A Tight Ship

Oh, a travelling life, a travelling life for me…

-Mr. Potts, senior

I’ve come to love the Aubrey Maturin book series, naval tales set during the Napoleonic Wars. This fifth book I’m reading now, I have not skipped a word, but earlier on, I couldn’t hack the sea going jargon at times and was forced to skim. Definitely a growing love for these books and their colorful characters. I noticed in this book how attractive the rigor would be on a ship- things stay clean and sharp. Of course, there are many hands to do work. But I wonder how much like the keeping of a ship I could adopt here at home.

One thing I note is that personal belongings stay stowed away, and the public spaces are orderly and methodical. While we can’t accomplish this right away (we’re finishing rooms in the basement-squeal-so people are all over the place until they can move in), it is definitely a good goal.

There is a time to work, on a ship, and a time to play. The other day Anna and Micah were painting, something I rarely let them do, though I love it myself. Micah said, “Let’s pretend we are artists…” and my heart squeezed. Of course you are artists, no pretending necessary. But I run our home like we don’t have time, energy, interest, or organization enough to fit these things of beauty into our day. They think it is forbidden fruit when it should be their daily bread.

Always something to learn, there is.

-Yoda

The Last Three

The kids put on Barbie and the Fairy Secret, so I thought I would sit and write a while. Things have been busy this weekend, so a dumb movie and a blog post are great ways to wind it down.

I’ve been faithfully filling my bingo card for our library summer reading program. Last week I had three more books to finish, and was reading them all at the same time (“I don’t know how you do that,” Aliyah says. It’s just like watching two or three shows at once. Very doable.). Reading them simultaneously wasn’t the difficulty; it was the big book, the one on my bingo card that was described by having more than 500 pages- Les Miserables. I wasn’t sure if I could read it all before the end of July, and two books besides. But I was able to pull out the win, with time to spare.

Les Miserables was one of the free books on my Kindle, so I don’t know how many pages it actually is. But it was a lot! I already knew the plot, so this helped me figure how far along in the book I was, and it helped me skim through some parts that were long and uninteresting to me. LM serves as a type of historical novel, and includes lengthy explanations of the faulty penal system at this time period in France, the battle of Waterloo, the mindset of the revolutionary and the bourgeoisie, and the plight of orphans (gamin), to name a few. I leapt over whole chapters, gratefully, when I realized the author was going into detailsville again. On the other hand, I found so many great phrases and passages to highlight, both from his opinion pieces and from the things characters said and did. Time goes by, but humans are all the same, in many respects. I appreciated reading Les Miserables, and would highly recommend it.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, kept me wondering what was going on. One doesn’t see the word Solomon until page 283, and never did it share meaning with the book of the Bible, like I thought it would. It is a coming of age novel about an African American man, and the challenging relationships he has with family and others. This is in the early and mid-1900s, when racial tensions were high. (Many would say they still are, of course.) Maybe because I’m white, maybe because I have led a pretty easy life, I don’t relate to books like this. But occasionally I will read one, and strive to finish it, knowing I have lots to learn about others and their struggles. This book satisfied my bingo square “something with ‘song’ in the title”.

I also needed a book to fulfill “something you should have read in high school”. Aliyah recommended a book she had just finished, and I laughed at how this would work! Party of One is written by a single girl about the misconceptions and realities of being single. All too often we look at singleness as a bad thing, as a lonely season just to be survived until marriage, and we can look at single people with poorly placed pity and even be found guilty of thinking there is something wrong with them! When the truth is, God’s plan for any human can be accessed and embraced right now. None of us should ever put off doing things or thinking we’re just getting by until the next life happens. There is no such thing. A single person isn’t flawed any more than a married one, either. This book was an eye opener for me in a lot of ways. I was glad to have read it now, when I am raising my daughters. But it would have been great for me to read in high school. I might have avoided some heartache and gone after other opportunities with more gusto. Singles have unique privileges.

Bingo! I felt such accomplishment when I collected my prize tickets. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone with each of these books, but it was time well spent.

 

New Days

I was able to get up early this morning, and stay up. This is a wonderful time to just sit with my coffee and look out the window and think. We have such a beautiful property; it always gives a good reason for reflection.

Later at the library, we came across the cutest board books: Star Wars Epic Yarns. There is one for each of the original trilogy, with a word on each page and a picture of felt figures, from Yoda to C3PO to Luke and Leia. How fun. I thought I’d seen everything; apparently there is something new under the sun, er, suns, in Star Wars.

I was recommending the H.A. Rey Stars book to someone and got to thinking about Heaven. Usually I am looking forward to what is new for us to see and experience there, and the gift of opportunities to do there what we might not get to do (as much here). Quilt? Check. Learn a new language or instrument? Check. Take up mountain climbing? Check. I have even set down a book in disgust when the author had her character mourning that the view he had out his window he wouldn’t have in Heaven. What? I like my view, but we’ve only got better and brighter up ahead. But thinking about the stars today made me kind of sad. Will He destroy all the stars? I suppose He can replace any and all with a single word (like He did the first time), but they won’t be the same. The constellations we have from our neighborhood in the Milky Way are unique. We’ll just have to wait and see.

W.C.E. (Worst Cold Ever)

This may be my new method of dating time: the days, months, and seasons since I suffered so mightily. Definitely a new common era.

All winter we were doing so well not getting sick. Maybe I had gotten too proud, too self congratulatory and needed knocked down a peg or ten. As I type, my throat is still in shock, leaving no room for any more complacency.

It is difficult to experience a cold while pregnant. There’s the coughing, in all its forms. The heavy cough can often stir up some nausea, and the later dry cough can catch one needing a bathroom quickly! At one point I was stranded on the toilet, coughing over a bucket in case I threw up, and only just made it there on my limited bladder tolerance.

But I have nothing to complain about compared to the man I just read about in a book called Alone. This man, Brett Archibald, fell over board in the Indian Ocean, and was stranded for 28 hours! So many people and events crossed to make his rescue possible, it was truly miraculous. During his time in the water, he came to a deeper faith in God- sometimes very angry with Him, but always with the knowledge that He was with him and responsible for his protection from many dangers, and eventual rescue.

Apparently Brett is on an inspirational speaking circuit, sharing his story with many. There’s something missing from his testimony, though: he acknowledges God as his Maker and sustainer, but there is no mention of Jesus as his Savior and Lord. I think that as he continues in a journey of true seeking, he will see this, God will show him, but for now, it is incomplete to share about God the way he has. A verse in my BSF lesson this week seemed to be making this point, among others:

For this reason Christ died, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living (Rom 14:9)

Jesus is central to everything. Anything else is just useless religion.

So, I’m at day 22 of this cold. If it reaches day 28, W.C.E., I may just have the makings of an impossible-survival book of my own.

 

 

 

 

New Thoughts

Since having my blog hacked last summer, Luke has outfitted me with a great new password. It would mean nothing to anyone but us, and I love that. No part of our present technological lives is unhackable, but it is nice to have a strong password and feel like we’re doing something in the war for the web.

I’m a book addict, I think. Yesterday I finished a book, and had a moment of panic that there was not another one to pick up. But of course there always is, and if nothing else I have my Aubrey Maturin series which numbers in the teens (I’m only on book 3) and my old standbys, Laura and Father Tim and Ralph. And, there is my read the Bible thru the years challenge, working through Exodus currently.

Two noteworthy books I have and am reading are How to Be A Christian Without Going To Church, and Revolution. The first is by a woman (Kelly Bean), the second by a man (George Barna). Together these have been such an encouragement to me as we navigate this time of our lives not going to church. Even though we don’t attend Sunday service in a building set aside for that purpose, we are still The Church, God’s called out people, learning and growing every day into His perfect plan for our lives. I’m eager to see what the future looks like for our family, without some of the traditional practices that both Luke and I were part of, growing up. God is always up to something new, and I am finally to the point of not feeling guilty, or not feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, if that makes sense. Because for me, so much of ‘doing church’ was exhausting. Being His church is already feeling much more free.

For Micaiah

‘Pet and her baby sister were so exactly alike, and so completely one, that in our thoughts we have never been able to separate them since. It would be of no use to tell us that our dead child was a mere infant. We have changed that child according to the changes in the child spared to us and always with us. As Pet has grown, that child has grown; as Pet has become more sensible and womanly, her sister has become more sensible and womanly by just the same degrees. It would be as hard to convince me that if I was to pass into the other world to-morrow, I should not, through the mercy of God, be received there by a daughter, just like Pet, as to persuade me that Pet herself is not a reality at my side.’

-Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

Would You Rather

I love reading by the Christmas tree at night. It is just enough light to see by, but not so much one can’t start winding down from a busy day.

My compression hose went through the wash today. This week I thought of a new ‘would you rather’ question; you know, those kinds of queries that don’t have a good choice on either end. Sunburn or frostbite? Rotten food or no food? My new one is: would you rather be greatly annoyed by the constant sagging of your compression hose, or the rush of pain in your legs while you stand? At first glance, I would choose the hose, but after some months in them, I’m not so sure. Feeling like the saggy baggy elephant develops a craziness in me that I get to where the hose HAVE GOT to come off or I would go insane.

Today was hose free, but pain accompanied, as I said. I ran some errands, and while I am up and doing, I usually don’t have as much pain as when I am standing still. I went to the grocery stores, to Goodwill to drop off some bags that sat in the van a while, stopped at the library for some reserved books, and home again after my world tour.

As I walked in with two more books, I realized how many good books I’ve got in my queue right now. Another would you rather question, but where all the choices are good. Here’s what I’m working on:

Last Mitford book, To Be Where You Are. I just started, but have been delighted so far. This has been my umpteenth time rereading the Mitford series, and I even did the Father Tim ones. Though I found them dark the first time, this time they seemed sweeter. Goes to show you are never the same person when you reread a book! The title of my blog came from the Mitford books, too.

The Assault. This is a sequel to Invitation, a book by four authors I read in October. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though it had a lot of spiritual battle stuff (Peretti is one of the authors) and kind of scary stuff. I told the ladies at book club about it, and at the time I couldn’t put my finger on why I liked it so much. Now I know. It’s all about Jesus! He shines through the darkness, and those who have a relationship with Him in the story are the most powerful against the enemy. Here’s hoping the sequel is as promising.

Little Dorrit- this classic of Dickens was mentioned in a Mitford book, so I thought I would read it. It looks promising, too. Duh, it’s Dickens! It has to be good.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years is a memoir of the Holocaust. I know nothing about it other than that. Of all the books in my pile, it is the most likely to be opted out in my would you rather game. We’ll see if I get to it.

Mommy Is Mean

That’s where we are already, only day two of being a single mom. Elijah said that this afternoon when he was supposed to stay upstairs and didn’t.

But seriously. Things are going pretty good with Luke and the big kids gone. We went to the library this morning, and each kid was able to turn in a reading sheet. I couldn’t turn in the babies’ sheets, though, because when I looked at the options for reading and encouraging reading on the back of it, I couldn’t honestly say I’d done that five times this past week. So the list is now on the fridge, and we are counting raisins when we wake up.

I didn’t mean to, but I got two books read this past week! One was A Man Called Ove, the other Only The River Runs Free.  Ove was okay, but judging from the praise for it on the front and back covers, you’d think it was a Pulitzer. As I read it I kept thinking of stories it mimicked, like the grumpy old man in the movie Up and the children from the movie Despicable Me, even the plots from my beloved Mitford books (man is alone- man gets pet- man meets interesting and challenging people- man ends up changing many lives). Is nothing original anymore?

Only The River was pretty good. It takes place in Ireland at a time when the Irish are under England’s thumb, and (at least in this story) the Catholics are the good guys and Protestants greedy and dishonest. There was a neat part where two of the characters, children, were in possession of a key and were overwhelmed with fear lest it be found. In a book given them by a godly man, it said the only place for burdens was the feet of Jesus. So they took the key to the church and hid it in a wooden carving of Jesus crucified, in the space between his feet and the cross. What a great picture for all of us, and the burdens we cannot bear. This book is our ladies’ book club selection this month, and I’d like to make something for each lady that represents a way of laying our burdens at His feet. Maybe a small box with Jesus’ feet painted on the lid, where one can put paper bits of prayers and praises? Any ideas you all have are welcome.

 

Redemptive Winds

I was reading a magazine article about peacemaking, and the thought came to me:

Have I been the victim in a conflict so long it has become comfortable? If so, am I willing to go through the painful process of resolving the conflict and reconciliation?

That is a tough one. As things develop, and I make choices to be open to change and improvement (in my heart first), I hope I can answer yes to the second question as easily as I do the first.

A quote in Little Britches applies here, too.

“You know, a man’s life is a lot like a boat. If he keeps his sail set right it doesn’t make too much difference which way the wind blows or which way the current flows. If he knows where he wants to go and keeps his sail trimmed carefully he’ll come to the right port. But if he forgets to watch his sail till the current catches him broadside he’s pretty apt to smash up on the rocks.” -Father, to Ralph

In my boat, if I have made a habit of taking every offense to the Lord, and have done all I can to avoid bitterness, those big winds of hurt shouldn’t throw me off course. But, if I haven’t been tending to those weeds of resentment and have allowed them to take root, I’m in trouble even before the storm hits. In this most recent event, I think I could see some real maturity in my reactions and responses. But it also revealed my penchant for being ready to forgive but not being ready to give when the situation requires give and take. It is a lot easier to walk away and say, that’s not worth it, they are not worth it. But people are worth it, and as long as there is hope of peace I must be willing to pursue it.

“So then, let us pursue the things that make for peace, and the building up of one another.” -Paul, to me

Pure Poetry

That had to be the shortest diet ever, or the failingest, or both. Last Thursday I decided to try some strategies from this book I had just read, and I guess that word “some” should have been the first warning. Gathering a little from here and a little from there for a diet could be unhealthy. Sunday afternoon my stomach started hurting, and only today is it beginning to feel less tender. Whew! I can’t say what caused the abdominal pain; indeed, I get sick like this every few weeks. Usually it only lasts 24 hours at most and seems to be related to one food I eat periodically. Thats as far as I have gotten on a self diagnosis, for though I am so happy to be better, I haven’t really discovered what went wrong. Our bodies are created by God to work like a well run factory, with all of the machines going. One stick in the works and the processes come to a halt.

Luke wants us writing more, and last week had us working at persuasive essays. I chafed. I languished. “I don’t want to pursuadr anyone to think or do anything! Can we just move on?”But this week has been a treat. I had forgotten how much I love poetry. To say so much with a few words is a rare talent. Today we discussed Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody”, and even our biggest scoffers had to admit there was more to it than first met the eye. I’ll share my favorite poem now. I found it in a book when we were reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and wanted to share more poems at our homeschool book club.

SCAFFOLDING

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.