RM’s song “Wildflower”*, the ritual and smell of grinding coffee, reading Joy Clarkson’s Aggressively Happy, watching a murder of crows in a stubbled corn field, reading Live No Lies by John Mark Comer, the new year approaching, and rereading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.
•wee flicker of little candle ‘Christmas at the Burrow’• the warmth and deepness of freshly ground and French-pressed black coffee in Christmas mug•the glimmer of light off the gingerbread men salt & pepper shaker•little, snowy glass cottage trinket•reading Beauty Chasers with Annie, chapter by chapter, discussion•Sophie racing around the house, her orange-y tail twitch, her sweet whiskers, her ‘cat-ti-tude’•the glow of the old-fashioned Christmas tree lights • Ella’s Christmas spirit and excitement• a juicy, sweet pineapple• Gideon’s love of baths•Schielch animal dioramas everywhere• a friend talking books with me• zoom reading nights with online kindred spirits •Peanuts postage stamps from dad•rubbing coconut oil into little chapped hand•dipping deliciously into aggressively happy by Joy Marie Clarkson•finding swirls, sparkles, and wind sighs in the coldest time of the year•
The work of humanity is to see one another safely home. ♥️
I confess that I’ve had to internally fight to keep my heart calm ♥️ and in the moment this Advent season. This past year has been a good struggle for me. This coming to the end of my strength, coming to the end of self, I find of course, Jesus calmly standing beside me, loving me. ♥️♥️♥️ I picked the words “anticipation & expectation” for 2022 and wow 😯 that didn’t play out how I thought it would. 😎😂 But slowly reflecting in this Advent season, I’m seeing what a gift this year has been. I didn’t realize that what I was anticipating and expecting was something very different than what needed working, kneading in, and cutting away from my heart. ♥️ God is SO faithful.
How are you? How are you holding up? What are some things you’ve been thinking on, learning from 2022? ♥️ I still not perfectly clear on what I’m to pull away from my struggles this year, but some things have bubbled to the surface and I’m slowly working on acknowledging them, trying to reorder affections that are wonky, and really focus on what is important in my life. I’m praying about my words for 2023 and what things I need to focus on through good habits, focused attention, and quiet listening. Listening to the still, small voice of Jesus and deep, attentive listening to the people in my life. And listening to the whisper of words on the wind, wrangling them into inky encouragement on paper.
My personality and lifestyle needs a healthy balance of habits & structure with a good dose of freedom and openness. It makes for an uniquely delicate dance, keeping a rhythm flowing, yet being open to being human, room for life, creativity, and laughter. Do you struggle finding the right pace for the journey of life, too? Praying for clarity and for faithfulness as we cross over into the new year.
May you have a blessed last few Advent moments and a wonderful Christmastime! 🎄 May God give you fresh vision as you look to the new year! Happiest Christmas! ♥️♥️♥️ Love, Amy
I’ve been thinking about the stories that inspire me and of course, the writer’s behind those stories. I was so excited to recently visit Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley in the stories!) and stop at many of the places mentioned in Maud Hart Lovelace’s semi-autobiographical series of children’s stories. Oh, the delicious delight and wonder of seeing the places Betsy (Maud) and her friend Tacy (Frances) haunted and thinking on how Maud captured the specific, odd, charming details that make her stories ring true. It made me think of all the other authors that write these types of stories and how much they inspire me!
One of these lovely kindred souls being Carol Ryrie Brink, an American author, with lovely family stories that warm my heart, so far my favorite being Winter Cottage, a story set in the Great Depression era in Wisconsin, a widower and his children making the best of very hard circumstances. Family Grandstand being a cherished read aloud in our family of an university professor, writer mother, and three kids in a rambling house with a turret and all their adventures. I’ve finally began the sequel, Family Sabbatical with some Booktube friends and the first chapter was SO delightful. Brink, of course, is most famous for her story inspired by her grandmother’s life, Caddie Woodlawn.
An English author that I’ve recently been stalking and been so inspired by is Noel Streitfeild. I first heard of her from one of my favorite films “You’ve Got Mail” in which Kathleen Kelly talks about “the shoe books”. Come to think of it now, Kathleen also talks of Betsy Tacy books in her bookshop and sells some to Joe Fox’s aunt! 😉😄♥️ Streitfeild is wonderful at putting children and families into unique, slightly strange settings and situations. I absolutely was riveted by her story The Magic Summer, about children dumped on an eccentric aunt in the barren Scottish? countryside. Family Shoes (The Bell Family) was delightful as the children tried to help their poor vicar father and mother with money in hilarious ways. There are so many more to explore and I’m currently loving Apple Bough (Traveling Shoes).
Elizabeth Enright is one that I started reading with my older children years ago with her delightful book The Saturdays, but I was reintroduced to her this past summer by my favorite Booktuber, Kate Howe, who also revived my interest in Maud Hart Lovelace. I adored Gone-Away Lake and can’t wait to read the sequel. The nature writing interwoven into this book won my heart.
And of course, one cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning my lovely and favorite Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The magic of nature, the spiritual edge hovering over life, and quirky characters are just a few reasons I love this writer SO much. Yes, her stories can be a bit formulaic, but oh, the delicious details she packs into them. The Anne series, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Emily Climbs are my favorites at the moment, maybe if all time? I was so blessed to travel to P.E.I. for my 15th anniversary with my husband to soak up some island inspiration.
Laura Ingalls Wilder also comes to mind. I’m currently rereading through her famous series with my younger children and Almanzo’s story in Farmer Boy is just as compelling as it was the first time I read it. The hard, brutal life that early Americans lived is so inspiring for our modern lives. The family dynamics are so intriguing to us. I still want to retrace the Ingall’s path out west which we did as a smaller family years ago. We loved especially wading in Plum Creek. 🥰🌿
No list of inspiring women writer’s would be complete with another favorite, the English writer, Elizabeth Goudge. Her magical writing in legend and lore of place, her deep, interesting, nuanced characters, her pulling back the veil between spiritual and reality, make her SO beloved. She definitely is a bit more of a dense writer, you have to work hard at her stories, especially beginnings, but persevere, because oh my, you will be richly rewarded. I’ve read most of her backlist, currently my favorites are A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, Dean’s Watch, and maybe Gentian Hill is creeping up there, too. Her children’s story, Little White Horse is delightful, too.
And of course, Miss Jane Austen, is a must have for this list. Her books are such an interesting study of character and the inner works of Regency era English families. Romance takes over the films, but the books are something else entirely. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Although, I reread Mansfield Park this summer and so enjoyed it!
How about you? What authors highly inspire your work? Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list for me, Bradbury, Tolkien, Lewis, and others come to mind, but one of my favorite things to read and write is family and children ! And I think these ladies get it oh, so right! Have you done literary travel? Any inspiring places you recommend or you want to visit? I’ve also been to England, but would love to go back, especially to Oxford. Please chat with me in the comments! 📖♥️🖊📚
“Art is both love and friendship and understanding: the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of things. It is more than kindness, which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the interrelations of these.”
Ansel Adams, p.37 Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, emphasis mine
||filtered light through shower curtain, drips trickle off silver-y, soap-scummed faucet…Irish Spring Soap scent, sniffing out a 32 year old memory of Grandma Fritz, her chunky, pink bubble-shaped bubble bath bottle, her chain plug, while all the dregs drain down…salty tears mixed with mineral-laden water in need of salt to soften. Hey, I’m a cheap water softener, if only my tears could be useful in that way…stretch marks, stretched-taut strength, silent screams through the warm rain. Hair plastered close, veil washed over my racing thoughts…sore nose bridge, loose glasses, may I be able to see pass this all? Purple, frayed, musty towel waiting, dirty feet bottoms planted in the swirling soap suds. Rubber duckies, colorful boat, army man with one leg, Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo, please bring me an olive branch of peace and hope. Hot water sears eczema, coconut oil slathering ahead, healing really does hurt. Worry-disease drained away for the moment, deep breath, steam in, selfishness and stress out. Water pounding massage, life paused in curtained, watery world away from the “on-ness” of it all, soul’s dirty roots deeply watered for another day. Size 12, barely buttoned, unzipped heart, out of chest, maybe hot water therapy will help this heavy-heart, too? Scrub this heart anew.