Weekend Daybook: the end of summer edition

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.


(1) photo from the week

   Jennings Beach, Fairfield, CT with Church of the Apostles on the last day of summer

Jennings Beach, Fairfield, CT with Church of the Apostles on the last day of summer

This end of summer bonfire on the beach is becoming an annual tradition, thanks to friends who share their reservation with us. This year, they invited the whole church and it was completely lovely - every moment. It’s been a good summer, and I’m anticipating even more goodness this fall.


(2) new posts in the Work Stories series

  1. Work Stories: C. Christopher Smith’s Bookish Place to Work (the first post in a brand new series of guest posts on the subject of our everyday work lives)

  2. Charting our calling (a stream-of-consciousness reflection on the earliest days of trying to establish our calling)



(3) writer-ly links

Check out my Pinterest board: Write / Writing / Have Written

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  1. Tips for Writing (and living) from author (and friend) Nancy Nordenson

  2. Tightening Your Writing from literary agent Rachelle Gardner : “Ack! Not my precious words!”

  3. 250 Flannery O’Connor quotes: Our church’s reading group is tackling Flannery O’Connor short stories this fall and I’ve mentioned how much reading her non-fiction has helped me better appreciate the depth of her fiction. If you don’t have time for an entire non-fiction book, maybe a handful of these quotes will do?

    Here’s one of my favorites….

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(4) playlists for autumn because it’s my favorite season!

Check out my Pinterest board: Autumn Holidays & Occasions

  1. Loungy Autumn

  2. Folk Autumn

  3. Autumn Instrumental

  4. Autumn Worship



(5) New & New-to-Me Podcasts

Check out my Pinterest board: Listen / Listening / Have Listened

  1. Out of the Ordinary with Lisa-Jo Baker and Christie Purifoy: This newly-released podcast is “for anyone who’s ever felt the nagging frustration of wondering if her life is too small, too boring or too ordinary to make a difference.”

    I had the privilege of attending Christie Purifoy’s writing circle at the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2016. Before leaving the conference I’d inhaled her book, Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons and have faithfully followed her blog ever since. There is a unique quality to the voice that she adds to the overall conversation led by Christian women bloggers/authors and I respect her a lot. Looking forward to this!

  2. Things Above Podcast with James Bryan Smith: This is another new podcast I’m looking forward to following. Our church has been reading through a trilogy of his books called The Good and Beautiful Series. I appreciate theology professor, author, and mentee of the late Dallas Willard, James Bryan Smith’s voice on the subject of spiritual formation. I’ve listened to the first episode of this podcast featuring Emily P. Freeman. An excellent interview!

  3. Otherwise Podcast with Casey Tygrett: I’m catching up on this podcast and have enjoyed the episodes I’ve heard so far. In the most recent episode the host interviews author Seth Haines on the meaning of sobriety beyond our typical applications to a small subset of addiction which is a conversation we need to take much more seriously than we often do.

    I also loved listening to episode 6 featuring C. Christopher Smith (see his guest post he contributed to this blog last week). I’m a fan of Chris’s work, and also got a pretty big kick about hearing one of my essays referenced during the episode. (I may have, in fact, squealed loudly enough to scare my dog.)

  4. The Invitation with Josh Banner: As I continue my training as a spiritual director, I’ve been grateful for the unique offering of this podcast. Josh Banner, a certified spiritual director, retreat leader, and facilitator of contemplative prayer outreach in prisons invites listeners into mini-retreats of contemplative prayer and lectio divina. Each episode feels like a gift. (Also, I recommend the free download 40 Ways to Spend 5 Minutes with God.)

  5. Left, Right, and Center podcast: I crave nuance and perspective and nearly demand it from my news sources (which feels like a fairly impossible task). A friend recently recommended this one to me and I’m slowly testing it out. The September 14 episode included a segment from various observant Catholic journalists representing various political viewpoints, but united in their feelings about the most recent sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church. I found their language of legitimate heartbreak to be the most authentically profound words I’ve heard from a journalistic source in a long time. I’ll keep listening.


(6) If you drove to the intersection of philosophy, spiritual practice, and theology, just around the corner from metaphysics and psychology, but not too far from what I can understand, you might find these articles hanging out. I found them fascinating.

Check out my Pinterest board: Liturgy for Life

  1. Made For Immortality by Alice von Hildebrand: “The essence of pleasure is that it is of short duration. But God created us for immortality. What we long for is more than what pleasure can give.” | via Plough

  2. Pneuma and Pneumonia: Reconsidering the Relationship Between Spiritual and Medical Healing by E. Janet Warring: “The Greek term pneuma means breath, wind, or spirit and is the root of medical words related to the lungs, such as pneumonia, and of theological words related to the Holy Spirit, such as pneumatology. It provides a handy illustration of the relationship between the two fields.” | via Fuller (University) Studio

  3. The Modern Violence of Over-Work by Parker J. Palmer quotingThomas Merton | via OnBeing

  4. The Costly Loss of Lament by Walter Brueggemann | via Richer By Far blog

  5. Bursting Out In Praise: Faith and Mental Health by Gavin T. Murphy: "Gavin T. Murphy tells his faith-filled story of living with bipolar disorder and describes how he learned to burst out in praise in the midst of great pain, with a little help from Ignatian Spirituality.” | via Thinking Faith

  6. Trauma, Imagination, and Sensation by Chris Krall, SJ: “… the number of people who continue to seek out and practice these Spiritual Exercises after 500 years of their existence is significant. Clearly, these ever-ancient, ever-new practices continue to transform those who undertake them. All people, directly or indirectly, deal with trauma; nevertheless, Dr Van Der Kolk asserted the truth that ‘Our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being.”| via Thinking Faith


(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

2007 - Good Medicine (From a season of figuring out how to make friends, and whether I wanted to follow traditional rules of punctuation, apparently.)

2008 - Notes from Barbara Nicolosi’s talk on “The Artist” for the Transforming Culture Symposium (“Artists don't need to be idolized or marginalized -- often the two primary ways our culture treats them -- they need to be loved with understanding, appreciated for the often non-useful, non-marketable but gory-bearing work they create, and invited into the gracious lordship of Christ and the protective, generous care of His Body, the Church.”)

2009 - Study & Spiritual Reading: Disciplines for the Inner Life (A post from my temporarily-abandoned series on the spiritual disciplines. One of my favorites from the series.)

2010 - Pumpkin-chip cookies on the first day of school (It wouldn’t be September without revisiting this post.)

2011 - The Habit of Being by Flannery O’Connor: from the book pile, 2011 (I finally got the courage to ask our church reading group to tackle some Flannery O’Connor short stories this fall. I referred them to this post to explain my own mixed feelings and journey in reading this inimitable author. The Habit of Being was a turning point for me.)

2012 - Parenting Unrehearsed: It Does Take A Village (The third “chapter” of my parenting series. I tried to only write the things I’d learned about parenting that I thought would be true for most people most of the time and would remain true for our family for the rest of time. This lesson ticks every box for me even today.)

2015 - Back to school photo diary (Alex’s senior year at Rice University, Kendra’s sophomore year at University of North Texas, and Natalie’s senior year at McCallum High School in Austin. Pumpkin chip cookies, O-week shenanigans, and some pretty radical haircuts.)

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9 years ago

Last day of summer badminton match (2009).


May your weekend include some good conversations, music, and rest. Peace...

p.s. This post may contain affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

Charting our calling

During this blog series on Work Stories, here’s some stream-of-consciousness reflections about our journey of calling/work/vocation.

   January 2010: charts representing the timeline of Brian's life and our search to know God's calling for his life..

January 2010: charts representing the timeline of Brian's life and our search to know God's calling for his life..

We’ve been talking about calling around here lately. It’s not exactly a new conversation - more like a new level of learning on a conversation we’ve been having for more than twenty-eight years we’ve been engaged and married. We tell our kids that we did everything backwards: married, had kids while Brian was working on his bachelor’s degree and not even landing his first, “real” salaried job until we had three kids (and added another within a year). Of course “backwards” is a relative term. Other than the covenant-type, “I Do” decision, who decides what order the rest is supposed to happen?

When we say backwards, we’re acknowledging that there’s some wisdom in being a bit more stable before adding children. Things like college degrees, salaried jobs with health insurance, and appropriate housing are generally a more hospitable way to welcome children into the world than the alternate. At the same time, there’s nothing like welcoming children into the world to add clarity and ambition to one’s sense of calling.

So, we started our family while Brian was a full-time college student and a full-time manual laborer at a car dealership. I worked every sort of odd job - tutoring, cleaning houses, cleaning offices, assisting in a library research room, and babysitting. We were just ignorant enough to be happy about it all. When we look back now, it totally stresses me out, and I’m guessing at the time our family and friends were freaking out a little bit. (I remember when I told my Mom Brian and I wanted to get married before we finished college and she, naturally, asked how we planned to afford it. I gushed “MOM, I could live in a cardboard box and eat Nutter Butters for the rest of my life just to be with Brian.”)

The plan had been to complete college degrees together and for six months we worked toward that goal. What we’d imagined about a cute little newlywed, college-student life got serious real quick when we discovered we were pregnant. Each weekday, we’d drive the twenty-minutes to campus trying to make 7AM classes, arriving late because we didn’t factor in enough time for morning sickness. I’d politely ask Brian to pull off the road, lean over some guardrail and lose my breakfast and then we’d hustle to class.

In addition to taking a full load of classes, we both worked jobs - me in the reference library on campus and Brian in a pharmaceutical warehouse from 4pm to midnight every day. We saw each other from midnight to 7 AM and a tiny bit on the weekends, and tried to figure out how to do things like find an OBGYN without health insurance in a fairly-rural, slightly-barbaric medicaid system. (My first appointments as a pregnant woman took place in a kind of locker room where I shivered in a paper gown in a little cubicle waiting for a nurse to open the curtain that separated me from a long row of other curtained cubicles to walk to the examining room. I’ve literally blocked out the memory of actually being examined in this cattle-call arrangement.)

I will never forget the joy of leaving our newlywed apartment near our college campus with a little U-Haul hitched to our Buick Skylark and heading back to our hometown to find an apartment near grandparents, aunts, and uncles to welcome our first child. We’d started the journey at the beginning of the semester with $200 in our pockets and no place to live. At the end of the semester, we cashed in a few savings bonds I’d been given as a kid to pay for the trailer (I’d received the savings bonds in exchange for anchoring a kids’ television news program in my hometown. A story for another day.) We headed toward New York with even less money in our pockets and still no place to live. Thankfully, my grandparents welcomed us into their home for the first couple of months while Brian found a job (cleaning cars at a dealership he’d worked at before we were married). Thanks to a wonderful Catholic hospital system, our home town also came with a much more comfortable low-income health care provider. I mean it when I say God bless Lourdes Hospital and the De Marillac and De Paul clinics.

A few weeks before Andrew was born, we moved into a second-floor apartment on Rotary Avenue in Binghamton and I hustled that little place into shape. I was also just blissfully ignorant enough to not think twice about teetering my nine-month pregnant self on a metal kitchen stool to paint our kitchen (trying to compensate for the cockroach problem we’d just discovered). While I was in the hospital recovering from the twenty-six-hour labor and delivery, my mother was in the apartment a couple blocks away painting and stenciling the nursery.

This all happened within the first year of our marriage. It was a bumpy, nonsensical way to start a life together. We don’t necessarily recommend it. At the same time as I look back from our current vantage point I don’t know how we would have gotten here any other way. To be clear, by here I mean we still have no money in our pockets, we’ve traipsed from home to home in our vocational journey, but there is a sense of having arrived into our rightful place in the world. Like a highly disorganized flow chart, we’ve adjusted each stage of our life “If this happens, then we live here”, “If that happens, then we move there”. On the one hand it’s been a messy, backwards way to live; on the other hand it’s been beautiful and full of the sort of grace and mercy that makes us feel unimaginably wealthy. You might even say lucky.

While I’m certain we didn’t plot every new iteration of the chart correctly, I do believe we’ve been following the overall direction of our Shepherd Jesus as he leads us ever nearer to the purposes of God for our lives.

Recently I was chatting with a friend during a church potluck supper. He was feeling emotionally staggered under the weight of an ill-fitting career. He’d reached the point where most of his emotional energy went into the kind of flow-chart calculations that precede a major life change. When he asked me about how Brian and I felt about the moves we’ve made from New York to Austin to Connecticut I said a sentence I didn’t even know I believed until after I heard it come out of my own mouth:

The path to discover our calling has brought us to a place better than anything we’d imagined and has cost us more than we ever expected.

I couldn’t tell if that encouraged him or not, but not long after that he left his job and he and his wife sold their house and moved a long way away. I think about them a lot and wonder if he’s thought again about the unimaginable outcomes of pursuing one’s calling.


I’ll write more on our vocational journey on another day. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about what you’re discovering as you pursue your life’s calling. Drop me a line?

Work Stories: C. Christopher Smith’s Bookish Place to Work

Welcome to the first post in a brand new series of guest posts on the subject of our everyday work lives. For the remaining weeks of Ordinary Time, I’ve invited some friends to share a one-day snapshot into their work life that will help us see what they know to be true right now about who they are made to be.

I’m grateful for the work of my first guest, C. Christopher Smith, for the work he does which is both theologically rich and missionally compelling. His work has influenced my own love for reading, writing, church, and meaningful conversations with friends and neighbors. It’s an honor to introduce him to you all today.

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Hi, I’m Chris Smith, my family and I live in the urban Englewood neighborhood on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, and I make a living by piecing together a number of book-related jobs: mostly writing, editing, publishing, and bookselling. I have loved books since the very earliest days of my life when my parents would read incessantly to me, and I feel really fortunate to be able to work with books daily.  Here’s a little peek into some of the sights of my daily work.

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My work is rooted in the life and mission of our local church community, Englewood Christian Church. Englewood, a church with a long history of being a reading congregation, has created a space for me to do this work that I love – a space both literally, within the church building, and metaphorically, within the shared economy of our life together. I dabbled in some parts of my work before I came to Englewood over 15 years ago, but without the church, I would not be able to do this work full-time. 

(I LOVE the 1960s era font of this sign on our church building!)

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Englewood has started a number of businesses together over the last quarter century. My various book-related jobs were not our first venture into common work, nor were they our most recent. This picture was taken in our little park across the parking lot from church building and a few houses down the street from my house. The primary function of this park is as a nature playspace for children in our early childhood learning center. The young children get to play amidst natural wonders like trees, wildflowers, vegetable gardens, and even a little stream, right in the heart of the city! Our learning center was one of the first businesses that we started in the mid-1990s. About the same time we also started doing work together in affordable housing. In the back of this picture, behind the red-ish roof of the picnic shelter, is our most recently completed housing development, named Oxford Flats, which consists of 15 units of mixed-income rental housing. It opened in late 2017. On beautiful, sunny days like today, I like to go out to the bench in this picture, and to work on editing or simply collecting my thoughts.

Just around the corner from our little park is Pia Urban Café and Market. Pia (or Pia’s, as the locals who like to tack possessive apostrophes onto everything, call it) is owned by our friend Maria, who grew up in Puerto Rico, and came to Indianapolis for a previous job with a pharmaceutical company. Englewood owns this building, but we’ve helped Maria get her business started and keep it going. She aims to serve “Indianapolis’s finest Puerto Rican Coffee,” and Pia is a wonderful gathering place for people in the church and neighborhood. I usually stop in there a couple of times each week.

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Pia is also one of the places where Indianapolis locals can pick up a free copy of The Englewood Review of Books, the quarterly magazine that I edit. I stopped in today, said hello to Maria and to another friend who was using the coffeeshop as an office today, and snapped this picture of the copies of our two most recent issues. Probably two-thirds of my working hours are devoted to the two editions of the ERB, our online edition and our quarterly magazine. We cover a wide range of thoughtful books that will be of interest to socially-engaged Christian readers. Almost all our readers identify as Christians of some tradition or another, but probably less than half the books we review are published by Christian publishers. The practice of reading broadly, and talking together about our reading, has been immensely transformative for us as a congregation, and has been an integral part of the diverse sorts of work that we do together in our neighborhood. The ERB is one way that we encourage Christians in other churches and other places to read and reflect in ways that transform the communities to which they belong.

Next door to Pia is our neighborhood branch of the Indianapolis Public Library. I love the architecture of its early 20th century, Carnegie-funded building, one of the most distinctive structures in the Englewood neighborhood! My wife works here as a clerk, so I am regularly popping in to see her and to pick up books that I have ordered through the library system. When budget cuts threaten to close this branch, our church fought to keep it open, and eventually we were part of a neighborhood coalition that helped not only keep it open, but also to expand and modernize its facility, making it accessible to all neighbors.

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Back inside my office in the church building are, as one might imagine, shelves upon shelves of books. In the twelve-plus years since I went full-time with this book-related work, one of our main sources of income has been selling used books online. And I had been selling used books for the better part of a decade before I started working at Englewood, starting while I was in grad school, trying to pad my meager budget as a student by doing something I loved. Pictured here are a few of the shelves in our online used-book inventory. Within six to twelve months, we will be stopping our used book business. This is a bittersweet development that will allow me to narrow the range of work that I do, focusing more intently on The ERB, and writing and speaking engagements. I will be glad to juggle fewer work-areas, but as used bookselling is the type of work that I have done for the longest stretch of my adult life, over two decades, I am a bit saddened to let it go.

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A few years ago, my work afforded me the luxury of reflecting on my personal vocation and the ways in which reading has been a transformative practice not only for us as a church community but also for our neighborhood. These reflections eventually took the shape of the book Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish.  Many of the themes that I have very briefly introduced in this photo-essay are explored in more depth in the book (e.g., the connections between reading, imagination, and social transformation; the vital relationships between churches and libraries; and the crucial role of reading in discerning a vocation and maturing within it.)

Thanks, Tamara for the opportunity to show your readers around my place and my work!

C. Christopher Smith is a member of Englewood Christian Church on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis. He is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and co-author of the award-winning book Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. Chris is eagerly awaiting the release of his next book, How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, Spring 2019).


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What about you?

What story does your daily work tell about who you are called to be in this world right now?

Let us know in the comments below.


A prayer for all of us:

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer

Weekend Daybook: the catching-up edition

 From a little road trip through The Berkshires with my husband this week.

From a little road trip through The Berkshires with my husband this week.

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.


(1) new blog series for Ordinary Time - Work Stories

Did you read the post about the new blog series I’ll be posting between now and Advent? I’m excited to get this place up and running again this fall and can’t think of a better way than to invite a whole bunch of friends to tell stories. I hope you’ll chime in with a few of your own!



(2) updates from musician friends

  • Our friend Jason Harrod started a Patreon page and we recommend! (If you’re not familiar with Jason’s music, listen to some tunes at his website.)

  • Our friend Krista’s track, Little Stars, a tribute album (back in April, but, as you know, I’ve been off schedule this year!)


(3) somewhat-random, but extremely interesting links


(4) podcast episodes I enjoyed in the past several months

p.s., Have you heard a new season of Serial is on its way?!?


(5) good musical moments from two very different funeral liturgies

Senator John McCain’s funeral at the National Cathedral:

Aretha Franklin’s funeral at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit:

  • Amazing Grace sung by Jennifer Hudson (maybe the most amazing performance I’ve ever heard of this beloved hymn.)

  • The Lord’s Prayer played on the harmonica by Stevie Wonder (and it’s gorgeous).

(Thanks to Dr, Paul Neeley at Global Christian Worship for the heads up on the last two links.)


(6) blog posts from the archives on the ache of vocational uncertainty

In relation to the new blog series on the subject of vocations, calling, and work:

2015 - Father, forgive them (A guest post by Brian during Holy Week.)

2009 - Heavy Man Stuck (Inspired by an artistic illustration.)

2009 - We are expecting! (Not what it sounds like…)

2008 - How I’m feeling these days (A post in graphic form.)

2008 - Confession (Trying to blame it all on my mother.)

2008 - Anguish (Inspired by a poem this time.)


(7) books on my nightstand in September

I’d love to hear what you’re reading (or hoping to read) this month!


(1) photo from the archives

Wrightsville Beach 2007.jpeg

9 years ago

On Wrightsville Beach, NC with friends, summer of 2009.

Praying for the Carolinas this weekend. Lord, be near!


May your weekend include some good music, friends, reading, and rest. Peace...

p.s. This post may contain affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

Work Stories: announcing a new series of guest posts for Ordinary Time

Depending on who you ask, the church calendar has been in Ordinary Time since June. This quirk of the liturgical year is one I find slightly annoying - is it Ordinary Time immediately following Pentecost Sunday or do we mark the time as weeks after Pentecost? Some churches refer to these weeks as “weeks after Pentecost” beginning with the first Sunday after Pentecost also known as Trinity Sunday. Other churches refer to this time on the calendar as “weeks of Ordinary Time” (as in, “Today is Tuesday, the eleventh of September in the twenty-eighth week of Ordinary Time”). There are a few more variations, but I’ve found it more fruitful to worry less about what to call these weeks between Pentecost and Advent, and instead to focus and become more deeply formed in the theology of the church’s intentions. What does it mean that half of our calendar is left open to the ordinary? What does it tell us about the God who created and gives purpose to our lives?

One way I do this is to consider the parts of Christ’s life that Scriptures tell us almost nothing about. Between his newborn and toddler days which were spent in various locations of the earth, as his parents sought refuge from Herod to the beginning of his more formal ministry marked by his baptism in the Jordan River we know only a few sparse details. You could say this was the Ordinary Time of Christ’s life. The years we can patch together a few details of work and worship made up the vast majority of his days on earth.

Each liturgical cycle, we reenact that reality in the church’s calendar with days, weeks, and months of ordinary time. In the United States, this time of year (summer and autumn), the civic calendar is packed full with holidays and remembrances. The trinity of celebrations that bracket our summer (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day) ensure we pay attention to the passing of a favorite season of barbeques, vacations, and recreation. From Memorial Day to Veterans Day, our calendars remind us to also set aside time to remember our place as citizens of our country with parades, memorials, and flag raising. (I happen to be writing this post on September 11, another day on our national calendar that will live in infamy.)

If the historic liturgical calendar teaches us to number our days to gain a heart of wisdom, there must be a lot of wisdom to be gained in our regular, working, resting, and worshipping lives. This is the model Christ seemed to have lived, and the church invites us to embrace the same pathway.

In the words of theology professor Wendy Wright, Ordinary Time is a season:

“…to become attentive to the call of discipleship both outer and inner. What are we called to do? … What are we called to be?”

For the remaining weeks of Ordinary Time, I’ve invited several friends to share a bit of their daily, ordinary work lives in a series of guest posts. I always feel like I can understand my own journey better when I spend time soaking up other people’s stories. Maybe that’s true for you too?

There may not be another area of our lives that we hold most in common without realizing it: we want to know what we are uniquely made to do in our lives and we spend our days trying to fill the gap between what we were made to do and what we do with our days in reality. This gap is no small thing; it often feels like an ache we can’t name and leaks out in the midst of our day jobs and our too-short weekends. We carry this sense of wanting something more with us into every relationship and every job interview. We know, in our innermost being, we were made for something good and most of us are not sure how much attention to pay to that feeling.

In the meantime we have to pay the bills, care for our families, mow the lawn, and figure out what to eat for lunch.

In between the lines of the thousands of posts I’ve logged into this blog you can hear these questions and this ache in Brian and me. If nothing else, the nearly twenty-eight years of our marriage has been trying to help each other figure out what we’re going to do when we grow up.

In some beautiful ways, God has helped us gain deep peace in this question and we feel like we have some answers to the question of our callings - as individuals and as a couple - that will probably stay with us for the rest of our lives. In addition to the lifelong callings of being husband and wife, mother and father, we now can add priest (Brian) and spiritual director and writer (me). Whatever else develops for us as we age (grandparenting? caregiving for family members? book writing?), we are grateful for some hard-won confidence that the recent vocational arrivals will stay with us into eternity. Hard-fought, hard-won and all the more rewarding for the sometimes excruciating insecurity on the journey.

I’m delighted to share some stories from a few friends who are on the same journey. I’ve asked them to give us a one-day snapshot into their work life that will help us see what they know to be true right now about who they are made to be. Some live out their callings in a way that they get paid to do the thing they’re most uniquely suited to be in this world, others work jobs that pay the bills so they are able to pursue those callings. Most are a combination of the two.

I’d love to hear your stories, too. At the conclusion of each post, I’ll add a prayer of blessing for all of us in our work and ask a question about your own vocational journey. I’d be honored for you to take a few minutes to share those answers with me in the comments.

Let’s help each other recognize the truth that often our most extraordinary qualities are demonstrated in our ordinary work. Sound good?


My various work selves:

Brian’s various work selves: