Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Joy in Trials

"You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith —more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire —may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭6‬-‭7‬ ‭CSB‬‬


Dew drops on red roses with blurred greenery in background



In these brief verses, the Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter shows us several characteristics of the Christian's trials.

First, they are brief: "now for a short time."
Second, when they happen, they are necessary: "if necessary."
Third, they are painful: "you suffer grief."
Fourth, they are varied: "various trials."
Next, they are purposeful: "so that the proven character of your faith…."
Finally, they are worthwhile and accomplish what will be rewarded: "…may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Knowing that my painful and varied trials are brief, necessary, purposeful, and worthwhile enables me to rejoice in the midst of them. This is not spiritual bypassing. It is spiritual paradox. Grief, trials, and joy can coexist with none of them cancelling out the others. Sorrow and joy can dance together. Trials can increase rather than extinguish our hope.

If you are enduring sorrowful trials today, beloved child of God, I pray that the Lord would give you living hope that looks back to the real, bodily, historical resurrection of Jesus Christ and forward to our own real, bodily, future resurrection and forever life with Him.

Your pain is not useless or endless. You are not alone in it; the Lord Jesus is with you and lives in you through His Spirit. Hold fast to Him who holds you fast.

Courage, dear hearts. ❤️‍đŸ©č

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The British Booksellers {Book Review}



Listen to me read this review here.

In the new historical romance The British Booksellers, Kristy Cambron continues her recent exploration of World War II in The Italian Ballerina and The Paris Dressmaker. The events of this novel occur primarily in Coventry, England, during World War I and the "Forgotten Blitz" of Coventry by German bombers during World War II. Cambron returns also to the themes of grit and beauty, grief and love. Cambron, who won the Christy Award for The Painted Castle, has written numerous bestsellers, and this clean historical romance is not likely to disappoint her fans.




In The British Booksellers, childhood friends from contrasting social stations fall in love and face life-altering decisions about their future. In the later timeline, a surly, broken bookshop owner for the commoners and his rival, the beautiful Lady Charlotte with her bookshop's peacock-blue reading room and Earl Grey elegance, must face their own decisions about how to stay in business during wartime restrictions and whether they can overcome their differences in order to meet the needs of their local community and the larger British war effort during the bombings and their aftermath.

The dual timeline of this novel permits a pair of will-they-won't-they romantic possibilities, complete with a love triangle in one of them. This is not obviously a faith-based book, but it does positively portray the place of the local church and the vicar's leadership in the community. One character seems to have a sincere Christian faith though that is not developed in depth. The author's faith is most evident in the redemptive character arcs and the theme of unlikely reconciliation and mutual aid among enemies.

While I knew of the Coventry Blitz and that the work of Bletchley Park codebreakers revealed its probability to Churchill, I found personal encouragement in reading of brave men and women overcoming biases and past differences to serve and protect their community in crisis. This is the only novel I've read that opens a window into the local experience of that horrific time and the beautiful heroism of Coventry's people during and after. Cambron also presents the economic and social challenges the nobility faced after World War I and during World War II and the awful pain of PTSD, then called shell shock, recognized in veterans since at least World War I. Vicariously experiencing grit, courage, and resilience in earlier generations has helped me persevere in my own challenges. That grit and intrigue also lends balance to the lighter aspects of the novel.





If you are reading this at crumbs from His table dot com, the background images in my quote graphics depict Coventry, including the ruins of the church and the rubble left by the bombings. Some of the people and places, like the bombed church, in the book  are grounded in historical fact. For example, the John Piper painting of the ruined church immediately after its destruction is real and can be viewed online. The "Author's Note" and "Further Reading" provide details on a wealth of resources for readers curious to learn more about the Forgotten Blitz.

All in all, The British Booksellers offers a lovely vacation or holiday read for fans of World War I or II fiction. It has elements of Jane Austen's Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice as well as the television and film series Downton Abbey. I commend this book to fans of bookish film and fiction such as  You've Got Mail, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer), The Last Bookshop in London (Madeline Martin), Until Leaves Fall in Paris (Sarah Sundin), The Keeper of Hidden Books (Madeline Martin), and of course for fans of Kristy Cambron's previous World War II novels. I enjoyed spending time with these characters and their world. I especially enjoyed the character of Amos Darby. The Christmas Truce scene in the World War I timeline was written especially well.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. My pre-release copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. The thoughts herein are my own.

 

If you decide to purchase this book and favor the behemoth online bookstore, purchasing via the following link supports this blog at no cost to you:

https://amzn.to/3JhhQug

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A Prayer for Hospice Care




Father of mercies, Comfort of the afflicted,

Walk with us through this dark valley

As we walk our loved one home to You.

Strengthen us to bear up under the dual weights of caregiving and grief.

Receive the service we render her 

As an oblation poured out at the feet of Jesus.

Let Your compassion flow through us

In care that honors her dignity as Your child,

Made in Your image.

Make us know Your presence in our most secret hearts.

Catch our tears in Your bottle,

As we grieve what we have lost and are losing

And we anticipate the loss to come.

Give us Your Spirit of gentleness with each other

Despite nerves frayed by sorrow and fatigue.

Bless the helpers You have sent us for their kindness and care.

Let Your presence and peace settle upon our loved one too, Lord.

Grant her a painless transition to Your presence

When the tally of her days is complete.

Thank You for the hope of the resurrection

And the life of the world to come.

Mercifully hear our prayer through the name of the risen Christ our Savior.

Amen.

Friday, March 15, 2024

A Prayer for Hard Medical Anniversaries

Listen to me read the audio file


A Prayer for Hard Medical Anniversaries     God of Hope, God of all comfort, God of healing:  This day marks a sorrowful anniversary—  So many years since the illness that continues to change my life,  Since the cancer diagnosis,  Since the accident,  Since the medical label that transformed every aspect of my days.  It is a death without a grave,  Grief without a funeral  Or other rights of communal mourning and lament.     You alone truly understand the depth of my heartache  And the distinct sorrow of those who love me and share my burden,  Weighted by it alongside but outside me.     I grieve the old me that may never return,  The holistic, multifaceted cost of this illness, this disability,  The choices my body makes for me,  The freedoms and dreams and hope stripped away,  The damage to cherished relationships,  The missed community celebrations, the exclusions, the lost opportunities,  The time redirected to medical tasks,  The increased energy required for the most basic personal tasks.     I grieve the invisible, unspoken milestones  like the last time I was healthy in my dreams,  The last time I went to church or a concert or a wedding or a graduation,  The last time I ran or hiked or danced  Or worked or cleaned or cooked  Or spent a day making music or curled up in a bookshop chair,  The last time I could take a shower without careful planning and pacing.     I grieve the hurtful words denying or blaming me for my weakness,  The realization that much of society regards me as both "less than" and "too much,"  The shame and gaslighting.



A Prayer for Hard Medical Anniversaries

 

God of Hope, God of all comfort, God of healing:

This day marks a sorrowful anniversary—

So many years since the illness that continues to change my life,

Since the cancer diagnosis,

Since the accident,

Since the medical label that transformed every aspect of my days.

It is a death without a grave,

Grief without a funeral

Or other rights of communal mourning and lament.

 

You alone truly understand the depth of my heartache

And the distinct sorrow of those who love me and share my burden,

Weighted by it alongside but outside me.

 

I grieve the old me that may never return,

The holistic, multifaceted cost of this illness, this disability,

The choices my body makes for me,

The freedoms and dreams and hope stripped away,

The damage to cherished relationships,

The missed community celebrations, the exclusions, the lost opportunities,

The time redirected to medical tasks,

The increased energy required for the most basic personal tasks.

 

I grieve the invisible, unspoken milestones

like the last time I was healthy in my dreams,

The last time I went to church or a concert or a wedding or a graduation,

The last time I ran or hiked or danced

Or worked or cleaned or cooked

Or spent a day making music or curled up in a bookshop chair,

The last time I could take a shower without careful planning and pacing.

 

I grieve the hurtful words denying or blaming me for my weakness,

The realization that much of society regards me as both "less than" and "too much,"

The shame and gaslighting.

 



Come alongside me today, Abba Father, Suffering Savior, Counselor, Comforter, Advocate. Comfort the sadness; Make Your loving presence known; Guide and provide in medical care; Cure this affliction if You will; Heal my heart, even if my body never recovers in the land of the living.  Thank You for Your promises, Your presence, Your intimate companionship even when I am most alone.  Thank You for knowing, loving, and holding me in my brokenness, Though all others forsake me.  Thank You for what You have disclosed of Yourself through my desperate dependence, For Your strength in my weakness, For the sufficiency of Your grace in my thorn.  Thank You for the precious gifts of kind words and practical help, For the foul-weather friends who have stood fast at my side and wept with me, For the companions in the same medical storm And our fellowship in these sufferings.  Thank You for the hope that this same trial is actively producing for me An exceeding, eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, that it is not wasted but generative.



Come alongside me today, Abba Father,

Suffering Savior,

Counselor, Comforter, Advocate.

Comfort the sadness;

Make Your loving presence known;

Guide and provide in medical care;

Cure this affliction if You will;

Heal my heart, even if my body never recovers in the land of the living.


Thank You for Your promises,

Your presence,

Your intimate companionship even when I am most alone.

 

Thank You for knowing, loving, and holding me in my brokenness,

Though all others forsake me.

 

Thank You for what You have disclosed of Yourself through my desperate dependence,

For Your strength in my weakness,

For the sufficiency of Your grace in my thorn.

 

Thank You for the precious gifts of kind words and practical help,

For the foul-weather friends who have stood fast at my side and wept with me,

For the companions in the same medical storm

And our fellowship in these sufferings.

 

Thank You for the hope that this same trial is actively producing for me

An exceeding, eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

that it is not wasted but generative.

 

Thank You for Your love which conquers, redeems, and transforms all, Even this, Into glorious good.  Thank You for using this to make me more like my Savior.  Thank You that nothing disables me from knowing You— Which is true and eternal life— Or from knowing Christ in the power of His resurrection And the fellowship of His sufferings.  Thank You for the hope of glory, For the whole, glorious, redeemed body You are preparing for me in the day of resurrection, For the hope of no more death, no more alienation, no more tears, For the hope of all these locust-eaten years to be restored.  Thank You for the everlasting promise You will be with me now, In the pain and weakness and difficulty, In the loneliness, That You will hold my hand, That underneath are the everlasting arms, That I am loved with an everlasting love.  But today, Lord, I grieve. I hurt. I lament. The brokenness overwhelms. I want enduring hope, but even that must be Your gift. I believe; help my unbelief, In Jesus’ name. Amen.  Crlm, 3/15/24, Long Covid Awareness Day



Thank You for Your love which conquers, redeems, and transforms all,

Even this,

Into glorious good.

 

Thank You for using this to make me more like my Savior.

 

Thank You that nothing disables me from knowing You—

Which is true and eternal life—

Or from knowing Christ in the power of His resurrection

And the fellowship of His sufferings.

 

Thank You for the hope of glory,

For the whole, glorious, redeemed body You are preparing for me

in the day of resurrection,

For the hope of no more death, no more alienation, no more tears,

For the hope of all these locust-eaten years to be restored.

 

Thank You for the everlasting promise You will be with me now,

In the pain and weakness and difficulty,

In the loneliness,

That You will hold my hand,

That underneath are the everlasting arms,

That I am loved with an everlasting love.

 

But today, Lord, I grieve.

I hurt. I lament.

The brokenness overwhelms.

I want enduring hope, but even that must be Your gift.

I believe; help my unbelief,

In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 



Sunday, March 10, 2024

A Prayer When You Don’t Know What to Pray

 










Black text of FĂ©nelon prayer on translucent beige background over photo of pear blossoms
Listen to me read the audio file

Click here to listen to me praying this post over you.



“Lord,

I know not what I ought to ask of Thee;

Thou only knowest what I need:

Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself.

O Father! Give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask.

I dare not ask for crosses or consolations,

I simply present myself before Thee,

I open my heart to Thee.

Behold my needs which I know not myself;

See and do according to Thy tender mercy.

Smite or heal; depress me or raise me up;

I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them;

I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice;

I yield myself to Thee;

I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will.

Teach me to pray. 

Pray Thyself in me.

Amen.”


~François de la Mothe Fénelon (1651-1715)