Fruit

Fruit

Not going too far back for today’s throwback post…Revisiting FRUIT. Original Post Published February 27, 2020.

We love fruit in our family. Fresh fruit, canned fruit, dried fruit, jammed fruit, fruit from our own garden, or fruit from the other side of the world. We love citrus fruit, stone fruit, berries… Fruit can be a taste of the familiar or the tang of the exotic. We love to eat it raw, to bake it into recipes, to puree it into smoothies. Last week, I even learned to make homemade fruit roll-ups. With a kiddo who despises vegetables, fruit is often the way I get much-needed nutrients into all of us. And a much-appreciated taste of yumminess too.

Fruit is a pretty amazing thing. As a homeschool mom, I’ve had the opportunity to study it with my kids in our science classes. And as a Christian, I of course read about it a lot in the scriptures. For instance, take this passage from Colossians 1:3-6

3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth… (NKJV, emphasis mine)

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

To take out some of the phrases there for focusing purposes, that says “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, which you heard in the gospel, which is bringing forth fruit.”

Now, anyone who knows me even a little knows that hope and I are good friends. I’m not only an optimist, I’m a see-the-good-in-everyone sort of person, a cling-to-hope-at-all-costs sort of girl. So any time the word is mentioned in the Bible, my spiritual ears perk right up. As we were discussing this passage in our Bible study last week, my mind kept circling around those particular words. Hope comes from the Gospel…the Gospel brings forth fruit.
As we talked about what this fruit is, it’s easy to come up with the usual answer: spreading that same Good News to others so that they can believe too. Yes, absolutely.
But, with memories of strawberries and blueberries and mango and peaches still fresh in my mind from my fruit roll-up making adventure a couple days before, I had to look at this a little more closely.
In other passages, we hear of the Gospel message as a seed. It’s planted, watered, fed. As it sprouts, the seed itself passes away and becomes a plant. It’s no longer a seed at all–it’s changed. Transformed. Why? So that it can become something more.
I love that it’s likened to a fruit-bearing plant though. Because part of the very nature of a plant is to spread its seeds. WHY do we bear fruit? Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control? For OTHERS.
One of the things I learned in our science class is that the plant itself doesn’t benefit at all from the fruit it bears. The sole purpose of it is to be delicious. Alluring. To appeal to animals so that they come, eat it, and thereby transport the seeds elsewhere, so that they’re deposited far and wide and the plant can find new life somewhere else.
Photo by Brian Jimenez on Unsplash

So what is the purpose of us learning to produce those fruits of the Spirit? Not for our own sake–for His. So that others come, smell the fragrance of His peace, see the beauty of His love, taste the perfection of His Joy. Our job as Christ followers is to share those things with anyone who walks by hungry. So that they eat of it, and the seed nestles deep inside. So that He can water it and it can grow. And so that then that person too can experience the transformative power of God and turn from fallow ground with a dried up seed inside to a life-giving, thriving tree spreading out their limbs and offering His love to others.

I’d always considered the Fruits of the Spirit to be things we should want for our own sakes; or for their own sakes. Because they’re, well, good. Because they’ll make us better people. Holier. More worthy of Him. And that’s certainly true…
But that’s only half the story, isn’t it? The other half isn’t about us at all. It’s about THEM. The other people in our world. Our spouses and children, our parents and grandparents, and our aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our friends, our neighbors, the strangers in the grocery store. The drivers who cut us off and the customer service rep who won’t listen. The homeless man begging for money on the street corner. The mother desperate for clean water in Africa.
Each and every one of them needs the fruit–because that fruit carried the seeds of the Gospel, and that’s where our hope is found.
I don’t know about you, but that changes my perspective a bit on why I should be working hard to be the person He wants me to be.
And it makes me look at my beloved fruit differently too. My daughter and I joke that the orange marmalade we made is “sunshine in a jar” (because seriously!)–but it’s not only that. In a way, it’s hope in a jar too. A reminder that the goodness of others is our nourishment…and that our own ought to be theirs in return.

The Mismatched

The Mismatched

A little throwback post today…Talking about the mismatched Original Post Published June 2, 2016.

When I got married, I filled out a registry. A wish list. It had on it all the things one would expect–dishes and cookware, sheets and towels.

All of them, sets. Matching.

Off-white plates with flowers around the edges. Matching cups. A set of cutlery. Glasses that complemented. Things designed carefully to look good beside each other. That wore a uniform. That were all the same in their perfection.

Over the years, plates and bowls and glasses have gotten broken. Cutlery has, somehow or another, vanished. This piece and that piece have been lent out and forgotten. Over the years, our collection of dishes has been subtracted from and added to.

Now it’s a hodgepodge. It’s a mixture. A motley array of mismatched this-and-that.

And I love it.

I’ve heard before (though I don’t honestly remember from whom) the statement, “I just want dishes that match!” At the time, I commiserated. This seems like a good thing, you know?

But when I pause to think about it . . . which coffee cup is my favorite? The Disney mug I bought for myself when I was 14. The one that has no match. Is part of no set. The one that’s unique. It fits my hand, and I like how much it holds. I’ve even caught myself, when in a rental house for vacation or in my church kitchen, always seeking out a mug that’s different. That won’t be confused with anyone else’s. That’s unique and inviting.

Still, I was somewhat surprised when my kids, a couple years ago, began the following conversation:

Rowyn: “Can I have that spoon instead of this one? That one’s my favorite.”
Xoe: “Really? I don’t have a favorite spoon. But I have a favorite fork. It’s the one with the stars on it.”
Rowyn: “You can have that one. I like the little one with the flowers.”

I smiled as I heard them talking oh-so-seriously about which of the mismatched cutlery they preferred. Why?

Because they both favored the unique pieces. The one-of-a-kind ones. Yes, that’s part of it.

But also because only then did I realize that their favorites were my least favorites. That the ones that don’t please me aesthetically for one reason or another, they find beautiful.

And that this is something I never would have learned in this particular way if all my silverware still matched.

When we’re surrounded by the same, we’re not given the chance to find our preferences. When we have only that perfect set, there isn’t room for individuality. When everything matches, nothing stands out. Not that there’s anything wrong with a matching set of dishes, LOL. It’s certainly a handy way to buy something you need.

But there’s something so beautiful in the mismatched. There’s something freeing. Something encouraging.

Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t quite fit in a set. Right? We’re all a little different. A little off. A little bigger or smaller or cracked. We’re different colors. Different shapes.

And that’s how we’re supposed to be. Because different people find different things beautiful. We have different needs. My favorite will not be yours, necessarily. And that’s good. That’s right. We all appreciate different facets of this beautiful world. For different reasons that invite us in different ways.

God didn’t create much of anything in neat, orderly sets. He created a wild profusion of beauty. He created the this-and-that. The hodgepodge. Mismatched. Mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, deserts and rain forests. And He declared it good.

I’ll probably never have a matching set of dishes again, much less cutlery or glasses. And you know what?

It’s good.

What We’ve Been Reading – July 2021

What We’ve Been Reading – July 2021

I don’t know where July went! But I suppose I have the books to prove it happened… 😉

Roseanna’s Reads

With the Kids/On Audio

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
Xoe went with me to a writers conference last week, which involved a 5-hour drive in each direction. We decided to pass the time with an audiobook so went hunting for a YA to enjoy together. We settled on this one largely because its run time fit our drive time, and it was SO GOOD! There was some minor language, but it detract from the otherwise-clean story for us, and we so enjoyed this beautifully-written, sweet romance story about a girl who loses herself in literature to escape from real life, in which her mother is a hoarder…and the boy who inspires her to truly live. Now we both want to read Peter Pan, which is quoted often in the book!

For the Edit

Miranda and the Miner by Melody Carlson
Melody’s Westward to Home series continues with this second book, and it’s just as fun as the first! I wasn’t sure if it would shift its focus entirely to the title character or what, but I’ve enjoyed having a continued look into the life of the heroine from book 1 as well following her stepsister on her own adventure. Melody Carlson fans, or anyone who loves western romances, will love this series!

For Fun

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Yes, I’m still working my way through the HP series. =) Almost finished, too! Book 6 was certainly enthralling…and horrifying…and thrilling…and I expect I’ll be picking up book 7 very soon so I can see how this whole adventure resolves! I definitely didn’t see some of the twists in this one coming!

For Book Club

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright
We can just assume that if it’s by Jaime, it’s good, right? Yep. This one was no exception. One of her signature time-slips, this one had a hunt for Confederate gold, a creepy old mansion, an autistic-savant brother, and a heroine with a fascinating (and terrifying) past that no one would believe. I loved both story lines and, of course, how they wove together so brilliantly! Once again, Jaime Jo Wright has written a winner!

For Fun

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
We’ve been watching the Netflix series and enjoying it, but I felt like I didn’t fully grasp the world from the show (and had heard good things about the books) so bought the trilogy. I dove into the first book and devoured it in just a few sittings. So good, and it definitely gave me a better understanding of the GrishaVerse! Though I have to say, I found the Darkling more compelling in the show, when we could see more of him than the book’s first-person POV allowed. Just goes to show how each medium can shine. =)

For Fun

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Yep, read the second book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy too! Just as good as the first, and since Season 2 of the show isn’t out yet, it was all new storyline for me, which was fun. There were some twists I really hadn’t expected there at the end! I finished it while I was away at Montrose Christian Writers Conference and hadn’t brought book 3 with me, otherwise I would have immediately picked the final book up to see where Alina went next!

Rachel’s Reads

Well, my plan to knock off a bunch of books from my TBR this summer fell by the wayside. So today I’m going to share some favortie reads of the year, so far, from myself, Carrie from Reading is my SuperPower, and Beth from Faithfully Bookish.

From Carrie

The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

From Rachel

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

From Beth

Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews

She Couldn’t Forget…
Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

From Beth

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business–or will it turn into something more?
Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life–especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero’s dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiancée and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

From Carrie

Someone Found by Teresa Tysinger

Life’s detours can be the most important steps we’re meant to make.

Injured and stranded, hiker Quinn McAlister is stuck recovering in Laurel Cove, North Carolina. The quiet mountain town and its polite residents are a far cry from the stifling home and painful disappointments back in Maine. When her handsome rescuer offers her a place to stay, she’s faced with coming to terms with her past and putting faith, for once, in a hopeful future.

 

From Rachel

Beauty Among the Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Thowback Thursday. . . Book Lovers

Thowback Thursday. . . Book Lovers

***Today’s Throwback post was originally published January 7, 2010***

I will never forget my shock. There I sat, an innocent, in the admissions office at my college. All around me were the usual people that made up my day–the admissions counselors, the office manager, the director and associate director. We were minding our own business, recruiting future students for St. John’s College, a.k.a. the Great Books School. When out of nowhere, it happened. The new data manager (not an alum, let it be noted, unlike most of the employees) showed her true colors. “Tim and I are spring cleaning, and I threw out three boxes of books.”

Gasp! The horror . . . The sacrilege . . . Oh, let it not be so, let not this blasphemer be sitting two feet away from me . . .

We just stared at her in shock until she started laughing at the matching expressions on the faces of the four of us in the room. “What?” she finally asked.

I wrapped my tongue around it first. “You threw away books? And you dare to admit it here?”

Now, it’s no secret that we Johnnies are book-lovers. We make a four-year career out of collecting obscure literature, reading it, and discussing it in class. It’s what we do. In a lot of ways, it’s who we are. We are Book Lovers. We unite to sing the praises of all things bound in card stock with hotmelt and trimmed to size.

But there are those in the world who oppose our Creed. There are those who value Space and Organization above the wonder of typeset ideas. Some compromise by donating their unneeded books to good homes or libraries, which is an understandable decision. But some . . . some toss them carelessly to the side. As if they are . . . nothing! (Sob, gasp!)

Well, I am here as a safe-house. Just last night my husband erected four new four-foot shelves to hold the overflow. Now, most of these books that I so carefully placed in alphabetic order last night will not be with me forever. I am but a steward of them, seeing to their well-being until I find a good home for them, readers to devour their pages and write reviews for me. But oh, how I long to adopt them all!

In my quest to provide an island of safety for books of all kinds, I have developed several identities. I will answer to The Reviewer. The Librarian. The Bookworm. My keen ears can hear the phrase, “I need a new book to read” from a mile away, and my deft fingers will quickly pluck a selection from my shelves and deliver it to the friend or family member in need. It is not always an easy calling, but it is one I cannot ignore.

And we are training up another generation to take over our operations even now. As my itchy fingers dove into the box of books-awaiting-shelves the moment plywood touched brackets, my son and daughter were there beside me. Believing, hoping. And asking, “Mommy, do we get to keep all these books, or do we give them away?”

I caressed the spine of a novel just begging to be read. “These, sweetie, we’ll have to give away.”

A definite pout entered her tone. “But why, Mommy? Why can’t we keep them all?”

A question to bring tears to this Bookworm’s eyes. “Because, sweetie, other people need to read too. But don’t you worry. Though we send these out, new books will come in to take their places.”

I felt a little hand press against my leg. “I’ll help you Mommy. I’ll help you divide them. You just hand the non-fishing to me.” And she picked up a book with a cover that declared it non-fiction and put it in the pile for the lower shelf.

My chest swelled with pride. They’ll learn . . . and they’ll carry on. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

We are Book Lovers.

What We’ve Been Reading – July 2021

What We’ve Been Reading – June 2021

School’s out! Summer is officially here! And there are so many great books out there…Where should you start? We have a couple of recommendations for you today. 🙂

Roseanna’s Reads

With the Kids

Half Magic by Edward Eager

We all dream of finding a magic charm to bring adventure into our lives when we’re kids right? Well it happens one summer to four siblings…but not exactly as they would have hoped. Their charm only grants a wish halfway…which leads to very complete fun in this story. It was another reread, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time through! And it was the last book I’ll ever have to read to my son for school, so bittersweet…

On Audio

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
We’ve had this book since it came out, but I’d yet to snatch it from my daughter’s shelves, so when I saw it was available in Overdrive, I thought, “Eh, why not?” And oh my gracious! I adored the Hunger Games books so figured this would be good, but it went beyond good. Collins does a remarkable job at that very hardest of characterizations–she made me both root for the kid I knew would grow into a villain (President Snow), want him to win, and yet also see exactly what would make him a villain. Brilliantly done!!

For the Edit

Home Sweet Tiny Home by Melody Carlson
Most of what we publish of Melody’s is historical, but she wanted to squeeze a contemporary in this summer, and it was a real treat for me to read! In the style of her wildly popular Happy Camper, this is story about downsizing and second chances that will appeal to anyone who ever looks around and thinks, “Where did all this stuff come from??” I loved the glimpse into the ingenuity of tiny homes…but mostly I loved how the main character embarked on a fresh start and a big adventure.

Real Life Research

Think Like a Pancreas by Gary Scheiner
Yeah, so…this probably won’t make it onto any of your reading stacks, unless you are or live with a diabetic, LOL. But I’d been hearing great things about this book so figured it was time I give it a read. It’s all about truly understanding diabetes and how to live with and manage it with insulin, so I honestly was expecting it to be educational but boring–on the contrary! Scheiner is hilarious, and I’ve been loving his voice and sense of humor as I read. Plus, I’m learning a ton. I still have a few chapters to go, but I’m really loving this book!

For With the Kids

In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson and Hyatt Moore

Our second-to-last book of the school year was a non-fiction about a missionary and his family, and an amazing book for a word-nerd! All about the miracles of translating the Bible into an obscure New Guinean dialect and how God had prepared this remote tribe to receive it…amazing stuff!

On Audio

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I’ve never read anything by John Green, but this was another one I saw was available in Overdrive, so I grabbed it just to give it a try…and I ended up listening to the whole thing in about 24 hours. This book did something I’d never personally read before and showed us the very broken mind of someone with mental illness in a way that was approaching, captivating, heartbreaking, and also victorious. I was riveted, thoroughly engrossed in the world of this teen girl, and love the story Green chose to tell. There’s some language (this isn’t a Christian book, after all), but I deem this one definitely worth it!

 

For the Edit

Hearing Lies by Olivia Smit

Olivia’s sophomore novel takes us back to Golden Sound and into the world of Skylar Brady, a teenager who lost her hearing in a car accident the year before. This time we also get her brother’s perspective as they work not only to save the town library…but to undo past mistakes and try to find healing for the places still broken inside. A really great read!

 

Rachel’s Reads

The start of summer vacation has thrown our whole house into chaos! Ok, that isn’t entirely true. But I DO need to get our summer schedule organized. The boys are loving the longer days and playing in the pool. We’re supposed to be hitting 109°F by Tuesday…That is quite warm for us. Especially this early in the season. I anticipate a lot of quiet reading time in front of the A/C!

The Husband's Read

The Druid of Shannara (Heritage of Shannara #2) by Terry Brooks

I got lucky y’all…The husband reads…A LOT. We spend most of our evenings quietly reading. His current read is part of the Shannara saga by Terry Brooks. Magic, dwarves, gnomes, and adventure can be found in this epic fantasy. *This is a general market book.

For Fun

Fable by Adrienne Young

Oh this book! I had been looking forward to this read for months. (And the husband surprised me with Namesake this week! Eeep) It was the perfect quick and easy read. Fantasy with a slow burn romance (there is brief mature content), adventure, peril, and a pretty compelling cliffhanger! *This is a general market book. 

With the Kids

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

This was our last school read this year. I’ve enjoyed the movie, but never realized that the book was so short. Seventy-six pages. I’m looking forward to introducing my kiddos to the movie this week for movie night.

On Audio

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It had been YEARS since I read Darcy and Elizabeth’s story. I absolutely adore it. The wit. The sweet romance. The wild sisters lol! If you’re a fan of the Colin Firth movie version (the only one worth watching in my opinion) you will be pleased to know that the movie is almost word-for-word from the pages of the book. 🙂 While I did listen to this on audio, I included the cover of one of the editions I own. From the Seasons Editions from Thomas Nelson.

With the Kids

Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman by Marguerite Henry

One of our final reads for the school year. It was very interesting to learn about the early life and inventions of Robert Fulton. My son was truly invested in this story.