Book Promo: Hidden in My Heart

A little diversion from the current blog series. When I was in Japan, I met a family serving in Hiroshima. They hadn’t been in the country for all that long, I think no longer than I had at that moment, but we had some good discussions and I gave them some tips on ESL ministry. They are a super sweet family.

I won’t give their family history here, but they are a mom and dad, twin daughters, and three adopted sisters. They are precious. Every month, they send out updates on their family and work. I believe they are planning to head back to Japan soon, with the whole family. Wow!

Taylor, one of the twins, recently had a book published! There’s a term that’s fairly common with missionary kids or kids that are born into one culture, but raised in another. The term is Third Culture Kids, or TCK’s. They don’t really feel they belong to either culture, so they have a third culture that’s a mix and in between of the other two. This can result in a whole bunch of emotions and they are hard to process. I don’t know what it’s like to be a TCK, that’s not part of my life story. But here’s an excerpt from the email update Taylor gave.

A few months after we arrived in America, my mom and I were walking on the causeway. We were talking about Japan, and she had begun to notice my anger. We drove to a coffee shop afterwards, and when she asked me what was truly wrong, I started crying. She asked me why, but I didn’t know. I was asking myself the same question.

We talked two hours. Toward the end of our conversation, she asked me to write down a list of emotions that I had felt during our time in Japan. Then she told me to write prayers to God about each one.

I quickly wrote the list. As I sat on the floor with my laptop next to a bright, sunny window, I began writing prayers to God. I cried some more. I asked God to show me what I had missed. I took a few steps back and examined my anger. I opened my ears and truly listened for the first time in four years.

Who is your anger directed toward?  I heard God gently ask. I stopped typing, stunned. Was my anger directed toward someone?

Yes. He responded.  Think about it.

I read through the prayers I had written and thought about it some more. The truth slowly surfaced. And it horrified me.

God… I felt more ashamed than ever, but unlike the last few years I was ready to accept it. My anger is directed toward You, God, isn’t it?

I kept writing. I uncovered my self-centered nature, and I revealed stories that I would much rather keep hidden. I asked forgiveness for the anger, bitterness, and discontentment that had taken root in my heart.

What a reflective young woman she is. I’m glad that I had a chance to meet this family in person, even for just a short time. But I wanted to help promote her book. It is a gathering of the prayers and thoughts she had written down about not having a set physical home. I haven’t read it yet, but Taylor is very articulate and descriptive. I’m sure it will be a great read.

Here is the link.

Hidden in my Heart

If you can’t see the picture above, please click here.

Discussion Questions: Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen

  1. Mansfield Park was written after a silence of more than a decade. During this period, Austen moved several times, saw the deaths of her father and a potential suitor, and became the dependent old maid we find so often among her more pitiable characters. The Napoleonic Wars continued; England embarked on imperialistic adventures. Austen followed both with interest. Do you see evidence of these things in the novel?
  2. At the heart of its plot, Mansfield Park has three sisters. What kind of family life do you imagine would account for Mrs. Bertram and Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Price? Find something good to say about Mrs. Norris.
  3. Fanny is an Austen heroine who, throughout the course of the book, has nothing to learn. In this she stands in sharp contrast to Emma Woodhouse. Do you like Fanny as well as you like Emma? Less? More?
  4. In one of the book’s most famous scenes, Fanny sits wilted in the heat at the Rushworth’s estate, while the other characters come and go around her. Discuss the ways this epitomizes the entire plot of the book.
  5. The various roles played in The Lover’s Vows often result in Austen characters who are, under the cover of the play, allowed to act in ways more congruent with their real natures than polite society permits. They perform themselves.Meanwhile, William H. Galperin suggests that, when Fanny Price insists she cannot act, she is actually demonstrating her “inability to know one is always acting.” Galperin speaks of “a fundamental duplicity in which one literally performs one’s inability to act.”

    Think about this until your head explodes.

  6. Plato has suggested that one cannot be both a good actor and a good citizen. What do you imagine he meant? Discuss the relevance of this to Mansfield Park.
  7. In most books, the villains are identifiable through their mistreatment of the hero/heroine. In Mansfield Park, the Crawfords are among the tiny handful of people who see the value of Fanny Price. Are they ever unkind to her?Why is Fanny so little moved by their interest and esteem?

    In your opinion, is any of this esteem genuine?

  8. The Crawfords are superficially the most attractive characters in the book. Where do their virtues become vices? Answer the same question with regard to Fanny and Edmund.
  9. Kingsley Amis said, “Edmund and Fanny are both morally detestable and the endorsement of their feelings and behavior by the author . . . makes Mansfield Park an immoral book.” Do you agree? Is there any difference in your mind between Austen herself and the book’s narrator?
  10. Earlier Austen novels suggest a society in positive transformation; earlier heroines struggle towards the possibility of improvement. In contrast, Mansfield Park is about a society threatened with transformation. Fanny Price makes no positive movement. She protects Mansfield Park by her resistance, by her refusal to change. In the end, the society represented by the estate of Mansfield Park will not and cannot be saved? What in that society seemed valuable to you? Is there anything to regret about its loss?

From Reading Group