How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Friday, September 27, 2013

For Sale!

Family Reunion (Six Cousins, Book 1) is now officially published and for sale at the CreateSpace eStore! I believe the biggest difference between purchasing it from the eStore and purchasing it from, at least in what affects me, is that the eStore gives me higher royalties. But, Amazon is the better advertiser and whatever sales go through there build the rankings of the book. It will be live on Amazon in a few days!

It’s such a joyous feeling of relief to have it out there! I know it’s only the beginning, and a new kind of work is ahead, but I feel like I can “move on” now in a fuller sense to my other stories and thus be more productive there.

And, forgetful me left a curious blank space after the word “link” in my last post. So, here is the link to my author page on Facebook.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Six Cousins Update and Bonus: Book Review!

If you’re on Facebook and haven’t already “liked” my new author page, then by all means, check it out! It feels a little bit odd to have one because it makes everything so official, which I’m still having trouble grasping …. Anyway, here is the link:

I plan to launch Family Reunion (Six Cousins, Book 1) on Sunday, September 29th. So, any time on that date or after, if you’re interested in reading it, it will be at your service!

I think that’s all the update I have, so on to the book review:

                                                  Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales
This was an awesome book! It’s a must-read for those who love fairy tales as well as in-depth literary studies because Luthi combines the two in this insightful volume. Every chapter turned on a light bulb for me, prompting lots of notes. Like many people, fairy tales have been a backdrop to my life ever since I can remember; but a mystery always hung about them: Where did they come from? Why have they endured all these years? To me, there was much to admire in them but also a few things to pooh-pooh, like their flat characters and sometimes ridiculously unrealistic situations. But I’ve grown up since then and can appreciate them for the significant contribution to life that they are. Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales informs my impressions and fully explains the fairy tale’s value.

It was not a heavy read, and even gave quite a few tales at length, many of which I’d never heard before, including variants of The Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. So that was a treat! Mostly Luthi discussed the meaning of fairy tales, which also covered why they are in the form they are even the way a fairy tale is told has meaning. He went into the unconscious psychology behind them: the many lessons they teach us for living beyond the mundane and the dreams that they encourage us to pursue. For example, here is how Luthi explains one lesson of the Cinderella tale: “Man is surrounded by hostile and helping forces; but he is not entirely at their mercy: through his own attitude perseverance, humility, and trust he can be supported through the help of nature and the enduring, strengthening love of the deceased mother [Cinderella’s virtuous mother] and can thus be led to the light.” And here he gives another benefit of the fairy tale: “The fairy tale portrays … a harmonious world. The confidence from which it flows is transmitted to both those who tell it and those who hear it. … [W]e can readily believe the report of a north German storyteller that a soothing and healing power can emanate from fairy tales when told to sick people in hospitals.” The book is full of such interesting and potentially life-changing thoughts.

My only disappointment is that, since I’ve always wanted to know the origin of fairy tales, I was hoping Luthi would peel away at the mystery. He didn’t attempt to, but instead had this to say: “Actually, the real origins are not the important thing in the fairy tale. It is quite likely that behind many features in our fairy tales there are old customs and beliefs; but in the context of the tale, they have lost their original character. Fairy tales are experienced by their hearers and readers, not as realistic, but as symbolic poetry.” If the learned and experienced Max Luthi says the origins are undiscoverable, I suppose the mystery shall just have to go unsolved.

The chapter titles will give you a great indication of its contents:

Introduction (the only boring part of the book … it wasn’t written by Max Luthi.)

1 Sleeping Beauty: The Meaning and Form of Fairy Tales

2 The Seven Sleepers: Saint’s Legend Local Legend Fairy Tale

3 The Dragon Slayer: The Style of the Fairy Tale

4 The Uses of Fairy Tales: Cinderella Hansel and Gretel The White Snake

5 The Little Earth-Cow: Symbolism in the Fairy Tale

6 The Living Doll: Local Legend and Fairy Tale

7 Animal Stories: A Glimpse of the Tales of Primitive Peoples

8 Rapunzel: The Fairy Tale as Representation of a Maturation Process

9 The Riddle Princess: Cunning, Jest, and Sagacity

10 The Fairy-Tale Hero: The Image of Man in the Fairy Tale

11 The Miracle in Literature

Reference Notes


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement

Before I go into the meaty message of Yom Kippur, I just want to give an update of what I’m doing. I’ll be out celebrating the Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, from this Friday until next Thursday. I’d like to have a blog post for this Friday, at least, with news related to my book. And, God willing, I’ll have something to share next Friday, as well! So, this is just to give you a heads-up in case you wonder about my absent Tuesday blog post next week. : )

Yom Kippur comes ten days after Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah. The atonement process in the Temple on that holiest day of the year foreshadows our Messiah’s sacrifice that took away our sins once and for all. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are “The Days of Awe” and they are days of repentance, because Yom Kippur is the day when judgment – life or death – is sealed. Likewise, we must repent before our redemption in Jesus/Yeshua. The Day of Judgment is also the Day of Covering … we will be judged and found worthy on Judgment Day if we are covered by His blood.
Yom Kippur had a past fulfillment in Yeshua’s sacrifice, but its future fulfillment is the Day of Judgment when the righteous will enter into life and the wicked into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
Leviticus 16 describes what the high priest did in the Tabernacle on Yom Kippur to atone for Israel’s sins from the past year. The most salient parts of the service were the sacrifice of the two goats and the high priest’s entry into the Holy of Holies, which only happened once a year. The great, solemn holiness of this singular day foreshadowed the solemnity of the day that Yeshua gave up His life. The two goats were an unusual offering. They were identical; one was slaughtered, its blood used to atone for the people and the Tabernacle, and the other was sent into the wilderness, symbolically carrying away the sins of Israel. Likewise, Yeshua died and yet also took away our sins, as if He was the two goats in one.
This day of getting right with God must come before the season of our joy, which is Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot begins five days after Yom Kippur. In the lives of Believers, we can rejoice only once our sins are forgiven. Sukkot represents life in God’s Kingdom … which comes after we are sealed for life on the Day of Judgment.
I am constantly amazed by how the Biblical holy days teach us about Yeshua’s redemptive work! God is a profound teacher, revealing these truths centuries before His Son accomplished them … but they only became clear in hindsight. We are certainly blessed to see it all clearly now.
The main way Yom Kippur is observed today is by examining our deeds and repenting where we’ve sinned, both against God and other people. Too often we put this task off or don’t take it seriously, but this would be a yearly reminder to ensure that nothing has come between us and God or us and our friends.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What a Step!

The proof copies for my novel Six Cousins: Family Reunion showed up unexpectedly early on my doorstep yesterday. As you can see, it was quite a moment. My story transformed into a book … bound up in the official body that literature has been passed down in for centuries. I felt the weight of it, gloried in the crisp whiteness of the pages and the way everything inside looked just like a book. I read the sentences – my sentences – and for a moment thought I was reading someone else’s work, because my words seemed like the last words to appear in a physical book. But no, I realized, these are mine; I practically have them memorized. Tears brimmed, I hugged my mom, took pictures, and praised God for the wonderful lady who designed my cover. I posted it all on Facebook and got lots of “likes” and encouraging comments. Support from friends is amazing.
Since these are the proof copies, I am not yet selling on I’m a little unsure of when I should click “approve” and begin selling, since I’ll be gone for a week starting on September 20th. Any serious marketing will have to wait until I get back. But we’ll see! I should get it figured out once I’m thinking more clearly.
Lastly, I just really want to give the glory to God for making this happen. He allowed me to live at a time when publishing and selling your own book is relatively easy, thus fulfilling a dream I’ve had for eleven years of being a published author. He gave me all the tools and all the people and all the love … and it came together.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets

                                                                (Yom Teruah in Hebrew)
 The season of the Biblical fall holy days is here, and it begins with Yom Teruah, which means Day of the Trumpet Blast in Hebrew; it’s also called the Feast of Trumpets. Rosh Hashanah is its more common designation, however, because it’s also the first day of the Jewish new year … Rosh Hashanah means the head of the year.
This year, this significant holy day took place on September 5th. (“Significant” is actually superfluous because all the Biblical festivals are significant!) Its symbolism and traditions probably aren’t as well known as certain other Biblical festivals, but I’ve learned some fascinating things that I’d like to share.
Jesus’/ Yeshua’s first coming fulfilled the spring holy days … He died on Passover, was buried on Unleavened Bread, resurrected on First Fruits, and the Holy Spirit filled His followers on the Feast of Weeks. His second coming will fulfill the fall holy days … the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
The imagery of Yom Teruah foreshadows the day that Yeshua will return.
Yom Teruah is the first day of the seventh month according to the religious calendar (Lev. 23:24, Num. 29:1), and since the first day of every month is determined by the new moon, in ancient times people could never be exactly sure when the new month would start because they would have to wait for witnesses to see that the moon was new and thus declare that the month had begun. Hence this nickname for the festival: Yom HaKeseh, “The Day of Hiding” or “the Hidden Day.” When the new month was declared, trumpet blasts would sweep the Jewish communities to announce it. Likewise, no man knows the day or the hour when our Messiah will return! (Mat. 24:36) He will come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thes. 4:16).
That verse continues, “and the dead in Messiah shall rise first.” Even in traditional Judaism, Yom Teruah is linked with the resurrection of the dead.
In Jewish and Biblical wedding tradition, the bridegroom comes for his bride at an unexpected hour, like the parable of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25:1-13. Yeshua is our bridegroom, and we as the bride should be ready for His arrival.
The kings of ancient Judah were always crowned on Rosh Hashanah, since it was the first day of the civil year. So it stands for coronation day … like the day the High King of Israel will be crowned!
It’s interesting that so many things associated with this festival will happen on the day Yeshua returns! So every year, this day could be a day to celebrate the fact that He’ll be coming for us.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Twenty Favorite Books

While we’re on the subject of favorite books, I got the idea from a friend to make a Goodreads shelf of my twenty favorite books. I would find even ten limiting, let alone three or one, but twenty seemed doable. Even now I wish I could make it twenty-one! But here they are, in no specific order:
1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Persuasion
4. Mansfield Park
5. Northanger Abbey
6. Emma
7. Wives and Daughters
8. North and South
9. Anne of Green Gables (series)
10. Jane Eyre
11. Little Women
12. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
13. Christy (Catherine Marshall)
14. The Chronicles of Narnia
15. The Zion Chronicles (Bodie and Brock Thoene)
16. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (Mark Twain)
17. The Pilgrim’s Progress
18. The Wanderer (Fanny Burney)
19. The Count of Monte Cristo
20. Little House on the Prairie (series)
I think you may be familiar with most, if not all, of these. The most recently written books are The Zion Chronicles, written in the 1980s. They’re about the re-establishment of the State of Israel, an epic topic, to be sure! I believe their authors, the Thoenes, are the only authors on my list still alive and writing. I’m just one of those people who adores older books! If they weren’t around I’d then find some contemporary authors to be my favorites. There are plenty of talented ones!
Hopefully this was interesting enough to be worthwhile! Today’s kind of a crazy day around here, so I didn’t have time for much else. A lot is going on, and I have quite a few ideas for blog posts, but time is not cooperating!