The Long Road Home (A Homespun Romance Book 3)

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Hide cereal boxes behind it — they don't fit well into cupboards. One of the lessons I learned from my friends in Brooklyn, who fearlessly and frequently host large groups, is to offer generously what you have. Don't fail to invite friends to gather around your dinner table because the space is small and the chairs will fit awkwardly.

Instead, happily offer what you have, knowing that the largeness of your kindness balances the smallness of your home. My own apartment kitchen is much too small to realistically hold more than six or so people at a time. So I have turned a lot of my energy to the large space I do have: my backyard. Making it an inviting, colorful space gives me the flexibility to invite as many people as I want.

We can all fit in the yard and have a merry time too! Last week a whole crowd of local friends came over for an ice cream party and outdoor movie in my backyard. It was phenomenal — a perfect solution to my tiny indoor entertaining options. I must also put in a good word about stocking a kitchen on a budget. I'm a hard-core thrifter, and almost percent of the items in my cupboards are secondhand. It is entirely possible to have a wonderfully unique kitchen on a budget.

I love plain white dishware. It is simple and can be used for formal and casual dining. Did you know the dollar store sells it? Okay, so maybe the dishes aren't made to last for twenty-five years. But you can't beat the down-to-earth simplicity of a simple white plate that's a little scuffed or even chipped. One of my favorite parts of my kitchen stock is the silverware. A lover of diversity and pizzazz, I will never in my life put plain metal silverware on my gift registry.

Instead, I've been slowly collecting plastic-handled silverware. Some of the pieces are new, some are cheap, some are vintage. It's so much fun to eat with this stuff! It is colorful, unique, and vivacious, and at only a fraction of normal cost. I urge you to get creative with your kitchen and dining purchases: upcycle, shop at thrift stores, or build your own.

It is satisfying to have a cost-efficient living space that is also uniquely you. Remember this: the fellowship and friendship shared over a good meal even if it's just takeout pizza begins in the kitchen. Keep this space tidy and accessible, making creative use of however much or little area you have to work with. In the end, guests will appreciate most the love of a well-lived-in, orderly, and inviting space.

She read an impressive list of countries that had been represented in their home in the past year. Even guests from "hard to reach with the gospel" countries had been in their living room! I love other cultures and countries. I wanted to witness to people from around the world in my living room too. But I hadn't even known it was possible in our rural Plain community. In other words, I was jealous.

As soon as it was convenient, we invited this speaker's family over for pizza. We were kind. They were kind. And then we hit them with The Big Questions that ran out of our mouths faster than we could phrase them intelligently: "You host people in your homes from all over the world and we want to do that too, and is there any way we can, and how can we get involved, and is there a place for us, and how soon can we get started They told us about the University of Delaware and its program that teaches English to people from around the world.

Often, students who study abroad become leaders in their home countries, which multiplies the potential of a Christian witness exponentially. One popular option for the international students is a program in which they have contact with a host family at least once a month. The students love it because they get to visit American homes, where they are immersed in American culture and get to practice their English.

Were we interested? Of course we were interested! Within a month we had Seung, a South Korean, playing croquet in our backyard. When we signed up for the program, however, I was worried. We aren't exactly a typical American family. Our guest students weren't going to have tailgate parties at ballgames or Fourth of July fireworks or Christmas trees. Or television. What fun were we going to be?

Would they even like us? Those fears were thoroughly laid to rest that very first evening. After the meet-and-greet, our friends took us with them to visit a veteran host family who lived in Maryland. I think half my questions were answered the minute we pulled into the driveway of their home.


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I had worried that our home was too ordinary to host rich students from Saudi Arabia who talk about honeymoons that include three different countries plus a cruise. But the home we entered rivaled ours for simplicity. It was tiny. The exterior was simple, unfinished, and had no landscaping at all. There were children everywhere. That meant the entryway doubled as the boys' bedroom.

Leaving the bedroom-entryway, we entered the living room, where construction was obviously underway, for the floor was unadorned plywood and the ceiling was attic. I walked into a tiny kitchen where the Queen of the Home was at work. There were open cupboards with potential for countertops, but there were no countertops.

And no sink. And no faucet. How can you have a kitchen without kitchen essentials? She was smiling and stirring something on the stove. She was used to it. She also appeared used to the furnace in the corner and the pile of tiles beside it. Here was a woman who, in this tiny house, had obviously birthed babies, raised children, and hosted hundreds of people from around the world. All while living in a perpetual construction zone.

The food was ready and resting on the table in the living room. We adults sat on the few pieces of living room furniture, while children and plates carpeted the floor and our hosts started talking. They talked nonstop about their experiences with hosting international students and of the incredible opportunities they encountered. I barely noticed the ruckus the children created when they zipped in and out and around the house, with ice cream trailing behind them. Our hosts talked for hours.

They told about getting invitations to visit former students now back in home countries across the world. The woman spoke of praying for the money needed for tickets so she and the baby could travel alone to northern Africa, where a student was alone in her faith and begging her to come.

It was kindness, not timidity, however, for though he held steadily to his art he did not keep silence before even the most popular injustices. He was extraordinarily fecund. His most significant critical writings, chiefly concerned with the art he himself practiced, are found in Criticism and Fiction , Heroines of Fiction , and Literature and Life Reminiscences and travels assume a still larger place in his later work. He revisited Europe and left records in London Films , Certain Delightful English Towns , Roman Holidays , Seven English Cities , Familiar Spanish Travels , in which he occasionally drew his matter out thin but in which he was never for a page dull, or untruthful, or sour, after the ancient habit of travellers.

The Institute rightly judged that, important as Howells is as critic and memoir-writer, he must be considered first of all a novelist. His later books of fiction make up a long list. That he could produce such an array of fiction is sign enough that he had not been overpowered by humanitarianism; a better sign is the fact that these later novels are even kinder, gayer, mellower than the early ones. Holding so firmly to his religion of reality, and with his varied powers, it is not perhaps to be wondered at that Howells produced in his fourscore books the most considerable transcript of American life yet made by one man.

Nor, of course, should it be wondered at, that in spite of his doctrine of impersonality the world of America as he has set it down is full of his benignance and noble health, never illicit or savage and but rarely sordid. Thus limited as to subjects by his temper and his times, he was likewise limited as to treatment. On every ground he preferred to make relatively little of impassioned or tragic moments, believing that the true bulk of life is to be represented by its common-places.

Hawthorne and Mrs. Stowe, romance and sentiment, had divided first honours in American fiction during the twenty years —; the seventies belonged primarily to the short story of the school of Bret Harte. The novel of that decade, thus a little neglected, profited in at least one respect: it ceased to be the form of fiction on which all beginners tried their pens and passed rather into the hands of men whose eyes looked a little beyond easy conquests and an immediate market. This fact, with the rapid growth of the artistic conscience in the cosmopolitanizing years which followed the Civil War, serves to explain in part the remarkable florescence, the little renaissance of fiction in the eighties.

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As a rule these novels seem more deftly built than the novels of the sixties or seventies, more sophisticated. In the eighties began the career of that later American writer who gave to the novel his most complete allegiance, undeterred by the vogue of briefer narratives or other forms of literature.

He prepared for college at St. Having become interested in Sanscrit, and having lost his expectations of a fortune, he went to India and there edited The Indian Herald at Allahabad. In he returned to America, spent another year upon Sanscrit with Professor Lanman of Harvard, and wrote his first novel, Mr. The success of the experiment was so prompt and complete that its author recognized his vocation once for all, much as does George Wood in The Three Fates , a novel admitted to be partly autobiographical. Crawford went to Italy in , and thereafter spent most of his life at Sorrento.

He still travelled, grew wealthy from the sale of his novels, became a Roman Catholic, and died in Except that toward the end of his life he partly turned from fiction to sober—and not remarkably spirited—history, Crawford can hardly be said to have changed his methods from his earliest novel to his latest. Improvisation was his knack and forte; he wrote much and speedily. His settings he took down, for the most part, from personal observation in the many localities he knew at first hand; his characters, too, are frequently studies from actual persons.

And yet so fresh, strong, and veracious is the movement that it nearly obscures these conventional elements. He could not tell a story badly, but flowed on without breaking or faltering, managing his material and disposing his characters and scenes without apparent effort, in a style always clear and bright.

As to his ideas, Crawford appears to have had few that were unusual, and at least he suspected such ideas as the substance of fiction, about the aims and uses of which he is very explicit in The Novel: What It Is They might therefore as well be reconciled to the exigencies of their business. Thus far Crawford was carried by his cosmopolitan training and ideals: he believed that human beings are much the same everywhere and can be made intelligible everywhere if reported lucidly and discreetly. Reading his books is like conversing with a remarkably humane, sharp-eyed traveller who appears —at least at first—to have seen every nook and corner of the world.

In the eighties realism was the dominant creed in fiction, which in practice followed its creed somewhat closely, with exceptions, of course, among the purely popular novelists like Roe and General Wallace. The same decade, however, saw the beginnings of two movements which became marked in the nineties, both of them natural outcomes of the official realism of Howells and James.

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One led, by reaction, to the rococo type of historical romance which flourished enormously at the end of the century; and the other to the harsher naturalism which shook off the decorums of the first realists, contended with the historical romancers, first succumbed to them, and then succeeded them in power and favour.

Of all these Mrs. And the romance dominates the problem. For Mrs. Jackson, Spanish California had been a paradise of patriarchal estates set in fertile valleys, steeped in drowsy antiquity, and cherished by fine unworldly priests. Her tragic story derives much of its impressiveness from the pomp of its setting, the strength of its contrasts, its passionate colour and poetry.

Catherwood wrote graceful and engaging but not quite permanent tales, from The Romance of Dollard to Lazarre , which added a definite little province to our historical fiction—the French in the interior of the continent. But the later historical romance is best studied in the work of Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell — of Pennsylvania, who, on the advice of Oliver Wendell Holmes, early set aside his literary ambitions until he should have established himself in a profession, became one of the most eminent of medical specialists, particularly in nervous diseases, and only after he was fifty gave much time to verse or fiction, which, indeed, he continued to produce with no diminution of power until the very year of his death.

His special knowledge enabled him to write authoritatively of difficult and wayward states of body and mind; as in The Case of George Dedlow , so circumstantial in its impossibilities, Roland Blake , which George Meredith greatly admired, The Autobiography of a Quack , concerning the dishonourable fringes of the medical profession, and Constance Trescott , considered by Dr. Mitchell his best-constructed novel and certainly his most thorough-going study of a pathological mood. His psychological stories, however, had on the whole neither the appeal nor the merit of his historical romances, which began with Hephzibah Guinness and extended to Westways Revolutionary these narratives are only by virtue of the time in which they take place, for their sympathies are almost wholly with the aristocrats in France, with the respectable and Federalist classes in America.

Philadelphia, generally the centre of the action, appears under a softer, mellower light than has been thrown by our romaneers upon any other Revolutionary city, and Washington, though drawn, like Philadelphia, as much to the life as Dr. Mitchell could draw him, is a demigod still. But their enormous popularity—some of them sold half a million copies in the two or three years of their brief heyday—points to some native condition. In the history of the American imagination they must be thought of as marking that moment at which, in the excitement which accompanied the Spanish War, the nation suddenly rediscovered a longer and more picturesque past than it had been popularly aware of since the Civil War.

Romance did not have the field entirely during these years, for there was also a strong naturalistic trend, which dated from the eighties, when Henry James had seemed too foreign and Howells too hopeful. Unlike those two it lacks locality, as if the bare, sunburned Kansas plain had no real depth, no mystery in itself, and could find no native motif but the smoldering discontent of that inarticulate frontier. Sternest, grimmest of American novels, it moves with the cold tread and the hard diction of a saga.

No shallow mind could have conceived the blind, black, impossible passion of Joe Erring or have conducted it to the purgation and tranquillity which succeeds the catastrophe. Plainly, the author had deliberately hardened his heart against the too facile views of contemporary novelists. It is this stiffening of the conscience which goes with all the later naturalistic writers in America; they are polemic haters of the national optimism.

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Crane was a genius who intensely admired Tolstoy and somewhat febrilely aimed at absolute truthfulness in his fiction. Norris had larger aims than Crane and on the whole achieved more, though no one of his books excels the Red Badge. He had a certain epic disposition, tended to vast plans, and conceived trilogies. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.

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But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. A boy in his early teens whose mother is dying becomes involved in investigating a suspected government cover-up of UFO activity. What is real, what is fantasy and how they intertwine with what it means to believe are some questions that, along with skilled storytelling, makes this a book that will keep you reading…and thinking.

Is it imagination or is it real? You decide. Coming soon from Peak City Publishing. The telling brings to mind the vibrancy and vigor of The Canterbury Tales. Clearly and intimately written, you are carried by the story while painlessly learning much about the people of this fascinating land. Leaving home to go on the road after the death of the opera diva who acted as her mother, Eli meets with race riots, the counter-culture music scene, the Weathermen underground and many kinds of love, including that of her father.


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  8. Fires of Europe by Phyllis Harrison broadcast Rebellion is not an option in the France of The King and Cardinal Richelieu oversee a network of priests who set snares for those not following closely enough to their rules. Gilles Montroville tries to live the life his parents have planned for him but he is launched into a world far away from his protected childhood.