I have 365 photo prompts, and I have used 31 of them. How long will I stick with this project? Your guess is as good as mine.
Simple Joy Saturday will look a little different in 2019. Instead of posting 3 “simple joys” every Saturday, I am going to post a roundup of “simple joys” on the last Saturday of every month. My hope is that the content of these posts will be more substantial and that I will post more consistently.
- The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Cristie
My mom bought me a “100 Books Bucket List Scratch-Off Poster” for Christmas. Since then, I have been listening to audiobooks like my life depended on it, and I have only listened to two books that were not on the poster: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders and Shouldn’t You Be in School by Lemony Snicket. In my opinion, those two books should have made the list, and a few other books should be removed from the poster.
On Saturday I share three simple things that brought me happiness during the week. Please feel free to share your own simple joys in the comments section!
Maybe I should quit claiming that I share my simple joys every week.
July 14 – 20
Walking with friends at the outdoor mall. Walking with Mom in Old Salem. Walking with an audiobook around the neighborhood. I just love the sunshine and movement!
Every Saturday I share three simple things that brought me happiness during the week. These posts may grow or change as time passes. Please feel free to share your own simple joys in the comments section!
1. Village Juice Company and the friends who love it as much as I do
2. The Chronicles of Narnia
Who would have thought that I would get to read children’s fiction in grad school?! Here’s one of my new favorite quotes from The Magician’s Nephew:
“‘But do not be cast down,’ said Aslan, still speaking to the Beasts. ‘Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.”
3. Goggles and a new swimsuit
This week I learned that the right equipment can make all the difference.
Over the summer, I attempted to listen to the audiobook version of Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle. As I criss-crossed the state of Texas, I quickly lost track of Vivian and Harp’s whereabouts, and I abandoned the book until early October. Although I am only about halfway through the novel (and I probably won’t formally review it when I am done), the basic premise of the story has left my mind curious.
This is the summary from the book jacket:
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivian Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth.
That last line haunts me…
Vivian Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth.
Not savior. Just truth.
Let me give some background information. This fictional book is in no way Christian nor does it reference true Christianity. In the novel, the “Evangelical Church of America” is essentially a cult started by a man named Frick who dreamed that God chose him to protect select individuals from the rapture and Apocalypse. Indeed, Vivian did not need that sort of deceitful “salvation.”
Nonetheless, it is easy to think that we don’t need a Savior, we just want the truth. Furthermore, we want OUR truth, the truth that works for us personally. That truth can be anything as long as it makes sense to us and meets our personal needs.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – John 14:6
Jesus is the truth. John 14:6 does not say that He “could be” the truth or “might become” the truth or “was” the truth. He is the truth. That truth is not relative or changing.
So if Vivian Apple only needs the truth, she needs Jesus.
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. – I John 4:14
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – I Timothy 1:15
The truth is that Jesus is also our Savior. To believe the truth is to believe that He died for our sins, was buried, rose again, and is the Savior of the World. You cannot separate the fact that Jesus is truth from the fact that Jesus is Savior.
So if Vivian Apple needs the truth, Vivian Apple needs a Savior.
Everyone who loves reading has done it. We stay up well past the time that we should go to bed just so that we can enjoy one more chapter of our current book. Sometimes these books are stealthily hidden beneath blankets and read with flashlights so that parents will not know what we are reading.
This week, the American Library Association is honoring “banned books,” which are books that have been outlawed for various reasons including language, morality, religion, and illustrations. In my opinion, every book worth reading has been banned for some unnecessary reason. Also, banning books only serves to stimulate a child’s curiosity and build their desire to read the book.
Below are my favorite banned books, the reason that they were banned, and why I loved them.
- The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – People claim that it supports pessimism and has no literary value. I love The Wizard of Oz because it taught me how to think imaginatively and beyond concrete reality.
- The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket – I will be the first to admit that Snicket’s books are disturbing. However, Snicket is one of my favorite authors because of his unique tales and unprecedented vocabulary-teaching ability. Besides, Snicket is not even a real person, so can we blame him for being bizarre?
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – Mark Twain has been called racist, and there is foul language in the book. Nonetheless, this classic tale teaches history and loyalty.
- Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Some parents do not like that the series includes “coming of age” topics and homosexuality. I loved the series because I could relate to Alice as a teenage girl. Yes, the book did include “secular” content, but we live in a secular world. As Christians, we should be in the world; we should know what is happening around us. However, we are not of the world, and we will not agree with everything that the world promotes.
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry – The Giver includes violent misdeeds such as euthanasia and infanticide. However, it is also a story of love, breaking the status quo, and bravery.
- Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George – Violence and offensive language are the two main reasons that certain adults have tried to censor Julie of the Wolves. I appreciate Julie’s bravery, the story’s adventure, and George’s attention to culture.
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein – Silverstein tends to be sarcastic and sassy. One of his poems says, “If you have to dry the dishes, And you drop one on the floor, Maybe they won’t let you Dry the dishes anymore.” Parents saw this as promoting disrespect and disobedience. I happen to love Silverstien’s dry humor.
- The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis – After reading this book, parents worry that their children will become disobedient and mischievous for the sake of adventure. Christians also criticize Lewis for animalizing Christ. On the contrary, Lewis wrote Narnia as a metaphor of Christ’s suffering, not a sacrilegious attack.
- If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss – The country’s view of ethnicity was vastly different in the 1950s when Dr. Seuss wrote this book. That is why he included the line about helpers who “all wear their eyes at a slant.” My family spent quite a lot of time at a few different zoos when I was younger. Basically, my brother is Gerald McGrew.
- Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park – Like so many other child heroes, Junie tends to be bratty, disobedient, and rude. However, these well-intentioned books simply seek to tell the story of childhood from the perspective of a first-grade girl. Let’s be honest–what child isn’t bratty, disobedient, and rude at times? The key is that parents should use the book as a way to discuss proper behavior with children.
I was born a little late to truly be part of the WWJD movement, but I do have a few recolections of it. I remember choosing woven bracelets at the local Christian bookstore with my grandma. I remember seeing similar bands on the wrists of older girls at school. I believe my mom had a Spanish version of a WWJD band strapped to her “teaching bag.” My brother and I had a book on cassette that told the story of children who always asked the question, “What would Jesus do?”
In truth, this trite phrase has merit. Verses such as I Peter 1:16 tell us to “be holy” because Christ is holy. If we actually apply the question “What would Jesus do?,” we will never sin.
Recently, I read the book When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman. In it, Addie relates her personal narrative of growth in an evangelical family. Some of the stories she told were shocking. Consider the following statements that people made to her:
Jesus fasted for forty days. I think we should try to do everything Jesus did.
One boyfriend told Addie to do 10 push-ups every time she was sarcastic because
Jesus was never sarcastic, and you want to be like Jesus, right?
When Addie was trying to determine where to go on a summer mission trip, she was told to
Kneel on the floor. Draw a circle around yourself and pray. Whatever you do, don’t move from that circle until God gives you an answer.
What?! Is this truly what Jesus would do?
Yes, we should strive to be like Jesus, but not in a cultish, legalistic way. For a minute, I want to poke holes in these three statements and, consequently, the beliefs of many Christians.
I think we should do everything Jesus did.
First of all, Jesus is GOD. He created the world (John 1:1). He healed the sick (Matthew 9:35). He walked on water (Matthew 14). He fed 5,000 people with five rolls and two small fish (Matthew 14). Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose again three days later (I peter 3:18). It would be impossible to do everything that Jesus did.
Even if we only focus on those things which are humanly possible, such as fasting and overcoming temptation, we must remember one key point: Jesus is wholly God. Unlike us, He retained 100% of His deity when He came to earth.
Jesus was never sarcastic.
Except for when He was. I think Luke 7 and Matthew 23 both show that Jesus rightfully used sarcasm on occasion.
Don’t move until God gives you an answer.
The biggest problem with this is that it implies that the person praying will hear an audible answer from God. Addie could have stayed on that floor for years and never known where to go on her missions trip.
So what would Jesus do?
Jesus would spend time with the outcasts (Mark 2:15). Jesus would fight temptation with verses of God’s truth (Matthew 4:4). Jesus would pray fervently for the Father’s guidance (John 5:30).
And I believe that is what we should do as well.