January’s begun fast and furious for me, and I’ve already managed to miss a week of this newsletter. Thanks for your grace. Here’s to the year ahead, and to more grace all around.
Around the Web
Casting Off the Labels that Limit this Year
Esther Fleece Allen writes on life after lament.
- Our names are the most essential thing about us. It’s often the first thing people know about us, and yet this one word holds far more significance and sacred history than any first impression could ever capture.
My name is Esther, and like every name, mine has a story.
Robin Hood Books and Retellings
When I was nine years old I spent a week as Maid Marian playing Robin Hood with a bunch of boys in a bamboo forest in Taiwan. The tale is one of my favorites, and this post introduces many retellings and reimaginings–but I bet none of them take place in a bamboo forest.
- Do your kids love historic tales of heroes and daring outlaws fighting against tyranny? This list of Robin Hood books will fuel their passion for stories of heroism and the rise of the common man in the face of injustice.
Rivers in the Desert
Patty Sommer explores the life-giving streams God gives.
- This is the time of year when a pall of dust begins to cover everything. Whether I wipe the shelves in the morning or not, by mid-afternoon I will be able to trace my name in the particles again.
It coats the trees and bushes near the roadway and turns them brown. It fills the sky with a pale haze every evening as the sun slips below the line of the city. It fills the air we breathe, and it daily powders our clothes on the line.
Twenty-Five Picture Books for Grown-Ups
I mean, the whole family can enjoy many of these, but sometimes you just need your own picture books.
- It’s said that medieval churches had stained glass windows for the illiterate masses. But I’m starting to think that, even in our era of much-improved literacy, we still need to get lost in color and shape. Recently, reading has become less and less enjoyable—after a day spent trawling through emails and skimming online news, words begin to swim before my eyes. So it’s no surprise that the pile of books by my bed includes many with illustrations. When my reading brain is tired, my childlike self is still ready for an adventure. It’s a spiritual instinct.
Around the Warren
Think Small and Carry On
S.D. Smith shares a life lesson from the Crane Technique.
- Scholars agree that the Crane Technique, if done right, cannot be defended. Mr. Miyagi pointed this out in the Eighties and it’s since been tested by roughly every single one of the humans who were boys in that era. I refer, of course, to that cinematic masterpiece, The Karate Kid. After I saw that movie, I ran around kicking air, punching boards, and, most importantly, trying out the Crane Technique.
Abel’s Island by William Steig
John Sommer recommends a classic.
- Why is it that so often our life in this modern world prevents us from living; no time for pausing or reflecting? Days roll into weeks, weeks into months, and before we know it, it’s Christmas. After a week or so of vacation we are suddenly packing up the Christmas and New Year’s decorations. Then it is time to put out the new calendars and we start making resolutions all over again.
Epiphany- Where I Will Walk
Jessica Deagle starts off the year with a longing for Epiphany.
- Last Christmastide I, once again, grossly overestimated my powers. To begin with, in an attempt to be hospitable we had invited international guests into our home who spent most of Advent and all of Christmas with us. On Christmas Eve, my roast beef, which was intended to both impress and embody the spirit of feasting as we lit the final Advent candle, became a charred mess in the oven. We felt like the Bumpus’ dogs had run off with Christmas dinner and I wanted to sit down in the middle of the kitchen floor and cry. Instead I chose to laugh.
Jesus and the Very Big Surprise
Kelly Keller reviews Randall Goodgame’s new book.
- “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40
If you read the above verse to children (or adults for that matter), often the reaction is one of fear. I remember a bumper sticker popularized in the past few decades that said “Jesus is Coming — Look Busy.” Perhaps it is our very human tendency towards shame that can cause us to dread Jesus’ return.
Something to Do with Your Kids
January may be partly over, but this list of activities to do as a family is still full of great ideas.
Something to Watch
Kids retell the story of The Princess Bride–only somewhat accurately–and it gets acted out. Result: great entertainment.
Thanks for reading. We’re on your side.
-The Story Warren Team