May Reads

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I can’t believe May is spent. Time for a favorite chat of mine. BOOKS! So, what have you been reading? I’ve been faithfully listening to my favorite podcast “What Should I Read Next?” and actually picked up some modern titles from her recommendations. I don’t usually read a lot of modern stuff, frankly, because I love older books so much, dislike dark, modern topics, and really there is only so much time in the day. I tend to want happier fiction and a lot fiction written today seems depressing.  A lot of my fiction reading is for inspiration and a rest for my brain, so I don’t read too many heavy topics unless I want to challenge myself. I guess I’m that way with memoir, really all non-fiction too, although I’m more able to read a darker story if it’s true. How about you? Do you like light fiction? Or do you prefer heavier topics? What are your favorite genres?

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The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett (****) – I really enjoyed this. England, King Arthur and the Holy Grail legend, cathedrals and all the beauty that comes along with them, loads of book talk, relics, dusty libraries with ancient manuscripts, an older, bookish professor, a well-read, spunky American, questions about faith, delicious food, cottages, fantastic, mysterious secrets, history, light, sweet romance, digging through ancient ruins, secret codes, and most of all, did I mention England? Enough geeky stuff to be interesting, but not too much to become boring. This would be a great summer vacation title.

I also read Lovett’s First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Books, and Jane Austen (**) – I was so disappointed after the Grail title. I did not like the main character, Sophie, at all. She’s a liar, thief, and horrible judge of character. She uses people for her own purposes. I really loved the story in time with Austen and Rev. Mansfield, but the modern flash forward story I disliked so much. Adult content in this title.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell (***) – I enjoyed the plot of this book very much. Samantha Whipple is a distant descendant of the Brontë family and is rumored to have inherited important artifacts that literary historians would love to get their hands on, not to mention that people are speculating about the value of such objects. She is a student at Oxford and I enjoyed Samantha’s weird bookish, anti-social character very much (not all homeschoolers are weird, in fact I find them fascinating, so that was a bit stereotypical). I was glad to see inside her brain, although at times she was a little irritating. I loved all the geeky book info and the deep delving into Brontë history and lore. I like the dark, mysterious feel to all of it, although at times I didn’t feel that I had ENOUGH description or sense of place, if that makes sense. I thought the romance was a bit cliché and cheesy, professor and student, but perhaps Lowell was trying for some Brontë symbolism. Mr. Rochester and Jane? I was very pleased that the romance was more about how they got along, yes, there was tension, but it was more their common interests that drew them together. I liked the mystery surrounding the professor and his father! The mysterious clues regarding her inheritance left by Samantha’s late father were a bit confusing and could have been clearer, more jarring and exciting. They were a bit of a let down. Overall, this was entertaining, bookish, fan fiction-ish read and I liked it.

By Heart: A Mother’s Story of Children and Learning at Home by Kathleen Melin (***) –  I loved this memoir for many reasons, number one being the author’s gorgeous writing style. This is most definitely dated, home schooling was a newer, braver option for educating one’s children, but I found her feelings and questions to be still relevant today. The second reason I enjoyed this book was a completely different perspective for me. She is politically and religiously the opposite in many ways than myself, yet I appreciated her thoughts and challenges as she pulled her children out of public school and started home educating them. I loved her insider look at religious home educators and it was challenging to me as I thought of how I may be true to my faith, yet not in a harsh, unloving way. The beginning of the book felt a little more preachy and slow than the end. The last chapters were gorgeous as she shared her feelings, the struggles between her and her husband choosing this lifestyle, her challenges and thoughts on women in the home, career goals, etc. I enjoyed her insights into each of her children and how nature touched her in a profound way. It always is interesting to me how one can just be so moved by creation, yet not acknowledge a Creator. And although, I didn’t always agree with some of her conclusions to problems that they faced, I loved hearing her thoughts and musings. This was a simple book, but just a lovely encouragement on home educating and looking at your children and husband as individual people.

Garden’s of Awe and Folly: A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening by Vivian Swift (****) – Swift’s gorgeous watercolors make this book a delight. She travels to nine various lesser known gardens around the world, commenting on them, sharing their history, and ruminating on life as she spends time in each garden.

Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Mother Culture by Karen Andreola (*****) – this was a reread and I love it’s simplicity, peacefulness, and idealism. I love the challenge it presents to aim high in our relationships and life. This is a fictional story set in the 1930’s about a family applying the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy to their lives.  My favorite thing about this sweet title is that life and learning are authentic. They learn and live in an intricate weaving and life is not divided into perfect compartments which rings true to me. Our home educating life is very like that, it has an ebb and flow, and so I appreciate this story because of that aspect.

The Moon Stands Still by Sibella Giorello (***) – fun, light detective mystery. Giorello is a good writer, here is a longer review if you are interested.

The Pelican Bride by Beth White (**) – review here.

With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson (***) – entertaining, modern plot, I liked hearing the struggles with PTSD and alcoholism in the main characters, but the romance was a bit hard to swallow.

Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, finished Psalms, Romans, 1 Corinthians: The Holy Bible (*****)

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Amy Carmichael

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“TEACH ME TO DO THY WILL”

Psalm 143:10

NEARLY 400 years ago Vaughan wrote:

“I would I were some bird or star

Fluttering in woods or lifted far

Above this inn

And road of sin.

Then either star or bird should be

Shining or singing still to Thee.”

But he had to live the common life in a difficult world, and so have we. I have often noticed that just when we feel most like saying, “I would I were”, our God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, meets us with some plain command which pulls us up sharply, and makes us face this eternal truth: We are not here to wish to be somewhere or something we are not, but to do the thing that pleases Him exactly where we are, and as we are.

So out “I would I were” becomes Cause me to hear…; cause me to know…; teach me to do Thy will. And should the heart within us fear as we face that way again, instantly the blessed word revives us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee”. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Psalm 143:10. Isa. 41:10. Phil. 2.13.

Thou Givest, They Gather

Amy Carmichael

p. 87

bold emphasis mine

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Monday Ponderings {February 27th}

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Meditating on these revolutionary words from Jesus today…

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 

To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing to return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Luke 6: 27-36, NKJV, The Holy Bible

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Merry Christmas

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Simeon’s Song of Praise (1669)

 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Luke 2: 25-32

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Speak to me…

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The past summer I moved to a different property. We had been renting it and found ourselves in need a bit more space. My husband was itching to spread out a bit, his love of wide open spaces drawing him. I was really struggling with this plan. Various reasons, really. Hidden Valley Farm had owned a piece of my heart for the last 10 years, so many memories. As we traveled back and forth, readying our new farm, I began to notice the beauty of the drive and the area in which I was going to be living. It was like through my worries about the remodeling, paying bills, house showings, and all the minutiae, the nature, along the way, really began to speak to me. I stopped being frustrated about how far it seemed from our little current city and our life activities. I saw it in a new light. It took me awhile, a really conscious quieting of the litany of voices running through my head. How had I hated this drive? How had I been so frustrated by being removed more? Fast forward to today, November, a few months into our new residence. A few months of a sense of place. There is nothing more lovely then what these vast views say to me. The stream’s meandering, hill’s solid stance, and tree’s dance. It is like a true Church to me. A extension of my faith. I exit my car or return from my walk, inspired and in awe. Seems like a lot from a little bit of nature, huh? The sunsets, slanting light, the quaint, slow simmer of country life, all are a prayer and a song.

And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
 Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12: 7-10

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. Psalm 96:11-12

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

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