Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

New Life

Sometimes it’s really funny how thoughts come together. This Easter season, I’ve been thinking a lot about the significance of new life. Not so much in terms of babies and fresh starts, but in terms of transformation.

You see, about a week ago I found this necklace I’d made and completely forgotten about. It’s a little out of the norm of what I usually wear, but I love it all the same.

Butterflies are often used in Christian circles as a visual representation of the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Butterflies aren’t born, they are made, transformed from awkward earthbound caterpillars to glorious insects able to take flight. The process which turns them from crawling to flying isn’t easy, safe, or effortless. However, the end result is worth all the pain and effort.

Today my pastor preached on the resurrection, and how important it is to the Christian faith to believe that the resurrection really took place. While listening, it dawned on me that in a way, Jesus went through a transformation as well. He started Passion Week as the sacrificial lamb, the One who would take away the sins of the world. It was an important role, vital for the plan of salvation. After His death though, there had to be a transformation.

For Christ to just die for our sins would simply have made atonement for the sins that had come before that moment. His death, therefore, would have been just like the death of any other sacrifice. But something was different about this sacrifice. THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB ROSE FROM THE DEAD. 

Christ rose. He conquered the hold that death had on humanity, He made it possible for all people to access the grace and forgiveness found in the shedding of His blood. He made it possible for us to transform our lives.

So, this Easter, rejoice in His power, love, grace, and mercy…they are for you, from Him. Happy Easter.

50I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58, ESV

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What’s It All About?

A few months back, a friend of a friend died. Though I didn’t know him, I was sad for her and as a show of support Mum and I went to this man’s funeral.

I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and this one was unlike any other. No singing, no photo montages. No songs at all. Instead, the man’s son gave an hour long biography of his father, pausing only to invite certain key figures from his father’s life to come up and speak as well (my friend being one of these people). However, what really struck me was what an awesome life this man led. Really, he did things that most of us can only dream about. It was a good, long, full, exciting life.

Except, I found myself being really sad that I’d never met this man. I’d have loved to hear him tell these stories.

Then, I forgot all about it.

That is, until tonight. Mum and I went over to help our friend with moving some stuff out of the deceased man’s house in preparation for an estate sale. She gave us the grand tour of the house, ending in a room that must have served as a sort of study for this man. Hung all over the walls in this room are commendations, signed prints and pictures, and other documents recording the wonderful things that the man had done.

His family does not want them. They will be sold in the estate sale.

This knocked me sideways. This man devoted his life to a career. He worked really hard doing dangerous and crazy things. He earned rewards and commendations that few people do because of his hard work.

And they will be purchased by a complete stranger for…what use? It won’t conjure up memories of this man for them, they don’t know him. The buyer won’t know what this man did to earn that certificate, or how he was presented with this commendation.

The name on those documents means nothing to them.

What then, is the point of all this? Those things obviously brought joy to him, brought to mind good memories and proud thoughts. Now, they simply are an impersonal collector’s item.

Is this what life comes down to? All the things that defined this man’s life, all the things that made him proud…they are being assessed for their market value. And that’s that.

End of story.

Or is it? Thornton Wilder, in his book The Bridge of San Luis Rey, examined this idea of memories, life, happiness, and love. His summation of the novel is brilliant (SPOILER ALERT!):

But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Perhaps he is on to something. Maybe the memories we leave behind are enough. No matter what we do or do not leave behind us, our actions still count for something.

I really hope Wilder is correct.

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They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

As you’ve probably already heard, Amy Winehouse was found dead today. She was only 27.

Before I go into my main thoughts, let’s make sure we are on the same sheet of music. I find her death tragic. She had talent, potential, youth, and ingenuity. As with any death, it saddens me and my heart goes out to the family and friends she left behind.

That said, one thought keeps resonating in my mind: don’t make her a saint. Just watching the tweets flow by on my stream is worrisome. There are a lot of people lamenting her lost talent, lost potential.

However, she made choices that led her to this untimely demise. While her music made her famous, her alcohol and drug abuse made her infamous. Where her life could have been a true inspiration to up and coming artists, her bad choices cut off her potential.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from things I’ve heard this week, it is that drugs truly have the potential to ruin your life. Even a little bit of use can come around in an unexpected way and change how you thought your life would end up. Constant use, as Amy Winehouse’s life so sadly exemplifies, will eventually destroy you to the core.

So am I sad? Yes. Fame can be overwhelming, but I wish that she could have gotten a grip on her life and not ended up dying in such a tragic way. I hope that in all of this, the people who were musically inspired by Amy Winehouse will also be inspired to live clean lives: no drugs, no drinking.

If her life is to be an inspiration, let’s learn from all aspects of it.

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Enraptured

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36

There’s a lot of talk about the world ending tomorrow.

This annoys me. Not that I’m not all for the Rapture and all; there are days where my mind constantly echoes John’s cry of “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” However, really people? Do you think that you, and YOU ONLY, have discovered the date of the one event that will change the entire world forever?

Because, let’s face it. Wars affect some people, earthquakes affect others. Some people are influenced by a wedding, some by the fall of a dictator. But nothing, NOTHING, will change the world like the Rapture, the Second Coming, Christ returning to earth. For some it will be amazing, for others it will be terrifying, and I hope and pray that you all are not in the “terrifying” category.

Here’s the thing though. Only God knows when this is all going to take place. In an amazing metaphysical conundrum, even Christ (though fully God and fully man) does not know when He is going to return to earth. Did you all hear that? Christ does not know the date of something that completely centers around His participation! I mean, wow. That’s one tightly guarded secret.

So what makes anyone think that God would reveal to *them* this precious date? The God I know, He doesn’t play games. He doesn’t say in His Word that no one knows something, and then drop broad hints or whisper it in the ear of a man. He doesn’t mess with us like that. He knows the date and time, and that’s enough. We don’t need to know. Let’s face cold, hard reality: we don’t want to know.

Think about how pointless life would feel if we knew the date and time. Think of how apathetic and scared we would become. I mean, all this May 21st stuff is merely conjecture and people are losing it; what if we knew it was 100% real? No. No no no. Bad idea. God knew that it was best for us not to know, so we don’t know. Oh, and remember, Christ doesn’t know, so He’s not going to be providing hints to us either. God told us all we need to know about the end times in Revelation. Quite honestly, that gives me enough fodder to keep my mind occupied…I don’t need to know EXACTLY when it will all kick off.

Let’s stop worrying about the end of the world. Let’s just worry about today. How are we acting? What are we doing? Are we making our lives count? Are we doing things that matter?

Live for today…let tomorrow take care of itself.

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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It’s A Cry and It’s A Broken Hallelujah

One of my favourite songs, and my favourite cover of it to boot! Happy Music Monday.

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Caveat Lector

Caesar:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.

Caesar:
What man is that?

Brutus:
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19

“Tis the anniversary of that fateful day, the day when a great leader’s best friends reportedly stabbed him to death in the Roman streets. Poor, poor Caesar.

Just because I’m feeling litgeeky today, here’s another of my favourite quotes from Julius Caesar:

ARTEMIDORUS:

(reads aloud)

“Caesar, beware of Brutus. Take heed of Cassius. Come not near Casca. Have an eye to Cinna. Trust not Trebonius. Mark well Metellus Cimber. Decius Brutus loves thee not. Thou hast wronged Caius Ligarius. There is but one mind in all these men, and it is bent against Caesar. If thou beest not immortal, look about you. Security gives way to conspiracy. The mighty gods defend thee!

Thy lover,

Artemidorus”

Here will I stand till Caesar pass along,

And as a suitor will I give him this.

My heart laments that virtue cannot live

Out of the teeth of emulation.

If thou read this, O Caesar, thou mayst live.

If not, the Fates with traitors do contrive.

Julius Caesar, Act 2, Scene 3

So, dear readers beware! Tread cautiously today….

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Beyond The Door There’s Peace, I’m Sure

It’s hard to write a blog post through a haze of tears.

But, this post had to be written. Needed to be written. Deserved to be written.

I’m hoping that my regular readers (and those who know me in real life) will recall all the times I’ve talked about this dear little customer of mine: a 15 year old girl who has spent the past few years fighting a rare cancer with determination and tenacity. For those of you who are new, please just take a minute to review this post about Ashley. If you have a little extra time, I’ve also mentioned Ashley and her family here and here.

Ashley is amazing. She fought to stay a normal kid through horrible circumstances. She stayed informed on her treatments, and made calls as to when to push through more pain, and when to take a break and just enjoy being with her family and friends. People rallied around her and her family with support, prayers, and wonderful memory-making gifts.

I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch your child waste away, to watch a disease slowly drain her of life, day by day, sometimes breath by breath. How hard it is to help her be a normal kid when nothing about her life is, or is ever going to be, normal. What it’s like to watch her siblings try to come to grips with the concept of death at a far too young age. For me, it’s been hardest to watch the effect of Ashley’s illness reflected in her father’s eyes. It was hard to hold him while he cried and told me the saddest news of all.

If you are reading this post, it means that Ashley is now out of pain. Her suffering is over…her fight is finished.

…and we are mourning her.

I called her dad earlier, and he said something that is so, so true. Her life had a purpose, and she did not leave us until that purpose was filled. She has touched hundreds and thousands of lives; she’s inspired countless people. Her purpose here is over…it is now time for us to learn from her life, and live the lessons she embodied.

Make the most of each day. Fight to be normal. Treasure memories. Make time for those you love. Never miss a chance to hug someone or brighten their day. Live. Laugh. Love. Like I challeged you all earlier this month:

Live with intention.

We love you, Ashley. <3

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

I’ll find my way
Through night and day,
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay
Here in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There’s peace I’m sure,
And I know there’ll be no more
Tears in heaven.

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.

 

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Walking Her Home….

Over the last month at our store, we’ve had two big events happen with two of our older couples. As a result (surprise, surprise!), I have a really neat song stuck in my head. But first, let me tell you about these events.

The first one was several weeks ago, and is amazingly cool. One of our regulars celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with his wife! It’s really touching to see such a successful marriage as they have; we are very happy for them.

The other event is sadder. A couple that’s been coming in since we opened has struggled through the past few years. The husband suffered from a severe form of dementia, but through it all his wife stood by his side, brought him to see us when she could, and treated him with a touching amount of love and patience. He died a few weeks ago, but the eulogies at his funeral speak to the amazing impact his life had on others.

Two vastly different scenarios, but both showed the world the same thing: that marriage can be forever, it can be “’til death do us part.” They modeled faithfulness and fidelity, and the world needs more role models such as this.

Thank you, dear customers, for showing us an amazing picture of love through the example of your lives.

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Held

There’s a song by Natalie Grant that I’ve loved for a long time, but never quite knew why. Lately though, I’ve come to believe that I was drawn to the song for such a time as this. Trust me, this is not a fun time.

You see, the lyrics of the song start off quite melancholy:

“Two months is too little, they let him go, they had no sudden healing. To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.”

Right now, I know a child who is dying. She’s so young, and she’s been so brave for so many years. Understandably, she’s grown tired of fighting, of sickness, of pain.

I can’t fathom what she’s lived through.

Hearing about her struggles, it really makes me question why certain things happen in this life. Of all the things that seem senseless, children struggling with illness makes the top of my list.

“We’re asking why this happens to us who have died to live; it’s not fair.”

It really does feel unfair. Why do people like her have to suffer and die, while others get to live?

Basically, why do good people die while bad people live?

I don’t know that there is a good, logical answer to this question; at least, not an answer that would give comfort to people. Rather, the only comfort I find in this particular situation is found in faith: faith that God is with her, that He is in control, and that He is sovereign over the affairs of humanity.

In essence, this is the same conclusion that the song comes to, only Natalie puts it much more beautifully:

“This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.”

Held.

It’s such a powerful word, with powerful imagery attached to it. What I particularly like about it is the fact that none of the action depends on the person being held. If someone is holding you, they don’t need for you to respond or react in order to do so.

No matter what, they hold on to you.

My friend is weak, she is frail. I don’t think that she has the physical or emotional strength to hold on to anything, but that’s okay.

God is holding her, and He’s not going to let go.

So far, the song lyrics are comforting; however, they don’t stop there. The lyrics go on to talk about the best way to react when the things that are difficult go horribly in your life or the lives of people you care about.

“This hand is bitterness; we want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrows.”

This is all too true. When bad things happen, the most natural reaction is to become angry and bitter: sometimes at those involved, but most often at God.

That’s not a good thing to do. Rather:

“The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.”

It’s okay to grieve. In fact, it’s natural. However, wisdom means coming to accept tragedy, acknowledge its effect, and then turn to the future. Because, no matter what tragedy happens, the greater amount of life goes on; hope goes on.

Love goes on.

So in all of this, I choose to believe in hope, I choose to trust in the providence of God.

I choose to believe that God will hold my friend to the end of this trial, whatever or whenever that end might be.

She is held.

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The Birthday Bard

It’s poetry in its purest form- browsing Books-A-Million brooding about the Bard’s birthday. Think I used enough “b”s in that sentence?

But yes, you read that right. Today is supposedly William Shakespeare’s birthday (I subscribe to the 25th, but that’s a story for another time), it is indeed the anniversary of his death, and it is also St. George’s Day, the patron saint of England.

‘Tis a lot to take in.

Therefore, friends, Romans, blog readers, lead me your ears! For indeed I am a friend of the Bard, a fan of his witty sayings and dramatic tales of star-crossed lovers. Forsooth, even I turn a blind eye to his obvious copying of others’ tales, and his shameless borrowing of his own best-loved plot turns. For what great a man he was, still to be revered ev’n in this modern age in which we live.

Yet, my meager words cannot express the genius of this great man; actor, poet, playwright. Let us all instead divert our attention to a different vein; let us turn to the words of the man himself, and let us listen to his thoughts near the end of his life. For it is said that the character Prospero, that wizard and magician banished so many long years on a deserted isle, is meant to be Shakespeare himself, a means by which the Bard expressed his feelings and a plea to his devoted fans:

“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint….

…Now I want

Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,

And my ending is despair

Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so, that it assaults

Mercy itself, and frees all faults.

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free.”

–The Tempest

So, then, dear friends, ‘tis nobler indeed to laud the life of a man who spent his time well, and did so faithfully devote his hours to writing for the entertainment of many.

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