Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Lori's Choice Part 19

Not for younger readers. The subject of Lori’s Choice should be reviewed by parents before minors read it.

Tess had Lori over for long talks whenever Caleb had a long day of work. They needed to be able to talk without interruption. Lori had lots of questions about the life she’d agreed to. Sometimes Mom came with Lori. Tess and Mom hadn’t been close friends before. Now Tess’s quiet, persistent faith began to erode Mom’s bitterness. Soon the three women were praying together for the marriage that would be, for the pregnancy, and for the baby.

One day Lori surprised them all by praying for the father of her baby. She prayed he would be caught and convicted, that he would hear the truth of God’s forgiveness in prison, and be saved. Lori continued, “Help me to forgive him and move on. God, help my heart to be full given to Caleb. I feel I owe him that much, at least.”

Tess and Mom exchanged looks, both puzzled over what was in Lori’s heart. But neither of them dared ask. They kept praying in their own hearts that Lori would grow in godliness.

Marybelle joined their prayer and planning meetings when she could. She lent a youthful enthusiasm to their discussions. Her heart was unquestioningly faithful to her heavenly Father, her influence on Lori’s sometimes turbulent spirit was welcomed by Mom and Tess.

Right before Christmas Caleb and Lori sat down to decide on a date for the wedding. In the end Lori had her way, and they scheduled the wedding for Midsummer’s Eve. Plans then began in earnest for invitations and facilities.

The baby continued to grow safely in the womb. Lori got cravings for chocolate ice cream like she’d never had before. This caused her to gain an unusual amount of weight for her, but it was just enough to keep her doctor happy. Caleb backed off on wrapping his arms around her, enabling him to wait for their marriage for further physical affection.

Lori worked with Caleb to choose baby names. Every time Lori spoke with him, he noticed she had more assurance that God was showering her with His grace. Caleb recognized that it was easy to be so thankful when times were good, so Pastor Greg frequently reminded him that Lori had been like that even when she was without hope to ever be married, and facing the raising of her child alone. Together they agreed that if Lori had a girl, her name would be Anna Grace. They couldn’t think of a counterpart to Grace for a boy, so they settled on Matthew Nathanael, which meant the same thing, “Gift of God.”

Janelle came through with great skill in planning things like the baby shower and wedding reception. The shower was scheduled for a week after Lori’s due date. “Don’t go late,” she instructed Lori.

“I’ll try,” she said. Lori was more than willing to oblige. By this time the novelty of being so round had worn off, and she was ready to hold a baby in her arms instead.

Caleb leaned on his pastor and his dad for wisdom in growing in love with his bride. Since they were moving so fast, he felt rather overwhelmed. But Lori’s heart was ever his, willing to embrace whatever he offered. He was by now grateful for the extended time of engagement that enabled him to prepare even more.

To God be all glory.


åslaug said...

All writers deserve and need feedback. You still write wonderful! My heart skipped a beat when I saw part 19 was here. I'm so looking forward to see what happens. Just so you know =)

Anonymous said...

I agree, you write very well, and I am sure that if you were ever to do send your material to a publisher, it would be well received.

Regarding the subject matter of Lori's Choice, I appreciate that you put up a warning for younger readers, that shows a true integrity which is good.

This is just my 2 cents worth, but perhaps this sort of subject is not suitable reading matter, especially for Christian Fiction. My reason for stating this is chiefly the verse Phillippians 4:8, where it states:

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

I realise that we cannot ignore that such things take place, but the Bible advises us to be "wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil." (Romans 16:19b)

I appreciate that the main theme is redeeming love, rather than focusing on the actual assault, but my opinion still stands. Parents are not always able to vet their children's reading matter, often trusting that because the book bears the label 'Christian fiction' it is harmless.

I only intend this comment as my opinion, and an encouragement for your writing style, which is very engaging, and down to earth. Thank you for the opportunity to give our feedback.

In Christ,

S. Gray

Lisa of Longbourn said...

S. Gray,
Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate your God-centered approach.

In the story, Lori actually discusses the sort of thing you brought up, and in this she is very representative of me. I agree that for some people, or all people at some times, this is not a good subject. I try to moderate my "romance" intake, and especially topics like this one. When I don't, I get off track, and focus on things not much like Philippians 4:8. So you have a good point.

However, the Bible is not ashamed to tell the stories of men and women who went through horrible, sinful circumstances. There is detail and almost poetic emotion, epic tales. Genesis has some real life stories. David's life is rather full of them.

I thought that the questions raised by Lori's Choice were relevant. If I wanted to be a little more detailed and a little more relevant, I might have left out the baby. In the world today, I believe there are girls in the church wondering whether all their dreams are over, and who may even need to recognize that they have no right, as a result of their sin (or as the result of being a sinner offending God), to expect or demand love. God offers His, which is by grace, and we can accept that, and even supplicate for more. But we cannot expect it. We can't expect it of others. These things are life things I've seen in others, and dealt with myself. So going through Lori's struggles is therapeutic.

As for the genre "Christian fiction," this story means nothing without the Christianity that drives it. Lori loves God. She relies on Him. She trusts Him. She cries out to Him. She surrenders to Him. He teaches her about grace, and about a love that isn't about ourselves. I wouldn't call that a story of redemption, per se. But it is definitely Christian. Parents need to take responsibility for what their kids read. I am a sheltered homeschooled girl who was given books to read by her parents, recommended by friends, considered Christian classics, which I wish I had never read. The fact is Christian fiction is a title that authors and publishers submit to readers. Use discretion. Please.

Finally, in view of all that, I have more of a full length novel, in rough draft form, which employs no such controversial topics (though it is a romance). I made a rule that there would be no natural disasters, no tragedies, no death, no transcontinental moves. The book I would like to publish is the novel about real people, real Christians who pray when problems come, who struggle with hidden sins because they haven't taken the time to invest in their relationship with God, who grow in love and life day by day. So I know what you mean. I'm not trying to be a sensationalist writer.

I'm a little defensive, you know. I tried not to be. Hopefully this is a discussion of relevant topics to writers and readers that will, whichever side of the issues you fall on, give you cause to think. Please, continue to offer feedback. It means a lot to me.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

åslaug said...

Lisa, I must say that I wouldn't have a problem at all applauding that speech of yours (I know it was never your meaning, it's just a way of speaking). I agree with you that your book shows real Christians that pray and stay close to God when problems comes. It has been a real encourager for me. When you're dealing with something that's hard for you, and you struggle a lot, it's wonderful to read books of people who aren't dancing on roses through life, sending a thanks to God once in a while, but who struggles too and who turns to God. It makes you do the same. So I would absolutely say that books (yes, I'd like to call it a book, which you're the author of)like Lori's Choice is highly treasured and necessary in the lives and minds of Christian readers.
Thank you for writing!

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Lisa, thank you for your gracious reply, you make a good point about the Bible illustrating stories of peoples lives, as they happened, with the details. Dinah was just such a case. I can also understand your desire to reach out to young ladies in the church, who because of past circumstances have not fully grasped their forgiveness through Christ, and the promise of a new beginning. In the latter case, I can see that using a fictional parallel to their situation may be beneficial for them, and help with the healing process.

I did think about that scenario before I commented, so perhaps I should have clarified by saying that (in my opinion) such a topic is not that suitable for mainstream Christian Fiction, that is, not labeled as a 'pleasant Sunday read' to be picked up off the shelf for some light reading (you certainly didn't label it as such, but I have come across many books under the 'Christian' genre which publishers have marketed as such, only to find that they were so grossly un-christian it wasn't funny). Rather, if it were labeled as a teaching tool, with just such a warning as you thoughtfully put on it, I'm sure that it could have many valid uses.

I never meant to suggest that this book would be better as Non-Christian fiction. As you state, the whole story is grounded on Christian principles and attributes. Had I worded that better, I probably would have said, as above, that one must be careful about the classification within the genre Christian Fiction, because many parents are not vigilant about checking out reading matter (their problem, not yours) and may judge a book by it's cover, grabbing it for their 14 yr old, and next minute the girl thinks that books which mention STD's, rape and subsequent pregnancy are okayed as regular reading matter.

Nearly all the comments that I have made are referring to the story as if it were in book form, and published. This is because I can see that you have a talent for writing and obviously at some stage you are probably going to be publishing your works. If I thought you were you just writing for some fun on your blog I probably would have kept my (opinionated) thoughts to myself :), however their comes a much greater responsibility when you are intending to broadcast your works through publication, so really that is the entire thrust of my comments. I hope that our litle discourse has encouraged you, and spurred you onto greater thoughtfulness and literary heights!

God Bless,
S. Gray

Lisa of Longbourn said...

S. Gray - absolutely. I know what you're saying. I've thrown away some "Christian" books because they were so explicit about the evil they were trying, through fiction, to refute. I want everyone to be alert to these possibilities. Thanks for contributing to discussion.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn