Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Imperfect, But Saved by Grace

I've been tagged again. My first thought was "I don't know if I want to share another 6 Random Things About Me". But I was pleased to see that this was a different kind of "tag".

The "tag" comes from Anna in North Carolina, in her blog FlowerGardenGirl, and her random wisdom is Taste and Add Salt. Her challenge, which she has passed along to me, was to grab the nearest book, open it to page 56, sentence 5, and write out the sentence, along with two to five sentences following it.

It reminds me of the joke about the man who, seeking Divine guidance for his life, opened his Bible and randomly picked the passage "Then Judas went away and hanged himself" (Matt 27:5). Discouraged with this first pick, he opened randomly a second time to "Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise'" (Luke 10:37). So applying random passages out of context may be a dangerous game, but there should be no harm in just blogging them, right?

Sitting at my computer in my home office, there is a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf on the wall full of mostly unused cookbooks, gardening books, health guides, business advice, puzzle books, and a very large selection of office supplies which I bought because they were on clearance, and do occasionally find uses for (just often enough to encourage me to buy more). So I knew I would instead reach for the book which I just purchased last week, and am reading through at this time.

My neighbour Helen teases me, since I really don't often read books. I spend a lot of time on the internet, researching ideas both for work, and for pleasure, but rarely sit and read a book. I enjoy reference books, and as a child used to often read selections out of our family Encyclopedia Brittanica set. But I can't really remember the last time I actually read a novel. But after waiting for Helen's book for probably two years, during which time she didn't feel ready to even give me an advance peek, I was pleased with myself to be the first one to buy a copy when it came "hot off the press". It helps to be a neighbour, so I saw the delivery truck arrive in her driveway with her copies, possibly even before she did. So I am making my way through it, reading on my lunch breaks (which are not as regular as they should be; I'm more inclined to just swallow my food quickly and return to work at my computer).

Anyhow, I digress... I reached for her book, "Hidden Masks Unveiled : Discover the face of Truth". Starting at page 56, sentence 5, Helen writes in the section entitled "Imperfect, But Saved by Grace":

During my healing retreat, I went shopping in the neighborhood where I was staying. Later, I wrote the following in my journal:

  • I read a little write-up that was placed near Mexican glass pottery at a Mexican d'arte store. It was a quote from a Mexican poet that read something like: Better to be imperfect and graceful than to be perfect and graceless. Wow, another lesson learned. That's for me. Right, Lord? I cannot be perfect. I'm not perfect. Only you are perfect. But why am I aiming for such perfection? ... I am imperfect, but I am saved by grace. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Chirst Jesus" (Rom 3:23-24)."

Helen's book is intensely personal (so only now do I understand her hesitation to share it with me while it was still in progress), and reveals in a conversational way her own journey of recognizing the masks she wore, to hide from others and from her God and sometimes even from herself, what was really going on inside : pain, depression, and feelings of isolation. You can read more about her book at

27Nov08 : It is now available from Amazon:


I like Anna's idea, since it ties in with the theme of choosing a random passage, of randomly selecting the 5 people to which I will pass along this challenge. This also gives me some motivation to get out there and visit some blogs, which I always thoroughly enjoy, but like my reading and taking breaks, don't do nearly enough of.

So, now it's my turn. That beautiful set of books above (which I received from Anna, and I'm sure she won't mind if I pass them on) is "for you to keep should you decide to participate. They are hard bound with gold embossed lettering."

Here’s how it goes:

1) Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.

2) Write out the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that…

3) Pass this on to 5 blogging friends.

My picks were randomly selected by clicking "Next Blog" from mine (which seems to randomly pick from Filtering out ones in foreign language, or too political, here are the first 5 which caught my attention.

To those I have "tagged", I hope some of you will take up this challenge, and play along. Please be sure to leave a comment here when you do, so we can follow along.

1. Yili and Sickboy's High Point Adventures - This blog follow the adventures of Mark & Yili, across each U.S. state, with narrative and photos of their climbing the "high points" of each state - some 40 so far! What an adventure! What an inspiration (for reading more of their blog, anyhow :-) )!

2. The Halfknits - This blog is written by a "group of volunteers in Texas dedicated to helping others by making [knitted] cold weather items". I'll be curious to find out more about them, and where they send these cold weather items. I learned, from their blog, a new knitting acronym : UFOs = unfinished objects (i.e. source of more yarn for knitting).

3. ashton w. rodgers photography - I have a strong feeling Ashton will not want to clutter his cool visually appealling blog with chatty stuffy like this random book challenge, but I invite you to visit his blog anyhow, it is delightful, with a mix of some serious and lots of whimsy, like this wagon stunt, which cleverly places the shadow off screen, so it is not obvious if it's a photoshop job or the real thing. Check out these delicious fruit photos, they look better than real life.

4. shellie - I have to warn you, if you're like me (um, a bit more conservative or traditional in your images), you'll get a bit dizzy looking at these photos, but if you have a chance to wander through, it is an interesting unfiltered smattering of images and thoughts from Shellie and her group of friends. After 14 posts, she suddenly stopped blogging, so perhaps switched to another blogging service? Shellie, I had fun wandering through your blog. If you're still "out there" somewhere, let us know. Thanks.

5. Pre-Animation/Illustration - This blog is a series of pre-animation / illustration sketches by Dave "Steve" Rodriguez in Algonquin College in Canada. This young man has talent. I hope you enjoy his blog, as I did.


Anna said...

This is perhaps one of the most understood connections to my brain that anyone has ever made and I appreciate you for it. I took the challenge as you did as a way to branch out and meet more people/bloogers/creative people. I feel delighted that you too chose random selections. Wasn't it fun?

I have to tell you that it has made me rather emotional today. I've climbed to the mountain top with people and shared in their sadness. I have found that I have much in common with so many and then learned to value what that blogger was trying to convey.

Ms Garden Lily--you have written so beautifully about all your blogger discoveries that anyone would want to go find out more about them.

Your joke is funny and was a sermon I once heard that stuck with me. Open up the Bible randomly and you might end up cutting off your arm, never eating meat, slaughtering a heifer, or looking for the promised land without ever knowing the truth. I don't care to make that mistake.

I loved too that you love research. I guess we share that need to answer the next question. And the most simple things to write can take the most time to investigate. I get off on rabbit trails all the time. You read the encyclopedia and I read National Geographic and the old Audubon books. Thank you to my great aunt for all that.

And now this wonderful heart pounding book you have shared with us is the best treat of all. Hidden Mask Unveiled sounds like it is a way out of the darkness for many of us. I guess I'm addicted to reading blogs because there is so much truth revealed.

Thank you for all the goodness this post will bring joy to many.

Have you seen that movie--_Pay it Forward?

ashton rodgers said...

Garden Lily,

Thank you for you kind words, I appreciate the shout out. Your blog very nice, keep up the good work. Again, thanks.

Garden Lily said...


Thanks for the movie suggestion. I haven't seen "Pay It Forward", but plan to track it down. I hope that reading the Wikipedia description hasn't ruined it for me. I wish they wouldn't reveal so much of the plot!

Yes, what a difference it could make if we all looked to brighten and improve the lives of those around us, instead of going around feeling sorry for ourselves (which I have been good at, lately).

On the subject of the Bible, I have grown up in the church, and heard so many confusing or conflicting interpretations of various passages, from people trying too hard to find immediate application of the scriptures, but doing it too literally.

I have been pleased by the approach of our pastor, John Neufeld, to really study the historical and cultural context of the passages. For example the inflammatory verses : "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority
over a man; she must be silent." His culturally informed and sensitive sermon on this can be found here (click "Sermon" to skip to it). The full listing of services available by video are here.

Thanks again, Anna, for reaching out to connect with me.

Anna said...

That was a good sermon. I would much rather be taught than preached to. I want God to speak to me through the knowledge of His word and not the interpretation by someone else. When you give knowledge, you give truth.

Your pastor handled that subject well. I too have been in many churches where they are literal and that should not always be the case. If we spoke in the original Hebrew then we would have a large vocabulary. I do get that you must study the original text to understand the meaning.

If I hear something that I'm not certain of...I seek the truth. We get in trouble when we try to put words in God's mouth.

Thanks for the link to your church. The singing and sermon were excellent.

Ms Garden Lily's neighbor said...

Thanks Lily, for sharing your experience with being tagged and accepting the book reading challenge. Nothing is by chance, and I'm glad it was my new book that led you to read that particular section. I am really encouraged by Anna's comments. I pray that she is able to get a hold of one of the books one day and it will encourage her in her own life journey. It's up at Amazon's and Barnes and Nobles now.
Thank you ladies.
Enjoy your blogging.
Under God's Grace,
Ms Garden Lily's neighbor who is the author of Hidden Mask Unveiled.

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