Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community

I help my son with his math a lot these days, sometimes I feel like it’s my job while they are remote. It works out because I’m also confused so it boosts his confidence and he gets to teach me a lot of the time. But in between problems I whittle. I’m almost done with St. Margaret of Scotland who looks more like the princess from Mario Brothers and the other is the Blessed Mother, who is not finished yet. I’m trying to figure out a way to do them that would look more folk art than a cartoonish depiction, so I’ve been studying museum folk art pieces. Totally irrelevant to the book featured here that I will read soon as it was a recommendation from a priest who is my spiritual mentor while I’m taking this discernment course. Anyone out there ever read it? What did you think?

Peace for Artsakh!

Preparing and serving food feels so much like a prayer. Please help stop the attacks in Artsakh. If you can, please text PASSAGE to 52886 to send a prepared letter to your state rep. It’s so easy and takes only three seconds.

Even though most of this food is Jerusalem-inspired, I couldn’t help thinking about my Armenian friend who is very upset about the violence in #artsakh so I made and dedicated this food to my friend and the Armenian people suffering tonight. *Armenian string cheese is represented and I ordered an Armenian cookbook today to do this right with my whole family. #artsakhstrong

The Street by Ann Petry

So good! I came across this at @cottagebooks over the summer and thought I’d give it a whirl. Her writing is fabulous! Sometimes you just know when someone’s got it and Ann Petry has IT! As a writer, talent like this, the mystery of it, because you can’t really put you finger on what makes it great, but you know it just is, inspires me. Maybe because she just says what something feels like and looks like without thinking about how the reader will think, without TRYING to make the descriptions sound good but just putting them out there. I need to wrangle that kind of courage!

“Lutie Johnson, a newly single mother whose efforts to claim a share of the American dream for herself and her son meet frustration at every turn in 1940s Harlem. Opening a fresh perspective on the realities and challenges of black, female, working-class life, The Street became the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies

The Book of Isaiah

“Listen! Your watchman lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” ( Isaiah 52:8)

“Israel’s watchman are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs; they can not bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.” ( Isaiah 56:10)

Basically the book of Isaiah can be summed up by these two contrasting images of the watchman. In one half of his book he prophecies hope & redemption and the other half he prophecies realty of the future based on what he sees in Judah and Israel. It is a warning to them. To not let the watchman sleep, as they were getting a little lazy in their devotion to God.

We all have a watchman inside of us, do not let the seeker in you sleep, keep an eye out for Truth and Love, watch with the eyes of your heart and listen with the ears of your heart. “Watch and pray….The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14: 38)

I think I wrote more notes from the book of Isaiah than any other. It is long for one thing, but it is also filled with wisdom and beautiful words.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

You can’t go into this novel expecting it to read chronologically. It is a dream, a vignette where the edges have been chipped away, washed away by what is lost to Nathaniel. The brilliance of the novel is its complexity and the connections of maps and people, the same way the author constructs a map for the reader of places and strangers. Also the story itself is just as cloudy and muddled as the protagonist’s mother who is a mystery he is trying to discover throughout the story.

I don’t read Ondaatje’s work because I want to be entertained as much as I want to experience life through the eyes of someone new, and because his prose is delicious. It is like reading Dinesen’s Out of Africa—it all came out of the memory of her experience, as the book drew me in for the words alone and the experience of a life I’ll never know. However, even though I enjoyed the book I didn’t like it as much as The English Patient.

More for your Garden by Vita Sackville-West

Can’t get enough Vita Sackville-West!!! This book goes month by month and talks about the flowers she didn’t mention in her first book, ‘In Your Garden’. Here she discusses what to grow from Spring-Fall, and how to prepare the garden in winter months. For a long time she was my muse and the voice in my head. Reading her garden books got me through the long, dark winter. She will always hold a special place in my heart. 💕 my Vita.

This is me…

Thought I’d introduce myself today. It’s funny but if you follow my posts on @booksandloststories you know more about me than some of my closest family members. Talking about my faith openly and the books I love and “doctors” of the church I admire has been such a pleasure for me this past year with all of you. And I thank you for your follows and consistent ‘likes’. If anything, sharing these things gives me great pleasure and I hope some of you have found my content helpful or refreshing.

It seemed safer somehow to talk about this stuff with invisible strangers than people that knew me way back when.

I have always loved the verses from John, Luke, and Matthew that all say, “For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” (John 4:44).

I’m sure many of you can relate to that. Not that I think I’m a prophet but a changed person, a person of consistent, contemplative growth, yes. We all must change and grow but some want to keep us in boxes built out of images from our past spiritual immaturity or just general immaturity.

To quote Lauryn Hill from her MTV Live album, “whatever isn’t growing is dead.” Keep growing, no matter what people say.

Other than that I love to cook and make parties for my family, I love hats and it’s rare to see me without one, I can’t resist a bookshop, I often contemplate seminary school or a doctorate to teach university, I write nonsense everyday and sometimes important stuff —like an open letter to the Catholic Church denouncing their dismissal of LGBTQ organizations in Detroit (inclusion should be the goal of all churches).

I want to make the world a better, safer place. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, so I hide in my house and write letters like this and formulate plans and then the kids start fighting, and I’m called back to motherhood. This is my life. Thank you for sticking around to observe it from afar.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

I first heard about this book from the film Sister Act 2 when I was younger, but I was reminded about it when I watched both Sister Act 1 &2 the other night with my kids to show them the great musical performances. Don’t make fun! These movies are great! 😄 Anyway now my son and I go around singing all the songs, and he loves them as much as I did. But I was determined afterward to read this book, a book Whoopi Goldberg gives to Lauryn Hill and encourages her to keep singing. She quotes from the book saying, “If the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is writing, then you’re a writer and if the same is for singing you’re a singer.” Something like that. Both films encouraged me to join my church choir and get involved in church at a young age eventually inspiring me to go to summer church camp three years in a row—a wonderful place I’ll never forget.

Great films and sure to be an inspiring read!

The Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Today I’d like to remember Robert Murray M’cheyne who gives so much richness and truth in this letters and sermons, which thanks to Andrew Bonar, M’Cheyne’s good friend, we now have this Presbyterian Reverend’s entire collection of writings, sermons, and letters—his “remains”. I come back to his work time and again because his words are so alive with the Holy Spirit that his work serves to strengthen me when I feel dried up and brittle like a dead branch.

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“He became a babe, and was laid in a manger, for there was not room in the inn. The inn was like your heart; it was filled with other lodgers, and had no room for Jesus.” —Robert Murray M’Cheyne. (A letter “To One Awakened: A call upon a soul to choose Jesus. 1842).

M’Cheyne died when he was only 29 years old of Typhus and was buried at St. Peter’s church in Dundee, Scotland where he served. There was an estimated 7,000 people at his funeral. 💕

M’Cheyne Photo credit: lukesblog.org

Halfway through the Bible. If you’re on Instagram follow this hashtag!

We are halfway through the Bible! Since the Fall of 2019, I have been writing really brief reviews of the books of the Bible. They are my own contemplative thoughts that no one has to agree with, but I hope speak only truth and leave room for your own contemplation.

The order I have been following is the below. Given to me by a priest and a friend. .

Genesis John

Exodus Matthew

Leviticus Galatians Numbers Colossians

Deuteronomy

Joshua Hebrews

Judges

Ruth Acts (of the Apostles)

1 Samuel

2 Samuel Mark

1 Kings

2 Kings 1 Corinthians

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 1 Peter 2 Peter

Ezra

Nehemiah Romans

Esther Philemon

Job Revelation

Psalms (I SUGGEST READING ONE A DAY THROUGHOUT)

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes 1 Timothy 2 Timothy

Song of Solomon 1 John 2 John 3 John

Isaiah Luke

Jeremiah Titus

Lamentations Philippians

Ezekiel Jude

Daniel 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians

Hosea

Joel

Amos James

Obadiah

Jonah 2 Corinthians

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi Ephesians