An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Susan, the manager at our local library branch knows my book tastes. Through our many conversations, she even knows a lot of the books I’ve read. So when she told me about the release of a book about Harper Lee , I told her to put it on hold for me as soon as it became available.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

“The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee” by Marja Mills, reveals just about everything we want to know about the author who took her Pulitzer and seemingly disappeared. Over the years, I’d heard her called a recluse. Many asked why, if she was so talented, she didn’t write another novel. People also commented that “If your first novel won such a prestigious award, why bother to write another?”

Deciding to not be out in the limelight was probably just a part of Lee’s personality. Maybe going to cocktail parties and having to answer the same questions repeatedly became wearying to her.

Mills’ book about Nelle (Harper is Lee’s middle name) explains a lot of what people wanted to know. But in her opinionated and straightforward way, Nelle said her life hadn’t really been one of seclusion at all. She began to stay in her New York City home less frequently and eventually moved back home to Monroeville, Alabama with her sister, Alice. She knew the people well in the town where they grew up. Life there seemed to make her content.

Now, exciting news for fans says that another book written by Harper Lee will be released in July. “Go Set a Watchman,” a sequel to  Mockingbird, is creating just as much of a stir as when Lee left the public eye following publication of her prize-winning novel. And the stir doesn’t seem to be all positive.

It seems no one has ever been nor will ever be happy with whatever happens.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning novel published in 1960 is my favorite story. There are many which rank right up there with it, but I’ve read this story three times and I can’t even remember how many times I’ve watched the movie.

For my part, if Harper Lee wrote another book about Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout, I’m not going to question it. I just hope my friend Susan asks if I’d like to be put on hold for it. How could I say “no”?

It’s an offer I can’t refuse.


What’s Good For Me?

Little Keith’s mother told him to hurry up and eat his green beans. He answered, “I’ll like green beans when I’m twenty-five because that’s when they’ll be good for me.”

Keith, my grandson, was eight and he wasn’t usually a picky eater. Frankly, I’m not sure I understand his logic. But he’s been speaking precociously and using big words correctly ever since complete sentences began tumbling from his lips.

Naturally, all grandparents think their grandchildren are the smartest, cutest, etc. of all grandchildren on earth. I mention this particular episode of Keith-Wisdom because it gives me an opportunity to offer food (not green beans) for thought.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could decide on our own what’s good for us? Really.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, when we make a decision, we wouldn’t face negative consequences, even though with that particular decision everyone always faces negative consequences?

Maybe not so nice.

Writers can tell you it’s usually true that “bad decisions make great stories.” Even in a memoir or biography, bad decisions our heroes made liven the story up a bit. We like to see how things turn out. And I suppose we like to know our heroes are human just like us.

My favorite novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” includes more than one poor decision. For instance, when Scout, Dill and Jem decide to trespass on the Radley’s property. The consequences are dire, and we read with our hearts in our throats wondering what will happen next. (In its favor, the story includes some awfully good decisions too.)

In my second favorite novel, “Peace Like a River,” Davy makes a bad decision within the first fifty pages. The family’s response to it is the basis for the rest of the story: a search for the eldest son, now a fugitive in exile. Jeremiah Land takes his younger son, Reuben and his daughter, Swede into the Dakotas searching for Davy. Reuben would have us believe in miracles. Make of that what you will.

Books like these, with story lines that keep me turning the pages, are what I call “repeaters.” Call me nuts, but I’ve read each of them three times. I’d read them again.

God’s word includes an awful lot of stories about people who, like our modern day heroes, made some poor decisions when they thought they were doing the right thing.

Satan incited King David to take a census of Israel. His general, Joab, complied with the order even though he disagreed with it. What else could he do? David was king. However, the command for a census was evil in God’s sight. So the consequences were dire here too.

A plague. Not so nice.

You can read about it in 1 Chronicles 21:1-14. It isn’t one of the most well-known Bible stories of people thinking they know what’s best, but it’s a good example of someone thinking they know what’s good for them and finding out they were wrong.

The story’s also a good example of how we can be tempted by the enemy and how Bible characters are imperfect just like us. I call the Bible a “repeater” too. Sometimes I just can’t put it down, even though I’ve read and re-read the book. God would have me believing in his miracles as well.

So this would be a good time to tell you (and you won’t be surprised) that I’ve made some poor decisions too. With some accompanying bad results. I thought I didn’t need to eat my green beans even though God was telling me, “They’re good for you, Paula.”

“Sure, Lord. I’ll eat my green beans some other time, when I think I’ll like doing it.”

Doesn’t work out in the end.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Instead of good old Keith-Wisdom, we all need God’s wisdom.

In my defense, I’d like to say I don’t as often tell my Father I’ll like my green beans in my own time. Those nudges from the Spirit are helping me to be more obedient. With much better results.

And I’ve learned that obedience needn’t make me feel like I’m following a mean old God. It’s actually quite freeing. I don’t have to worry that the consequences will be negative; God’s guidance always comes from his loving heart. If I acknowledge him in all my ways, he makes my path straight.

My life is becoming one with a great story line, and I can’t wait to see what happens next between God and me.

Cool beans.