Masquerade by Nancy Moser

>> Friday, September 24, 2010

The book, Masquerade, deposited in my mailbox one day by Bethany House, is truly a delight to read.  A realist, or someone that doesn’t believe in God’s divine providence, will not appreciate this book.  Even I shook my head at times at how neatly the bow was tied yet it is a reminder, when we allow God to be at the Helm, miracles can and do happen.  He is a miracle-working God, for sure.

Nancy Moser crafted a book that will stay with me.  The thesis she based everything on is this, “Who are we and who are we expected to be?”  Polar opposites collide:  rich/poor; society girl/maid; good/bad.

Lottie, a spoiled British young woman, agrees to go to America to marry into a very rich family.  Her maid, Dora, goes along as a companion.   Lottie, used to getting her own way, comes up with a plan of deception and Dora is quick to comply.

This historical romance is not always a fun read.  It deals with some difficult issues faced in the United States in the late 1800’s such as sweat shops and tenement housing.  Miss Moser plops us right into that era and we become a part of the action.

Her letter to the reader at the end of the book is also well worth the read.  She reminds us that challenges grow us into the person God intended for us to be.  She writes, “Life is not the process of discovering who we are but of discovering who we are supposed to be.”  As with every good romance, “God has finished our (Dora and her betrothed) story” yet let me go on to say that there together story has just begun.  Maybe a sequel?  We can only hope!


Hot Air Balloon Moments...

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

My brother-in-law and niece are hot air balloon enthusiasts.  As I searched through Jenna's pictures, I saw this prayer:

The Balloonist Prayer
The winds have welcomed 
you with softness
The sun has blessed you with 
his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God has joined you in your laughter
and set you gently back again
into the loving arms of mother earth.

It sounds wonderful, like you are able to hop in and enjoy a ride in the sunset or sunrise.  Not so, though.  It's lots of work.  The basket is unloaded.  The balloon is laid out.  The propane tanks filled and set up....  So much more than I know, for sure, even though I've watched this process.

But just think of the ride.  All that hard work has to be worth it.  And not only is it worth it, it's mandatory!  If something is done wrong, it could be a fateful day.

Imagine floating up in the clouds...  Ahhhh...  No wonder Jenna loves it so much.  I'm sure she would say she feels lots closer to God up there.

Airplanes are to get us somewhere, which is good.  I love when the plane takes me to Washington to fall into a Mari hug again and I love when it brings me back home to my family.

Balloons are different, though.  They don't take you TO anywhere.  It's wherever the wind directs.  And the journey is enjoyable.  The chase vehicles try to plot the plan so they can pack everything up and take balloon and riders back to every day, normal life.  Being in that vehicle is a crazy ride in itself:)  Trust me!

I want my life to be blown by God.  I don't want to book my flight according to my plans, and stay on that course no matter what.  I would choose the most direct plan to get me there the quickest.  Funny that my most memorable flights are the ones that were bumpy and a bit scary but exciting.

I want God to direct my paths every single second, even though it may be through a storm or two or five.  Along the way, He also points out others going through their own storms.  How much more empathy do we have when going through our own?  So much more.
You have flown so high and so well
that God has joined you in your laughter
and set you gently back again
into the loving arms of mother earth.

and to change this poem a bit, our last ride will be into the Loving Arms of our Father, where, I hope He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Not sure what my ride will be today, this Monday or this week, not even this year.  Whatever, though, I know KNOW that God will be with me every single step of the way - through calm weather and gale force winds.  Sometimes I even get to stand up in that bucket and look down and see how far I've gone or I can look out to see what's ahead.  Life's truly a journey, and until God takes us up, up, and away...I will live that journey to the fullest.

Airplanes take us to...  Hot air balloons allow us to experience a moment.  God gives us so many moments but sometimes they get buried in the storms.

Praying for more 'hot air balloon' moments in our lives.  Stop.  Listen.  Sing.  Dance.  Remember how great is God's faithfulness.  


National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

>> Monday, September 13, 2010

This is the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  Check out this website, whether you have a chronic illness or know someone that does.    Below is a story I wrote for FW about a mother suffering from a chronic illness and her daughter who is made to walk through it with her mom.  My kids have had to do that and still are.  Chronic illnesses are far-reaching and have long-lasting effects on everyone it touches.

Mommy's Sick

The bell rang and kids flooded the courtyard of Washington Grade School. Allison looked around from the top of the steps until she found her friend, and then ran to catch up with the short, red-haired girl named Gracie. 

“Wanna come to my house and play?” Allison stood face-to-face with Gracie, hands on hips, waiting for an answer. 

“I dunno. I have to ask Mommy.” Gracie shuffled her feet, looked over at her mom who waited in the van, and then looked back at Allison. “Um, some other time, okay?” 

Allison scrunched up her face. “Gracie, you used to be my best friend!” She stomped her little booted foot and marched off in the opposite direction. 

Gracie stood on the sidewalk and watched her very best friend walk away mad. She bent down and picked up her back pack and walked slowly to her mom, trying to hold back the tears.

Rachel beeped the horn to move her pokey daughter along. “Gracie, come on.” 

“Hi, Mommy.” Gracie plopped her bag into the van and hopped in, her face bright and cheery. 

“How was school?” Sunglasses hid her mother’s eyes, as always. Gracie forgot what they even looked like.

“Fine.” Gracie looked behind her and saw Allison’s van right behind theirs. She caught Allison’s eye and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” Allison turned away and pretended not to see. 

“Mommy? Can I go to Allison’s house sometime?” Gracie waited for an answer, and twitched her foot in anticipation. 

Rachel looked at Gracie through the rear-view mirror. “I guess it would be okay. When?”

“Um, sometime soon. If she ever asks me again, that is.” Gracie muttered that last part under her breath

“What, Gracie? You’re mumbling again.” 

“I said, ‘whenever she asks me.’ That’s when.” She sat head down, and watched both feet as they twitched. 

“Stop thumping the back of the seat,” Rachel snapped. “It hurts my head.”

“Everything hurts your head, Mommy! I can’t go anywhere, I can’t have friends over.” The tears she had been holding back now fell from Gracie’s eyes. 

“I can’t deal with this now. Please…” Gracie hung her head, sopping up the tears on her coat sleeve. 

The drive home was made in silence except for sniffling from the back seat. Before the van even stopped, Gracie jumped out and ran inside. 

“Supper is on the table. I need to go lay down,” Rachel called to the back side of her daughter. 

“What’s new?” Gracie ate as she flipped through channels. The quietness of the house was too much so she turned the TV on loud. 

She jumped when she heard the phone. “Hello?” 

“Hi, Gracie!” 


“What’s Mommy doing?”

Gracie sighed. 

“Oh, in bed again, huh? I’m sorry. You know Mommy’s sick.” 

Tears welled up in her eyes. She could barely talk because of the lump in her throat. “I know, Daddy. Mommy’s always sick. When is she going to be unsick?” 

“I don’t know, Honey.”

"She hates me and I hate her.” 

“She loves you. You know you love her, too. I have to go now. Tell Mommy I called when she wakes up. Okay?”

Gracie groaned, “Okay. When are you coming home?”

“Tomorrow morning. Be a big girl and take care of Mommy for me. I love you.”

“Love you, Daddy.”

Gracie snuck into her mother’s dark room. She pulled back the comforter and inched her way onto her Daddy’s side of the bed, careful not to jiggle. She ached to feel her mother’s arms around her. 

Rachel woke and pulled Gracie close, enveloping her in her arms and up against her warm body. “I’m so sorry, Honey,” Rachel whispered. “I hate being sick and I hate how it hurts you.”

“I hate it too, Mommy, but I love you.” Gracie snuggled up even closer and let the warmth of her mom’s body help heal her lonely one. 

In the morning, Gracie’s dad, tiptoed into the room and found his two favorite girls lying in bed together. Rachel lay curled into a ball and Gracie was tucked up inside. Gracie’s head lay on her mom’s outstretched arm and they both were smiling dreamily. 

“Lord,” Chris prayed quietly. “I shouldn’t have worried; You’re taking care of Rachel and Gracie just fine. We don’t know what the future holds with this illness but we do know that You are in control.” Chris climbed into bed beside Gracie and wrapped his arm around them both and drew them close. “Please help us, Lord.”

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