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Why I Recommend These Books -Part 1: Fiction-

 29.6.12

Hey there! Yes, I am still here. Happy. Busy, but the kind of busy that says, "I am having lots of fun." I have been enjoying having a full house, many plates on the table, around 25 eggs in the pan for breakfast, and lots of ice cream and Manchego cheese with crackers in the mid afternoon.  All of these around pretty good, thoughtful and also hilarious conversations, long rides in the traffic of this big city, watching a movie in my room or playing "mafia" after dinner.

Hospitality, my husband and I agree, is a gift, a wonderful gift for those who open their home to others. I am grateful to our God for the many opportunities He has given us to be blessed by those who have stayed with us, who have shared our table, who have blessed us and enriched our lives in so many ways.

I have also found free time to read some good books, and that, of course, makes me very happy (especially because I have my oldest son around. He is one of my favorite people to talk with. I truly enjoy our meaningful conversations).

So today I am sharing a few of the fiction books I have been reading with a note on why I consider important reading them (you can see the complete list of books I have read in Goodreads too). In the next days, God willing, I will share some books I have also enjoyed on art and culture, writing, and those that help us and challenge us to grow in the faith.

Once upon a time I did not really like -or care- to read fiction. I was starving for spiritual food, and I thought reading fiction would be a waste of time. I could be reading something else, one more theological "meaty" piece. But as I grew stronger, I found friends and authors I highly respect, and even my own children -and their friends-, encouraging me to pick up some good fiction books. So I did. This year I have read more fiction than ever, and I am richer. It has not been a waste of time at all, as I used to think. I have learned more and grown more. I have understood how God, the Greatest Story-teller, builds our stories, some more complex than others, but all His and I am amazed.

Two great fiction works that I have loved are these:

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. This is a great story, with great sentences, wonderful plot, and amazing characters that you grow to love page after page to the point that you cannot but cry with them. The author achieves what I believe is key to good story-telling: He brings you into the world he has created in such a way that you never feel like an outsider. You are in the scenes. You smell the stench, and feel the skin, you can taste the pea soup, the white painting, and the books in the library.

Great book. Highly recommended.

A Note: Do not get the Kindle edition, get the "real thing." You would like to feel the book in your hands as you read it and trace its pages with your fingertips. I am serious.

Why is it important to read The Book Thief? Because you will feel deep inside you -not only know in your head- the importance of books, stories, lives that come together in a minute and then fall to their knees and cry together when everything else has been torn apart.


Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor. This is the first time I have read O'Connor's short stories. I have been wanting to read her work for a long time now because her name kept popping out in almost every good book on arts and culture, and on writing that I have been reading lately (I'll share about some of these books in the near, near future). So I was very happy when my daughter's friend gave her a copy as a gift earlier this summer. As you can imagine, I soon took it and carried it with me to the beach, to the porch, to the living room, and  to my bed late at night -no, never to the bathroom.-

As some one has said, O'Connor's stories are "beautiful and grotesque." They plunged me into a reality that at times I wish did not exist. Her characters are real in the sense that you believe them; and each one of them tells us about the sinful, desperate, hopeless, and grievous state of men and women without Christ. Without the Gospel.

I am so looking forward to read Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, which is a collection of some of O'Connor's essays and lectures which were edited and published after her death by her friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. Of course I will be reading more of her short stories as well.

Why is it important to read O'Connor? If you are like me, you live -like to admit or not- in a bubble. Surrounded by Christian friends, a lovely church community, and a family that loves you.  I need to read this so I won't forget what happens in the heart of men and women alike outside my bubble. What might be happening in the next door. And why not, what might be happening inside my heart even now that I was not aware of. The grotesque is there, in me and around me, and only Jesus can bring hope and redemption to the desolate soul.

Now its time to take the buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake out of the oven and take a shower.

I pray today that God will give us eyes to see beyond our circumstances and that He will help us understand how our lives are not isolated. We all are part of a great story, and He is the Author of it. He knows the ending and it will sure be good for those who are His, for those who love Him.

"Trust God, and obey, and leave the consequences to Him. He knows our limitations." Douglas Wilson, Father Hunger


Have a most blessed day,


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Jesus' Prayer to the Father

 17.6.12


Grace Foretold by Makoto Fujimura

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, 

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 
since you have given him authority over all flesh, 
to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 
And this is eternal life, 
that they know you the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 
I glorified you on earth, 
having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 
And now, Father
glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you 
before the world existed.

 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. 
Yours they were, 
and you gave them to me, 
and they have kept your word. 
Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 
For I have given them the words that you gave me, 
and they have received them 
and have come to know in truth that I came from you; 
and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. 
I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, 
for they are yours. 
All mine are yours, and yours are mine, 
and I am glorified in them. 
And I am no longer in the world, 
but they are in the world, 
and I am coming to you. 
Holy Father, 
keep them in your name, 
which you have given me, 
that they may be one,
 even as we are one. 
While I was with them, 
I kept them in your name, 
which you have given me. 
I have guarded them, 
and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, 
that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 
But now I am coming to you, 
and these things I speak in the world, 
that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 
I have given them your word, 
and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, 
just as I am not of the world. 
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, 
but that you keep them from the evil one. 
They are not of the world, 
just as I am not of the world. 
Sanctify them in the truth; 
your word is truth. 
As you sent me into the world, 
so I have sent them into the world. 
And for their sake I consecrate myself, 
that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, 
but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 
that they may all be one, 
just as you, 
Father, are in me, 
and I in you, 
that they also may be in us, 
so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, 
that they may be one even as we are one, 
I in them and you in me, 
that they may become perfectly one, 
so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 
Father, I desire that they also, 
whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, 
to see my glory that you have given me 
because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 
O Righteous Father
even though the world does not know you, 
I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 
I made known to them your name, 
and I will continue to make it known, 
that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, 
and I in them.”

 John 17:1-26



Father, O Righteous and Holy Father, I thank you for Jesus, for his prayers, for his unceasing intercession for us.


I love you, Abba Father.

Amen.


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Wherein I Narrate How I Watched a Movie and Cried

 16.6.12


Setting: A handful of young men, my daughter and I, some pizza, wine and a good conversation.

Movies were being discussed and let me tell you that these guys know what a good story is, they love good stories, and especially those that carry the message of Redemption. They said I should watch Blood Diamond. So we did. It was not an easy movie to watch because it is definitely "gritty, gruesome, brutal, and cold." But I kept on watching while my son would say, "Mom, you just have to wait." And one of the other young men, a good friend,  insisted, "The scene, the powerful scene that encompasses the gospel message is coming."

And it did come.

It was powerful.

Unexpected.

The Father. The Son.

Hatred. Love.

Redemption.

We all cried.




Now it is my turn to recommend this movie to you. Again, it is not an easy to movie to watch. Endure the hell of the first part (it is essential to understand the redemptive story) and have some Kleenex ready for the second half. It is powerful.

You can read a more extensive review of Blood Diamond at The Film Dissectors (know that you'll find some spoilers though).

Grateful for the Father's love.


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Hello June -Status Report-

 5.6.12

Gennine D. Zlatkis artist



There are a few very exciting things going on in our lives this month, so I've decided to share a bit of what is happening in this little corner of the world doing a status report as some of my friends do.

Sitting... in my room, catching up with some emails, grading, blogging.

Drinking... yes, you guessed: Coffee, black.

Realizing... how much my son has grown this past year. Having him back for the summer after his year  in college is amazing. I love seeing the man he has become.

Loving... seeing him playing with his little sister.

Enjoying... having a full house. We will have a full house this summer, and that is one of my favorite things in this world!

Waiting... for Ink Slinger. He will be arriving in a few hours and we are very excited about that!

Unpacking... from our yearly trip to Lancaster, PA. Spending 10 days with amazing friends and beautiful families is definitely a highlight of our year.

Missing... my sister and all the wonderful friends that God has brought to my life, but live far away. I really miss them all!

Packing... we will leave in two days to the beach. Mexican beaches are magical, did you know that?

Planning... how to feed hungry several young men.

Listening... mostly to the guitar (the piano too). There is always some one playing it and singing. Gotta to love having live concerts in your living room all day long!

Grateful... for the body of Christ.  How much we need each other. I pray I will never forget this.
 

Gotta go, but I promise to post pictures and not to disappear these coming weeks.

Much love!



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Who is Becky?

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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