C.S. Lewis on Writing

C.S. Lewis's Drawing Room at The Kilns, his Oxford home

“What really matters is: —

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure y[ou]r. sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one.  Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do.  If you mean ‘More people died’ don’t say ‘Mortality rose.’
  4. In writing.  Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing.  I mean, instead of telling us a thing was ‘terrible,’ describe it so that we’ll be terrified.  Don’t say it was ‘delightful’; make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read the description.  You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers ‘Please will you do my job for me.’
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject.  Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

 

-C.S. Lewis, letter to “Joan”, 26 June 1959.  Reprinted in C.S. Lewis Letters to Children, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Majorie Lamp Mead, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985.

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Undeserving

This is all I know

Hands are shaking here

Voices in my head

Light is nowhere near.

Deep within my tears

Your face is all I see

You know my deepest fears

Your love is pulling me.

  

Surprised beyond my dreams

To see You standing there

The One I hated so

The only One who cares.

Mountains start to fall

I’ve never been so free

I fall in love with You

Because You cherish me.

  

 

Savior of my soul

I feel Your mighty love

It doesn’t matter who I am

Your beauty is enough.

And when this life is past

I’ll walk into Your light

I’ll sing because You live

I’ll live because You died.

Fashion Fridays!

Who doesn’t love a good deal?  And there’s one to be had every Friday over at Christa-Taylor, one of my favorite online clothing stores!  C-T’s “mission beyond business” includes donating a large portion of proceeds to a Cambodian orphanage.  Miss Taylor is a Christian young woman with a passion for fashion and God’s glory.  Check out our earlier review of her website here.  Every Friday there’s a great deal on one item from Christa’s boutique, and it lasts one day only!  Check out today’s steal by clinking the link to her fashion blog below.

What’s Wrong With Me?

Has there ever been a guy in your life who made you ask this question?  Or maybe it was a girl friend.  As soon as you started hanging out with this person, you started hating the way God made you.  You began to wish you were prettier, thinner, more athletic, more girly…just plain different.  The funny thing is, none of the things you started to dislike about yourself were things that God dislikes.  They didn’t have to do with your heart, your faith, your focus on Him.  They had to do with your looks, your personality, your abilities…the very things that God loves and cherishes in you, because He designed them.

Sometimes we have an obsession to be loved, and an obsession to please.  We want to be valued and liked and needed, because we find our worth in relationships with others.  Sometimes this becomes so important to us, that we change ourselves completely in order to fit someone else’s definition of beautiful or worthy.  We can even find ourselves willing to exchange the essense of who we are, and all we stand for and believe in, for the approval of others.

Do you struggle with wanting to please people?  Does your desire to be liked and accepted usurp your passion to honor God?  If so, you are not alone.  But it’s important to realize that just because this is a common struggle, doesn’t make it OK.

If a guy or girl you know makes you feel inferior because of what you look like or enjoy, or what you believe in, that is not a person worth pleasing.  In fact, they’re probably not someone you should want be spending time with!  No true friend will make you feel this way, because a friend looks at the heart and encourages and builds you up, rather than looking at externals and tearing you down.  A true friend doesn’t make you ask, “What’s wrong with me?”  Someone who makes you want to change, to look better, to act differently in order to be accepted and liked, is not worth your time or your trust.

Jesus Christ is the only One truly worth living for, and He loves you just as you are.  He is willing to transform you from the inside out to reflect His holiness and purity, but you can never do or say or be anything that will diminish His love.  He does not judge you because of what you look like.  And when you come to Him with all you are, all your hopes and dreams, everything that matters to you, He is completely trustworthy.  He will never leave your or forsake you, and His love is eternal and perfect.

Dear sister, nothing is “wrong” with the way God made you.  This is not to say that you are perfect or sinless, because you aren’t.  None of us are.  We are all fallen and all of us desperately need the transforming work of our Savior.  And He is faithful to complete that good work in us, making us into the shining reflection of spotless beauty we were always meant to be.

Rejoice in this!  Rejoice in being the girl that God made you to be.  Live life in His service and for His glory and do not be ashamed of your walk with your Lord or the person that He designed you to be.  And don’t let anyone take your eyes off of Him.  Spend your time with people who love you as God made you, and encourage you to walk ever more closely with Him.

Making Memories

Last night I was driving with my softball team to our play-off game a few hours away.  Our drive was really pretty, past rolling hills covered with evergreens and quirky small towns, in the heart of California’s logging country.  We’d all been through the area before, so there were lots of familiar places outside our windows.

My friend’s dad, who was driving, pointed to one: a small resturant alongside the road.  “Your mom and I went there once,” he told my friend, “Right after we were married.”  We were already quite a ways from home, and my friend laughed.  “You drove all the way out here just to have dinner?  What a waste of gas,” she teased.  He smiled.  “It wasn’t a waste of time,” he said, “For a romantic dinner.”

This impacted me because last year, she died of cancer.  My friend’s mom was young, energetic, and a vital part of our small community.  We were friends with their family.  She had a loving husband and two young children.  No one expected that she had pancreatic cancer, and her passing away was very sudden and very hard on us all.

Maybe a long drive to some hole-in-the-wall eatery may have seemed like a waste of money and time.  But I think my friend’s dad cherishes this memory, more than all the “productive” days surrounding it.

With all the senior year, last minute stress in my life right now, it’s hard to see a moment that I don’t spend getting my portfolio ready, finishing up classes, applying for scholarships, getting ready for college, or searching for a summer job as being even slightly redeemable.  Can I afford to hang out with my little brothers and sisters?  Do I really have time to go to their baseball and softball games?  My friend needs to talk, but my paper needs to be written.  Which is more important?  Should I skip discipleship group this week and finish some health class homework?  Do I go on vacation at the beginning of this summer with my sister or house-sit for some friends?  In our never-stop, crazy world, these questions are confusing.  Some would say that the time we spend should be used for material gain and worldly advancement.  But I think God is more pleased when we build relationships with those around us.

There’s a balance in everything.  It’s not wrong to cross items off my to-do list, and hanging out with friends can’t always be my top priority (even though sometimes I wish it could be!).  I have to be a responsible steward of my time.  So do we all.  But now and then, we all need the simple, old-hat reminder of what really matters in this life.  And it’s not a degree or a paycheck or a diploma…it’s glorifying God and loving others.  The relationships we build with the people in our lives are so important.  The time we take to show them how much we care is not wasted.

That means I can listen to my brother talk about baseball.  I can hang out with my sister.  I can call my best friend.  I can have a long talk with my mom.  I can go to work with my Dad.

Because when all the deadlines are past and all things I’m stressing over now are forgotten, I will still cherish those same relationships.  And the memories I have of these years won’t be so much about grades and portfolio presentations, but about spending time with those I love.

 

I’m gonna love you like nobody loves you

And I’ll earn your trust makin’ memories of us.

-“Makin’ Memories of Us”, Keith Urban

 

God of the Brokenhearted

Lately I’ve been wondering what it means to have a broken heart, because there are times when mine feels cracked around the edges.  I know what it is to cry myself to sleep.  I know that there are times when I wonder if anything will ever be the same again.  I know what it is to be so afraid that I can’t imagine anything making that fear go away.  Afraid for my future…afraid of being alone…afraid of what will happen to those I love.  I know what it is to long with all my soul just to hug someone I love one last time…someone who is gone out of my life forever.  I miss their smile.  I’m tired of being alone.  I’m tired of these lonely miles.

I thought I found the love I’d dreamed of.  And those moments were some of the happiest of my life…just beginning to trust again.  Letting myself let go of those inhibitions and fears, those warnings and what-ifs and torturous premonitions.  I wanted so badly to make it right.  And now I am broken, again.  Disappointed and crushed and all the more hardened.  In my moments of sunshine I want to trust him again, but I know I shouldn’t.  In my moments of blackness, I doubt I will ever open my heart to anyone again.  I don’t want it to be hurt again.  I would rather stay curled up, like a rose that refuses to bloom, and never let myself feel the sunshine and the gentle breeze and see the blue sky again, because I am terrified of the rain.

Is your heart broken, friend?  Is your soul weary and lonely?  You may hide it with smiles and laughter and flirtatiousness and fun times.  But underneath it all, are you heartsick?  Would you, like me, trade all the attention, all the praise, all the teasing and games and foolishness, for one love that would never ever leave you?  For one lover who is everlasting?

 

I found Him.

 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

 

Perfectly Matched

My neighbor and family friend owns her own horse-drawn carriage business. Her barn is filled with exquisite antique, refurbished, and custom-made carriages that she drives for hire at weddings, funerals, in parades or at special events.  She has two gorgeous black Shire horses that are brothers and best friends and so perfectly matched that it is difficult to tell them apart.  They eat and play together and are the same size and build.  They are perfectly matched and perfectly paired to pull the carriages.

Because our modern culture is so different from that of Bible times, sometimes it is difficult to understand the word pictures that would have made perfect sense a few thousand years ago.  One of these is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15:

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

In Biblical times, one would “yoke” two animals together in order to share the weight of a burden.  We could also think of this in the sense of “harnessing”.  In order to yoke or harness a pair of animals together, the animals must be as equally matched as possible.  Their size, strength, gait, and height must be even, or else one of them will end up pulling more than his share, or they will be out of step.

In the classic book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, the protaganist (a horse named Black Beauty) gives his perspective on pulling a carriage with another horse, Ginger.  I think it’s a good picture of being “equally yoked”.

“I wondered how we should get on together; but except laying her ears back when I was led up to her, she behaved very well.  She did her work honestly, and did her full share, and I never wish to have a better partner in double harness.  When we came to a hill, instead of slackening her pace she wold throw her weight right into the collar, and pull away straight up.  We had both the same sort of courage at our work, and John had oftener to hold us in than to urge us forward; he never had to use the whip with either of us; then our paces were much the same, and I found it very easy to keep step with her when trotting, which made it pleasant, and master always liked it when we kept step well, and so did John.”

When the Bible talks about not being “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever, it means that believers cannot be tied, partnered, or teamed with unbelievers in close relationships, because they will be unable to see things in the same way and therefore they will be incompatible.  Believers have no more in common with unbelievers, aside from basic human experience, than light has with darkness or Christ has with the devil.  They are absolute opposites.  God commands us not to be paired with non-Christians, because we will see the world so differently that the relationship will be essentially going in two different directions.

Many people use this passage in a dating or marriage sense, and truly it does apply.  But this command also applies to friendships and business partnerships, and any other close human relationships.  This doesn’t mean that Christians should not associate with non-believers; after all, we are commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, and Christ was called the “friend of sinners”.  Imagine what would have happened if believers refused to associate with you when you were unsaved!  Chances are you wouldn’t be a believer right now.  So that is not what Christ is commanding us.  This passage simply means that we should not have close, intimate, trusting partnerships with those who see the world from a fundamentally different and godless viewpoint.  This encompasses close, influential friendships, professional partnerships, and dating/marriage relationships.

So is God just trying to spoil our fun?  Make life miserable to see how faithful we will be to Him?  Force us to live lives of colorless, joyless drudgery in His service?  No, He’s looking out for our best interest.

Imagine pairing an ox with a poodle or a beautiful Belgian horse with a runty Shetland pony.  There is nothing beautiful or purposeful about a partnership like this, and the stronger creature will end up pulling all or most of the weight alone.  Or maybe the poodle will get distracted and want to go somewhere else.  Or maybe the Shetland won’t able to keep up.  This is a fruitless endeavor, and it will lead to frustration and misery.

But I love to watch my neighbor drive her perfect team of Shires down the road.  Not only are they best friends, they are totally alike and perfectly matched.  Everything they do is together.  They’re identical and it’s a beautiful to watch.

Our Father knows what is best for us.  When He commands us to form close, lasting relationships only with fellow believers, it is for our own good and happiness.  Throughout the years, relationships with those who share your worldview and love for Christ will be a great blessing and joy.  You’ll find yourself spared from unnecessary suffering, disappointment, longing and loneliness, and instead will experience rich fellowship and joy, and a companionship that nothing can take away, and that will last for eternity.  God is not trying to steal our joy through this command.  He is freeing us to experience true joy and vision.

Jesus Christ died for you, dear Christian.  He gave His life’s blood for Your sin.  He should be the center of your life and the desire of your heart.  Why would you want to form some of the most important relationships of your life with those who distract from that vision and do not share that love and passion?  He is all that matters.  We chose to prioritize other things in relationships; why not a shared faith in Christ?  Chose to be influenced by those who will only enhance and encourage your devotion to Him.  Like a perfectly matched team sharing the same burden, you will be encouraged by each other’s presence, relieved in your load, and exactly in step.