Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I am doing so much better this month, but there are gifts to count even while one is incapacitated.
1. soft pillows
2. purry cat
3. good books
and much, much more ...

One Thousand Gifts: a Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp: Her name is so familiar, I must have read some reflections of hers in other books, so when I chanced upon this in the thrift-store I had to pick it up. I challenge you to do as she did -- name a thousand gifts -- one thousand blessings, ways you realize you're the beloved of God. I guarantee you, even in your hardest moments, you'll be able to thank and bless the Lord.

What I loved about this book is how poetically Ann writes about the ordinary things -- laundry, cooking, playing with children. She's a pig-farmer's wife, raising their six children. I'll share this with Dagny when she's a bit older. Ever since we saw that episode on Little House where Nelly runs off to marry a pig farmer, we've joked about her marrying one as well (for all the bacon). I'm afraid that the modern woman is often left feeling "is this all there is" because she's not been trained to embrace her vocation -- marriage and motherhood. And without that, the daily work of feeding and caring for children and home become a chore, instead of a calling from God to bring souls to Christ. Gifts. Offerings.

"Eucharisteo -- thanksgiving -- always precedes the miracle."

Dancing on the Head of a Pen: the Practice of a Writing Life by Robert Benson: I received this as a little freebie from Waterbrook Press and what a joy it was to spend some time with a person who is both deeply spiritual and loves writing. It's not a how-to book per se, but rather a why-to book. I'm at a creative low right now and it's helping me to examine why I write. This book reminded me very much of my dear friend Mel Boring, who taught at ICL and who used to encourage me much the same way before his death a few years ago.

But some advice is spot on: "O begin." Like Linda Sue Park, he writes 2 pages a day (600 words). Keep a journal. "A journal provides a place for him to learn to speak truth to himself about himself or discover his capacity for disingenuousness. A place to discover when he writes too fast of too glibly, too carefully or too safely. A place to discover his voice slowly over time so that when the real game is afoot, he can trust it."

Read good books; they are our best teachers. "A direct relationship exists between the caliber of the writing you read and the caliber of the writing you make."

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke: This book has popped onto my radar many times over the dozen years I've been writing so I finally felt compelled to get a copy. I'm not disappointed. The advice in the first letter itself is worth the price of the whole book. Ex.

"Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of the night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must" then build your life in accordance with this necessity ...."

"... Then take the destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from the outside."

"...have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answer, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

Alas, reading this book also made me realize that I am in the category of Herr Kappus, whom the letters were written to. Has anyone heard of him? No, I didn't think so ...


Mirka Breen said...

Yay for all the gifts you have been given, and most of all for your grateful spirit. I concur with all, especially #2...

Faith E. Hough said...

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude. In some respects, it comes easy to me to be grateful for the good things, but I need to stretch myself to be grateful for what doesn't seem so nice at the moment. Sometimes that just takes turning things on their heads: I am so grateful for my giant pile of unfolded laundry, because I have been able to provide my family with good, sturdy clothes to keep them warm and looking nice!
I want to read all of those books! You're a very compelling reviewer. :)

Vijaya said...

Mirka, I have a little pillow that says: count your blessings ... and kitty is sure to be on it (like she knows what it's all about). Then there's that song too (and now I can't get it out of my head).

Faith, exactly. I often think I wouldn't have a deep prayer life without the cross I bear. Ann speaks about this both in the opening chapter and in a chapter dedicated to giving thanks during the hard times. You'd love all these books :)

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you're doing better now, Vijaya. Your books look lovely and definitely worth checking out.