Gratitude & Glories {2nd week of September}

I’m thankful for this week…

~sugar-free BBQ in crockpot and sweet corn from a friend to cook up after church ~ a surprise 40th birthday party for my dear friend and she was very surprised ~the hardness of pressing through exhaustion, only to walk away with a blessing of good conversation after, I love that feeling! ~ my children getting to spend time at their friend’s home ~ baby’s crib being moved into the big boy’s room, bittersweet, but nice to have a quiet retreat, too ~

~ a lovely 18th wedding anniversary, early morning canoe ride and picnic in a little alcove on the lake, which we promptly dubbed Amos and Amy’s Anniversary Alcove. HA! 😉 ~ fajitas for lunch and a downtown walk around, taking some beautiful photos of old building details, flowers, patterns, and a green door ~ a lovely outdoor tree arboretum, which I adored and a thrifting stop~ countryside drive, taking more photos (trees! magical lanes! hay bales! my poor husband! 🙂 ) and soaking up views, and reading a bit of my thrift store book purchase ~ just falling into a soft, cozy bed and wiping the slate clean after long days ~

~ new, fresh mornings~ chilly, blanket weather beginnings ~ gorgeous flowers and trees on a long walk with the children to the little stream I call the “Withywindle” that’s just around a little bend in our road ~ caught in a shower at the end, my oldest saving some of her giggling, waterlogged siblings with the car, adventures are sweet together, are they not? ~ listening to grand music while nature sketching and journaling together, candle lit and tea brewing ~ just trying to remember how much I’ll miss the little hats, sweaters, and wet boots lying about when they are gone ~ picture book pile with my middles ~ interesting narrations and thoughts from all my children this week through the various books we are reading~ resting in my bedroom, working on little homemade Christmas gifts, while listening to Anna Karenina ~

~heat on for the first time this week, warmth and I love the friendly, ‘ole growl of the furnace coming around once again~ a lovely time out with my oldest daughter, my mom, and sisters to celebrate one of my sister’s 28th ~ laughing and reminiscing ~ my 8 yo playing so well with the baby ~ his belly and chubby little feet, so precious ~ the song “Find Me in the River”, a throwback from my teenage church group days, bringing comfort and memories ~ my oldest son gleefully making four loaves of bread, motivated by his long, hollow leg ~ afternoon school done, mom gets to read Thornyhold by Mary Stewart, what a cozy, light read, thanks for the recommendation, Katie! ~

~the return of chili in our menu, deliciously hot, daub of sour cream, sprinkle of cheese on top ~ the mismatched, thrifted, favorite dishes sparkling in the dinner candlelight, this very same light reflected in the eyes of my loved ones ~ pretty mugs filled with favorite coffee or tea, my go-to lately being Sweet & Spicy by Good Earth, something about the warmth of hot drinks this time of year, huh? ~ thinking about a book I just finished called The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller ~ perusing again The Private World of Tasha Tudor, so inspiring, from our library stack ~ lovely, thought-provoking devotional readings each morning from The Parables of Nature ~ short walk in gray weather, but beautiful after days of rain ~ zinnia, sunflower, and weed bouquets picked with my daughter, noticing dew drops on the face of the sunflower, what a face ~ late raspberries on bush ~ homemade pizza made for the children, jazz serenading our dinner ~ my BIL coming down for a visit, a dear daughter making a bed for him ~ gifted watermelons from grandpa ~

~ reorganizing and cleaning out my room, nice soothing corners to cozy up in ~ piles to be donated, garbage thrown out ~ continuing to dip in my massive Anna Karenina with more tea, Saturday’s with rain are sublime ~ pile of pancakes made with my two little boys helping me, mini pancakes made for them to eat while they waited, simple things make them so HAPPY ~ chicken “nachos” thrown into the crockpot, the smell permeating the house while the rain continues to drip, drip ~ a laughing boy comes up from our old, flooded (reoccurring issue) basement, dubbed the “fire swamp”, talking of leaping from “rock to rock” avoiding the swamp-y-est parts ~ laughter over messes is a thing to be thankful for, I guess, huh? 😉 ~ pumpkin muffins with melting butter for the all the children, extra in our freezer for our first homeschool co op meeting coming soon of the year ~ pages printing out for our new poet, I’m privileged to share her with our group soon ~ a husband who knows how to fix the above printer when it jams 😉 ~ for honestly, just sitting down, after a long week to type out this list, it makes me see, really see ~

So blessed~

What are you thankful for right now? I’d love to hear. Spread the joy. ~

{I was having technical difficulties this week. Sorry, no new photos to share.}

Gratitude & Glories {1st week of September}

~I am thankful for this week…

~ darling baby “reading” with the “click clack moo” cadence his Click, Clack, Moo book ~ postponed graduation party of a friend, so nice to visit for hours at a beautiful park ~ riding alone with my oldest to do an errand, uninterrupted time to chat ~ corn on the cob for dinner, sitting around and talking long with all the children ~ my husband playing Sheepshead with the children while I went to bed early~ letters of encouragement in the post ~ rereading my shelf, all the favorites that bring me so much joy ~ Pauline Banes illustrated end papers of Professor Tolkien’s words ~

~”walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit”, Holy Scriptures inspiring our first morning of formal back to {home}school ~ morning nature ramble for half hour after breakfast each day, poetry, devotions, and Scriptures ~ neat connections between Roman history and Hans Brinker of all things, by my oldest ~ sketching in our timeline journals called a Book of Centuries ~ reading of cow horn lanterns and time candles ~ all the lovely new books we cracked open~ hard adjustments, after all, first days are always that way, but good just the same ~

~elderberry syrup making by my 11 yo, Ella ~ convicting, helpful marriage reminders through an old book ~ one of my children working on a written narration from the Fairie Queen, really enjoying it ~ picnic table schooling in gorgeous, warm, flickering sunlight ~ watching an older version of Little Women with Greer Garson as Aunt March with my middles and littles. We really enjoy this version!

~Full gorgeous Corn Moon and very windy, my wind chimes singing away ~ seeing the lovely Butter-n-Eggs on our nature ramble, among many favorite late summer flowers~ drove older two for bank errand, post office stop, and ice cream scoop, very fun albeit, I’m a nervous wreck about number 2 driver’s ed student 😉 ~ Benjamin (6 yo) helping me make beef and brown rice for supper ~ Redwall or an OZ book being read in evenings before bed ~ old pair of jeans dug out and cut up, making slings, love when they get creative with what’s on hand ~ my 13 yo enjoying a video Latin program we are trying out ~

~starting earlier, getting done earlier, so we have time to do our own things ~ reading out on the lawn chair in the sun ~ our old folksong and hymn CDS being taken out and listened to, just like meeting with old friends again ~ lots of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong while we work in journals or on copywork ~ a beloved daughter begging to read just a little bit more of The Secret Garden ~ delicious bucket of garden fresh tomatoes and basil from my brother and sister-in-laws garden ~ date out for a moon filled sky and cheese burger and veggies ~ new book in the post, Romancing the Ordinary, that looks lovely ~ apple, grape, and late raspberry snacks from our orchard ~ getting a big clothing/porch/storage area cleaned and organized while beginning to listen to Anna Karenina ~

So much to be thankful for this week! How ’bout you?

Gratitude & Glories {4th week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~a few days at the cozy cabin, beating the surprise heat wave ~ gorgeous drive and rereading The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery ~ baby’s happiness to be out of the van and running up and down the hall, his short, stubby legs tooling around ~ children building in the sand, burying one another, and swimming ~ napping ~ dropping off Amos and some children for a tubing run, driving in silence to the pick up point, gorgeous sun and quiet, riverside ~ seeing a Kingfisher twice! ~ bonfire smell and crackle ~ delicious peaches with my breakfast ~ rainy, but cool, romance-tinged air in-between rain showers ~ canoeing on a lovely little lake…so peaceful ~ wooden bridges and pines ~ glass-like lakes reflecting the sky and treeline~ green everywhere ~ lilypads ~ oldest son dragging us through a shallow connecting inlet, laughs all around ~

 

~ hard days that drive us to our knees, humbling this mama ~ catching up on piles, so satisfying ~ new Christmas book arriving in the post, can’t wait to share it with the children ~ early morning prayer and reflection time ~ commonplacing quotes that I’ve read for further reflection and meditation ~ picking a bouquet of flowers and weeds for the table with my Ben ~ a library poetry book and CD listened to over and over again, delighting us all ~ library pickup again, checking out The Mouse Mansion yet again and may need to make our own mouse house, a good autumn/winter project possibly ~ Ella, Phoebe, Benjamin, and Gideon helping me make homemade pizza and zucchini pizza, candle lit, and little hands shredding cheese so chubby and sweet ~ my husband’s invitation to go out and watch the lightening with him, he knows I love the wild and windy approaching of a storm, just what I needed to blow away a case of cobwebbys! ~ last dates to local drive-in cafe before it closes for the season, love their coleslaw~

 

~a morning thunderstorm welcoming Friday in ~ some older children not going to work and helping me purge, rearrange, and spruce up our homeschool supply closet, living room, and library a bit ~ encouraging vlogs and little tidbits I’m reading here and there, preparing my heart and mind for school beginning next week ~ the way the wind whipped my sunflowers and the apples in the orchard, the black willows gorgeous in the sunlight ~ cooler weather rolling in today ~ Ella and Phoebe getting to spend time with a beloved grandma and friends, swimming and playing games ~ haircuts for three of my boys, so good to see their eyes again 😛 ~ Louis Armstrong and blog perusing ~ and look at this lovely mug on sale! ~ continued regular afternoon tea set up by my Ella ~ barn swallows still swishing and swooping my spirit up, up, and up ~ goldenrod bouquets on my book table ~

How was your week? I’ll leave you with this lovely quote that I jotted down in my commonplace journal ~

“As August comes to her slow and dreaming end, the air has a special smell, the smell of ripening, the smell of drying hay, the smell of the piney woods in the cool of the evening. The strange rusty smell of marigolds and the prickling odor of zinnias, and so exciting to breathe it all in! I do not, ever, like ends. I like beginnings and rich plump middles, but ends are always sad. Of all the ends in this old unquiet world, though, the end of summer is one of the best. For the first small throb of color in the swamp maples in September is a fine thing to behold. And the first nip of the air on a golden morning is heavenly to feel after the languor of summer’s heat.”

~ Gladys Taber

Gratitude & Glories {3rd week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~busy Sunday, full to the brim with a graduation of our two older boys from a scouting camp through our church ~ picnic and flea market moments, talking with a sweet woman from Chicago at park ~ free water park tickets from my husband’s aunt ~ time for me to run to JoAnn Fabrics and use up a coffee gift card, Iced Breve latte was so delicious ~ some ribbon for my new apron and felt for some Christmas softies for my middles/littles ~ new-to-us ping pong table, laughs on fitting it into our van ~ date with Amos to hash out some things, delish hamburger patty and veggies ~ gorgeous drive to a bungalow that some mom friends and I rented for a few days ~ cooking healthy meals for each other ~ tea, devotions, and prayer time ~ strolls through lovely neighborhoods, a favorite house with a lavish Zinna fence border ~ hiking, talking, and admiring lovely, expansive views ~coffee with healthy muffins, fruit, and yogurt parfait ~ small gifts from the friends, bags of veggies, helpful recipes and charts, and other little tokens to help on our health journey ~

~ my middle kids watching The Hideaways movie based on the book, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – some of my children loved this book, others disliked it and the movie brought a similar reaction, but fun all the same ~ loving new prayer app someone told me about and morning hush this week took on a new meaning to me, just introducing something fresh ~ lovely moments just laying out together on lawn chairs in shady, dappled light from our tree ~ my “outdoor” office as I try to wrap up school planning ~ sun-soaked breezy naps w/pillow and soft coffee-mug blanket outdoors ~ garage sale, finding a perfect fit of a book for one of my children’s school lessons for $2 ~ Joe’s Coconut coffee coming in the post, mmmmm ~ church outing, nice to see family and friends ~ trying new recipes, eating beets for the first time! ~ getting a good grocery list/menu plan down for the next few weeks ~ crafting with pretty washi tapes and nice, scritch scratchy pens, a third “draft” of my school ideas for the new year ~

~ a recommendation from a friend of a couple of lovely new-to-us picture books from the library we’ve been lingering over, Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost and Leonid Gore and Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor, highly recommend both~ catching and releasing a baby mouse, one daughter sketching it ~ oatmeal with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, a couple walnuts, and oh, the glorious PEACHES ~ writing a 4 page letter to a lovely pen pal ~ dipping in and out of a few books ~  continuing the resurrected afternoon tea time per my lovely 11 yo daughter who brews, bakes, and sets it all up ~

What wonderful slow wrap up this August has been to summer…not sure I’m quite ready to leave it! God is faithful! How did your week go?

~

Gratitude & Glories: {2nd week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~Sunday, early morn quiet, coffee, moon and stars, sure and steady, prayer, Bible & books ~ is it a boat or bowl? from a curved leaf conversation with Benjamin ~ rereading prayer journal entries, Jesus’ faithfulness~ 5 year journal, loving it ~ swallows and finches roosting in our ash tree in the evening before dusk, chirping and chattering and then going silent for the night ~ early morning chirping again, greeting the dawn ~ house wren pair ~ fog, sunrise, Queen Anne’s Lace ~ online Zoom picture study of Brueghel’s,  “The Preaching of St. John the Baptist” and discussion after it~

Pieter_Brueghel_The Elder - The Preaching of St. John the Baptish

~cuddling with 1 year old at 1:00 am as he plays with my face and eyelashes, his wide Precious-Moment-like eyes looking at me sweetly ~ explosion of Morning Glories on deck railing, never failing to encourage me, my own private little Anne-Blythe-Idlewild, if you will ~ listening to my sweet 11 yo on library pick up date and snuggling later with her on deck as we watch the stars ~ my husband getting out the telescope and telling me about how he and some children looked at the night sky and sketched some of what the saw ~ impromptu lunch picnic under the Honey Locust of delish chicken, zucchini, and brown rice stir fry ~ decaf cuppa of vanilla hazelnut in the afternoon ~ washing my face with rosemary lavender bar soap, so refreshing ~ looking at old Taproot magazines outdoors for crafting inspiration with my middle and little children ~ Christmas handmade planning beginnings, better start now, or they won’t get done ~ Queen Anne’s lace added to my nature journal ~

 

 

~delicious bits of atmospheric Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase (not one I’d 100% recommend, FYI), happily searching for the elusive type of read I love ~ the glow-y hour of the evening, looking silently at the chickens, baby boy and I ~ a friend recommending this podcast on addiction, sparking a lot of ideas and offering hope ~ pursuing some lovely domestic type books, especially my favorite one for creating inspiration ~ atmospheric soundtracks on Youtube ~ dragging out sewing machines with my middle and littles ~

 

 

~ working on organizing sewing/crafting items ~ little doll aprons ~ Noah passing written driver’s exam ~ school planning, almost done – surely have way too much on list, but will have to run it for awhile to see what needs tweaking ~ writing a long letter to a pen-pal ~ beautiful countryside passing by as I helped my husband move farm equipment around ~reading in car while waiting for boys to finish lawn mowing job, sipping coffee from ball jar ~ baking gingerbread biscuits (we felt in an autumn-ish mood) with Ella, Phoebe, and Ben for tea time and the freezer, used up a can of black treacle I had in cupboard ~ now I have the beautiful tin to find English Ivy to put in! ~ watching Miss Potter with kids that night and bringing out our collection of Beatrix Potter books to ooh and ahh over, the Hill Top photos in the movie bringing back my trip there in 2016, swoon ~

 

 

 ~ swooning over Lore Pemberton’s art, I was given a piece of her work for Mother’s Day this year and it’s just one of my favorite things EVER ~ concert done by the middles and littles for my husband and I, so wonderfully sweet and screechy at the same time 😉 ~ missing my older boys who are camping and oldest daughter who’s working and hanging with friends, but trying to let go and begin embracing different seasons ~ got a wonderful, awful idea about how to incorporate my love of writing and creating into one, can’t wait to get started ~ gorgeous thunderstorm last night ~

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~Exhausting, but GLORIOUS week in the Lord. So, so grateful! ~ How was yours?

“Stand in the ways and see,

And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,

And walk in it.

Then you will find rest for your souls.”

~ Book of Jeremiah

 

Gratitude & Glories: {1st week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

 ~a drive through dappled, morning sunlight, through hills, fields, woods, rereading Miss Read’s delightful Village School, a perfect pre-autumn school-ish inspirational read ~New Life Lavender’s Organic Shea Butter w/Lavender Essential Oil, soothing my eczema ~ wind chimes donging and tinkling peacefulness through the open window ~ a new, pale periwinkle type color of Morning Glory blooming Sunday morning ~ country drive with my husband that took us through new-to-us Amish homesteads ~ cool, almost autumn-ish feel to a brand, spanking new dewy morning ~ playing Schliech animals (a favorite toy here) with my 1 yo, Gideon ~ reading some timely and encouraging things in the Book of Numbers ~ crisp, buttery, whole wheat pancakes for the kids ~ reciting “Be Not Afraid” at breakfast with everyone, so inspiring ~ beginning the first Redwall book all over again with a new bunch of children ~ My daughter Ella and I finishing up the wonderful historical fiction book, Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit ~ nodding Queen Anne’s Lace and pale blue Chicory on the roadsides ~

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~morning walks with whatever kids are available and my husband ~ visiting a lavender farm, lavender ice cream, and lemon lavender tea, rosemary lavender soap purchased – a surfeit of lavender! ~ Zoom book study, looking at the Habits are Ten Natures section of Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1 with friends, wonderful discussions ~ 4:00 afternoon tea parties with the “Queen” ~

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~driver’s education test preparation, my 15 yo son’s gratitude for my help ~ library book pick up stacks with my middle son, uninterrupted conversation for a wee bit ~reading outdoors, under the Honey Locust~ chemistry books trickling in via the post, so thankful for living book recommendations from friends ~swinging baby and boy every afternoon in the balmy breeze ~ my 6 yo arranging the  garden tomatoes beautifully ~

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~errand date with son, little free library, pig feed pickup, drive-in ice cream, and Amish veggie stand for sweet corn ~ staying up late to watch an Avenger movie with two oldest ~ finishing The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel ~ broiling fresh sliced tomatoes with basil and a little cheese ~ clouds, black swallowtails, zinnias, hollyhocks, cosmos, barn swallows, and every other small bit of natural beauty gifted to us this week ~

What a blessed week ~ Thank You, Lord Jesus!

How was yours?

~

{I hope to make this a regular post on my blog as I want to live in a posture and attitude of gratitude, a form of ‘practicing resurrection’. These don’t mean my life is perfect and trouble free, but I’m choosing to focus on the good as a way to give thanks. Please join me on your blogs, in the comments, or on your own.}

July Reads

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{My younger children enjoy Tortuga}

Hello, friends! July was a good month of reading for me! Did you read anything great?

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson (*****) – A friend recommended this title and I wasn’t disappointed. Short, gorgeous reflections on sharing nature with children and keeping wonder alive. I highly recommend this one! I’m sad I waited so long as I tried to read her Silent Spring and found it a bit dry. I will be looking for her books about the sea soon.

Heidi’s Alp: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe by Christina Hardyment (*****) – This was a funny and heartwarming account of an English family and their friend’s trip through six countries in Europe in a camper-van (RV), searching for bits of their favorite stories. Hardyment’s beautiful writing lends magic to every page of this fascinating memoir as we walk along with some of the world’s beloved classics. We especially get to see things through the eyes of Hans Christian Anderson. The author does a wonderful job with the tension between the reality of travel with children and the simultaneous enchantment. I love how the accidental and mundane often beat out the super planned or touristy spots. So true! This is so lovely and inspirational and Hardyment’s extensive knowledge on the history of many fairytales, lore, origins of story, and details of different author’s lives are just the icing on the cake. Highly recommend this one!

Selected Poems of Helen Goodhue Ploeger edited by Phyllis Miller (***) – I received this as a birthday gift from a dear friend and I really enjoyed it. The simple, rhyming poems  revealed the poet’s love of place, especially the desert and her eye for small bits of beauty were lovely. I enjoyed her desert and other nature poems the best. This book also had a beautiful, aged-feeling paper and luxurious cloth cover.

“Night Magic”

There’s magic in the summer night for me

In California deserts

High in the mountain tops

Or down along the peaceful sea.

 

There was a time when nights seemed sad & lonely

And all the gleaming stars

A gentle, patient moon.

Seemed not for hope, but sadness only.

 

Why is it now, that there is only magic 

And musical harmony

In the summer night?

‘Tis I who changed, night is not tragic.

 

~Helen Goodhue Ploeger

 

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel (****) – This was a fascinating look at libraries throughout history. Manguel looks at them through the lenses of myth, order, space, power, shadow, chance, workshop, mind, island, survival, oblivion, imagination, identity, and home. Aren’t those chapter titles intriguing? This is academic while being conversational. A book really about books by looking at how we store and collect them. Manguel had some very interesting ideas, quotes, and unique ways of looking at why books and libraries are so important to us. He intertwines this with little stories of his own library’s creation in the French countryside. Each chapter opens out with thought provoking quotes, which I loved and jotted a few down. The importance of reading really comes home in that we become a world citizen through the eyes of the world’s books. I recommend this book!

Those who read, those who

tell us what they read,

Those who noisily turn

the pages of their books,

Those who have power over

red and black ink,

and over pictures,

Those are the ones who lead us

guide us, show us the way.

 

~Aztec Codex from 1524

Vatican Archives

 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (***) – This Pulitzer-winning title is sort of inexpiable. Lines of extreme beauty mixed with stream-of-conscience nonsense understood possibly by only Dillard herself. This book is a woman’s rambles through the natural world around her home and local creek as she examines deep questions on death, life, faith, humanity, the natural world, and our souls. Her writing takes deep concentration and sometimes it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. It reminds me of a prose sort of Gerald Manley Hopkins. This title literally took me YEARS to finish, but I’m so glad I did, as reflecting back on all the time with this, I feel I was richly rewarded in ideas and beauty. Definitely not a quick read, but I recommend for the beauty seeker who doesn’t want to loose their sense of wonder in the infinitely small miracles of this world. It may be one I might try to reread someday.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (**) – I was looking for fiction that has a certain feeling to it and this was recommended to me. Do you ever try to find a story based on the stories you’ve loved the feel of or atmosphere? I really enjoy home-y, cozy type fantasy or regular fiction with elemental magic or at least a nod to the spiritual world. This book follows the story of Elena, a vine witch. The idea that each vineyard has a special witch that is connected to the earth and vines was uniquely and creatively done. This book was well-written and fast paced, good setting and character development. Just way too dark for my tastes, the occultism themes being very heavy. The romance was so stereotypical and too focused on the sexual for me. I liked the story idea in theory, but in the end this wasn’t what I was looking for. I don’t recommend this one.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (****) – Last month, I read Romanov by this author of YA fantasy. This one I liked better! It was a fast paced unique retelling of the historical Guy Fawkes Gunpowder plot set in 17th century London. Thomas Fawkes has the stone plague and finds himself expelled from his school. He travels to London to find his long absent, infamous father and gets involved in the plot to blow up the King. I found Brandes use of magical color power very creative and changing the political and religious tensions into color/magic tensions was brilliant. Only one small quibble was that I wasn’t clear on who to root for at times. The White Light was so mysterious it confused me. Overall, I enjoyed this story better than the first I read by this author.

The Holy Bible (*****) – Leviticus, almost finished with Isaiah, and slowly meditating on John.

What a wonderful month of feeding my soul! 🙂 Hope your reading has been fantastic lately! Let me know!

~

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 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!

~

 

Monday Ponderings { June 20th}

20200527_082058No stream from its source

Flows seaward, how lonely soever its course,

But what some land is gladden’d! No star ever rose

And set, without influence somewhere Who knows

What earth needs from earth’s lowest creature?

No life

Can be pure in its purpose and strong in its strife,

And all Life not be purer and stronger thereby!

The spirits of just men made perfect on high –

The army of martyrs who stand by the Throne

And gaze into the Face that makes glorious their own-

Know this, surely, at last! Honest love, honest sorrow,

Honest work for the day, honest hope for the morrow,

Are these worth nothing more than the hand they

make weary, –

The heart they have sadden’d, – the life they leave dreary?

Hush! the sevenfold Heavens to the voice of the Spirit

Echo: “He that o’ercometh shall all things inherit!”

 

~Lytton, p. 320

The Cloud of Witness

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June Reads

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It’s July already. Wow. Here is what I read in June. A busier month for us and after my book hangover from all my fun May reads, it was a bit quieter.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (****) – slightly snobby-ish 😉 reflections on books and the book life – I especially loved how much her and her parents and sister lived a life of books. I loved her reflections on used books. Big head nod and kinship to the importance of reading in her life and there is a nice list of OTHER books about books in the back, if you can follow that. 😉

Romanov by Nadine Brandes (***) – a unique YA retelling of the historical Russian story of the infamous tsar’s abdication and lockdown of the their family mixed with fantastical magic. This was creative and full of lovely details with a good plot. I loved the spell ink/magic aspect of this version. I especially loved the mysterious magician and would have loved more of him. I couldn’t really see in my mind’s eye the characters or settings very well, which frustrated me at times. I felt a teeny bit dissatisfied with ending, but overall, this was solidly entertaining and a page turning story. I would love to try some of this author’s other YA stories.

Kindling by Nevil Shute (***) – This was about a wealthy businessman who life is a lonely, workaholic blur. His marriage is dissolving and his health terrible. He ends up finding himself getting an emergency surgery in a small, economically depressed coastal village. As he recovers, he befriends many of the locals and imagines how he could bring capital to the area to revitalize the place. He starts to care for the people and wants to infuse life into the area. He ends up helping in ways that trickle down, but aren’t entirely legal. He pays heavily in the process, but the act of selflessness restores his peace and health. This has some very outdated/potentially offensive themes and probably is too simplistic in many ways, but there’s no denying that it was inspirational.

Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – this was a reread for me. One of my favorites of the whole series. The big Blythe family of children is just a joy and Anne and Gilbert’s marriage is lovely and sweet. The domesticity and nature sentiments are just so beautiful.

The Soul’s Habitation by Grethen Hayward Sousa (****) – strange, very specific and introspective poetry collection. Sousa is a master at unique metaphor and very specific details that still lend to an uncanny universal appeal or meaning to her words. I especially loved any and all poems on aging, contemplating life after death, or on growing older. Some favorites, “Fishing For More Than Bait,” “Bathing Elsa,” “The Taming of Time,” “and others.

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori (****) – I found this a fascinating look at trees around the world. This included extensive beautiful illustrations. I loved the folktales and lore surrounding the trees. Just so interesting. This would be a lovely gift for a nature lover in your life. Highly recommend!

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (*****) – a lovely overview of the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy. I’ve reread this gem many times and I just am always so encouraged.

The Holy Bible (*****) – finished Exodus, into Leviticus. Finished Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and am about half way into Isaiah. Also reading through the Gospel of John.

What did you read last month? Anything that jumped out to you? Any July reads you are loving?

~

 

Gretchen Hayward Sousa’s poem in honor of my 40th Birthday…

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Morning Psalms

Say my heart gallivants with gratitude

as I awake to another day

where You improvise the story of my life.

Suppose I’m looking raggedy,

my body an heirloom,

soon relegated to the attic,

out of practice in the art of loving.

 

Say Jesus is a Forest Ranger

in a wide-brimmed hat – and I,

feeling lost, ask where do I go from here?

He reaches into a pocket, holds out

a compass. Must I find my own way?

It ticks, no – thumps. Stunned,

my eyes connect with his.

 

You conjure up rain,

shaking the leaves like tambourines,

pelting the rooftops. I, dry as a wishbone,

relish the sound as if it were

your heartbeat. Coffee in hand

I nestle back in bed – listening

as the thrum ignites the silence.

Say You are that fire and rain

in which I live and move and have my being.

 

The Soul’s Habitation, p. 77

 

{Today is my 40th birthday. I can’t say exactly why I love this poem, why it feels just perfect for this milestone birthday…it feels too intimate to try and explain. I didn’t think this birthday would mean as much to me, or that I’d feel all the feels. But it does. The biggest emotion swelling in my heart is a profound gratitude for these 40 years of life. My greatest gifts are my relationships with my husband, children, friends, family and  faithful, precious Jesus. All the rest, the natural beauty I’m surrounded by, the shelves of pages to be turned, and the little glimpses of light and joy are just the buttercream on this rich, chocolate-y cake of life. I’m so thankful.}

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