A Whale of a Tale

If you’ve read around here for any length of time, surely you guessed I’d be touching on the next book? Moby Dick, by Herman Melville is still one of my all-time favorite stories. We call my dad “Ahab” for a reason, you know. 

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Plumbing the depths- whether of the ocean, a whale, or the human psyche – is what this story was all about, for me. I can’t remember if I devoured this book in high school or college, but it had me hook, line, and sinker! And that opening line is iconic, “Call me Ishmael…” (Although, that line doesn’t come until after the first two “Introductory” chapters.)

The character names were fascinating. Upon moving to New England after college, I began learning the backstory on some of Melville’s name choices. The name of the boat, Pequod, for example, became a sad revelation to me.

This book also confirmed, in my mind, that there are limits to human knowledge. You can only see so far into the ocean. You can only understand what you can see and hear about a person, but never really the whole of their heart.

And then, we only know what we think we do.

One of my favorite quotes, though, is this:

“See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.”

Indeed.

Having to share a room at an inn with a stranger, a foreign-stranger with tattoos every which way, no less, Ishmael’s initial prejudice towards Queequeg changes as he comes to know this loyal and generous man. Let’s just forget that he was a former cannibal, kay?

I live, though, as if I were second mate, Stubb, who said:

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”

That reminds me of a Proverb in the Bible:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

May it ever be true of me!

As I neared the end of Moby Dick and Ahab’s pending death became obvious, I felt compassion for him. I identified with this man’s willingness to throw everything he was into what he deemed important. Unfortunately, that included the crew aboard his boat.

I know how that goes.

Crusty captain seeks vengeance on ever elusive white whale to the detriment of all that go with him.

Oh Ahab

He did as humans do: we make mistakes.

And we pick up the pieces as we move along from them.

Sometimes, in the form of others.

Yes indeedy.

I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d have all that much to say about each of these books. I’m going funny tomorrow. Click here to check out the Write 31 Days Challenge. Click the button below to see all of the posts in my Best Books Ever series.

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Top 31 Favorite Books (and Quotes)

Do you remember the first time you read a book that made you laugh till your sides hurt? I do. It was 1981 and I borrowed my babysitter’s copy of The Official Preppy Handbook. To this day, I hear the word “preppy” and laugh. Or see plaid. And laugh.

Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March (of Little Women) riveted me to the pages as I discovered bits of myself in each one of them. But mostly, Jo.

The first time I read the Bible cover to cover, I was stunned by hope. And shocked by how many mistakes we humans seem to make century after century without ever learning from them. And was genuinely amazed by Grace.

Laughter erupts as I read paragraph after paragraph in books by some of my favorite humor writers. Especially when I find myself in the pits.

Longing is never more defined than when I read a quote in a book that resonates soul deep. Is that true for you, too?

Fiction, non-fiction, biography, memoir… doesn’t matter much what kind of story I’m reading, as long as it’s a bound copy with pages I can inhale deeply from (it’s a thing), I’ll read it. Books are my go-to during times of stress, relaxation, and even in my search for writing inspiration. They are also a constant source of discussion for every social situation I’ve ever been in.

Books are cool that way.

While there have certainly been a few that I wish I could erase the reading of, the rest have each held a pearl of wisdom or joy for me. And. I know I’m not alone in this because I can post a picture of the latest pile of books I intend to read through and get instant feedback on every one of them. (Here was a recent pile –> )

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This next 30 days, I’m searching for inspiration in some of my favorite books. I’m going to pull a quote from each one and share a thought or two about it. It’s my hope that you’ll read along and be touched, too. But, I said “31 Favorite Books (and Quotes), didn’t I? So, here we go with number 1.

♥ Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

By fourth grade, I realized I was a little more wild and thinker-ish than your average bear. It made for difficulty making friends. I was thankful for the wildness that I found in Laura, as I read through this series. But, the quote that stayed with me year after year and gave me fortitude for feeling different as the years wore on, was the following:

“There’s no great loss without some small gain.”

It wasn’t until college that I really understood that being a bit more this or less that wasn’t a deal breaker for all friendships. It didn’t preclude you from relationships. And in fact, oftentimes, different drew deeply of the relationships that were formed and fostered. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder tapped into the spirit of adventure and wildness that I harbored in my heart. I’m forever grateful for that series in my young life.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m joining in the Write 31 Days challenge again this year. I’ve taken some time off to live and laugh and love and now it’s time to get writing. And spark some more creativity. What better way than to dive into some favorite books? Join me! 

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Links to the series (updated daily):

Day 1 – Top 31 Favorite Books (and Quotes)

Day 2 for Some Irreverent Reverie

Day 3 Is Like a Walk in the…

Day 4 – In Which I Learned How to Read a Book

Day 5 – In the Pits

Day 6 – My Eyes are Watching

Day 7 – Oh the Humanity!

Day 8 – Quilting Isn’t My Thing, But…

Day 9 – Magnificently Defeated

Day 10 – Fairly Sensible

Day 11 – A Whale of a Tale

Day 12 – He Hits My Funny Bone

Day 13 – Just One of the Misfits

Day 14 – Me and Mrs. Who

Day 15 – Sound Familiar?

Day 16 – Passionate Fiction

Day 17 – An Hour of One’s Own

Day 18 – A Gift Indeed

Day 19 – In the Gap

Day 20 – For the Birds

Day 21 – Where Your Treasure Is

Day 22 – NO POST

Day 23 – Missed It By This Much

Day 24 – Can’t Handle the Tooth

Day 25 – Rooting for the Underdog

Day 26 – Outside Looking In

Day 27 – Through the Trees

Day 28 – It Seems Like It’s Disappearing

Day 29 – Please Just Don’t

Day 30 – NO POST

Day 31 – I’ll Tell You What’s So Amazing

Happy Reading!

Silently Correcting Their Grammar

Few things slay my inner grammarian like hearing someone botch a perfectly good word or phrase. Folks do it “alot” (ahem).

And I’m silently correcting their grammar.

Hearing Americans talk and write about the Republican and Democratic “cannidates” could spell disaster for the future of our country. And, I’m talking about the mispronunciation of candidates, not the potential election results.

I’m silently correcting their grammar, and praying for the elections.

Listening to a young lifeguard friend tell about the time she had to swim “acrosst” the bay to make sure someone didn’t “drownd” while goofing around in the surf, makes me cray-cray.

I’m silently correcting her grammar, while thanking God for her bravery.

But, for all intensive purposes, I think it’s best if people stop using that phrase. Because, for all intents and purposes, it’s being used incorrectly.

Providing me another opportunity to silently correct grammar.

And I make jokes with my other grammar abiding friends about this private act of silently correcting others’ grammar.

Never once did I give it another thought.

Until…

jokingly used a phrase with my sweetkids the other day. “Listen up peoples!”

And my children not-so-silently corrected my grammar.

Humility…I am still learning it.

Parenting, it is a mighty teacher.

Oh, yes indeedy.

I am trying to train those children up in the way they should go. But, Lord? Could my training not come back and hit me upside the head so very often?

While my defenses rose and I felt the need to shout-explain, “I know that!”, I felt Humility, Himself, knocking on my heart’s door. With each knock, there was a growing unease in my soul at my many silent corrections.

Proverbs 3:7 harked back to mind,

“Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom.”

But, as usual, grace laps over the edges of my spirit as I submit my desire to know more to His desire for me to love more.

The rest of that “train your children up” verse? It says to do so in the hopes that when they are old, they won’t depart from it [their training].

I’ve departed. Oh, how I’ve departed again and again.

But Grace…

I’d like to stop departing now. Please, and thank you.

In the meantime, I’ll stop silently correcting grammar.

Thankfully, there is no statue of limitations on grace.

For the Quitters Among Us

Let me start by admitting I go by another name. It’s true. While “Missy” is certainly one way to turn my head toward the sound of your voice, so is “Quitzilla”.

As we wrap up our study of The Five Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz over on the P31 Online Bible Studies’ blog, I’m reminded of my “other” name.

And I don’t like it. Or her. (Quitzilla, not Nicki Koziarz, because she? She is LOVELY!)

This person inside of me who doubts she has what it takes to see a new adventure through to completion? I don’t care for her.

And, I know I’m not alone. Friends share constantly about issues they quit over and over again. We all seem to have issues that just can’t seem to be overcome.

  • The weight that won’t come off
  • The relationship that won’t heal
  • The risk we just can’t seem to take

 

Slowly, I’m seeing the patterns of behavior where my inner quitter starts getting most vocal. No surprises in the patterns, either. The enemy of my soul, the one who won’t quit trying to turn my eyes from He who makes everything possible, will press on. It’s my job to see when I’m most prone to hearing his hollow tune over the steady song of my Savior.

And, I think I’ve nailed down how I can do that best.

Just do the next thing.

Simple, right? It should be. But, I tend to get wrapped up in the whole goal. What is my end game? And, I start looking down the barrel of that goal and I get tunnel vision. Big time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who forgets to take it one step at a time?

Recently, Sweetman and I had to make a financial decision that hurt. It ruined a perfectly good summer vacation plan and put a wedge in some perfectly wonderful friendships. What I most wanted to do, as Sweetman and I approached this hurtful decision-making process, was quit. Flat out throw caution and wisdom to the wind and do what I wanted to do. And that Quitzilla voice roared the whole time we wrestled with the choice before us.

But God…

He keeps reassuring me our resolution was not just the wise thing to do, but exactly what we needed to do to be good stewards of all He’s given.

And He has given much! He has blessed when I deserved less than half a devil dog. He had seen fit to right too many of my wrongs. He washes me new with grace and mercy All The Days.

Moving forward is a matter of taking that next right step.

I’m quitting the quitting.

Yes indeedy!

What’s hard for you for you to quit? What gives you strength to keep going?

 

For When You Want to Go Down the Dark Road

I find myself in that halfway point between wanting what God wants for me and wanting what I want for me. Right now, anyway, it sure feels like those are diametrically opposed wants.

In spiritual reality, my want is His want.

But, the flesh wants what the flesh wants, doesn’t it?

It feels easy to share the parts of my heart that are dark, in the hopes that those of you reading with darkness in your own heart will know you are not alone. You all help me remember that I’m not alone. The rebellion stirring around in my heart is no less palatable to my spirit when I share it, though.

As if to prove to the rebellion that it doesn’t belong there, so many times when I go to write out of the emptiness, God swoops in and inspires writing that is more joy-filled. Light floods the recesses and all of a sudden, I don’t remember what darkness I was writing to banish, in the first place.

I want to live so that Your will be done, Lord.

Human hearts being the wretched things that they can sometimes be, I find myself returning once again to the words that I originally intended to get out. The ones my flesh want to write.  I string together the thoughts that most seem like they need to get out. I try to stay on the dark road.

He lovingly redirects me by way of joy. He makes hope overshadow all.

I’m able to stay there – in that hope-filled place, for a time. Inevitably, my rebellious heart starts thumping to its own beat again, completely out of tune with God’s heart. And before I know it, I’m headed back toward pondering the angst within me instead of remembering the joy of my salvation.

How long, Lord?

When I do try to head back to that wallowing place, grace always comes. We know this. Don’t we.

There is a verse that never fails to woo me back toward The Light of All Hope. It truly sings the song of my people.

And, I have a feeling it will for many of you, too.

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.” 

Ephesians 5:8 (The Message)

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No more groping along.

It’s the Brightest Light, for me.

Only The Brightest Light.

Yes indeedy.

A Catty Little Chat

Harboring bitterness in my heart toward a friend, I decided to vent about it with another friend.

I decided.

Because, that always works out so well for me!

And so, God waited.

While my friend and I had a catty little chat, God waited.

And heard every hostile word.

Later on that evening, as I poured a dollop of oil into the bubbling pasta water, I started going over the conversation in my head. As the water boiled, so did my envy.

But, God waited.

As I lay in bed that night, I began to feel restless. I turned my bedside lamp back on and pulled out my journal. I grabbed for my Bible and flipped straight to the back. I was on a mission, as I searched for a specific word.

And still, God waited.

When my eyes lit on the word “jealousy” and all of the verses He gives for dealing with that green monster, God finally chose to tap on my heart.

There are moments when the darkness, that resides within me, makes itself so glaringly evident that I’m left gawking at All The Ugly.

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God, Himself, tells me that all of His Words are summed up in one simple command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

One.

Simple.

Command.

That I get so wrong, again and again.

God was done waiting.

Patiently, gently, He drew my eyes here:

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

Do not deny the truth…

The truth was, the truth is, that I am envious of what comes easier to some than others. I am jealous of the special treatment I think I see some receive over others. It irks me to know that for some, recognition will be quick – and yet never at all for others.

Ultimately, it scares me to think that I might be in with the “others”.

Once again, God’s grace sheds light on my darkness.

You see, He decided a long time ago that He was going to show me special treatment and give me His recognition.

Thankfully, when God decides, it always works out for me.

It became pretty obvious that I needed to call my “other” friend and apologize. For the catty chat, yes.

But more, for not trusting our God enough to remember that there’s room enough for each one of us to stand on The Rock.

Yes indeedy.

I Heard This Wonderful Quote

Listening to the line-up of speakers through the LiveStream of the IF:Gathering, recently, a theme emerged for me. A heart hears what it’s ready to hear. After 19 years of following after this God I often write of, I was truly ready to hear this one wonderful quote from Jen Hatmaker: “If you believe someone, you begin to believe what they say about you.”

I don’t believe in ghosts. But I believe in the Holy One. And y’all, I felt Him right there, in that moment, staring me down, saying, “GIRL…do you believe what we say about you? Do you really?”

My pen stood still, midair, as I took in the question and hesitantly answered.

Again, I felt that check in my spirit. “If you do, beloved, then live like it!

If you’ve ever been on the edge of some physical place, knowing you needed to jump, but not really wanting to jump just quite yet… yeah, that feeling. It’s scary, daring, terrifying, and exciting.

And, convicting.

Because, I feel like that one quote sums up grace and glory, the law and all of the prophets, too.

I’m ever-so-grateful that God opened my heart to finally hearing. Lord knows He’s been trying to tell me for an awfully long time.

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If God is Who He says He is, then everything He tells me, about who I am, is true.

And what does He tell me? (And, just so you know, He tells you, too.)

When there’s trouble, I have the peace of God that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

In my infinite weakness, He reminds me that I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me. (Romans 8:37)

When all I see is my dirt, He declares that I am forgiven of all my sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

For those times when I see how much of a hot mess I am, He comes alongside me and reminds me that I am exactly what He made me, and he created me in Christ Jesus for good works that he planned for me. (Ephesians 2:10)

If I’m feeling unlovable, He whispers that I was chosen by Him, holy, even, and beloved. (Colossians 3:12)

Those are some mighty powerful truths.

Truths that could transform a person. Indeed!

For today, I choose to live like they’re true.

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*If you’d like to check out some of the other impactful quotes from the IF:Gathering, head on over to The Twitter and type in #IfGathering2015.

**Have no idea what I’m talking about, every time I write “If:Gathering”, head over here for more info about them and what they long to accomplish.