Skillful Writer

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I like to read the Bible, I always have. I’ve read it from cover to cover three times; you can never stop learning from it. In all my readings of the Bible, I missed Psalm 45:1. I know I’ve read it before, but my mind draws a blank in regards to it.

I found the verse while hunting on the internet for magazines to submit to. It was featured on an online magazine. According to Wikipedia, Psalm 45 itself was written in tribute to a king on his marriage to a foreign woman. It also states that it is a prophetic Psalm and it refers to the Jewish Messiah. The one who is, was, and is to come. As a Christian, my thoughts naturally turn to Jesus.

Anyway, the magazine listed Psalm 45:1 as their mantra: My heart is stirred by a noble theme, as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

My heart is stirred when I read the verse. I don’t know if I can put it into words, but I feel it speaks to me as a fellow writer. It is now my personal writing mantra. As writers, I believe God has given each of us something particular to say. We each have a voice and that voice must be used to the best of our abilities. Otherwise we are denying the gift God bestowed on us. Many use words to make a difference, to bring about change, or draw awareness to what is wrong in the world.

And in using our voice as a skillful writer, we glorify the Author of Life.

What are your feelings about Psalm 45:1? Does it speak to you? Or do you have a different writing mantra that inspires you?

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Trust in the Lord

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Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite passages of Scriptures and over the years, it has cropped up off and on in my life. I first “discovered” it when reading the Millie Keith books. Then a couple years later, in a low point in my life, my grandmother shared the verse with me. It encouraged her when life didn’t make sense.

Ever since, whenever I’m out and about, and I happen upon it, it encourages me. Sometimes it’ll show up on a coffee mug or a bookmark. Recently, it was printed on a bulletin at church.

There’s much about life I don’t understand. We often wonder what God’s Will is, or what His Plan is for us. Many claim to know, that God enlightened them and if everyone does this or that, then we will be in His favor. Maybe, maybe not. I personally believe we can’t be 100% certain. No one can predict the future. I believe all we can do is take it moment by moment, day by day. In each and every situation, we can ask ourselves what would God have me do? What is His Will in this? We can go to the Scriptures and in prayer…

And then, whatever happens in life, both good and bad, we must Trust in the Lord. We can be assured that He loves us and come what may, He will be with us through all things.

Losing Libraries

The other day my family and I attended a small memorial for the staff of the local university who passed this last year. My aunt was one of the deceased honored and remembered. While we were there, someone said, “When someone dies, a library is lost.” I had never heard of this proverb and after it was explained, I later returned home and did my own research.

It derives from an old African Proverb: “When an old man dies, a library burns.”

It is one of the truest proverbs I’ve ever heard. An old man – or anyone, really, of any age – has lived a full life. They have had experiences, dreams, memories, thoughts, stories, and beliefs. Like a library, they are full of facts, knowledge, and wisdom unique to their person. What one person knows or feels cannot be fully understood by another – we can respect and know of it, but that individual is special and, in my opinion, can’t completely reveal the inner workings of their soul. We are the fingerprints of God, fearfully and wonderfully made in His Image.

Once someone is gone, the library is lost…or burned. At least in this life. As a believer in Christ, I have hope in eternity of being reunited with my loved ones. But that will be a long while.

I don’t want to be preachy or stand on a soap box and lecture anyone. But with this memorial of my aunt on my mind, and as I near the anniversary of my father’s death, I encourage others to cherish their loved ones and cherish this time you have because it is lost.

Until next time.

The Symbolism of Notre Dame

The Sacred in the Secular

I have to admit, the last few days haven’t been the greatest. But the crowning glory was Notre Dame engulfed in flames. It’s hard to explain why it caused me to burst into tears, but it did. Notre Dame is a symbol of France. It’s symbolic of the hundreds of people who have worked on her over the years, who built that incredible cedar ceiling now gone, who spent 200 years building the massive edifice and stone foundation that miraculously still stands. Many consider it to be the “heart” of Paris. It is a massive medieval structure, a marvel of Gothic architecture, a place of religious pilgrimages, and the church that inspired Victor Hugo to write one of his most famous novels, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, to raise public awareness for its restoration.

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Anti-Heroines

I’m re-reading “Vanity Fair,” by William Makepeace Thackery and again, I’m amused by Becky Sharp’s schemes and antics. The “novel without a heroine” – as Thackery subtitled it – inspired me to dedicate a blogpost to some of the literary anti-heroines out there. Most of the literary classics, as well as contemporary fiction, containing a female protagonist, features a heroine in the truest sense of the word. She is intelligent, strong, beautiful, moral, and she often learns a lesson in the duration of the tale. Elizabeth Bennet, Margaret Hale, Helen Huntington Graham, Jane Eyre, and Cassandra Mortmain are just a few of my favorite literary heroines.

An anti-heroine is defined as: a female central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Anti-heroines in literature are rare, but they do exist and though they may never learn their lessons, there are things we can learn from them.

 

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Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

The daughter of an art teacher and a French dancer, Becky Sharp is determined to get ahead in life no matter what the cost. After years at school, it is decided she will be a governess for the respectable Pitt family. Becky, on the other hand, has no interest in caring for children or teaching, so she sets her cap at a school chum’s brother, Joseph. When that falls through and she goes to work for the Pitt family, she gains the favor of both the father and son, and later marries the son. What follows is a life of intrigue, deceit, seduction, and adultery. When Becky has a son, she neglects him and when her husband dies, she simply plots her next move. Later, she does marry Joseph and after a short union, in which he dies under suspicious circumstances, she has the financial security she always longed for and continues on with her hedonistic lifestyle. Becky displays no remorse for the wrongs she commits and never shows love for anyone other than herself. There is no redemption for Becky, nor does she desire one.

 

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Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina)

Anna Karenina is in a loveless marriage to the pious and moral, government official Alexei Karenin and is content enough to devote herself to mothering her son…that is she meets the dashing Count Vronsky. Vronsky ignites a passion within her that she didn’t know existed and they embark on an affair. Anna and Vronsky want to marry, but Alexei refuses to grant a divorce and wants to reconcile. Anna and Vronsky have a daughter and though Alexei forgives Anna and is willing to claim the little girl as his own, Anna and Vronsky leave and live openly together, despite society’s disapproval. As a single man, Vronsky is not condemned for his actions where as Anna, as a married woman, is scorned by all good society. Overtime she becomes increasingly nervous and suspicious that Vronsky has another lover and feeling forsaken by all, she takes her life. Unlike Becky Sharp and many of the other anti-heroines, Anna is not conniving and she is genuinely a good person who loses her way, and her life spirals out of control.

 

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Scarlet O’Hara (Gone With the Wind)

Sixteen-year-old Scarlet O’Hara’s world is turned upside down when the Civil War begins and life as she knows it in the South ends. Simultaneously, the man she loves, Ashley, marries another girl and to ensure she isn’t left behind, she marries on a whim. Soon widowed and with the tide of war turning against the South, Scarlet must scrape and plot and do everything in her power to preserve her family, her family’s home, and herself. If that means killing a Northern soldier, stealing her sister’s beau, or attempting to seduce the handsome but immoral Rhett Butler, then so be it. When Scarlet manages to have financial security and a small measure of happiness with Rhett, it isn’t enough. Her heart still pines for Ashley and she winds up breaking Rhett’s heart and then her own. Scarlet does learn her lesson, however since the story is ending, it seems too late. But Scarlet wouldn’t be Scarlet if she gave up easily. Tomorrow is another day.

 

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Cathy Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)

Cathy Earnshaw finds her soulmate in her foster brother Heathcliff, but the love they share eventually destroys them both. Children of the moors, they spend every free moment they have playing on the land of Wuthering Heights. The wild little sinner has no interest in heaven… in facts, she believes she’d be miserable there and cast out. Wuthering Heights is her heaven. On becoming acquainted with the Linton family, Cathy distances herself from Heathcliff and endears herself to Edgar Linton, with the intention to marry him. She may love Heathcliff and he may be her soulmate, but to be with him would be a degradation. Her marriage to Linton could elevate Heathcliff’s position and secure her own place in society. Heathcliff disappears for three years and on his return as a wealthy gentleman, he methodically enacts his revenge on Cathy and all who have wronged him. Between Heathcliff’s hatred, her own ill health and unhappiness, she dies and leaves a daughter behind. However, Cathy’s ghosts continues to haunt Heathcliff until they are reunited in the afterlife. Even in death, Cathy can’t rest in peace, nor will she allow anyone else.

 

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Lady Susan Vernon (Lady Susan)

Lady Susan Vernon is a young widow who often finds herself displaced from one home and then another, to no fault of her own. In a series of letters to her friend Alicia, Lady Susan tells her woes of how her daughter Frederica refused the offer a marriage from a wealthy Baronet. If only Frederica would marry Sir James, then she and Lady Susan would be cared for! When Lady Susan goes to stay with her brother-in-law, she carries on a flirtation with young De Courcy, as well as an affair with the handsome married Manwaring, and continues her machinations to marry her daughter off to Sir James. Lady Susan’s true colors are revealed but with some quick scheming, she secures Sir James for herself, leaving Frederica and De Courcy to fall in love. Lady Susan is quite possible the most successful anti-heroine because she is never brought too low, she faces little scorn, and in the end, she makes a triumphant match for herself.

 

So, who is your favorite anti-heroine?

Alone in Berlin: A Movie Review

::Spoilers below!!!::

Two days ago, I had a small surgery, and I’m recuperating, so I have plenty of time surf through Netflix. I had heard “Alone in Berlin” was able to stream and couldn’t wait to watch it. I learned about the movie a few years ago and for me anything featuring Emma Thompson is a must-watch.

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Based on the novel “Every Man Dies Alone,” by Hans Fallada (which was originally based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel) “Alone in Berlin” opens in 1940 after the fall of France. Hans Quangel dies fighting for Germany and upon learning of his passing, his parents Otto and Anna are devastated. He is their only son and there is no overcoming their loss. Unlike those around them, while they go through the motions, the Quangel’s have not fallen prey to the National Socialist movement that swept their country. They openly question it, do not always give the salute, and at one point they try to assist a Jewish woman in hiding. When they lose their son, something is triggered inside of Otto and he begins to write treasonous messages on postcards and leaves them around Berlin.

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Anna is shocked, but it isn’t long before she assists him. For three years, this working-class couple participate in their own little resistance movement, without any help from anyone. Their actions draw Otto and Anna closer and they are able to grieve and heal their marriage.

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Unfortunately, like many of those who resisted during WWII, their story doesn’t have a happy ending. It is estimated that anywhere from 16,000 to 20,000 individuals were guillotined by the Nazis…the Quangel’s were two of them.

“Alone in Berlin” is worth a watch, though its not family friendly. There are two instances of suicide, a murder, a number of beatings, and a war related death. Not to mention the world the Quangel’s live in is a dark one, with little hope of escape. Even so, their courage to follow their consciences and to speak the truth is inspiring.