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For the past few years Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) has hosted 31 Days on her blog, a writing challenge wherein bloggers can choose a topic to write on every day in October in 9 different categories. It has gotten so big that this year it has its own site: 31 Days. You can find more information at What is 31 Days?

I really enjoyed participating for the first time last year with 31 Days of Missionary Stories. I decided this year to write about 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. I was originally going to call it Christian Biography, but rather than just give you an overview of someone’s life that you can find on Wikipedia, I want to share what inspired me about that person’s life. It may be an overview in some cases, or it may be one incident.

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Reading Christian biographies has been one of the most influential activities of my life: I’ve learned so much by seeing faith in action, growth, example, victories as well as defeats, all of which has aided me in my own walk with the Lord.  I hope to share some of that with you.

I got several comments last year about how much time it must take to write these posts: most of them will come from newsletter articles I’ve already written. For nine years in a previous church I compiled a newsletter for our ladies’ group with a biographical section, for the same reasons listed above, and the Lord has opened the door for me to do something similar in our current church. I’ll be editing and tweaking them, but for the most part I won’t be writing these “from scratch,” so it is not taking as much time as it might appear to be.

I hope you’ll join me! As I post each day, I’ll put the links on this post so that they’ll all be in one place.

And in the meantime you might check out the 31 Days site and see if you’d like to participate. Let me know if you do!

The first time I heard this hymn was from an ensemble visiting our church, and I was riveted. I thought it was a new hymn, but looking it up after I got home, I saw it was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in1873. I like the newer melody better, but I don’t know who wrote it.

I have usually only heard it sung with these four stanzas, but cyberhymnal.org lists several more.

I could not do without Thee
O Savior of the lost,
Whose precious blood redeemed me
At such tremendous cost.
Thy righteousness, thy pardon
Thy precious blood, must be
My only hope and comfort,
My glory and my plea.

I could not do without Thee,
I cannot stand alone,
I have no strength or goodness,
No wisdom of my own;
But Thou, beloved Savior,
Art all in all to me,
And weakness will be power
If leaning hard on Thee.

I could not do without Thee,
O Jesus, Savior dear;
E’en when my eyes are holden,
I know that Thou art near.
How dreary and how lonely
This changeful life would be,
Without the sweet communion,
The secret rest with Thee!

I could not do without Thee,
For years are fleeting fast,
And soon in solemn loneness
The river must be passed;
But Thou wilt never leave me,
And though the waves roll high,
I know Thou wilt be near me,
And whisper, “It is I.”

The first time I heard it I was struck with the repetition of “lone,” “alone,” and “loneness.” I was feeling very much alone at the time because Jim was traveling a lot, and I was reminded that I am never alone with Christ, and that’s not just a trite saying but a meaningful reality. And then the second stanza has been a help to me so many times. We truly have no strength, goodness, or wisdom of our own, but because of the redemption mentioned in the first stanza, we can experience the strength in the second stanza.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some reads that piqued my interest this week: you might find some of them beneficial as well.

We Must Believe. A good explanation of what exactly it means to believe on Christ for salvation.

6 Reasons Women Should Study Theology.

Mentoring 101, HT to Challies.

Emotional Control.

What a Pastor Wants From the Music Ministry.

The Books Boomers Will Never Read.

Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress.

And this from a Facebook friend brought a smile:

The E

Hope you have a great day!

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.

This is another week I was away from the computer more than anticipated. It seems my life is in a state of never knowing what a day will bring forth just now. :-) Here are some favorite aspects of the past week:

1. Jesse’s birthday. My youngest turned 21 this week! So hard to believe!

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2. A refund. I had ordered something for Jesse’s birthday via eBay, and the item arrived damaged. When I contacted the seller, at first he only wanted to give me a partial refund, but after a second e-mail with some photos he gave me a full refund and did not require me to send the item back (I wouldn’t have minded, but it was bulky and I didn’t want to pay for return postage).

3. Sleep. I mentioned that last week, I know. :) A couple of nights this week I conked out about 10 p.m. – earlier than usual, but it helped with the sleep deficit. And a couple of 10-15 power naps a couple of afternoons helped get me through the day. I don’t mind naps but I don’t want to take a chunk out of my day to sleep – I’d rather sleep at night!

4. Chicken Chimichangas. I had been craving Mexican food, and the restaurant we used to frequent went out of business. I finally made these on Thursday. I use this recipe – it’s supposed to be a little healthier because it is baked rather than fried, but since I top it with queso sauce, that probably cancels out the healthy advantages. :)

Chimichangas
5. Jan Karon’s newest book, Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good. I’m almost halfway through and loving it. She is always such a cozy read.

That’s about it for my week – hope yours was a good one!

HoundThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was written 8 years after The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, in which Holmes supposedly died, but is set before that time. According to Wikipedia, its success prompted Doyle to write more Holmes novels, and it’s rated as one of his best Holmes stories.

It opens in typical fashion with Holmes wowing Watson with various deductions before they’re visited by a client. Dr James Mortimer has traveled to London to ask Holmes’ advice. It seems that the most recent baronet of Baskerville Hall in Devonshire (and Mortimer’s neighbor) , Sir Charles Baskerville, died of extreme fright apparently after being pursued by a large hound. A mysterious, monstrous hound killed one of his ancestors, and this and the ancestor’s evil deeds grew into a legend that the Baskervilles were cursed. Though the hound didn’t attack Sir Charles directly, its nearby footprints seem to give credence to the legend. Dr. Mortimer’s problem is that the new heir is supposed to arrive from Canada, and Mortimer doesn’t know whether it is safe to conduct him to Baskerville Hall. Holmes asks Mortimer to bring the new heir, Sir Henry, to him when he arrives. By the time they meet, though, Sir Henry has received an anonymous warning to avoid the moors at Devonshire, and one of his boots has been stolen. When they leave Holmes’s apartment, he discovers that Sir Henry is being followed. Henry wants to go to his estate despite the weird occurrences and warnings. Holmes is busy with another case but sends Watson to the Hall with Henry and Mortimer to observe, meet the staff and neighbors, and report back to Holmes.

Holmes says early on that there are several strands to the case, and he has to try various ones to find out which will lead him to the truth. His investigation and Watson’s reports put some strands to rest easily, but others cause more excitement and concern. An escaped convict hiding out in the moor complicates the case. When Holmes does arrive in Devonshire he discerns who was responsible for Sir Charles’s death and realizes Sir Henry is in imminent danger himself, but he does not yet have enough concrete evidence to make a case. While he waits to close the net on the perpetrator, will he be too late to prevent yet another crime?

In my venture through the Holmes novels in publication order, I’ve been piecing together his character as a whole and comparing it to some of the modern characterizations and adaptations of him. Most modern portrayals present him as somewhat rude, but I haven’t found him to be so in the novels, as least not yet. He is pretty egotistical, though. In one amusing exchange, he and Watson are disagreeing about their deductions from a certain piece of evidence. Watson eventually concedes by saying, “You may be right.” Holmes responds, “The probability lies in that direction.” Another conversation is perhaps a little more snide:

“Really, Watson, you excel yourself,” said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a cigarette. “I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.”

He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his words gave me keen pleasure, for I had often been piqued by his indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had made to give publicity to his methods. I was proud, too, to think that I had so far mastered his system as to apply it in a way which earned his approval….

[After differing over the evidence in question] “I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth.”

Watson’s character continues to emerge as well. Some older film versions portray him as a dumpy old man whose only purpose is a foil for Holmes and a chronicler of his cases: thankfully more modern adaptations show more of his strengths. In this story he is described as “fleet of foot” in a chase scene, and though some of his conclusions are wrong, his observations are helpful. When Holmes sends him with Sir Henry, he says of Watson, “There is no man who is better worth having at your side when you are in a tight place. No one can say so more confidently than I.” Watson himself confesses, “The promise of adventure had always a fascination for me.”

I listened to the audiobook read very nicely by Derek Jacobi. He not only portrayed the different characters very well, but he incorporated the action into his voice, sounding like he was running when his characters were, etc. I also looked at some passages a little more closely at the Project Gutenberg online version of the text.

I do agree that this is the best Holmes novel I have read/heard so far. Doyle did an admirable job setting the scene for a Gothic-type mystery with the  depressing old house, the mysterious legend, and the dangerous moors, and the plot was adequately suspenseful.

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

Reading Challenge Update

2014tbrbuttonI keep forgetting that Roof Beam Reader, who hosts the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge, has check-in points around the 15th of each month so we can summarize how we’re doing. I haven’t done one since June, and since that time I have completed (all links are to my reviews):

How to Read Slowly by James W. Sire

The Book of Three by Alexander Lloyd

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

Just Jane, A Novel of Jane Austen’s Life by Nancy Moser

The last two were my alternates, and this completes twelve books from my list, so technically I am done. I have started Why We Are Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, one of the books on my original list. I’d like to get to How to Be a Writer but I am not sure I will. I like to read a book about writing now and then to keep those fires stirred up, but the lack of time to write is a bit of a sore spot right now, so I am undecided.

classics2014I’ve completed everything for the Back to the Classics Challenge except To Kill a Mockingbird, both the book and the movie. We’ll be reading that title in December for Carrie’s  Reading to Know Classics Book Club, so I’ll pick that one up then, or maybe a little early.

 

bible-verse-christian-hebrews-12-1-2For the The Cloud of Witnesses Challenge, in addition to Mere Christianity and Crowded to Christ, which I had read earlier this year, I finished The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. I had planned to read four books in this category of nonfiction books written by a Christian who has passed on, so with these three and the devotional I am reading by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, I’ll have no problem finishing my goals for this challenge as well, though I may read one or two more before the year is out.

As much as I have enjoyed the challenges, especially the impetus to work some titles into my reading that I might not have gotten to otherwise, I’m happy to be pretty much done with them and back to some of the fiction books that have been waiting for me.

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a couple of weeks since I have been able to share some interesting reads with you. Here are some standouts from my recent web reading:

The Memorial Service of Tom Craig, Our Pastor. Brad is a member of our church who has been chronicling the journey of our pastor and church every week since our pastor’s cancer diagnosis, and here he describes the events on the day of his memorial service as well as the service itself. Our church originally had a fundraiser that had been scheduled that morning weeks before, and there was much discussion about whether to postpone it since the funeral was scheduled for the same day. Thankfully they decided to go ahead with it, but that’s what the description of the run and bike rides are about. A recording of the memorial service is here.

Losing the Language. Apt analogy about getting away from church and the things of the Lord.

10 Ways to Exercise Christlike Headship, HT to Challies.

What People Who Are New to Your Church Want to Know.

To the Girls in the Pew Ahead of Me.

That Day I Wore Yoga Pants: 5 Myths About Modesty. Most posts/articles/books about modesty tend to lean either toward the woman’s responsibility to watch how she dresses so as not to cause others to stumble or the man’s responsibility to guard his eyes and heart. I thought this one was nicely balanced.

A list of things you may not have known about paralysis from a fellow TMer.

5 Things You Must Do To Protect Yourself Online.

10 Things I’ve Learned After 30+ Years and 70+ Books.

Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves. Loved this fun, incredulous look at how people decorate their bookshelves with something other than the best thing: books.

I Quit Liking Things on Facebook For Two Weeks, HT to Kim, shows how what we click that we “like” affects what we see there. I’m not going to quit using the like button, but I am conscious that whatever I “like” feeds into algorithms to give me more of the same.

My friend Lou Ann sent out a survey to readers about decluttering and has posted a series about the results. My favorites are Finding Balance in Decluttering (it’s so easy to get off-balance even in good things) and Disadvantages of Decluttering (did you know there were some? There are! Or at least can be), probably because I rarely see anyone discussing those aspects. Other posts in the series are Advantages of Decluttering and Systems for Decluttering.

I think I have shared this before, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of the pilot who was originally scheduled to fly one of the planes that was highjacked on 9/11:

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