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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harvest and Mr. Holland’s Opus

                    

(This post is part of the CW Blog-chain.  Check out the other great posts on the topic of “harvest” by clicking on names in the side bar.)

SANY1771

I am in the autumn of my life, in a period of harvest.

When I apply the theme of harvest to myself, I think of Mr. Holland’s Opus. My life parallels Mr. Holland’s in many ways. I retired after teaching nineteen years; Mr. Holland, thirty years.

Mr. Holland wanted to be a composer; me, an author. Mr. Holland and I first viewed teaching as a backup plan. We both thought we could teach and pursue our artistic endeavors.

We were both wrong.

The joys of imparting information and transforming young lives became more important than our artistic pursuits. One quote from the movie is this: A teacher has two jobs; fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.

And Mr. Holland gave his students that—not just a knowledge of music but the “compass.” He passed to them his love for music. Mr. Holland created an opus, a work of art, yet not what he envisioned. Instead it consisted of the students he inspired over the years. They were his opus.

As I taught science, I, too, endeavored to give a “compass.” I brought God into the equation as I taught about his wonderful creation. Perhaps I also served as a Christian example to my students and planted seeds that are even now being harvested. That is my prayer.

Of course, I made mistakes. As did Mr. Holland. Mr. Holland’s biggest mistake was not being supportive of his deaf son. Eventually he seeks to make amends and repair their broken relationship. My favorite part of the movie is when he sings the John Lennon song to his Beautiful Boy.

 

Mr. Holland had one son; I have two. And they were and are beautiful boys, inwardly and outwardly. After watching the movie the first time, I sang the song to them, in my broken voice, broken more with emotion welling up inside me. For I, too, have made many mistakes. Yet God still chose to bless my family and me.

Families are the largest part of our opus, the harvest we reap. The harvest that belongs to God.

In this autumn of my life, I hope to continue harvesting seeds I have sown. No, more than just harvest. With God’s help, I want to take the wheat to the mill, and grind it fine, and make the bread. MM900285247 With the crystal spring running through my life, perhaps I will succeed.

It is not too late to produce my opus, my written body of work. Now is the time for me to take my life experiences, the knowledge I have gathered, and produce books before the winter is upon me when no man shall reap.

If I am able to bake the bread, i.e., produce the books, it will be because God gave the rain and the soil and the sun. He gave me the means to grind the wheat and will give me the skill to turn the flour into bread. bread

The harvest truly is great, but I must choose to do the work.

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour
And back of the flour is the mill;
And back of the mill is the wheat
And the shower and the sun
And the Father's will.

(~Maltbie D. Babcock)

Amen.

 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Thoughts

No, today is not Friday. My post for Friday will be on the CW Bog-chain, so I decided I’d write a few words for today, especially since I skipped Monday’s post. Here are some of my random thoughts for today.

I am changing. I’m feeling kind of like a caterpillar when it begins to excrete juices to destroy its bloated body. Not pleasant.

I’m destroying some things.

Perhaps that’s too strong a word. Not destroying—just changing. I have put blocks on almost all the websites I visit. One reason is that I simply visit them out of habit. I’ve become bored with most and mindlessly click with no real interest in the content. Kind of like mindlessly flipping through TV channels.

That’s changed too. I’m bored with TV shows, even those I once loved. Hmm . . . little internet time, little TV time. So, now what?

MM900041016Discipline has eluded me for many years. I am going to try, again, to get more of the things done that I yearn to do. What are those things?

I consider myself a scholar. There aren’t too many of us around in actuality—at least, to my knowledge. In my real life, I know three, and one of them is me.

What do I mean by scholar? I define it as a person who loves to learn; a perpetual student. I have said, for the past forty years, that if someone would pay me to be a full-time student, I would jump at the job. Sadly, no one has offered. Sad smile No matter. I can study without being paid. If I develop the self discipline.

As I have grown older, my areas of study have changed. A couple of things, however, have remained constant. My main interest, as it has been for years and as it should be, is the Bible. The Bible is an endlessly fascinating book. I long to delve deeply into its pages and even beyond—back to the archeological finds and the undergirding--the history.

The greatest commandment is to love God, and I can do that by studying his word. The other great commandment is to love the people he created. People, their motives and actions, are also a fascinating study. Motives and actions depend, to a large extent, on personality types. And, of course, that’s something all fiction writers need to study.

Beyond that, I would also like to write a book dealing with raising children by their personality types. The hardest job in the world is raising children. I know more now (of course) than when I was raising my own children. Wouldn’t it be great to learn even more, to share that knowledge, to help parents make fewer mistakes? I longed for a book like that as I stumbled through parenthood.

And, lastly, my third area of interest, surprise, surprise to those who know me well, is travel. Yes, I want to travel more. This ties in with the books I am writing. I don’t think a writer has to be 100% accurate as far as setting is concerned. After all, that’s what imagination is for, right? But I do believe a writer should be fairly accurate when dealing with a specific location.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

And, that says it all!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Change

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So, Blogger has come up with something new—Dynamic Views. I’m one of those resistant to change—but aren’t most of us? Facebook has recently made changes that have many up in arms.

MM900283817People are usually slow to warm up to innovations. Sometimes people are unwilling to accept change at all. Remember the New Coke? It was introduced in 1985 (That long ago? Perhaps you don’t remember.), but the Coca-Cola firm returned to Classic Coke when an outcry arose.

Most changes, however, are good in the long run. Thank God for those innovators, those who thrive on change, constantly pushing to make things better, faster, or just . . . sleeker. I suppose Steve Jobs was one of those people. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the products from Apple that we have. He wasn’t content to maintain the status quo.

Perhaps you’ve read this quote by Jobs:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~ 'You've Got to Find What You Love,' Jobs Says

As far as I know, Jobs was not a Christian. Yet what he says resonates with me. One thing I would add is “to follow your heart and intuition” as God leads you. Study his word to find his will for your life.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52

Change is coming to all.

For Christians, the change will be glorious!

 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Johnny Depp and Hank Williams Jr.

(Johnny Depp) told the November issue of Vanity Fair in an interview that he found being photographed a "weird" experience. "Well, you just feel like you're being raped somehow," he was quoted as saying in an excerpt released Tuesday. (Johnny Depp apologizes for Vanity Fair "rape" comment)

Most of us understand Depp’s sentiment. He feels he is being violated, exposed, abused, and used, when he is being photographed. I don’t understand how this is even an issue. Rape is a terrible thing. If he had said something flippant about rape, belittled it in some way, that I could understand. But he didn’t. He simply tried to put what he felt in a way to be understood. And yet some misunderstood and were outraged by his simile. Depp chose to apologize.

 light bulbWhat we need to understand is that someone, somewhere will always be offended by even the least offensive of terms. Should we let a small group infringe upon our freedom of speech?

Let’s move on to Hank Williams. This is the controversy (in case you’re one of the six people who haven’t yet heard): Williams, whose song "All My Rowdy Friends" has been the "Monday Night Football" theme on both ABC and ESPN since 1991, said on "Fox and Friends" that he thought House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner playing golf with President Obama "would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu ... In the shape this country is in?" ESPN Pulls Williams from MNF Opening

First, let me say this. I don’t watch Monday Night Football and couldn’t care less if a song of Hank Williams Jr. opens the show or not. Secondly, I don’t like Williams music and never have. Thirdly, as a Christian, I believe we are to respect the president of the United States.

The question is, does Williams’ remark disrespect President Obama? Does he say Obama is like Hitler? No. The analogy has nothing to do with President Obama, per se. Obama and Boehner playing golf together is like Hitler playing golf with a Jewish leader. This analogy is about the tension existing between the president and Republicans.

To fail to understand these are simply analogies make some as bright as burnt-out light bulbs in the Superdome.

My apologies to light bulb makers everywhere.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interruptions and Writer’s Block

Things are not going as planned. Do they ever? God’s ways are not our ways. I’m taking deep breaths, soothing breaths, and enjoying the sun—for what are small disturbances compared to the mightiness of God? sand

And, yes, they are small, very minor, problems that still have me irritable, like grains of sand in my shoe. Enough to chafe and irritate. Yet, it is in how we handle the small things that help develop character. We can allow such things to take on dramatic proportions, and, swatting at gnats, swallow a camel.

We must stop at times and empty our shoes of the grains of sand. Stop and be thankful our shoes are not filled with shards of glass.

To be more to the point—I have squandered away a week. Oh, sure, I did accomplish some things. One thing I accomplished was learning why I have accomplished so little. As a writer, I have been mentally blocked since the ACFW Conference. I spent two full days figuring out why.

At the conference I discovered the enormity of the three-book series I am writing. Two taboo subjects for publishers of Christian fiction I was told.

And, I was also told I had a story line good enough to be, well, . . . something. The questions I had, the things blocking my writing, were—1. Am I a good enough writer to tell the story? 2. Am I a fearless enough writer to tell the story, unafraid of possibly offending some? And, lastly, 3. Am I pleasing God by telling this story?

I sorted through these questions and have put my indecision, my mental blocks, behind. Four days ago I decided to simply do my best and leave the rest to God. Not everyone will like the story and that’s okay. I need only please God and myself.

However, since that decision, for the past three days, I’ve had one interruption after another—the grains of sand in my shoes.

Now to shake my shoes to rid them of the grains of sand. And take the deep breaths to calm my soul, so I may have the clarity of thought to proceed.