The Light of a Dream Fulfilled (Diet for Dreamers)

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Many of us dream of achieving great things in life, of seeing our fondest hopes and wishes come true, but often, of simply making it through the various storms of adversity that sometimes blow in our direction. And there are still many places in our world where people dream of just being free: to live, unhindered, according to their customs; and to worship, without persecution, in the way they choose.

History is filled with accounts of men and women who longed for civil and religious freedoms. One such piece of history dates back to the second century B.C., and is distinguished by a miraculous event that took place in Ancient Judea. It occurred in 164 B.C., when God fulfilled a long-held dream of the Jewish people: of reclaiming their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and of once again being able to worship their Lord in peace.

The Jews had lost their religious freedom when Judea came under the control of Antiochus III, the King of Syria, whose Seleucid Empire then encompassed all the Middle Eastern provinces. Antiochus was both vicious and intolerant of anything he felt hindered his own personal agenda, the social “modernization” of the world. Antiochus planned to accomplish his goals by imposing the Greek culture and religion upon all his subjects, and in the process, to systematically destroy Judaism.

Antiochus ordered every known copy of the Torah, the Holy Word of God, to be burned. Anyone found in possession of the Scriptures — or observing the Sabbath, or honoring the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel in any way — was put to death. And as evidence of his thoroughness and the extent of his cruelty, whenever Antiochus learned of a woman who’d had her child circumcised in accordance with her Jewish faith, he’d have the mother and ALL of her children put to death!

But even these atrocities didn’t appease Antiochus. He ordered that the Temple in Jerusalem, the nexus of the Jewish faith, be desecrated. This he accomplished by sending Syrian soldiers into the Temple to sacrifice pigs and other ritualistically-unclean animals upon the alter of God. Afterwards, a statue of the Greek god Jupiter was placed in the “heart” of the Temple, the Holy of Holies.

Despite religious persecution to the point of death, despite the defilement of their most sacred place, the “home” of their God, the Jews kept their faith. But historians believe that, had Antiochus succeeded in his agenda to wipe out Judaism, he would have transformed the face of modern civilization into something totally unrecognizable today; had Judaism been eradicated, Christianity and Islam never would have come into existence.

God’s people, however, had rebelled against the Syrians beginning in 167 B.C. What followed were three desperate years of guerrilla warfare waged by a Jewish resistance group under the leadership of an elderly priest and his sons, the Maccabees. The resistance fighters eventually became such a thorn in the side of the empire that the Syrian government ultimately sued for peace! The Jews regained their religious freedom and the control of their Temple, now defiled and in ruins.

Following several days of mourning, the Jews started the work necessary to repair and restore the Temple. Once the work was completed, the Temple needed to be ceremonially cleansed and rededicated. Crowds of Jewish worshippers flooded into Jerusalem to celebrate the rededication, bringing sacrifices to honor God. There was just one problem: the Temple menorah, a lamp stand with six branches and seven flames, had to be kept lit, but there was only enough oil to keep the wicks burnings for a single day. The Jews had dreamed of worshipping in the Temple for years, but only a single sealed cruse of consecrated olive oil was available; the seals on the other cruses had been broken by the Syrians and the oiled “contaminated”! So what happened? Nothing short of a miracle: God multiplied the oil in that tiny cruse, which was used to replenished the menorah and kept the flames burning for eight days! Why eight days? Because that was how much time the Jews needed to prepare and purify additional oil.

Each year since, to commemorate God’s fulfillment of their dream to see the Temple restored, as well as His miraculous provision demonstrated by those eight days of illumination, the Jewish people celebrate the holiday known as Chanukah, the Festival of Lights! They light a special menorah with eight branches and nine wicks — the ninth wick (elevated at the center) represents God — and pray and eat delicious oil-based foods. In the U.S. and other countries where Christmas is celebrated, Hanukkah is often an occasion to exchange gifts and play traditional games, too. Hence, Jewish children enjoy Yule-time festivities similar to those experienced by families observing the Christian holiday.

Do you have a special dream? If so, “…The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your Glory.” (Isaiah 60:19 NIV) Do you need a miracle? Remember: “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NLT) The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is still in the miracle-making business. For “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Oh! And HAPPY HANUKKAH!!!

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Encouragement for Creators: And To Think (How) It Happened….

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Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, he worked variously as a cartoonist for magazines such as Vanity Fair and Life, or as an advertising artist for companies that included Standard Oil and General Electric. But Ted Geisel envisioned using his talents in an entirely different way.

Ted was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was the grandson of German immigrants. Ted’s father managed the family brewery, and had it not been for Prohibition during the 1920s, the creative young man might have ended up making good German beer. But instead, after the brewery was forced to close, Ted enrolled at the University of Oxford, studied art, and became a successful illustrator. Despite this success, however, Ted wanted to write books.

In 1936, while returning from an ocean voyage to Europe, Ted got the idea for a children’s book. He made notes and composed lines of verse while standing at the ship’s rail. After arriving back home in New York City, he spent the next six months writing and illustrating his first book — and rewriting it; and sweating over every little detail of the words and pictures.

How many times do I have to tell you? No. No. NO!!!

When he finished A Story That No One Can Beat, he tucked the original manuscript beneath his arm and started making the rounds at all the major publishing houses. From 1936 through much of 1937, Ted showed his illustrated story to 27 different book editors — none of whom apparently felt it was A Story That No One Can Beat. All 27 rejected Ted’s book. And they all gave essentially the same reasons: your book is “too different” from other children’s material; fantasy doesn’t sell these days; and worst of all, a story told in verse is simply out of vogue! The editors also complained that Ted’s book contained “no moral or message,” and they didn’t care to publish anything NOT written with the aim of “transforming children into good citizens.”

Ted repeatedly argued, “What’s wrong with kids having fun reading without being preached to?” His words, though, fell upon deaf ears.

After his 27th rejection, Ted tucked his tattered manuscript beneath his arm once again, and headed home. Depressed, frustrated, and more than just a little angry, he intended to burn the book when he reached his apartment. But along the way, he bumped into an old friend. The man asked him, “What’s that under your arm?”

“…A book that no one wants to publish,” came the answer. “I’m lugging it home to burn.”

Ted’s friend explained that not three hours earlier he’d been made an editor at Vanguard Press. In fact, he said, “We’re standing outside my new office.” He then invited Ted up to his office so he could look over the manuscript. Once inside, the man introduced Ted to the children’s book editor, who almost immediately agreed to publish the book, but with a single stipulation: “…You’ve got to give me a snappier title!”

Vanguard Press published Ted’s first children’s book, retitled And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in 1937, with an impressive print run of 15,000 copies. The book received glowing reviews, and it sold reasonably well. But after six years, and a couple of reprints, the book had only sold about 30,000 copies. Ted had earned less than $3,500 in royalties, so Mulberry hadn’t exactly made the author rich.

Geisel’s first book got the same reception as green eggs and ham–which, once tasted, is actually really good!

No matter, Ted was on his way. He continued to create children’s books. He also continued to write and illustrate them under the pseudonym of Dr. Seuss! His later books include The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Today, several decades later, most of these books are still in print, with sales now totaling over 600 million copies. Several have been adapted as animated TV specials, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been made into two big-budget movies, both of which were incredibly successful at the box office!

A “chance” meeting with a man who was willing to lend a helping hand had put Theodore Geisel on the road to success. Geisel once wrote of that
encounter, “If I had been going down the other side of Madison Avenue, I’d be in the dry-cleaning business today.” What a sobering thought! Imagine a world without Dr. Seuss or Green Eggs and Ham !! Thank God, for “chance” meetings, and kind souls everywhere, who are willing to facilitate worthy endeavors!

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23 NLT)

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