Monday Ponderings {August 10th}

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“Only the waters which in perfect stillness lie

Give back an undistorted image of the sky!” 

Trench, p. 260

“Wisdom is oft-times nearer when we stoop

Than when we soar.”

Wordsworth, p. 343

~The Cloud of Witness

 

I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered. And when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.

~Proverbs 4:11-13

~

Gratitude & Glories: {1st week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

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

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

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

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

What a blessed week ~ Thank You, Lord Jesus!

How was yours?

~

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

July Reads

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{My younger children enjoy Tortuga}

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

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

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

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

“Night Magic”

There’s magic in the summer night for me

In California deserts

High in the mountain tops

Or down along the peaceful sea.

 

There was a time when nights seemed sad & lonely

And all the gleaming stars

A gentle, patient moon.

Seemed not for hope, but sadness only.

 

Why is it now, that there is only magic 

And musical harmony

In the summer night?

‘Tis I who changed, night is not tragic.

 

~Helen Goodhue Ploeger

 

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

Those who read, those who

tell us what they read,

Those who noisily turn

the pages of their books,

Those who have power over

red and black ink,

and over pictures,

Those are the ones who lead us

guide us, show us the way.

 

~Aztec Codex from 1524

Vatican Archives

 

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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Part 1Part 2Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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Part 1 and Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 4 to follow ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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{Part 1}

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

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

p. 28, The Weight of Glory, emphasis mine

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

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

~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 29

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

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

p. 29, The Weight of Glory

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

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

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

“Our real goal is elsewhere.” p.31

I will continue in Part 3 ~

~

 

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

 

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

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

“Man must pass from old to new,

From vain to real, from mistake to fact,

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

How could man have progression otherwise?”

~ Browning, p. 58

The Cloud of Witness

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

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

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

p. 27, The Weight of Glory, emphasis mine

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

I will return to these thoughts in Part 2 soon!

~

 

Monday Ponderings { June 20th}

20200527_082058No stream from its source

Flows seaward, how lonely soever its course,

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

And set, without influence somewhere Who knows

What earth needs from earth’s lowest creature?

No life

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

And all Life not be purer and stronger thereby!

The spirits of just men made perfect on high –

The army of martyrs who stand by the Throne

And gaze into the Face that makes glorious their own-

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

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

Are these worth nothing more than the hand they

make weary, –

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

Hush! the sevenfold Heavens to the voice of the Spirit

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

 

~Lytton, p. 320

The Cloud of Witness

~

June Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

 

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

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Morning Psalms

Say my heart gallivants with gratitude

as I awake to another day

where You improvise the story of my life.

Suppose I’m looking raggedy,

my body an heirloom,

soon relegated to the attic,

out of practice in the art of loving.

 

Say Jesus is a Forest Ranger

in a wide-brimmed hat – and I,

feeling lost, ask where do I go from here?

He reaches into a pocket, holds out

a compass. Must I find my own way?

It ticks, no – thumps. Stunned,

my eyes connect with his.

 

You conjure up rain,

shaking the leaves like tambourines,

pelting the rooftops. I, dry as a wishbone,

relish the sound as if it were

your heartbeat. Coffee in hand

I nestle back in bed – listening

as the thrum ignites the silence.

Say You are that fire and rain

in which I live and move and have my being.

 

The Soul’s Habitation, p. 77

 

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

~

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! ~