Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I need Harry & Edward in my literary world

Since last spring, I've mainly read lots of the same thing: the entire Harry Potter series (in a month and a half), the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, the Twilight Saga, and the Notebook. Other than that, there have only been a few random books along the way. It doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that there are seven HP books, seventeen Scarpetta books, and four Twilight books, it adds up to much more... especially when you consider all of these have an average of 500/600 pages.

Anyway, with that said, it's not a secret that I'm all about some Harry Potter and love those Cullens. Some folks look at that and can be critical (for various different reasons), and sometimes they make me feel like I owe some explanation for what I read. I've got 20 pages left of The Notebook and, although I can acknowledge that it's a good story, it doesn't take me away from reality at all. I've found myself sobbing multiple times, because it's just so heartbreakingly real. There are way too many similarities between Noah and Allie and James and myself... way too many.

As for the Scarpetta books, they're really good, but they don't help you escape this world at all. The main character, Kay Scarpetta is a medical examiner; these stories focus on different crimes and capturing the evil people who committed them. I got to where I couldn't read the Scarpetta books too close to bedtime; if I did, I would have nightmares. Let's face it, we can't make it through a single 30 minute newscast without being reminded of how many evils there are in this world.

So, that my friends is why I need Harry and Hogwartz. There's good versus evil, but it's just not real. It's so captivating and magical, but it's NOT REAL!!!! That's why I need Edward, not so much Bella, but boy do I need Edward. He's everything a fiction man should be, but He's not real either and neither is anything else in Twilight. It's nice to leave reality for 30 minutes or an hour here and there escape to places that don't exist. It's what books are all about. From the time I was a kid reading about a town called Chewandswallow, to exploring Narnia with the Pevensies (although Narnia is more real than most care to admit), I love the fact that authors can take all the elements of reality and transform them into a magical story that you keeps you coming back. That's what books are all about.
While I loved reading the Scarpetta series and always felt I was in the backseat of Marino's squad car listening to him and Kay figure it out, it's not exactly an escape. I love the Notebook and will keep reading Nicholas Sparks' books, just for the sake of trying new things, but I'm on page 180 of 200, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a box of tissues for the last 20 pages.
Anyway, that's why I'm thankful for Harry Potter, Ron Weasly, and Hermoine Granger; that's why I'm thankful for all of those spectacular Cullens. They take me away; that's what books are supposed to do. With that said, I love my life and am so thankful for James, Matthew, and all the folks in it. I'm thankful for God's bountiful blessings in my life... it's not my life I'm escaping from when I read; it's just a temporary break from the world that surrounds us.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet (What I've been trying to say)

I bought the performance track for the song "Where Joy and Sorrow Meet" more than six months ago. When I buy performance tracks online, I usually only get a 30 seconds demo of the song, so many times I'm not sure what song I'm getting until the download is finished. I just figured I could work toward learning it and several other new songs and get them all ready over time.

We found out we were expecting again the week before Easter. Deep down, I knew it would be best to wait several weeks before telling anyone, but James and I were so excited. There I was only five weeks along and we started announcing our good news. We were already planning names and picking nursery colors. Don't get me wrong, the whirlwind of Matthew's birth was in the back of my mind. Because of Matthew being born spontaneously at 28 weeks, I will forever be a high-risk OB patient. That does tend to make it a little different than your typical, happy-go-lucky pregnancy, but we were excited nonetheless.

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am not a needy patient, but we noticed a few things to be concerned about during my seventh week and decided a midnight trip to the ER was needed. After several tests that lasted well into the morning, I was diagnosed with threatened miscarriage, basically meaning that my chances of miscarrying were greater than most. We kept going and smiling though as we made our way into the follow-up appointments. I had a total of four ultrasounds in between my seventh and twelfth week and they just never saw a baby forming. Everything had set up the way it was supposed to, but there just wasn't a baby (referred to as blighted ovum in the medical world).

I knew miscarriage was coming and I had prepared myself as much as I could emotionally. As prepared as I was, it was really was a flood of emotions for me. It started up the night before Mother's Day. I can remember James and Matthew giving me their Mother's Day cards and gift that night as I was struggling to hold it together. Finally, I got alone, got my Bible, and asked God show me what He wanted me to hear. I turned to Psalms 30 and began to read the passage I've read and sang many times. Verse 5 was what really echoed in my heart though: "Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning." What a word! It was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. It was (and is) okay for me to feel sadness; that didn't (and doesn't) mean I am any less grateful for this amazing life He has given me, for His mercy, His provision, His strength, His guidance, my amazing husband, our Matthew, who truly is a gift from Him ...I could go on and on. It took me a while to feel like I had permission to grieve, but He said it was okay.

You know, the last part of that verse is my favorite though: JOY COMES IN THE MORNING! I'm okay; that doesn't mean I don't have moments that are tougher than others. In fact, even as I'm writing this, I realize this experience is more raw than I thought. It's not always easy, but it's okay. I'm so blessed; I say it all the time, but I'm the most blessed (and undeserving) person I know. As much as James and I would like to add to our family, it's okay if we don't. Matthew is more amazing each day; my love for him is more than I can even comprehend. We are so blessed that God gave him to us; trusted us to raise him up. The older Matthew gets, the more honored and humbled I am that God would use James and me to guide his life and help him become the man God desires him to be.

So, here I am at the place where joy and sorrow meet. I'm singing it tonight and the words are more real to me now than I ever dreamed. It's not just another song to me anymore. Here are two of the verses from the song by David J. White:

"There's a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet..."

"There's a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation, there is victory in defeat
At the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet."