Weekend Daybook: the evil, tragedy, memorials, and common grace edition

A week of collecting what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

You can consider this late from last week or early for next! We’ll be gone for the next couple of weeks and I look forward to catching back up with you in September, friends!

(1) photo from this week

A common grace found in Kennebunk, Maine: The MOST delicious lobster roll I’ve ever eaten + fresh squeezed lemonade. I will never forget this meal.

A common grace found in Kennebunk, Maine: The MOST delicious lobster roll I’ve ever eaten + fresh squeezed lemonade. I will never forget this meal.

(2) helpful podcasts covering the subject of gun control

As with most other important policies, gun control is complicated. It feels hopeful we may finally move to more common sense in regulation, but we need wise governance to navigate all the complexities. These two podcasts helped me think through this issue with more knowledge and nuance.

  1. Trump Says He’s Ready For Gun Measures | via KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center

  2. Constitutional Primers: Second Amendment | via Pantsuit Politics

(3) links remembering Toni Morrison

I’ve not yet had the courage to read her work. I keep waiting for the “right moment” to engage emotionally and intellectually. In the meantime, I’m grateful especially to one of my favorite writing peers, Allison Backous Troy, for pointing toward Morrison as “a powerful witness, Toni Morrison's God Help the Child brings us into the work of reconciliation, the work of the Cross.”

  1. Toni Morrison – Remembering the Award-winning Novelist [NPR] | via Englewood Review of Books

  2. The withering witness of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child and The rough redemption of Toni Morrison’s Home by Allison Backous Troy | via Think Christian

  3. How Toni Morrison Countered the Canon by Karen Swallow Prior | via Think Christian

(4) beautiful examples of the Church responding to evil and tragedy in Dayton and El Paso

Slowly, slowly - and, sadly, too late for many - a few voices from the American Church are more clearly demonstrating a public response that sounds like what Jarvis J. Williams and Curtis A. Woods describe in the CT piece linked below : “We believe in a Savior who redeems, a Spirit who reconciles, and a gospel that is the antithesis of white supremacy.”

  1. Context for El Paso mass shooting from Sami DiPasquale, Executive Director of Ciudad Neuva

  2. Returning to the Lord in Times of Evil and Tragedy by Fr. Peter Coelho, Church of the Cross, Austin, TX

  3. A Litany of Lament and Repentance For Our Treatment of Immigrants and Refugees | via Caminemos Juntos

  4. Jesus, Deliver Us from This Racist Evil Age by Jarvis J. Williams and Curtis A. Woods | via CT

(5) remembrances on the 5th anniversary of Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson

Jemar Tisby’s piece reminded me that it was not only Michael Brown’s death and the subsequent protests in Ferguson that began to wake me up to my own racist complicity, but more specifically a question I asked an Intervarsity leader friend of mine after he returned from Urbana ‘15. I heard my own racism more clearly than ever and began to confess, repent and hope for reconciliation with my Black neighbors.

  1. Michael Brown Jr.’s Sisters Remember Their Brother on the Fifth Anniversary of His Police Shooting Death | via StoryCorps

  2. Five Years Later, Two Ferguson Protestors Reflect on the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photo that Captured their Anguish — and Connection | via StoryCorps

  3. How Ferguson widened an enormous rift between black Christians and white evangelicals by Jemar Tisby | via Washington Post

  4. I’m a Shooting Survivor. If You’re Going to Pray for Us, Here’s How. by Taylor Schumann | via CT

  5. Ferguson Mother of God: Our Lady against all Gun Violence, 2015 by Mark Dukes

Ferguson Mother of God: Our Lady against all Gun Violence, Mark Dukes   Source

Ferguson Mother of God: Our Lady against all Gun Violence, Mark Dukes


(6) photos from my first week participating in #AugustBreak2019

I’m always ready by August for a little daily prompt to keep paying attention to the beauty of summer, aren’t you?

There is much to be cynical about—and it is a good answer if there has not been an incarnation. But if that has happened, if the Word did become flesh, and if there are men and women who in and through their own vocations imitate the vocation of God, then sometimes and in some places the world becomes something more like the way it ought to be.
— Steven Garber, Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

(7) links featuring first-person narratives expanding our understanding of the Imago Dei

I hope you’ll take the time to read through this list I’ve curated. It covers an expanse of people and places, held together by the thread of society’s outliers. May reading the words translate into real-life noticing in our everyday lives.

  1. Confessing My Racism by Anna Broadway via Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places at CT | How forgiveness could transform us all: “But insofar as we can call racism a blind spot (by which I don't in any way mean to absolve people of responsibility), Jesus taught a very different process for correction: start with your own sin.”

  2. Introducing: Mockingbird, History Lessons For Adults via Black Coffee with White Friends | "What if, all those years ago, when I asked Mrs. Jacka, “what should I be,” she’d been able to tell me, “Well, your people were the great pharaohs who were already here. They were from distant lands like Egypt and they arrived with gold spears to trade with the indigenous people who allowed them to stay and exchanged land for goods”? See a sample lesson here: Gimme shelter

  3. Christ in the Camps by Caitlin Flanagan via The Atlantic | Migrant children are suffering. Christians need to help: “But the Beatitudes come at you sideways sometimes, and that’s when you’re really in trouble. It occurred to me this morning that maybe as a Christian I’m also supposed to be meek.”

  4. My time with Jean Vanier and his mom, the grandmother of L’Arche by Ellen Rahner via America Magazine | "My time with Jean Vanier and his mom, the grandmother of L’Arche."

  5. The Fruits of Your Suffering: A Letter to My Refugee Mom by Adrienne Minh-Chau Le via On Being | "I have grown up so comfortably eating the fruits of your suffering."

  6. Going Home with Wendell Berry by Amanda Petrusich via The New Yorker | The writer and farmer on local knowledge, embracing limits, and the exploitation of rural America.

  7. The McDonald's Test by Chris Arnade via Plough | Learning to Love Back Row America

May your weekend include some rest and some fun with friends and family. 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!

Weekend Daybook: the Engagement edition

A week of collecting what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) photo from this week

Our daughter Kendra got engaged! We’re so happy for her and her fiance, Jordan, and we loved celebrating with them this past week!  Many more photos and exclamation marks to come!

Our daughter Kendra got engaged! We’re so happy for her and her fiance, Jordan, and we loved celebrating with them this past week!

Many more photos and exclamation marks to come!

(2)-part article published for The Telos Collective

We live in a culture of workism where people both define themselves by their work and struggle to find its meaning and purpose. In this two-part series, I explored a missional approach to the areas of identity and vocation.

  1. In Part 1, she shares how listening to the 9-to-5 stories of her community has opened a path for blessing and connection: Why Am I Here?”: A Missional Approach to Identity and Vocation

  2. In Part 2 of her blog series on vocation and mission, Tamara Hill Murphy of Church of the Apostles shares firsthand experience that offices can double as confessionals and work-related prayers as benedictions: The Workplace: America’s New Church?

(3) sweet videos about fathers and sons

  1. Can’t get enough of this adorable father-son conversation.

  2. This son reminds his dad and the rest of us what matters most!

  3. Negative Space is an Oscar-nominated short film animation that depicts a father-and-son relationship through the art of packing a suitcase.

(4) rubrics for a Christian political imagination

  1. The Grey Area is Holy Ground by Marilyn McEntyre via Comment Magazine | "The bottom line for great compromisers: "It's not that simple."

  2. The Christian Mandate to Subvert Tribalism by Judy Wu Dominick via CT | From 2017 and more important to read than ever: "Our call to pursue nuance, a love-infused, subversive force."

  3. Against Nationalism: A Reading List for Christians via Englewood Review of Books | “How do we balance our biblical call to love, care for, and seek the welfare of our neighbors with our identity as followers of Jesus, whose reign was not of this world?”

  4. The Economics of Love by Peter Mommsen via Plough | Beyond Capitalism – and Socialism

(5) books I’m reading right now

  1. One Blood:Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love by John Perkins - Hearts & Minds Bookstore | IndieBound | | Amazon

  2. A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership by Wendell Berry - Hearts & Minds Bookstore | IndieBound | | Amazon

  3. The Heart’s Necessities: Life in Poetry by Jane Tyson Clement with Becca Stevens - Plough | Hearts & Minds Bookstore | Amazon

  4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri - Hearts & Minds Bookstore | IndieBound | | Amazon

  5. Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth - Hearts & Minds Bookstore | IndieBound | | Amazon

(6) posts from the archives

  1. 2017 - All Who Enter Here [writing at Art House America] (This is an essay I keep writing and re-writing, and it feels meaningful again this year as my Grandfather’s health steadily declines. “Year by year, we formed a kind of family liturgy, a joyful way of being together that transcended the reality of the modest little cabin and weedy pond. The liturgy expanded to jubilation… underneath Grandpa’s homemade picnic pavilion, eating Grandma’s macaroni and potato salads.”)

  2. 2014 - Orange (August is a good time for paying attention to the daily things, don't you think? Sometimes these prompts feel a little self-indulgent for me, but I think it’s a really good time to participate with #AugustBreak2019 again!)

  3. 2012 - My life as a rabbit (“People called me, emailed me and sought me out after church to share great part-time job ideas: personally assist a speaker and life trainer, copywriter for a sales company, provide childcare. All I wanted to do was to get paid for reading books all day.”)

  4. 2011 - Saying good-bye hurts like hell OR How My Husband's Personal Trainer Taught Me About Love (“When talking with people about this fact, my husband has taken to quoting a well-loved line from Christmas Vacation, " If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.")

  5. 2011 - Farewell Gifts (“We're still licking our wounds a bit, I'll admit. Still in mourning over lost dreams. Still shaking our heads at the lunacy of leaving behind these once-in-a-lifetime kind of friendships.”)

Natalie at camp.jpg

4 years ago

2015 - Natalie the fire-keeper. This will always be one of my favorites!

(7+) photos from our little celebration for Kendra & Jordan’s engagement!

May your weekend include some rest and some fun with friends and family. 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!

On the Seventh Day of Christmas: Savor the Feast of New Year's Eve

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.



Just yesterday I caught myself downloading a fasting app on my phone. You heard me right. On the fifth day of Christmas, I thought I should start fasting. At one level, it makes sense. We’ve been consuming a whole lot of sugar, meat, and delicious ginger beer/vodka drinks and not a whole lot of vegetables. My body was probably trying to tell me something. How perfectly human of me to download an app to remind me not to eat for 12-16 hours rather than just walking to the fridge for some carrots and celery.

If you’ve been around here any number of years, you’ve heard me quote my Mama every Christmastide: “While we feast, we savor.” I’ve also shared one of my top lessons since following the liturgical calendar: In some ways celebration requires more discipline than sober contemplation.

Add to that a mild to severe case of post-family-visit blues and I subconsciously attempted to hit the Christmastide eject button before it was even half over.

Today’s New Year’s Eve. Maybe you’ve got a whole lot of goals that you plan to kickstart tomorrow, the first day of 2019. That’s fine. But for today, let’s keep feasting. Here’s five more clips plus one playlist highlighting the joy of festive celebration. Cheers!

p.s., I’ll be checking into that intermittent fasting app after January 6, the Feast of Epiphany!


  1. Feast, Matt Zoller Seitz for the Museum of Moving Image

    (Technically, this video was made for Thanksgiving, but I love it for Christmastide as well. If you can’t get it to play from this post, click the link here to go to the original page. If you like food and movies, you’ll be glad you did.)

  2. Happy New Year, Orange Mobile

  3. Grilled Shrimp with Peanuts and Lime, Tiger In A Jar

  4. How to Make the Ultimate Cheese Board, Bon Appétit

  5. Dark Moon, Bon Appétit

  6. 10 Vintage New Year’s Eve Movies - 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, (I’dd add When Harry Met Sally for the 90s!)

Listen: my New Year’s Eve playlist on Spotify

Leader: To gather joyfully is indeed a serious affair, for feasting and all enjoyments gratefully taken are, at their heart, acts of war.

People: In celebrating this feast we declare that evil and death, suffering and loss, sorrow and tears, will not have the final word.

But the joy of fellowship, and the welcome and comfort of friends new and old, and the celebration of these blessings of food and drink and conversation and laughter are the true evidences of things eternal, and are the first fruits of that great glad joy that is to come and that will be unending.

So let our feast this day be joined to those sure victories secured by Christ.
Let it be to us now a delight, and a glad foretaste of his eternal kingdom.
Bless us, O Lord, in this feast.

Bless us, O Lord, as we linger over our cups, And over tables laden with good things, as we relish the delights of varied texture and flavor,
Of aromas and savory spices,
Of dishes prepared as acts of love and blessing,
Of sweet delights made sweeter by the communion of saints.

May this shared meal, and our pleasure in it, bear witness against the artifice and deceptions of the prince of the darkness that would blind this world to hope.
May it strike at the root of the lie that would drain life of meaning, and the world of joy, and suffering of redemption.
May this our feast fall like a great hammer blow against that brittle night,
Shattering the gloom, reawakening our hearts,
stirring our imaginations, focusing our vision
On the kingdom of heaven that is to come
On the kingdom that is promised
On the kingdom that is already, indeed, among us,
For the resurrection of all good things has already joyfully begun.

May this feast be an echo of that great supper of the Lamb,
and a foreshadowing of the great celebration that awaits the children of God.

Where two or more of us are gathered, O Lord, there you have promised to be
And here we are
And so, here are you.
Take joy, O King, in this our feast.
Take joy, O King!

Leader: All will be well!
Participants then take up the cry: All will be well!

Nothing good and right and true will be lost forever. All good things will be restored.
Feast and be reminded!
Take joy, little flock. Take joy!
Let battle be joined!
Let battle be joined!

Now you who are loved by the Father, prepare your hearts and give yourselves wholly to this celebration of joy, to the glad company of saints, to the comforting fellowship of the Spirit, and to the abiding presence of Christ who is seated among us both as our host and as our honored guest, and still yet as our conquering king.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, take seat, take feast, take delight!
— Douglas Kaine McKelvey, Every Moment Holy


Feast in the New Year

 More friends, more feasting, more game-playing, more music.  Savor the excess.

[from my 2013 post: "My Mama’s Rule For Feasting."

“My mother created a rule for feasting years ago. As a family, we'd often be invited into other people's homes for mouth-watering meals, but too many times the dinner conversation revolved around the fattening, unhealthy qualities we consumed. It felt like each dish spooned onto our plate came heaped with sides of shame and guilt.  At her own dinner table, my mother would not tolerate this sort of pious, joy-wrecking conversation.  This is how she taught us her motto for hospitality: While we feast, we savor.

This is no way to feast, friends. Keeping in mind that legalism kills, but order brings life to our family celebrations, Brian and I keep my mother's rule close to heart. While we feast, we savor. At Christmas, we savor every sort of gift - food, music, family, friends, and the boxes and bags we wrap up and hand to each other.  All of it -- the ones we give and the ones we receive -- unearned.  All of it, grace.”

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

Turning the corner to Christmas (plus, a little early gift from me to you!)



And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Dear friends,

What a joy these past three weeks have been contemplating together the mercy and marvel of the advent of Emmanuel. Every year I battle a sense of futility - that this quiet space is meaningless in the midst of our sometimes frenetic need to get to the cozy, chaotic celebration part of Christmas. Every year the Holy Spirit meets me again in the ancient, sober texts of the prophets and the fierce hope of the people of God. I want to be a woman of fierce hope, and to embrace every spark and glimmer of light that comes down from the Father in word, practice, prayer, and beauty. I want to consume this light until it radiates from the inside out to help push back the darkness in this weary world. 

Every year God meets me through you. I ponder your stories of meeting through these humble blog posts the once and coming again King, and receive them as gifts just as plain as the ones beginning to accumulate under our Christmas tree. That even one other person knows the God of Christ more nearly and dearly this year because of this holy compulsion of mine to sift through each Scripture and song and prayer is the greatest gift. Thank you for walking the Advent road along with me.

We are turning a corner friends. I often daydream that before I publish the final Advent post (just as I do when I'm writing the Lent Daybook posts) I'll hear a trumpet and see Christ descending from the sky, returning to once and for all make all things new. If this does not happen before Christmas Day, we are given the responsibility to celebrate as if He did. This is no postscript to Advent; this is the Main Event! It's time to pull out the stops, and take on the holy calling of Feasting!

Will you join me?

In the past few years, I've written a couple of posts about how our family has learned, failed, and learned again how to keep Christmas well.

12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas

Family Liturgies For Christmas & My Mama's Rule For Feasting

Christmas Confessions From An Exhausted Dad {Brian's guest post}

I may or may not post each day through Christmas. Some years I have every post planned and written a month ahead of time, some years I take the series one day at a time, and some years - like this one - my preparation falls somewhere in between. The layout of the posts will look familiar; you could call them Advent Daybook lite.

  • Watch: I find myself ready for a bit less contemplation and a bit more lovely entertainment during feast days so in place of art and song, you’ll find a little video clip or short film (approx. 5 minutes or less) in each post. You could pretend each post is a little digital Christmas gift from me to you.

  • Read & Pray: I’ll include with a bit less fanfare the Scripture reading and prayer for those wanting to stay connected to the daily office lectionary.

  • Do: At the close of each post, I’ll include a simple activity to celebrate each of the 12 Days of Christmas.

If you’d like more playlist goodness for the coming weeks, I offer you the quirky, sometimes kitschy, a little bit emo, and often melancholy playlist I made when we lived so far away from my parents. Now we live far away from other people we love, but the title of the playlist will remain in honor of those first homesick years: Christmas Eve (for my Momma).

And a bit more traditional playlist (but still highlighting the lesser-known music of the season): Christmastide 2018.

For these last hours of Advent, may we know with assurance that He has come, He is coming, and He will come again! Hallelujah!


p.s., I would love to hear about your own Advent journey! How has it been for you? Please feel free to drop me a comment below or send me a note

p.p.s., Here’s a little early Christmas gift for you from me. (and especially for my Mom who loves this song so much.)


Easter Monday: Resurrection wine

Easter Sunday kicks off a week in the liturgical calendar known as the Easter Octave and a seven-week festival called Eastertide. Stay tuned for a variety of celebratory posts here on the blog!

    Wedding at Cana  by Dinah Roe Kendall ( source )


Wedding at Cana by Dinah Roe Kendall (source)


Pour some resurrection wine!

I’d wait...and look...under the table...for crumbs
I’d touch...Your robe...just to be...made whole
Cause You’re...the one...who heals...our hearts
You’re...the one who gets the party...started

La, la, la, la, la....

I’d climb every tree just to see...Your face
I’d journey...for miles...you wash...my feet
Cause You’re...the one...who sends...the breeze
So tie...a rope to the tree we...will sing

I’ll carry my cross...just to walk...next to You
I’ll be made low...just to be...made new
Cause You’re the one...who hung...on my tree
So pour...some resurrection wine...we’re free!
— You're the One from Enter the Worship Circle


Listen to "You're the One" by Enter the Worship Circle: Spotify | YouTube

(Read Eastertide posts from previous years here.)