Just Another Love Affair

One of my oldest memories is planting sunflowers and pear tomatoes at the bottom of a steep hill where my parents had built a garden. Everyday I would climb the fence (because gates are boring) and run down the hill to see what had happened since the night before. I loved the dirt squelching through my toes, under my nails, and seemingly embedded in my scalp. I would go inside after a day of mud houses and reading in trees to hear, “Kate, did you roll in the mud or are you just magnetically attracted to every floating piece of dirt?”

As I grew older things didn’t change. In school I was the first one with my shoes off running through the fields of weeds during recess. I could never stay clean. A smudge of dirt on my face, streak of mud on my knee-highs, and busted knees constantly betrayed me. In high school, my teachers realized that it was better to just let me study and write outside on sunny days than to watch me pine for the fresh air and fidgeting in my seat. I would stand in the rain, read in the tallest trees, weeded the wildflowers in April, and picked them all in May.

And I read – Caddie Woodlawn, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and many biographies about prairie wives, missionaries to India, and adventures. When my body wasn’t having adventures, discovering Jerusalem crickets and rattlesnakes, my mind was surviving in the arctic tundra or saving slave girls in the slums of India. I never wore shoes and built worlds of my own in dugouts where I would spend afternoons reading.

Wild, idyllic childhood gave way to a more calm adolescence. I spent most of my time reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I loved the outdoors and spent much of my lunches reading outside, but the pull of words was too strong. Fortunately, my English teacher understood my thirst for knowledge coupled with wanderlust. He expanded my mind with a biblical perspective in every area of writing – theology, history, philosophy, literature, science, and the arts. This was what drove me back outdoors.

I found myself needing space to think and absorb the knowledge my teacher and parents had given me. I could sit outside for hours dangling on our tire swing watching the world spin around me, completely lost in thought. I would read and then go outside and think. Sometimes I would walk around the school grounds alone or hide in a tree during breaks just to process. The land became my sanctuary.  I would read and think and read more. I loved hammocks, porch swings, grassy hillsides, and high rocks.

Then I graduated.

I had worked since junior high, so I knew the reality of getting more work was coming. I dreaded being locked indoors for days on end, limited on reading time, and slowly losing my mental agility. I drifted from job to job enjoying aspects of many and being mostly miserable for a solid year. Then, on December 14, 2010 one of my best friends and I decided to go on a mission’s trip. We worked on a farm for three months which I loved. I thrived there – Learning a new language, working with in dirt daily, walking miles daily, and focusing on others.

I came home and thought I knew my direction – dirt. I started working towards my degree in Anthropology and soon after got a job on the farm I work at now. I read as voraciously as ever and the hours of silence in the field gives me time to think deeply about everything.

My writing is just a by product. In my case: Reading + Dirt = Grounded Thought

Its a system that characterizes me. I am so grateful for it because it not only brings fulfillment but peace, a peace only found in dwelling on God’s Word, the framework and foundation of my world. I work the land He created and think about what he created it for.

Thats my secret to happiness.

-W

Sticks and Stones, Barrels and Rhunes

eowyn-and-eowyns-refugee-outfit-galleryIn case you’ve never noticed, I like sharp things, things that have trajectories and pack a punch: Bows, shotguns, a Walter P38, machetes, hunting knives, swords, phasers, lightsabers, really good mixed martial artists. If the unfinished bathroom is my sanctum and office, then my closet is more of an armory. At last count fifteen knives, a machete, a hunting knife, and my archery equipment riddle my dresser drawers, the wall, and the shelves. It may be strange, but I have my favorites.

A weapon says a lot about the person who carries it. It becomes a signature and a symbol. The first time I read the Lord of the Rings I fell in love with the characters, but there was one I understood and could relate to. I admired the strength, tenacity, and courage with which she approached life. Every other major character had great power, named swords, elven rope. She was the forgotten one; she didn’t count and could blend in with her uncle’s soldiers unnoticed  in absence or presence.  Then she took a sword and slew one of the most horrific arrogant villains in the story. Her sword isn’t named and she doesn’t end up with a prince, but she lives and marries a good man.

When I was younger, my mom took me to a store that had booths for different small businesses. One of those businesses was a weapons smith. There was a beautiful hand and a half Crusader’s sword. It reminded me of Eowyn’s and I wanted it more than anything. As a twelve year old, my mother wasn’t keen on letting me buy a lethal weapon, so I resigned myself to enjoying the honesty of her character.

The weapon she wielded was the strength of her love for her family and her country. She was loyal and strong.

-W

Beginnings

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
– Oscar Wilde

For those who have ever tried blogging in any form, you probably remember the moment when you had to chose your title.

You probably had atlne-page1 brilliant idea, but when you typed it in discovered, to your horror, that someone else had used it and not even posted anything or it is blocked for users. In my case the perfect name was The Road Goes Ever On which referred to J.R.R Tolkein’s famous poem in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

When my wonderful name was viciously taken away from me, I did the only thing I could think of. I started skimming through websites of quotes.

Oscar Wilde has always struck me as more cynical than anything else with phrases like, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” and, “One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.”

Everything has a twist or a punch to it. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoyed the Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde had a rare gift with the written word. He wrote an essay called, The Soul of Man Under Socialism. It is considered one of the most ambitious works on anarchism and reasserts Wilde’s claims to be a proponent of anarchy.  The basic concept is that societally mandated laws and expectations prevent the individual from developing their soul through meaningful creative pursuits and realizing talents because they spend all their time trying to fill impossible goals.

To remedy this Wilde advised embracing socialism and the opportunity it afforded,

“With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 10.55.24 AMYou may notice a familiar phrase in there. To answer your next question: No, I am not a socialist or anarchist. I’m too lazy to try to get all mankind to work against their nature and share. I can’t even get a couple two year olds to share a toy, Why would the most powerful men in the world consider giving all that up for the Greater Good on my say so.

But he did have a point, people commonly get so involved in purposeless busyness and don’t live up to their potential. Mediocrity is encouraged just by the failure to encourage people to think and develop themselves outside of those pursuits that entrap them. People don’t ask why or how they would even start to change.

So, I took a line from a self-proclaimed anarchist to form a blog that would be about living fully in a world that constantly tries to prevent you from doing more than just functioning to get by.

I want to thrive.

-W

 

Mind-Shaping Books for Young Women

Books were my first love. As a young girl, my mom gave me Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Caddie Woodlawn, and Elsie Dinsmore which led me to love literature and the ideas the authors took the time to embed in their works. I still read compulsively, but the ideas my mom taught me through the books she gave me laid the groundwork for the worldview I embraced.

There are three books I hope will inspire younger women with the stories of real women, give them timeless wisdom, and encourage their femininity in a modern era. I blame Beautiful Girlhood and Daughters of Destiny  for my Old World charm and Created for Work for my work ethic and gravitation towards the outdoors.

Beautiful Girlhood517968B5J2L._SL500_AA300_

This book was written in 1922 by Mabel Hale and revised by Karen Andreola in 1993. There are thirty three lessons ranging from word choices and honesty to cultivating a pure heart and consecrated life. Together these women have compiled a guideline for living that is both charming and filled with truth. The book starts at the beginning of a girl’s awakening comparing her to a rosebud blossoming and these wise women encourage girls not to blossom too quickly. As the book progresses character development is encouraged at all stages of blooming. Adolescence, courtship, Christianity, life work, purpose, and their end in womanhood and motherhood are explained and the struggles at each stage are discussed.

My mom read this book to me when I was younger, my best friend and I read it together when we wanted to hold each other accountable, and now my sisters are listening to this and talking to me about it. Mrs Hale helps to give each reader a sense of true beauty in proper care, virtue, and purpose. She encourages care for others and the proper nurturing of every relationship. She carefully differentiates between character and attributes that have come to pass as character like cutting remarks passing as frankness and sincerity. Her closing words were both encouraging and pleading, “ Oh girls! life is so great, so wonderful, so full of possibilities, that none of us can afford to be anything but what is good and pure and true! Let us make the perfect rose an emblem of our womanhood and strive that its fragrance shall bless all who come in contact with it.” Her heart was to remind girls what life could be, the potential each person has, and the way to live up to that potential.

 Daughters of Destiny

I’ve had so many adventures with this book. When I was eleven I remember crawling up in a tree to read about my favorite women, the ones I wanted to be like, and the ones I knew who would be my best friends. Lady Jane Grey was known as the nine day queen forced into a marriage and throne which killed her, but her mind was incredible and her consideration for others transcended her circumstances. Tennyson said this of her,

“Seventeen – and knew eight languagesScreen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.42.16 AM
in music fearless – her needle perfect,
and her learning was beyond Churchman;
yet so meek, so modest, so wife-like humble
to the trivial boy mismatched with her for policy! I have heard
She would not take a last farewell of him;
She feared it might unman him for his end.
She could not be unmanned — no, nor outwoman’d.
Seventeen — a rose of grace!
Girl never breathed to rival such a rose;
Rose never blew that equalled such a bud.”

      This is the type of woman every girl should strive to be and this book has the biographies of seventy five other women who lived well, whose lives honored God and who we should try to emulate. While Lady Jane is the woman I would most like to know and befriend, there are wives, mothers, princesses, queens, peasants, writers, and first ladies who go above and beyond what anyone would expect of them. My other favorites are Catherine Von Bora, Edith of Scotland, Queen Victoria, Mrs Merrill, and Mrs Parker. The last two were Pioneer women who fought Indians for their families and forged through the wilderness to keep them alive. This book does not finish a story, but encourages the reader to live lives that are honoring to God, faithful in all things, and true to the purpose God has for them. Every story encouraged me to look deeper into the lives of the women who lived them and sparked part of my love of history and biography.

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This book was written for boys, but I never let that bother me because I genuinely enjoy G.A. Henty and Jeff Shaara. Bob Schultz, the author, understands the purpose of God’s creation. He taught being faithful in the details by telling the story of building a house and leveling each board, finishing well through winterizing, and taking care of those around you through the escapades of his sheep dog. He taught work principles through logging.

I still remember my dad reading the last chapter around the same time of the last Presidential election. The final thought was that we are responsible for the work that is given to us and God will take care of the rest. It is difficult to trust Him, but part of the work we are given is to be faithful to the task at hand and not be anxious about those things God has other people handling.

Conclusion

These three books communicate simply what it is to be a woman because the principles are timeless. In the words of Mrs Hale, “We are all provided with means by which we may become acquainted with with those who have moved earth’s masses most, whose lives have influenced most people for good, knowing the very motives and desires of their hearts, and learning exactly what their opinions were or are.  The medium for all this wonderful knowledge is the printed page.”

Night Shift and Literature

Early to bed, early to rise? How early makes one wise?

Thornton - the honorable and steadfast

Thornton – the honorable and steadfast

I went to bed at six pm and now I’m up  for the night.

I never really considered myself a night owl, but I am quickly becoming one. I mostly sit in a recliner during the night keeping a watchful eye on my grandmother. I find it more conducive to thought and focus, or marathons of BBC Classics while typing up  and drilling flashcards.

The only important thing that has come of this session is that I realized I like Elizabeth Gaskell’s heroes more than Jane Austen’s.

Jane Austen’s characters are busy running around society fixing family drama. They are all very well endowed men with property, title, station, and looks. They might have a fatal flaw like pride, but it is society drama. Don’t get me wrong. I will always like Jane Austen, but that their is a greater depth to Elizabeth Gaskell’s work.

After all brooding millionaires were never my type, but amateur entomologists who write letters and live in Africa  could be or hard working, honest factory owners who do what they can for their workers. Even the country doctor who can’t get the courage to talk to the parson’s daughter until he saves her life has a story that is real.

Jane Austen wrote drama with romance as the focus. Elizabeth Gaskell’s works were longer and she was able to develop a romance while looking at the issues in the world like industrialization, social reform, service and servitude, crisis of religion, and education.

 

-W

What Do You Collect?

My mom used to collect Longaberger baskets.tolivenotexist.wordpress.com They were everywhere in our house, a big one on top of her desk, my first purse was one, mom’s veggie platter fit in a long low basket, and I seem to remember there was a really big one that I could fit in. She sold them when we decided to move to the country and then started blogging. The rest is history.

I collect thoughts, things I read, what people say, a phrase. I have been trying to find a way to organize them. My first attempt was to note them in books and journal the rest, but I realized writing in library books is frowned upon and I went through journals too fast.

My next thought was to save them under the quotes section on my facebook page or as a note so I would have a permanent back up. After the first fifty, I realized it was difficult to keep straight and apparently makes it difficult to look at my about page.

During this time, I am reading, writing, thinking, talking, and listening, so my need for more space is stifling.

Then I read a book about reading books.

The author collects the same thing I collect…. Imagine that!

He keeps a database of subjects with quotes and thoughts and ideas. He also marks up his books in a most spectacular way.

Now I need to go put together a database of all my quotes from the last several years-

Oh dear…

-W

Respectably Flawed: Why We Need the Gospel Everyday

Ungodliness, Unthankfulness, Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment, Pride, Selfishness, 9781600061400_p0_v1_s260x420Lack of Self-Control, Impatience, Irritability, Gossip, Any Untruth, Sarcasm, Crude Speech,  Anger, Judgmentalism, Envy, Jealousy, Worldliness.

Did one of these topics send a pang of guilt to your soul? The first time I read them, I was reminded about how fallen I am. By the end of the book, every chapter had highlighted the failings in my life.

My mom gave me my first Jerry Bridges book when I was twelve. The Pursuit of Holiness changed my focus from doing good just to do good to doing good as a way to bring more pleasure and glory to God and being enveloped in Him which develops holiness.

The next one I picked up was Respectable Sins, but I didn’t finish it until recently. I regret that because I would have grown closer sooner.

How do you respond to this?

“Lord, I am willing
To receive what You give.
To lack what You withhold.
To relinquish what You take,
To suffer what You inflict,
To be what you require.”

That prayer, so simple, reflects the heart of this book. So often our circumstances dictate our actions and we do not take the time to be grateful, Godly, at peace, content, humble, giving, temperate, patient, gracious with our words, and living in a way that is different than the world around us.

Bridges challenges us to take a long hard look at our lives. We are fallen. We are corrupt. We need Jesus. Every day our actions should reflect the continuing grace of Christ at work in our lives.

Christ died for you. Does that mean you are free to act like you don’t care?

Christ took our sins. Does this mean feeling constantly anxious and frustrated over unforeseen circumstances is alright?

Christ’s sacrifice freed you from Hell. Does a quick thank you for the food cover that?

No.

It doesn’t.

Don’t read it if you don’t want to be convicted.

– W