We’re a quarter of the way through 2020?! Are you revisiting your new year’s resolution to “read more this year” with all the extra time we’ve been given? Same here.
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” (Mason Cooley)
Speaking of having to stay where we are, this weekend I color-coded my bookshelf and reminisced about the days when my décor signs “Gather” and “Let’s Have a Grand Adventure” were applicable.
Anyway, if you’re scouting for some new reading material, you’re welcome to browse my 7 book reviews of 2020 thus far (and also 7 blog posts I enjoyed). They aren’t hot-off-the-press titles, but I’d still love to hear your thoughts because I think book or article discussions are almost as exhilarating as springtime.
This poem for spring fever debuts Plot Twist Tuesdays. Tuesday is my least favorite day of the week so this is an attempt to cheer them up, and plot twists are sporadic and unexpected, right? So it will be with Plot Twist Tuesdays — a random Tuesday where I post book reviews and recommends, share creative work, or talk about the art of writing.
Of course, it wasn’t always picture perfect. But once again it’s a January where I can say with confidence, “Yep, God was faithful.”
When I think of our 2019, I think of intense indoor soccer games, dating through the winter months, engagement in the spring, and weddings galore in the summer. In the fall we set up our apartment, while enjoying getaways to the mountains, and then Christmas brought sweet time with our families.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
The ESV says it, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Through life or death, sorrow or triumph, God’s purposes will be accomplished this year. As I think of our plans and prayers for 2020, I’m glad the the best is still yet to come in eternity.
Our personal long-term plans unfold a month at a time, so we just take the next right step. Luke’s faithfully completing his masters of divinity with Hebrew and missiology classes; I’m working at an office whose mission is to reach geographically isolated people with the gospel. We’re blessed.
When friends of mine ask me my goals for the year, I usually begin with, “Ummmm….good question.”
I have a lot of informal resolutions, intentions for organization and new habits, but my goals generally fall into three categories.
One Thing Necessary (Time with God)
The core of new year’s resolutions for me is always more Scripture and prayer and a re-look at my other spiritual disciplines (I desperately need these “habits of grace.”) The tension is always between my desire to be more deeply in the Word but wanting to savor every last moment of sleep in the mornings.
My question — how do I arise from sweet dreams, pull meat from the freezer, say goodbye to my husband, make coffee and a healthy breakfast, make the bed, meet with Jesus — all before 7:45 AM?
A few tips for the battle:
1) The Dwell app. This has been a way to track and listen to Scripture while getting ready in the mornings.
2) Accountability. Our church small group is studying I Thessalonians together, and this is an encouragement and motivation to get deeper.
3) Prioritization. Let’s re-remember that seeking the Lord is better than anything. Luke 10 tells the story of Martha (busy about her work) and Mary (sitting at Jesus feet). Our Lord commended Mary for choosing the better part … one thing is necessary. Sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Another core category is more exercise and more kale! (We’re doing good so far. See pic on left; a couple of those dishes are made by my sister).
As for educational health, I set a goal to read at least 20 books in 2020. As we were sitting in a cozy, well-lit living room for small group last week, I had a bright idea (pun intended). Perhaps Luke and I would choose to read more if we had more soft light in our house? So, Luke and I spent our free time one evening shopping for a floor lamp, and after three stores we found our prize. It’s already working.
I probably shouldn’t announce my creativity plans, because they are never set in stone, but here we are. I hope to post here about twice a month, and I also have a couple other writing projects in the works. I’ve joined a writing community called Hope*Writers and it has been an encouraging experience.
Coming soon: One of my desires is to write a series on something that I’m passionate about — loving Christ’s bride, the church.
Grace is too expensive to waste it on NOT loving the Body of Christ well. In 2020 Luke and I have committed to tangible church goals (like arriving to Sunday service EARLY…not late) and heart-level church goals (like diligently giving and like supporting a brother in Christ whose January baptism is a steep cost beyond just plunging into chilly waters).
Mobilizing others to pursue Christ and worship with a church body is near and dear to our hearts, and I’m excited to write about this from my little vantage point.
Can you see how your goals this year piece together to bring glory to God? It’s the reason we’re here. Whether it’s making a salad or wrestling in prayer in the mornings, we must bring Him praise. Maybe it’s writing a paper or reading a good book. Trying to plug into a church or planning a getaway to the mountains. The heart of it is — how can we sit at Jesus’ feet and worship Him in all that we do?
Here’s the thing. I’ve listened to the audio unabridged Little Women so many times that I feel a certain ownership, almost as if I wrote it myself. So if I sound a little possessive of the characters in my review of the 2019 adaption, that is why! I humbly consider myself to be rather an expert on the subject of the March family.
A few years ago my college friend called me and said, “Hey! My sisters and I are planning a trip to Prince Edward Island this summer. You know, Anne of Green Gables? Want to come?”
This was an invitation I couldn’t resist.
Looking back I have a few pointers on what to bring to Prince Edward Island (PEI)!
1. Bring Bosom Friends
This is the only international trip to date that I’ve ever navigated alone. I landed on the island late at night to meet the three sisters. The airport was tiny. And to my concern, the only familiar face in the crowd was a cardboard cutout of Anne Shirley. My flesh-and-blood bosom friends were nowhere to be seen.
I begged a phone call from a car rental booth because my phone was equipped only for the US. My friend’s voice over the phone brought some relief. “Abi? Oh, we’ve been so worried because we couldn’t get ahold of you. We’re stranded on the mainland of Canada, and we can’t fly in until tomorrow. You’ll have to take a taxi to Georgetown an hour away. I can give you the instructions to get into the rental house, but they’re kind of tricky.”
I opted to stay in Charlottetown at a nearby motel. I asked a perfect stranger to take me there (a mom) and booked the very last room available. The kind Chinese family who ran the motel drove me to the airport the next day to meet the girls. I was so happy to see my adventure buddies!
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
2. Bring a Credit Card
I know — not very romantic, right? But none of us had a credit card at that time and so, when our Taxi dropped us off, we were stuck in Georgetown until we found another solution. Our rental car had been paid for with a debit card online but they refused to give it to us in person.
The main issue was Green Gables was 58 miles away.
The islanders from Georgetown felt sorry for us and were confused why we were staying on the eastern side of the island — trapped in their town of 640 people.
I was confused why they felt sorry for us. The historic boardwalks of Georgetown had plenty to offer us:
sea glass jewelry shops
docks with seagulls and washed up starfish
a little Baptist church and old theater
the Maroon Pig Bakery (which we frequented daily)
The kitchen of our rental
Rainy day on PEI? Watch the Anne movies!
The dining room where we drank coffee each day
Our home away from home! The gables weren’t green, but the shutters were!
One of the cute bedrooms
Day one – it rained. So we kicked back in our beach cottage and watched the Anne movies. Day two? We memorized the town, and I prayed about still seeing Green Gables. To come all this way and not see the legendary house that Lucy Montgomery grew up in would be a “perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
3. Bring a Hopeless Amount of Optimism
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
On day three of our trip, we were were still stranded. The four of us meandered into an old house with a sign on the door that said, “Museum: open by chance or by appointment.” It belonged to one of the only two teachers in the town. She owned a massive amount of heirlooms and a huge heart of compassion.
I think that day the museum was open by appointment not chance. God answers prayers of all kinds.
The teacher gave us a tour and then when she heard our predicament, she vowed to help us explore PEI! I really think she would have scoured the town until she found solutions, but she ended up letting one of us ride along with her to Charlottetown the next day and let us put the car on her credit card. By lunchtime we had a set of wheels, and we lost no time packing up and heading to the East Point of the island, home of a beautiful lighthouse, the spot where you can see the oceans meet but not mix, seals, a pirate cafe, and Singing Sands beach (where they say the sand sings).
View from the lighthouse
Canola field…and one lone Lupin flower
4. Don’t Bring Expectations to See Gilbert
“…far up under the maples of Lover’s Lane Anne stood under the willows, tasting the poignant sweetness of life…”
–Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
FINALLY. Day four. We had a car and a whole day planned to visit the very house that inspired Lucy to write the Anne series!
Inside Green Gables
A piece of reality — the movie was not filmed on PEI. Don’t expect to see the movie set, the dress with puffed sleeves, or Gilbert walking around. Also, just be prepared, the Anne actor that strolls around the barn doesn’t look like Megan Follows.
“Has anyone seen Gilbert Blythe?”
PEI is full of tourism stops, like Avonlea Village, the home of all things Anne.
It’s where you can see the church where Lucy Montgomery attended and buy Raspberry Cordial by the bottle.
I wonder what Lucy would think of all the Anne products. There is literally Anne potato chips and an Anne chocolate shop.
Feeling a little tourist-ed out, we brought our Raspberry Cordial to the the sand-dune dotted beach (which DOES look like the movie).
Raspberry Cordial by the ocean
“Look at that sea, girls..we couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” –L. M. Montgomery
5. Bring a Big Imagination
“You may tire of reality but you never tire of dreams.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Road to Yesterday
The last day we drove to Charlottetown (the town we flew into) to enjoy the shops and a second round of Cow’s Ice Cream. The countryside driving is what really made the trip. Almost every house looks like a version of Green Gables, and I expected to see Matthew walking through the pastures of black and white cows at any moment. But, again, he didn’t, and neither did Gilbert, because this wasn’t the movie.
You’ll do better to be more like Anne and less like Marilla Cuthbert as you explore this whimsical place.
If you travel to PEI, bring bosom friends, a credit card, (oh and a copy of the book Anne of the Island), and a hopeless amount of optimism (and prayer) in case the depths of despair encompass you.
Kersten Hamilton adapted my favorite series growing up, the A Life of Faith — Millie Keith series. Kersten graciously agreed to let me interview her. This appeared originally on my writing blog several years ago, but I’m reposting it here so Millie fans can still access it. Enjoy.
Today is September 25th, and I began a new prayer journal.
It’s a thick hardcover with gold-rimmed flowers on the front. Writing the first page felt like signing a contract because I’ll probably be dedicated to this one for two years, thanks to its size and small lines. Were there any themes I wanted? Special purposes or ways to use it? A fancy way to write the date? Now was the time to begin a new tradition! Continue reading “Little Flocks”→