Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve Poem

Keith carved our Jack 2010 here, and in light of today being All Hallows Eve, I thought I would definitely post the wonderful poem sent out today from the Academy of American Poets. So, enjoy!

"Theme in Yellow" by Carl Sandburg
I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.
I'll post photos of the kids in their costumes tonight or tomorrow so you can see them in all their, um, glory.

Last night I was reading Psalm 146 from the Psalter, and the verses spoke to me of all that has been heavy on my heart for the past couple of weeks:

Blessed is [s/]he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his[/her] God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever....(Psalm 146:5-6, ESV)
Wishing you all a safe and blessed All Hallows Eve,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

To Kindle or To Nook?

My Elizabeth has mentioned gathering the rest of the family together to give me an e-reader for Christmas. I would really love one as holding books is difficult for my arthritis-riddled hands; an e-reader would also mean not needing a flashlight to read by in bed--which bothers Keith to no end.

One afternoon I recently stopped by our local Barnes and Noble and started playing around at the Nook display. I was impressed by the clarity of the reading experience, by the ability to be able to read in any lighting, and by the highlighting and notetaking capabilities (especially since I am notorious for underlining and scribbling all over my books). The fact that Barnes and Noble has a million books available, 90% of those free, also impressed me. I played around with the Nook, and although I found some components frustrating and slow, I liked the overall experience.

So then the question became this: Nook or Kindle?

I downloaded both free readers for the Nook and the Kindle onto my laptop as a first step. At the beginning of this process I was leaning fairly strongly toward the Nook. But I found it very difficult to download the supposedly free B&N Classics; instead, most of them were .99 cents or $1.99 each rather than free, as I had been told at the Nook counter. The books took a long time to download and then the PC version was not very sophisticated: no different fonts or colors were available to view the books. The B&N Classics series is very nice with links to end notes and great introductory material. But only a few books are free and then only for limited times.

Today I went to the Kindle site and downloaded 48 classics in one hour, all for free. I was able to adjust the viewing of the PC Kindle reader to sepia which is easier on my eyes than white on black or black on white. The pages turn more quickly and the sheer number of free classics is mind-boggling and impressive. The free classics are easy and quick to locate and download, and I only looked at the first fifteen or so pages of free classics available--there are many, many more pages I have yet to peruse.

The only books I want to purchase are the four Twilight Saga titles and the ESV Bible, preferably the ESV Study Bible. Other than those, I really only want free classics. So at this point, I'm leaning quite heavily toward the Kindle. It's also ten dollars cheaper than the Nook at $139 for the Wi-Fi version. In the Kindle Store, the Twilight books are $8.99 except for the fourth and Bree Tanner which are both $9.99; the ESV Study Bible is $7.99.

Through Barnes and Noble's NookBooks Store, the prices for the above books are identical to the Kindle Store. But the Barnes and Noble Classics are now $2.99 each, versus the free classics available through Kindle.

So if any of you have either the Kindle or the Nook or have used both, I'd love to have your opinions as well. Any and all feedback is extremely welcome...and needed.

Booklovingly yours,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Seven Quick-Takes Friday


It's been a busy week. I was down sick for most of it but somehow managed to pull my stuff together enough to teach my two high school writing courses at Class Day on Thursday...which was the first day I had been able to eat my usual breakfast of yogurt with granola and toast. Seriously. But despite spending my afternoons this week watching Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy on cable, I did manage to pull together a few Quick Takes for you.


Okay, I've decided that there is no possible way that I can possibly do NaNoWriMo this year. I will be dealing with the most intensive part of my online MLA Research Essay Class at Brave Writer in November, so I just can't see being able to write 1700 words each day. What I need to do is edit what I have written in the two past challenges. And write my MLA book for Brave Writer. And keep editing the Book of Common Prayer project. So I think my plate is simply too full for NaNoWriMo this November. Sigh of sadness....


But since I can't handle NaNoWriMo this November, I've been considering a slightly different challenge. Robert Lee Brewer, editor of The Poet's Market, is hosting a Poetry PAD Chapbook Challenge for the month of November. Resembling April's NaPoWriMo, this challenge involves writing a poem a day in November, revising the poems in December, and submitting them in chapbook form in January. I'm quite seriously considering doing this challenge instead of NaNoWriMo. I don't have time to write 1700 words a day, but writing a rough draft of a poem each day...THAT I may be able to manage this November. I have only written one poem since July, so perhaps jumping back into composing poetry might be a good thing...a very good thing.


For a fun Halloween poetry adventure, check out The Poetry Haunted House at The Academy of American Poets. It's a fun literary tour through some rather spooky poems and places.


Ruminate Magazine is looking for some short fiction (like 140 words) on Sound and/or Silence. Here's more information on what they're looking for from their Facebook page: Ruminate Magazine Short Fiction Challenge.


I ran across this fun little do-hickey on someone's blog who was getting ready for NaNoWriMo. I plan to download and use this little writer's friend to help me enjoy writing a little more. Sometimes facing a blank white page is a scary proposition, so we'll see how Focus Writer helps to conquer the fear of the blank page and get those creative juices flowing!


Season 8 Finalists: Gretchen, Mondo, and Andy

Did anyone watch the Season 8 finale of Project Runway last night? I'm glad to see a woman win, but I truly hated Gretchen's collection. It was so...brown. And so prairie. And so dang depressing. As usual, the designer whose collection I liked the most, Andy, was the first out. I loved his delicate Oriental style and thought his silvery, glimmery collection was simply gorgeous. I vastly preferred Mondo's wacky collection over Gretchen's western casual...Mondo's clothing had such style, such joy, such panache. The judges fought long and hard over the decision, with Heidi Klum and guest judge Jessica Simpson preferring Mondo's collection while Nina Garcia and Michael Kors were adamant about Gretchen's work winning...and they prevailed. Ugh....

So (on this positive note), have a lovely weekend, all!

Wishing you all a blessed celebration of All Saints',

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Written on Our Hearts

He prides himself on his penmanship.

Pencil in hand, the youngest one, the littlest one, wriggles into his place. He wrote out his full first name, all eight letters, before he was three, before he was talking well. He whizzed through two handwriting books a year, often completing a week's lessons in a single day. He was writing cursive in first grade.

His writing is as neat as mine, albeit larger.

Each day he pulls out copybook and neatly writes what we are memorizing for the week. As I mentioned on Monday, this week we're learning 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18:

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -- English Standard Version
Then he pulls out his penmanship book, a series I love, that all four children have used: A Reason for Handwriting. Over the course of a week, he practices part of a Scripture verse, finally copying it out onto a beautiful illustrated page that he can then give to family or friends.

Not his best work, but the best one not given away to family or friends
Each week he copies Words, squirreling them into his heart as pencil glides across page.

This is how I memorize The Word, too.

I copy His Word into journals...into my quotation journal, into my prayer journal. I consume Scripture as I copy onto page, dipping brass nib into ink bottle--an action that slows me, allowing Word to nestle in, make itself at home in my deep places.

When one copies Word to paper, letters formed one after another, thoughts pinned to page, heart-work drilling deep where memories birth and mature, the Word is ready to be drawn out into light at our every need.

And we need it. We need Him. We need His Word whispered into our hearts, into the depths of our souls...written there by His very Hand. And when His Word is anchored in memory, it easily rises to the surface where we can chew on it, savoring His Truth in our inmost places.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105, ESV)
Writing His Word on my heart this day,

holy experience

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Welcome, Homeschool Hoppers!

Welcome, visitors new and familiar from the Hip Homeschooling Hop!

I'm Susanne, and we're a family tucked into the mountains east of San Diego, California. Our eldest is enjoying her freshman year at Point Loma Nazarene University where I not only attended for undergraduate studies but also returned to teach after earning my Masters in English. Just last week she changed majors from Journalism to Literature (my old major), so I am so excited to have her in my old department among many of my former professors and colleagues.

We have three younger boys in grades 5, 8, and 10 at home. We're mostly a Sonlight family until high school when we transition to mostly ABeka. This year is our thirteenth year of homeschooling.

I also have both feet firmly planted in the evangelical Church as well as the more liturgical Christian tradition. Our family has attended Lake Murray Community Church, an Evangelical Free Church, for over 17 years. In addition, I have attended (usually with at least one child, sometimes more) a small conservative Anglican Church that is now under the auspices of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, for their Friday healing services. It's rather wonderful for me to see these two churches become more and more alike over the years as Lake Murray adopted weekly Communion and now has started a group of Scripture readers for each service while Blessed Trinity becomes more evangelical in their outreach and programs. The reason I feel drawn to more historical Christianity: the preponderance of Scripture read and prayed in the Anglican services. Yes, it all comes down to His Word.

After retiring from teaching Freshman Composition, Research Writing, German, and Ancient/Medieval Literature at PLNU, I started teaching writing courses at our home school group, Heritage Christian School in 1997. Soon I developed and wrote my own curricula for teaching high school writing. Currently I teach a college prep writing class as well as an honors level writing course. I also teach writing online to several age groups at Brave Writer where I have worked since 2002, currently a course on for high school students on writing the MLA research essay. I love teaching online courses to students and families around the world.

In addition, I offer an online grading service to homeschoolers at my website: Susanne M. Barrett: Online Essay Grading Service, where I not only "correct" essays but also seek to encourage students in the areas in which they write well. Teaching writing is definitely a passion of mine.

If you'd like to read more about our homeschooling journey, there's a page above labelled Home Schooling, along with other pages on My Favorite Writing Books, living with Chronic Illness, my passion for Liturgical Prayer, and even some of my Selected Poems.

So welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere! Leave a comment, and I'll come by to return your visit. We homeschoolers (especially we "hip" ones) need to stick together to encourage one another in this wonderful and frustrating and incredible lifestyle called home schooling.

Hopping with you this day,

Monday, October 25, 2010

When Gratitude Isn't Easy

The welcome rain pours from grey sky--gentle at times, angry at others. The sun remains masked, and despite thankfulness for much-needed rain, I crave light and bright.

It's been a difficult week, with daughter staying at college over the weekend, with financial struggles and the need for permanent work for Keith, with illness making itself felt and a bit of a stomach bug on top of my usual weaknesses.

As I planned our school week, I chose 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 for our memory verse for the next two weeks, as much for me as for the boys:

15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. --English Standard Version
So as I seek to "give thanks in all circumstances," I share with you my wee contribution to the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience on my slow, halting journey to One Thousand Gifts.

I thank God for...

371. ...welcome rain thirstily consumed by parched earth, by withered oaks and barren pines.

372. ...the sun attempting to shine through my kitchen window as I type this.

373. ...illness that slows me down and makes me rest (in Him) when I refuse to.

374. ...for a mentor who shares heart so deep and prays so faithful.

375. ...for help from dear husband in redesigning blog and creating a beautiful blog button.

376. ...for much progress on
Book of Common Prayer project with Father Acker and Alice

377. ...for
Ann who teaches and guides by living life deep and real and true.

378. ...for four healthy children who bloom giftings from God.

379. ...for power of His Words to calm, comfort, inspire.

380. ...for a wonderful husband who works so hard and prays so deep.

Thanking Him for His many blessings as fear dissipates and enemy weakens in the Light of His Loving Grace....

Walking in thanks this day and, I pray, each day,

holy experience

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn Poetry Quotation

Once again, The Academy of American Poets sent out a beautiful autumn poem this Sunday, this one by Robert Frost. It captures the crisp of fall, of leaves crunching beneath feet, of the tart sweetness of a freshly-picked apple, of the first fires flickering in the wood stove heating the house on a frosty night.

October by Robert Frost
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.
And on this Lord's Day, I also want to share a Scripture verse that my mentor showed me this week, one that I copied into my spiritual journal to keep close at hand. I have been struggling with fear this past week, and this verse brings me peace...His peace...the peace I need so desperately:
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you; I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10, English Standard Version
Wishing you all the joys and peace of autumn days this Sunday,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall-ishy Quick-Takes

It's Friiiii-daaaaay! Time for Seven Quick-Takes!


This weekend will be a grading weekend for me. I have a double-stack of essays from my Advanced Writing Class and the first five-paragraph essays from my Intermediate Class to grade this weekend. So I plan to be turning up the music--most likely the soundtracks to the three Twilight films--and spend the weekend with my fountain pen and a teetering stack o' essays. What fun!


I plan to also spend part of today and a little bit of tomorrow catching up on this season's House M.D.. Unfortunately, House conflicts with Dancing with the Stars on Monday evenings, so I've opted to watch ballroom dancing while texting snarky comments to Elizabeth who watches it on the big TV in her dorm. Our record thus far is 84 texts in two hours. My thumbs definitely are quite sore on Tuesday mornings.


We're making good progress on the Book of Common Prayer project. We've received permission to use the English Standard Version Bible translation, published in 2001, for the Scriptures. We're still smoothing out language, fixing formatting and typos, etc. It's a huge project but it's incredible to be involved in something so amazing. It should be ready for printing early next year. Then comes our big prayer request: adoption by bishops. We're treading fine lines between original doctrine, traditional content, and contemporary language. We pray that it can at least be an interim BCP while the Anglican Communion of North America works on their version--or that they'll really like it and want to use it themselves. :)


Image Attribution

One of my longtime prayers has been answered this fall. For the last ten years, I have been praying for a spiritual director/mentor, someone with whom I can share prayer requests and from whom I can receive encouragement, counsel, and advice. Our church of 17 years, Lake Murray Community Church, recently set up a Heart-to-Heart ministry for women, and I adore my new prayer mentor/partner. K is wonderful, a wise woman with two grown children (one in the mission field) and a love of deep, quiet places of the soul. We've e-mailed and talked on the phone as well as meeting in person twice; in fact, we met together only yesterday at a Starbucks. Each time we meet, we spend about two hours together, sharing, chatting, and writing down each other's prayer needs to pray about daily. I am so thrilled at the long-awaited answer to this prayer!


The fall weather in Southern California has been, well, fallish. Often October is one of our hottest months, the month of devastating Santa Ana winds propelling brushfires through the county, like the ones in 2003 and 2007, both of which forced us to evacuate our home. But this past week brought us over 1.5 inches of rain--which is a lot for Southern California where even in the mountains, we're lucky to get 15-20 inches of precipitation per year. We've fired up the woodstove to heat the house a few times this week and last week, and I think we'll be doing so again tonight. The flannel sheets are on our bed, and summer sheets washed and packed up for the winter. I'm trying to ignore predictions of a Santa Ana next week and glory in true autumn weather this week.


One of my great joys is listening to our middle son J practice the piano each morning before our home school opening. I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano as has Keith; we were both taught the organ in childhood. J had taken two years of piano then set it aside when we could no longer afford the lessons; he picked up guitar at that point with the Free Teen Guitar Class. But our piano teacher needed a writing instructor for her daughter, so we now barter lessons. While J takes piano lessons in the teacher's living room, I teach her daughter writing in the kitchen. Keith and I both enjoy J's exuberant playing each morning so much--it's such a blessing.


Image Attribution

Keith has been experimenting with baking breadsticks lately. This week we had a lovely pot of chicken vegetable soup, so he pulled out a breadstick recipe and made some pretty wonderful breadsticks from scratch, with herbs and garlic and topped with melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Oh, my! Amazing.

So have a wonderful weekend, all! Enjoy your families and the beauties of crisp autumn weather, unless you're one of my friends from the Southern Hemisphere, in which case I wish you a lovely spring!

Fallishly yours,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cute as a Button....

Yes, I've been playing with Blogger tonight. I'm not sure this new template is for me; Keith thinks it's too blue, and I think I'm inclined to agree.

So don't be surprised to see a different template tomorrow (or even when you get around to reading this post!) as I plan to fiddle around with it this weekend.

But with Keith's PhotoShop expertise, we were able to design a Blog Button for me! I would love to see it end up on a few of your blogs, if you feel so inclined--the code is in the sidebar, thanks to A Heart 4 Home's wonderful tutorial on posting the code.  I'm just glad to have one to post for Multitude Mondays and Walk with Him Wednesdays on Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience.

And isn't Ann's new blog design lovely??? Among her beautiful new blog, plus Jennifer's at Conversion Diary and of course Sarah's at Paper Roads, I feel the need for something new and fresh and clean.

But after living with this template all evening, I don't think this is it.

I've also debated a move to Wordpress, but I haven't had the guts to do it. I feel comfortable navigating and playing around with Blogger, but would really love to have my own domain rather than the darn "" in my address. Ah, well...small details.

So I'm off to bed now and will indeed be playing around with templates this weekend....

Any advice is gratefully solicited. :)

Blogging along with you,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Word Made Real

The book splays open, and births Life...Life beyond that of this pain-flayed body, beyond this mortal coil. The words within whisper Truth to each soul while the translation from ancient tongues remains archaic, the work of Miles Coverdale, locked in the sixteenth century where it precedes even King James' Authorized Bible.

This book of prayer, actually a Book of Common Prayer, was published in 1928, and it remains the main prayer book for many a conservative Anglican in the States. The Word on the page is spoken aloud, prayed aloud--Words of the Ages cleft in the Rock, now intones wisdom and grace.

Each morning I riffle the translucent pages until The Venite, the Call to Worship taken from Psalms 95 and 96, memorized through daily use over the last four years:

Venite, exultemus Domino.
O COME, let us sing unto the LORD; * let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; * and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God; * and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; * let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; * and with righteousness to judge the world, and the peoples with his truth.
How do we hide His Word in our hearts?

Through praying it each morning, each noon, each evening, each night before bed. Through intoning Words of Life, They indwell us. He indwells us.

No matter how many days I pray these prayers, never do these Words grow rote or roll off my tongue, through my head, without leaving a glimmer of Him behind. He never leaves, never forsakes. Never.

In the glister of candleflame, He flames forth, filling and fulfilling, every one of His Promises YES.

I eat this Book, sweet on my tongue and clinging to my heart.

As evening wanes and my flannel sheets call my name, I open Common Prayer and pray the heartfelt words of Mary in the Gospel of Saint Luke as she celebrates the One growing within her, the One who will save her and us all, and I magnify Him through her words, His Word:

MY soul doth magnify the Lord, * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; * as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed, for ever.
As eyes droop and spirits flag, His Word echoes in my mind, lulling me into His arms. I've been praying His Word...the Psalter now so familiar from praying it night and day each month over the years...the Canticles of Evening and Morning Offices of Prayer, breathed out, second nature to me, the Scriptures of Holy Communion prayed each Friday--Grace and Truth in action.

I pray these Words, and they implant, take root, send forth shoots into very soul. They become part of my thoughts, my words, and, I pray, my actions. They become bread and wine, very sustenance. I eat of them greedily, drink them down thirstily.

And they nourish, building my strength in Him, His Power in my spirit, my power in His Spirit.

The Word Made Real...through praying it daily.

In Common with thousands of others, I pray His Word.

Praying His Word in Common,

holy experience

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to Poetry Prompts....

It's been months since I've written a poem from Carry On Tuesdays prompts. But here I am, making an attempt, however weak, to write a poem. Actually, a prose poem--something I haven't done before.

I haven't written anything besides e-mail, blog posts, and journal scribbles since July. I still feel a little reticient, shrinking a bit back when thinking about putting heart out here again in public after being taken to task for my writing on this blog and in other venues. But I need to push forward, and I'm forcing myself to pick up a pen and put myself back out I pray for a return of confidence, of walking forward con fide, "with faith."

Breaking out a new rough draft journal helped, too.

So this week I'm tackling Prompt #75 from the movie The Italian Job: "Look, if there's one thing I've learned..." with a prose poem.


if there's one thing she's learned it's that time spins inward. As years stairstep into decades we morph becoming other in spiraling slow-mo. Ideas discard themselves rolling bumping clicking one on another. Faith twists in on itself pulling forward pushing back. Time shifts unmasking pain remembered. Turning her back, she decides to walk through the minefield stomach trembling but mind free. What else can she do?

Picking up pen at long last, con fide,

This Week's Hip Homeschool Hop!

Welcome, Homeschool Hop Visitors, Fresh Ones and Familiar Ones!

I'm Susanne, and I've been homeschooling for twelve years and blogging for four years. I write about faith, writing, homeschooling, poetry, pop culture, and whatever else pops into my wee brain. I'm very glad you've stopped by.

I'm a former Adjunct Instructor of Writing and Literature at Point Loma Nazarene University here in San Diego (where our eldest is attending her freshman year of college) and now live with my artistic husband and (now) three boys (and an adorable red mini-dachshund named "Dash") in a small town in the mountains east of San Diego. I teach writing classes at our co-op Class Days with Heritage Christian School (since 1997) and also at Brave Writer (since 2002) where I'm currently teaching a class on the MLA Research Essay.

I have pages above describing our Home Schooling (mixture of Charlotte Mason, Classical, and Eclectic), my Favorite Writing Books, my love affair with Liturgical Prayer, the challenges of living with Chronic Illness, and even some of my Selected Poems.

On this rainy Tuesday, we've got chicken vegetable soup bubbling on the range, a fire in the woodburning stove, and mugs of tea and cocoa at the ready. Draw up a chair and stay awhile....

Welcome, fellow educators and anyone else stopping by!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Counting Monday Multitudes....

This morning I send one of the boys upstairs to pull from walls and bring down my two treasured icons to teach the boys about Russian and Greek iconography as we study iconoclasts of eighth and ninth centuries in The Story of Christianity, our Church history book. I struggle to tell them of icons, how they are "written," not "painted," how they are written starting with black and ending with white and gold, showing the journey from dark to light, how I find them valuable in my own prayer life.

Yesterday as I prayed through John Baillie's little gem, The Diary of Private Prayer, I found myself thanking God for ALL things, something I struggle to do.

Well, I have worries and concerns. We all do. I pray that I can learn to accept them with a grateful heart and, placing them at His feet as a holy offering, leave them there. You see, I rather tend to put them there, leave them for a little bit, then scoop them back up and run off with them to worry over them on my own. If only I could leave them there. I pray for His help in conquering this tendency of mine, though I rather think it may be a lifelong battle against my own nature, with God's help.

Today as the low-hanging clouds dampen the daylight hours, making the fall sunshine wary, I push aside a grayish mood and continue to count the multitudes this Monday, on my way to A Thousand Gifts, starting the week with gratitude:

361. God's grace in providing work for Keith.

362. A long weekend at home with my girl, watching movies.

363. Flannel sheets.

364. Dear, dear friends who love me despite my spotty correspondence.

365. Autumn poems brimming with autumn color.

366. Benjamin insisting that when I call him a "nut," that I expand this nickname to "a pistachio with a blue pancreas, a rainbow brain, one-eighth bunny, with a zebra-striped liver." Gotta love ten-year-olds.

367. The joy Jonathan takes in his music.

368. The joy Timothy takes in his artwork.

369. The joy Elizabeth takes in her college experience.

370. Late-night kisses beneath Irish-chain quilt.

Giving thanks in ALL things this day, and I pray, every day,

holy experience

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn Poetry Quotation

Last Sunday my daily Poem-a-Day from was a lovely autumnal work by Yeats. This Sunday a wonderful fall poem by Emily Dickinson arrived in my inbox, and I would love to share it with you on this autumn evening with storm clouds brewing and rain creeping its way up the mountain.

131 by Emily Dickinson
Besides the Autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze -

A few incisive mornings -
A few Ascetic eves -
Gone - Mr Bryant's "Golden Rod" -
And Mr Thomson's "sheaves."

Still, is the bustle in the brook -
Sealed are the spicy valves -
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many Elves -

Perhaps a squirrel may remain -
My sentiments to share -
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind -
Thy windy will to bear!
So on this windy and stormy night, may you all find a cozy place to cuddle with book and a mug of cocoa, as I am this evening.

Feeling "fall"ish,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Escapist Reading....

When pain throbs and limbs ache, I reach for something to take the edge off. Rather than taking more meds, I find escape between the covers of a book...or two. Or more.

Movies will do in a pinch. Elizabeth and I had a bit of a Robert Pattinson filmfest this weekend, watching both Twilight and New Moon, and then Remember Me. We're looking very much forward to the DVD release of Eclipse (my favorite of the Twilight Saga books and (thus far) movies) on December 4.

But I reach for books as they involve my mind far more efficiently. As I attempt to sleep each night, I read one of the four Twilight books, and I also listen to the audiobooks from my iPod when dressing and undressing each day and when driving in the car. Going to sleep is difficult for me as I wait for the meds to take effect after my soak in the spa, patiently awaiting the pain to ebb long enough for sleep to overtake me. Dressing and undressing are painful, and sitting in the car is as well, so listening to the books help to alleviate the pain. I'm not sick of the story of Bella and Edward...not yet. I just pray for Meyer to complete Midnight Sun which is a retelling of Twilight from Edward's point of view. Being strongly "Team Edward," I would love to see more than the fragment of Midnight Sun posted on Meyer's website.

But in the spa each night and during the few other times I can read in daylight hours, I've been making my way through the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series of turn-of-the-century London mysteries by Anne Perry. The first novel in the series was published in 1979, and she has published almost one each year since then. Charlotte is a strong woman who helps her policeman husband solve his murder cases, and I love the setting in Victorian England. Charlotte's family have also helped solve cases, including her mother, sister, and her sister's aunt-in-law.

I've read through the mysteries before, but as my chiropractor's receptionist/assistant is lending them to me (her nephew tracked down Perry's entire series). I am enjoying them greatly and am actually dreading finishing the series simply because I am enjoying having such a wonderful stack of quality books to read right at hand. When I finish one, I go right to the next book in the series.

And rereading the Harry Potter series is another way to relax, one that I'll pick back up when I run out of the Pitt series. And yes, I have several of them on my iPod as well. :)

I have plenty of time to "live life" between my "Escapist Reading" which mostly happens "after hours"--after the kids are in bed, after all other work is done. These books relax stress, unwind mind, and allow pain to ebb until body rests and sleep comes.

Escapist TV is a whole 'nother post, but until then, I'll keep on turning pages....

With a book (or three) open,


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