Time to Read

I have never squandered an opportunity to read. There are only twenty-four hours in the day, seven of which are spent sleeping, and in my view at least four of the remaining seventeen must be devoted to reading. Of course, four hours a day does not provide me with nearly enough time to satisfy my appetites. A friend once told me that the real message Bram Stoker sought to convey in Dracula is that a human being needs to live hundreds and hundreds of years to get all his reading done; that Count Dracula was a misunderstood bookworm, was draining blood from the porcelain-like necks of ten thousand hapless virgins not because he was the apotheosis of evil but because it was the only way he could live long enough to polish off his reading list. But I have no way of knowing if this is true, as I have not yet found time in my life to read Dracula.

— Joe Queenan, One for the Books

Their Own Free Will

It makes our own lives so much simpler when we let those who walk among us do whatever they want to do. Now, of course, when our offspring are young, we can’t let them be unsupervised. But it’s folly to think that we will be able to control their every move. Their own free will will surface quite regularly, just as ours continues to do. But our acknowledging that it’s okay for them and all others to listen to guiding voices different from our own results in many opportunities for gratitude. Being grateful for even the tiny experiences that we have with letting others be, letting others do that which they feel called to do, even if it proves to be wrong in the long run, is the breath of fresh air we deserve.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 134

Knowing the Unknowable

I wanted to know the unknowable and my father, the scientist, the professor, could not tell me. My mother could because she read fiction and fantasy. But it was coded so that it appealed to a part of the brain beyond consciousness, so it carried the feeling of being a right answer without any way to articulate it, in the same way that an aroma of gardenias can reach inside you and find its rightful place, its confirmation, and yet remain out of reach of some literal explanation of its effects. The scent of a gardenia is true even if you can’t articulate it. Or, as Edna St. Vincent Millay put it, “It is a thing that exists simply, like a sapphire, like anything roundly beautiful; there is nothing to be done about it.”

— Laurence Gonzales, Surviving Survival, p. 141

Freedom from Blame

Choosing to forego blame actually feels very good. Taking responsibility for what we have done and letting others off the hook when they aren’t ready to do the same is really very freeing. Having made a practice of letting others do and be whatever appeals to them is a gift to ourselves and to them, a gift that simply changes every aspect of our journey.

We are here to watch and learn. We are here to bless and witness. We are here to offer guidance when sought. We are here to share our experience, strength, and hope. Our purpose is never to blame. Everyone is stuck in an old perspective, a place where growth can’t happen, if we are caught in the web of blaming.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 133

A Praying Life

We don’t need a praying life because that is our duty. That would wear thin quickly. We need time to be with our Father every day because every day our hearts and the hearts of those around us are overgrown with weeds. We need to reflect on our lives and engage God with the condition of our souls and the souls he has entrusted to our care or put in our paths. In a fallen world, these things do not come automatically.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 261


For decades I have pondered why so many feel that without a life partner they are nothing. The answer may vary for different people, but I think at one time in my life it was because I felt invisible, even among friends, and I wanted one person, at the very least, to make me feel important. So when that person showed up, I clung. My attachment suffocated him and the relationship. I was a very slow learner; I suffocated many before I learned the value of detachment. Now I treasure being able to let God give me all the comfort and security I need.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 125

We Are Not Alone.

But books were showing me that everyone suffers, at different times in our lives. And that yes, in fact, there were many people who knew exactly what I was going through. Now, through reading, I found that suffering and finding joy are universal experiences, and that those experiences are the connection between me and the rest of the world. My friends could have told me the same, I know, but with friends there are always barriers, hidden corners, and covered emotions. In books, the characters are made known to me, inside and out, and in knowing them, I know myself, and the real people who populate my world.

— Nina Sankovitch, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, p. 141

Palace Instead of Scaffold

“I mean that God wants to build you a house whereof the walls shall be goodness; you want a house whereof the walls shall be comfort. But God knows that such walls cannot be built, that that kind of stone crumbles away in the foolish workman’s hands. He would make you comfortable; but neither is that his first object, nor can it be gained without the first, which is to make you good. He loves you so much that he would infinitely rather have you good and uncomfortable, for then he could take you to his heart as his own children, than comfortable and not good, for then he could not come near you, or give you anything to be counted worth having for himself or worth giving to you.”

— George MacDonald, in The Vicar’s Daughter, quoted in Knowing the Heart of God, edited by Michael R. Phillips, p. 285

Our Father’s Story

Do you see the difference between making an isolated prayer request and praying in context of the story that God is weaving? God answered our prayer for Kim to speak, but the answer was inseparable from repenting, serving, managing, and waiting. Most of our prayers are answered in the context of the larger story that God is weaving.

Living in our Father’s story means living in tension. (Will the book get written? How can Kim speak if she can’t do sentence structure?) After all, tension and overwhelming obstacles make for a good story! How boring life would be if prayer worked like magic. There’d be no relationship with God, no victory over little pockets of evil. . . .

Look for the Storyteller. Look for his hand, and then pray in light of what you are seeing. . . .

When the story isn’t going your way, ask yourself, What is God doing? Be on the lookout for strange gifts. God loves to surprise us with babies in swaddling clothes lying in mangers.

Sometimes when we say “God is silent,” what’s really going on is that he hasn’t told the story the way we wanted it told. He will be silent when we want him to fill in the blanks of the story we are creating. But with his own stories, the ones we live in, he is seldom silent.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 201