can't remember the sunshine was ever there. For knowing that clutching for you is, sometimes, all I can do. Thank you, Lord, for making it all I need to do.

Because You calm the storm. And then You remind me that it was in Your hand all along.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tea Party With Kate Breslin

Friday, September 20th at 7pmEDT(4pmPDT)
Saturday, September 21st at 1pmEDT(10amPDT)

Reserve Your Seat
We have a few different options for attending this Tea Party! Reservations will close on August 20th so that we have enough time to mail out all your goodies.

Seat at the party only...No goodies shipped (sorry!)

Bring a Friend
Share a screen and get a discount for bringing a friend!


Tea Party Starter Kit

Signed Copy of Far Side of the Sea

Donate to the Tea Party Scholarship Fund. Bless a fellow reader by giving an "anonymous" donation.

Tea Options
We have a few different flavors from our last party. You get to choose from...

Rooibus Provence (rooibus, floral notes with undertones of fruit)
Almond Cookies (green tea, coconut rasps, almond flakes, sencha)
Divine Temple (a blend of green and white teas with jasmine and candied tropic fruits)

Irish Breakfast (a strong, bold tea, more robust and full-bodied than English Breakfast)

You will receive steeping bags ideal for your brew option. So make sure you let us know if you are using a 2-cup pot or brewing by the cup.


Apply for a Scholarship

Author Signup

More Information

You can find more information on how the Tea Party Book Club works on the landing page HERE. Please let me or my assistant know if you have any questions.

About the Book

In spring of 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries at the front, receives an unexpected message by carrier pigeon: it is an urgent summons from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life—a woman he believed to be dead. Leaving Britain’s shores to return into war-torn France, he hopes his reunion with her will ease his guilt and this mission restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned when he arrives in Paris to discover the message came not from Jewel, but from a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna. Johanna works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence; having found Jewel's diary, she believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, however, that trust is at stake, as danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives. (From the author's website)

About Kate

Author Website
A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives on a small bay in Washington State with her guitarist husband and family. Kate has written travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her fourth novel, Far Side of the Sea, released with Bethany House Publishers in March of 2019. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with author friends, she’s reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following hubby John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid nature lover, she enjoys long walks in Washington State’s beautiful woodlands or working in her rose garden. Kate’s also a traveler–she and John have toured much of the U.S. and with her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, and Barcelona, just to name a few. She’s always looking for the next story idea!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Word of the Week - Tycoon

A couple years ago, I remember reading to the kids about Commodore Matthew C. Perry's visit to Japan in 1854, and how it opened Japan to trade with the US for the first time. But I didn't realize that the word tycoon came directly from this visit!

During Perry's meetings, the shogun's supporters wanted to make it very clear to the guests that the shogun was actually more important than the emperor when it came to making decisions. So they called him taikun, which is literally "great prince"--(ta, great + kiun, prince). Perry brought the word home with him, and it apparently quickly caught on.

During Lincoln's term as president, his cabinet members began to affectionately refer to him as the tycoon (the Americanized spelling of the word). This nudged the meaning from "great prince" to "important person." Only after World War One did the meaning travel a bit more to mean "wealthy and powerful businessman."

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Throwback Thursday...Our God Who Art in Outer Space

Original Post Published 1/24/13

For some reason that I can't quite explain, 4-year-old Rowyn has decided that Heaven = Outer Space. There is no hesitation in his mind. When he talks about going to Outer Space, it's to drop in on God and say, "Hello." Preferably in a rocket. That, he says, is where he will go when he dies to live again forever.

Who am I, mere mortal that I am, to try to straighten it all out for him? LOL. The book of Daniel tells us about angels on a physical journey from Heaven to Earth, waylaid by demons so that they arrived seemingly "late" to answer the prayers of the faithful. For all I know, those demons were hiding behind an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. *shrugs*

The Milky Way over the
West Virginia hills
But it came up in my little brain in response to some wonderful conversations and books I was reading yesterday. The conversations joked about how the particular group involved is made of black sheep, it seems. Or at least, would be dubbed so by a prominent few. We like reality in our fiction. We believe that redemption is greatest when the sin was staggering--after all, who will love the forgiver more, he who is forgiven much or little? We believe in thinking, in living our life in this world even if we're not of it, in refusing the neatly bottled answers that are often tossed around in Christian circles.

And yes, that leads some of us to rant and rail on occasion. Why, we ask, do our brothers and sisters in the Church judge us for following Him into the wilderness? Isn't that where He went? Where He ordered us to go??

Then, in something I was reading by my good friend and WhiteFire author Christine Lindsay, she quotes C. S. Lewis, and it resonated:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
You know what that hammered home to me? That we're so very small. Sometimes, that makes us petty. Sometimes, that makes us close ourselves into a cozy little box. Sometimes it makes us judge--and I'm not talking just about the ones in the box judging those outside, I'm talking about the opposite too. We all want to be accepted for who we are--and when someone else is different, we feel that as judgment. Don't we?

But what Lewis pinpointed so beautifully there is that God is bigger than that. God is a God of the biggest dreams, the grandest ideas. He's a thinking man's God and an infantile-minded man's God. The God of the broken and of the fixer. He's a God who says, "You want the world? Foolish mortal--I'm offering you heaven."

The Dirty Devil River
photo by Seth G. Cowdery
Or as Rowyn would say, Outer Space. ;-) And that's true too, isn't it? He's the God of the universe, of the infinite.

But how often do we forget that, as Pascal expounded on in a Pensee, the infinite goes both directions? The infinitely great, and the infinitely small. So often, we pick one direction and focus on that, because that's where our interests lie.

I love--absolutely love--that I serve a God with no limits. A God who can touch hearts through the sweetest stories as well as through the grittiest. A God who doesn't say we must change before we can enter His house, but who invites us in as we are and says, "I've been waiting for you. I have a job for you to do, and those quirks of yours will make you a perfect fit."

I don't know about you, but I serve one amazing, all-out, no-holds-barred God. He meets me in the grime, and He promises me the galaxies. He tells me that there's nothing I can dream that's too big...but that sometimes He wants to give me something even bigger than the corporeal, than the physical. He's a God who says, "Go ahead. Reason. Ask questions. Explore the what-ifs. I'll be there too."

So for today, in all gratefulness, I say, "My God, who art in Outer Space, I set your name aside as holy. Establish your kingdom, and do your will, O Lord. Not just up in the stars...but right down here in the muck."

Monday, August 5, 2019

Word of the Week - Crucial

If you saw my post a few weeks ago on excruciating/crucifixion, you might just look at the word crucial and say, "Well, huh. That has that cruc root in it too!"

And you'd be right. Crucial also has the same root, which literally means "cross" in Latin. But in the case of this word, we actually owe Francis Bacon thanks for our meaning of "critical, of the highest importance."

You see, in addition to being a torture device, a cross was also a very simple form used for practical things like signposts. In his work, Instantius Crucis in 1620, Bacon takes the literal signpost and its Latin word and uses it metaphorically--when you see a signpost, you know to pay attention, right? Following the right direction will be of the utmost importance to where you end up on a journey.

Well, by the 1730s English had adopted the literal meaning of crucial--shaped like a cross. And by 1830, the metaphorical meaning had come along too. I always find it interesting when the later, symbolic meaning has completely overtaken the literal one in modern speech!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Throwback Thursday - Covered by Love

Original post published 11/1/12

"And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins."

I Peter 4:8

Whisperings of Love by
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1889
I just read these words in my daily reading time and they struck quite a chord. Perhaps because I'd been pondering that exact thing just yesterday in regards to my kids.

Don't you just love those things in life that have no clear "this way" or "that way"? That have, in fact, so many varying opinions on which way you should do a thing that you usually just shake your head and go with your gut? Raising kids is definitely one of those things. And in this society where all adult problems are blamed on whether mommy did this when you were little or dad did that...yeah, it can be stressful.

And I confess it. I yell more than I should. I get frustrated. My kids usually have to repeat something four times before I actually get up from my computer to help them with it (hence why they now just stand at my elbow going, "Mommy, I need a drink. Mommy. Mommy. Hey, Mommy, will you get me a drink please?" The magic word always gets my attention, LOL). There are things I wish I did differently, things I no doubt get wrong.

But you know what? At the end of the day, my kids are happy. They're secure. They understand the values I'm trying to instill, and they know they can stretch their wings and grow in our house. At the end of the day, they know they're loved. And that, I think, is the most important thing I can give them--because love covers a multitude of sins.

Which is true of any other relationship too, isn't it? Which may be more profound--because it's easy to love our kids. It's easy to love our spouses, our siblings, our parents (sometimes, LOL--easy for me to, because I have awesome ones). But what about the acquaintances? The strangers? The people we don't like? Our outright enemies?

Loving them isn't always so easy. Not just when we really don't like them, but even when we just barely know someone. It's hard to be moved by a story you've never heard. Hard to pray for people you've never met. But sometimes that's exactly what the Lord calls us to do. In this section of I Peter, he says we must be serious and watchful in our prayer. We must love one another, being generous and hospitable without homes, but most of all with our gifts. We must, always, minister.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
A reminder I need. Though I know there are so many out there suffering, I might forget that. I might ignore it. I might whisper a prayer now and then but otherwise, go on with my life. The Lord, though, calls me to something more here. He calls me to pray, He calls me to give, He calls me to stretch myself out and share what gifts He has given me with others.

He calls me to love.

And if I do that, the rest will follow. If I do that, then the things I fail at will be covered.

I will never be the perfect daughter, sister, wife, or mother, the best teacher or writer or friend. I will never react as I should all the time. I will never always have the perfect response to life's trials. But I will love. And that will be my covering.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Word of the Week - Adept

Did you know that the word adept is linked to alchemy?

Yeah...neither did I.

Adept is from the Latin adeptus, literally meaning "having attained" and was introduced into English in the Middle Ages among alchemists. If you showed particular knowledge of this art, you were known as "an adept."

Over the years, adept broadened to include anyone who exhibits a high level of skill at something, though for quite a while it was only a noun used for the person, not an adjective (interesting, since the Latin word is an adjective). Also interesting to note is that adept implies a natural and acquired ability, as opposed to expert, which implies experience and practice.