if I stand {a poem}

if I stand upon a mountaintop
will I see what God sees,
know what God knows,
view the world with understanding

will my path finally present itself
with utter clarity,
my next step--and the one that follows it--
laid out before me
with unquestionable certainty


I am in this world but
God permeates and surrounds
fills and transcends

the Almighty created the amoeba
and me and the stars
with equal care
and how can I even begin to comprehend


Bronze (The Glister Journals #1)

It's been a while since my last book review, so I'm doubly excited to write a post about B. B. Shepherd's first novel, Bronze! If you like young adult books, horses, novels with mental health themes, or all of the above, I highly recommend The Glister Journals. Bronze is being re-released next week with a brand new cover, and you definitely want to pre-order a copy! I admittedly didn’t get much done the week I read it because it's so hard to put down. Check out the Glister Journals website for excerpts from the book, reviews, and links for pre-ordering.

In many ways, Allison Anderson is like most girls. In others, she's very different. The differences aren't immediately obvious but have caused misunderstandings and avoidance from others in the past. Starting high school in a new town, she expects the same experiences—until she meets the Calderas.

David Caldera, charismatic son of a local rancher, adopts Allison into his social circle. He and other new friends introduce her to their world of horses and extreme sports. Along with a lost horse she befriends, they help her to trust, gain confidence, and venture beyond her previously isolated world. She also falls helplessly but hopefully in love.

Navigating through confusing emotions, over-protective parents, and jealous classmates is difficult, but Allison's overriding fear is losing the people she's grown to love. To prove her determination to keep up, she enters a race—a dangerous decision that could cost her everything.
(from the author’s website)

Bronze is an engaging story with well-written descriptions. Though a bit cliché, I also thought it was very realistic, and overall found it to be an addicting, light (though long—604 pages!) read. I had a really hard time putting it down . . . and leaving it down.

It’s obvious that B. B. Shepherd knows horses, as all of the horse scenes are very well written. I also appreciated that the prevalent riding style is Western, as many YA horse books center around English riding. My only complaint in this area is that the horses lacked much individual personality.

As for the human characters, well, let’s make a list!

  • Allison is a likeable, very relatable protagonist. I loved reading her mental processes, emotions, and interactions—I felt like I was walking around in her skin. Her social awkwardness is palpable and very realistic. Bonus: she wears glasses.
  • Allison’s parents are, happily, neither absent nor villains.
  • Robin is a good friend and a likeable character. She accepts Allison for who she is, and I love that. I hope we get more of her story in the sequels.
  • Dave is kind, outgoing, adorable, and impossible not to like, but with somewhat mysterious intentions. He’s also very protective of those he loves.
  • Chris is a more mature, reserved version of Dave—almost a Mr. Darcy to his Mr. Bingley.
  • Melanie is a complete mystery, a potentially very good friend, and unfortunately extremely flat.
  • Matthew threatens to create an annoying love triangle, though is otherwise seemingly benign and a good friend.

Despite the fact that the blurb says Allison’s new friends “help her to trust, gain confidence, and venture beyond her previously isolated world,” this is not a fix-the-shy-person story so much as a narrative of Allison’s journey. She develops throughout the novel, but her personality remains essentially the same, and I love that.

A huge thank you to B. B. Shepherd for sending me a free copy of Bronze in exchange for my honest review!

I’d give it 4.5 leaves, but darn, I don’t have a graphic for that. ;)

Pre-order Bronze here or check out the website for more info!
(And don't forget to add it on Goodreads!)


tired {a poem}

I'm so tired of hate
tired of anger
tired of negativity
and instead of joining the rage
I yearn for joy
yearn for peace
yearn for love
and why can't we spread these
instead of insults and fear


autumn comes {a poem}

A crow swoops down from his perch on the wire
to strut in the middle of the road, haughty

in the midst of frolicking squirrels who
dart from one solid trunk to the next with
reckless, zigzagging abandon

as rain softly falls and
verdant boughs begin to drip amber leaves.


hope {a poem}

hope is where love resides
where refuge is found
nestled in a grove sheltered
by a canopy of leaves
hope flits among the branches
singing a reminder of beauty
in a world where
hate reigns
and terror overwhelms
but Love always wins and so
hope sings on

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I am words.

I wrote this in my journal several weeks ago, and although the rough period mentioned was--for the most part--limited to that week, the rest still rings true. Actually, this summer can be most accurately described as a roller coaster. I moved across the country, one of my favorite people in the world (my grandmother) left this world, and this country seems to be falling apart at the seams. But there is beauty everywhere, and I am full of words.


There are words jumbling around inside of me, struggling to pour forth from my fingertips, but I don't know what they are or how to make any sense of them, just that I am full of passion. I drifted awake this morning hating this current chapter in my life and wanting to sleep through the day--as I have felt all week--and suddenly, I was filled with this inexplicable, undeniable longing to do, change, grow, live. I want to make this work. I am here, and it must be for a reason, so I will make the most of it. I am resilient. I am God's instrument, and God can do anything. Anywhere.

So who am I to ignore the world as it cries out in pain, and yet still blooms in beauty? Who am I to ignore God's call? No. I will live. I will pray. I will write. I will let this passion consume me, and then emanate outward in whichever direction it will go, but I have a feeling it will hit paper--and thrive. I will thrive. The world is alive, and so should I be.

I write for myself, yes, because it helps me tangibly process my thoughts, but more importantly, I write because the words need to be on paper. The words flow, tangled, through my mind and then suddenly become frantic--I become frantic, with the need to let them out, to be their scribe, to be their written voice. I don't know if the words come from my own mind, or from God--sometimes I wonder if there's truly a difference--I just know with an unquestionable certainty that I need to write. That the words need to exist outside my head.

Am I still writing? friends and family ask. Yes. I am still writing. I will always write. Mostly because I can't stop. I am words. God formed me with a word, and He fills me with words, and I cannot deny what I am, what God has given me. So I will live, and I will write.


seek {a poem}

I will not be crushed
by the pain of this world
I will not succumb to the depths
of my own sorrow

instead I will seek God, who
holds my soul
holds my purpose
holds my joy

I will seek God
and find myself


how to increase your dragon hoard (of books)

It is an undeniable fact that bookwyrms love acquiring books. In fact, one might say that we're a bit obsessed, especially upon witnessing the magnetic pull that bookshops seem to have on us. But where are the best places to pick up a stack of reading material? Here are my favorites:

1. Local library Since I lack both money and space, I try to avoid accumulating too much stuff--including books. Besides, the library is a bookwyrm's dream: There are shelves and shelves of books to get lost in, and you can walk out the door with a stack as tall as your torso without spending a cent (assuming, of course, that you return things on time . . .).

If your library system doesn't have a book you want, you can always request that they buy it. Mine is pretty good about purchasing recommended books, and the person who recommends them gets first dibs on reading them.

2. Library sales Many libraries host an annual (or even more frequent!) book sale. This is a great place to get cheap books, and the money you spend there supports a good cause! (Which is, of course, keeping you and the rest of the community supplied with free books.) Some libraries even have a bag sale on the last day, meaning you can take home as many books as you can stuff into a grocery bag for five bucks.

3. Independent bookshops I love exploring all the nooks of a small bookshop--there are few places more magical and comforting. It's like going on an adventure and curling up next to a cozy fireplace all at once. And it's even more fun when you find that book you've been wanting for so long, or maybe that one you never knew you wanted (but you certainly do now!).

4. Powell's City of Books Imagine, if you will, a book store the size of an entire city block. This is what I walked into seven years ago during my first visit to Portand, Oregon, and it is every bit as incredible as it sounds. Powell's is technically an independent bookstore, but it really needs a category all its own. The City of Books contains thousands of used and new books, and even a rare book room.

I have made several serendipitous finds here, including the book that introduced me to Christian fantasy. I also once spent four hours scanning the endless shelves--the only reason I left was for lunch (only to discover later that they have a small cafe inside . . .). If you are unable to make the pilgrimage to the City of Books, Powell's does have an online store as well.

5. Better World Books This is by far my favorite place to buy books online. For every book purchased, Better World Books donates one to global literacy programs. They have a pretty good selection of used--and new--books, and a fabulous "Bargain Bin," where you can get used books for less than four bucks each. Hint: This is a great website for Christmas shopping.


Where is your favorite place to acquire books? Do you wish you lived in a castle that is half library?


question from a wren

A little brown wren perches
on the stone wall
to ask me a question.

She cocks her head and
stares at me intently,
small dark eyes pleading.
"Chip, chip, chip,"
she spouts urgently,
but I cannot know the answer
if I don't understand the question

and flustered, she alights
and is gone
leaving me to ponder
the curious language of birds
and what a little brown wren
could possibly want from me.

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untitled {a poem}

For every poem I write
there are ten that never touch paper
and they
are the most beautiful of all.


beautiful defiance {a poem}

that the world is beautiful
and that you live in it

flowers defy the pavement
by bursting through it
to bloom and dance

smile at them

and smile at the car that drives by
for you can hear birdsong
even above its unnatural roar

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a voice {a poem}

Are you the Lorax? the trees asked
as I stood on a stump in their woods.

That is too great a title for me, I replied.

Is it? the wind whispered in my ear,
Can't you be a voice for those in need?


you can't be a Christian

Last fall, my husband and I went to Texas for a wedding, and while we were waiting for a train to take us back to the airport, an older gentleman engaged us in light conversation--where were we from, etc. When I explained that we were volunteering on a sustainable living homestead, he said cheerfully, "Oh, we have very different political views, then: I voted for Trump."

It took me a moment to catch up with him, not sure at first how he'd jumped from gardens to politics. However, I quickly realized that because I'd been talking about sustainability, he assumed that I also support abortion and gay marriage (two issues he brought up later in the discussion). Suffice it to say that he was not entirely correct, even if I do lean very far to the left. After deciphering his train of thought, I smiled and nodded, not wanting to get into a pointless debate with him. But he wasn't finished yet.

"I don't see how Democrats can be Christian," he said matter-of-factly. If he'd said, "I don't see how Christians can be Democrat," I might have let the comment slide. But he didn't. What I heard was not a jab at my political views, but a discrediting of my faith. He might as well have looked me in the eye and told me, "You can't be a Christian."

I pushed back, of course, and we quickly discovered that we interpret the Bible, especially Jesus' teachings, very differently. Finally, he decided to discredit me because of my age and lack of experience.

"I've read the Bible at least 35 times--I read through it every year," he said. So, obviously, I am wrong. I have to admit he had me for a second, as I do believe in respecting one's elders, and that they have much to teach us. I think I responded with something like, "That's a very good practice to have," and he looked very pleased with himself, like maybe he was gaining headway with this ignorant child.

But I was still angry. What about my parents, grandparents, teachers, professors, mentors, pastors? Were they wrong, too? Sure, he's lived longer than I have, but so have all of the people who have taught me in my short experience.

Our train arrived soon after, and we parted with a friendly "it was nice to meet you." To him, what had just transpired was a lively discussion--perhaps he'd intended to start it with his inflammatory comments--and I did not think any less of him as a person. Whatever his intentions, I don't believe he meant any harm. But he had awakened a fire within me.

Because I am young, are my opinions worth less? Because I lean a certain way politically, am I any less a Christian? No. The man at the train platform and I are both Christians, and our opinions carry the same weight. We both believe the other is wrong, and I don't think anything but God could change our minds, but that doesn't make either of us better than the other.

There's a hymn that says, "They will know we are Christians by our love." I don't care what your political slant is, or whether you interpret the New Testament the same way I do; when you meet someone, don't belittle them because they are different. Show them love. After all, that's what ties us all together, isn't it? "For God so loved the world . . ." and so should we.


reflections from May {two poems}

may I learn to live
and be changed
yet remain the same
may my soul retain a light
at its center
and shine
a candle's flicker

I sit and watch the birds
and listen
and remind myself of
who and what and Whose I am
A sparrow skips by
unaware, unafraid,
its claws skritching the gravel
and I smile

Hello, friends! It's been a while. I took an unplanned but much-needed break as I made some big transitions in my life, and though I wasn't sure if I'd ever return to this blog, I began to miss it.
So here I am. And here you are.


sugaring time {a poem}

steam fills the sugar house until the ceiling
is lost in a white haze
and the enticing aroma of maple
wafts out across the dormant gardens

as the sap winds its way through the pans
from clear and bubbling to golden and frothy
we stoke the raging inferno beneath it
and wait for it to reach the proper density
those brief moments when we open a valve
and syrup trickles out

we stand in the heat and the steam
talking and smelling and tasting
and can easily imagine
generations before us
doing the same


the stream {a poem}

the stream has been calling to me
in its calm, rushing voice from
the shallow gully it has patiently
worked into the wooded ground
with the snowmelt that swells it
year after year after decade

I think it wanted me to see
that the world had been transformed
from a soft, quiet landscape
that the snow and its magic
had receded to reveal once again
the earth and all its small miracles
a blank canvas replaced by
moss and wilted ferns startlingly green
against a muted leaf carpet

and trees once again dominate
this landscape of color
while the dancing stream loudly celebrates
its release from ice
in hopes that wandering feet will
wend their way through the inviting trunks
of brown and green and flaky paper
to find themselves at its meandering bank

and perhaps let fingers caress its surface,
recognize that it, too, is a part of the forest


unwritten {a poem}

they tickle the fringes of my mind
whispering from somewhere deep
within my soul
feather-light words
not yet formed
pleading for entrance, for a pen
to give them shape
and yet they tease--
or perhaps they're just shy--
flitting out of reach
at any attempt to grasp their meaning
countless nameless poems
known only by my subconscious soul


the wheel of heaven {a poem}

segmented branches of trees
against a backdrop of sky
shafts of sunlight
wafting smoke
crystalline frost
(receding with morning's fire)
a glimpse upward


clay jar {a poem}

I am an empty vessel
a clay jar
and though the world tries to fill me
with greed and hate and pride
God has already planted within my soul
seeds of love and mercy and hope
my only task
to nurture them and
share the bountiful harvest
of the indescribable treasure
that is God's Light
with all whom I meet
though it may be but a smile
or a kind word
for it is through humble acts
that God changes the world

(2 Cor. 4:6-7)


invasive species {a poem}

wal-mart is an invasive weed
dominating the landscape
like kudzu or autumn olive
choking out the native plants
slowly, almost irreversibly, marring
an entire ecosystem


devouring and savoring {mini book reviews}

Earlier this month, I set my Goodreads goal to a humble 36 books, my intent being to read two novels and one work of nonfiction each month, and to savor every book. Evidently, I'm much better at devouring novels--though I seem to be savoring my current nonfiction book quite well, which I am still only partway through. I somehow managed to read six novels in the month of January, and since I loved nearly all of them, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on each one, in case you might enjoy them, too. (You may notice that I have only five listed here--I also read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I plan to dedicate an entire post to reviewing the HP series later on.)

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds #4)
by Robin Hobb

This is a great conclusion to a great series. (If you haven't read the first three books, start here. And then read book two. And so on.) Lives are saved, lives are taken, and people learn to stand up for themselves, as well as for each other. I loved watching the characters grow and change and become themselves throughout this series. Blood of Dragons has fewer cliffhanger chapter endings and slightly less (non-graphic) sexual content than the previous three books, but it is still there. I highly recommend The Rain Wilds Chronicles!

4/5 leaves

Breed of Giants
by Joyce Stranger

Despite my small stature, I am hopelessly attracted to large things--books, trees, horses. . . . So there was no question when I found this small (ironically) novel about the largest horse breed as to whether I would buy it. It exceeded my expectations. Breed of Giants is a beautiful tribute to Shire horses and the people who keep this draft breed alive even in modern times. This clean, romance-free horse story for adults (yes, you read that right--feel free to do a happy dance) includes animal perspectives, such as that of Brock the badger, without anthropomorphizing, and the human characters are colorful yet realistic.

5/5 leaves

Castle Waiting (Volume I)
by Linda Medley

This serendipitous library find is perhaps the first graphic novel I've ever read. An omnibus, it attracted me with its immense size, green spine, and intriguing title. Inside, it contains a fun fantasy with nods to classic fairy tales, and yet the story itself is entirely unique. The equally unique characters are easy to empathize with--I can hardly begin to pick a favorite. Though I wouldn't categorize this book as religious fiction, Peace, being a nun, has a Christian theme to her tale. This squeaky-clean graphic novel does have a few mature scenes that might go over the heads of younger readers.

5/5 leaves

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

I enjoyed reading about the (fictional) experience of an Indian immigrant in the U.S.--the cultural contrasts, the very real emotions, the methods of coping in a place that is not home, the themes of family and loneliness. Ashima's story drew me into this novel, her unique perspective dominating the beginning. However, the book quickly switches to her son's point-of-view and remains there for most of the book, and I found his character bland and almost boring. I enjoyed the overarching story, and the ending was very good, but I just didn't click with the main protagonist.

2.5/5 leaves

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
by Rachel Hartman

This second book in the Seraphina duology about humans, dragons, and half-dragons, and their struggle to coexist--or not---is brilliantly and artfully woven together. Pieces fell into place as part of schemes I couldn't have imagined, though it all made perfect sense. There were also many grey areas; I found myself asking, Is the antagonist was really a villain, or a tragic victim of circumstance? Although I didn't at all like how the love-triangle was "solved," the ending of this novel was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful.

4/5 leaves


What does the Lord require of you? {a poem}

What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Mourn,
for they will be Comforted.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness,
for they will be filled.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Pure in Heart,
for they will see God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Peacemakers,
for they will be called Children of God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who are Persecuted for Righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
He has shown you.
Do justice.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly with your God.

(from Matthew 5:3-10 and Micah 6:8)



When I introduced Poetry Thursday and reinstated Wordless Wednesday a few months ago, I realized that many of my readers didn't understand why my book blog is titled Poetree. The simple answer is this: Poetree was never intended to be a book blog. But that is what it has evolved into, and I have grown weary of it--weary of writing nonsense about things that don't matter, of showing off books that I've acquired and pictures that I've taken all of the sake of receiving praise and gaining ever more followers. This hobby has become a chore, another item to check off my too long to-do list, and so I took some time to re-evaluate.

My brainstorming session didn't last long, but I jotted down several lists with headings like purpose, content, post ideas, timing. . . . And then I wrote "Poetree" in the center of the page, and these five words emerged below it:


That is the heart of Poetree. I'm going back to the roots of this dear blog, though you won't be seeing the poem-a-day that began it (check out some of my earliest posts if you want to see what I mean). Going forward, I will use this space--every Wednesday--to share poetry, musings, inspiration, and, of course the occasional bookish post. Soul scribbles from the journey of life.


(almost) success! {bookshelf love}

I almost completed my reading challenge before Christmas! I gave myself 14 weeks to read these 10 books, from September 19 to December 25, and I read nine of them--which, honestly, is more than I had expected to finish. Unfortunately, I've only written one review so far, so all titles except The Unexpected Dragon link to Goodreads.

Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop
The Unexpected Dragon by Mary Brown
Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Did you participate in any reading challenges in 2016? How did you do? What are your reading goals this year?