Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Spring Break Best Life and Tolkien Tales

Living her best life after the exhaustion of the vet and groomer

We are spring break-ing this week. No travel here (minus a quick overnight trip my husband is on this week). So far we have mostly hung around the house and tackled a few less glamorous projects - deep cleaning the kid bathroom 🤢, a trip to vet/groomer for the pup, and an eye appointment for me. (Embracing my worsening eyes with prescription sunglasses this year - woo-hoo!)

I did finish one book that I've been working my way through this month as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge that I'm doing with a group. The theme of this month was "a book on the backlist of a favorite author." This book by Tolkien came to my attention several months ago when Rachel mentioned it on Instagram. In the last couple years, I finally read through the full LoTR series and have been wanting to turn right back around and read them again. I haven't though I did squeeze in a re-read of The Hobbit around Christmas! Anyway, this is a collection of some of Tolkien's short stories and poems that I had never heard of so it seemed like a great fit for this category.

First off, I did enjoy this book. Tolkien is just a master at story telling and characters and I enjoyed every bit of that in this book. That said, I have decided that I just don't love short stories! It takes a bit to get into the story and figure out the characters and what's going on ... and then the tale wraps up and it's done and we're on to the next group and tale. As someone who loooooves a good, long series, it's no surprise this frustrated me. 🙂 I also went into these stories expecting more LoTR type tales. These weren't with the exception of one poem that went on for a good 30-plus pages about Tom Bombadil (from The Hobbit). There rest were all stand-alone tales and the introduction to the book was well worth reading the explanations behind some of them. Ie., the first story about a little dog that gets lost from his owner is one based on a tale Tolkien told his son when a beloved toy was lost and the adventures that pup went on. The backstory made the tale even more enjoyable.

If you are a Tolkien fan, this would be a fun addition to your library if you like short stories. I did enjoy it, even though I'm still looking forward to that LoTR reread hopefully sometime soon. 🙂

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Lent is not something that I grew up with. I have always gone to your basic expository Bible teaching church - a good thing - but I wasn't exposed to church calendar concepts like Lent and Advent until an adult. Even then, they were fuzzy foreign concepts. The more I have learned about them, the more that I have come to look forward to these seasons, even though I still feel like I am no expert!

In my Bible study that I'm doing with Community Bible study this fall, we are working our way through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Throughout these pages, you see so many times where God is telling his children, the Israelites, to look back and remember what he has done for them. Make a memorial, build a remembrance, tell the stories to their children. Then He tells them to look forward to see what is to come. For His people, wandering in the wilderness until they finished their 40 year debt for their grumbling and lack of trust in Him, he reminded them over and over that a promised land is coming! A land of milk and honey! A land where one day God would lead them in victory over the surrounding pagan armies! But, as it was for the Israelites, it sure is easy to keep my eyes focused on what I'm lacking in the moment, than the bounty that is ahead.

This is mirrored in the New Testament when young believers in churches across the Middle East and Asia are encouraged to look back on their old self and see that it is done away with. Behold, a new thing has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) But again, it sure is easy for me to get bogged down in my self-pity, my lack, my suffering, etc. Instead of staying in the suffering, look forward to what the Lord has in store - his grace that is sufficient for me, his peace that passes all understanding, his joy that will be my strength, both here and in the new land that he is preparing for us this very moment. (Revelation 21:1)

The past two (+) years have been doozies. Harder than hard. I have grieved over some things and cried and asked God why is he not fixing ___ and making it right! But God is not mine to command (thankfully!) so even though He hasn't "fixed" things, I haven't given up on Him even if the "fixing" needs to be me.

For Lent this year, I decided I needed to just sit with God on this. See what he says about suffering. Look for beauty in the midst of hard seasons. To that end, I'm reading through Job. I did get the She Reads Truth journal so I will have somewhere dedicated to journal and scribble my way through this, but I'll probably be taking it more my speed than theirs. I'm also reading Christine Hoover's book Searching for Spring. I love what she said in chapter 1: "We may not be able to see and comprehend clearly all of what God is doing in the present, but we can always mine the past the future for treasures."

I'll be doing some mining for treasure as I prepare my heart for Easter. Looking back to see what God has done for me, counting those blessings one by one. Looking forward to what is yet to come.

Soli deo gloria.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Reading Round-up - January & February 2019

Settling back into this space on a wet Saturday evening, as one does. Actually most of our weekends have been wet the last month - ridiculously so! Spring is here and early this year by the sight and sound of it. I am ready for the sunshine and warm breezes and all that brings. I am nearing the end of a commitment to direct our homeschool group and with that "freedom" I'm hoping to putter here a bit more. I find I think about this space more than just a bit and miss stringing thoughts together, even if just for myself. :)

On to the bookish bit!

In January, I read six books and uncharacteristically, 4 of them were rereads. There are certain times of the year that I crave a reread - fall especially as school starts back and I don't have the mental energy to tackle something new for myself. I lapse into a reread of a good series - last year it was the Harry Potter series - and feel no guilt about it one bit. This year I participated in Carrie's LM Montgomery reading challenge for the first year in ... a few ... and revisited her Emily series. Thanks to Goodreads, I realized I hadn't read through this series since 2011 and I really enjoyed getting into it again. Definitely a "darker" series than the more popular Anne, it fit my mood and season of life perfectly.

Our read aloud for January was also a reread - Ethan and I started from the beginning of the Narnia series and have a determined purpose to see it through this spring. :) We had read The LWW last summer but it didn't click with him enough to jump into book two, however that has since changed! He is enjoying it so much that we have been reading a bit during our school day and then continuing it at night before bed when we can (instead of our usually school day and separate bedtime read-aloud). No complaints here.

In other January reading, I dabbled in two series mentioned via Sarah (Read Aloud Revival). I'm a sucker for a good junior or YA fantasy series. I read Flyte by Angie Sage, which is the second book in the Septimus Heap series. I think this could be a fun read aloud for Ethan down the road or one to hand off to him in a few years. Adventure and quirky characters galore, but yet not one that I'm dying to fly through myself. I also started the YA Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen and read the first book, The False Prince. I will probably finish this series slowly - enjoying it, but no rush to devour it.

In February, Ethan and I finished Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader in our Narnian journey. Onward and upward! I also read several stand-alone books this month. I dearly love a good series, but haven't found a good long one to draw me in right now! I finished:

Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge. I love her books The Little White Horse and The Scent of Water. This one was a little bit more of chore to get through, but I finished it and enjoyed it. Not as much as the others, but it is beautiful writing set in the English landscape which drew me in!

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. I had read Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale which was a haunting folktale set in Russia. I couldn't put it down - I really loved the glimpse into Russian folklore and legend - but yet haven't moved on to the sequel. This book is also a creepy ghost story but set for 10-12 (and up), I'd say. (I'm starting to get the impression she writes more spooky stuff than I am used to). I would be careful what child I handed this too as I hustled to finish it - I really wanted to find out what happened but I also wanted to get to the end of the book! If you like Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener, you would probably like this book!

I also did go ahead and read The Runaway King (book 2 in the Ascendance Trilogy). Not as captivating as the first book, but still a great series so far.

My first non-fiction for the year - Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales. I LOVED this book. For someone that has always struggled with measuring up, fitting in, and trying to hard, t this book was a needed reminder to me of who I need to rely on to fill my needs - not a spouse, not my children, not my calendar ... the Lord is the only one that can bring contentment and peace and when I do slow down to ponder and grasp that, the outflow into my life and the life of others is world-changing. Of all I have read in the first two months of the year? This book, hands down, is my first highly recommend of the bunch.

And there's the first two months of the year wrapped up in a nutshell. And now, to curl up under a blanket and maybe get a few pages in this evening!