Monday, July 28, 2014

The Jesus Prayer

Quiet Time at my desk....

Every morning when I open my e-mail inbox, I read and pray through the Daily Reflections from The High Calling.

Today's Daily Reflection includes a Scriptural prayer that has long been near and dear to my heart. When I practice Centering Prayer, this is the prayer I use.

Here is today's Daily Reflection by Mark D. Roberts in its entirety:

Jul 28, 2014
The Jesus Prayer
When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The High Calling
The High Calling The High Calling
The High Calling The High Calling
The High Calling
The High Calling
By Mark D. Roberts
As Jesus and his disciples journeyed near Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was about to pass his way. So he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (10:47). When people tried to get Bartimaeus to be quiet, he shouted even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This simple cry for mercy has inspired countless prayers during the last two millennia. In particular, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, one of the most common and influential prayers is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This so-called “Jesus Prayer,” which has a variety of forms, is spoken millions of times each day by believers throughout the world. It begins with an acknowledgement of who Jesus is as Lord and Son of God. This goes beyond the messianic confession of Bartimaeus, who addressed Jesus as the Son of David. Then, the Jesus Prayer makes a simple request: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” We need God’s mercy, not just every now and then, not just when we’re in a tough predicament, but throughout our lives, each and every day. As sinners, we need to experience God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and freedom. This comes, not through our efforts, but through God’s mercy. Because of his love for us and his faithfulness, God’s mercy is new every morning (Lam. 3:23).

How different our lives might be if we learned to rely on God’s mercy each and every day. Learning to pray the Jesus Prayer regularly helps us to be open to God in new ways as we acknowledge our dependence on him and his matchless mercy.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever prayed the Jesus Prayer on a regular basis? Do you ever ask the Lord for mercy? What would it mean for you to live each day by leaning on the mercy of God?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

 Wishing you all a blessed week in God's mercy and grace,

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Writing Life...or Not

While I have been trying to write away this month toward my goal of 30,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo, I'm just not getting there.

Yes, I'm teaching an online course in writing Fan Fiction for Brave Writer, and yes, we've had a lot going on in our family. But the writing just isn't happening.

I did manage to write a short story of 3000+ words that has a nice twist for an ending. I want to go through and revise/edit one more time before I post it online. The idea came to me back in May when I had no time to write, and while the deadline for the story contest from which the prompt was taken is long gone, the idea hasn't left me alone, and I'm pleased with the almost-final result.

I have the next chapter of my novel ready for revising/editing as well; I hope to post both this week.

But that's really only about 10K words. It's far better than nothing, and I plan to keep drafting the next few chapters of my novel this month to see how far I can get. This fall's teaching schedule is going to be absolutely crazy, so I won't have much time to write at all as I'm teaching online courses at Brave Writer straight through from September 3-December 23, including time to grade essays. I start teaching my two classes at our homeschool co-op on September 11, and before all these courses, I'll start our 18th year of homeschooling and my final year of teaching two students at home (B in 9th and J in 12th) during the last two weeks of August.

Our homeschooling corner--of course, it's only this neat and organized on our first day of school! 

So in the spirit of trying to write as best I can this month plus as much as I can in August as I prep all of these courses and our homeschool year, I posted two new writing quotations this week for inspiration:

"What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it toward the condition of the man who wrote it."

~E.M. Forster

"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity."

~G.K. Chesterton

So thanks for reading, and I hope that you have a wonderful July as you also write, read, work, and do whatever you do. And now it's back to Camp NaNoWriMo to try to reach at least near 30,000 written soon as I grade my students' first flash fan fics (300-1000 word stories) for our Brave Writer summer class.

Writing rather feverishly,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: You Had Me at Merlot

Title: You Had Me at Merlot
Author: Marley Gibson
Year of Publication: 2014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: R for language and intimate situations
Medium: Kindle

I really enjoyed You Had Me at Merlot--so much so that I read it in fewer than 24 hours. I simply couldn't put it down. The characters were quirky yet believable, and the plot realistic yet intriguing.

Poor Hale (yes, that's her name) has had a rough year: divorced by her workaholic doctor husband Curtis, Hale is adjusting to life as a single woman who is still in love with her ex-husband. Working as a copy editor at one of New York City's premiere wine magazines, within a five-minute period, she is fired for working on her novels during her lunch break on her work computer (but really to save the magazine's new owner her salary) and receives a phone call from her mother with news that her grandmother has died. So Hale quickly packs up her office and heads home to Pensacola, Florida, to her quirky Southern family. And then the plot really gets going....

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Gibson's Ghost Huntress series (please write more soon, Marley!!), but I wasn't sure if I would like her contemporary fiction without the paranormal aspects. I can now say that I most certainly did enjoy this book--and I also learned a great deal about wines!! :)

My only criticism is that I would have liked to have had another chapter (or two) between the last one and the epilogue so that the final character introduced could have been more concretely developed. I felt as I did at the end of the newest Jane Eyre movie (2011, I think): not enough time was given to the joyous reunion between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Here I felt that I was robbed of the joyous discovery of this new character and how this new character fits into the overall scheme of the story.

But overall, I thought this book was compelling. I haven't read an un-put-downable book in a long time, so You Had Me at Merlot was a lovely interlude among everything else I'm doing this summer (such as teaching a fan fiction writing class to kids ages 8-17). I'm definitely going to check out more of Marley Gibson's books while I wait, with arms folded and foot impatiently tapping, for the next Ghost Huntress book. ;)

(Hint, hint, Ms. Gibson!)

Happy summer reading,

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Returning to Camp NaNoWriMo

I am so thrilled that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which occurs each November, has a couple of "camps" during the rest of the year. Between my teaching loads with Brave Writer and Heritage Christian School's East County 2 Class Day, I barely have time to keep up my e-mail, much less write 50,000 words in November.

I did Camp NaNoWriMo in April, which with our two weeks of Easter vacation, a light teaching load at Brave Writer, and my Expository Essay students at Class Day deeply ensconsed in their MLA Research essays, I managed to complete. These "summer camps" are much less intensive than November's Herculean task with "campers" able to set their own goals rather than the "50,000 words or bust" mentality of the usual NaNoWriMo. In April I set myself a goal of 30,000 words and just squeaked under the deadline at 11:58 with 30,002 words. Whew!!

So I'm tackling Camp NaNoWriMo this month, with July's goal the same as April's: 30,000 words, mostly on my current novel entitled Only by Moonlight. I also want to work on a short story that I started in May if I have time, but I really want my focus to be on my current novel. It's been slow going, with my posting a chapter monthly on average instead of weekly as I have in the past. But then, these chapters are much longer than the ones I have written in my two previous novels. (I think I've learned my lesson about keeping to shorter chapters, at least in writing the first draft; I can always combine chapters in the editing process once I have a completed first draft.

I'm teaching the summer Fan Fiction class at Brave Writer right now, but I should be able to keep up with writing 1000 words/day (with the 4th of July off) while teaching since I'm not homeschooling the boybarians.

Right now I'm at about 4500 words (a wee bit behind) and plan to spend much of today writing once I get my class posts caught up. So I hope to have a very productive month with Camp NaNoWriMo!!

Writing happily,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Parents' 50th Anniversary

Carl and Judy Lower: June 27, 1964
One of the joys of last weekend was celebrating my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary--50 years of wedded almost-bliss! :)  Nearly 100 of their family and closest friends celebrated with them at the Bali Hai Restaurant on San Diego's Shelter Island. I don't have photos from the party yet, but I will post them when I do.

In the meantime, enjoy some more of their wedding photos: June 27, 1964:

The wedding party: (Those who attended the 50th Anniversary party are in bold) (L to R): Chris Thompson, Rich FarwellPam Wilson-Hammond (maid of honor), unknown groomsman, Judy and Carl, Ronald Lower (best man, deceased 1971), Joanne Lower-Askey (matron of honor), Bob Farwell and Vicki Farwell-Gall)

Back up the aisle, married!
Escaping the church

In the receiving line

Parents with the bride and groom, L to R: Richard Farwell, Dorothy Lower, Wade Lower, Judy and Carl, Mae Farwell

Carl and Judy cutting the cake

Off to the honeymoon...and fifty years of marriage!


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