Books can speak loudly. . .even to very young children. I don’t think I appreciated quite how much until our first child was a toddler. We’d been reading the story of Peter Pan in a Disney picture book. Her eye had been drawn to the picture of Tiger Lily, tied up by Captain Hook on a partly submerged rock as the tide was coming in. She pointed to it, and though she was not yet stringing words into sentences, the look of distress on her face said it all. I turned the page and showed her the picture of Tiger Lily happily dancing around a campfire. “See, honey,” I said. “The girl is okay.” But nothing I said seemed to ease her distress over the sorry fate of a fellow being.
The following morning, however, she made a beeline for the book as soon as her feet hit the floor. She opened it to the pitiable picture, pointed at it, turned to me and asked, “Girl okay?” I assured her again that she was indeed and again showed her the campfire picture. Her eyes lit up as she repeated, “Oh! Girl okay!”–this time as an affirmation. Her relief was palpable. And my respect for the depth of feeling a book can evoke–even in one so young–was kindled.
Several months ago, I listened to an inspirational talk on YouTube. It happened to be in German, and I was surprised and pleased at how much of it I could understand. The speaker pointed out the human tendency to acknowledge the truth of some inspiring affirmation from the Scriptures and then talk ourselves out of it with a “yes, but…” Instead, she said, we need to follow it with a “punkt!”
“Punkt” (the vowel is pronounced like the “oo” in “good”) is the German word for “period,” but with its single syllable and crisp consonants it has much more of a ring of finality. So I find it helpful–and perhaps you will, too– to remember when I read or think of a statement such as “God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good,” to make sure I’m following it mentally if not verbally with a clear and definitive “Punkt”!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Punkt!
“With God all things are possible.” Punkt!
“We are the children of God.” Punkt!
End of story!
A celebration of love. Delightful, right? Well, yes. But I’ve been thinking today about those who are at present without a “significant other.” If we confine our concept of love to romantic love only, aren’t a lot of those people likely to feel less like celebrating and more like moping?
But if we expand our sense of love to a more inclusive one, it changes everything. Romantic love is anything but a joy unless it’s returned. We feel a need to get it from a certain person. But what if we decide to celebrate instead the kind of love we can give instead of get–a love that flows out freely to others just because they’re a part of the family of man? We can choose at any time to lavish such love on someone who may be thirsting for it. “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (I John 4:12) Now that is something worth celebrating!
My wonderful new publisher, LaShawn Dobbs, set up a virtual book tour for me. Below are links to three of the interviews.
In January the thought came to me that it was time for my books, The You-Song and Daughter of Jerusalem, to have a new publisher–one who could see their potential to bless. Not more than two days later, without me even bringing up the subject, my daughter, Meghan Williams, began telling me about LaShawn Dobbs of Divine Purpose Publishing! Within a week I had spoken with LaShawn, felt her enthusiasm, and decided to move forward with her.
LaShawn’s loving care of my “babies” has been everything I could have hoped for. As a result, not only are they now out in meticulously edited new editions and at a more reasonable price, but I’m also having the opportunity to share them on blog sites and speak about them in internet radio interviews. What a great opportunity for them to reach the audiences for whom they were written!
Once again I’m getting to read “Daughter of Jerusalem” to an enthusiastic group of listeners–this time to an interfaith group at a nearby assisted-living complex. I can’t think of a happier way to spend three Monday mornings. I love seeing their faces as they respond to a first hearing of this story that is now so familiar to me. It makes it new again.
I’ve been told authors generally want little or nothing to do with their books once they’ve been published. But somehow I don’t share that feeling. Perhaps it’s because my books have always felt more like a gift that came to me rather than a creative act of my own. I see the Father’s hand on every page. And that never gets old.
9/11–a date that those of us who lived through it will never forget. We recall not only the havoc wreaked by those errant planes, but also precisely what we were doing on that day and how the crisis impacted it.
History has left a number of such tracks on the path of my life. I was a student in Germany at the time the Berlin wall was built. It faced me with the need to decide whether to return home early, as Mom had suggested via long distance telephone, in case we were on the brink of a war. Acute fear was finally faced down through prayer, and I will always be glad that I stayed through that summer.
At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, my beloved Steve was a West Point cadet, and again a war with the Soviet Union seemed a sobering possibility. In fact, there had been talk of graduating his class early so they would be prepared to fight in it. The removal of those missiles was good news to all Americans, but to me it was cause for hallelujahs.
The following year, the principal of the high school where I was teaching announced the somber news of Pres. Kennedy’s assassination. Some of my students were in tears. All I could think of to say to them was how blessed we were to live in a country where this tragedy would be followed by an orderly transfer of power.
On 9/11 I was also in a school, an elementary school this time. As my pupil and I emerged into the library after our lesson, we saw teachers viewing a huge cloud of smoke on the television screen. “It’s the Pentagon,” one of them told me. It took only a moment for the full implication of that to dawn on me. The tennis game scheduled for later that morning ended before it began. All we wanted to do was go home and pray.
When history steps in and leaves these tracks on our lives, it’s still the best response I can think of.
Last month I was invited to read Daughter of Jerusalem aloud to patients and assisted-living residents at Peace Haven. What a joy to see them experience Mara’s story for the very first time! This child of my imagination has become such an old friend to me that it was refreshing and renewing to catch a glimpse of her through the eyes of others.
The experience also gave me further confirmation that the book’s brevity can actually be an asset rather than a liability. Had it been a full-length novel, it would never have been feasible to present it in the allotted four one-hour evening segments, which included question-and-answer time.
During the summer months, St. Louisans do not normally choose to spend much time outdoors–at least not during the day. Heat and humidity add up to a big “No thanks!” But so far this summer has been the exception. Many nights have brought the temperatures down below 60 degrees, and the mornings that follow those nights are to me sheer heaven.
Not only has this enhanced my early morning walks. It’s also lured me out onto the deck for my quiet time. What makes it worth lugging a table out there? What is it about the great outdoors that brings such inspiration? Towering trees, the caress of a cool breeze, cloud puffs floating across a blue sky–somehow these lead us into the presence of One who is both infinitely powerful and boundlessly good. The great outdoors becomes a gentle reminder that we are dearly loved.
Good books have a wonderful way of sparking our interest in people we’ve known of but never really known. I’ve lived in New York near Grant’s Tomb and now live in St. Louis near Grant’s Farm. I knew Grant was the general most responsible for winning the Civil War and later President–though for me he was always obscured by the shadow of Lincoln.
Then along came Jean Edward Smith’s remarkable biography. After reading it, I am now–in spite of his habit of smoking cigars–an enthusiastic fan of Ulysses S. Grant. I actually enjoyed reading the war accounts, in which Grant’s brilliance and resourcefulness eclipsed even the appalling casualties. And I was delighted to learn that he shared my abhorrence of war, telling Bismarck, “I never went into the army without regret and never retired without pleasure.” During his presidency, he did everything in his power to keep the peace and held to his principles under intense political pressure. Yes, thanks to Smith, Grant is now among my heroes.