The Collect for All Saints' Day

The Collect for All Saints' Day: "O Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." ~ The Book of Common Prayer, 1928

Good Reads Book Review: Wilder's "Farmer Boy"

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We think of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a children's author, an historical autobiographer, a story-teller. We don't think of her as a leader in the self-sufficiency movement. And yet, wasn't she? Consider the advice Father gives Almanzo in the closing pages of Farmer Boy.

[Being a wheelwright], you'd have an easy life, in some ways. You wouldn't be out in all kinds of weather. Cold winter nights, you could lie snug, in bed and not worry about young stock freezing. Rain or shine, wind or snow, you'd be under shelter. You'd be shut up, inside walls. Likely you'd always have plenty to eat and wear and money in the bank. [...] But there's the other side, too, Almanzo. You'd have to depend on other folks, son, in town. Everything you got, you'd get from other folks. A farmer depends on himself and the land and the weather. If you're a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wea…

Goodreads Book Review: Little House in the Big Woods

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember the first time I read Little House in the Big Woods. I was maybe 8 years old, and I would curl up in the bright pink bean bag chair in the storage room of my family's espresso shop. My parents had bought me the Little House boxed set from a local lady who sold homeschool curriculum, and I immediately loved the cover drawings of the smiling family adventuring in a covered wagon. I enjoyed the childish antics and the stories about old ways of living.

Reading it again all these years later, it felt like sitting beside a quiet stream of memory, the only sound the wind rustling the leaves of paper and past. It was like a pause from the chaos, a deep rest in a slower space. I couldn't help but wonder -- did reading these old children's books plant the seeds of simplicity in my heart? Was that when I started to dream of living life free from what we call modern society?

As a girl, I remember …

Goodreads Book Review: Niequist's "Present Over Perfect"

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Stop. Right now. Remake your life from the inside out.” (17)
The line was advice a friend had given Shauna Niequist, advice she turns into an invitation, offered over and over throughout the pages of Present Over Perfect. And for my part, I accepted, again and again as I made my way slowly through the chapters, soaking in the sweet words of hope, the silly encouragements toward joy.

I turned the final pages early this morning while sipping coffee in my hammock, breathing deeply the balmy honeysuckle air. That’s how I began today, a Wednesday -- a workday. It’s impractical and lovely and I having been making a habit of starting workdays this way. It’s one of many small, life-changing habits I have been cultivating, inspired in part by Niequist’s story.

I have read dozens upon dozens of Christian living books over the course of my life, but few have spoken t…

When Winter Ends

Two weeks ago we had snow in the Ozarks, drifting into the road on the Sunday morning drive to church, catching in my hair as I darted into the big red doors.

Today, the windchimes sing in the warm breeze that dances into my open window. The irises are budding, ready to bloom. Dogwood and redbud color the woods. Northern Orioles taste the orange slices I strung up to bring them close enough to watch in wonder.

Spring has finally come after the never-ending winter.

As the sun’s warmth soaks the earth, I keep finding excuses to be outside, to drink up the light and heat. I have always hated winter, and this winter I have hated in particular. I resent the long dark nights, the forced days inside, the waiting for unseen processes. I want green shimmering leaves and fresh tomatoes in the garden. I want lingering evenings speckled with fireflies.

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss seasons of personal growth in their book “God Will Make a Way.” Like seasons of the earth, seasons o…