My Dear Ernest Hemingway

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BOOK CRITIC CRITIQUE:
Non-bookworms need not waste their energy on this post.

I finally finished reading A Farewell to Arms. It’s a great American classic written by the tortured soul, e.h. It was the first book to give him some notoriety as a writer and has been adapted for the stage and screen more than once. I wanted to like this book. In fact, I wanted to love this book. I purchased it last summer when my husband took me to tour e.h.’s former Key West home, so even the actual physical book and pages are sentimental to me.

Can I just say….
B E A T D O W N?!?!

It took me a year to read it. Yes, 1 year people! And not because I couldn’t comprehend e.h.’s short, choppy, staccato style sentences that so many literary critics have admired over the years. I just had to take it in small doses. But I was determined to finish it, because I didn’t want it to finish me. As a bibliophile, I have never had such a time with a book.

e.h’s experience in the war came through on the pages in a fascinating way….. But his writing style is like a drunk and angry man stabbing mashed potatoes with a butcher knife when a small spoon will do. And the entire story ended with great abruption. It was as if he woke up one morning raging from his own love-scorned past and decided to end it all. “No more for you. Take that!”

I both longed for and loathed this book every night that it mocked me from my nightstand. I wanted to read this book just so it would end. And when it finally ended, I turned the last pages back and forth staring at “THE END” in utter disbelief thinking, “He can’t do that!?! There has to be more!”

e.h. is recognized as one of the best American writers of all time. I really want to be in agreement with the masses and like this author, but every time I try to read e.h, I think, “This is angry, tortured, crap. But no one else thinks this is crap. What is wrong with me? Why do I think it’s crap? And why do I care that no one else thinks it’s crap? Is it really only me?”

If I know anything about e.h., he would probably say, “I don’t give a #%@ what you or anyone else thinks about my writing” and toss back another stiff drink. I think I will stick with admiring e.h. for his great marlin fishing expeditions. And my nightstand will finally be free of e.h. No more e.h. for me…… For now.

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Are You Listening?

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I saw the following quote and thought to myself, “Listen? Listening is not my problem.”

20140729-000129-89536.jpgI often pray and listen. And then I will pray again and listen again. I will pray without ceasing and continue listening. I listen all the time. It’s having the courage to do what He tells me to do that becomes my problem.

All too often I try to wait for “what He tells me to do” to feel good. It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes “what He tells me to do” is going to be really uncomfortable, difficult, out of my routine or even painful. Sometimes it’s a quick something, like facing the pain of ripping off a band-aid or holding my breath to toss back some bad-tasting but good-for-me medicine. And other times it’s a journey that’s going to be slow and long.

So I listen to what He says to me and I think, “that option doesn’t feel good, so that can’t possibly be the answer to my prayer.” It becomes a “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?” moment. (Yes, you have to be old to understand that reference.).

After a few days, weeks or even years of praying and realizing that He did in fact speak to me, I just didn’t like or agree with the answer He gave me. I will finally say “ok”, and succumb like a child whose relentless Father keeps telling me how to do something His way rather than my determined way.

This means taking a deep breath. A. very. deep. breath. And then I surrender my anxiety, fear, disbelief and creature-comfort to Him. One by one, I lay my shackles of doubt and uncertainty at His feet. And in exchange, I pick up and place on me the armor of God.

And so it begins. I announce with confidence, “You are God. You are the one I know that is all powerful and all knowing. I am going to trust you now. I am giving you my everything. I am going to live in faith. And by this armor, you will protect me and see me through.” I muster confidence and courage standing in His armor. And that’s the moment His strength and His hedge of protection ignites! POW!

I take my first step; no looking back now. Just me and God and the mission ahead. And He is right there with me like a great Coach cheering me on, guiding me and encouraging me to keep going. He begins to knock down my enemies. He begins to tear down walls that I thought would stand forever. He throws open doors for me that I never imagined could be opened.

Is the journey hard? Sometimes.
Does it mean a big change in my life? Sometimes.
Does it mean that others may be disappointed or confused by my decisions and actions? Sometimes.
Does it mean the enemy will try to stop me? Most of the time.

But there is great fulfilling purpose in moving from my Point A to God’s Point B for me. The reward of doing it for Him and accomplishing His purpose for me is what this life is all about. And every time I do it, He renders a mountain of peace and joy for me and my family like I have never dreamed.

So today ask yourself…. Are you living for what you want today? Or are you living for what you need most in your life? Are you circling your Point A or are you making your way to God’s Point B for you? Are you listening?

I encourage you.
Pray.
Listen to Him.
Block out the noise that is around you.
Have faith in your Father.
He is calling you to trust Him.
Say “yes” to His request.
Hold His hand (really right).
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
And say, “LET’S DO IT!”