Jennah Mitchell's Musings

A compendium of thoughts, ideas, projects, and more

The Muir House – Finding Peace Amid Chaos

Hello one and all! My name is Jennah, and – like most of you, I am sure – this is my first time participating in a blog-based book club. I am excited about the possibilities that it holds, and honored to have been given the opportunity to join in.

Let me kick this whole party off by saying WOW! What a heady and multi-faceted book! Twists, turns, family secrets, love, intrigue – The Muir House has it all in one speed-read package! I read the whole thing in 4 hours…I could not put it down if I wanted to, to be honest. I loved the foreshadowing and hidden gems sprinkled throughout the book, as if I were a detective on the hunt for the truth right along with Willa. I have long been a fan of books that allow me to climb inside them and explore as I read, and this was definitely one of those books.

As a quick recap of my thoughts before I get into the meat of my post:

  • LOVED the characters – very diverse, believable, and well-developed. My favorite? I actually liked feisty old Mrs. Skye (Genie); from the start I had a feeling she was highly connected with Willa…although I never suspected she would be an aunt, of sorts.
  • LOVED the setting. I am from the Seattle area originally, so I really identified with that part of Willa’s life. As I have never been to the South, I also enjoyed reading about that area as well.
  • LIKED the storyline. It was a great plot – I am, however, one of those people that cannot stand suspense, especially when it pertains to family/child types of things. So I must confess that when I got halfway through, I skipped to the end and found out what happened and then returned to my happy reading blitz. I know, I know: that is a cardinal sin to many, but I did find that (personally) I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, since I knew where all of the characters were coming from.
  • DISLIKED the ending. I am a sucker for complete endings, whether it is a wedding neatly wrapped in bows and confetti, or a knock-down, drag-out fight that separates a few characters forever. I know that Hale and Willa end up together, but I could not help thinking about other loose ends that my OCD-self would love to have seen resolved a bit more.

This brings me to the thought I had last night that kept me awake until I could open my laptop lid and start getting those thoughts out onto this post: the idea of chaos as a comfort zone. It comes up throughout the book, but mainly on pages 126-127. Indulge me as I quote 🙂

Willa: “That makes no sense. Why would chaos be a safe place?”

Hale: “Because it’s what’s comfortable for you, what you know. What if God were calling you to something radically different? What if He wanted you to let go of the drama, to turn your back on it, and walk confidently in a new place.”

Willa: “So you’re saying that to live a normal life is a risk for me?”

Hale: “Guess what Willa…You have a choice. Chaos or wholeness. I know it sounds wacko, but your comfort zone is chaos. Take a risk for wholeness.”

Talk about powerful! These lines hit me like a baseball bat. As a mom to two little ones, the wrangler of two puppies, and the manager of three businesses, controlled chaos seems to come with the territory, and until now, it has been something that I have just accepted. To be totally transparent, I would have to agree with Hale in that at its core, my chaos is probably a comfort zone for me. It allows me to make excuses – viable excuses – when I am tired, overwhelmed, and perhaps not running at my best pace.

It pains me to realize this, but I think that, like Willa, I hide behind a mask of busyness and self-inflicted chaos, when all that I need to live in peace and serenity is effort. In all fairness, it will be a LOT of effort, but this raises another question: at what point does the risk and effort it will take to let peace reign supreme in my life become worth the accountability and vulnerability that I will be stepping into? Being on the ball and not allowing emergencies and chaos to lead me does, by definition, require that I am prepared. That I stop procrastinating. That I live with – dare I say it – a focused purpose instead of flying all over the board every day.

I really look forward to hearing what you all have to say about this valuable insight that Willa and Hale’s relationship brings to light for my life and for your lives – Let the conversation begin! 🙂

Jennah

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30 thoughts on “The Muir House – Finding Peace Amid Chaos

  1. Pingback: The Muir House Tour | Mary DeMuth

  2. Thank you for such a beautiful and thorough review! I so appreciate it! I love that you gleaned something for yourself in the book!

    • You’re so welcome! As I type this, the 3-year-old is sitting on the dog, snow is falling, my kitchen is a mess, and I have work left undone…and I need to tell myself to take a breath and remember that in my house from now on, PEACE is king. As much as I want to just lay on the floor with the kids and the puppies, I need to rally and combat the chaos one thing at a time. Thanks for writing a book with such an incredible ability to speak into people’s lives! 🙂

  3. Jennah – man, this was awesome! You’ve pulled some wicked insights out of The Muir House. Thanks for pointing them out so poignantly (points to Josh for using ‘poignantly’ in a sentence).

    ‘Focused purpose’ is such a great phrase, one that I’ve been embracing in some form or another for the past year or so. One of the biggest challenges, though, is overcoming the cultural/societal defaults we’ve had baked into us.

    Does that make sense?

    • jmitchell21 on said:

      Thanks so much for the sentiments 🙂 I totally understand what you mean…for me, it is crystal clear in the way that technology has allowed us to be always connected and, thus, always multitasking. We have had a real struggle in my family coming to a balance with that connectedness and with the need for separation from always being in the midst of alerts, messages, urgent deadlines, and the like.

      It is truly an uphill battle, and frankly I wish that there were more Christian voices (such as Mary and others like her) that dared to brave the wild frontier of these types of issues.

  4. Great discussion topic. I often wondered if Willa was creating her own chaos–or that her blank spot in time was imaginary or an attention-getting device. I have known such people, and after getting over being annoyed with them, I yearn to know about the deeper place that pushes them into the “drama queen” behavior. That’s what happened with Willa and me. Glad she ended up with such a great guy, who loved her enough to speak truth into her life.

    • jmitchell21 on said:

      Hi Jeanette – great to meet you 🙂 To me, I think it was a bit of both for Willa…she definitely had a traumatic event early in life…but then she continued to allow it to govern her even on into her twenties. Maybe she needed to feel in control, and to find that she allowed life to remain out of control.

      She is a lucky gal, though, I agree. A good man can be hard to find 🙂 (BUT they are out there) 😉

  5. Connie Leonard on said:

    Great analysis of busyness creating “self-inflicted chaos.” Being raised with an extreme Christian work ethic, I’m trying to learn to “be still” and abide in Christ. Even in my “quiet time” I’m busy singing praise songs, praying, reading and studying the Bible, responding to how His Word speaks to me, but I need to intentionally pay attention to Christ and just be still with Him.

  6. What came to mind in the review and discussion was the phrase, “Live intentionally, without regret.” I recently studied with five other women the DVD/workbook series, “Life Ready Woman,” which could be summed up by that same phrase. The chaos always seems to derive from our not knowing what our true purposes/callings are, and thus living by what’s urgent rather than important.

    • jmitchell21 on said:

      Hi Karen 🙂 I LOVED what you said about living by what is urgent rather than what is important! My mom calls that the “tyranny of the urgent,” I think, and that is definitely appropriate sometimes. It is super easy to live life by attending to what screams the loudest, versus what is truly the most important. Thanks for bringing that up! 🙂

  7. When I read the book, I loved that part that you highlighted, and what a great insight it had about Willa being used to living in chaos, but I didn’t identify with it.
    But when I read it in your post, and how you associated it to your own life, it hit home.
    I am soooo used to “busyness”, that I don’t know how to be quiet and still. If I don’t have anything to do at a certain moment, which is very rare, my mind races with millions thoughts searching for things to do, so then suddenly I’m overwhelmed.
    It is something that I need to work on, thank you for bringing it up!

  8. Wow- you definitely made me want to run out the bookstore and buy my own copy! I love the quotes you chose to highlight. My heart resonates too with that challenge–I choose the risk for wholeness! Be gone chaos–Amen.

    xoxo-Ash

  9. Abby Kelly on said:

    I haven’t read it yet – so thanks for teasing me without spoiling the ending! I love your focused comments. That is me too. In fact, whenever I am most uncomfortable, I find I create chaos.
    I’ve been writing a series of blog posts on mentors. “Mentor” means adviser, and I had never thought of the characters in my novels as potential mentors. Interesting!
    http://www.benjity.wordpress.com

  10. Edwina Cowgill on said:

    Jennah,

    Fantastic review! Your thoughts on chaos sound as if you’ve been spying on me! 🙂

    • jmitchell21 on said:

      Lol not spying..I just think that probably a LOT of women (and men too) can resonate with this…we juggle so many things by default (work, family, etc.) that it is hard to know where to draw the line.

  11. Pingback: Unlikely Mentor « Predatory Lies

  12. Excellent review, Jennah. One of the many things that impressed me about the story was the way Mary made the town of Rockwall come alive. She made me feel right there and she made the town a character as much as she made it a setting.

  13. Pingback: The Muir House | Shalom Mama

  14. Hi, Jennah! I’m just sinking my teeth into this novel after a whirlwind of traveling and family holidays that kept me away. Reading your post drew me in to wanting to get started. I read the dialog between Willa and Hale and was captivated–even grabbing a cut and paste to whisk the conversation through email over to a dear friend who could be Willa incarnate! She instantly replied, “Who’s Willa? Who’s Hale? I need to read this book!”

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