A Book For You

It’s Saturday morning. High time for another installment in my occasional book recommendation series. But there is one very important book I haven’t yet told you much about.

My book.

Since that first announcement, you have been so supportive. So excited for me. So eager to read this book I have told you almost nothing about. I am grateful.

I want to tell you more.

*

Let’s begin with the details, as if this were one of those announcements I once mailed after the birth of my four babies. Those easy statistics that tell you so much and so little.

Title: Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

Cover:

Roots and Sky_cover

Release date: February 2, 2016

Available for pre-order here:

Amazon                    Barnes & Noble                   ChristianBook.com

Pre-ordering is convenient for you but critical for the success of new books. Pre-orders tell the booksellers there is interest, and they will stock more copies before the release date. More copies on shelves and in-warehouse translates to more sales in those critical early days.

Thank you for every one of your pre-orders!

*

What is Roots and Sky about?

This book is about our first year in an old farmhouse called Maplehurst. It begins when we came home to a house, but it describes a journey home.

This is a journey through autumn, winter, spring, and summer toward the home first made for us. The home that is in the process of being remade for us.

This dear, beautiful earth.

This dirt. These trees. Those flowers. And faces. And loves. And stars.

Jesus echoed the Psalms when he said that the meek shall inherit the earth. Roots and Sky is about seeking and receiving that inheritance.

It is for anyone who longs for home but worries we can never come home on this side of heaven.

Roots and Sky is about all the ways heaven comes to us.

Today.

In this place.

*

Why We Say “Yes” To Good Food

This summer, I’ve been thinking about that elusive thing called the simple life.

I’ve been asking myself why simplicity sometimes seems so complicated. I’ve been asking myself why bother?

This. This is why.

Baby Apples

Because these tart green apples, growing on baby trees we planted ourselves, are the best I’ve ever tasted.

Apparently, the simple life is delicious.

Today, I’m sharing about eating well and eating with simplicity at Grace Table. I hope you’ll join me there.

Find my story (and our family’s recipe for simple, homemade yogurt) here.

Letting Go (or, Raising Kids with Simplicity)

It is one thing to choose less for oneself. It is another thing entirely to make that same choice for your children.

We always want more for our children. More than we had. More than we are.

More.

What kind of parent holds their child’s small hand and walks in the direction of less?

*

IMG_5276

IMG_5935

*

In some ways we have chosen less. We try (and fail, and try again) to choose less noise, less hurry, less stuff. We choose fewer activities, fewer commitments, fewer toys.

We limit sugar and entertainment (which, paradoxically, makes apple cider doughnuts sweeter and family movie night more fun).

But, mostly, and perhaps most significantly, less is chosen for us.

There is never enough money and there is never enough time for all that I want for my kids.

Yes, I want sewing lessons and music lessons and art lessons. Yes, I want a pool pass and movie tickets and restaurant meals. But I have four children and limited funds, and I say “no” a lot because “no” is the only thing I can say.

When I choose less for myself, I must trust in God’s provision. His protection. His presence. Yet I seem to believe that I am meant to be God for my children. As if I am the one who provides. As if I am the one who protects.

But my provision is faulty. My protection imperfect. Even when present I give myself with impatience rather than love.

Yet I would fill all those gaps with more. I would build a high wall – made of stuff and experiences and extra curricular activities – in order to launch my children into a future I cannot even begin to see.

It turns out that having less to give requires letting go.

Having let go, having placed my children in the hands of the only provider and protector, the one who has secured a future for each of them, I am freed of so much fear.

I am released to love them. Freed, even, to give good gifts without worrying that I must give every gift.

*

Living with less where our children are concerned might sound peaceful. It might sound idyllic. And, at times, it is.

Without the pool pass, there is the creek and the slip ‘n slide. Because of severe food allergies, there is more made-from-scratch food enjoyed together around our own table.

But often it feels as if we are jagged pebbles tossed together in one of those toy rock tumblers.

We cannot escape one another (because there are fewer camps and activities to take us in different directions).

We cannot stop hurting each other (perhaps because we are bored, or because we are not distracted by a screen, or because we are human).

This, then, is my prayer, this is my hope: that through constraints and tears and a thousand petty squabbles, we are becoming gems.

*

{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":0.1545262485742569,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}

 {"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":0.007535813841968775,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}

*

These Farmhouse Bookshelves (The Simple Life Edition)

I’ve been writing about simplicity. This means, of course, that I’ve been reading about it, too.

So here is one more peak at the bookshelves in this old farmhouse. Though, to be honest, most of these books haven’t yet found their place on a shelf. Too new, too needed, they are piled on that one chair in our tiny sunroom or the little bureau I use as a bedside table. I’m fairly sure my almost-three-year-old has already taken a ballpoint pen to one or two of them.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Not even comprehensive. Perhaps it isn’t even a good place to begin if you are new to the topic. But these are the books I’ve been reading. These are the books I would pass on to you if you came to visit us at Maplehurst.

These are merely a few books that have found their way to me. And I am trying my best to listen.

(contains affiliate links)

{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":0.01608226075768471,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}

I’ll give you the best right up front. It’s called In Celebration of Simplicity: The Joy of Living Lightly by Penelope Wilcock. Recommended by an internet friend (she and her words are wise and beautiful; I recommend especially this recent post on dimming the lights), I think of this book as a lovely little dagger.

It is a pretty thing, like a gift book. The edges of every single page are devoted to Scripture and inspirational quotations. But don’t be fooled. There is nothing sweet about Wilcock’s message.

This is a book about discipleship. About following Jesus in every part of our lives – our eating, our shopping, our words, our clothing, our hospitality, our entertainment, our work, our everything.

The Way of Christ, The Way of simplicity is narrow. Reading Wilcock I see it. I believe it. I am afraid of it. Yet somehow, reading this book, I want to run in that direction. And never come back.

The discipline of simplicity is the magnifying glass that focuses the sun, so that the concentrated force of the Holy Spirit can be trained upon the insignificant bits and pieces of the common way in which we tread, effecting amid all the dross and distractions the living fire of a kindled life. – Penelope Wilcock

Another book suggested by an internet friend (on my facebook page, are we connected there?), is The Plain Reader: Essays on Making a Simple Life edited by Scott Savage.

I am only halfway through this anthology, but I already know it’s one I want to pass on.

You’ll find at least one well known name (Wendell Berry and his essay on health is excellent) but most of these voices are not often heard outside their small circles. Most are Amish (by choice, not birth), Quaker, or members of other “Plain” communities.

The choices and viewpoints reflected in this book can only rightly be described as extreme. The temptation for many readers, myself included, is to put up defenses, to feel judged, to argue, and so to hold tightly to our usual ways of thinking and living.

But that is a waste.

If we can read this book with openness and curiosity, there is so much to gain. First, there is the benefit of seeing how radically different some live their lives all in the name of Christ. Second, though we may not adopt all, or even very many, of the practices of these writers, their radical choices can help us realize how much of our lives we actually can choose. So much of how we live, work, play, and worship seems already determined. But the essays in this book reveal how very possible it is to change everything about the ways in which we live.

And I find that incredibly inspiring.

In an odd sense, when every taboo has fallen, then the only way to be subversive is to have more fun than other people – to fill your heart and your home with more joy and warmth and pleasure than the frantic, slightly pathetic, ersatz happiness offered by Disney and the mall and the chat room. This is a book, finally, about joy. – Bill McKibben

A book I’ve mentioned before is Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender. Bender’s book, part-memoir, part artistic vision, asks whether it is possible for a thoroughly modern woman to live life as beautifully and simply as the handmade Amish quilts she admires.

Must our lives be the crazy quilts we often feel them to be?

The feeling went beyond everyday cleanliness and order. The air felt alive, almost vibrating. Can a room have a heartbeat? Can space be serene and exciting at the same time? I’d never been in a room that felt like that. – Sue Bender

One reason I am feeling beckoned towards this thing we call the simple life, is that I want space in my life for the things that matter.

I want space to breath (to cut flowers every morning, to sit in stillness with a child in my lap). I want space for paying attention (there is trouble and injustice in our world, but if my life is too crowded I cannot notice, and I cannot do anything). And I want space for the absolutely essential non-essentials.

Like poetry.

I don’t want to live a life that has no room for a book like A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry.

I recommend it. Both the space-making and the poetry-reading.

***