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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography.

HavergalA few years ago I read a book titled In Trouble and In Joy: Four Women Who Lived For God by Sharon James. She wrote fairly short biographies of four women and then included several samples of their own writing: Margaret Baxter, wife of Puritan preacher Richard Baxter; Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards; Anne Steele and Frances Ridley Havergal, both single hymn writers. You might know some of Frances’s hymns: “Take My Life and Let It Be,” “Like a River Glorious,” “I Could Not Do Without Thee,” “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” She wrote a sweet poem about fellow hymn writer Fanny Crosby, shown here. She only lived 42 years. One of the excerpts from Frances Ridley Havergal included this letter from a collection that was published under the title Swiss Letters (available online at Google Books). It was convicting to me because I’m sure I would have reacted much less graciously than she did.

 For the first and only time in Switzerland, I found a strange contrast to the usual civility and even kindness of the people…A tall, bold, rough girl, of twenty-five or so, let me in. ” Yes, you can have a room when it’s ready; not before. Here, in here !” And she ushered me into a dark dirty room with tables and benches, marched off, and shut the door. I did not like my quarters at all, but there was no help for it…. But of course I had been asking all along to be guided, so I was not uneasy, but expected I had been guided there for some good reason, perhaps some wandering sheep to be found. It got quite dark, and then five or six men came in, and she brought a candle, and they sat down at one of the tables and smoked. I hardly think they saw me. I asked if my room was ready. ” No, you must wait! ” and out she darted, slamming the door. So I waited, sitting on my bench in my dark corner for nearly an hour, she coming roughly in and out, talking noisily and bringing wine for the men. At last— ” You can come upstairs now! ” So I went, glad enough.

 It was not quite so dirty as downstairs, but not brilliant. A jug and basin on the table was all the apparatus ; the bed was barley straw, no pillow, but a pink cotton bolster. “Are you going to bed now ?” she asked. I told her yes, very soon. About eight o’clock, just as I really was going to bed, came a sharp angry rap at my door. I was glad it was locked, for before I could answer the handle was rattled violently.

 “What is it?”

 “Are you going to burn the candle all night ? How soon are you going to put it out, I should like to know! burning it all away ‘ comme cela!'” I considered it advisable to answer very meekly, so I merely said it should be put out in a few minutes, whereupon she banged downstairs. It seemed to me that this was an ” opportunity,” so I asked God that when morning came He would shut her mouth and open mine.

 [The next morning at breakfast] I asked her to get me some coffee. ” Can’t have coffee till it’s made !” said she savagely. So I went and sat outside the door and waited patiently. In about half an hour she poked her head out. ” Do you want anything besides coffee ?” still in a tone as if I were a mortal enemy ! I suggested bread and butter. ” Butter!” (as if I had asked for turtle soup!) ” there is none, but you can have a piece of bread if you like.”

 Then it was my turn! I went close to her, looked up into her wicked-looking eyes, and put my hand on her arm and said (as gently as possible): ” You are not happy ; I know you are not.” She darted the oddest look at me ; a sort of startled, half frightened look, as if she thought I was a witch! I saw I had touched the right string and followed it up, telling her how I saw last night she was unhappy, even when she was laughing and joking, and how I had prayed for her; and then, finding she was completely tamed, spoke to her quite plainly and solemnly, and then about Jesus and what He could do for her. She made a desperate effort not to cry. She listened in a way that I am sure nothing but God’s hand upon her could have made her listen, and took ” A Saviour for You” (in French), promising to read it, and thanking me over and over again. The remaining few minutes I was in the house she was as respectful and quiet as one could wish. I also got a talk with her old mother. So if God grants this to be the checking of this poor girl in what I should imagine to be a very downward path, was it not well worth getting out of the groove of one’s usual comforts and civilities?

Irritated

One of my sons, when he was a youngster, got hold of the word “irritating” – as in, “Mo-ooom, he’s irritating me.” Now, we tried to teach our boys not to irritate each other on purpose, not to hit, tease, “bother,” bait, infringe on the possessions or person of the other, etc. But sometimes in just everyday living together, we’re going to get irritated with each other. Someone in the innocence of their heart can make too much noise, be somewhere I was going to be or use something I was about to use, etc. So, after listening to whatever had irritated my young son, sometimes I would deal with the issue, but sometimes I would say something like, “You need to work on not being so irritate-able” (Spelled and pronounced that way on purpose for emphasis). That was not a satisfying answer. The problem is with the other guy, Mom! You need to make him stop!

I find myself getting far too irritated far too often. Sometimes it’s the other thing or person that is being irritating, or causing the issue: the stupid recalcitrant computer, the driver who wasn’t watching what he was doing, etc. But too often, it’s just a matter of my own irritate-ableness. Touchiness, my mom used to call it. I started to list my most frequent irritants, but we all have our own (and I don’t want to offend anyone :) ).

So what can I do when I am feeling irritated?

1. Fix the issue, if possible. Find out if there is something wrong with the computer, leave early so every red light isn’t aggravating, slow down and take the necessary time to accomplish something so haste doesn’t create more problems, gently ask the other person to refrain from or change whatever they are doing,etc..

2. Forbear. A former pastor used to say forbearing was just good old-fashioned putting up with each other. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Not just forbearing, but forbearing in love. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins,” I Peter 4:8. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

3. Humble myself. The verses mentioned speak of humility and meekness. Who am I to think that the entire world should revolve around my whims and preferences?

4. Focus on the other person. Those verses also speak of love. Instead of focusing on that irritant, I need to focus on that person as another child of the Father whom He loves every bit as much as He loves me and seek ways to serve him or her.

5. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I need to remember that I’m probably unwittingly irritating someone else sometimes who is graciously (I hope) being forbearing with me. I need to handle the irritations that come from other people as graciously as I would want them to handle mine.

6. Don’t make excuses. There are certain times and seasons and hormones and circumstances that make one more susceptible to irritability. I admit it is really hard for me to be civil, much less loving, when I haven’t had enough sleep. And during certain hormonal surges I’ve wondered how in the world God expected me not to blow up at someone with all that going on. But He gives grace when we ask Him and rely on Him for it.

7. Behold our God. II Corinthians 3:18 says we’re changed more and more into Christ’s likeness as we behold Him. When I look inside and tell myself I need to be more kind, loving, forbearing, etc., I get discouraged and fail because I don’t have it in myself. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). But when I look at Him, that irritability seems to just melt away.

“Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13b.

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Romans 3:24-25.

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” Galatians 5:22-23.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Psalm 103:8.

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:8-9.

8. Pray. Something that I pray for myself and my loves ones often is Colossians 1:9-14:

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

Verse 9 reminds me that I need His strength and power to be patient and longsuffering, and that He will even enable me to do it with joyfulness!

Have you found any other tips for dealing with irritability?

To Behold Thee

From weariness of sin I turn at last, O Lord, to Thee
My eyes and heart grown dim from looking long on vanity.
I venture toward thy radiance then, compelled to come by grace
And in the pages of Thy word behold Thy lovely face.

(Refrain)
Face of glory, turned upon me
I cannot but Thee adore.
To behold Thee, O my Saviour,
Is to love Thee more and more.

Each grace in all its fullness on Thy countenance I see.
Great tenderness of mercy, blazing light of purity.
Thine eyes are wells and love and wisdom, s
ettled peace Thy brow,
Before the whole of perfect beauty I in worship bow.

(Refrain)

When someday I before Thee stand, a debtor to Thy grace,
And gaze with heaven’s eyes upon the brightness of Thy face,
Transformed into Thy likeness, all my sin thrust far away,
With millions of redeemed ones I will lift my voice and say:

Face of glory turned upon me
I cannot but Thee adore.
To behold Thee, O my Savior,
Is to love Thee more and more.
To behold Thee, O my Savior,
Is to love Thee more and more.

Words: Eileen Berry

Music: Dan Forrest

To hear this beautiful hymn, go here and click on “Listen

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18

Friday’s Fave Five

FFF fall flowersIt’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends. Here are my favorite parts of the last week:

1. The first week of autumn! Sometimes I am reluctant to give up summer – even though our calendar doesn’t ebb and flow with a school any more, there is a more relaxed feel to summer and those longer evenings of daylight. But the first leaves are changing and we’ve had a few cool mornings, so I am more than ready now!

2. A near perfect Saturday. Often Saturdays are catch-up days, but last Saturday I didn’t have any errands to run and had finished laundry the day before. I had been feeling the need for some alone time – some days there isn’t much uninterrupted time in which to hear myself think, as the saying goes – and had made it a matter of prayer. Saturday morning Jim was out running errands, Jesse slept later than usual, and I didn’t hear anything from my mother-in-law’s caregiver all morning. It was bliss to compose an entire blog post for the next week in one setting rather than in pieces. Then I got to spend some time organizing in my sewing/craft room, and we got take-out barbecue for dinner. A lovely day all around.

3. More baby smiles, giggles, and “talking.

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4. Safe travels and peaceful evenings. I was sorry my husband had to travel a couple of days this week, but I am glad God kept him safe coming and going and that his mom seemed to take it in stride. Some times when he is gone she gets unsettled and gets into what I call a jag of asking to “go home” over and over or to see her daughter or whatever. I think the last time he was gone she kept asking me through the night if she was behind on her mail. I don’t know where that came from. Earlier this week before he had even left she was asking about her cat, which she left behind when she moved to be near us six years ago, so I was afraid we might be in for a rough patch. But she slept well and everything was calm, for which I am very thankful.

5. A procedure gone well. Timothy had to have a little procedure done yesterday which required him to be sedated, which was worry enough, but his history of breathing problems and heart rate drops when he was in the hospital added to the concern. He weathered everything well and is laughing today.

Bonus: Thinking over some of my “Ebenezers” this week – those times of especially sensing, knowing, seeing evidence of God’s direct care and provision in our lives.

Happy first Friday of autumn!

My Ebenezers

Some of you might recall the line in the hymn “Come Thou Fount” which says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer — hither by Thy help I’m come,” and you might know that it echoes 1 Samuel 7:12: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” “Ebenezer” means “stone of help,” and it was not uncommon in Old Testament times for Israelites to set up a pile of stones for a monument marking God’s help. You can read more of the background on this story here.

A couple of years ago, Do Not Depart called for some modern day Ebenezer stories: those situations in your life when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the Lord who helped you, those seeming “coincidences” that you knew were really evidence of God’s hand at work. I wrote most of this out then and added a little to it. There are numerous encouragements in the Bible to remember what God has done, not only in His Word, but in our own lives: it reminds us of His care, power, and provision, and encourages us to pray, thank Him and trust Him in our current circumstances and for the future.

Here are a few of my Ebenezers:

  • A move during junior high led to a school that was extremely cliquish. Sometimes people toss that word around lightly when they’re feeling a little lonely, but this school had definite, well-defined cliques with very little interaction between them, and I didn’t seem to be accepted in any of them. I’d had a circle of friends before, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I had a crush on one guy in the most “cool” group, but of course he and that group were impossible dreams. In later years I found out it was God’s great mercy that kept me from getting “in” with that crowd as they were involved in a number of things that would have been detrimental to me.
  • When I was 15, my parents divorced. It had not been a happy home for years, but the break-up of a family still hurts deeply. Besides that, we were moving from our very small town to the teeming metropolis of Houston, I was leaving my friends and all that was familiar and going into the unknown right in the middle of high school, and I was told I would not be allowed to contact my friends or relatives for a while because my mom was afraid of my father finding us and what he would do if he did. I laid on my bed clinging for dear life to Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Even though I had only a surface understanding of that verse, God honored that faith and fulfilled His Word. As a result of all those changes I began seeking Him earnestly, God led to a Christian school and a good church, I heard about the college where I would one day attend and find my husband.
  • After we moved, when we visited the high school I was to attend, I was convinced I could never go there for various reasons. We didn’t know what the alternatives could be, but we saw an ad for a Christian school. We visited and interviewed, and I wanted to go, but my parents could not afford the tuition. One day we drove to the school to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come. My mom went in, and I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife drove up, saw me, and came over and told me someone offered to pay my way that year, and someone anonymously did the next year as well. It was through this school and church that I got stabilized in my faith in Christ and grounded in His Word.
  • My parents could not pay for college, either, but through various means God got me through five years at a Christian university. Lots of Ebenezers there! But one stands out: an offering from my Sunday School class at my home church allowed me to buy some necessities like deodorant and toothpaste. Coming back to my dorm room, I heard our hall was having a party and everyone was asked to contribute a dime for ice cream and toppings. I had literally only one dime left. As I gave it, I began to feel panicky about not having any money at all to my name. Then God reminded me of the offering just given. He was taking care of me in big and small ways.
  • One Christmas Eve morning shortly after our first anniversary, we were driving from SC, where we lived, to visit my family in TX. Our car broke down near Biloxi, MS. It was an old German car called an Opel, and when we’d had problems with it before, it took weeks to fix because the parts were hard to find. I wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out now, how we’d get home and then get back to get the car, etc. My husband found a phone booth (no cell phones in those days), and found a random mechanic with a tow truck in the yellow pages. He explained the problem and then said something like, “By the way, it’s an Opel, so it might be a problem to get parts for it.” The mechanic answered, “No problem — we just bought out the local Opel dealership.”
  • I could heap up a whole pile of Ebenezers from my experience with transverse myelitis, but I’ll share just one: when I was scheduled for an MRI, everybody kept asking me if I was claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure (nowadays I would say, “YES!”), but their questions were making me nervous. I was told the day before that I would have to be very still for the procedure, which I think lasted the better part of an hour. The day before, in my Daily Light on the Daily Path devotional book, all the verses were about being still. A few of them: Ruth 3:18: Sit still, my daughter; Psalm 46: 10: Be still, and know that I am God; Psalm 4:4: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still (more are here). Those verses kept running through my mind while I was in the MRI machine, and God kept me very calm: I even dozed off.
  • For years my husband had to travel quite a bit. At first I was a total basket case beset by fears, but God gradually enabled me to cope. Three years ago I wrote a post about coping when a husband is away, and it has become one of my most viewed posts in 8 years of blogging. Though I inwardly whined and wailed about having to be alone so much at first, I am thankful to be able to testify of God’s grace and help and to be able to encourage other ladies in the same situation.
  • When my son was planning to be married in OK and we were making plans to drive there and back from SC, my husband planned to rent a U-Haul there in OK to bring back our new daughter-in-law’s furniture and the wedding presents. But U-Haul wouldn’t rent to him because someone with his type of car had sued them once before because of some problem. We couldn’t find any other rental options in OK, so we ended up having to rent a trailer from a local business and take it with us there and back. Everything was fine on the return trip until the trailer blew a tire. I don’t even remember where we were at the time — some stretch of Interstate between cities. We tried calling AAA, but they don’t deal with tires on rental trailers. Thankfully my oldest son had a data plan on his phone and looked up local businesses and found a Wal-Mart a few exits up. But we’d have to unhitch the trailer and leave it while we went for the tire. I remember looking out the window and praying that my kids would see God’s hand in this. We were nervous about leaving the trailer there alone, but we also didn’t want to leave any one of us alone to guard it while everyone else went to Wal-Mart. I was praying fervently that no one would break into it and steal any of my son’s and daughter-in-law’s things. When we went to Wal-Mart, they were just closing their tire service center and didn’t really want to let us in, but we explained the situation, and they did. Meanwhile we got a call from our newly-married son, on his way East on his honeymoon trip: “Dad…did you leave the trailer on the side of the road?” They were passing by just at that time and saw it. We explained what had happened, and they circled back to stay with the trailer while we got the new tire, then we went back, put the new tire on, and went to get something to eat together. Though it’s a bit unconventional to go out to eat with one’s parents on one’s honeymoon, there were so many evidences on God’s hand at work in this situation: if we had rented a generic trailer, Jason would not have recognized it as the one we had and wouldn’t have called about it; if they hadn’t been passing that way at that time, they wouldn’t have seen it; if we had been even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have gotten into Wal-Mart, and as our other calls hadn’t led to any other options, we would have had to spend the night in town and leave the trailer out on the Interstate all night.

There have been so many other situations…wrecks narrowly averted, running late and coming upon the scene of an accident that might have been mine if I’d been on time, financial needs met right at the needed time, finding something that was lost after earnest prayer about it, praying for wisdom and receiving it, a word of encouragement at just the right moment, help for a task that was too big for me, something from the Word that was just exactly what I needed for the day. I am so thankful for His loving, intimate, wonderful care!!

 Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
Psalm 109:26-27

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
 for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
 My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:5-8

Princess_and_the_GoblinMy interest in George MacDonald was first piqued when I read of his influence on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis, whose imagination, he said, was “baptised” by reading MacDonald’s Phantastes. I’ve seen him quoted by various others, but somehow I don’t think I have ever read one of his books. I was especially interested in The Princess and the Goblin after listening to the funeral service of a young wife and mom who passed away last year (Julie Herbster, for those who knew her). Her pastor spoke of her love for literature and mentioned her hanging on to the truth she knew in the face of such devastating circumstances, just like the princess followed her great-great-grandmother’s thread through the goblin cave even though no one else could see it or believed it was there (more on that later). So I was delighted to see this title listed for this month for Carrie’s  Reading to Know Classics Book Club. That’s one of the values of these kinds of challenges and book clubs: they spur me to read books I might not otherwise have ever gotten around to.

The story begins with a bored 8 year old Princess Irene, inside on a rainy day, restless and dissatisfied with all her many wonderful toys. Her “King Papa” has sent her out into the country to be raised at first because her mother was not very strong, later because her mother died and her father was often away on kingdom business. On this rainy day her nurse, Lootie, leaves the room for a moment, and Irene notices another door left ajar, one that goes upstairs. She decides to investigate but gets thoroughly lost amidst seemingly myriad doors. She can’t find her way back down and gets quite upset until she finds a very old lady at a spinning wheel in one room. Though she was obviously very old and wise, with white hair, her skin was smooth. She told Irene she was her great-great-grandmother and that she was also named Irene. After her great-great-grandmother  wipes the tears from Irene’s dusty face and shows her her pigeons, she shows her the way back downstairs so that Lootie won’t be worried about her.

Irene tells Lootie all about her great-great-grandmother, but Lootie thinks she is just making up stories. Irene is quite offended, but after a while she wonders if perhaps her visit to her great-great-grandmother was all just a dream.

One thing the princess doesn’t know, but everyone else does, is that the mountains’ underground passages are full of goblins who used to be people but chose to live underground after some disagreements with the King. Eons of living “away from the sun, in cold and wet and dark places” had transformed them into hideous and grotesque creatures. Lootie is supposed to be keeping Irene safe especially from goblins, but one day as they are out exploring, Lootie realizes they’ve gone too far and won’t make it back home before dark. Frightened, she grabs Irene and starts running without having the time to explain why. They take a wrong turn and begin to see odd shapes in the rocks and hear laughter, when suddenly a young miner’s son named Curdie comes across their path singing a rhyme. He tells them the goblins can’t stand rhymes and songs, but they are out and about, and they need to get home as quickly as possible, so he helps them find the way and escorts them back.

Later, when Curdie works late in the mines one night to try to earn money to buy his mother a red petticoat, he overhears some goblins talking and hears reference to a plan that would endanger Irene, and another “Plan B” that isn’t exactly clear. In trying to find out more about it, he eventually is captured. Irene had found her great-great-grandmother once again, who had given her a ring filled with fine thread she had woven for her. She told her that when she needed to, she could put the ring under her pillow and follow the thread to guide her. One day she follows the thread to where Curdie is being kept, and helps him escape. Curdie can’t see the thread and can’t see Irene’s great-great-grandmother, either, when she tries to introduce him. He thinks Irene is trying to make a fool of him; Irene is hurt.

But Curdie determines that he will still try to find out the goblins’ plan and protect the princess. I’ll leave the story there for you to find out the rest if you choose to read the book, but you can be sure a confrontation with the goblins will occur.

One one level, this is a fairy tale with a classic good vs. evil battle and with young people learning and growing in the course of it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any Spark Notes or Cliff Notes that discussed the plot, theme, and symbolism. Just Googling “symbolism in The Princess and the Goblin” and perusing a few of the posts that came up led to a wide variety of interpretations. Some see Irene’s sreat-great-grandmother as a fairy godmother, a goddess, or the Virgin Mary. Some sympathize with the goblins as victims of a classist society. Some took umbrage to MacDonald’s view that a princess (or anyone of royal blood) should have certain inherent qualities.

Since MacDonald was a Christian (though I’d disagree with some of his views as described in Wikipedia), I think we have to interpret the story in the light of basic Christian teachings. I don’t think the story is meant to be an overt allegory, but it does portray a beneficent being who cares for, heals, protects (and sometimes rebukes) its charges, who can’t be seen unless allowed and with some degree of faith. Light is associated with it, light that guides and protects, and a bird showing up at certain moments seems to invoke Biblical instances of the Holy Spirit in the form of a bird (though in the story the bird is a pigeon rather than a dove). I think the thread does represent truth, and Irene has to discern between what appears to be true and what her great-great-grandmother told her and choose which to trust, even (especially) when others don’t believe. I don’t think that royal blood really influences one’s behavior (except in fairy tales) – both history and modern times have given us royals with less than commendable character. But we can agree that a royal should have certain characteristics, and if Irene and Curdie are supposed to represent children of God, then, yes, they should have certain characteristics and should also be growing in them.

Besides the overall story and symbolism, there is a lot of humor in the book, especially in regard to the goblins. In one of my favorite passages, a goblin father is telling his son that humans have toes, which goblins apparently don’t have:

‘Why do they wear shoes up there?’

‘Ah, now that’s a sensible question, and I will answer it. But in order to do so, I must first tell you a secret. I once saw the queen’s feet.’

‘Without her shoes?’

‘Yes—without her shoes.’

‘No! Did you? How was it?’

‘Never you mind how it was. She didn’t know I saw them. And what do you think!—they had toes!’

‘Toes! What’s that?’

‘You may well ask! I should never have known if I had not seen the queen’s feet. Just imagine! the ends of her feet were split up into five or six thin pieces!’

‘Oh, horrid! How could the king have fallen in love with her?’

‘You forget that she wore shoes. That is just why she wore them. That is why all the men, and women too, upstairs wear shoes. They can’t bear the sight of their own feet without them.’

A few of my other favorite passages:

When Irene in fear unwisely runs right into the path of danger, “Not daring to look behind her, she rushed straight out of the gate and up the mountain. It was foolish indeed—thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of. “

“Lootie had very foolish notions concerning the dignity of a princess, not understanding that the truest princess is just the one who loves all her brothers and sisters best, and who is most able to do them good by being humble towards them.”

“…it is so silly of people to fancy that old age means crookedness and witheredness and feebleness and sticks and spectacles and rheumatism and forgetfulness! It is so silly! Old age has nothing whatever to do with all that. The right old age means strength and beauty and mirth and courage and clear eyes and strong painless limbs.”

“Here I should like to remark, for the sake of princes and princesses in general, that it is a low and contemptible thing to refuse to confess a fault, or even an error. If a true princess has done wrong, she is always uneasy until she has had an opportunity of throwing the wrongness away from her by saying: ‘I did it; and I wish I had not; and I am sorry for having done it.”

A comment I saw on Goodreads said that in one person’s edition, the story starts this way:

“THERE was once a little princess who—
“But Mr. Author, why do you always write about princesses?”
“Because every little girl is a princess.”
“You will make them vain if you tell them that.”
“Not if they understand what I mean.”
“Then what do you mean?”
“What do you mean by a princess?”
“The daughter of a king.”
“Very well, then every little girl is a princess, and there would be no need to say anything about it, except that she is always in danger of forgetting her rank, and behaving as if she had grown out of the mud. I have seen little princesses behave like children of thieves and lying beggars, and that is why they need to be told they are princesses. And that is why when I tell a story of this kind, I like to tell it about a princess. Then I can say better what I mean, because I can then give her every beautiful thing I want her to have.”
“Please go on.”

I love that – I don’t know why it is taken out in some editions.

Overall I loved this book and am so glad Bekah chose it for this months Reading to Know Classics Book Club selection.

(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

 

 

 

 What's On Your NightstandThe folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

This is one of those months when the fourth Tuesday comes a week before the actual end of the month. Thankfully I remembered in good time this time. :)

Since last time I have completed:

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi, reviewed here. Excellent – likely will be one of my top ten of the year.

Undetected by Dee Henderson, reviewed here. Excellent.

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen, reviewed here. Not excellent, in my opinion. Very disappointing.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, audiobook, reviewed here. One of the best of the Holmes books.

Persuasion by Jane Austen, audiobook. I read it for the first time 7 years ago (reviewed here), and very much enjoyed listening to it.

I’m currently reading:

Why We Are Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung, Ted Kluck, and David F. Wells. I started it, anyway – need to get going with it.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald for Carrie’s  Reading to Know Classics Book Club. (Just finished this one shortly after posting, reviewed here.)

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, NEWEST Mitford book by Jan Karon! Loving it!

The Pound a Day Diet by Rocco DiSpirito – I’m not convinced that that’s a healthy plan, but I’ve seen him on the “Extreme Weight Loss” show this summer and liked what he had to say, so I thought I’d read the book and possibly gain some tips and recipes.

Gospel Meditations for Missions.

Next up:

The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

How I Know God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth for Carrie’s  Reading to Know Classics Book Club. We were originally going to do To the Golden Shore by Adoniram Judson, but the book club is running a bit behind just now due to some lengthier classics earlier in the year and to busy life circumstances. I’m leading the discussion this month, and I was concerned that with the length of the book, the fact that there is no Kindle version, and it probably won’t be in most public libraries, that therefore few people would read it. I was thinking about How I Know God Answers Prayer for next year, then suggested to Carrie that under the circumstances we might want to switch and do it this year: it’s shorter, there is a free Kindle version, and the text is online at Project Gutenberg. If you’ve never read of the Goforths, this will be a good introduction: if you have, it will be a good refresher.

Also starting Oct. 1 I’ll be sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biographies as part of The Nester’s 31 Days. I invite you join me!

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