God is Best

red_coatMaybe it’s just me, but it seems that there is something terribly lonely about life. I began to have a vague glimpse of just how lonely life could be when I was a little girl, running home in tears because my little friends decided they didn’t want me to play with them anymore. Later, it got lonelier as I grew into my teens and felt that unmistakable sensation that I just wasn’t quite fitting in, wasn’t really wanted. Lonelier still as I watched people verbally tear into someone I loved–at church where it’s supposed to be safe.  There’s nothing terribly unique in all of this. It’s as common as dirt. Lots of people I know have been through far, far worse. But like the common cold, whose miseries are no less painful than they are common, the loneliness that sets in after trust has been destroyed over and over again is still excruciating no matter how common the circumstances.

I often ask myself, “Why am I so disappointed? I know these people are sinners like me. They almost can’t help but do damage. It’s what humans do best.” I think it hurts so much because, deep down, we know that’s not how things are supposed to be. God didn’t create us to maul and wound and destroy. But that’s what we’ve done ever since the Fall. Even Christians can hurt people. They’re supposed to repent and mend the breaches they’ve caused, but sometimes they don’t…for years. Why? I don’t know. Pride, I guess.

Even though we know it’s pointless, we keep hoping to find some people, maybe just one person, who won’t do that. Who will love us like God meant for us to be loved, conveniently forgetting that we can’t even love the way we’re supposed to. As I think about it, my mind always goes back to God, the perfect lover. God, who is best.

God, who wants me. Wants me for His glory, not because of how wonderful or charming or beautiful I am. I never have to worry about keeping His interest or falling out of favor. He will want me when I’m obedient and chastise me when I’m not…still wanting me. He won’t ever leave me, and He doesn’t get tired of my prayers. He’s made Himself available to me every hour of every day and night. For crying out loud, He’s commanded me to talk to Him without ceasing. Not too many people I know want me like that.

God who hurts but not without good reason or purpose, who only inflicts pain as remedy, never for harm.  God who is safe, who I trust with my secrets and my sins, who will never spit them back in my face in frustration. Why would His will be frustrated? It’s always good and inevitable. God who never wields my struggles over my head as a sword, like some kind of power play. He doesn’t need to. He holds all the power anyway.

God, who loves me, loves me enough to keep after me. I forget Him, disobey Him, can never love Him the way He deserves to be loved, and He still loves me.

God is best.

 

So, I’ll be alright and so will you. If we have God, we have everything. Loneliness, after all, only lasts a lifetime.

 

My Favorite Fiction Part 6: Voyage of Plunder by Michele Torrey

“There are few men in this world who can say they have seen their father die twice. God’s truth, I might be the only one.”

voyage of plunderVoyage of Plunder by Michele Torrey is yet another book I discovered on one of my weekly trips to the Portage library. I didn’t do a whole lot of socializing in my late teens. You know how people object to homeschooling because they’re afraid their kids will end up badly socialized and unprepared to assimilate into the culture at large? Well, I’m afraid I may have fed the stereotype. (Not my brother, who also happened to be homeschooled. He didn’t know a stranger.) However, I’m pretty sure it had more to do with personality type than homeschooling. Anyway, the most exciting thing I could think of doing at that time in my life was going to the library. There was such a sense of anticipation as I walked through the doors of the library and lost myself in row after row of books.  What would I find this time?

Back to the topic at hand. It was my habit to subject new books to “the first page” test. That is, I’d pick up a book, read the first page and if it didn’t grab me, I’d put it right back. I’ve found that test to be quite accurate for contemporary fiction. Mind you, this doesn’t work for books written prior to 1900. At any rate, I picked up Voyage of Plunder and read the first page. It captured me from the first several lines, so I added it to my collection. I made short work of that book once I got home and it now sits on my own bookshelf and belongs to that special classification, “My Favorite Fiction.”

Daniel Markham lives with his widower father, a wealthy merchant, in 18th century Boston, Massachusetts.  As a small child, Daniel has foggy memories of men slipping into his home in the evening to talk with his father, share a meal and stay the night. “They slipped in and out like ghosts, shadows dancing from wall to wall. They talked in low whispers with my father. If the weather was warm, I would lie in my bed and listen to the whispers.” One of these men, Josiah Black, was Daniel’s favorite.  As Daniel describes, “Ofttimes he sat me on his lap as I alternately turned my gaze from Josiah to the fire and back to Josiah again, pulling my blanket close. Josiah was tall. His skin was pale, his nose strong and sharp, his hair black and shining as a crow’s feathers. His eyes were like wells of ink, and he smelled of tobacco and rum. It fast became my favorite smell.” Suddenly, these men stop coming to see Daniel’s father and with their disappearance, Mr. Markham becomes worried and anxious. After Mr. Markham marries a delicate young woman (Faith), he determines a warmer climate would be better for her health. But it soon becomes clear that Faith’s health may be the least of his worries. En route to his new Jamaican plantation, Mr. Markham’s ship is attacked by pirates led by none other than Josiah Black. Mr. Markham is killed, his wife sent back to Newport and Daniel kept as hostage. Angry and bitter, Daniel determines to see Josiah hang for what he has done. Strangely, Josiah is patient with Daniel’s outbursts of anger. In spite of Daniel’s rage, Josiah protects and looks after him. It is only after months of living among the pirates that Daniel finally learns why. Once Josiah reveals his identity, Daniel is overcome with indecision. How should he respond to Josiah? How can he live a life of integrity on a pirate ship?

One of the things I liked best about this book was the development of Daniel’s character. After his father is murdered, he is full of rage and hatred towards the me, and specifically Josiah Black, for what they have done. He begins his life on the pirate ship by looking down on these wicked men from a very lofty moral height. In essence, his attitude is, “They killed my father. They are inherently wicked. I have not murdered anyone. I am inherently good. Therefore, I am justified in despising them and wishing God’s wrath upon them.” As the story progresses, and Daniel is more and more tempted to take part in the pirating lifestyle, he finally begins to see that he really is no different than the pirates. Though theological terms like “sin nature” and “total depravity” are never specifically mentioned, we see the reality of those truths work out in Daniel’s life. The thrill of forbidden pleasures—violence, plunder and wealth—begin to work a change in Daniel’s heart even while he tries to hold himself above the rest of the men on the ship. In the end, Daniel is humbled by his own sin nature and forced to view himself as a broken, sinful young man instead, as far from righteousness and perhaps even more so than the pirates on the ship.

I also appreciated the complicated and mysterious character of Josiah Black. Although the story is narrated by Daniel, the story is almost more about Josiah.  There are so many questions that pop up while reading the book. Josiah is a wanted man for crimes of piracy and a sizeable reward is offered to anyone who can capture him. He is a fierce and dangerous man. So, why then is he so kind to Daniel? Why does he put up with Daniel’s threats of vengeance? Why did he turn to piracy in the first place? All these questions and more are answered quite satisfactorily. His final act of self-sacrifice at the very end fosters my admiration and makes me wish he were more than a fictional character.

What I don’t like about the book: Human depravity is laid out as clear as day. But no solution to depravity is offered. That would be my only critique. Daniel ends the story, a broken young man, thoroughly humbled and sorrowful. Josiah Black pays the ultimate price for Daniel’s crimes and Daniel goes on to take care of his father’s widow and perform other good deeds to sort of pay for his sins. But there is no real redemption. Nevertheless, the book is fascinating, the characters compelling and the historical detail is more than educational.

So, get the book, read it and let me know how you enjoyed it!

 

“Josiah looked to where my pistol, still in its sash, was pointed at his belly, my finger, indeed, on the trigger. Suddenly he barked with laughter, released his hold, and offered me a hand, helping me to my feet. ‘Well done, Daniel, my boy!’ Still laughing, looking pleased, he clapped me around the shoulders while I grinned with satisfaction, having bested him at last. Suddenly my grin froze rigidly and I realized what I was doing…Guilt slammed through me like a cannon blast and roughly shrugged out of his grasp…I picked up my daggers from the deck and hardened my voice. ‘Just because I’m learning to fight doesn’t mean I’m a pirate. I still despise you for what you did and will see you hang.’ Then, to my shock, Josiah’s expression grew dark and he thrust his face into mine… ‘No one hangs Josiah Black,’ he whispered between clenched teeth. ‘No one. Not even you, Daniel Markham. And I will kill anyone who tries.’”

Tatting as in Lace (Not Tattoos)

My bookmark
My bookmark

The last several days, I’ve been working on some tatting projects I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Tatting is a very old form of lace-making that’s become somewhat rare this last century. When I was about fourteen, I lived on the campus of a Christian school/college. One day, a middle-aged lady moved to the campus in her very old camper. Our pastor let her park it there while she built a house with special materials. She had horrendous allergies to pretty much everything. She couldn’t wear synthetic fabrics, stay in a house with treated wood, eat much beyond fresh fruits and vegetables. Even those, she had to rotate so she wouldn’t develop an allergy to them. She was and is one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever met. And she knew how to tat. She made some of the most beautiful things. After meeting her, she offered to teach me and I took her up on it. I’d go over to her little camper one night a week and we’d sit and tat and talk about our favorite books. Thanks to her, I now have a skill that few people have even heard about.

The process
The process

This week I took some of my free time (when I wasn’t writing my fingers to the bone!) to work on these tatted bookmarks. This little cross took me about an hour to make and I’m working on my second. A few days ago, I started searching for more tatting projects on Pinterest. Pinterest turned up some really pretty results which I’m sharing here with you. I love all the beautiful snowflake designs. They’ll make some pretty sweet gifts come Christmas time.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing when I haven’t been working on my script and other writing projects. Below is my “Future Tatting Projects” board on Pinterest. Have fun browsing!

 

Follow Amanda Barber’s board Future tatting projects on Pinterest.


Rainy Days and Film Scripts

It looks like a rather blustery day...
It looks like a rather blustery day…

After stumbling about in the rain for a few necessary minutes with a scarf over my head because I couldn’t find my umbrella, I’m quite content to sit indoors on this blustery day and wait it out. (That is, until I have to leave for my other job this afternoon.) I’ve already had two cups of coffee, but I may succumb to number three. It’s dark, gloomy and windy out. That sort of weather just begs more coffee, or if you’re like a lot of my friends, more tea. I’m about ready to close the shades to my office window. I find myself staring out at the rain, going into a trance and not writing. I suppose I can allow that for a few minutes since the last couple of weeks have been quite productive!

I started my second film script for Duke Street Productions once again. This time, the momentum is high. One of the things holding me back was the nuisance of formatting a film script correctly. I hadn’t learned how to do it a couple years ago which caused some timing issues for The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. At the film festival in Texas, though, I learned about Celtx—a free program that does the formatting for you. I started messing around with that last week. It’s so easy! So now I can focus on writing a story instead of worrying about whether I’ve formatted the story correctly. (I hate technical details. I’m a big picture kind of person.)  Anyhow, I’m now thirty pages into the new script and eagerly looking forward to the next big chunk of time I can use to plow forward.  I am very excited about this next project. It’s a story that comes from deep inside of me about a topic that is so very important. I wish I could tell you what it’s about, but we’ve decided it would be best to keep it on the down-low until the script is done and we’re into the planning stage. The title of this next film is under wraps at the moment, but if you’d like to get a general idea of the movie’s theme you can read Severe Mercies, a post I wrote a few months ago.

If you think of me as I write this, please pray. I want to show this story well. I hope that a small part of God’s character will be revealed accurately through this story. My hope is that unbelievers will feel compelled to give Him more of their thoughts and believers will be reminded that God’s ways are always perfect.

That is all for this week. I need to work on a Union Gospel Press assignment. That is, if I can tear my eyes away from the rain drops falling outside.