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?}

~

 

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.

~

March Reads

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{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 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

~

Monday Ponderings {March 9th} Match-Striked Dawns

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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.

~

February Reads

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Hello Long Lost Friends ~ I had a quiet month on the reading front as we were traveling the second half of February. I have a lot of books going but I only finished these few. I didn’t get any in my 2020 Reading plan categories finished. What have you been reading?

Rainbow’s End and The Dirty Duck by Martha Grimes (***) I actually grabbed Rainbow’s End off of my local library shelf because it had a beautiful, old-fashioned tapestry type cover. Ha! I had no clue what it was. It turned out to be a beautifully written, character-driven crime novel. Richard Jury is the protagonist and is a fascinating Scotland Yard detective chasing down three murders that a colleague is convinced are connected. If you like fast-paced novels, you won’t like this one. 😉 We get pages of being inside character’s minds and life. It was VERY slow moving. I found Rainbow’s End crime a bit thin and unconvincing, but I loved the writing so much I decided to grab another. The Dirty Duck was much more dark and grisly and not written as well.  I found out it was one of Grimes earlier books in the series. I would recommend starting at the beginning and reading the correct order as I was very confused by all the characters. Overall, I would be willing to try another Richard Jury mysteries as I liked him as a detective, the side characters were fascinating, and Grimes’ writing is good.

Hints on Child Training by Henry Clay Trumbull (*****) – This took me a long time to read as I was reading it with an online Voxer group. Although there are a few archaic ideas in this book, I found it to be an encouraging and convicting read on parenting and a way of looking at and valuing children. Highly recommend for Christian parenting. I definitely would like to reread it in the future.

The Holy Bible (*****) – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 &2 Thessalonions, and 1 Timothy.

Here’s to a new month of reading! Happy March!

~

 

 

Monday Ponderings {February 10th}

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Now, – the sowing and the weeping,

Working hard and waiting long:

Afterward, – the golden reaping,

Harvest home and grateful song.

Now, the long and toilsome duty, 

Stone by stone to carve and bring;

Afterward, – the perfect beauty

Of the palace of the King.

Now, – the tuning and the tension

Wailing minors, discord strong;

Afterward, – the grand ascension

Of the Alleluia song!

 

~Francis Ridley Havergal

The Cloud of Witness, p. 86

 

Sunrise, Sunset

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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. 

~

January Reads {and my 2020 reading plans}

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Here is what I read in January! My plan for the year is to try to read slowly and deeply as much as possible. I also would love to pick at least one title from these four genres each month at least: one classic (I’m apart of an Instagram 2020 Classics Challenge, so those have been chosen ahead. I may not read their choice every month, but instead stick in one of my choice instead), one poetry, one middle grade, and one nonfiction.

Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (****) – These two connected stories were HILARIOUS. They are written in the form of letters from the main character to others. In Daddy-Long-Legs, a young woman who is aging out of an orphanage is given the chance to attend university at the expensive of an anonymous orphanage board member, whom she dubs Daddy-Long-Legs. The only requirement is for her to write him and keep him updated on everything. However, my favorite book was the sequel, Dear Enemy,  in which the girl from the first book now sends a friend to run and improve her former orphanage and hilarious situations ensue as she reforms everything and meets many interesting characters. This book has simple, almost crude line drawings by Webster, I believe, and they add to the hilarity of this. I highly recommend these two books, only with the one caveat that there is some political themes and outdated/disturbing views of disable people, but other than that, I really had fun with these!

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (***) – Amazingly creative, but definitely creepy, dark, and morbid. This was a collection of interwoven short stories, that are told as swirling tattoos on a man, hence the illustrated man. I really enjoy Bradbury, but I wouldn’t say these were my favorite, boarding on a little too dark for my taste, but wowsers, he was a wonderful wordsmith!

Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 and Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (*****) – these were my poetry selections for this month and they were amazingly beautiful. I wrote down snatches and phrases and can’t wait to try more of his work soon. Delights & Shadows was my favorite. In a teeny way, he and Billy Collins have a bit in common, but I found Kooser’s poetry a little grittier.

The Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (***) – For my middle grade choice, I decided to try another DWJ, as I’m a new fan of hers. This was a strange, yet creative retelling of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Not sure I completely love it, but it was definitely unique.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (**) – This was our first title for my IG Classics Challenge and my classic for the month. Beautiful writing, heartbreaking story-line. Hardy’s natural descriptions are just lush and amazing, but this story was super hard for me. It got under my skin and it frustrated me. I don’t like stories that seem hopeless. One thing that really jumped out to me was his use of subtle implication…it seemed to me that through his writing of descriptive natural settings, he was comparing and highlighting Tess and some of the main characters using the natural world. Angel Clare seemed a little “too perfect” to me throughout this book…hmm, with a name like Angel? I had to skim a little of this book about 3/4 of the way in, because I couldn’t handle it. Hardy was definitely brave for his time, taking a very difficult subject and writing a depressing 😉 book with hard-hitting, almost silent, subtle rebukes in it. Ack. Not my favorite Hardy. 

The Holy Bible (*****) – 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and working my way through Isaiah.

~

What did you read that you loved in January? My favorites were definitely Dear Enemy and Delight & Shadows. Happy Reading! I didn’t finish any nonfiction, but I have a few going. ❤