Back to Classics 2022 Ideas 📚♥️🌿✨

My Reading Journal ♥️♥️♥️

Hello All! Booktube has got my head spinning about reading plans and lists. I’m definitely a mood reader, but it’s fun to challenge myself a bit with some specific books or categories 🐈 . However, all of these reading lists are just for fun. If I don’t meet them, I’m totally fine. I’m definitely someone who’s ok with abandoning a plan. 🤪 Karen at Books and Chocolate blog has been doing this challenge for awhile and I’m excited to challenge myself with some books from my shelves. I’ve tentatively penciled them into my reading journal above. Some of these also fulfill Chantel’s Read My Bookshelf Challenge, too. Here’s my list!

1. A 19th Century Classic ~ The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

2. A 20th Century Classic ~ Perelandra by C.S. Lewis (reread)

3. A Classic by a Woman ~ The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

4. A Classic in Translation ~ Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

5. A Classic by BIPOC Author ~ Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings by Olaudah Equiano

6. Mystery, Detective, Crime Classic ~ My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

7. A Classic Short Story Collection ~ 40 Short Stories of Anton Chekhov

8. A Pre-1800 Classic ~ Cymbeline ~ by William Shakespeare

9. A Non-fiction Classic ~ Walden by Thoreau

10. Classic on Your TBR the Longest ~ TBD but probably a Charles Dickens or Larkrise to Candleford

11. A Classic Set in a Place I’d like to Visit ~ Romola by George Eliot {Florence, Italy}

12. Wild Card Classic ~ Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky

Some of my selections! 😍😳😄😂 And a few possible alternates -the Larkrise trilogy I may have had on my shelves longer than all my Dickens. This is VERY ambitious for me, but hey, as long as I keep it fun and DNF things if it gets stressful, it’ll be fine. I will be marking up/tagging each book and adding a quote or two to my reading journal. Have you read any of these? Any good ones? Duds? I’m mostly apprehensive about Wharton as she is depressing! Ha! 😜😅♥️ Happy Reading!

Gratitude & Glories {December 2021 Reflecting and A Bit of a 2022 Look Ahead}

Happy New Year! We are back to {home} school and I loved adding a quote from The Quiet Season by Jerry Apps to my nature journal. The sunrises and sunsets have been so gorgeous, cutting through the cold, real warmth for the heart. I tried to capture the bit of beauty I caught as we drove in the gloaming, ice and snow framing the glorious sky painting.
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

I’m Thinking… about anticipating all the meaningful moments ✨ to be gathered up into my jar of memories , all the wonderful books 📚 waiting to be enjoyed, and about how much I love the seasons ❄️💦🌿🍂, the different beauty each one brings.

I’m Thankful for… my fun reading journal setup this year, reading challenges, and writing ✍️ plans.

Reading Journal with Anne of Avonlea sticker!

One of My Favorite Things… Booktube! I’m in a couple of different reading challenges over there, at Oceana’s, Chantel’s, and I’m loving Emma’s account, sooo much, too! I’m also excited about this blogger’s challenge which I attempted a few times in past. You can also join me there on Booktube, but be forewarned I have a big learning curve with technology and editing ahead of me. 😂♥️😄

I’m Wearing… a lot of layers, slippers socks, and comfy core, as someone called it on Instagram!😂😃

Dressing for warmth and happiness!

I’m Watching… reading journal ideas and Booktube!

I’m Reading… SO many wonderful things I’ve started. I’m surprisingly enjoying my reread of Out of the Silent Planet by Lewis more than I thought I would.

Im Listening… to soundtracks and Salt of the Sound!

I’m Hoping… to continue our slower, deeper dive into our books we started back this week. It’s been sooo great, the conversations swirling around. It’s tempting to do allllll the things, but faithfully and steadily doing a few less things works better for us. I’m all about deeper dives this year.

I’m Learning…to pace myself, trust and rest with Jesus, and to be in Anticipation & Expectation of Him being with me this year! In fact, those are my words of 2022.

In the Homeschool Room… we are just getting back at it this week and it’s been exhausting, but oh, so good. Giving myself the permission to tweak as needed for all of our sanity and for rest. ❄️❄️❄️

Shared Quote…

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

Lemony Snicket

Just some last parting shots of some of my reading journal set up pages! So fun and relaxing! How is your new year shaping up? May the Lord bless you and keep you! ♥️🌿♥️ Love from Hearth Ridge, Amy

Bookish Chat

Hello everyone! Hope you are keeping warm and are enjoying the Advent season. I’m currently sipping Bigelow’s Wild Blueberry with Açaí tea and it’s delicious.

I felt like chatting books today, so here I am! I’m slowly working on a list of my favorite 2021 books I’ve read to share at the end of December, so be looking for that soon. I’ve been mainly thinking about next years reading. I left Goodreads earlier this year and just use a beautiful journal to record my reading {also save them on Instagram which has been fun} and I love the analog sooo much better. Besides my Bible & devotional type books, I’m very much a mood/feelings reader. That’s also why I reread so much! I want to experience the same vibes of a favorite book all over again. It’s wonderful, comfortable, and I love the anticipation of knowing what’s in store. Are you a rereader? Each year, I don’t plan out my TBR list in advance except super loosely or have categories etc. I do sometimes join challenges, but use them for the categories more than timeframes or prizes. With that said, I’m joining a challenge through my favorite book tuber, Chantel Reads All Day. Follow that link to find out the details and get the printable if you so choose to join. Here’s my choices, so far, I may be switching this up!

Since taking this photo, I switched The Broken Way to December, took out 12 Rules for Life, and changed January to Out of the Silent Planet, which is also a reread. I’m needing help with the prompt for August. Can you help with a title that I may have on my extensive home shelf library? 😂 I have Farewell to Arms which I’ve never read, but not sure if I’ll like that? You can use the public library, but I’m trying to use books I own. Doesn’t this sound fun? 🥰♥️ Some of my children are joining me, too! I would love to hear what your plans are for reading next year or any books you are really looking forward to reading! 📚📚📚

🥰♥️

Wendell Berry: The Seed is in the Ground…

“The seed is in the ground.

Now may we rest in hope

While darkness does its work.”

Wendell Berry

It’s late {for me} Saturday night. The noises of last minute doings, rumblings, and little children can be heard. I’ve had a day of inky ideas and wind-tousled whispers and thoughts and heart and Spirit stirrings. In-between all the dishes, spills, and grocery lines. But that’s ok, things wait. There’s a time and place and season. Aslan is on the move. The seed is in the ground…and I’m going to rest in hope, while darkness does her work. Hope you are hopeful tonight, too. Love, Amy

Gratitude & Glories {September 2021} Happy Autumn ~

I am wholly willing to be here between the bright silent thousands of stars and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground. ~from “On the Hill Late at Night” by Wendell Berry

Warmest and brightest autumn greetings, dear hearts ~

The colors of autumn are heart-achingly beautiful here and I can’t help but snuggle down into them and my current favorite poetry collection, The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. This book and the Scriptures of The Holy Bible have been such a comfort and guiding light to me this past month. A month of homeschooling is now finished and I’m able to know what needs tweaking a little.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Looking out my Window…

I sink into goldenness…corn, beans, and other crops waiting to be harvested and the edges of leaves & grasses, deliciously dipped in color. The green is still here, but now more as a frame for the glorious autumnal painted splendor. Just unbelievably beautiful this time of year here in the northern Midwest US.

Continuing with my autumn comfort-type reads sharing! Any type of seasonal memoir is SO wonderful this time of year. I pulled a few off my shelves here!

I’m Thinking… about a lot, but especially the books The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi (honestly, a huge surprise to me!) and Boundaries for Your Soul by Cook & Miller. Both are really helping me work through guilt/anxiety and also figure out some things about myself in a healthier way.

I’m Thankful for… my family pitching in a lot lately as I’ve battled head colds etc this past month. I’ve recently realized how thankful I am for my 2 yo, as he’s teaching me so much, brings so much joy, and is keeping me on my knees. Nature’s bounty and ironically, I’m so thankful for my gratitude journal to remind me of how much good there is even in the darkest days.

HP can be such a comfort read if you enjoy the hero journey story with intriguing characters//The Enchanted April is so subtle, but a wonderful read about four women on a journey figuratively and literally//Over Sea, Under Stone is a Welsh-mythology type good & evil tale that I really enjoy//

One of My Favorite Things… there’s never just ONE! 😉 Vanilla Almond tea, my red & black checked flannel, my thrifted jean jacket, and our public library. Original Irish Spring soap takes me back to my grandma’s bathroom instantly and lately, I’ve loved just being surrounded by its lovely scent.

I’m Wearing... my sweater stash is slowly resurrecting albeit we had a warm spell this last week. It’s been so nice to throw on jeans, a tshirt, and grab a cardigan. I’m bringing out my favorite 3/4 length sleeve sweater that I got last year thrifting, too. It’s blue and pink strip and I love it. So nice to meet old friends again, isn’t it?

Jane of Lantern Hill has such a special place in my heart ~ I read it after the birth of my 5th child and it meant the world to me in ways I can’t explain, in fact, my handle on IG is a nod to this book…Amy of Hearth Ridge//The Magic Apple Tree is another of those seasonal comfort books//The Little White Horse by Goudge is just so lovely and strange in a magical way, it’s time for a reread soon for me//

I’m Creating.. not much currently, a few nature journal entries, penpal letters, and we started our terms handcraft of Faux Stained Glass.

I’m WatchingVictober Booktubers, Hallmark Mysteries -when I can find them on youtube-specifically Hannah Swenson, and Hungarian Rhapsodies #2 performances.

Oh my heart ~ I adore The Blue Castle, asks such a good question, how would you live if you had a short time to left?// The Hearth & Home book is a traditional country cookbook, but the last half is my favorite, thoughts on life and what’s truly important. A great book to pull out as the year wanes//Magician’s Nephew is my favorite of Lewis’ Narnia books and I found this unique cover last summer//

I’m Reading… the sci-fi YA Incarceron and two memoirs I’m really enjoying currently are Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey by James rebanks and The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart. I’m slowly rereading Fellowship of the Ring, too, and boy, was it time. We all need a little J.R.R.T!

I’m Listeningthis song popped on my Spotify and it’s not that I love it or anything, but boy, it brought me back to highschool. 🙂 I’ve been gravitating to old favorite instrumental tracks on youtube: Scottish, Moonlight on Sea, and Wind.

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart is my favorite of Mrs. Clarkson’s books, as it rescued me as a young mother//The Lighted Heart -memoir about Elizabeth Yates and her husband’s gradual blindness – so inspiring and heart-wrenching//The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith – a hard hitting book on writing from life, I drag this out occasionally for wonderful inspiration//

I’m Hoping… go on a belated anniversary trip with my husband to an art museum, nature trails, and a flea market for Christmas gift shopping.

In the Garden… it’s pretty much morning glories rioting and choking everything, saggy sunflower offerings for the birdie friends, and a few happy zinnias. We so enjoyed the last of the watermelons and I need to clean things out.

Karen Andreola’s lovely stories about a family’s life and homeschool adventures are just the perfect heart-warming type reads for autumn//Spanning Time is another from Elizabeth Yates that I like to dip into//

I’m Learning …to be gentle with the parts of myself I struggle with especially fear/anxiety/guilt. Acknowledging them, but not letting them overwhelm me. Bringing them to Jesus and being ok that they are there, yet not whipping myself over the head with feelings of failure because I can’t rid myself of them completely.

In the Kitchen … we made applesauce and bread now that it’s cooling down a bit. Still doing a lot of stir fries with brown rice, veggies, and a bit of meat. We were able to buy a lot of inexpensive cheese from a bulk Amish store and so we’ve been doing a lot of homemade pizza, too.

To be honest, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s books stray VERY far from my faith beliefs, but I find quotes and a few lovely tidbits in them. I found these inexpensively while thrifting and enjoy the way they are laid our seasonally by months or days//This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson is one of my favorite books of this year, how our God is ALL good and He’s here WITH us in the darkness and suffering of the world.//

In the Homeschool Room… I’m not going to lie. It’s been exhausting and intense, BUT in a good way. We’ve been getting outdoors on nature walks a lot (in fact, I have a case of poison ivy to prove it! 😦 ), enjoying Liszt music, Vachel Lindsay’s unique, but surprisingly layered poetry, David Copperfield, so, so many interesting discussions about all the books, singing “This Land is Your Land”, and enjoying Rembrandt’s work. It’s an amazing privilege to get to do this life with my children.

Shared Quote…

What is love demanding of me right now? That is all that matters.

Bishop Robert Barron via Instagram

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading, ‘may the stars shine upon the end of your road’ {from Gildor, in Fellowship of the Ring} as you travel through glorious October. ❤ Love, Amy

Gratitude & Glories: {January 2021}

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

For January 2021

Looking out my window… January was extremely cold, grey, yet with brilliant piercing sunshine-y moments. We had beautiful rime ice at the beginning of the month and lots of snow towards the end.

I am thinking… about teaching older children how to cook more! Teaching soup making, bread making, and various treats and sides.

I am thankful… that our extended family was safe from a horrific semi related car crash.

One of my favorite things… hearing my littlest son’s cute voice “meowing”. 🙂

I am wearing… I’ve been swinging between huge extremes of comfy pants & sweatshirts to nice jeans, shirts, & cardigans. Fluffy socks and my old, trusty slippers

I am creating… my children’s story, which I like to call Silverleaf & Wodwo. I’ve been typing all my handwritten mess into my labtop. I’m trying to get it all in one spot to more easily type and edit. I read a fabulous book about community with creativity and I contacted a couple of friends to share our work together. I need deadlines, so very excited how that is going!

I am watching… for a moment to stop at a quilt store to pick out fabrics for my oldest’ quilt that I promised as part of her Christmas gift. We’ve been perusing Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Quilting and are loving the simplicity of designs, but visual punch from bright fabrics. Really looking forward to making this with her!

I am reading… so many things, but I’m trying to finish The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. If you are looking for a clean, adventurous YA read, I recommend The Seventh City by Emily Hayse, an Alaskan setting and perfect for winter reading. I highly recommend Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer, so very inspiring. I also have been enjoying some of Brandon Sanderson’s high fantasy, specifically the Mistborn Series, which was clean for the most part and very creative.

I am listening toTim Janis instrumental, Montana Cello, and “Little Things with Great Love”. Oh, and we all love this!

I am hoping… to continue getting my morning writing habits down, revamp homeschool a bit, we need a fresh breeze this time of year!

In the garden… my oldest son and I have been making plans, but nothing solid yet. Last year, it didn’t warm up enough for what we wanted to do until end of May!

I am learning… that I need to tread gently with myself and my family during this dark, cold time.

In the kitchen… been loving roasted zucchini (yes, from grocery store) with basil, garlic salt, sprinkle of parmesan. Also zoodles made with it!

In the homeschool room… it took us a bit to get back to the smoother days after Christmas, but now it’s better. However, I’m changing things up a bit now to blow in a freshness. We are loving reading through The Magician’s Nephew again together.

Shared Quote

“In front the sun climbs slowly, how slowly, But westward, look the land is bright.”

Arthur Hugh Clough

Some moments from my day{month}…

Clive and Charlotte Converge: A Mother’s Look at 2020 so far {Part 4}

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Part 1Part 2Part 3

Lewis echoes something I’m just barely starting to see in this glorious life. That Nature shows us a teeny bit of Glory, he calls it the “first sketch” of greater glory. Isn’t that beautiful? Those little things, the wind lifting the edges of the blankets on the clothesline. That fresh loaf of bread out of the oven, eager little hands buttering a hot, thick slice. Little boy’s eyes eagerly scanning Landseer’s, The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, turning to me with questions about the sad doggy, those slightly wilted bouquets of clover and Queen Anne’s lace, and the chubby hands pressed against my cheeks point to a greater something, Someone out there. A promise so glorious and so incomprehensible that our finite brains cannot begin to imagine. That “…the whole man is to drink from the fountain of joy.” p. 44, The Weight of Glory

     Lewis, in his conclusion brings we out of my rapturous musings back to earth with a bit of humorous reality, “Meanwhile, the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. 🙂 A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside.” p. 45, emphasis mine

     Following Him is the essential point he says but an equally heavy weight of glory is my neighbors. Starting with those immediately around me, am I faithfully sowing and giving and caring for those who, “all day long,” am I, “…in some degree , helping to one or other of these destinations?” Am I growing into my skin, resting Jesus’ work, lovingly sharing life, beauty, hope, and encouragement through what I value, through what I give my time to, through my words, and what I am grateful for? Is it “a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner”…remembering that there are “no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to our as the life of a gnat.” p. 46 We remember we are immortals, life will go on in one way or another after we die.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, – immediately or in the long run.” ~Thoreau 

     How will I spend the rest of 2020 or the next 40 years of my life? Here I am with a 1 year old and on the other end a 17 year old almost ready to graduate. How can I live and breathe in a way that reflects our true home Heaven in a world full of cheap imitations and symbols that in the end just don’t measure up? How can I live gratitude for these small glimpses of glory that echo eternity? How will I remember today to Whom I will go? My Lord and Savior, Jesus, who has the words of eternal, real and lasting life and the key to our true forever home. There is so much more in C.S. Lewis’ essay, “The Weight of Glory”, but these are a few things that jumped out to me, and I don’t want to forget.

~

Clive and Charlotte Converge: A Mother’s Look at 2020 so far {Part 3}

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Part 1 and Part 2

Picking up we left off with Lewis, he seems to be saying, I think, that our natural loves and desires are just a faint longing for something bigger than what we can understand. In the book, A Time of Gifts, travel memoirist, Patrick Leigh Fermor, shared the story of how as he trekked across a particularly bleak stretch of German wilderness, he kept himself from loneliness and despair by reciting to himself all the random snatches of poetry, recitation, Latin phrases, Shakespeare, and other bits he had memorized as a child and into early adulthood. This struck me so vividly. Mr. Fermor probably never imagined that those required tidbits or ideas would be indispensable to him later on, in his exhausted, famished physical state, but his soul and spirit were warmed by this treasury of beauty stored inside of him. The idea that in a strange and unfamiliar land, he was able to carry with him something that spoke to him of his true home, or the home of his memories, comforts, and delight. I think what Lewis goes on to say is that we see Heaven in terms of how we understand life here and now and what a poor view and inadequate one it is! Yet it is what we have for the present, as long as we keep them in proper perspective. The symbols I have can faintly represent the joy to come.

I want to fill myself, my children, and those around me with as much beauty as possible, so that any encouragement and small albeit poor glimpse of eternity can be seen or felt when we need to draw from it. Seen or felt in our mind’s eye in those cold, bleak wildernesses of life, even now in the circumstances we find our world. Personally, anything that separates people, life, Heaven, and earth from each other becomes repulsive to me quickly. Unfortunately, for me, media and the Internet often breed isolation, disjointed words without their informing ideas, or without people’s real life stories. These all turn one away from the idea that you and I are created for more. We are created for God’s pleasure and love. Lewis goes on to say that at long last I can learn,

“…that she pleases Him whom she was created to please.” p. 38

     Appreciation by God is a worthy goal that can be reached. “Perfect humility dispenses with modesty. If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself.” p.38 Again the lifelong lesson of getting comfortable in my own skin…that knowing, not pridefully who we are, but humbly acknowledging Who’s we are.

“The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” p. 38-39, emphasis mine

     My gratitude for this gift of life and the chance to please my loving God is so well described by Lewis’ lines above. Lewis goes on to share how especially Scriptural symbols have authority, but the things I like to call ‘truth, beauty, and goodness’ symbols that are given to me help along, “for a few minutes, the illusion of belonging to that world.” The world that is beyond this dark, fallen, sad one we live in. These glimpses and the songs, artist’s paintings, and natural beauty, Lewis contends can’t in the end do anything for us. For me, however, they have definitely given me an “…indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers.”

It reminds me of Jesus, coming so long ago as a babe, as God-With-Us. As I walk my motherhood journey (and I have ever so many years ahead, prayerfully) and as I continue to grow into the shape of the woman God created me to be, I see many areas of these gifts of God pointing me to our ultimate reunion with Him. Lewis explains so well how and why poets and writers speak to me…

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so, someday, God willing, we shall get in.” p. 42-43

Part 4 to follow ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clive and Charlotte Converge: A Mother’s Look at 2020 so far {Part 2}

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{Part 1}

     Those early years of doing nature walks, journals, reading all the books, and scrambling to check all the Charlotte Mason boxes, all the mothering angst over the various day-to-day decisions over meals, bed times, fights, and friends, all of the second guessing myself over my faith, my writing, and my worth starts to take on a different light. Lewis goes on to say that we can feel very much like the school boy in our faith,

“…Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward. Just in proportion as the desire grows, our fear lest it should be a mercenary desire will die away and finally be recognised as an absurdity. But probably this will not, for most of us, happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship. ” 

p. 28, The Weight of Glory, emphasis mine

     I gather all my paper bits and books and scramble indoors as the rain is now coming in earnest. “…by continuing to obey,” Lewis said. And that’s it. The crux of some of this transformational process. Little daily repetitions add up to something lasting. Faithfulness begets fruit. We eat healthy over and over again, we turn to the promises of God day in and day out, we smile, choosing joy, over and over again. We wash that same dish again and again. We sow seeds of dailiness in our faith journey, into our children, into our art, and into truly finding out who we are to Jesus, fitting into our skin in a real way. Can I truly now begin to live? Can my 40th turn around this blue-green ball we call home be a new beginning? Can I, like Charlotte Mason, see a LONG, lifetime view of child rearing and by faith and obedience, just keep sowing? Small gifts, small obedience, adds up in the end.

“It is in the infinitely little we must study the infinitely great.”

~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 29

      Can I accept that words matter to me and I must paper and ink them out one at a time? Yet as important and life changing these revelations are to me, a life time of growing and prayerfully, continuing to grow, Lewis goes on to allude that the are all symbols of our Truest and Deepest desire…

“If transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy.”

p. 29, The Weight of Glory

     The desire for “our own far-off country”… is a “secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.” These past seventeen years of stumbling along through the Bible, the writings of Charlotte Mason, sleepless nights of nursing, the many gorgeous rain showers, the countless meals, stories, and memories, all are glimpses of beauty that are just small peeks at the glory to come. Lewis issues a good perspective and warning to me, if I find myself flying a bit away on the heights of inspiration.

“The books or music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the real thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” p.30, emphasis mine

     Lewis, oh my, dear to my heart, talks about how fairy tales and for me, I believe, some fantasy helps keep the gift and knowledge that we aren’t made for this world alive. There is more to this life I’m living, a spiritual reality beyond.

“Our real goal is elsewhere.” p.31

I will continue in Part 3 ~

~

 

Clive and Charlotte Converge: A Mother’s Look at 2020 so far {Part 1}

 

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But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ~John 6:68-69

Where or to whom do we go, indeed? The smell of approaching rain mingles with the warm, yeasty, crust of the earth smell that deep summer bakes. This year has been something, else, hasn’t it? And here we are on the cusp of beginning the only-and-already eighth month. Everything seems to be going so slow and so fast simultaneously. I’ve been trying to wrap my head and thoughts around the many cobwebby things tickling my subconscious. As I lean toward and into this coming last full month of summer, with blue skies, flocked with fluffy, white clouds, endless green, and the magical swish and swoop of the barn swallows overhead, a few things are converging in my heart and soul. This year, I opened it out with this (among other things) as an inspiring motto:

“Man must pass from old to new,

From vain to real, from mistake to fact,

From what once seemed good, to what now proves best;

How could man have progression otherwise?”

~ Browning, p. 58

The Cloud of Witness

     As the year began, I knew that my health, physical and mental, needed change and adjustment. I started eating healthier and took breaks from media, as those were two areas I greatly needed. I knew that my home educating was going to change forever in two ways…a year of my most students ever at once, six, plus a little guy toddling about and then my first toddler, blink, now a 17 year old in her last year, a graduate coming for me at the end of this school year. The weight of this year being my 40th birthday lent me more contemplative as well. As a writer, I also felt the winds of change as I’m seeing that I have to be “true to myself” for lack of a better term, and this art in which I’m called to live. Our Honey Locust protects me from the splattering, spitting rain, concentric circles flowing outward in driveway puddles. All this and more rolls around and around in my mind, growing slowly bigger and disappearing out into the void. Then covid happened and is still happening and I’m still processing and joining Peter in the lament, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” My own meager words have felt locked up, or private or dormant for this season. Sometimes, the more we have to say, the less words we have. So, we take it one moment, one word, one journal page, one image at a time, giving room for art and idea and thought to bloom. My trellis of purple and pink Morning Glories finally opened this week, the tightly furled flower buds bursting into a mass riot of vines, color, and heart-shaped happiness.

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As I’ve been stumbling around and reflecting on all this, especially in the light of my 40th…I got to thinking about my continuing metamorphosis as a mother and woman through the years, C.S. Lewis’ essay/talk “The Weight of Glory” took on a fascinating life of its own to me. I’ve found that this gift of womanhood and motherhood has shaped me in more ways then I could possibly have imagined. Here we are, supposedly the ones guiding our children, and yet I’m the one learning how to live and move and have my being in Jesus. A gentle, rain-tinge breeze stirs the Honey Locust branch overhead. Lewis opens out his essay alluding to how we all start something in life for the reward at the end. For me, this idea is far-reaching, in all the branches of my life. If I just used Charlotte Mason’s educational methods in my family, we will end up with educated, whole, well-rounded children at the end, or if I mother this way, write this genre or style, be this kind of person, check the checks and tick the ticks, everything will work out perfectly. In this talk, Lewis in context is alluding to our faith journey, by way of a school boy’s example, but I’m applying it broadly to my mothering and growth as a woman.

“…He begins by working for marks, or to escape punishment, or to please his parents, or at best, in the hope of a future good which he cannot at present imagine or desire.

p. 27, The Weight of Glory, emphasis mine

     He contends that at first in anything our goal is a bit “mercenary”, a reward for whatever it is we aimed for. Aiming at home educating my children well, I didn’t expect to run into joy and growth for MYSELF, in the middle of my dreams and hopes for them. Lewis goes on to say, “...enjoyment creeps in upon the mere drudgery…it is just insofar as he approaches the reward that he becomes able to desire it for its own sake; indeed, the power of so desiring it is itself a preliminary reward.” p. 28, emphasis mine.

I will return to these thoughts in Part 2 soon!

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September Reads

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This is what I finished last month from my lovely books stack. Anything sound interesting? What did you finish reading?

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis (*****) – this was a reread from my master list for the year and it was better than the first time. I, especially love the “Inner Ring” essay, but there are so many nuggets sprinkled throughout this collection of talks. This took me a LONG time to reread, but it was so worth it.

A Pentecost of Finches: New and Selected Poems by Robert Siegel (*****) – This took me awhile to really get into and appreciate, but as I read further along, I fell in love with many of these detailed, observant poems. I’m so glad I finally picked this up off of my TBR pile. I found one of my favorites here online.

The Golden Journey by Agnes Sligh Turnbull (***) – This follows the life of a wealthy father who manipulates his crippled daughter’s life out of genuine, but misplaced love for her. I found this one at a used library sale and was very excited, as I’ve enjoyed Turnbull’s fiction before. 3.5 stars because of the predictability of the plot. However, I really enjoyed how much Turnbull highlights the importance of character in this story. Engagingly written and definitely inspiring, albeit a little too good to be true, I enjoyed it immensely. 

Home Education by Charlotte Mason (*****) – This book is a timeless classic on the educating and parenting of young children and a foundational book in our home. I’ve been hoping to reread it annually and I did this year to my great delight and blessing. It just keeps on giving.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (****) – 3.5 stars for this creative and interesting children’s middle grade fantasy book. I became interested in this after watching a movie by the same name. This is the first in the series and I look forward to reading the other two. Sophie is the responsible oldest and finds herself on the wrong side of the Wicked Witch of the Waste. In her quest to right the wrongs, she encounters the Wizard Howl and friends, leading to all sorts of adventures. This was a little bit convoluted at times, especially toward the end, but overall, I really enjoyed this. So imaginative! The enjoyable movie definitely deviates a bit and adds an anti-war message that’s not at all present in the book.

What Is It by Lynda Barry (****) – 3.5 stars for this wildly imaginative mixture of memoir, diary, sketchbook, and writing instruction combination. I found this a lovely look at how creativity works and flows from the mind of this mixed media and craft artist, Lynda Barry. This book is actual scans of her amazing sketchbooks and hodgepodge scrapbooks all the while telling the story of her childhood and her growth as an artist. Very interesting!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim (*****) – A favorite reread! In the back of my mind, I remembered really enjoying this fictional account of two English women, who on a whim, answer an advert for month in Italy at a medieval castle. They end up inviting two other women to share the costs and space with them. Sigh. This is so lovely in that I think it does a wonderful job in relating the struggles and internal battles women in different circumstances and life stages go through. The beauty of Von Arnim’s descriptions of Italy and the gardens are so soothing and there’s a subtle deepness underlying the story line of these women. I highly recommend this one.

Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson (****) – I just love the whimsical and nonsensical nature of the Moomins. I’ve accidentally read these out of order, but no matter, I’m always charmed and delighted by these creatures and their little adventures. A flood separates Moominmamma and Moominpapa from Moomintroll and friends and they have all sorts of adventures (including a theater debut!) while trying to find each other again.

Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – These were completely predictable and totally charming. I love writing real snail mail letters, so I loved this collection of short stories that Montgomery wrote for newspapers and magazines.

The Holy Bible (*****) – John and beginning to dive into Psalms. I’ve been reading through the four Gospels over and over this year, but felt I needed to dig into Psalms for the rest of the year.

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Monday Ponderings {March 11th}

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{Summer beauty found in weeds}

Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord”. It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

p. 61

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