Dear few and loyal readers,

I am well aware that I announced my return to the blog world almost five months ago. I am aware that I stuck it out for less than one month, with just five posts during that time. I am aware that for those of you who have been with me from the beginning, that is exactly the kind of output you have come to expect. And yes, RileyDad, Young Sailor, and Katie,I am very aware that you told us so.

The fact is, I’ve encountered an unexpected impediment. Every time I’ve thought of a post, and even when I’ve sat down to write one, I find myself facing a mental block that is different from ordinary writer’s block. You see, it’s been close to two years since I wrote regularly on this site. And I’m simply not the same person that I was two years ago. Ten months of marriage are a major part of it, though not the whole.

I started this blog as a nineteen-year-old opinionated introverted stay-at-home daughter (to give myself a label that will fit anyone’s manila filing system). I’m still opinionated and introverted, and few of my many opinions (don’t hate me, I’m Irish) have changed. But I’ve grown up a lot (I hope). I’ve added some new opinions, I’ve learned many things, and I no longer express myself quite the same way. I hope I’ve grown both a little more confident and a little more teachable.

All of this to say that I recently realised the source of my reluctance to revive Live Like A Narnian. It is that this blog simply doesn’t fit me anymore. I’ve outgrown it like my quickly-changing pregnant body has outgrown the plaid skirts that I loved as a teen. Possibly I wouldn’t feel this way if I had been blogging through the changes of the last year-and-a-half–if this blog had grown with me, so to speak. But I didn’t, so it didn’t. It represents an Emma that doesn’t exist anymore.

Sooooooooo . . .  .

I am returning to the blog world, but not to Live Like A Narnian. I’ll leave it in place (for now) as an archive, but I am moving on. This saddens me a little: I loved blogging here. I still want to stand by the play-world. But the time of this blog as a record of ‘my Narnian life’ has passed.

As I thought about Live Like A Narnian’s lack of fitness for my new life, ‘The Adventures of Emily Upchurch’ as my husband calls it, I remembered a blog I had begun to set up and never finished shortly after our wedding. I intended at the time to use it as a homemaking blog. But I think its title is such a perfect fit that I’ve decided that it will be my new online home.

So, swing by Practicing Hidden Art, where I have already begun posting (so there, naysayers who know me too well!).

Thanks for sticking with me! Goodbye, Live Like A Narnian; I’ll always remember you with fondness.

Despite new doubts and new knowledge (of myself and of the truths of the Gospel), I remained convinced of my security—I was a good little girl in my own view; obviously a child with my virtues would always have a good standing before the throne of God. But I felt that there was always room for improvement, so I set out to turn a good little girl into a perfect little girl, one with no room for doubt of her salvation.

The year I turned thirteen the secure little world of my own I was trying to build (where I planned out my perfect life and everything always went the way I wanted) fell to pieces. My family was hit by a series of significant trials: my grandmother died (under very tragic circumstances) and my invalid, unbelieving great-grandmother moved in with us. Then my baby sister Abby died at birth. Abby’s birth and death changed our family forever; for us as a unit and as individuals, life would never be the same in so many ways.

After Abby’s death I decided I needed to work very hard at being the perfect Christian daughter. I threw myself into every kind of self-reformation I could think of, and it went much farther than it ever had before. My journals became the record of my good deeds: I wrote down every verse memorised, every Bible chapter read in the mornings, every home duty carefully attended to, every kindness to my siblings (‘I let Sarah wear my favorite necklace today!’). As a final touch of virtue, I began writing out my faults and failings (rereading them now, these accounts smack more than any of self-righteousness and pride).

I was becoming more theologically aware and spent hours asking Daddy questions about our beliefs and listening to his wranglings with friends over law and grace. In response Daddy gave me deeper books to read; one that stands out was A.W. Pink’s commentary on the Beatitudes. Pink used this as a starting-point to discuss the Biblical view of salvation, which caused me to realise that I certainly couldn’t trust in my sinner’s prayer six years earlier. Instead of running to Christ then and there, however, I remembered that early time of awakening and my prayer by the window. That was it! That, plus my current goodness and spirituality (as I saw it), meant I was amply covered.

Outside I had fixed myself up and felt satisfied with what I saw, but my heart was full of self-seeking; I was going to be good, but I was going to do it my way! And my way didn’t involve inconveniencing my precious self. I became very theologically and morally proud. We were without a settled church home at this time and occasionally visited the little country churches in our area; I invariably spent the entire service critiquing the sermon from atop my high horse of theological knowledge. Those old inconveniencing sins? They didn’t bother me so much, since I was making such good progress on them. In my journals I rolled in pride, self-satisfaction, smugness, selfishness, and resentment of any correction (didn’t my parents see what an ideal little homeschool teen they’d been blessed with?).

Something odd I remember about this time—I was about fourteen (2002, date-keepers)–is that I developed a strong dislike for coming to the Lord’s Table. I suppose I had been proud of my communicant status; but I secretly dreaded it now. We were attending a church that took a far more serious view of it than I had ever heard before; and those regular exhortations to self-examination were vaguely disturbing to the self-righteous complacency I was returning to. I did my best to hush all doubts, though, and by the time I turned fifteen I had lulled myself back to security based on my own merits and deeds. In fact, I had become a full-blown little legalist.

Read Part I here.

Part III coming soon!

As a result of my–cough, cough, ahem!– lengthy absence from Blogland, my ‘About the Authoress’ page is hopelessly, unbelievably out of date. Major examples:

 

*It identifies me by the wrong name–twice

 

*The family picture is two years old, so all the kiddos are the wrong sizes, not to mention the absence of my two primary family members now (Tyler and Phinehas-EmmaJane-Whatever), and most importantly, I still have glasses in it.

 

*All of the siblings and yours truly have very wrong ages.

 

*I don’t live with my parents anymore.

 

*I don’t attend CCNA anymore.

 

 

I’ll be attending to that . . . .

I can’t remember any time of my life that I wasn’t exposed to daily, Scriptural Christian instruction. Constantly my parents, new believers in the early Nineties, taught their children of the glories of God, the cross of Christ, and the marvelous truths of the Holy Scriptures. Beyond just words, they lived it out both at home and away.

I owe much to this early teaching, which our Lord continues to use in my life, but the earliest beginnings of His work of grace in my soul date to age seven. At that time the Lord first began to awaken my soul to my need of Him. One of my clearest memories of childhood is of climbing into my bedroom windowsill and truly praying (not just ‘saying my prayers’) for the first time. I don’t recall what I said or what prompted it, but I remember something of the feeling that was in my heart as I sought the Lord in my childish way.

I believe that many children raised in Christian homes experience such early spiritual awakening. Sadly, too often premature encouragement in the church to ‘make a decision’, get baptised, and move on kills it before it has a chance to take root. This was certainly the case with me. At Vacation Bible School the next summer (1996 at age eight for you precise date-obsessed people . . . or is that just me?), the pastor of the little First Baptist Church we were attending issued an invitation to those children who were ready to ‘get saved’. Already my sound home teaching made me unsure about that (I distinctly remember sitting in the pew, praying something like, ‘Lord, if I’m already saved, don’t let me go up!’). But in the end, I followed the other children to the pastor’s office, where he led us through the sinner’s prayer and told us we were now saved. Though my parents were less enthusiastic than I expected them to be at the news I brought home (though they avoided being overly discouraging, their attitude was one of carefulness and caution), I was relieved to ‘have that out of the way’ and be assured that I wouldn’t go to hell, I was duly baptised a few months later.

For the next few years I continued the most complacent of little sinners. I concentrated on being a good little homeschooler and a good little Sunday schooler, though I was annoyed that the more inconveniencing of my pet sins didn’t vanish with no effort on my part—wasn’t that part of the deal? I read my Bible (focusing on the parts I liked), prayed when I thought I needed something, and was a proud regular church attender (of course, the last part wasn’t up to me). If I had doubts of my salvation, I simply pretended they weren’t there. An odd memory that comes to mind is my resolution at age ten to ‘start listening to the sermon’. I was looking for a new way to clean up my life and become a better Christian, and that seemed both virtuous and fairly painless.

In 1998 when I was ten the first shaking of my secure little house on the sand occurred. My family made our largest physical move ever, and my parents took advantage of it to leave behind the theologically poor church environments we had been in since their conversion. We joined a little Reformed Baptist church that was much more in line with their beliefs in doctrine and orthopraxy. For me, this new alliance between what I heard at church and what my dear parents taught at home had the effect of making me suddenly nervous about the state of my soul. It began to be a bit harder to quell these new doubts with false assurance—especially when Daddy asked me to give my testimony before joining the church.

Part II

This is your blogger speaking.

I’ve often quoted, in various contexts, these lines from T. S. Eliot: ‘This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang, but a whimper.’ It occurs to me now that they have a fitting application to the slow death of this blog.

That most astounding wit in all fiction, Elizabeth Bennet, remarked that she and Mr Darcy were alike in being ‘unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.’ And this again is a quotation apt for my long absence. Several times since my marriage (which, by the way, took place in March, not May), I’ve sat down thinking to write a quick update, only to change my mind because that just didn’t seem like a dramatic enough comeback after an absence that rapidly lengthened from six months to eight to nearly a year.

All excuses, apologies, and random literary quotations aside, I’m going to make a fresh start and act like I’ve started a new blog. Hopefully, I will eventually work up to my original content output. In the weeks ahead I’ll be writing some personal things on the changes the last year has brought to me and my family (including that long-put-off courtship story, already in progress!)–I got married; became, for the time being, a city dweller (though never a city girl!); my BLB (big little brother) got married only three months after I did; and Tyler and I are now expectant parents (due in April!), to list our top stories–and possibly some other things.

The only sure way to conquer writer’s block is to write, as difficult as it is. Just these two little, unimportant scribbles are quickly loosening my creativity back up. So, welcome back to ‘Live Like A Narnian’, Emily Upchurch’s blog!

 

(this is a sampling of what I’ve been up to while I’ve been not-blogging)

. . . what a nice blog!

The author is obviously a kindred spirit like no other.

She likes my favourite books, music and movies; links to my favourite sites and blogs; uses my favourite quotes; and look at that! She even picked the title I would use (if I had a blog).

Wait a minute, that’s a little weird. Her family members have the exact same names and ages as mine! That’s just a little bit too much deja vu.

Um, that guy she got engaged to looks absurdly like . . . Tyler. That kiddo she’s holding in the second picture . . . um . . . . this is too bizarre. I’d almost say that is Tyler and I  . . . except we didn’t get married in May. We got married in March. But that ring . . . it resembles mine  . . . a whole lot . . . what a strange set of coincidences!

You know, I would almost say the ‘authoress’ of this nice blog . . . was me . . . but that couldn’t be. For one thing, I just noticed the date. If I had a blog, I would have posted more than once in the last year, because I would be a totally responsible blogger who kept her promises. So, nope, it’s just some gal that I share a lot in common with . . . . except my strong sense of responsibility. And my name. My name’s not Emily Riley . . .

. . . . but it was once.

Wait. Something’s coming to me. It’s all starting to make  sense now . . . .

. . . . . Please, if you have any pity, go somewhere far away while I crawl under the desk and die of humiliation. Gone now? Thanks.

Folks, come back tomorrow for a real post . . . at last. And I’m not just sayin’ that like the last time.

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. . . in a wonderful place . . .
Oh, just the usual, petitioning, running around the state, getting pounded in Monopoly by a gloat-prone little brother . . .
Oh, that ring?
Oh, it was a present. Isn’t it pretty? Just what I always wanted.
From who?
Just a special person. Who likes me a lot. Why do you ask?

YES!!! This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me in person, or is friends with me on Facebook, or reads Mama’s, Jacob’s, or Ellen’s blogs (so that’s pretty much everybody), but I’m engaged! Or betrothed. I can’t decide which terminology I prefer. The point is I’m promised to a real live (not hypothetical) bridegroom. Tyler Upchurch. The Lord provides so wonderfully (above all we could ask or think, in this as in greater things). One year ago, I didn’t even know there was such a person in the world. Only six months ago, I wasn’t expecting that the Lord would bring such happiness into my life.  I’m still astonished every time he says ‘I love you’.  He is everything I ever wanted in a husband and more than I could have imagined. We have set a still-tentative date for the second weekend in May.

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I lived with visions for my company

Instead of men and women, years ago,

And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know

A sweeter music than they played to me.

But soon their trailing purple was not free

Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,

And I myself grew faint and blind below

Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come, to be,

Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,

Their songs, their splendours, (better, yet the same,

As river-water hallowed into fonts)

Met in thee, and from out thee overcame

My soul with satisfaction of all wants:

Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.

Fully illustrated courtship story coming soon! Actually, I’ll set myself a deadline. I will have it published by the first of December.

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