Three Things

Dear Friends,

When it rains it pours! After a month of not much activity on the publishing front, I have an essay and an interview out today, and a podcast interview last week.

First, the essay: Love and Adore is a reflection on Psalm 131, about living deeply rooted in the circle of God’s love, and how that leads us to adoration. Most of us need to remember again and again to remain like that weaned child on her mother’s breast, safe in the circle of the everlasting arms. That’s a lifetime’s lesson.

Second, the interview: Lancia Smith of The Cultivating Project asked me to be her featured writer for May. I was honored and flattered and, truth be told, puzzled. Why me? I still don’t know why she asked me, but I do know this: Lancia has a gift. Forget Barbara Walters. Lancia Smith knows how to interview people in such a way that they shine. When I read the interview, I hardly recognized myself. She made me look good, better than good, certainly better than I actually am. If you know me in real life, maybe don’t read this. You’ll think I’ve been holding out on you.

Third, the podcast interview: my dear friend Emily Allen launched a website in March and a podcast in May. She also has six children. Whom she homeschools. I’ll spare you all the other amazing things she does. If I didn’t love her so much, I’d be green with envy over her initiative, stamina, godliness, wisdom, and just general awesomeness. Her heart is full of love for others, and seems to be endless in capacity. I count myself blessed to call her friend and be enfolded in the circle of her capacious blessing. For her podcast, Emily and I talked about the out-of-doors life with children.

As always, friends, thank you for subscribing to my website. If you read the interview with Lancia, you will know how important you are to me. Even if you don’t, I want you to know that your faithfulness in reading is a large part of the reason I am still writing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

May you know today how high and wide and long and deep is Christ’s love for you.

With warmest gratitude,

April in Books


Dear friends,

Heading into Lent, I had grand plans of launching a newsletter, of starting a Facebook group, of creating a Movement. I was going to call it Read Upstream, a gathering of people who like old books and treasure the wisdom they contain. Over the course of Lent, those plans got dismantled. I’d like to say it was God who dismantled them, but it might have been me. Either way, I’m not terribly disappointed. I’m not sure I’m Founder-of-a-Movement material anyway. I lack confidence and that je ne sais quoi we call charisma.

I’m still working on the newsletter (technical difficulties abound!), so for now I’m posting some of what would go in said newsletter here on my blog. To wit, a list of books I finished in April (some of which took me many months to read) that I think others–you!–may enjoy or benefit from (both, I hope!).

So here is my April in books:


City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge (1936)

I discovered Elizabeth Goudge four or so years ago, and I’m slowly reading through her body of work because I love her books so much that I want there always to be another one.

City of Bells is one of her mid-career novels. It’s good, but not as good as her later books (which is exactly as it should be). As with all Goudge novels, the city is as much a character as the people (though the sense of place is not as rich and developed as in her later books), and her sympathetic portraits of the people of Torminster are engaging and delightful. Her prose is delicious, and her insight into human personality is as helpful as it is profound. For those of us who are introverts, nine-year-old Henrietta is a wise role model.


George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Geoff and Janet Benge (1999)

The Benges have written several series of middle grade biographies. This is from their Christian Heroes series. The writing is…not excellent. But the content more than makes up for paucity of style. This book is a quick read, but I found myself stopping periodically in wonder at the faith of George Muller and praying that God would increase my own faith. For that alone I think it’s worth reading!


The Winter Seeking by Vinita Hampton Wright (2003)

I picked up this book at the library because I will be speaking at a writing retreat next March where the author is keynoting. I figured I ought to be familiar with her work. This novel is set in December and is ostensibly a Christmas book, but it’s fine to read in April.

It was particularly helpful for me, as I begin to explore again my desire to write novels (one of the things that came up during Lent that led to the dismantling of my Movement). It is a simple story about a young woman in a difficult time who meets Mary and through her, Jesus. It helped me see that a book can be good even if it’s not Great Literature. It helped me see that even a simple story is worth writing. And it is helping me listen to the characters that have been making cameo appearances in my head for the past eight years, with the intention of finally writing down what they say and do.


Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)

I read this aloud to my kids for our winter literature selection. It’s a re-read for Jack and Jane, but so good it’s worth reading again and again. Wilder’s re-creation of her childhood in the Big Woods of Wisconsin delights me every time I read it. It delights my kids, too. An added bonus: there’s a fabulous story about the importance of obedience (without being preachy) that serves as a great springboard for discussion, even with six-year-olds.


Julius Caesar by Plutarch (c. 100)

For this I give myself the Championship Reading Award. Plutarch is difficult, to say the least. But Charlotte Mason insisted upon him for all children over ten, so I read this with my two oldest, two or three pages a week for 20-some weeks, and we finished it. Woot! Woot! But it wasn’t just that we finished it; it was that we met and got to know Caesar, one of the most famous of all Roman leaders, and the mixed bag of motives that he was. We had great discussions over those 20-some weeks about nobility, motivation, means, and ends…which is probably why Mason included Plutarch in her curriculum. This story just begged to be talked about and pondered.


Paradise Lost by John Milton (1674)

My friend Lisa and I started reading Paradise Lost in September. We’d read two of its 12 books every month or so and then meet at a local coffee house/bookstore to discuss it. We finished reading it and discussed the last two books–about Messiah’s reversal of the Fall through His death and resurrection–during Holy Week. How very apropos. This is easily my favorite literary adventure of the past decade. Milton’s poetry staggers, his vision of God boggles the mind, and his portrait of Satan was painfully apt, containing as it did so much of human self-importance and self-will.

I highly recommend finding a friend who’s game and reading this book together. It’s amazing. Rich in image, idea, and allusion–so much to talk about!


A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St Paul’s Religion by James S. Stewart (1935)

I read this book slowly and savored it. Stewart was a scholar as well as a pastor, and though his writing is accessible as only the clearest thinking can be, it is not easy. Sometimes he includes the Greek and doesn’t translate it, assuming that I as the reader know Greek. Right. But apart from that (even including that!), this book shimmers. Multiple times I was moved to tears. (When was the last time a book of scholarly exegesis did that to you?) Even more times I was moved to pray.

This book awoke in me a deep sense of gratitude and awe for all Christ has done for me, which was (says Stewart) the driving force of Paul’s life. Stewart does a remarkable job not simply of capturing the love and awe behind the apostle’s life of abandonment to his Lord but of casting that vision forward, too, into my life. This is one of those soul-shifting books; after reading it, I am a different person than I was before.


Not that I need more books on my To Read list, which is already a half-mile long. Still, I’d love to hear what you’ve read recently that sparked your plug.

For the joy of good old books,




Photo by Beth Jusino, Creative Commons via Flickr.


On a Sunday morning last fall, I boarded a plane in Phoenix, where I had come three days earlier for my uncle’s memorial service. Three days with my parents, sister, and assorted relatives that I hadn’t seen in years, three days of catching up and talk talk talking, three days of absorbing varying levels of grief, loss, tears, and anger, three days away from my husband and children, three days out of the rhythms and rituals that undergird and uphold my life. It was in many ways wonderful, but as I flopped into my narrow window seat, I also realized I was emotionally and spiritually spent.

We took off. An hour into the flight, the plane started bucking and cantering like a grumpy colt. The fasten seat belt light came on.

Now, I am a nervous flyer at the best of times. Throw in turbulence, and I become agitated. Add in emotional and spiritual exhaustion, and I fall into full-fledged panic. I sat there with the plane rolling beneath me and panic rolling within me, and I could do nothing. I could not fight. I could not flee. I could only sit. With every jolt, fear roiled through my body.

Read the rest over at Velvet Ashes, a beautiful online community for women serving overseas.

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