"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking a Blogging Break

As the end of the year nears and I begin a temporary, part-time job, I find myself evaluating how to best use the very little time I have to research and write. Both writing this blog and reading other blogs are an enjoyable highlight of my week, but I simply can't keep up with it all, and continue to put my family first. And so, while I'm sure I'll have an occasional post of something I feel I "need" to write, it won't be regular and certainly far from weekly.

I wish anyone reading this the very best for 2011! God bless you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Little Drummer Boy

This Christmas favorite was written by Katherine Davis, a woman born in 1892 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Davis loved music from childhood and she studied both American and European folk music. Many of the folktales she learned of revolved around gifts given to the baby Jesus. Stories of the poor sharing the little they had to honor the Lord's birth were passed on for centuries.

With America in economic turmoil during the Great Depression, however, these stories of seemingly unworthy presents given from the heart meant more than they ever had before. Parents made presents for their children out of leftover pieces of twine, wood, and ribbon. Millions couldn't even afford a Christmas card, so gifts from the heart were all they could offer to family and friends.

With World War II an ominous threat, Davis penned a simple, heartfelt song about a poor child coming to witness the birth of the Savior. The child was a victim of poverty, a polite child whose only possession was a small drum. Tentatively, he asks Mary if his gift would be appropriate for a king. In those days of looming war and financial chaos, it was a story that millions could relate to.

Although The Little Drummer Boy didn't become popular until the late 1950's, the simple and honest tale is a beautiful example of the best Christmas gift of all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rejection

Every afternoon for the past month or so, I've approached the mailbox with tiny twinges of dread clawing at my stomach. I'd peer into the cold, black box and hope (and often pray) that no envelope bearing my own name, in my own handwriting, lay there ready to mock me. Every aspiring writer knows that the self-addressed stamped envelope is a sure sign of rejection.

Until last Thursday I managed to avoid such a fate. On this afternoon I once again went through my little ritual, and this time the feared envelope sat beneath a bank statement, whispering taunts up at me in my own familiar handwriting.

My baby...rejected. Ouch.

I knew it would hurt. My manuscript is a piece of myself...and someone didn't want that piece. Failure...hurt...rejection. None of these things are fun.

Still, I hear God's voice speaking softly to my heart, reminding me of that day at the post office when I gave my manuscript over to Him.

Good or bad. Approved or rejected.

I truly do believe that God's plans for His children are so much better than those we determine to make for ourselves, and so I will continue to trust Him and strive to listen to His voice.

I will not give up.

As I begin planning my second book, I feel a peace at taking things slow and at checking my priorities often--making sure my family, and my Savior, come before my writing.

I often recite Hebrews 12:1 to myself.

...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...

I will continue to persevere. Most of all in my faith, but also in every other good work my heart pulls me toward.

And that includes writing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

"Merry Christmas!"

Where did this greeting come from? And what are we truly saying when we bestow it upon family, friends, and even strangers? This week, with the help of Ace Collins once again, I've decided to dive into the story behind the Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

During the fifteenth century, songs used by churches for worship were usually dark and serious, often written in Latin. Few church members enjoyed them, for they offered little joy. Eventually commoners started to create their own music without the approval of the church. Many of the melodies were lively, inspirational, and written in plain language.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was one such song. Imagine the church leaders' surprise when they heard this joyful tune not only being proclaimed from the lips of these peasants, but also being enjoyed in dancing.

The unknown writer(s) clearly knew the gospel, which they conveyed in the song. What's more, they were excited about it, determined to share it in a passionate, emotional way.

The carol continued to find its place in the Christmas season for five more centuries. Yet with the evolution of the English language, few of today's singers fully comprehend what the words "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" actually mean.

When this song was written, merry did not mean "happy," it meant "great" and "mighty," as in Robin Hood's Merry Men.

Still, "God Rest Ye Mighty Gentlemen" makes little sense. One last word has a much different meaning in today's world. The word rest in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen actually means "keep" or "make." And finally, we have how the song was meant to be read: "God make you mighty, gentlemen." Using this translation, this carol makes more sense, as does the popular saying, "Merry Christmas!"

Or should I wish you a "Mighty Christmas!"

God rest ye merry gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas day.

To save us all from Satan's pow'r

When we were gone astray;

Chorus:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy.

O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father

A blessed angel came.

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same,

How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by name:

Chorus

"Fear not," then said the angel,

"Let nothing you affright,

This day is born a Savior,

Of virtue, power, and might;

So frequently to vanquish all

The friends of Satan quite;"

Chorus

The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoiced much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding,

In tempest, storm, and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straightway

This blessed babe to find:

Chorus

But when to Bethlehem they came,

Whereat this infant lay

They found him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

His mother Mary kneeling,

Unto the Lord did pray:

Chorus

Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas

All others doth deface:

Chorus