The English Wife

It’s usual to find a stack of several books I am currently reading near my favorite chair. One will be for inspiration, another for information, and a third will be a novel that takes me on an adventure. I am on the lookout for new releases and have a list of favorite novelists I follow. One of these is Lauren Willig.

The English Wife by Willig will keep you turning pages as you travel from England to New York with Georgie whose life began in a lovely Tudor house in London with a twin brother and half-sister. Her future is altered through a series of tragedies leaving her without means as the offspring of her father and his mistress. Despite the closeness of Georgie and her half-sister, Annabelle, there is a male cousin who is determined to inherit the estate and take over.

Georgie picks up jobs wherever she can find them and lands in a small establishment called the Ali Baba where she is performing in the evisceration of a musical version of Twelfth Night. It is here that her friend, Kitty, invites her out for the evening with two gentlemen. One of these, Bayard Van Duyvil, from the American Knickerbocker family, part of the posh wealth of New York, is to be Georgie’s escort for the evening.

Unlike Kitty, Georgie is on guard about the evening and this rich American and determined that only dinner is expected. Much to her surprise, when Kitty and her gentleman friend go off after dinner, Georgie’s escort honors her request to pay her fare to go home. This begins a series of dates that result in Bayard being more and more attracted to Georgie even though she clearly is from the “other side of the tracks” from his own.

Dinner by dinner Bayard and Georgie get to know each other and soon Bayard must return to New York but announces he doesn’t think he can do life without Georgie. The offer to join him is tempting but Georgie knows the cousin she has been hiding from at the Ali Baba will hunt her down wherever she goes to be sure the estate of her late father falls into his hands. This scheming cousin has never understood what happened to her half-sister who disappeared in what appeared to be a drowning accident. Her body was never found to confirm her death and he suspects Georgie knows more about it when she disappears into the night from her palatial home in London where she is now treated as the illegitimate child she had always been.

No one has ever treated Georgie with such respect as Bayard and her thoughts of what life could be like in New York replay day after day. When Bayard presses her to leave London with him, she confesses the story she has kept hidden. Bayard gallantly insists he can keep her safe from all harm if she will marry him and travel to New York. The one option Georgie thinks might work is for her to take on the identity of her half-sister, Annabelle, a true heir to her father’s estate.

Together Bayard and Georgie decide to try this plan and start by traveling to Paris together where they marry as Annabelle and Bayard, and he shares with his widowed mother he had found the love of his life in London, and they will return to his home soon. It seems evident as his mother hears the news that this cannot be a woman of the status she wants her son to marry. But with the deed done she marshals her society role to welcome the couple home with determination to control this new wife as she has controlled Bayard his entire life.

Willig weaves in new characters once the couple arrives in New York and the tale takes on twists and turns the reader doesn’t expect. Key among them is Bayard’s sister, Janie, whom you meet in the opening chapter, and his cousin, Anne. Their roles become more significant as Georgie (now Annabelle) and Bayard play out the ruse they hope will succeed as their love for each other deepens.

Scene by scene as secrets are woven together the reader cannot be sure what will happen next. Most surprising of all the twists is Janie’s determination to find out the truth of what happens on the night of a grand ball to show off Bayard and Georgie’s (Annabelle’s) new home. Something doesn’t make sense about the tragedy that unfolds. Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest and Georgie’s (Annabelle’s) shoe is found on the bank of the stream where she appears to have drowned despite no body being found.

The mystery and the unmasking of secrets one by one will leave the reader wondering to the very end of the book what the truth is, who committed the murder, what happened to Georgie (Annabelle), and what happened to the true Annabelle in London years ago as her death scene appears to have been replayed.

Lauren Willig keeps the reader engaged with this complex tale and The English Wife will not disappoint you as she finally reveals the truth.

Our Struggle with Contradiction


Most of us like to believe that we are congruent in most areas of our life. We want who we say we are on the inside to match what others see on the outside. We want our faith, values, and priorities to be evident in our choices and behaviors. That’s what pure integrity looks like.

Yet Paul clearly knows how easy it is to struggle with that in his letter to the Romans:

“I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn.”

Romans 7:15 (TPT)


The contradictions show up on little things and big things. We know we need to limit sugar intake and on good days we forego candy or ice cream, but ignore or give ourselves a pass about sweeteners in our coffee or tea. We know we need to keep moving (even if we don’t exercise), but our body stays stuck in a chair for more hours than not.

We know we should have a consistent daily time of devotion to keep our spiritual muscles toned, but too often we may only skim a verse or a short devotional and maybe a quick prayer without reflecting on the Lord or listening for his nudges. The Holy Spirit wants to encourage us and hold us accountable in all this, but in many cases we have the mute button depressed.


We know that nurturing and nourishing our relationships with spouse, parents, children, friends, and others is important and yet we go through many days without putting much conscious effort into the relationships that mean the most to us. It can be so easy to think we will do better tomorrow or that we will get around to that, but we miss the truth that we never know how much time we may have in this life with that person. We miss the joy we give by cultivating the relationship and forget that it comes right back to us when we love well.

Yes, Paul is right about the sin nature that seeks to overtake us. There is also the problem with how often we can be in denial about these very contradictions (or at the very least rationalize them away).

For most of us, defense mechanisms are pretty well developed by the time we are not far into adulthood. We act out, project onto others things that we are guilty of, operate in denial, and assorted other things. We use them to avoid or distance ourselves from things we don’t want to see, feel, or own.

“Perhaps denial is the mind’s way of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it can’t handle or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe denial in the face of overwhelming evidence is a mere byproduct of stubbornness,”

Lisa Wingate in The Sea Keepers Daughter


Some of us are old enough to remember the movie “A Few Good Men” that was released in 1992 and the memorable line spoken by Jack Nicholson (Col. Nathan Jessep) as a result of the questioning of Tom Cruise (Lt. Daniel Kaffee): “You can’t handle the truth.”

Can we really not handle the truth as a believer granted grace or is it that we would prefer to not look at it within ourselves?

Have we forgotten that we are not only saved by grace, but called to live by grace as well?

“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

Jerry Bridges in The Discipline of Grace

Sometimes we also don’t know ourselves as well as we may think we do. It is only when we spend time with the Lord being honest before Him and also asking Him to search our hearts that we can begin to see more clearly. It is then as the prophet Joel says in Joel 2:13 that we will “rend” our hearts and repent of those contradictions we see as well as those He sees that we missed.

Spending time with the Lord … the key we must remember is said best by Jerry Bridges:

“Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but only a sense of Christ’s love for us will motivate us for a lifetime.”

Sensing that love of the Lord is what moves us another step out of contradiction so that we can handle the truth, move in repentance, and feel the freedom of being wrapped in his grace and mercy.


Has Wondering Led to Worrying?


The uncertainty of the time we seem to be living in can create a great deal of concern for us at times. We wonder what the future holds and sometimes worry about it as well. Wanting to pull back the curtain to see what lies ahead from the beginning of recorded history has long fascinated us. People sought out seers and prophets to that end. Many still look to astrologers and others who practice the occult to get answers for what may lay ahead. I wonder if we do so because of anxiety or because somehow if we find out we will steel ourselves for whatever it is and feel a bit more in control.

Whether we like to admit it or not, when things appear to be totally out of control, we can start to shake a bit. Perhaps that is based on the faulty premise that we might be able to change something to alter what is ahead if it is not to our liking. I suggest it is faulty because the very worst things that may happen to us often appear to happen randomly even though we can potentially impact small things like what we eat, how much we exercise, where we live, and how much we spend.

Does the Lord really want to keep us in suspense, so we have no way of preparing for the future? It might be tempting to think so and there are some things He has clearly said will not be revealed to us such as the date and time of His reappearing. But even then, He has given us clues and information we can read and reflect upon regarding that. Additionally, He has filled the Bible with a huge chunk written by prophets and too often we skip over those books or get bogged down in trying to sort out Daniel’s visions or John’s unusual images in Revelation. Sometimes we also try reading those books without any context or attempt to study what excellent commentators reveal or to lean into the Holy Spirit to guide and open our hearts to see.

Have you considered Isaiah? I know you likely know the passages we hear and associate with Christmas, but there is so much more in the book of the Bible that bears his name. My pastor taught through the entire book and he has noted how often Jesus quotes Isaiah in His words in the gospels. My pastor’s admonition? “Know Isaiah. It will settle your heart. So far, everything he has said has come true so far.”

Reading carefully shows us Isaiah’s words encompass at least four kings and we see how his prophetic messages have come to pass regarding these kings and their kingdoms. But there is more to learn because some of his words extend beyond his time into our present time and speak to what will yet be. Some of them align with things John writes in Revelation. His job as a prophet was to challenge the people and speak the words of God, to warn and call the people back to God.

Perhaps you wonder about what lies ahead in heaven or hell. No, we don’t have a video of either one, but the Bible speaks clearly about both destinations. It seems He wants us to know, and I don’t think He wants us to fear death as believers but rather to see it as a transition and change of address. He tells us about both places because He wants us to choose heaven and the way to get there.


Yes, bad times will come and always be with us in this life. Yes, we will not escape disappointments and wounds. BUT that does not mean He is absent! He also promises that His righteousness will prevail, and judgment will fall upon evil and those who have rejected Him. Would you like to see an example of His faithfulness to His chosen people?

Look at portions of Isaiah 14: 24-27 (ESV) to discover God’s faithfulness. I will not quote all the verses, but here are a few phrases to whet your appetite: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall annul it?”

God is looking at how Assyria has besieged His people and through Isaiah tells them in essence, Rest easy. I’ve got this.”

How do I know I can apply that to our current day? Because the writer of Hebrews says:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)

So, when you are tempted to worry about the future, consider reading Isaiah 14: 24-27 and remember…God’s got this!!


Little by Little

Photo by Lurii Laimin

How is your patience doing? Some of us seem to have more than others but I am not sure that many of us are consistently excelling in this virtue in the current age. Everything about our culture nudges us to want answers, solutions, provisions, and more in short order. At the same time, it seems we are spending more time waiting and having patience tested than ever before.

We are the generation who are accustomed to “fast food” and microwaves to heat up whatever we have to eat at home. Nevertheless, “fast food” doesn’t seem to be as fast as it once was. No one can explain it except that many would say it deals with a shortage of enough workers that seems to add issues for every company, business, or service provider we know since the pandemic began in 2020. The shortages are most frustrating when we cannot find a medical person taking new patients when our favorite has retired and when we do have the good fortune to have a good physician our wait times can be longer.

In this day of instant communication from every and any source we can name, we want answers now but when they do come, they are often piecemeal. We have a battery of tests and some results come in while others do not, and we wait not just once but twice or more while frustration and anxiety build.

Photo by Nathan Finch

But the challenge of needing to wait for something we need or want isn’t new. It is told in story after story in the Bible (long before wi-fi, the internet, streaming services, and jets streaking across the sky). Barren women like Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah waited dealing with infertility. Daniel’s prayers were not answered at one point for 21 days despite his fervency. The children of Israel waited for a homeland for century upon century despite God’s promises.

You may be in a season of waiting and whether it has been long or short it not only tests our patience but also our trust in God and his timing and provision for us.

It brings to mind a passage of scripture in Isaiah:

“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”

Isaiah 28:10 (NIV)

What is God trying to get us to see in this verse by the prophet, Isaiah?

One possible answer is this: We tend to believe the Lord will give us A BIG ANSWER QUICKLY AND ALL AT ONE TIME. However, the pattern repeatedly described in the scriptures suggests we receive “line upon line, precept upon precept,” or in other words, many small answers over a period of time.

Those of us just moving into spring are very eager for summer and the unbeatable taste of tomatoes and other things picked fresh from the vine after months of winter.

Waiting once again for something we are eager to enjoy like students looking forward to the end of the school year and months of a summer vacation without studies to tie them down.

Photo by Cottonbro Studio

If you stop by here often or follow me regularly, you know that my life has been in a period of waiting following my accident two days after Christmas that I wrote about here (

The accident left me with a number of issues that needed healing. The oral surgery just two days after the fall meant wearing a splint on my upper front teeth and greatly adjusting my diet to accommodate the splint and ask God to do what only He could do to save my teeth. Appointments came and went with various dental and medical folks with no definite answers to tell me whether my teeth would be saved or not. God had done much at the time of the accident, but this was a “little by little” time for me, teaching me again I needed to trust in the Lord and the prayers of many.

Many of you whom I have never met have prayed for me and asked about progress and so today I want to share where “little by little” has brought me as of now.

The swelling, bruising, and inflammation in my hands and wrists from the fall have been resolved and the later development of vertigo from the misalignment of my jaw and head have largely improved while still receiving some treatment for that.

This week I spent two hours in a dental chair working on the big issues that oral surgery was trying to address. The result was an extensive hour of cleaning and a decision that the teeth appeared to be stable despite two teeth still being sensitive to pressure that are adjacent to the teeth shoved into the bone sockets and brought down by the oral surgeon. So, the splint was removed. That removal of the wire splint required grinding the bonding material that held it in place to loosen the wire and then more grinding to polish off the residue.

The dentist said that given where things were four months ago immediately after the accident that the stability of the teeth and where things are now is miraculous. How much thanks I give to God for the things only He could do despite good medical and dental skills and care!

But “little by little” does not have me with the final answer. Time will tell if the sensitive teeth will be fully healed, and the dentist wants me to keep an eye on that and whether or not they darken which would mean nerves in the teeth are dying. So, I wait and trust God to do only what He can do since man has done all he can. If nothing changes, I see the dentist in six months.

I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I wish it were all finished instead and that I am no longer tempted with concern about what may yet come, but like most earthlings there are things here for me to learn and once again I am in a season where God is the one who is the provider and source, the one that life has taught me is trustworthy (even when I don’t get the answer I wish in the time I hope). He is good and faithful.

Photo by Tanner Ecrement

Tools for Engagement

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If we are fully awake and aware that we are all swimming in a soup of cynicism coming at us from all directions, we need to consider how much it has infected us and not simply look at how much we see in other people, media, organizations, and businesses. Exposure to any and all media shows stunning examples sound bite by sound bite, but we need to start with us first before picking up stones to throw at others.

Seeing it is step number one but what comes next? We can’t truly address the issue by trying to use optimism as our solution. Then we swing to the opposite pole and deal with more denial than we ought. Practicing telling ourselves the truth can be helpful but being clear about what the truth is may not be easy. At present there is a strong push toward looking at “my truth” versus “your truth” since we have largely abandoned absolute truth as archaic and out of fashion.

Paul Miller in A Praying Life outlines five steps as tools for engagement to move from cynicism and they provide principles to course correct how we may have been functioning.

First, he suggests we should “be warm but wary.” That immediately brings to mind a scripture from Matthew:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

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Matthew’s words speak clearly many times. We are not to participate in treachery, cunning, and cruelty. In other words, we could be tempted to respond in kind to cynicism and stir the pot of negative divisive attitudes and a belief we are right with “our truth” versus the opinion or “their truth.”

Far better to respond with warmth to another person and yet be wary when cynicism is crackling in the atmosphere when we are engaged with them.

“Instead of naive optimism, Jesus calls us to be wary, yet confident in our heavenly Father. We are to combine a robust trust in the Good Shepherd with a vigilance about the presence of evil in our own hearts and in the hearts of others.”

Paul Miller

Second, if we are infected to any degree of cynicism and seeking to combat its messages that deaden hope we must “learn to hope again.” The last few years have eroded hope on most levels of our lives to some degree. Some have decided it is futile to hope again or even to pray again and decided passively or actively to believe this is the way it is now and will be so. We wave the white flag of surrender to Satan and his schemes and whatever spiritual mooring we have sits passively on the bench instead of being on the field in action against the enemy. We have lost hope that we can be in the field and Jesus is all about hope.

“Many of us believe in the Christian hope of ultimate redemption, but we breathe the cynical spirit of our age and miss the heart of God.”

Paul Miller

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The third tool we need is to “cultivate a childlike spirit.” When we are children, we revel in so many things. We dream about all sorts of things, some magical and some not. We believe much is possible and we trust those who care for us unless evidence has taught us otherwise. We ask for all sorts of things and are more vocal about things that hurt or frighten us. We don’t expect to have it all together despite moments when we might pretend we do.

If we become like children as Christ admonished us to do, we cry out for help without hesitation and in that moment, we put cynicism to flight. Consider how the brilliance of C.S. Lewis never failed to be filled with childlike wonder when he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. Certainly, he must have had a childlike spirit.

What about us?

The fourth tool on Paul Miller’s list is “cultivating a thankful spirit.” With so many things going awry in our personal lives and the world (near and far) around us, it can be easy to skip that or fall prey to naive optimism that really isn’t what Miller is talking about at all.

“Thankfulness isn’t a matter of forcing yourself to see the happy side of life. That would be like returning to naive optimism. Thanking God restores the natural order of our dependence on God. It enables us to see life as it is.”

Paul Miller

If we pause to reflect on these principles Paul Miller is writing about, it may bring to mind King David, the Apostle Paul, and a long list of others like Corrie Ten Boom who survived the horrors of the holocaust with seeing reality while having a grateful heart.

“Cynicism looks reality in the face, calls it phony, and prides itself on its insight as it pulls back. Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God’s care. It replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.”

Paul Miller

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Last, but not least, is “cultivating repentance.” Pride and cynicism are in the same family and opposed to a humble spirit. If we believe we know reality and there is nothing else to know about ourselves and have deadened our hearts to the hope and reality of a grateful heart toward God, we will only be more mired down in cynicism than ever.

“Cynics imagine they are disinterested observers on a quest for authenticity. They assume they are humble because they offer nothing. In fact, they feel deeply superior because they think they see through everything.”

Paul Miller

If we consider the wise counsel of Paul Miller’s words, we are more likely to be freed from the infection of cynicism running rampant in this age and remember the narrow path Jesus spoke of is the one that brings us peace, renews our joy, helps grow humility, and restores our hope as nothing and no one else can.

Photo by Nathan Finch