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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

“The Oak Speaks”

Grandma’s Bookcase contained a variety of books that I enjoyed reading when I was growing up. The Speaking Oak, published in 1902, intrigued me because I wanted to know more about a talking tree. The book included 300 stories about distinguished persons with titles like “A Flagman Crushed to Death Rescuing a Child,” “Lincoln and His Pet Pig,” and “The Bellman Who Died at His Post.”

The following story about Ira Sanky interested me because I had seen Mr. Sankey’s name in the Baptist Hymnal.

THE SONG “NINETY AND NINE”

At the East Northfield Conference of 1900, Mr. Sankey told this incident: Mr. Moody and I were riding in a railway carriage in Scotland, and I read aloud to him a little poem that had caught my eye in the corner of the paper, and I had cut out for my scrap-book. We went to the great assembly hall of Edinburgh. It was in May, 1874. Mr. Moody and a number of others spoke that morning on the subject “The Good Shepherd.” The last speaker was Dr. Horatius Bonnar. He spoke so softly and kindly that we could feel the presence of the Good Shepherd in our hearts. When he got through, Mr. Moody stepped down to where I was sitting and asked me if I had anything appropriate to sing. I could not think of anything but the twenty-third Psalm, and that had been sung three times before during the service. All at once the impression came to me to sing that little hymn I found on the train. But that was followed by the thought “How can I sing without a tune?” Yet the impression came back to sing the song. I opened my book to where I had placed the little hymn and drew my thoughts away from the crowd. I uttered a short prayer to God to help me to sing in such a way that the people could hear and understand me. I started in on A flat, and God gave me the ntoes as I went along. I got through the first verse all right, but the thought came again, “How am I going to get through the next?” I uttered a silent prayer to God again, and he answered me. I got through the second all right. And by the time I got to the fifth verse I knew the tune, and the “Ninety and Nine” was born. From that day to this not a note has been changed.

I am the keeper of Grandma’s Bookcase and this is what I found.
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From an 1874 Scottish audience to a world-wide YouTube audience, here’s a claymation rendition of Sankey’s “Ninety and Nine.”

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The Jesus Storybook Bible 001The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name is my favorite children’s Bible. The author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, presents the Bible from creation through Revelation, with Jesus at the center of every Story. The recently released Deluxe addition is narrated by actor, David Suchet. Although I didn’t recognize the narrator’s name (pronounced SOO-shay), I did recognize his picture and voice as the British actor who plays Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.

The beautifully rendered stories are written and illustrated for children ages 4-7. Do not take the age recommendation literally. The storybook is for all ages. Lloyd-Jones distills the major theme of the Bible with incredible simplicity–how God loved His children so much that He sent the True Hero to “pull off the Greatest Rescue the world has ever known.” Yes, it’s a book to read to children, but it’s also a book to read as a morning devotional, to your spouse before bedtime, or at family gatherings.

Lloyd-Jones says it beautifully: “May all of us to be whispering His name in all the stories of our lives!”

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The Door in the Wall 001The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli, was awarded The Newberry Medal in 1950. I first read the book alongside Andrew when he read it in elementary school, forty years plus after it was published. Although the book falls into the the genre of children’s literature, its 121 pages are filled with interesting vocabulary, and life lessons worthy of adult consideration.

The story describes how a young boy named Robin, residing in London during the Middle Ages, learns to face life with courage and dignity, in spite of a physical handicap. His parents are away from home when he becomes ill, and loses the the use of his legs. Brother Luke, a monk, cares for Robin in a monastery. The monk teaches him to swim so that he can gain enough upper body strength to use crutches, and how to read. Robin also keeps his hands occupied by learning the craft of woodcarving.

Robin is frustrated that he can no longer run and play as other boys. At first he is unsure what Brother Luke means when he tells him, “Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.” As he hones the skills of swimming, carving, and reading, he understands that these disciplines can be doors in the wall. Eventually, Robin comes to appreciate that even the crutches themselves are a door in the wall, an opportunity to be useful, and to serve his king.

Some of the words that I enjoyed learning from this book were: breviary, postern, jerkin, missal, verger, newal, and sacristan. I was also delighted to learn that the word “window” was originally “wind hole.”

In de Angeli’s Newberry Award acceptance speech, the author said, ‘”It is really true, as we used to tell our children, “When you come to a stone wall, if you look far enough, you will find a door in it.”‘ Her advice, and the title of the book are derived from Revelation 3:8:

I know thy works:
Behold, I have set
before thee an open door and
no man shall shut it:
For thou hast a little
strength and hast not
denied my Name.

That’s good advice for children, and adults.

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Just like Grandma's for $1250 in Picayune, MS

Just like Grandma's for $1250 in Picayune, MS

You, too, can have your very own “Grandma’s Bookcase.” There is one for sale on eBay. The seller calls it a “secretary desk.” Since our bookcase/desk had resided in Grandma Maude’s house for many years, and because its primary function was to hold books, the family appellation for this piece of furniture was, simply, “Grandma’s Bookcase.” Most of the books stored on its shelves are currently available through Internet downloads or Amazon.com as republishings. Even orginal copies of many of the books are available for reasonable prices through Internet booksellers. Anyone can replicate Grandma’s Bookcase and it’s books with a little help from the Internet.

I wish that I could tell that to some girls in my second grade class that gathered during recess to tell fairy tales to each other. Over and over we retold the familiar “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

One day I regaled the group with a new story: “The Necklace of Truth.” My audience listened attentively as I told about a girl our age who had developed a habit of telling lies. Her parents took her to a wise man, and he confidently administered the cure in the form of a beautiful necklace. The girl proudly wore the necklace everywhere. She quickly learned that whenever she stretched the truth, the necklace lengthened to the floor; when she told an outright lie, the necklace choked her. The girl learned to always tell the truth, and she returned the necklace to the wise man so that another girl could wear it.

The response to my story offering startled me. “You made that story up,” one girl insisted. Another said, “You are not telling the truth, just like the girl in the story.” I protested that the story could be found in their Grandma’s Bookcase. “You must ask your mother’s permission to read the books, and be very careful with them,” I explained. The girls insisted that no such books existed, and the story group dissolved that day.

Forty-five years later, I still want to share the library stored in Grandma’s Bookcase. I have cataloged a dozen or so of the books into LibraryThing, beginning with the 1880s readers that I loved in elementary school, and still love to read today. Go to the bottom of the sidebar on the right, and click on “Grandma’s Bookcase” to see what has been entered so far.

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frog and toad 001
I adore Frog and Toad Are Friends. Frog and Toad are best friends who are always there for each other, whether they are swimming or writing letters or telling stories. I can’t even guess how many times I read this children’s classic to Andrew and Hannah. So, naturally, I was delighted to meet the amphibious duo a few weeks ago. They even posed for pictures!

Meet Frog . . .

Meet Frog . . .


and Toad

and Toad

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Riddle, Raddle, Ruddle

I know about riddles, and ruddle is red pigment. But what about raddle?

I read the word “raddle” for the first time in the 1951 Newberry Medal book, Amos Fortune, Free Man. As Amos Fortune, an 18th century slave who had purchased his own freedom and that of his wife, traveled by cart to a new home, his wife cradled her treasured plants on her lap;she pictured the “leafless twigs and raddled roots” flourishing at her future front door. Webster’s 1913 dictionary defines “raddled” as being interwoven and twisted together.

I recently came across “raddled” for the second time, in the book My Brother’s Keeper by Marcia Davenport, but the context didn’t fit with the above example. In the latter story, Lilly, had cried so much that “her poor pretty face was raddled and puffed.” In this case, “raddle” is used as a variant of ruddle or reddle, meaning marked with red.

So, reddle, raddle, and ruddle can all mean to mark or paint with red, while raddle can also mean twisted.

Sometimes the English language is a riddle, and figuring it out raddles rattles my brain. I have to get back to repotting a plant with raddled roots.

really raddled

really raddled

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Holding hands and praying at mealtimes was a given when I was growing up. I took this tradition for granted until I visited homes where no one purposefully paused to thank God for the food provided by His hands.

For those of us who still gather round the table at mealtimes and ask a blessing, it’s also a good opportunity to practice kitchen-table-intercession. Thanking God for our food is a perfect segue into asking the Lord to bless our governmental leaders, as we are commanded in I Timothy 1:1-2a, or to bring to God the people closest to our hearts: family, friends, or neighbors. It’s a great place to participate in the Great Commission, and ask His blessings on those people who have not heard about Jesus.

Earlier this year, while reading The Hiding Place to Dad, we observed¬†that the Ten Boom family used mealtime gatherings to intercede for missionaries. I reminded Dad of my beloved Lolly, whom I prayed for when I was a child. Dad never failed to tenderly mention her in each mealtime prayer by thanking God for “Lolly’s blessings.” One day, desiring to know more about Lolly, I questioned him about her identity. He explained that his rendering of “all these blessings” as “all ‘ese blessings” came out sounding like “Lolly’s blessings” to my ears.

While thanking God for food at each meal is habitual, I have not always remembered to include prayer for others. A kitchen-table-prayer strategy was in order. I found just the thing at an office supply store: an acrylic sign holder to display pictures. Visual reminders of the people that I want God to bless encourage me to pray for more than the food.

It doesn’t take long to engage in kitchen-table-intercession—just long enough to utter, “And for Lolly’s blessings, we thank You.”

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, is the day that Southern Baptists have designated as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for those who have not heard of Jesus.”

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Guests at our kitchen table.

Guests at our kitchen table.

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