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.}

~

May Reads {Part 2}

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As promised, here is the second half of my May finished reads. Whew! Maybe I need to do something other than read? 😉 Here is Part 1 if you missed it and are interested!

The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (*****) – I loved this Middle Grade/YA book even though I didn’t understand all of it and I suspect its based on some Welsh mythology that I’m not very familiar with. Totally had a book hangover with this one. Time travel, magic, and heroic children saving the world! Yay! Just perfect! Unbelievably, she had a character named Maxwell Hyde and I have a character named that in my children’s story I’m working on. So I’ll probably change his name, but it was so, so cool that I had a moment of the same creative brain as dear Diana Wynne Jones. This is one I may reread from time to time, so fantastically weird and creative.

Iron-Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill (****) – I mentioned reading another of Barnhill’s books here and being a bit disappointed, but still wanting to tackle her backlist. This was a lovely story about a princess and an insidious, ancient evil creeping about the castle. It used mirrors and a flattering tongue of lies to get free of its jail and rule the worlds. With the help of friends and a dragon, Princess Violet overcomes the control this evil god has on her and saves her people. The only part I didn’t love was when Nymbus had control of Violet and I had no one character to really root for, except maybe the dragon. Overall, I loved this story!

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (*****) – This was a recommendation from Mr. Blackwell and I was highly anticipating it! It didn’t disappoint. The perfect combination of beautifully, unique metaphor and a lovely story. A young girl grows up in a lovely and unconventional childhood with an eccentric bachelor. She was rescued from a ship wreck and begins a lifelong search for her mother, following the cello music that seems to connect them. A band of street children who live on the rooftops of Paris join her search. Lovely!

Papa’s Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn (*****) – Just so encouraging! The fictionalized tale of a Swedish minister’s family from the mother’s point of view. A family of 8 children and the inspiring and heartwarming happenings as they immigrate to America. I got this recommendation from Karen Andreola’s book Mother Culture, I believe.

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin (*****) – I have been wanting to read this one for awhile and I finally did!  Lovely, mysterious retelling and intermingling of well-loved fairy tales. The illustrations are simple and sweet. The home-y-ness is so lovely. The animals, woods, and their home were stuff dreams are made of and the surprise ending was delightful.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (****) – an interesting mash up adventure of a boy named Odd and how he helps Odin, Loki, and Thor get back Asgard from a Frost Giant.

Digital Minialism by Cal Newport (*****) – This was an EXCELLENT book and just what I needed to read at the present. Mr. Newport raises so many questions to ask oneself about the quality of life we want to live and what role social media does or does not play into our answers. Timely and so important!

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson (*****) – I adored this book! It was full of mystery, nature, and folklore, and the House with the Chicken Legs returns to help them with transportation (from Anderson’s previous story)! The food/home-y-ness, working together with the animals, and the legends tied into Yanka’s story and her map was so well done. The half bear/human element of this story may feel a little strange, but it was interesting and I loved the Lime Tree aspect of the story. I liked that Yanka’s adopted mama made her a lovely skirt stitched with stories on it. There were so many little details to delight and I enjoyed this book immensely.

May was such a fun, light month of reading! ~

 

May Reads (Part 1)

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Hello Friends! How do your pages turn? 🙂 May was a fun month of reading for me and I finished a lot. Not sure if I hit all my monthly category goals, but I enjoyed so much of what I read. In other news, I’ve decided to leave Goodreads. It was beginning to be too much for me, albeit, I enjoyed some of the bookish friendships over there. Soooo, I am now analog for my book recording and reviews (well, besides here on the blog). It’s fun! Next year, I may get one of these for my recording my reading.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield (****) – The imagery in this novel was what I found fascinating and beautiful! The Thames river, flowing water, folk lore, and everything surrounding those things were written in such a lovely way. One might even say water was an important character of this story. There were some beautiful introspective lines and some fascinating, well-drawn characters. The story itself was strange, yet brilliantly done. The main story line is surrounding the supposed reappearance of a missing girl and the tension surrounding this was too high for too long for me. Often I felt unsatisfied and anxious, especially when I got bogged down in the draggy middle. There are many story lines and thankfully, they FINALLY converge in the end of the book. I’d say overall, I liked this one better than The Thirteenth Tale, but more for the gorgeousness of the writing than the story. This strikes me a little bit horror, creepy, and with sexual themes (not my usually cup of tea), but overall, I still did really like it. It’s one of those books you will be thinking about for awhile. If you want a long, immersive read with a darker, thought-provoking feel to it, you may like this one.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – This was a reread for me and I just loved it all over again. Anne and Gilbert are married and setting up their first home. They meet and grow to love their neighbors, Captain Jim, a lovely, old sailor who is the lighthouse keeper, Cornelia, the local busy body, man-hater ;), and Leslie, the mysterious, sad beauty who lives close by. I just love Anne’s garden, house, and the beach. Anne and Gilbert share a heart-wrenching loss and it’s so lovely to share in this intimate beginning part of their lives together. I loved Captain Jim’s book being written and published as well.

The Story Peddler by Lyndsay A. Franklin (*****) – I loved this Middle Grade/YA fantasy story. It was very creative. A young story teller creates living rainbow story threads out of her hands that end in a piece of art for keeping. She ends up in a plot to help free her kingdom from the tyrant ruling and finds a deep secrets about herself. I may read the other two in this series.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (****) – my older four children and I finished this play and we really enjoyed listening to the Archangel audio version of it. We found this intriguing and inspiring. It has piqued our interest in history surrounding these events. I want to revisit my Folger copy and jot down some quotes in my commonplace. We also enjoyed this movie of it here, FYI – preview before showing to younger children. (I’ve decided to start adding in a few favorites I’ve read with my children, occasionally here! I was inspired by Kortney!)

Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins (*****) – This has a 1990’s feel to it ;), but I loved it! It is lovely for any Avonlea die-hard fan. Recipes, facts, crafts, and sweet illustrations all about Anne and Green Gables. I plan to make an apron from a pattern in this book.

Mother Culture by Karen Andreola (*****) – This was my second time through this book and I really slowed down and enjoyed it. I jotted down many quotes and recommendations to follow up on. You can get it here, if you are looking for Christian mothering or home educating inspiration! Mrs. Andreola is lovely, wise, and gentle.

Stories of America, Volume 2 from Simply Charlotte Mason– we all really enjoyed these short chapters on American history up to “the war on terriosm” and the beginning of technology age. I started in the World Wars section and read to the end. I will return to this when we come back through history at the story of the Oregon Trail. This book was a little dated at the end, but I might check into Volume 1 for our history readings in autumn.

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (**) – this is SUCH a hard collection of short stories to review! It is grotesque and vile in some ways, especially some of the stories with their sexual, dark overtones. The writing though is AMAZINGLY magical and the creativity is astounding. This MUST be YA or Adult because it has horror themes in it. I picked this up because I loved Barnhill’s writing style in The Girl Who Drank the Moon which was a Middle Grade, so I was sort of shocked and surprised by these stories.  My favorites stories in the collection were “The Dead Boy’s Last Poem”, “Elegy to Gabrielle”, and “The Unlicensed Magician”. This deserves a closer look for me, I think, just to continue to learn the craft of superb writing. However, I can’t recommend it at all ESPECIALLY  not for children and I probably will only reread my favorites above. I can’t wait to read more of Barnhill’s backlist, however.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (*****) – WOW. This is an A-mazing book for creatives, especially writers, but for everyone. Basically: Do the Work. The End. I think this is my favorite writing book so far and I’ve read many. Highly recommend!

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling (*****) – A reread for me! I loved when Firenze rescues Harry in the Forest and I love how the three friends help each other to get through the “maze” and the creepy Voldemort (oops…He Who Shall Not Be Named) connection to Quirrell is definitely shiver inducing.

The Holy Bible (*****) – I finished Psalms and started Proverbs and read Genesis and some of Exodus. I love Genesis so much!

{I’m going to stop there and do a Part 2 of May 2020 Reads! Ha! I read SO many Middle Grade books this month, it was a pure delight, but LONG to put in one post. I’ll be back.}

What did you read last month that you loved?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing so fast

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“They were all growing so fast. In just a few short years they would be all young men and women…youth tiptoe…expectant…a-star with its sweet wild dreams…little ships sailing out of safe harbour to unknown ports. The boys would go away to their life work and the girls…ah, the mist-veiled forms of beautiful brides might be seen coming down the old stairs at Ingleside. But they would be still hers for a few years yet…hers to love and guide…to sing the songs that so many mothers had sung. Hers…and Gilbert’s.”

Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery

{Sigh. Thinking on seasons as a mother today. Hope your June has been as lovely and dreamy as mine. I hope to be back soon with my May Reads list. Hope your Thursday is sunshine-y, with blue skies, and wistful winds blowing through your curtains!}

 

~

Monday Ponderings {Happy June 1st}

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{Drops of dew, nature’s jewels and pools of light}

 

Reflecting on mothering and domestic artistry a bit this morning…

“Now you are deep in what seems to me a peculiarly selfless service. The spiritual training of children must be that. You work for the years you will not see. You work for the Invisible all the time, but you work for the Eternal. So it is all worthwhile.”

~Amy Carmichael

“Divine Service Conducted Here Three Times a Day.”

{The context of this was cooking meals. What a perspective shift! I may place this above my stove.}

~ Ruth Bell Graham

“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

~William Morris

{I believe these quotes came from the lovely book Mother Culture by Karen Andreola. I just finished my second reread through it and these were some encouraging things I jotted down.}

~

 

Monday Ponderings {May 25th}

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…’ it is only as we live in the ideals,’ says Bishop Wescott, ‘ that sameness of work does not become monotony of life. We cannot escape sameness of work if we wish to effect anything. The greatest achievement evolves itself out of endless petty and unnoticeable details; but, thank God, we need none of us suffer from that last dreariness, monotony of life. One thought of God, one glimpse of our ideal, and we go to work with renewed impulse and quickened powers, remembering that all the power of Christ is behind every scourge of small cords with which we would cleanse the defilement of our own hearts or of the world.

~ Charlotte Mason

Scale Howe Meditations, p. 88

Bold emphasis mine

{Thinking on obedience to our work, our callings,  and our stewardship here on this earth lately. A few of those things for me is obedience to the work of writing, my work as a mother, and my work as a lover and servant of God. Have you thought of your life as a work of obedience out of love?}

~

 

Monday Ponderings: {April 20th, Bodying Forth}

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Pen to paper, like fire to the flicker, coal to the lips, like basswood to the carving knife. Wordsmithing thoughts and ideas flare out. A billion brilliant poems seem to be written across the silky night sky, the Milky Way, dusting it for an extra frosting flourish. Jane Kenyon’s words echo between my ears, “the pressure of emotion, which many of us prefer to ignore, but for you,”…dear writer, she seems to say, holding her hand out and beckoning us in her open door, “is the very substance of your work, your clay.” The terra firma of it all, the LEGOs of words and the Lincoln Logs of spoken forth being. She goes on to weave more, the shuttle flying back and forth, the secret truth behind this tapestry called words. “There’s a need to make sense of life behind the impulse to write…,” minute moments become deeply remembered, the pebble dropped in, ever widening at the bottom of the well. An act of taking the swirling mass of murk and “bodying forth” the feelings as a co-creator to something potentially bigger than us. The very Word became Flesh and set up house here. The pens dipping and scratching, that ink pressed to the white tree pulp, tattooing, if you will, something sacred on our hearts. The Living Word. Just maybe our ink can drip, drop, trail, and trickle down through the cracks and crevices into the flow-age of our hardened hearts. Streams of black, inky living water. Echos of the Great Pen that dash off those diamond epics of the sky leaving an indelible mark behind forever.

{I highly recommend A Hundred White Daffodils by Jane Kenyon. ❤ Happy Monday!}~

 

Wild and Windy: Memoir Minute

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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. ~

 

Love which rode into town

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Oh, to be able to capture all the magic and mystery and enchantment I felt and heard in the air yesterday. Just like a shaft of sunlight cutting through the dust motes suspended in the air or wrapping itself in steam rising from hot coffee, this elusive fairy dust is on the wind. It is stuck in my throat, threatening to choke with riotous delight. Who knows how the Spirit moves, in the flutter and quick head-tilts of the birds chipping and pecking at or underneath the feeder. The bread crumbs I scattered or seeds in their little beaks…or the joy of the steady drip, drip of rain flowing over the edge of the roof, all a spring ode to time marching on. The smell of brownies coming hot and slightly gooey out of the oven, mixed by a new boy baker, his finger chocolate-dipped as he licks the edges of the bowl and boyhood. This approaching Good Friday shrouded in isolation and fear and maybe not unlike a tiny fraction of the absolute loneliness felt by a Son from His Father’s avoidance. A plague settled on Him so grim and so contagious, a scapegoat was exposed for us all – this Resurrection posture needed more than ever by us as we live a really quite simple death of convenience, wealth, and relationship. Disease and death don’t have the final say on this short pilgrimage here. We are one step closer to being with the Love which rode into town on a donkey. The swirl of story, faith, belief, and a little magic, and swish of light breaking through the rain drops lingering and trailing down my window. Light has a new meaning when we glance and rustle around in it this coming weekend. A reflection catching my eye in the murky dish water, the flicker from the candle, glint off my ring, light that promises to cut through, to tear the thick veil from top to bottom, to restore to us the beauty and mystery of a Love so beautiful death can’t bury it. The rough stone, vines crawling, draping over it, a bird alighting on the gritty surface – an empty place so we may be clean, free, and live gloriously up into all He has given us by giving it all. This beauty is here for the taking, to be snatched out of the swirling air, waiting with arms open wide.

~

Monday Ponderings {March 30th}

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“…the arrow endures the string, to become, in the gathering out-leap, something more than itself.” ~ Rilke

 

{Monday sunshine, poetry, hot shower, and focusing on that “out-leap” for others today. I SO desire to be something more than myself, trusting that Jesus will complete the work He has begun in me. How are you today? Sending sunshine to you this morning!}

 

~

Practice resurrection.

Marguerite Gachet au Jardin 1890 Van Gogh
Marguerite Gachet In The Garden, Vincent van Gogh (1890)

I’m listening to music and tackling a mountain of dishes this afternoon. Practicing resurrection is on my heart and mind, my dear friends. What did Wendell Berry, mean exactly by that, I wonder? In his stirring poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”,  I believe he alludes to creation that isn’t seen or measured or counted, weighting the “finished” product, place, person, or piece of art. We sing, speak, scribble, and send it off into the world without any glorious measurement of what has been done. I’ve been thinking about this as we all adjust to a slower paced world for the moment. Who am I? What is my worth? In Berry’s words, I find hope and slowly began to contemplate the coming celebration of the ultimate Resurrection. I find a tangible something that I can hold onto, even though I don’t fully understand, it flashes out as a filigree of truth and beauty swirling and spinning around me in a warm bath of light. I’m already known and am already of immeasurable worth. And so are you. You are still right now. You are at home in more ways then one. Be still and listen for the still small voice. “Do something that doesn’t compute,” and Berry’s call to “plant sequoias” rings loud and tall in my ears as a mother. It isn’t guaranteed that I will live to see the length, height, and breadth of my children’s days, yet I set in that seedling and I walk away knowing that I practiced resurrection. This isn’t something you have to do, necessarily. There are myriads of things we are told to do right now, this in Someone you find rest. A spiritual awareness of God in us, the Hope of Glory. An attitude of resurrection, that life abundant has been already given to us, we have no shadow of fear. Increase my resurrection faith, Lord! Resurrection looks like breathing in deep gratitude for the Heavenly bits here on earth. Loving deeply, living laughter, asking forgiveness, these create newness to replace the deaths. A cycle of regeneration, all things being made new. Yes, even my heart attitude and posture. The best thing about the resurrection life is that it multiplies. Truly a gift that keeps giving. And yes, tangible things like baking bread, scrubbing all these dastardly dishes, and looking deep into a love ones eyes can be part of resurrection resuscitation. An invitation to others to join into our resurrection practices, our giving of ourselves, their receiving becomes part of that cycle. Our words, our love, and our daily lives will be resurrection testimonies or most likely hidden, intimate resurrection worship for our Lord . Even if no one cares or notices, we keep at whispered prayers of our heart. Whether I live or die from a virus, I am the Lord’s precious child. I can practice right now, in these soap-sud-drenched life moments the beauty of being a creation of the resurrected Jesus. A masterpiece created to worship Him.

“My faith and my art coexist. Neither is in a closet. Everything I write is autobiographical. Even writing a recipe or directions from the airport reveal something of who I am. My faith is not unconsciously authobiographical. It is yoked to purpose, and for me that is God’s purpose for all of us on earth or anywhere else in creation we may turn up. I never ask: What is life for? The life I live is a constant answer. What I do is in the interests of others. Nobody writes, paints, sews, saws, chisels, or takes photographs twenty-four hours a day. But in all we do, we reflect our purpose – our faith, our reason for being.” –                             

Mary Duckert, p. 50, Voice of Many Waters (emphasis mine)

“Take heart, I have overcome the world.” ~ Jesus

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