Saturday, April 20, 2019

Christ Is Risen! The Lord Is Risen, Indeed!! Alleluia!!

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people, and hallelujah is our song." 
~Blessed Pope John Paul II

Icon of the Resurrection of Christ, Eastern Orthodox
"On Easter Day, the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer."
~Douglas Horton

"Resurrection of the Christ" ~Fra Angelico

"There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that His might could render void:
Thou--Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed."
~Emily Bronte
"Resurrection" by Carl Heinrich Bloch
"No pain, no palm;
No thorn, no throne;
No gall, no glory;
No cross, no crown."
~William Penn

"Resurrection" by Van Dyke

      "Christ is risen! We are risen! Shed upon us heavenly grace,
Rain and dew and gleams of glory from the brightness of your face;
That with hearts in heaven dwelling, we on earth might fruitful be,
And by angel hands be gathered, and be ever, Lord, with thee."
~Christopher Wordsworth

ALMIGHTY God, who through your only eternal Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life; Grant that, by your mighty power going before us, we may die daily to sin and live with him forever in the glory of his resurrection; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: Acts 2.24; John 9.25; 1 Peter 1.3; Hebrews 2.14-15; James 1.4)

Wishing you all a joyous Resurrection Day and a glorious Eastertide!!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Halfway through Lent

This week marks the halfway point through this Lenten season, the 40 days (not counting Sundays which are always celebrations of the Resurrection) in which we focus on the life of Christ, culminating in the events of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. 

In our Anglican tradition, we hold a Messianic Seder during Holy Week, usually on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday. We observe a non-kosher Passover with lessons on how Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with the disciples, including the Messianic significance of many of Christ's words and actions as read in the Gospels. 

This Lent I am reading Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen, a collection of his readings designed for the 46 days of Lent (Sundays included), each of which begin with a Scripture verse, one or two short selections of Nouwen's writings that relate to that verse, and then concludes with a prayer written by Nouwen. I am filling up page after page in my commonplace book with quotations from this book; it's simply amazing!! It's also out-of-print, so I am using a library copy, but I will definitely invest in my own copy when I can; this one's definitely a keeper! 

From the "On Lent" page of this blog...

Lent, which comes from the Germanic word for “springtime,” can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking a spiritual inventory then cleaning out those things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our love and service with Him. Lent is really a time of revival in liturgical churches as God's people prepare to celebrate the Resurrection with depth and significance. Our Lenten disciplines are to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit and help us become more like Christ, not in our own power, but in His. Eastern Christians call this process theosis which Saint Athanasius describes as “becoming by grace what God is by nature.” 

For the first 300 years of the Church, the Resurrection was the only feast Christians celebrated. So spiritual preparation for this special Feast was and is very important, especially as the Resurrection Celebration was (and remains to this day in liturgical churches) a time to prepare Christians for baptism. During these first centuries of the Church, just a day or two of prayerful preparation for the Church as a whole was set aside; the full 40 days of Lent was not practiced until the early fourth century. The focus of Lent is spiritual renewal through the disciplines of fasting and prayer, study and giving. 

Fasting – Fasting can be not only from certain foods but also from activities that may distract us from our relationship with Christ, including television, computers, video games, etc. The time spent on these activities should be turned into time with God: in prayer, in His Word, in reading spiritual books, in fellowship, prayer, and study with other believers. Lent represents a time of spiritual training that can aid us, with Christ's help, “to overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). In Lent, we are able to learn, examine, and get under control our material excesses that can lead us away from God. Remember, Lent is not a diet; Lent is about spiritual results, not material ones. While losing a few pounds may be a nice side benefit, all fasting should be done for the glory of God and spiritual growth. 

Prayer – Lent is an excellent time to develop or strengthen a discipline of daily prayer. Focus not only on intercession but on the ACTS model of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I like praying through the Book of Psalms during Lent, praying two in the morning and two at night (and using Psalm 119 as a whole day's worth). I also like praying through the Gospel of John during Lent – not just reading it but truly, truly praying it and about it. 

Scripture Reading – When facing temptation in the desert (the basis for the 40 days of Lent), Jesus relied on Scripture to counter the wiles of the devil. As we well know, God's Word is also a formidable weapon for us as well – it's the “sword of the Spirit,” the only offensive weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6. If you aren't in the habit of daily Scripture reading and meditation, or if your children are not yet, Lent is an excellent time to develop the discipline and joy of reading God's Word daily. It is said that it takes 21 days to develop a good habit, and Lent provides us with almost twice that amount of time to develop godly habits of daily prayer, daily Scripture reading, memorizing His Word, and listening to God in His Word and in prayer. If you have already established this discipline, perhaps use Lent to deeply study a certain book of the Bible would be an excellent idea.

Giving – Lent is not just about “giving something up”; it's about putting something positive in its place. The best way to remove a vice is to cultivate a virtue. Lent has been a traditional time of helping the poor and doing acts of love and mercy. While as Christians, we have this calling to giving all year long, Lent is a good time to examine ways to get involved and to make resolutions to actually do them. Perhaps Lent is time to get involved with God's Extended Hand if you aren't already. Or do something as a family to raise funds for a missionary or a Christian charity helping in Haiti like Samaritan's Purse. 

Obviously, Lent is NOT the only time we can practice these spiritual disciplines; we should indeed be practicing them all year long. But Lent presents us the opportunity to do a “deep cleaning,” to focus more fully and completely on weak areas of our spiritual walk. Prayer before Lent begins is very important, asking God to reveal to us where He wants to work on our hearts during this year's Lent. 

Lent is a season that reminds us to repent and ask God to re-center our lives around Him, with our priorities straight and our hearts forgiven and cleansed. Yes, we should do so each day of the year. But sin is an insidious thing, slipping in here, taking a little ground there, and, wrapped up in our busy lives, we often do not notice the darkness creeping further and further into our souls. Ash Wednesday and Lent provide us with a time set apart to present ourselves before God, asking His help and guidance in doing a “spiritual spring cleaning,” a fresh chance to say “Yes” to the Lover of our Souls who created us, who made us in His own image. Lent is the time for a restoration project that will reveal the beauty of God's design for us, demonstrating yet again for us, a forgetful and leaky people, the scale, proportion, and priorities intended for us by our Maker. 

Wishing you all a Holy Lent,

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Celebrating Saint Patrick, Missionary to Ireland

Art © by Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts
Updated from the Archives...

I have often written about Saint Patrick, one of my favorite saints, on this blog. Rather than rewriting, I thought that in remembrance of this amazing man of God I would direct you to some of my posts of years past. 

So feel free to join me in remembering and celebrating Saint Patrick, Apostle to Ireland, with these posts:

Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick, British Missionary to Ireland

The Breastplate Prayer of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick's Prayer for the Faithful

One of my favorite sermons ever was one by our former youth/worship pastor, now Pastor of La Vina Community Church in Miami, Rollo Casiple, who preached on Saint Patrick during Advent, of all times. But he helped us to visualize so clearly Saint Patrick's relaying of the Gospel to the pagan Irish king that I almost felt that I was there at Slane Castle myself on that Resurrection Sunday 1500+ years ago. Of course, having just watched U2's Slane Castle concert on DVD earlier that week aided my visualization greatly, but that's another post... ;) 

In today's Life for Leaders online devotional, Tim Yee writes this about Saint Patrick:

"Though much of St. Patrick’s life has a legendary quality, his manuscript The Confession of Saint Patrick does give us a glimpse into the man’s life and character. One aspect becomes clear: his humility. He opens with, 'I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many….' Even though Patrick could take credit for bringing thousands of former pagans into the Christian family, he did not embrace a 'savior' mentality. Instead, he knew that only the true Savior, our Lord Jesus, can bring powerful transformation that lasts."

Although Saint Patrick lived more than 1500 years ago, he provides a powerful example of a missions-oriented leader for us all, even today.  

From the 2011 Book of Common Prayer, a Collect for "A Saint's Day":

Almighty God, who calls us to faith in you and has surrounded us by so great a cloud of witnesses; Encouraged by the good examples of holy Saint Patrick, grant that we may run with perseverance the race that lies before us and at the end reach your eternal joy; Through him, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and rules, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: Hebrews 12.1-2)
So I wish you all a blessed remembrance and joyous celebration of the life, ministry, and prayers of this incredible missionary. May we serve our Lord with similar devotion, submission, courage, and bravery as we walk in the footsteps of Saint Patrick and countless Christians along the Pilgrim Pathway that leads to eternal communion with Christ our Lord.

God's blessings be upon each of you this Saint Patrick's Day, my friends,

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Sunday Before Lent

From the Archives...

Today is the Sunday preceding Lent, and it's the time I set aside to ponder and pray for God's direction for me this Lent.

Although I've attended evangelical churches for the past twenty-five years, I've practiced Lent in one form or another since college. Even though they had both been raised Nazarene, my former roommates had taught me quite a bit about Lent in college, and for my first Lent I gave up my prime addiction: soda. Diet Coke was my coffee; I was drinking my first can at seven in the morning and downed them throughout the day to keep myself alert during classes and the long drive home as a commuter student at the Nazarene university I attended. The wonderful thing was that after Lent, soda upset my stomach, so I've pretty much been on a soda fast since college--drinking water and tea is far healthier!

Lent is a time for spiritual housecleaning for me. I pray over what has a hold on my life in a possibly unhealthy way, and I ask God to loosen this thing's hold on me so that I can live a more balanced life, one devoted to loving and serving Him. In past years I've fasted from television, desserts, gluten, Facebook, fan fiction stories, reading novels, and other often non-traditional items. During each Lent, I don't share here what I am fasting from, but the idea is to not only practice self-denial and to free up time for spending with God that would be spent on less God-centered pursuits, but to offer up something I really enjoy to God as a sacrifice, allowing me to focus on Him and on how He desires to mold me into the image of His Son.

Renovare is a wonderful group that focuses on growing and maturing our relationship with God, and they sent out an article entitled "Why Lent?" which I have copied in part below:
"Why Lent" by Kai Nilsen - More than a decade ago, I gathered with a group of local pastors, representing many denominations, to discuss a worship service we would offer to galvanize our community around a specific outreach initiative. As we were agreeing on a date for the worship service, one of my pastoral colleagues reminded us that the date we had selected was on a Wednesday night in the season of Lent. He wondered if that would be an issue for some of the liturgical churches. 
The Senior Pastor of the local independent Baptist church was quick to respond. “Lent? What’s that? Are you talking about the fuzzy stuff I often find in my belly button?” (Lint!)
We had quite a laugh. Yet, his comment exposed the gulf that lies between the current streams of the Christian tradition when thinking about and practicing the rhythms of the church year. Ironically, ten years later, this same Baptist church created a daily Advent devotional for their congregation in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Liturgical Renewal? Possibly. I would suggest that many parts of the modern church movement, having sold out to the heresy of “new is always better,” are awakening to the beauty of ritual and the recurring rhythms of the church that embed the life of God deeply within our souls. The season of Lent is one of those recurring rhythms that ritualizes the beauty of God’s life-giving, redemptive work in Jesus’ death and resurrection. 
Though the concept of Lent, a season of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, was being articulated as early as the second century, the liturgical season of Lent seems to have taken form in the 4th century. The Council of Nicea (325) called for two gatherings of the synods, one of which was to be held before the forty days of preparation for Easter. By the end of the 4th century, the forty days of Lent had become integrated into the yearly rhythm of the Christian community as they prepared, primarily through the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer, for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. 
The number forty has both biblical and spiritual significance. We recall the forty years of wandering in the wilderness for the people of Israel. Moses communed with God on the top of Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights, eating no bread nor drinking water, as he inscribed the words of the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone (Exodus 34:28). Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb for forty days and forty nights without food nor drink (I Kings 19:8). We also remember Jesus being led by the Spirit, following his baptism, into the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-2). In each case, whether forty years or forty days, the number forty spoke not only to a span of time but also a span of God’s ongoing presence experienced in trial and temptation, through accumulated wisdom and insight, and by God’s sustaining grace and love. 
This is the forty day journey of Lent. It is marked in days but lived in grace. 
For much of the Christian community, the forty days begins with Ash Wednesday (though the Eastern Orthodox church counts forty days back from Palm Sunday) and continues through the Holy Week stories of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Sundays are not included in the forty days since they are always, even in the season of Lent, a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. 
The image of Ash Wednesday, ashes marked in the sign of the cross on our foreheads, invites us into the season with the proper attitude: humility. The ashes recall God’s words to Adam following his transgression of the boundary around the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) 
For all our railing against it, our mortality is uncovered once again. We cannot deny. We are dependent on the God who breathed life into the dust of the earth and created humanity. We are not the masters of our universe. We have and will continue to fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In humility we are marked with the cross — the symbol of violent death and the gateway to victorious life, and humbly say to God, “In life and death, we are yours.” 
So what about today? Culturally, we are distracted by many things. If we do not pay attention to our souls, our capacity to be open to God’s creative work in our lives is diminished. The season of Lent presents an opportunity to reflect on the state of our souls before God, the contour of our lives with others, and, above all, the prevailing promise of Jesus’ resurrected life as it breathes new life, new courage, new hope in us and through us, for the sake of the world. 
It is no coincidence that the Anglo-Saxon root word for Lent means “spring.” Pressing in to the season of Lent is a creative exercise in God’s possibility of re-birth for you, for the neighbor, for the whole of creation.... 

I have written many posts on Lent; check out these links to some of my posts if you'd like to read more about this practice--and how I personally have practiced it. I also gave a talk on Lent for a ladies' Bible Study at Lake Murray Community Church several years ago; it's also linked under the header as well as right here: On Lent

Shrove Tuesday 2018
Ash Wednesday and Lent 2018
Keeping a Holy Lent 2016
Lent Begins Wednesday! 2014
Quotations for the Week and Lent 2012
On the Road to Calvary: Lent 2011
Ash Wednesday Retreat: Lent 2011
Lenten Reflection: Part 1 (2010)
Ash Wednesday: 2009
Evangelicals Seeking Ancient Paths (including Lent!)
Why Lent? Act 3 Ministries Article: Lent 2008
Ash Wednesday: 2008 (co-written with Pastor Stephen Sammons)
Lenten Reflections: 2007

The Collect from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 for this Sunday before Lent:
O LORD, you have taught us that all loveless actions are worth nothing; Send your Holy Spirit to pour into our hearts the most excellent gift of love, which is the true bond of peace and all virtue, for without this love we are dead before you; Grant this for the sake of your only Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I find this quotation on repentance rather thought-provoking, and I thought I'd share it with you as our Quotation of the Week:
"Repentance is not some negative, life-denying gesture. In fact, repentance doesn't mean turning to a past way of thinking or doing at all. Repentance means turning to a new way. Repentance does not mean to change from what we are to what we were. It means to change from what we are to what we are going to be."  
~Mark Trotter, "A Lenten Reflection"

So as we prepare to enjoy our pancake dinner on Shrove Tuesday (otherwise known as Mardi Gras), we also pray for God's leading in this Lent. These forty days each year are difficult but precious as I do battle against myself with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, clenched firmly in my hand. But the Good News is this: we never have to battle alone once we are His. Christ our Brother fights with us and for us...thanks be to God!

Wishing you a blessed and holy Lenten season,

Monday, February 18, 2019

My Favorite Artist!!

Deposition from the Cross by Fra Angelico

Updated from the Archives...

Considering that my Master of Arts in English from Catholic University of San Diego was in Medieval Literature (with many courses taught by an amazing nun with a Harvard Ph.D.), it's not surprising that my favorite artist would also be from the medieval period.

Fra Angelico was born approximately the same year in which Chaucer died: 1400. Although he only lived fifty-some years, he produced an incredible body of artistic work.

Today the Church celebrates his Feast Day, and the following is from the "Saint of the Day" e-mail from

Monday, February 18, 2019
Blessed John of Fiesole
(c. 1400-1455)

The patron of Christian artists was born around 1400 in a village overlooking Florence. He took up painting as a young boy and studied under the watchful eye of a local painting master. He joined the Dominicans at about age 20, taking the name Fra Giovanni. He eventually came to be known as Fra Angelico, perhaps a tribute to his own angelic qualities or maybe the devotional tone of his works. 

He continued to study painting and perfect his own techniques, which included broad-brush strokes, vivid colors and generous, lifelike figures. Michelangelo once said of Fra Angelico: “One has to believe that this good monk has visited paradise and been allowed to choose his models there.” Whatever his subject matter, Fra Angelico sought to generate feelings of religious devotion in response to his paintings. Among his most famous works are the Annunciation and Descent from the Cross as well as frescoes in the monastery of San Marco in Florence.

He also served in leadership positions within the Dominican Order. At one point Pope Eugenius approached him about serving as archbishop of Florence. Fra Angelico declined, preferring a simpler life. He died in 1455.

So let's take a look at some of his more famous works:

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
The Visitation by Fra Angelico
Madonna and Child by Fra Angelico
The Crucifixion by Fra Angelico
The Resurrection of the Christ by Fra Angelico

The last painting here was the one and only wallpaper I ever used on my first laptop computer. The colors, especially of the first three paintings, are still so vivid, and his figures are pre-Renaissance in their three-dimensionality versus the usual flat, two-dimensional work of the medieval period. 

So I hope that you will enjoy the work of this amazing medieval artist as much as I have and continue to do!

Artistically yours,

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The First Book Reviews of 2019

I have been sooooooo busy in late autumn through the winter that I have over a dozen books to add to my 2018 list of books I have finished, much less the several books I have read in the first weeks of 2019. (I am very much enjoying the free month of Kindle Unlimited that came with my new Paperwhite, my Christmas present!)

So while many more reviews will be coming as soon as I have time to breathe among teaching an online poetry workshop at Brave Writer, grading essays for my online essay grading service, taking care of my parents who are needing me to drive the hour each way to see them twice a week now for doctors' visits and shopping trips, and our youngest (diagnosed with autism five months ago) who is in college in Arizona and needs help with his assignments, here are a few from early autumn 2018.

Edenbrooke Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's very rare that I read a book in a single sitting. Especially when sitting in a Jacuzzi. But that's exactly how I read Edenbrooke.

It was a simply delightful three hours. I don't know if I've ever read a book of this length (250+ pages in a large trade paperback format) in so short a length of time. I couldn't put it down despite shivering in the outside spa while finishing the last chapters.

I can definitely see the influence of Austen and Georgette Heyer in this lovely Regency story of Marianne who lives with her irascible grandmother in Bath after the death of her mother. While her father retreats to France to grieve, Marianne's twin, Cecily, goes to London with their cousins while Marianne is exiled to Bath, a city she grows to dislike, mostly because she misses her family's estate where she had followed tomboy and artistic pursuits in her beloved orchards and fields.

Events begin to unfold as Marianne's grandmother decides to disinherit her profligate nephew in favor of Marianne on the condition that she works on becoming a lady of the ton. Her training is to begin at the country estate, Edenbrooke, of her mother's dear friend Lady Caroline. While en route in her grandmother's carriage to Edenbrooke, Marianne and her maid are beset by a highwayman, and after her maid takes a shot at the brigand with the pistol hidden in the carriage, Marianne drives the carriage with their wounded driver and maid to the nearest inn. There Marianne meets a rude young gentleman who refuses at first to assist her...and she informs him that he is not a gentleman. As she settles her maid in a room and cares for the driver who was shot by the highwayman, she wins the grudging respect of the gentleman who only gives his name as Philip.

Arriving at Edenbrooke the following day, Marianne discovers that the mysterious Philip is none other than Lady Caroline's son, and they quickly become fast friends. But when Cecily, Marianne's twin, writes that she is determined to marry Philip, Marianne prepares to step aside, as she always has done, for her sister. After all, Cecily is an accomplished lady who has just experienced her first London Season and has chosen Philip as her future husband based on his title, wealth, and handsome appearance. But Marianne has learned to love Philip based on his kindness, his intellect, and their discussions of literature, history, and nature.

This story is gentle and compelling, with characters who are far more developed than the usual "stock" characters of Regency romance stories: the plucky female, the calculating and spoiled brat, the rascally rogue, the annoying fop, etc. I really didn't know what to expect of this novel and these characters; they truly kept me guessing most of the way through the book. And the characters were written so winsomely and without the usual "saccharine sweetness" typical of less-accomplished writers of this genre.

This book is subtitled "A Proper Romance" which is lovely--there are no scenes to cause embarrassment if a young teen were to read it. It was a pure story--not overtly religious in the least yet following the precepts of Philippians 4:8: "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (ESV).

This book was brought to my attention via either BookBub or Book Gorilla, both of which are daily emails of e-books on sale (usually $2.99 or less, often free) in genres chosen by the recipient. I enter the titles that appeal to me into our library's database and order any of them that I can. If a book isn't available state-wide, then I consider whether to purchase it or not.

I rarely give "5" votes to books that are not established classics (Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, etc.), but Edenbrooke was truly THAT good. It's a wonderful lighter read that is completely enjoyable.

ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition by Anonymous
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a gorgeous edition of the English Standard Version of the Bible. It's a cloth hardcover in a beautiful, sturdy slipcover, and the "gold" leaf decorating the dark blue cloth cover, the cardboard slipcover, and magnificent title page--WOW!! And then the golden ink in the margin Scripture quotations and the whole-page quotations in Art Deco and Art Nouveau fonts and illustrations--mindblowingly beautiful!!

Next to having a Bible filled with medieval illuminations, this is the most richly, smartly, and beautifully illuminated Bible I could ever imagine!! The wide margins for notetaking, journaling, and sketching are so inviting, and the whole Bible is simply "a thing of beauty and a joy forever," to slightly misquote Keats.

I love the ESV translation anyway, and then to add the illuminations and the artwork throughout--it's going to be my favorite Bible for the rest of my life. (Unless someone gives me a Bible filled with medieval illuminations, of course.)

I would give this edition of the ESV Bible ten stars if I could. Such a lovely birthday gift from my husband!!

Sparks Fly, Tires Skid: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation Romantic Comedy Sparks Fly, Tires Skid: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation Romantic Comedy by Ari Rhoge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An intriguing modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice in which Elizabeth and Jane meet Darcy and Bingley when they get into a fender-bender. Darcy is Bingley's attorney as Bingley seeks to expand his family's hotel empire, while Elizabeth is a kindergarten teacher with a foul mouth and Jane is simply perfectly-perfect. It's a fun romp through Austen's original with lots of twists and turns along the way. Charlotte is Elizabeth's roommate and seeks to marry Bill Collins, a physical therapist who works for Catherine De Bourgh. This book is funny, too--Lizzy especially is a hoot in an endearingly strange sort of way, and we can see how straightlaced Darcy falls for her fun-loving spirit. It just keeps getting more and more intriguing as the story continues.

I first read this book on (and yes, I used a fanfiction downloader to get my copy of this book; I'm making up for it by writing this review and publishing it on Goodreads and my blog, and thence to Facebook and Twitter), and I'm thrilled that the author has published it on Amazon where it's now available for purchase. This was my second reading of the tale, and I enjoyed it even better the second time. It's funny, poignant, depressing, and hilarious all by turns, and it really takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It's a great read, and I definitely recommend it!

A Season Lost: A Pride & Prejudice Continuation A Season Lost: A Pride and Prejudice Continuation by Sophie Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An amazing continuation of this series, I am riveted as always by Sophie's Turner's brilliant characters, compelling dialogue and plots, and beautiful prose. The amount of research that must have been invested in this series astounds me; Sophie's attention to detail, especially the different ports of call that Matthew and Georgiana experience, is exquisite. I felt as if I have learned so much and in such a pleasant and entertaining manner!!

The first two books in the series, A Constant Love and A Change of Legacies are also outstanding novels, and A Season Lost makes much more sense when both books are read before tackling the third in the series. (Or at least read the second book before the third, but all three books are definitely woven together masterfully!). I read the first two on, then I broke my meager book budget by purchasing the third book in the series, and I am sooooo glad I did!!

This third book was even more addicting than the first two as it switched back and forth between the Darcys at Pemberley and in London and with Georgiana and her Navy Commodore as she accompanies him on the Caroline on a trip that was far more extended than the original orders to Gibraltar. I truly could NOT put this book down, and my teaching and grading suffered as a result.

A truly outstanding continuation of this series--the best yet!! I highly, highly recommend Sophie Turner's books!!

* * * * *

And these are all of the reviews I have handy now until I start writing more. I have three pages of notes on all of the books I've read and have yet to review. Lots more book reviews (and not all of them Austenesque) are on their way this winter and spring! 

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Blessed Epiphany!!

Today the Anglican Church, along with other liturgical churches, celebrates Epiphany. 

The Epiphany, January 6th, marks the close of the Christmas Season with Twelfth Night (the Twelfth Day of Christmas) on January 5th. Epiphany, then, is a kind of extension of the Christmas season as we remember the events of Matthew 2 in which "wise men from the east" come to Judea, looking for the "infant King of the Jews." Herod asks his advisers about the Messiah, and they tell him that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
--Matthew 2:1-12, ESV

The Baptism of Jesus is celebrated a week later, on the Octave (8th day) of Epiphanytide, the day in which Christ was manifested as the Son of God, as related in Matthew 3:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest upon him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
--Matthew 3:13-17, ESV

From the CRI website:
The Season of Epiphany
Dennis Bratcher

In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King's Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany. The Season of Christmas begins with the First Sunday of Advent, marked by expectation and anticipation, and concludes with Epiphany, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. The one or two Sundays between Christmas Day and Epiphany are sometimes called Christmastide. For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. In some western traditions, the last Sunday of Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.

The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King. In some Central and South American countries influenced by Catholic tradition, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents. The colors of Epiphany are usually the colors of Christmas, white and gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year. 

As with most aspects of the Christian liturgical calendar, Epiphany has theological significance as a teaching tool in the church. The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and so were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few. 

The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by "showing" Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often create between God’s children. 


Our Collect for Epiphanytide from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, to be prayed throughout the Octave of the Epiphany:

O GOD, by the leading of a star you revealed your only eternal Son to the peoples of the earth; In your mercy grant that we, who know you now by faith, may after this life behold your glory and power face to face; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And, of course, the most well-known of all Epiphanytide carols, "We Three Kings":

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshiping God on high.


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia!, Alleluia!,
Rings through the earth and skies.


Music and lyrics by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857

Note: Wikipedia tells us, "John Henry Hopkins, Jr. organized the carol in such a way that three male voices would each sing a single verse by himself in order to correspond with the three kings. The first and last verses of the carol are sung together by all three as 'verses of praise,' while the intermediate verses are sung individually with each king describing the gift he was bringing."

Last night I joined the Blessed Trinity Anglican family at Father Acker's and Alice's home to celebrate the Twelfth Night of Christmas and the Eve of the Epiphany. Father and I prayed the Evening Prayer service from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, and then Father Gregory brought others as we prayed the Epiphany Collect above and burned our Christmas greens (fortunately, it was raining, so we didn't have to be concerned about fire danger here in Southern California!). Then we celebrated with Alice's baked good (decadent and delicious!) and my favorite cream sherry, Anglican-style. It was a lovely time to gather as a church family and shine the Light of Christ to one another and thence to others. 

So as we enter Epiphanytide, the time in which Jesus was made manifest not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles--basically, the fact that He came to save everyone, no matter what sex, race, religion, creed--we welcome Him into our hearts with joy and gratitude, "for this is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118.24).

Rejoicing with you this day, 


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