Author Bonnie Leon joins us today to share one of her favorite pieces of fiction and how it collides with faith. Bonnie is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons. Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother. Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren. Let’s welcome Bonnie!
I love movies. Some I can watch and re-watch. I recently spent an evening enjoying one of my favorites. And as always, it encouraged me to stand strong and to fearlessly face adversity.
Secretariat is based on a true story about a horse who made history by winning the Triple Crown in 1973 and in a way that has yet to be matched. It would appear to be a story about a horse, but it’s more than that. It’s about the woman who believed in the incredible animal and who had the strength and dedication to make it possible for the big red horse to achieve its purpose.
Penny Chenery Tweedy grew up with a love of horses, spending much of her childhood on her family’s farm, Meadow Stables, where her father ran a thoroughbred racing operation and breeding business.
The movie is visually stunning and emotionally powerful. It opens and closes with scripture from Job 39 that speaks about the War Horse and how it goes into battle unafraid—a picture possibly of how we can face the struggles in our own lives. It says this: (verses 19-25)
“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting?
It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.
It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword.
The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance.
In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.”
New International Version
When the movie begins, I’m immediately captivated by the sights and sounds of powerful thoroughbreds waiting for the chutes to open so they can lunge out of the gates and charge forward. I am in the midst of the scene and into the next. Throughout the movie, the sound track is captivating and perfectly synced with the action, and the lyrics match the strength of the composition. I am there.
I’m grateful this movie is so well done because I am pulled into the story in such a way that it makes me desire to be better than I am.
There is a touching scene between Penny and her father, as he’s dying. Her words to him speak loudly to me when she says, “You showed me what it is to stand up in the world and live the way you want to live.” As the scene plays out, I find myself wanting that, to live like that. I don’t want the world telling me who I should be.
And later in the story when she stands up against those who would have her quit she says her father’s legacy to her is not about money, then she goes on to tell them, “You must have the will to win if you can and live with it if you can’t. It’s about life being ahead of you and you run at it because you never know how far you can go unless you run.”
Every time I hear these words I know they are true. We have a race to run. If we’re too afraid or too busy, or too tired, or too something to run it we’ll never know what the Lord intended us to do. We’ll have missed our opportunity.
We’re never promised that life will be easy or beautiful, but God assures us that it will have meaning and purpose, if only we will live it, knowing that there will be adversity and yet choosing to trust and to live anyway.
Adversity is what first drew me into writing. Life has seasons and those seasons bring change. It may be adversity that carries me into the next season. I don’t know yet what my future will look like, but with God I know it will be meaningful.
I am not always strong. I’m not always brave. I don’t always stand up for what is right. But I believe in God who is my Father and I trust Him to direct my steps.
I pray that we all will run the race set out for us and discover the beauty of God’s purpose.
Here’s a little bit about Bonnie’s book Return to the Misty Shore:
In the spring of 1885, Luba Engstrom meets Nicholas Matroona, a strong, brooding Native from the island of Unalaska. Against her parents’ wishes, she elopes, believing love will be enough to bridge the gap between the civilized world of Juneau and the primitive culture of Nicholas’s small village. After all, before Luba was born, her mother lived on a wild Alaskan island until she was forced to leave when a tsunami destroyed her people. But from the moment Luba arrives at Nicholas’s home, she struggles to adapt and learn the village ways.
Will the conflict between her husband’s belief in ancient gods and her faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer destroy Luba and Nicholas’s relationship?