"What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."–Mother Theresa
From the book jacket: For forty years, Wizard Derk's world has been devastated by Mr. Chesney's Pilgrim Parties- packaged excursions for tourists from the next universe in search of adventure. When mild-mannered Derk is chosen to play the role of this year's Dark Lord, he is forced by the sinister Mr. Chesney to turn his bucolic country estate into a labyrinthine castle lit by baleful fires, manifest himself as a nine-foot-tall shadow with flaming red eyes, and lead his minions in a climactic battle against the Forces of Good. Can Derk find a way to put an end to the evil Mr. Chesney and his Pilgrim Parties- once and for all?
I LOVED this book. It does so many things so well- It's very funny, with touches of Jones' British humour, yet Dark Lord is also quite serious as Jones touches on the subjects of growing up, harmony between different cultures and races, dealing with bullying, and taking responsibility for your own actions. An expansive setting with several twisty surprises, the sparkling intelligence behind the book, plus the defeat of the badguys make this book a delight. I've heard it said, 'if you like J. K. Rowling, try Diana". While the books have some similarities (British silliness, magic, mayhem, learning wizards, etc.), what I enjoy most about both of these series is the depth of reality to their worlds. Both Rowling and Jones inject their fantastical worlds with believable, sympathetic characters who must deal with believable, and awful situations. Love the magic! Love the fun! Well worth the time.
Year of The Griffin by Diana Wynn Jones
From the book jacket: It is eight years after the tours from off-world have stopped. High Chancellor Querida has retired, leaving Wizard Corkoran in charge of the Wizards' University. Although Wizard Corkoran's obsession is to be the first man on the moon, and most of his times is devoted to this project, he decides he will teach the new first years himself in hopes of currying the favor of the new students' families- for surely they must all come from wealthy, important families- and obtaining money for the University (which it so desperately needs). But Wizard Corkoran is dismayed to discover that one of those students- indeed, one he had such high hopes for, Wizard Derk's own daughter Elda- is a huge golden griffin, and that none of the others has any money at all. Wizard Corkoran's money-making scheme backfires, and when Elda and her new friends start working magic on their own, the schemes go wronger still. And when, at length, Elda ropes in her brothers Kit and Blade to send Corkoran to the moon... well... life at the Wizards University spins magically and magnificently out of control.
I LOVED this one, too. Year of the Griffin has a different feel than Dark Lord- a little less desperate and smaller in scope, a little more silly- however, the problems of the students are very real, believable and life-threatening. I loved seeing characters from Dark Lord again, and getting to watch them grow up more. Loved the idea of educating wizards, even though the subject is treated quite differently than Rowling. Well worth the time.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”– Revelation 22:13 (NIV)
I think of Him first as a storyteller, this Jesus of mine. That might sound odd to some. He is after all Savior and Redeemer. Lion and Lamb. But I would not know Him as any of those had He not spoken to me first in the gentle whisper of story.
Given half a chance, I would sit at His feet and listen even now. I’d follow Him through those dusty streets. Stop and ponder in that crowded marketplace. Or lounge on a grass-filled hillside. Prodigal sons and lost coins, rich fools and fig trees, talents and tares — I would cross my legs and sink to the ground, chin on hands, to hear His stories.
So kind of Him to write them down so I can read them at my leisure.
As a writer I am intrigued by the parables of Jesus. Those thirty short anecdotes sprinkled through the first four books of the New Testament are the subject of countless sermons. Yet they are so personal to each of us. In many ways, they are our stories. The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus. At times we’ve turned our back to Him as well. The older brother stayed outside instead of joining the celebration thrown in honor of his prodigal sibling’s return. He symbolizes our self-righteousness.
And that’s the power of story, isn’t it? To see ourselves in the narrative. To squirm and wrestle. To clap and celebrate. Jesus never says, “Oh, by the way, that bit about the prodigal son is really about you and God. Wanted to make sure you caught that.” Instead, He lets us see our reflection in the story. He leaves us to wrestle over which part we play.
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery explains why the stories of Jesus are so personal and profound:
“Only one of the characters (Lazarus) is named, yet as we encounter the characters of the parables we sense that we have known them already. They are universal types, possessing the traits that we and our acquaintances possess. Never has such immortality been thrust upon anonymity. We do not need to know the name of the woman who first loses and then finds her lost coin: she is every person. The family dynamics of the parables of the prodigal son and the two brothers whose father asks them to work in the vineyards could be observed at any family’s breakfast table… We come to realize that it is in the everyday world of sowing and eating and dealing with family members that people make the great spiritual decisions and that God’s grace works.”
God’s grace works. That is shown through the power of story and that is why He told them. In His simple tales we see grace and holiness in the everyday tasks of life: planting and harvesting, a wedding invitation, baking bread, lighting a lamp, traveling to a distant town. The parables teach us to trust that all those made in the image of God understand the unspoken language of story. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and every time we open His Book He says, “Come, let me tell you a story.”
Dear Lord, You are the beginning and the end of this great narrative called history. Thank You for writing me into the story. Though I play only a small part, may I play it well. May I honor You with my days and my choices and may I truly know that Your grace works. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Application Steps: Make a list of books that have taught you about the grace of God. Consider giving one as a gift.
Reflections: Do I consider myself an important part of the story God is writing? In which of Jesus’ parables do I most see myself? Do any of Jesus’ stories leave me restless or uncomfortable? Why? In looking at my life as a story, can I see the grace of God at work?
Power Verses: Psalm 107:2-3, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story — those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” (NIV)
I had an amazingly cool day yesterday- My five year old, Abigail Joy asked Jesus into her heart.
She's been rather uneasy about the whole God and heaven thing... I think for a while she thought God couldn't fit into her heart, or that if she asked Him in He'd immediately want her to die. I'm not sure what her thoughts were...
However, yesterday after a long conversation with me and her big sister about heaven, Abigail decided that she wanted to go there with us. She definitely didn't want to go right now! But when the day comes that we are all there, she would rather be with us than not.
She doesn't have a solid grasp on what it means to let Jesus be the leader of her life yet, and I already know she's not thrilled with some of the Bible thoughts she's learned ("Love your neighbor as yourself" is one of those thoughts she's not too keen on right now...); However, it's not about understanding it all. (Thank God, or I wouldn't be doing too hot, 'cuz there's still some pretty major stuff I don't get.)
It makes my heart sing as I think of my Daddy, rejoicing in heaven with the angels as they celebrate her name being written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
I'm a wife, Mommy, writer, actor, director, poet, painter, singer, jewelry designer and beader. I have always loved the idea of an 'artist in residence' program... I pray that my life is a reflection of the love, mercy and grace of God.