Gratitude & Glories: {1st & 2nd weeks of October}

Hello, Dear Friends! Forgive me for catching up a wee bit, the days fly by in a beautiful blur and I’m so thankful for them. Here’s what I’ve been so grateful in these autumnal drenched days of October…

:: beautiful trips away :: belated anniversary celebrations :: stern wheel paddle boat chain of lakes tour :: cabin-living :: steak, asparagus, and cheese dinners :: sweet & spicy tea sipping while watching a sappy, but sweet film called “Song of the Heart” ::

How can Love lose doing of its kind Even to the uttermost?

~ E. Arnold, The Cloud of Witness

:: early mornings with coffee and soaring pines at the cabin :: resurrecting writing dreams :: Amy Harmon’s Instagram videos, so lovely, poetry and encouragement :: gorgeous, still, pine-drenched smelling heaven outdoors :: a day shopping thrift and bookstores in big city with hubby, something we rarely do :: Cost Plus World Market, I love just window-shopping there :: Half-Price Book pursuing :: going out for Mexican food with my brother and sister-in-law and their two sweet girlies ::

Happy is he, Of whom (himself among the dead

And silent) this world shall be said:

– That he might have had the

world with him,

But chose to side with suffering Men,

And had the World against him!

~Elizabeth Barret Browning, The Cloud of Witness

:: Anna Karenina and Edith Wharton Ghost Stories :: late breakfasts :: mural admiring in a little town :: small local book store I visit every year :: coffee and stroll on enchanting covered bridge, admiring fiery and gold- drenched leaves next to the river :: an after dinner bonfire and tea :: chuckles at cheesy Nicholas Cage film that I love, “National Treasure” :: huge gathering of Great Egrets in a little wood as we drove, stopping to observe them ::

:: reading new-to-me Susan Cooper, Boggart, on way home :: orchard stop for big boxes of apples to bring the children :: new fresh month, with no mistakes in it :: devotions, Macbeth enjoyment with the kids :: teaching three of the children to make apple pie from scratch :: watching lovely gnome crafting videos on youtube ::

:: drying out my devotional materials after half a cup of coffee got dumped into them – they survived! Yay! :: visiting grandparents and bringing them a homemade apple pie :: getting to plant my mom some daffodils for spring :: ham and mash potatoes dinner well-received by hungry children :: planting 100 white daffodils with my 6 yo in honor of a line from a beautiful Jane Kenyon essay, the anticipation and tangible act of ‘practicing resurrection’ :: hubby and older children to a friend’s graduation party :: reading afternoon, fun book I won on Instagram ::

:: stopped to see and admire a stone angel headstone at a cemetry on our way to church, she is so sweet and represents something intangible to me. I couldn’t read the inscription except the year of 1912 :: a Sunday evening bonfire with hotdogs and smores for the children, singing, and admiring the stars :: wearing my huge, thrifted pink parka, getting a laugh out of the family for my coldness and weird 😉 style :: baby boy looking darling in his hat and flannel, he and the Saber-Toothed Tiger cat enjoyed one another ::

But when that which is perfect has come,

then that which is in part will be done away.

~The Holy Bible

:: laughs and improvising as we forgot to get our gas filled with the unseasonably warm temperatures, thinking up meals for cooking on griddles, grills, and in the Instapot was fun, in hindsight 😉 :: meeting up with my sister and chatting for hours :: crockpot chicken nachos for the save :: friend’s bonfire for some of our crew, volleyball included :: beautiful morning walk with children, talking about some of the themes in Macbeth :: Charlotte Mason online Zoom class with other moms talking, so refreshing :: late night film with my oldest daughter :: leaf prints by older children for our homeschool community group :: snuggles with baby boy :: You’ve Got Mail w/baby when he felt a bit sick :: gorgeous, warm weather :: library trips with oldest daughter surprising others with ice cream ::

:: older boys and dad on church retreat together :: hearing the news that precious one is ok after a medical scare :: hanging out with friends with my younger four :: continuing on a health journey for 10 months now (!), December will be my 1 year anniversary, so very grateful for the weight loss, better habits, and mental clarity :: gorgeous wind in leaves and sunlight dappled over afternoon :: watching a new version of “The Secret Garden” with my daughters, mom, and sister, enjoying my sister’s delicious chicken tacos together ::

:: butternut and spaghetti squash :: rereading The Hobbit weekends :: rollerskating with friends :: tennis matches for oldest :: rainy, drippy breakfast dates out for hubby and I :: big, fluffy, cream-ish 😉 colored sweaters :: hot, tasty decaf late at night :: two glorious hours of working on ACTUAL writing of my children’s story :: pouring over notes and dipping into lovely, inspiration from my stacks :: muted browns and golds shivering in the wind and rain :: glorious swirl of leaves in rearview mirror, I always look back :: going through a shower of leaves under a tree :: a beautiful autumn season to relish in ::

Be steadfast, immovable,

always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

~The Holy Bible

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 {4th week of August}

IMG_20200828_160846_396

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}

20200818_181230

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}

20200728_071826

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 ~

20200814_080440

~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}

20200802_094912

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 ~

20200803_122400

~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” ~

20200803_160901

~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 ~

20200805_184236

~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

20200209_101101

{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!

~

Wild and Windy: Memoir Minute

20200331_063158

Wild and windy. The old windowpane drums and clanks fighting the wind’s tug and pull. The baby whimpers. I scoop up his soft, warmness and pull him close to my heart. Another tug and pull, his nursing gulps, his cold feet curling into my stretched belly, his little hands on my side are all mixed in with the howling drumbeats. I cuddle us deeper down into the duvet. A warm, firm hand comes from my husband’s side. My hair smoothed back softly by these strong, work-worn hands.  The shakes, rattles, and rolls are strangely comforting. We are inside this big, square lug of a house, four walls around us, and the yanking, wind trying to say something. At least it’s a sheltered listening that we are doing. Oh, the raw, unleashed beauty of the wind, its screams, whispers, and sometimes speaks still, small inklings. I love it even though its a bit looming at times. Riding on the back of this wind was a dust and tap of sugaring snow. Later, after I rise, I light candles, a dark glow creeping in with the dawn and spilling in the edges of the windows. Lamps, candles, and twinkle lights remind me of the Light that pierces all our wind-tossed darkness.  Foundation strong, windows secure, and the flickering light shining in the midst of it all. ~

 

March Reads

30A4116F-D305-4902-9ECE-A5DF6423A411

{A bit of spring Tasha Tudor Cheer}

How are you all holding up? Our day-to-day life here hasn’t changed all that much, but of course we miss family, friends, and activities. I was in a bit of a reading slump in February due to traveling (seems a lifetime ago!), but I was able to finish a lot of things this past month and I was happy to touch all of my 2020 categories.

Carbonel: The King of the Cats by Barbara Sleigh (*****) – I believe I actually finished this in February but forgot to mention it! I really enjoyed this cute Middle Grade story about a little girl who buys a retiring witch’s broom and cat, resulting in many adventures. It had all the lovely bits a children’s book should have and most older British children’s books do so well…mysterious old houses, lovely market places, delicious food, and home-i-ness. All the relationships in this book were done so well, too…not perfect, but loving. This was just a delight to read. There are at least two more in this series, so if I can get my hands on them, eventually I’d like to read them! 

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer (**) – I was looking for a light Jane Austen-ish type read and usually Heyer is good for this, but this one was repetitive and the secondary main character was super annoying. I’d recommend staying away from this one. Ha!

Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux by Heather King (****) – This is a memoir of sorts, full of thoughtful insights about the idea of living God’s love out in our everyday moments. This book was written from a Catholic perspective, but as a Protestant, I still was able to glean some challenging and beautiful ideas from King. A good book leading up to Easter.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (***) and Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (****) by Jessica Townsend – I found these two Middle Grade books in the Nevermoor Series a lot of fantastical fun. Morrigan Crow has been born under a curse and won’t live to see her eleventh year of life. A mysterious man, Jupiter North turns up, telling her that that is not true, that she has been chosen to participate in a contest to win a place in the elusive Wundrous Society. The first one was a little confusing on the characters and we didn’t get to know them better until the second book. If you can just read for sheer fun, not expecting anything deep, then these might be a light diversion for you.

Echo Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright (***) – This is a time-split suspense story following an unsolved murder in a small town post WWII. A creepy dollhouse aids in the solving of the crime, which I thought was intriguing and I was surprised by who committed the murder. Otherwise, I didn’t love the 1940’s story line and in the modern story line, the main protagonist, Aggie, was so hysterical, that I found it hard to like her.

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad (***) – This has taken me FOREVER to finish and I finally was able to skim through the last bit. This memoir centers around a journalist who spends time living and following the lives of a bookseller and his family living in Kabul. I loved getting to know the various family members and learning more about a part of the world I’m unfamiliar with, however, sometimes it was hard to know how Seierstad was able to be privy to so much of the internal thoughts and feelings of the family. There is definitely a note of sorrow running through this and again I felt a bit torn to whether this was legitimately from the family or an outsider looking into a culture completely unlike her own. It was well written, though, and overall I did enjoy it.

The Youngest Miss Ward by Joan Aiken (*****) – If you love Jane Austen fan fiction, you may enjoy this one! As long as you remember, Aiken is not Austen. This story follows Harriet Ward, the supposed much younger sister of Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris of Mansfield Park. She is sent away to live with relatives as she’s deemed in the way and an irritation to all in her home, except her dying mother. This has a surprising twist to it and I found it to be pretty deep and well written. Or maybe I’m just a Joan Aiken fan from her children’s books. Perfect, light read!

No Other Kind of World: Poems by Jeff Hardin (*****) – I picked this Tennessean’s poetry up on our trip south in February and wasn’t disappointed. These were beautiful and otherworldly. Highly recommend!

Castle on the Rise by Kristi Cambron (***) – This is a three way time split inspirational historical romance. Cambron does a wonderful job with making you feel like you are in Ireland. I loved the natural and setting descriptions. There is a depth of details to Cambron’s stories and I appreciate that…not as surface-y. I knew nothing about Ireland’s history presented in this story and it was a fascinating look at their 1916 uprising against England.  I think she did a wonderful job with character development, for the most part. The romance in the modern time period felt a bit fast and throughout the book felt a bit meh or cliche-ish, but overall, I enjoyed these three women’s connected history.

A Finder’s Magic by Philippa Pearce (***) – I grabbed this off of my book shelf one afternoon as I really enjoyed Tom’s Midnight Garden, last year. This one was overly simplistic, but I really loved the illustrations by Helen Craig. A boy looses his dog mysteriously and a magical old man comes to help find him.

Emil in the Soup Tureen by Astrid Lindgren (***) – This follows the story of a mischievous little boy, Emil and his adventures and again it’s the illustrations here that REALLY shine. Bjorn Berg’s delightful black & white inked detailed drawings of the farm, nature, and children are just scrumptious. Lindgren is known for her Pippi Longstocking adventures, also.  I may read this one with my younger children as it has some funny moments!

Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (*****) – This was our February classics read along pick over at Instagram and I finished it up on the last day of March. The second half of this book picked up for me and was glad as the beginning slogged a bit. This book follows the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings living in a mill, near the River Floss. Misfortune and intrigue follow them, as their father looses the mill to creditors, and this book had a sad overtone to it. I felt like the main things I walked away with was how parents shape their children in so many ways, how important love and affection are in family relationships, and how a weak will may seem like not that big of a deal in a child, yet can turn out to be our greatest handicaps as adults.  I found the family feeling of responsibility interesting in this story. I found this story so much easier to engage with then Middlemarch.

Holy Bible (*****) – 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter. I’ve also been reading in Psalms and meditating on the I AM statements in John.

 

My favorites from this month were: Shirt of Flame, The Youngest Miss Ward, Mill on the Floss, and No Other Kind of World: Poems ~ how about you? Did you read, listen to, or watch anything exceptionally great? I’d love to hear!

~

 

Monday Ponderings {March 9th} Match-Striked Dawns

20200210_064809

Only Heaven is better than to walk with Christ at midnight over moonlit seas.

~B.M.

 

Trial ever consecrates the cup

Wherefrom we pour the sacrificial wine.

~Lowell

 

The Cloud of Witness

 

Fragments of these quotes have been tumbling around in my head lately. My heart skips from the idea that being shrouded in the blackness of life with Christ is the very next best thing to being with Him in Heaven. A profound reshifting of how I view the sorrows and trials of life. Weariness and relational pressures build like the dirty, greasy dishes in the sink. Yet I can choose to see the precious, discarded, darling pint-sized blue and green gingham shirt on the bathroom floor as evidence of a vibrant, earnest 5 year old boy I get to love.  Irritations war within me over snippy words, grating like the large dental bill opened recently. But the pleasant ‘thawp, thwap’ sound of our USA map blowing as the furnace kicks in below, visible heat and friendly sounds warming me inside and out. Hope drains away quickly like the last dregs of my coffee, if I glance at the waves instead of gazing into the piercing Eyes of strength. His hand outstretched through the darkness towards me. Deadlines, half written schedules, tensions between to-dos and to-creates, crumpled recipes, all pile like the dead, sodden, end-of-winter, depressing leaves out under the tree. Leaves not unlike the potato peels all over the floor, a child-like outlook that I so wish I could grab onto, saying this was the “best job ever” – peeling potatoes with mom. Potato-peelings of life moments are glorious if I can look at them anew, through a filter of child-like honesty and without cynicism.

I want to look at life through the simple delight of a deeply, simple but gorgeous painting found thrifting for a dollar – a fresh, haunting blue, sheep on a hillside – He comes for me, that one, lost wandering sheep, a mother floundering in a midnight, blackness of soul. He holds me safe around His shoulders, quieting my incessant bleating and trembling. His beautiful truths of how much He truly loves me, filtering down through the cobwebs and endless muck of my emotions and pressures of this world. He delights in giving me good, tangible gifts, yes, earthly things like moist, spicy chicken and buttery broccoli, deeply lashed pooled blue baby eyes to stare deeply into, piercing my brown ones. Gifts of little rivulets of melting ice, dribbling, merrily and softly down the side of the street, speaking, no whispering hope and spring to the heart and soul, a knowing that it will come again. The grave cannot hold hope for long  –  I know so, because of the jonquils everywhere in the wild as we traveled south recently – shards of joy piercing deep their yellow welcome,  cutting up through the thick, leathery folds of my dry, skin heart.

Those pudgy little boy feet, with one sock on, one off, moments that culminate in this heart whisper that “Jesus is here RIGHT now” with you, Amy. Even in the messes, misunderstandings, the doors of the van of life spilling out paper wrappings, petrified apple cores, and crumpled socks. Not unlike the refuse twisting and turning inside, frantically trying to recycle into anything redeemable. Ice melting, last bits of snow sifting down from branches, trial and triumph, hatred and hope, a mixture of drinks to sip from this deep cup of life…nothing immediately good can be seen or felt in these times of emotional  graveyard, but through these dry bones are rising brilliant match-striked dawns of joy.

Wait for it, Amy.

~

Sunrise, Sunset

20200207_171056

Sunrise on oatmeal breakfasts, a newly-minted 15 year old’s birthday, on morning visits to friends that live 45 breathtaking minutes away, the grand, barrenness of the trek striking me with joy and a sigh. Sunset on our beloved Arabian’s life, his old age catching us not unawares but a bit unready to say goodbye, sunset on candlelit dinners, the dishes waiting for the dawning of day. Sunrise on my parents 41st anniversary,  and water park days with dad, tickets a gift from a beloved Great Aunt.  Sunset on lingering moments with book stacks, french toast and bacon dinners, and canvas tepee sleepovers in girl’s bedroom. Sunrise glittering across icy driveway, faint light creeping around corners of house. Sunset ushering in full moon, unseen from main windows, reflection glimmering  off cars, buildings, soft, blue glow enveloping the night. Sunrise joining the flicker of early morning candlelight and twinkle lights, bursting brightness into the house, glinting off that never-ending pile of dishes to be washed. The dry, chapped mother hands dipping in suds, listening to Mill on the Floss, towel over arm. Sunset bringing husband and son with a large load of bright, red apples from storage, children’s eyes sparkling and grins over a favorite fruit. Sunrise on devotions, The Golden Key, and Book of Luke, as we lick our breakfast spoons. Sunset on reservations, travel plans being finalized, and new {green 🙂 } glasses ordered.  Sunrise on nursling’s cries and a mother’s kettle steaming, books, lists, and words to soak into soul. Sunset on harsh words, fights about our beloved Playmags {of all things!}, and uncleaned crumbs. Sunrise slowly coming earlier and earlier, darkness being pushed back, ghostly blue blackness being parted aside, and a warm, friendly light peeking around the edge of the curtain. Sunset on bad habits, out of ordered affections, and worry, hopefully. Sunrise, the new dawn on a new day, a newer month, one week old already, oh the possibilities. If I listen and notice. Sunset on library trips, babysitting jobs for my oldest daughter, mentoring Zoom meetings for a teacher mom, and soup lunches at church. Sunrise, sunset on the first week of February.

Sunrise, sunset. 

~

Monday Ponderings- Keep Your Clocks Wound {February 3rd}

20200131_163956

…we must daily keep things wound: that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain. We may not always be able to make our “clock” run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound, so that it will not forget. ~ Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

Sunshine has spilled for two and half days in a row, albeit a bit spotty. On Saturday, I stood still near my kitchen window, gingham curtains brushing my elbows, hands wrapped around my hot coffee cup. I lifted my face, eyes closed to its warmth bathing me. Yesterday, I noticed a flicker of it through the tree branches, slanting through the window, and landing on the back of the church pew. It blinked and bowed, dancing across the wood grain just like a prayer.  This time of year we think of the coming of the spring, as we angle half past through the blinding white and the equally blinding darkness towards greenness and light.  Thinking on the L’Engle quote, it’s hard work to keep our many “clocks” wound and things going, especially in the darkness. Then the sunset itself was hopeful last night, a promising gift of purples, pinks, and pungency. There is often just the right amount of grace for the moment if I take time to look hard, peering through the dimness. This morning, I found myself up in the early black with baby,  then hands deep in dish bubbles, and my audio book. As the morning knocked, the sky grew lighter and lighter…mismatched to my heaviness over words that I was repeating in my head. Words have power, just as light does. Words sink down into our souls, whereas light shines up, around, out, and through.  The sunshine is good medicine though, when wading through dishes, desperate moments, and peeling back the inner onion layers (more on this later). Sunshine therapy at its finest, a moment or two of clarity, and the click clack of keys to catch it before it floats away into the air.

~