“And so I began to dance with my life . . . ” – Shannon Ables

I’m reading Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life and at the above-mentioned sentence, I had to stop and share.

I can relate.  I had so many ideas for what to do with today, “something truly meaningful,” I prayed to God.  And then I wrote down the three things that would, I thought, be truly meaningful.  But thanks be to God, He, as usual, has a better idea.

So, here I sit before the fireplace, with the wood popping madly as the wind blows the snow horizontally outside, and I’m smelling John’s baking “chicken/turkey/bacon” enchiladas.  I’m ready for them, having only partaken today of a glass of Moscato, some Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups, and a cup of New Mexico Pinon coffee with plenty of organic heavy whipping cream – that shared first thing this morning with my gem of a son, Seth.

As Seth made the coffee in the beautiful French press (present from him for Christmas – lovely deep red in color), I prayed that another gem of a son, Benjamin who is in Kuwait, would call.  I dressed in favorite old jeans and a marvelously comfy sweater and sat quietly, and when the phone rang I knew it was him.  A truly meaningful day, and it’s only just begun.

I first opened my eyes this morning to the rocks on the bluff gleaming gold, and diamonds in the snow.  But by the time I finished a long and lovely chat with my son, the sky was threatening snow big time.

It was a good day, I reckoned, to visit the post office, pick up the mail, and send cards and letters.  I wrote what I believe is a fun letter to a dearly beloved young man who is in prison, and tucked it inside a small package along with Louis L’Amour’s Ride the River, which is about Echo Sackett.  I covered the package with real stamps (more romantic than stickers) and got a special “Love” stamp for the fun greeting card I also put in the mail today.

We, my Valentine John and I, went next to the Library – they had called and said I had books in!!!   It was a lovely stack:  Through the French Door by Carolyn Westbrook, Really Rural by Marie-France Boyer, Fight Like a Girl by Lisa Bevere, The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Classen, and finally, Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life, to which I plan to return right after those enchiladas . . .

Later in the Truly Meaningful day

The enchiladas were EXACTLY the thing for a cold February day in the Rockies, and I made for sure and for certain the cook knew he was appreciated.  Hugs and kisses and thanks and more thanks.  “Yum, oh, yum, you must remember exactly what you put in these,” etc. (It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Valentine’s week at our house).

And now I’m back to what makes any day truly worthwhile:  a good book.  I must pick up where I left off:  “And so I began to dance with my life . . .”

When I Write a Book . . .

I picked up Alice Hoffman’s The Third Angel because it was recommended in Fearless Writing.

I have a like/dislike relationship with this book, but I’m keeping on with it because it keeps redeeming itself, keeps pulling me along with unexpected delights.

I am not delighted with a woman who is marrying a man she knows to be selfish and flawed, but I am carried away with the answer to her own question:  How do you love such a person?  You just do it.

I am delighted when a book reminds me of the truths in my own life, how love is an act, a sacrifice, a looking like God.  Love is God and I am becoming more transformed into His image when I “just do it.”

Like the character in The Third Angel, I find myself unmoved by the flaws in those I love, even blind to them, when I get on that love train and we both start going places.  Life becomes an adventure of raw discovery, flaws become idiosyncrasies, differences become intriguing – even delightful, and life is good.

There is language in The Third Angel.  If not, the editors would probably say to the author, “This is London, you must have language, no one will believe it otherwise.”  But if I write a book, the strongest language will begin with “sh” and end with “it” even if the plane is crashing.

Wait.  No planes crashing in my book.  I will, as they say, write what I know.  Spaghetti sauce in a favorite antique bowl slipping out of my hand as I swipe it out of the fridge, breaking and splattering spaghetti sauce all over the kitchen.  Living and moving and breathing spaghetti sauce.  Everywhere.  Little faces astounded at the crash and even more at Mommy saying that word.

But then I would forget about a broken bowl and a messy kitchen because there is a much larger issue:  tender and bare feet.  I would shoo them away and clean every last speck – not perhaps every last speck of spaghetti sauce, which I will be finding this time next year, but every single last speck of glass.

Because I know these feet are going to be with me forever.  I know what is real and good, and that is the life of my children.  Life.

I don’t know if Alice Hoffman knows life is good, if her book will end as a good book must, with a satisfactory and victorious ending (a love ending).  I do know if I write a book, it will be filled top to bottom, end to end, and side to side with “Just do it” love.

Amen.

P.S.  Don’t miss The Homefront Show Fridays at 2:00 MTN.  Go to 1360am.co and join the fun!

 

 

Seriously! Me Read The Lord of the Rings?!!!

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I’ve stopped the lament about the dearth of edifying, smut-free, uplifting and thought-provoking books being published recently.  I’ve even taken a further step and am reading well-known classics (some are awful, by the way, and don’t deserve finishing) and lesser known but quite excellent books, such as Beverly of Graustark, and Elizabeth Goudge’s ever-so-marvelous Pilgrim’s Inn.

But today I have made up my mind to read books recommended by my family, books I’ve resisted for a number of years, throughout our home school journey.

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Experience says this is a good idea.  Case in point:  The HobbitSince high school when my girlfriend urged me repeatedly to read it, I have said, “It’s not my thing.  I know I won’t like it.”

My kids have also relentlessly pestered and badgered me to read The Hobbit, and finally, after years of resistance, I relented and read it.  And loved it!  And over the past three weekends, the three Hobbit movies have been our excellent viewing entertainment (greatly enhanced and understood because of first reading the book).

So where does all this go?  To the classic literature they have all read, the books they pity me in my ignorance of, and stubborn resistance about – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

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There seems to be a sort of secret affinity and understanding, a club of higher thinkers if you will, that those of us who haven’t read The LOTR books simply cannot fathom.  Therefore, it would behoove me, methinks, to read these literary masterpieces and make everyone in my house believe there is hope after all, that miracles do indeed happen, and that Mom is redeemable – perhaps even interesting – now that she is learning the difference between an orc and a ring wraith, and can even speak a bit of Gollum.

Here’s the Challenge:  Read things you don’t think you’ll like, just to make someone else happy.  Who knows what could happen?  Maybe the next time I want them to read something marvelous about which they have reservations, they’ll just read it!

What a concept – reading something new and different just because it will make someone else happy, just because it’ll give you insights into their strange conversations, just because it’s the way into “The LOTR Club” of higher thinking individuals.  This sounds like a no-lose deal.

And who knows, I might even like it, orcs and all.

 

Is This Romance or a Colossal Waste of Time?

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So many books, so little time.  Why, then, am I reading the most forgettable of books?  Because I am trying to escape laziness by being lazy.  Say what?

I recently read two very different books.  The second one is so forgettable (by a very successful modern author) that I won’t bore you with its title.  The first book, however, sent me to Alibris.com to see what else I might find by the author.  I started this book during Thanksgiving week, so it took a while to finish.  But even as I was busy with other quite enthralling and enjoyable activities, I was thinking about the book, about the main character’s dilemma.  I was, as I explained to my family, “intensely involved’ in this story.

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Right.  The name of the book:  Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  This book enhanced my thinking, revved up my mental engines.  Like another recently enjoyed excellent book, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Lady Audley’s Secret satisfied my heart’s desire for new insights and revelations, as well as reacquaintance with deep and almost forgotten heart’s truths.

So, why again do I pick up twaddle and use up precious hours of my life reading it, and then forgetting it as soon as possible?  It’s called “escape” and aptly so, but to where?  I escaped to intriguing worlds with Mary Elizabeth Braddon and with Elizabeth Gaskell, but with the author who must not be named I escaped to . . . I don’t remember.

 

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So many bad (inane, intelligence insulting, smut-filled) books.  So many good books.  I choose good.

Oh, and one more thing!  Beware the “poignant” books.  This usually means the author’s life stinks and he/she wants yours to, also, via reading this tripe.  Try instead something whose very feel in your hands makes you say, “I wonder what’s in here.”

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How About a REAL Romance!

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They’re the books my junior high principal used to entice non-reading boys, and they worked like nothing else.  They’re the books beginning with cliffhanger action, getting more exciting with each page, and ending satisfactorily every time (the boy and the girl have an understanding).  They’re Jubal Sackett, Sitka, Last of the Breed, and SackettThat’s right, they’re Louis L’Amour westerns (well, a few of his books, including Last of the Breed, aren’t westerns, but they’re still great books).

By “great” I mean, for starters, they have heroes worth remembering.  I remember, for instance, the Sacketts.  There are certain arroyos, canyons, and long vistas that take me back to a reading moment, and I say, “Look, I think Tell Sackett’s down there in that gulch.”  And there’s no doubt he’s about to do the right thing.  Not the easy thing, but the right thing.

So, no, these books aren’t Putlizer winners, they don’t have endorsements on the back telling us how “poignant” they are.  We won’t impress our “intellectual” acquaintances by stacking them about our living room.  And if we do try stacking them, they won’t remain stacked as do all the “right” books and the “must-reads”.  Rather, they will be read!

Every freeschooled bookwyrm has turn-on books.  Hannah, for instance, began her love affair with books by reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Secret GardenHer only Louis L’Amour book was The Last of the Breed.  Our other three bookwyrms have read, as have their parents, every Louis L’Amour (as far as we know) more than once.  Of course, bookwyms read almost all genres–anything and everything worthwhile, and some books not so worthwhile.

“Not so worthwhile” includes many recommended books, best sellers, and “must-reads” which are missing at least one of those main ingredients–worthy characters, an interesting plot, and a satisfactory ending.

Let’s stop worrying about what other people say we “should” read and let’s please ourselves with books that deliver.  Like say, a real romance.  Say, maybe, a Louis L’Amour.

School in the Trees

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Remember field trips–the best part of school?  It didn’t matter where you went, just that you got to go outside!

Since the kids were small I have seized opportunities to go outside–school on a quilt in the back yard; school as we pulled the littlest child on the biggest quilt in the red wagon.  We didn’t call it school as we ate dusty blackberries picked from the roadside to enjoy as we read Timothy Tattercoat by Maryel Chaney.

But oh, the lessons learned. Years later we didn’t call it school when we climbed and scooted and grunted our way to the top of the tallest rocks in the mountains behind our house, and stood reaching for the sky and talking of dreams.

I certainly don’t call it school when I demonstrate the ultimate in relaxation.  Sometimes, no matter how enthralling the book I’ve chosen to read on my quilt atop an aspen leaf/pine needle carpet, I fall asleep in the sunrays shining through the trees.  Whiling away afternoons celebrating the short but glorious Rocky Mountain summer is a lesson in, well, does it always have to be a lesson?

There is nothing difficult about any of this “schooling” – watching butterlies and humming forgotten tunes, telling stories of my childhood, experiencing my children. Perhaps more than wondering what the lesson is for my children, I should consider the message:  Life is wonderful.