Happy Thanksgiving

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. I’m sitting here at the table, looking out my window while the clouds outside decide whether they will prove the weather man right or wrong about the large quantities of snow he’s predicted we’ll get today. I’m writing a day early because I know tomorrow will be too busy and full of celebration to get this blog post in.

I’m thinking back to a year ago. Years are usually full of unexpected happenings, since we mortals cannot predict the future. But this past year seemed especially full of them, if that makes any sense. Last year about this time, my book finally made its appearance on Amazon. And I was happy…with reservations. After all, nobody knew about my book or who I was besides friends, family and Facebook acquaintances. So, would it do anything useful? Or would it make a little burst and then die a slow but inevitable death? At that point, I really couldn’t tell. A year later, I have seen it make its small burst and slowly and quietly grow. It’s no best seller, but it’s done better than I hoped and I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for God’s provision throughout this year–for giving me the opportunity to do book signings in a number of Barnes and Noble stores, for opportunities to share my faith through talks about what preceded my book, for safety on the road.

But so many things happened beyond the book for which God deserves praise and thanks. The book was simply the icing on the cake.

  1. I learned that I can live contentedly as a single woman, that though the desire for marriage and family is still there and will never leave completely, I can be content where God’s placed me.
  2. My car lived another year. It’s rustier and noisier than it was last year, but it still gets me from point A to point B. That’s all that counts in my book.
  3. I learned that there is no need to feel apologetic for the things I believe God’s Word teaches. Other people may feel I am ridiculous for the things I believe and build my life on, but it neither matters what they think nor whether they misrepresent me to others. My job is to love God’s Word, cherish it, study it and adjust my character until it conforms to it. God will take care of my reputation.
  4. True, faithful friends, few and far between. They make promises and keep them. They love with a love that is not blind, which really is the only accurate definition of love. They see my sins and my virtues. They encourage the virtues that God has grown in me and they encourage me to abandon my sin.
  5. My computer. Oh, how difficult it would be to write as voluminously as I must without this laptop!
  6. For the sudden burst of new music students this Fall. The income helped me foot the ginormous gas bill I got from gallivanting around the countryside to book signings.
  7. For many more things that I do not have space to list. 

Thank you, Lord. And thanks to all of you who have sent me encouraging comments and messages through Facebook, email, and in person. You are all so kind. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

My Favorite Fiction, Part 1

Jane Eyre, our protagonist
Jane Eyre, our protagonist

This week, I had a reader ask me what books I would recommend to her teenage daughter. Pondering that question, an idea popped into my head. Why not write a post about my favorite books and why I like them? The only problem is that if I wrote about every favorite book of mine, the post would end up much longer than what anyone would care to read. So, I believe I’ll devote a post here and there to a favorite book or two, fiction and nonfiction.  I shall begin today with fiction!

Anyone who really knows me well will predict the first novel on my list—Jan Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane endures a miserable childhood. Orphaned at birth, Jane spends her first several years with an Aunt who promised her husband she’d look after Jane, resents her obligation and isn’t afraid to show it. Aunt Reed sends Jane to a boarding school, ruled by an overbearing schoolmaster who inflicts harsh punishments for minor infractions. As a young woman, Jane makes a break with her school and advertises for a position as governess. Her first answer takes her to a solitary mansion owned by a rather eccentric man, Edward Rochester, to teach a pretty little girl named Adele. Jane soon finds herself at home with her student, her friendship with the house keeper and the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. Strange sounds and sights within the house and the growing love between herself and Mr. Rochester trouble her and lead to a startling revelation.

I picked the book up for the first time when I was twelve or thirteen. Up to that point, I’d read a lot of the classics. What struck me about Jane Eyre was the completely unique writing style compared to other British authors. Whereas Charles Dickens pursued about five or six plot lines per novel and tied them all in at the end and Jane Austen made witty observations about people’s faults and foibles, Charlotte Bronte wrote from the perspective and internal thoughts of one young woman and dealt with one story line.  Jane Eyre, in particular, is so real and fresh. She is not beautiful, she thinks deeply, she has many faults which she strives to overcome, and she has great strength of character. As much as I love Charles Dickens, most of his female characters were a little too good to be true. They were terribly good and stood high on pedestals. There was not much of a sin nature to be seen in them. Even Dickens’ “fallen” women started out good and lovely and only ended up in bad places because of their outward circumstances and influences. Jane, on the other hand, is an obvious sinner with many character flaws which she must learn to overcome. I was always struck by the way she changed from a bitter, angry little girl to a woman who learned to forgive those who had treated her horribly. There are theological flaws in the book, but there is much beauty and truth to take away from it. If you have not read Jane Eyre you really must.

Before I leave you for the week, I should say that I’ll be spending Friday and Saturday in Indiana, giving a talk and a book signing on Friday plus a book signing on Saturday. If you’re interested in any of these events click here for more details. Have a good week!

 

 

Mahler and a Rag Rug

My concert on Saturday went very well. I had many of the two hundred people in attendance come and talk to me afterwards, saying how much they appreciated the music and how I shared a bit of my life’s experiences with them. It would be fun to do that again. This week, of course, I’m gearing up to play Regeneration—a concert of classical music presented by the orchestra I play in, Kalamazoo Philharmonia. We’ll be playing Mahler’s first symphony and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with soprano Rhea Olivacce. In rehearsals we’ve played straight through the entire symphony a couple of times. Phew! It’s intense, especially the last movement, but definitely worth the effort. As usual, you are all invited to the concert—that is if you live close enough to attend. Here’s a sample of our playing: Egmont Overture by Beethoven

Once this concert’s over, I plan to devote some time to writing projects that I’ve needed to get to but haven’t had the time so far. I intend to plow into a Union Gospel Press assignment come next week and start wading through another film script using my brother’s Mac and the handy dandy film script template that comes with Pages. (Oh, why can’t Word do something like that?) 

In the meanwhile, though, I can’t seem to stop myself from crafting.

Me and my rug
Me and my rug

A few weeks ago, I got started on a crochet rug, using up some fabric scraps I didn’t want to go to waste. Some scraps came from fabric I had left over from dresses I made for my nieces, some scraps came from old curtains, some came from a dress project for myself. Few things make me happier than making something useful from stuff I can’t bear to throw away. Makes me feel better about being a pack rat. Anyway, here’s the progress I’ve made.

Cora likes to help
Cora likes to help

 

We’ll see how big it gets. My brother wants me to make it one of those ginormous rugs that can cover an entire living room floor. That would be kind of neat. I’ll post pictures from time to time as it gets bigger.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back next Thursday.

Events of Note and a Book Review

Hope everyone has had a good week! Mine was good, though somewhat eventful. The back right tire on my faithful, rusty old car kept losing air over the weekend. Tuesday, I took it in to get it fixed. Turns out the air valve was loose and the mechanic was nearly positive that someone had tampered with it. Thinking about it, I recalled that I first noticed the tire being low the day after Halloween. Some little scamps must have been fooling around with it Halloween night. (Growls and shakes fist in the air.) Ah, well. It was easily solved.

This Saturday, I’m playing and singing for  Grace Christian School’s Fall Gala. My dad taught at this school for several years before I was born and up until the time I turned five. So, I’m excited to be “going back,” so to speak, and sharing my book and the songs that have meant a lot to me over the years. I do have one prayer request. One of my collaborators for this concert is going through a personal tragedy right now, but wants to continue with the concert. Do pray for her that God would comfort her through the message of the songs and for God’s blessing on her life.

Next Saturday, I’m playing in an orchestra concert that you’re all invited to. I’ve played the violin in the Kalamazoo Philharmonia for the last five years and our first concert of the 2013/14 season is coming up next Saturday. Titled “Regeneration” it will feature the music of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler as well as guest soprano Rhea Olivacce. It starts at 8:00 PM and will take place at the Dalton Theater in the Light Fine Arts building of Kalamazoo College. Tickets will be available at the door–5.00 for adults and 2.00 for students. The price is right. Hope you can come! You can find more information here.

Last but not least, there has been a new blog review of my book on www.griffinshoney.com by Heather Pfingston. You can read it here. This has been, by far, the most personally touching review of my book. I think you’ll see what I mean if you read it. Suffice it to say, I have always hoped my book would have just such an effect on those who have struggled with why God allows painful things to happen. Also, sign up for Heather’s book giveaway! You could win a copy!