Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

I first heard about this book from the film Sister Act 2 when I was younger, but I was reminded about it when I watched both Sister Act 1 &2 the other night with my kids to show them the great musical performances. Don’t make fun! These movies are great! 😄 Anyway now my son and I go around singing all the songs, and he loves them as much as I did. But I was determined afterward to read this book, a book Whoopi Goldberg gives to Lauryn Hill and encourages her to keep singing. She quotes from the book saying, “If the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is writing, then you’re a writer and if the same is for singing you’re a singer.” Something like that. Both films encouraged me to join my church choir and get involved in church at a young age eventually inspiring me to go to summer church camp three years in a row—a wonderful place I’ll never forget.

Great films and sure to be an inspiring read!

The Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Today I’d like to remember Robert Murray M’cheyne who gives so much richness and truth in this letters and sermons, which thanks to Andrew Bonar, M’Cheyne’s good friend, we now have this Presbyterian Reverend’s entire collection of writings, sermons, and letters—his “remains”. I come back to his work time and again because his words are so alive with the Holy Spirit that his work serves to strengthen me when I feel dried up and brittle like a dead branch.

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“He became a babe, and was laid in a manger, for there was not room in the inn. The inn was like your heart; it was filled with other lodgers, and had no room for Jesus.” —Robert Murray M’Cheyne. (A letter “To One Awakened: A call upon a soul to choose Jesus. 1842).

M’Cheyne died when he was only 29 years old of Typhus and was buried at St. Peter’s church in Dundee, Scotland where he served. There was an estimated 7,000 people at his funeral. 💕

M’Cheyne Photo credit: lukesblog.org

Halfway through the Bible. If you’re on Instagram follow this hashtag!

We are halfway through the Bible! Since the Fall of 2019, I have been writing really brief reviews of the books of the Bible. They are my own contemplative thoughts that no one has to agree with, but I hope speak only truth and leave room for your own contemplation.

The order I have been following is the below. Given to me by a priest and a friend. .

Genesis John

Exodus Matthew

Leviticus Galatians Numbers Colossians

Deuteronomy

Joshua Hebrews

Judges

Ruth Acts (of the Apostles)

1 Samuel

2 Samuel Mark

1 Kings

2 Kings 1 Corinthians

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 1 Peter 2 Peter

Ezra

Nehemiah Romans

Esther Philemon

Job Revelation

Psalms (I SUGGEST READING ONE A DAY THROUGHOUT)

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes 1 Timothy 2 Timothy

Song of Solomon 1 John 2 John 3 John

Isaiah Luke

Jeremiah Titus

Lamentations Philippians

Ezekiel Jude

Daniel 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians

Hosea

Joel

Amos James

Obadiah

Jonah 2 Corinthians

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi Ephesians

Confessions of Saint Augustine

I had to track this down. It was recommended by Thomas Merton, and I think it led in part to his conversion. F. J. Sheed’s translation is supposed to be the best. I’ve read compared to other translations Sheed kept the words of Saint Augustine alive and breathing, rather than dead. I’m very excited to read this! . Plus it was mailed with an old letter in German still stuck inside from the 60’s. .

A Balzac Translation

Funny thing… both these books are the same but they have completely different translations for their endings. Makes me wish I would have read the top one instead. What do you think?

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The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

As a student of the American Civil War I realized to my shame that I have not one book about the African American experience. Studying military strategy and the life of soldiers kept me from really SEEING this special part of the story. So I thought I would pick up a book. Of course there are plenty of books out there about race, and I hope to read some of those too, but for the beginning of my journey I thought I would start with food. I found this serendipitously while searching for colonial history and thought it would be perfect. Michael W. Twitty is a culinary and cultural historian, he’s a TED fellow and speaker and has appeared on/in NPR, The Guardian, and has been a participant in many talks abroad.

“As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.” — Harper Collins (publisher). It has excellent reviews. I’m so excited to begin my journey here!

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The Book of Revelation

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this book. For many, the book of Revelation is one of the most frightening books of the Bible. I too was afraid to read it thinking it would destroy my faith out of fear. But I read it…carefully…and was fascinated by it. It is one of my favorite books now, because it is so colorful, dripping with allegory, and Jesus is alive & speaks again, so I’m immediately inspired. There is so much to study and make out if this book.

We have the Apostle John who has seen a vision of Christ and is told to write down all he will soon see as a prophecy of things to come. “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” ( Revelation 1:17)

This quote said by Christ sums up everything: He said this to His faithful servant, John, someone who meditated and gazed on the face of Christ consistently, in everything he did and Christ tells him to not be afraid (because to you, John—we could insert) I am the First and the Last. We must begin our faith with Christ and continue our faith with Christ throughout our days, make Him first and make Him last, the first thought in the morning and the last thought at night. Make Christ and His truth your everyday, and you should not be afraid of anything you read in Revelation (or life’s trials), but only be in awe and marvel at the mystery of it yet to be truly understood

The Book of Esther

In what simple way is God calling you to act that would draw you closer to Him? For me it was spending a year to read and study the Bible. .

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These are my own contemplative thoughts. If you disagree with the below that’s ok! .

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Before Christ, in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests were allowed near the altar, and they acted as the mediators between God and man. The book of Esther is symbolic to this as it describes her standing in the inner court in front of the king’s hall. The king sees Queen Esther just outside his inner court, HE FINDS FAVOR IN HER (a statement we read often in scripture when God’s relationship to his people is discussed) and holds out his scepter to her as a sign that it is ok to approach him. She moves towards him and touches the very tip of his scepter, a sign of her obedience and humility. To me her approach is like those hoping to come to God either for the first time or after a long hiatus. We have to approach with humility and an open heart, yet we do not have to be pure, or holy, or of a certain worldly stature. We are allowed to come as we are. Esther, who despite knowing she was doing something against the man-made laws of the day said she would approach the king to save her people the Jews from being slaughtered, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” In this statement she showed her bravery. This kind of bravery is what God wants to see from us, wants us to cut through all the worldly “laws” like our own expectations, guilt, rules, etc., right to Him. And He will find favor in us for this—we will become his special students in that moment, He will take us under His wing and show us wonderful miracles and bless us tremendously, especially show us how to find His kind of joy in this life if we keep our eyes open to Him. .

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