Shining Reminders

Dark nights and clouds and gloomy fear and dragons often roar
But when the Gospel trump we hear, we’ll press for Canaan’s shore.

Last night, for the first time in five weeks, I went to sleep without any medications, without any open wounds, without any pain. It's been a looong five weeks of eczema, various medicines, doctor/urgent care visits, and pain. But it's over. Thank *God*!

I can't even begin to say how much I've learned (and am learning!) from this experience. Sleepless nights provide plenty of opportunities for tears and prayers (and pain). But through it all, the Lord was always faithful.

There were times when I thought I had reached "the depths of despair", but the Lord reminded me of His goodness through two wonderful young ladies. During one week, each day seemed to bring discouragement after discouragement. I dreaded the mornings, when I had to wake up and face more medicines and eczema pain. To say the least, I was a mess. But one morning, after a hard (and sleepless) night, I talked to my friend Shannon, and she encouraged me *so* much. I was reminded yet again of God's sovereignty in *all* things. A few days later, I was back in a very miserable state, and I opened up my email. Waiting there was a beautiful email from my dear friend Faith, and it just made me cry out of thankfulness. Then I opened her blog, read her sweet post, and I could feel the strength and joy of Christ returning. I had tried to do it on my own, with (lots of!) sinful pride, but as soon as I talked to Shan and Faith, I realized how much I need His grace and help to go on.

Thank you so, so much, Shan and Faith; beyond words, thank you. =) I can't imagine going through these past few weeks without you girls, you helped me remember the joyous truth of life and reminded me of God's strength when I was trying to do it on my own. You girls are amazing. I love you two!


Time Stands Still

“The fireworks will start in five minutes, Juliet!”

His infectious smile beams up at me, and my little brother dashes back to his seat. From my lap, my youngest brother opens his eyes, heavy with sleep.

“Will they be loud?”

“Probably, but don’t worry, I’m here.”

He curls up firmly in a ball under my aunt’s jacket. The waves below crash and break, I look up at the stars. Nautical twilight. Brilliant and beautiful, marred only by the passing clouds.

I tell my little one the story of Gogmagog the giant, Geoffrey of Monmouth was my constant companion that whole day.

“And then! He challenged Gogmagog to a wrestling match!”

My voice leaps with excitement, he raises an eyebrow.

“You like this story, don’t you?”

I laugh and continue with the story. He tucks his head on my shoulder. Two seconds later, he moves his head to my other shoulder. Then back again. He sighs with exhaustion and content.
A resounding BOOM, and the fireworks begin. The huge expanse of the clear sky fills with dancing lights. My little one holds his hands to his ears and complains that it’s too loud. His sleepy mouth slurs the words together.

“Tooloud. Tooloud!”

I press my hands to his ears, and he rests again. A few seconds later.

“It’s like,” he pauses for a huge yawn, “popcorn. Too loud.”

I try hard not to laugh. “Popcorn?”

“Yeah, you know, pop! Pop! POP! But popcorn shouldn’t,” yawn, “it shouldn’t be wif the stars in the sky. It stays in the microwave.”

I assure him, the fireworks continue o’erhead.

“Just like popcorn, MA, yep.”

He raises his head again, “That’s a lot of popcorn, Juliet. A *lot* of popcorn.”

Laughing now, I just smile at him. A few minutes later, his heavy head drops onto my shoulder. Fast asleep. And the popcorn-sounding fireworks continue, brilliant displays of mischievous lights. It’s Gandalf... The glittering gold fairies gently descend the summer sky. All child play, and I love it. In perfect time, the grand finale bursts through the smoke screen now hovering above the ocean. We all cheer and clap, my sisters and I scream as loud as possible. So much fun. Then, everyone starts moving. Packing up after a long holiday at the beach, the people fill the sidewalks.

I’m sitting in the middle of it all, with a sleeping child on my lap, his head nestled on my shoulder. I lean my head back. The ocean breeze chases the smoke of the fireworks away with excitement, unveiling the stately stars. Arc to Arcturus, speed on to Spica, and vector to Vega. I slowly begin to recognize the timeless patterns in the sky, completely lost in my concentration. It’s almost like Life in Slow Motion. My mind slowly recognizes the Summer Triangle, people rush by, all around me. Movement, talk, pressing on. And I stay still. Time stands still, and the stars proclaim heavenly beauty and love.



My little brother tugged my hand, “Let’s go upstairs! Upstairs!”

I followed him, but the newly filled used bookshelves caught my eye. 25 cents for a paperback, 50 for hardcovers, you can’t find a better price. Title by title passed by roving eye. No, I’m not interested in learning science of love, or how to find the perfect couch, or the phrenology of apes. By the time I had reached the last bookshelf, I had a difficult time trying to keep my laughter silent. Then two books, side by side, arrested my attention.

Hardcovers, brand new condition.

I could smell the newness, the pages felt crisp, clean between my excited fingers.

And the titles?

John Montgomery Boice/Philip Ryken’s The Doctrines of Grace, a crème hardcover, it *felt * good. And John Julius Norwich’s Shakespeare’s Kings, with a Medieval picture of Edward the II on the dustcover.

I went, well rather bounced, up the two flights of stairs to the children’s section. Narrowly missing some innocent children in my enthusiasm.

“Daddy! Daddy!”

The librarian at the desk just looked up and smiled recognition at me, she probably has built an immunity to my book-joys, along with the other librarians. I found Daddy sitting down, answering MichaelAngelo’s billionth question about the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His glance at me was one of relief, “Found anything?”

Jubilant words tumbled out, instead of trying to understand me, Daddy wisely just took the books from my open hand and inspected them. He had a big smile, “Good books.” I was looking more for a, “Here’s a dollar.” So, I waited for a few seconds, and Daddy told me that he didn’t have any cash on him. Not even one dollar (the cost for both books).

I rechecked my pockets. Of course, nothing but my Pocket History of the Church: a treasure unto itself… but still, not a dollar.

Daddy flipped through the pages of The Doctrines of Grace. And we grinned at each other.

From the middle of the book, a dollar tumbled out. Just the right amount for both books.

Now, they are both at my bedside, beautiful books. :) S’wonderful...


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