The Lord of the Rings (review)

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The Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien—all six books, a Kindle edition purchased May 9th, finished reading around August 14th.

Here are some of the things that impressed me about book(s).

The contrast between good and evil. Good characters and settings were beautiful, wholesome, verdant, fragrant, admirable, while the evil characters and settings were creepy to grotesque, debauched, barren, in some cases smelled vile, and were frightening and repulsive.

That said, characters were still complex. Though the good characters were essentially white, they still had the capacity for foolishness, made mistakes etc. This made for my continued interest.

My favourite character was Frodo’s servant, the loyal Sam Gamgee. Through him Tolkien illustrates the values of love, faithfulness, perseverance, courage etc. in the face of insurmountable odds.

The hobbit characters retained their love of hearth, home and a good meal. Their reminiscences about these things and their appearances in the story even when situations were at their worst (a good meal cooked when making a fire was a dangerous act; the singing of a lullaby during captivity by evil orcs) kept me hopeful that the good would win.

As I looked for Christian allegorical themes, and knowing that Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were contemporaries and literary buddies (the Inklings), these jumped out at me.

1. The fight between good and evil—a biblical theme if there ever was one.

2. Saruman and Sauron as types of Satan.

The wizard Gandalf says of Sauron:

“… I found our fears were true; he was none other than Sauron, our Enemy of old, at length taking shape and power again” – p. 250.

Treebeard says of Saruman:

“He is plotting to become a Power. He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things” p. 473.

3. King Aragorn as a type of Christ:
In a scene with the hobbit Pippin:

“’King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer, I said!’ And soon word had gone out from the House that the King was indeed come among them and after war he brought healing.” P. 286.

This wasn’t my favourite book in the world. The language is more descriptive and flowery than I’m used to, though I felt it suited the story genre well. I also found the use of words and phrases in Tolkien’s made-up language confusing in that they slowed me down, though again, they made the story feel like an authentic middle earth tale.

All in all, this was a very long but worthwhile read. If you haven’t read it maybe you should for aspects of this story (in book and film) are now woven into the imagination and fabric of our culture.

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Unknown Enemy (Review)

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Unknown Enemy (A Green Dory Inn Mystery, #1)Unknown Enemy by Janet Sketchley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Landon Smith gets a call to help Anna, the woman who was an anchor to her in her troubled past, she leaves her college dorm in Toronto for a weekend in Nova Scotia with hardly a second thought. Once there she is immediately caught up in the mystery of who is terrorizing Anna’s business, the Green Dory Inn. Or is Anna, whose husband died recently, falling apart mentally and seeing things?

Unknown Enemy is full of tension as we try to puzzle out with Landon and Anna who, in Sketchley’s cast of colourful (and complex) characters, could be behind this. When the weekend has passed and the mystery is still not solved we wonder, will Landon be able to get to the bottom of this before her exacting prof drops her from her course.

I love the local colour of the Lunenberg setting—an actual town in Nova Scotia—and all the homey touches of the inn (beautiful décor, lots of tea and homemade baking). I wish the Green Dory Inn wasn’t fictional as I’d love to stay there!

Faith plays a big part in all of Sketchley’s stories and this one is no exception. Landon has made a practice of handling flashbacks of past trauma with prayer. That’s something she learned from the almost saintly Anna, who is a paradigm of loving the outcasts and marginalized.

I enjoyed this quick read, which kept me turning pages way past when I planned to stop.

With this novella, Sketchley introduces a new series: The Green Dory Inn mysteries. Fans of contemporary Christian mystery won’t want to miss one installment. Unknown Enemy releases August 2nd, 2018.

I received a copy of Unknown Enemy as a gift for the purpose of writing a review.

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Love everlasting (#BibleJournaling)

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love…” – Jeremiah 31:3

This is the verse on which the Rebekah R. Jones’ Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge series, Week 36 is based.

As soon as I saw the word “everlasting” I thought of dried flowers, which are sometimes called everlastings. My mom used to grow gorgeous everlastings—strawflowers, statice, love-in-a-mist (nigella), Chinese lantern, and more.

She got me interested in trying my hand at it. I did, and for a few years I made dried arrangements out of my dried roses, statice, hydrangea, baby’s breath, tansy, nigella pods. So fun—but messy!

I decided to decorate this page of my Bible with everlastings. Working on this drawing of straw flowers, statice, celosia and nigella was like stepping back into time. I just wish I could have shown Mom, who died in 2006, but whose love I sensed as I worked on it. Of course God’s love lasts longer and is stronger than any mother’s!

Thank you, Jesus, for your truly everlasting love!

Jer 31_3 (BJ)

Bible Journal entry for Jeremiah 31:3 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

Media used: Pigma micron pens and pencil crayon.

Jonah (#BibleJournaling)

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Some Bible stories are just too deliciously visual to resist bringing to pictorial life. I found Jonah to be one of those.

In my 2018 project to journal at least once in each minor prophet book, Jonah got the full treatment; an entry on each of its four pages.

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Jonah runs from the presence of the LORD. (Good luck with that!) (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Jonah in the belly of the great fish. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Nineveh repents. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

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Jonah sits outside the city, waiting for fireworks. (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

I love the end-of-Jonah challenge cast before the reader by my study Bible’s notes:

“After a brief pause to imagine the worst threat someone could pose against us or the worst injury someone could inflict upon us, then we are ready to ask ourselves: ‘Would I be willing to invest myself in God’s forgiveness of them?’” – Charles W. Snow – Study notes on Jonah, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1198.

 

 

Media used: Inktense pencils, watercolours, Pigma Micron pens, coloured pencils.

Free to fly (#BibleJournaling)

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Romans 8—what a great chapter about freedom in Christ! It starts out:

“So now there is no condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” – Romans 8:1,2 NLT.

“Condemnation” is what God dealt the serpent Satan way back in Genesis. It’s what confined him to crawling about earth-bound. God to Satan way back in Eden:

“Because you have done this,
… On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” – Genesis 3:14,15 NKJV

 

But those who belong to Christ Jesus no longer “walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” NKJV

Walking according to the flesh is that old earth-bound life.

Walking according to the Spirit is set being free for eternity from those earth-bound limitations.

What better way to depict this transformation than the butterfly, which has gone from creeping on the ground to flying free in all her butterfly beauty.

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Bible journal entry for Romans 8:1-2 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

I used butterfly stencils for this entry, pigma micron pens for outlining, pencil crayons to do the coloring, a white pen for detailing, and my pink gelato to highlight the verse.

This journal entry was inspired by a Rebekah R. Jones challenge, the Original Art Journaling Challenge series – Week 35.

Take words … (#BibleJournaling)

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In my personal Bible reading, I’ve been following The Bible Project’s reading plan. I’m now in the prophets, and what a lot of beautiful, poetic, and picturesque passages they contain!

Last week Hosea 14:2-4 snagged my attention:

“Take words with you,
And return to the LORD.
Say to Him,
‘Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer sacrifices of our lips…
For in You the fatherless finds mercy.’”

 

I love the humble attitude of these verses. The image of a wagon filled with words came to mind. In order to preserve the readability of the verses in my Bible, I made them part of the wagon’s load.

A little girl pulls it because isn’t that how we come to God—in childlikeness?

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NKJV Journal The Word Bible entry for Hosea 14:2-4 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

God invites us still, whatever our situation; “Take words with you and return to the LORD… ‘For in You the fatherless finds mercy.’”

The Way of Letting Go (review)

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The Way of Letting Go: One Woman's Walk toward ForgivenessThe Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The abduction of their 13-year-old daughter in November off 1984 shunted Winnipeg residents Cliff and Wilma Derksen onto an unfamiliar and horror-strewn track. The discovery of her body seven months later, bound and frozen, provided closure on one level. She had been murdered. She was never coming home. But that day opened a Pandora’s box of feelings, reactions, learnings, and conclusions about how to deal with the unthinkable crime of the murder of their child. Early on, the Derksens declared their decision to forgive.

In The Way of Letting Go, published in 2017, 32 years after the crime, Wilma Derksen describes what forgiveness has entailed for her. Drawing inspiration from “the Nazarene” and the Sermon on the Mount she tells (in chapters titled, for example: “Letting Go of the Happy Ending,” “Letting Go of Fear,” “Letting Go of my Ego” etc.) incidents that triggered realizations of what she was hanging onto and needed to release. She also analyzes the spiritual and practical implications of these relinquishments.

The triggering incidents she tells help us to put together the Derksen’s story in a puzzle piece way. We also get glimpses of what it was like to be in the spotlight of the victim and involved with the police and justice system of Canada.

The Way of Letting Go not only tells a riveting story but also challenges us to consider (when we’ve been wronged) the difficult, complicated, repetitious (“Seventy times seven”) response of forgiveness. Highly recommended.

This book is part of my own Kindle collection.

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