Tag Archives: CS Lewis

Anyone Want a Sneak Peek Into C.S. Lewis’ Incredible Friendship/Romance/Marriage??? Don’t Miss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan

Friends! You do not want to miss this beautifully written novel about the lives of C.S. Lewis and the courageous woman who became his bride, Joy Davidman Gresham. I was captivated immediately, even tho’ I knew the outcome, I still wanted to see how it would shake out.

While this book is fiction, author Patti Callahan says her research helped her be as accurate as possible. Joy’s son, Douglas was also a great resource. Her writing completely transports us readers from America to London to Oxford, watching this unlikely romance transpire. Her captivating style, many times poetic and lyrical, makes for a primo reading experience.

We meet Joy while she lives in the United States, married to a man named Bill Gresham. They have two sons: Douglas and David. Their marriage crashes on the rocks, many scenes painful to read.

But Joy’s faith is about to take a huge leap. Consulting a colleague, he suggests she write to C.S. Lewis, who in turn, writes back. They develop an improbable friendship.

The first sentence of Becoming Mrs. Lewis sets the stage: “From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.” As in Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia who equates, as we discover, to our own Lord, Jesus Christ.

I confess while reading the books to our boys as a young mom, I had no clue of the characters’ spiritual significance! And to be honest, I think we only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You can guess I’m about to dive back in and read all seven of them!

Plus, we readers learn C.S. Lewis dedicated Book # 3, The Horse and His Boy, to Douglas and David Gresham. Joy’s sons indeed had been reading The Chronicles of Narnia and were clearly excited about meeting the writer/creator of these works. It is beyond exciting to hear the boys speak about meeting Mr. Lewis and to ultimately watch them develop a relationship. Very endearing.

The Magician’s Nephew, interesting enough, is #1 of the series now according to chronological order. Publication order has The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first as it came out in 1950. We learn that shortly after C.S. Lewis’ death, British editions began appearing that were numbered chronologically. Lewis scholars, however, agree that publication order makes more sense.

Back to the novel…Joy’s conversion experience is breathtaking. It happens early in the novel, after the birth of her second child. We find her on her knees praying after declaring she was an atheist (!!!):

Eventually, Joy and Jack (as his friends called C.S. Lewis) meet in person for lunch in Oxford. She also gets to meet Jack’s brother, Warnie, at another lunch gathering. Another of their meetings included Jack’s friend J.R. R. Tolkien, “Tollers,” who didn’t appear to think much of Joy. (Can you imagine meeting Tolkien and Lewis together???)

She inquires about Jack’s and Tollers’ friendship, as Tollers was who led Jack to faith. Jack said, “As with any good friend, we have many of those moments when one turns to the other and says, ‘You, too?’” (That particular quote I use in every chapter of my book on friendship. Love it!)

Joy’s healing sabbatical returns her to the states (she constantly fights health issues), to find that her cousin who stayed with her husband has become his lover ultimately landing Joy and Bill a divorce. She manages to take their boys with her, and returns to England.

Joy finds a place to live (neat story), a boarding school for the boys, and settles in to a lovely life of writing, editing (sometimes for Warnie and sometimes for Jack—can you fathom?), all the while trying to sell her writing. Challenges occur around every turn, but they don’t stop her.

Soon Joy and the boys get to go to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis’ home is. He and Warnie live there, with a gardener, Paxford, and a cook, Mrs. Williams. You will love all of them.  Life at the Kilns for the boys is a little like Narnia, seemingly.

We also learn Jack reads a Bible, sometimes in the original Greek, and sometimes in Latin every morning. His office where he worked was “crammed from corner to ceiling with books, stacked and line up on floors and tables and bookshelves.” This is one of many examples of the delightful and highly visual details Patti gives us readers.

I felt a little like movie goers of Mary Poppins, when the characters were allowed to jump into the sidewalk chalk picture. Author Patti invites us in, gifting us with a for-real peek into the life and beautiful friendship/romance between Joy and Jack.

Many of you know Jack’s mother and Joy, his wife, died of cancer. Because he loved his mother so and was saddened over losing her, perhaps that’s why it takes him EONS to own his love for Joy. So in many ways, you want to continue in the story, and yet you don’t for fear of what will transpire. Grab a bunch of Kleenex, too, as it’s beautiful and terribly sad simultaneously. Don’t miss their steadfast faith—a great lesson for all of us during suffering.

That’s all I’ll share, you need to be the one to dive in. When you do finish, you’ll want to immediately research where the boys are, what they’re doing, find many of the books mentioned and read them, especially the ones Joy and Jack worked on together. Oh, my friend, I predict this is just the beginning of a new reading adventure for you!

Here are a couple of the books I’m about to hunt down:

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Becoming Mrs. Lewis! You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

P.S. Here is the Publication Order, FYI:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)


2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)


4. The Silver Chair (1953)


5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)


6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)


7. The Last Battle (1956)

 

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Love Stories and Chocolate Treats (Part 4 of 4) Dare We Write it in Cement?

Friends! Have you ever seen anyone staring at a mailbox?  I get that.  I’ve done that.

Four weeks before our wedding, with invitations in hand, all addressed and stamped, I remember I hesitated at the mailbox.  “This is it!  No turning back now!”…

Seconds, seeming like hours, passed.  Deep breath.

Whoosh…into the mailbox they went.

bigstock-Mailbox-4748677

Almost thirty-four years later, I’m pleased to report, John and I are still happily married and yes, we’ve dared to write many things in cement.  Two of our homes, a former one and our current one, have had charming water-in-the-basement issues. Upon their repair, new cement poured, we trek down the stairs to write something prolific or silly in the cement.

basement 1

basement 2

So why is it, please tell me, so many of us are afraid to make a commitment?  Fear of failure, or pride, perhaps.  “Blame it on today’s culture…” many will say.

Allow me to offer a brief respite.  One  into the blissful world of love.  Young love.  Naive love.   Pagan-turned-Christian love.  So completely-certain-of-love, this couple you’ll meet would one hundred percent  have written their names in cement.

All of the above and more is found in an extraordinary love story, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  It won the National Book Award as well as the Gold Medallion Award.  (A dear friend gave me this for Christmas a couple of years ago and I can’t quit talking about it!!!)

9780060688240_p0_v2_s260x420

Along with such bliss, throw in a friendship with none other than infamous author  C.S. Lewis.  You, the reader, will get to read eighteen of Lewis’ letters to Sheldon within the book.

Favorite discovery?  Lewis was quite the crackerjack!  He certainly didn’t fear sharing his brutally honest opinion about anything!  (And for you happy texters out there, Lewis abbreviates a lot, so you’ll have to crack his code.)

How God orchestrates Sheldon’s friendship with Lewis is fascinating.  How God orchestrates Sheldon and Davy’s (her real name was Jean) romance and ultimate marriage is nothing short of breathtaking.

Sheldon’s picturesque writing causes you to ooh and ahh, turning the pages as fast as you can to discover what lies ahead.  I found myself floating along the countryside right with them, almost feeling a breach of privacy in their romance.

Voracious readers, poets, lovers of the sea, and music aficionados, Sheldon and Davy delight the reader with their daily antics.  Their gatherings with friends are festive and intriguing.  Their spiritual path, while comical at times, reinforces how God is so passionate in His pursuit of us.  His painstaking attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.

Our Heavenly Father provides just the right person at just the right time to lead us into His loving arms.  When doubt arises, as it often does,  He brings to mind that special person in whom we may confide.  Watching these scenarios transpire in Sheldon’s life is amazing grace at its’ finest.  Many times Sheldon shares his questions with C.S. Lewis.  Can you imagine having C.S. Lewis as your spiritual mentor?

CS Lewis

Sheldon and C.S. Lewis’ friendship was a gift to both of them, especially in later years.  Believe it or not, both of their wives suffered from terminal illnesses.  They walked these paths together.  Don’t miss their journeys.

C.S. Lewis preceded Sheldon in death.  Sheldon recalls Lewis shouting across the street during their Oxford days, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!  In eternity, there’ll be ‘time enough’!”

Sheldon called C.S. Lewis  “Jack” per Lewis’ pleading.  He added, “And as Jack said, ‘We must talk of a thousand things when you come.’”

Early in their relationship, when Sheldon accepts Christ into his life, he writes to tell Lewis.  Lewis replies, “My prayers are answered!”  Then he issues a warning we’d all be wise to heed:  “There will be a counter attack on you, you know, so don’t be too alarmed when it comes.  The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.  Be busy learning to pray. “

Lewis continues, “Blessings on you and a hundred thousand welcomes.  Make use of me in any way you please; and let us pray for each other always.”  (I’d drop the note like a hot potato if C.S. Lewis offered me his council at any time, wouldn’t you?)

2926x

Prior to Sheldon’s conversion, Lewis closes another letter with, “The Holy Spirit is after you.  I doubt if you’ll get away!” Sheldon confesses to us readers that this time in his life “was getting serious” and he and Davy were a bit frightened.  He says, “Alarm bells sounded, but I couldn’t decide where to run.  The personality of Jesus kept emerging from the Gospels with astonishing consistency.”

You’ll be moved to tears witnessing their faith come alive.  Because of Sheldon’s very open and tender depictions, it feels like another breach of privacy.

Sheldon and Davy embraced Philippians 1:21 and Galatians 2:20:

Philippians-1-21-web-nlt

“For to me, to live is Christ

and to die is gain.”

 Galatians-2-20-web

I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

(Footnote: for an excellent read on To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain checkout Matt Chandler’s book…)

828360

Without giving away anything else, I’ll end with Sheldon’s closing words about writing this book.  He said he prayed almost hourly, “that Christ would be in me, and speak through me.”  His prayers were answered…(Also don’t miss how the title came to be.)

He was dumbfounded by the overwhelming responses from readers once the book was published.   Scores told him how much the book meant to them, stabbing them in their hearts, making them kindred spirits.  Sheldon said, “Our broader kinship is, I think, we’re all so alone in what lies deepest in our souls, so unable to find the words and perhaps the courage to speak with unlocked hearts, that we do not know that it is the same with others.”  Amen.

“Robert Louis Stevenson said that every book was intimately a letter to friends.”

bigstock-Fountain-pen-on-an-antique-han-54193727

I pray each and every one of you dashes out to find and read this beautiful love story, A Severe Mercy.

Finally, as February winds down, it’s time for our conclusion of our four chocolate treats…This is an easy store-bought delicacy by our good buddies at Godiva. Some angel in disguise gave me these last year and I’ve been buying them ever since. (Bad discovery!)

We had our family over for Valentine’s Day and this was the very fancy dessert I served RIGHT OUT OF THE BAG. (My Mother, who served everything in crystal or silver serving pieces, is rolling over in her grave. God rest her soul.)

Don’t miss these little morsels of Heaven! Your Friends will love you!

‘Til next time!

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Dare We Write it in Cement? (An Extraordinary Love Story: A Severe Mercy—A Story of Faith, Tragedy and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken)

Have you ever seen anyone staring at a mailbox?  I get that.  I’ve done that.

Four weeks before our wedding, with invitations in hand, all addressed and stamped, I remember I hesitated at the mailbox.  “This is it!  No turning back now!”…

Seconds, seeming like hours, passed.  Deep breath.

Whoosh…into the mailbox they went.

bigstock-Mailbox-4748677

Thirty years later, I’m pleased to report, John and I are still happily married and yes, we’ve dared to write many things in cement.  Two of our homes, a former one and our current one, have had charming water-in-the-basement issues. Upon their repair, new cement poured, we trek down the stairs to write something prolific or silly in the cement.

basement 1

basement 2

So why is it, please tell me, so many of us are afraid to make a commitment?  Fear of failure, or pride, perhaps.  “Blame it on today’s culture…” many will say.

Allow me to offer a brief respite.  One  into the blissful world of love.  Young love.  Naive love.   Pagan-turned-Christian love.  So completely-certain-of-love, this couple you’ll meet would one hundred percent  have written their names in cement.

All of the above and more is found in an extraordinary love story, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  It won the National Book Award as well as the Gold Medallion Award.  (A dear friend gave me this for Christmas and I can’t quit talking about it!!!)

9780060688240_p0_v2_s260x420

Along with such bliss, throw in a friendship with none other than infamous author  C.S. Lewis.  You, the reader, will get to read eighteen of Lewis’ letters to Sheldon within the book.  Favorite discovery?  Lewis was quite the crackerjack!  He certainly didn’t fear sharing his brutally honest opinion about anything!  (And for you happy texters out there, Lewis abbreviates a lot, so you’ll have to crack his code.)

How God orchestrates Sheldon’s friendship with Lewis is fascinating.  How God orchestrates Sheldon and Davy’s (her real name was Jean) romance and ultimate marriage is nothing short of breathtaking.

Sheldon’s picturesque writing causes you to ooh and ahh, turning the pages as fast as you can to discover what lies ahead.  I found myself floating along the countryside right with them, almost feeling a breach of privacy in their romance.

Voracious readers, poets, lovers of the sea, and music aficionados, Sheldon and Davy delight the reader with their daily antics.  Their gatherings with friends are festive and intriguing.  Their spiritual path, while comical at times, reinforces how God is so passionate in His pursuit of us.  His painstaking attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.

Our Heavenly Father provides just the right person at just the right time to lead us into His loving arms.  When doubt arises, as it often does,  He brings to mind that special person in whom we may confide.  Watching these scenarios transpire in Sheldon’s life is amazing grace at its’ finest.  Many times Sheldon shares his questions with C.S. Lewis.  Can you imagine having C.S. Lewis as your spiritual mentor?

CS Lewis

Sheldon and C.S. Lewis’ friendship was a gift to both of them, especially in later years.  Believe it or not, both of their wives suffered from terminal illnesses.  They walked these paths together.  Don’t miss their journeys.

C.S. Lewis preceded Sheldon in death.  Sheldon recalls Lewis shouting across the street during their Oxford days, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!  In eternity, there’ll be ‘time enough’!”

Sheldon called C.S. Lewis  “Jack” per Lewis’ pleading.  He added, “And as Jack said, ‘We must talk of a thousand things when you come.’”

Early in their relationship, when Sheldon accepts Christ into his life, he writes to tell Lewis.  Lewis replies, “My prayers are answered!”  Then he issues a warning we’d all be wise to heed:  “There will be a counter attack on you, you know, so don’t be too alarmed when it comes.  The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.  Be busy learning to pray. “

Lewis continues, “Blessings on you and a hundred thousand welcomes.  Make use of me in any way you please; and let us pray for each other always.”  (I’d drop the note like a hot potato if C.S. Lewis offered me his council at any time, wouldn’t you?)

2926x

Prior to Sheldon’s conversion, Lewis closes another letter with, “The Holy Spirit is after you.  I doubt if you’ll get away!” Sheldon confesses to us readers that this time in his life “was getting serious” and he and Davy were a bit frightened.  He says, “Alarm bells sounded, but I couldn’t decide where to run.  The personality of Jesus kept emerging from the Gospels with astonishing consistency.”

You’ll be moved to tears witnessing their faith come alive.  Because of Sheldon’s very open and tender depictions, it feels like another breach of privacy.

Sheldon and Davy embraced Philippians 1:21 and Galatians 2:20:

Philippians-1-21-web-nlt

“For to me, to live is Christ

and to die is gain.”

 Galatians-2-20-web

I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

(Footnote: for an excellent read on To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain checkout Matt Chandler’s newest book…)

828360

Without giving away anything else, I’ll end with Sheldon’s closing words about writing this book.  He said he prayed almost hourly, “that Christ would be in me, and speak through me.”  His prayers were answered…(Also don’t miss how the title came to be.)

He was dumbfounded by the overwhelming responses from readers once the book was published.   Scores told him how much the book meant to them, literally stabbing them in their hearts, making them kindred spirits.  Sheldon said, “Our broader kinship is, I think, we’re all so alone in what lies deepest in our souls, so unable to find the words and perhaps the courage to speak with unlocked hearts, that we do not know that it is the same with others.”  Amen.

“Robert Louis Stevenson said that every book was intimately a letter to friends.”

bigstock-Fountain-pen-on-an-antique-han-54193727

I pray each and every one of you dashes out to find and read this beautiful love story.  It’s February, after all, and this month we’ll discover together a variety of love stories.  Love is in the air!  And chocolate is filling the aisles at the stores!!!

bigstock-Vector-Valentine-s-Chocolate-13593689

‘Til next time!

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