Books

Diary of an Old Soul

I recently purchased a book entitled, “Diary of an Old Soul” by George MacDonald. He was a Scottish author who inspired great writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolken. We discovered Mr. MacDonald through Ambleside Online, our home school curriculum guide which had his book “The Princess and the Goblin” as a literature selection for Year 2. Jonas read it first and loved it! Then Evelyn, and she enjoyed it just as much. We were then on a quest to find his other books… and behold, “Diary of an Old Soul” entered our lives. This book is a devotional in poetry form… simple words of wisdom written from the heart of a man who was truly abiding in Christ. Below is a sample that I would like to share that specifically struck me because of the importance I am finding in having time in quiet solitude with God in the morning hours.

October 6th

From sleep I wake, and wake to think of thee.
But wherefore not with sudden glorious glee?
Why burst not gracious on me heaven and earth
In all the splendor of a new-day-birth?
Why hangs a cloud betwixt my Lord and me?
The moment that my eyes the morning greet,
My soul should panting rush to clasp thy father-feet.

October 7th

Is it because it is not thou I see,
But only my poor, blotted fancy of thee?
Oh, never till thyself reveal thy face,
Shall I be flooded with life’s vital grace.
Oh, make my mirror-heart thy shining-place,
And then my soul, awaking with the morn,
Shall be a waking joy, eternally new-born.

Amen! May our mornings be full of waking joy and being new-born each day!

Adornment

“Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight. It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.” – 1 Peter 3:3-6 NRSV

I was catching up in a devotional book I like to read in (Kay Arthur’s Search My Heart, O God) and yesterday’s struck a chord for me. A vulnerable one at that and yet I feel compelled to share it here. I don’t believe that I am the only one who has felt frustrated with looking so much at the physical self. God longs for us to first of all look to Him and He then shows us the beauty He has woven inside of us. Here are Mrs. Arthur’s words of wisdom and insight:

Has life become one ongoing beauty contest? Are you constantly comparing yourself with others? Every time you step in front of a mirror, especially after showering, do you look at your thighs, arms, torso – and sigh? The little collections of fat are beginning to show, your skin’s not smooth and supple like it once was, your muscles are sagging. You dread being seen in a bathing suit or shorts, especially when you measure yourself against the ads on billboards, on television, and in the magazines.
Before you think about surgery or start buying every piece of workout equipment advertised on television, before you deem yourself inferior, consider this: Maybe you are miserable about what God never intended you or anyone else to expose.
If you have been more concerned with your appearance than with the condition of your heart, it’s time for you to confess your pride and let go of worldly things. Remember, a gentle and quiet spirit is more precious in God’s sight than any outward appearance (1 Peter 3:3-4).

O god, I pray that You will teach me to rest in the confidence that I belong to Christ. Rather than comparing myself to others -or even to what I used to be- let me glory in the work You have done in me. May my inner beauty far outshine my physical appearance.

May I adorn myself with God’s Word written in my heart and mind and reflect the beauty and grace of Him.

Glorious Spring!

Spring on our Virginia farm has been glorious! To this Florida girl, it is beautiful to slowly watch everything come to life. Some trees literally blossom overnight. Everyday, there is a new color, shade of green or show of life that reveals itself. I love it here. I was reminded of a poem that Jonas and Evelyn memorized a couple years ago entitled “Spring” by William Blake. In this poem, it repeats, “Merrily, Merrily, to welcome in the year.” I never quite understood until now, how the new year relates to nature’s new year… the year beginning for plants and animals… and how in this newness of the world surrounding us, a sense of newness is revived in our souls. Awakening our wintry hearts by the warmth of the sun we find joy that God gives us in the simple beauty of His creation. I pray that you are celebrating the wonder of spring and welcoming in the new year in your heart, remembering anew that God is good!

Spring

Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Bird’s delight,
Day and night,
Nightingale,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,–
Merrily,
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

By William Blake

Save Blue Like Jazz

Ian and I read Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller several years ago… What an incredible book it is! We both loved it as it helped opened our eyes and explore our faith in Christ in a fresh way. If you’ve read the book, then you know the heart of Don’s message and the value of spreading it. Would you take two minutes to watch this video and see how you can help share Blue Like Jazz with the world? If you have not read the book, we highly recommend reading it!

Save Blue Like Jazz from Save Blue Like Jazz on Vimeo.

Madam How and Lady Why

If your heart be pure and sober, gentle and truthful, then
Lady Why speaks to you without words, and tells
you things which Madam How and all her pupils, the
men of science, can never tell. When you lie, it may
be, on a painful sick-bed, but with your mother’s
hand in yours; when you sit by her, looking up into
her loving eyes; when you gaze out towards the setting
sun, and fancy golden capes and islands in the
clouds, and seas and lakes in the blue sky, and the infinite
rest and peace of the far west sends rest and
peace into your young heart, till you sit silent and
happy, you know not why; when sweet music fills
your heart with noble and tender instincts which
need no thoughts or words; ay, even when you
watch the raging thunder-storm, and feel it to be, in
spite of its great awfulness, so beautiful that you
cannot turn your eyes away: at such times as these
Lady Why is speaking to your soul of souls, and saying,
“My child, this world is a new place, and strange,
and often terrible: but be not afraid. All will come
right at last. Rest will conquer Restlessness; Faith will
conquer Fear; Order will conquer Disorder; Health
will conquer Sickness; Joy will conquer Sorrow;
Pleasure will conquer Pain; Life will conquer Death;
Right will conquer Wrong. All will be well at last.
Keep your soul and body pure, humble, busy,
pious—in one word, be good: and ere you die, or after
you die, you may have some glimpse of Me, the Everlasting
Why: and hear with the ears, not of your
body but of your spirit, men and all rational beings,
plants and animals, ay, the very stones beneath your
feet, the clouds above your head, the planets and the
suns away in farthest space, singing eternally,
“ ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory
and honour and power, for Thou hast created all
things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.’ ”
-Charles Kingsley in his book, Madam How and Lady Why

Pride

I’ve had a lot of time to read lately… sounds crazy with 4 kids in tow, right? Well, while I’m nursing Joy Elizabeth, I have some time to soak in some books I’ve had on hold. One of them is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. First of all, I love his style of writing. I recently read the Chronicles of Narnia series and enjoyed every single book… Lewis paints such beautiful word pictures! Mere Christianity is full of foundational truths of the Christian faith.. truths that step on our toes. This book has been a refreshing wake up call to me. As someone who in the past has “played Christian,” I love his honesty and ease of the realities of life and the importance of the elements in the Christian faith. Today I read about pride. Here is a quote that speaks to me greatly:

“As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”

May I always strive to look up to my Heavenly Father.

Our Backyard Birds

We have a crape myrtle in our backyard that a pair of Northern Mockingbirds have made a home in… We watched as they built their nest from sticks and other yard items. This past Tuesday, Ian noticed that there was an egg in their nest! A beautiful one, at that. Then yesterday (Thursday) we saw there was another egg! It is fascinating to watch the birds protect their nest and babies as squirrels attempt to get at it. Something that we learned in home school last year was that gray squirrels like to steal eggs to eat (A great book is The Burgess Animal Book for Children). It is truly amazing to see the defense and attacks that take place on the utility wires that run high above our back fence… the squirrel is chased away by the swooping, attacking bird (we think it must be the daddy bird). To learn more about Northern Mockingbirds (which happens to be Florida’s state bird) click here. God’s creation is amazing! Enjoy the pictures (courtesy of Ian)!

The Crape Myrtle... The nest is in the very center.

The Crape Myrtle... The nest is in the very center.

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire

The beginning stage of their nest.

The beginning stage of their nest.

The nest... complete!

The nest... complete!

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Their eggs... they are beautiful!

Their eggs... they are beautiful!

“Parables from Nature” Part I

A book we occasionally read in school is Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty. I have truly enjoyed the stories or parables creatively written (probably more than the children :-) ). I’d like to first share a section from the Preface that helps explain the premise of the book…

“There are two books, “says Sir Thomas Browne, in his Religio Medici, “from whence I collect my divinity; besides that written one of God, another of His servant, Nature – that universal and public manuscript that lies expanded unto the eyes of all: those that never saw Him in the one have discovered Him in the other.” And afterwards, as if giving a particular direction to the above general statement, he adds: “Those strange and mystical transmigrations that I have observed in silkworms turned my philosophy into divinity. There is in these works of Nature, which seem to puzzle reason, something diving, and hath more in it than the eye of a common spectator doth discover.”

How amazing that God, in all His majesty and glory, reveals Himself to us, mere human beings, through spiders spinning a web, trees glistening with dew, wind causing the leaves on trees to dance… the list goes on and on. His Creation is calling to us and this book beautifully shares perspectives of Nature and their call to us to look to the Lord.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.
-Romans 1:19-20

Butterfly on flower

“Serve God, Save the Planet”

I finished it. The book. Last week I read the last pages of Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s book, Serve God, Save the Planet. I want to read it again. Ian is in the process of reading it now and I am excited to discuss it with him! I highly recommend every human being who is a Christian, believer in God, person of faith, whatever you may call yourself, to read this book. I believe that it can change your life…

Visit the site Serve God, Save the Planet to see a preview of the book. Also, for a thorough review click here.

I hope to share more soon!