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

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 4.56.04 PM.png
  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….


(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.)

Last Day of Summer in Endicott.jpeg

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!

8 things I learned this summer

Nephews sunset swimming during our annual  Hill family vacation  on Canandaigua Lake, NY.

Nephews sunset swimming during our annual Hill family vacation on Canandaigua Lake, NY.


1. Staycations are a great solution (& Jones Beach was better than I expected). 

Since our kids have begun to leave home and our subsequent move to Connecticut, we've been exploring new rhythms of being together. Our kids are still in that transient stage of college and post-college years so I think we'll be figuring this out for a while. We don't need destiny vacations or travel-brochure excursions; just finding times to be together under one roof for a few days and nights is a major feat! In July we flew our kids to Connecticut to spend a week together, and we had a really, really good time. I'm kind of a fan of staycations anyway (I've noticed some bloggers refer to this practice as being a "hometown tourist") and we've got a long way to go to discover all the wonderful places to enjoy here in Connecticut. 

2. Ice cream stands in Fairfield County & Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown, CT

We love the good, old-fashioned, seasonal ice cream stands scattered throughout the Northeast, and think we may have found our new favorite, thanks to our friend Amy's advice.

3. Working together with Brian - using our individual gifts and callings - is a dream come true.

In the abundant grace of God, we were invited to facilitate a couple of days of debrief for a group of Mexican and American staff championing students in the small fishing village of Chiquila, Mexico. While they worked in the rugged beauty of rural Mexico all summer, we only went as far as Cancun to meet with them which felt a little bit like cheating. We did our best to see the work through their stories, hearts, and - thanks to the help of a skilled and generous interpreter- their native language.

My heart for the work of Hands Offering Hope grew three times larger. As did my heart for my husband and to the Good Shepherd who kindly leads us to the people and places that make us more like Christ and more like our truest selves. To be able to combine our pastoral, spiritual direction, global community development, and organizational leadership passions and skills was life-giving for us, and, hopefully for those we served. My heart is full - like the liturgy we pray each week - with “gladness and singleness of heart”.

We took very few, and mostly poor photos, but here’s a glimpse.

August.Cancun edited 10.jpg


4. When I most need comfort is often when I'm least able to ask for it.

I've mentioned a few times that this has been an emotionally challenging season and that I'm learning how to navigate it with integrity and gentleness. On a couple of occasions in the past year, especially, I've experienced an intensity of anxiety that I haven't for many years. Brian has walked next to me through these experiences with so much gentleness even when my reflex is to push him away. I've learned that, among other important strategies for caring for my body and soul preventively, what I most need when my anxiety is hitting the fan is physical soothing. Now, rather than the anxiety coming between Brian and me (because often I can't quite tell what's set me off, and sometimes I point it at Brian), I ask him to just give me a hug. That's it. There are a time and a place for me to talk through and reflect on what's bothering me, but it usually isn't in the heat of the moment. This is not revolutionary and maybe the rest of the world has figured this out, but for some reason, it's taken us almost 28 years of marriage to understand the soothing power of a hug.

5. Why we live in Bridgeport, CT (aka, "Who the [flip] goes to Bridgeport?")

After a year renting a house in a more traditional neighborhood in Fairfield, we made the decision last summer to move into an apartment complex in Bridgeport, an area of Fairfield County - which includes nationally-coveted properties in Greenwich and Westport - that is an unconventional choice for several reasons including crime and blight. This move surprised a few of our friends and church community and I've been trying to figure out the best way to explain to myself and others why we made this choice. I'll share more in an upcoming post, but I've been grateful for the people who've asked us questions because each time helps me articulate better to myself why we're glad to live here. 

In related news: Brian and I just discovered an Amazon original series set in Bridgeport and Trumbull, CT. If you don't mind the language, here's a scene that made us laugh out loud: Who the [flip] goes to Bridgeport?!?

6. Voxer is pretty great and so are my sisters.

In the past, I've tried to stay up to date with my sisters lives through Skype sessions, but we find it harder to pick a time that worked for all of us. There's a ten-year age gap between us and our seasons of life are not in sync. My sister Alicia suggested we use the Voxer app and, while I'd used it sporadically with various friends, I didn't quite understand the way it worked. It's been the perfect solution for us to stay in touch with each other in real time. When one of us has a question or a story or an insight we want to share we record a brief (and sometimes not so brief) message on our thread and the then listen and respond as we're able. I need my sisters and value their friendship and insights so this is the perfect solution for us right now. 

7. I can live (for a limited time at least) with two dogs.

When Kendra made plans to spend two months with us this summer, she asked if she could bring her beloved pit/lab, Juliet. Have I mentioned I'm not a pet person? We've had Leo since 2013 and Duchess for about five years before that. That's because I like my husband better when he has a dog. Also, we live in a loft apartment with very few separate spaces and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have TWO furry, smelly, occasionally raucous creatures in our space. But we gave it a try, and it wasn't too bad. The dogs played together non-stop which was sometimes cute and other times annoying. In the end, I survived and it was totally worth it to have Kendra here with us.


8. Rule of Life is not the end of the world

As part of my training to become certified as a Spiritual Director I've been tasked with writing a Rule of Life. If you've never heard about this practice, developed first in early Christian monastic communities, is a holistic description of the regular, intentional practices we engage to live out our life's calling. As a recovering "to do" list addict, I've spent approximately ten years avoiding the sort of lists that I could never quite match between my ideals and my current realities. This assignment has been hard for me. Really hard. A gentle nudge from my supervisor (and some helpful suggestions from this site) helped me finally buckle down. I'm working with rough draft, hoping to orient myself toward God's invitations for my life rather than forcing outdated ideals on myself. Some of the time this has felt joyous and other times frustrating. My hope is to take God at his word that the work he calls us to is not burdensome and that, in some mysterious way, we can order our lives in the way of Christ's unforced rhythms of grace

I hope you are aware of the rhythms of grace you're being invited into at the start of a new season. I'm looking forward to showing up here again on the blog a couple of times a week - it's part of my Rule of Life!

A July afternoon with my Brother's family on Jones Beach, Long Island. 

A July afternoon with my Brother's family on Jones Beach, Long Island. 

How was your summer? What are your hopes for fall? Read any good books lately?

I love to hear from you! Let me know in a comment or any of the following places:




Peace, friends.



Falling for fall in 7 quick takes

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

(1) poem for your weekend

I taught my kids the  entire poem  when they were in preschool & kindergarten. I can hear their voices saying the words. sigh...  You can download this  free printable here.

I taught my kids the entire poem when they were in preschool & kindergarten. I can hear their voices saying the words. sigh...

You can download this free printable here.

You can see digital versions of some of my favorite poems on my Poems board on Pinterest.)

(2) Phoebe Wahl illustrations for Autumn

Apple Picking by  Pheoebe Wahl

Apple Picking by Pheoebe Wahl

Cider Pressing by  Phoebe Wahl

Cider Pressing by Phoebe Wahl

(3) books I'm reading right now

The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner

(4) photos from this past week

(5) blog posts from this week in the archives

2015 - Waiting for Our Next Step (In the words of Eugene Peterson, "We were ready for a congregation. But where?".)

2011 - Becoming Petition & Intercession ("...on one particularly troublesome day it dawned on me that we were holding back our requests for fear of asking too much...That to make fuzzy, vaguely spiritual requests of our God and through our prayer community was a form of unbelief.")

2010 - A Place for Rest ("Now, we come back to this Place after a long absence.  We find that we can take naps  any time we want.  It is a major difference and one that pleases us greatly.")

2009 - Study [disciplines for the inner life] ("Imagine, then, my delight at discovering that someone as wise and austere as a Wesley brother would connect trifling with a lack of reading!")

2007 - Good Medicine (One of my favorite posts I've ever written. We're all scattered now, but that sure was a fun weekend. )

1st day pumpkin chip cookies.1.jpg

2 years ago

Milk & cookie party on first day of Natalie's senior year (at our house in Austin).

(7) Autumn-related links (My favorite time of year!)

See more beautiful ideas for fall at my Autumn Holidays & Occasions board on Pinterest.

10 Things to Do in Connecticut This Fall (No pressure!) - If you're new to Connecticut like us, this will be one of your favorite blog posts of all time. If you've lived here awhile, you might still might discover something new. If you don't live in Connecticut at all, you'll still get lots of ideas from this post. (Thanks to my friend Monica, for telling me about this blog!)  | via The Size of Connecticut

2017 Farmers' Markets (CT) - Alphabetized by town | via Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Farm Stands and Stores Listings by county (CT) | via Connecticut Department of Agriculture

5 Autumn Activities to Build Stronger Neighborhoods - #4 is an especially thoughtful idea! | via Strong Towns

Why Are There So Many Types of Apples? - Did you know there are over 7,500 known cultivars?!? A TedEd video for all ages. | via The Kid Should See This

The Best Spots For Apple Cider Across the Country - Is your favorite stand listed?  | via Country Living

Applesauce Season - I love these kinds of posts from my friend Erica. | via Liturgy of Life

May your weekend include shiny red apples and a good laugh, friends. 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!

Best of March & April

Best of March & April

What I've been reading, watching, listening to, & making lately.

Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.
— Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Two months kind of rolled into one, bridged by the long days of Lent and the kind of falling forward into Easter which always seems to happen for us. You too?

A few more things we enjoyed in March & April:

  • A quick get-away to celebrate my 46th birthday. Brian found a comfy-cozy Airbnb set at the base of the Catskill mountains. Have I mentioned before how much we enjoy Airbnb?
  • Natalie threw me a birthday tea, and sweet women from Church of the Apostles dropped by with the most thoughtful gifts. I felt very loved.
  • We celebrated our niece Karis' birthday with a day-trip to NYC to see The Lion King!
  • I survived a good, old-fashioned Nor'easter all by myself while Brian traveled to Mexico for a mission gathering. Pretty proud of myself for keeping warm, shoveled-out, and not hating my husband.
  • Lots of quiet get-togethers over delicious dinners and coffees, hosted by our new church family. We're honored to get to know them a bit more with each week and month. God's love and goodness are written into their life stories, and we love hearing more and more.
  • We spent about 8 weeks praying with a small group of courageous people for more healing and wholeness in relationships and identity. This kind of prayer with people who could rightfully give up hope and faith never fails to amaze me with the God's power to reconcile us to Him and each other. The time waiting together for God to meet broken hearts provided an especially meaningful backdrop to Lent.
  • Brian & I took a couple of quick trips to the Boston area to meet fellow priests within our diocese. It's good to connect with others walking out similar daily hopes and hardships. New England brings unique challenges for those invested in nurturing communities of faith, and there is some beautiful, humble, skilled and faithful clergy caring for the Church up here. 
  • Our reading group at church (Apostles Reads) read Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and discovered that some of us loved it and others of us just didn't enjoy it at all. We had a beautiful conversation about all the feelings in between.
  • We made the most delicious soups (if I do say so...) for a get-together with a smart, delightful group of college students and young professionals from our church. 
  • For the fifth year in a row, I hosted a Holy Week blog series featuring mourning stories shared by friends who've lived out grief within the community of Christ's people. The words were hard, beautiful, and bore powerful witness to the Suffering Servant.
  • We celebrated our first Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday with our new church family. It was a sweet week of getting to know each other better as we worshipped the Christ who died, was buried and rose again on the third day.
  • We also managed a quick visit with my brother's family in Philadelphia on Easter Sunday. (We may or may not have done this so we'd have a reasonable excuse to break open a piñata full of chocolate bars that my friend Tara sent us from Texas.)
  • Brian and I took off for Texas for a week with our beloved kids and squeezed in as much time as possible with so many other good friends.  Whenever possible, we did this over margaritas and queso
  • While in Texas, we threw a belated birthday celebration for Kendra's 21st birthday! As is our tradition, we gave her a second middle name to bless her past and her future, and it was so good. Also: we experienced North Texas weather and got kicked out of the rooftop bar because of a threatening tornado. 

How about you?  How'd you spend your days in March and April?  How's the month of May shaping up for you? Drop me a note in the comments below.  I love to hear from you.

May you know more and more the resurrection hope of Christ's presence and the life-giving friendship of his people,


    What I Read

    10. The Long Way Home: An Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

    A new series for me that fits in with what I love most about British murder mysteries (although set in Canada), and a protagonist with integrity and a knack for accomplishing justice. 

    11. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

    I love this book so much, it makes me weep happy (and sad) tears. I just read through again for our church's reading group, and I feel like I left a long conversation with a dear friend. I don't know if I'll ever be able to put into words the reason it means so much to me, and I guess that's completely fine.  (Here's my review from the first time I read back in 2010.)

    "I'll pray that you grow up a brave man in a brave country. I will pray you find a way to be useful. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep." - Reverend John Ames in a letter to his son

    12. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    I was kind of mortified when I realized I'd never actually read this book! I love the movie, but the book gives a fuller picture of Harper Lee's vision of the tenuous relationship between justice and mercy in the 1940's deep South. Atticus, in particular, became more fully developed in my imagination from reading the book. May a new generation of Scout & Atticus Finch's come alive!

    13. The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus by Dorothy Day

    Promoted in a line of "Backpack Classics" in Plough's Spiritual guides, this little book provided the perfect introduction for me to become better acquainted with Dorothy Day's personal reflections on faith and ministry. I enjoyed D.L. Mayfield's encouraging introduction to the book. You can read an excerpt here: Confronted by Dorothy: A Christian Activist Reckons With a Modern-Day Saint.

    14. Poems by C.S. Lewis 

    At Christmas, my sister gave me an earlier edition of this book she'd found at a thrift store. I may need to purchase the new version just for that fabulous cover art. I hadn't read much Lewis' poetry before, and am not surprised that I really like it. I was also glad to discover the collection included this poignant verse

    15. To Alter Your World: Partnering with God to Rebirth Our Communities by Michael Frost & Christiana Rice

    I read this book for Englewood Review's next print journal, and will post a link when my (thumbs up) review is available online. In the meantime, subscribe to ERB here! 

    Go to my Book Reviews page to see reviews from 2016 and previous years.

    Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

    What I Watched

    The Great British Baking Show, season 3

    Brian loves high-stress, fast-edit cooking shows. I love the slow-edited kind that are filmed in the English countryside with gentle judges, and lots of discussion about avoiding "soggy bottoms." 

    New Girl, season 6

    Having Natalie home for a couple of semesters means time together watching sit-coms. It could just be the season of life I'm in where I need to take myself (and the rest of the world) wayyyy less seriously, but we laughed until we cried (as well as other nearly lost control of other bodily functions) through the earlier seasons of this show. Season 6 might not have been quite as funny, but still lots of laughs and satisfying  plot developments. 

    Blackish, season 1

    Another program Natalie's got us hooked on. Really funny, adorable kids, timely subjects. Totally recommend!

    Call the Midwife, season 6

    Still one of my all-time favorite shows on television, and one of the most beautiful televised depictions of the beauty of life.  It'll never be quite as good as the first three seasons which were cut straight from the real-life memoir of Nurse Jenny, but I've pretty much gotten over that and love everyone the same. 

    Home Fires, season 2

    I'm a sucker for WWII-era British television. I love the determination these women carry into their work and friendships, even though I wish their relationships with men weren't quite so miserable. 


    If you can get through the first 45 minutes or so of the heartbreaking account of a young boy lost in Calcutta, you'll be rewarded with a beautfil, complex, redemptive (true!) story. I did, in fact, cry quite hard - but mostly in a good way.

    Lost  City of Z

    Beautifully filmed, intriguing story based on the work of British explorer Percy Fawcett. It's a bit long, but worth the time. Here's a great reflection from Josh Larsen at Think Christian: Why the Lost City of Z Will Never Be Found.  (And intereesting discussion in the movie's pros and cons at his podcast Filmspotting)

    Bono & David Taylor: Beyond the Psalms at Fuller Studio

    Last year, Brian and I had the privilege to support this project behind the scenes. The latest releases are examples of great conversation and craftsmanship. Excellent. | via Fuller Studio

    “We don’t have to please God in any other way than to be brutally honest; that is the root not only to a relationship with God but the root to a great song . . . or any work of art of merit.” —Bono

    What I Heard

    Lent 2017 playlist

    Resurrection playlist

    Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story (An Album to Benefit War Child) 

    I've always been a fan of the original album produced by T-Bone Burnett, and love several of the covers offered on this tenth anniversary edition. Don't miss Dolly Parton's version of the title track. It's a beauty! 

    Cherry Blossoms by Andy Squyres

    A gorgeous album that needs to be heard in order, start to finish, for the brutally honest story of grief and hope the songwriter tells. Read Victoria Emily Jones' excellent album review for the backstory. 

    Other albums & artists on repeat:

    Becoming Who We Are by King's Kaleidoscope

    Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

    The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson

    Wilder Mind (Deluxe) by Mumford & Sons


    A few favorite podcasts:

    What I Made

    Prepdish meals

    Especially loved:  Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup & Turkey Taco Soup

    I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

    What are you reading, writing, watching and hearing these days? 


    p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post 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!

    50 ways to Practice Resurrection during the 50 days of Eastertide

    The last couple of years, we've celebrated the Great 50 Days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday (aka, Eastertide)with a series I've dubbed Practice Resurrection (after the Wendell Berry poem). It's one of my favorite series all year, and I'm excited to start again. I need your photos and captions to make it work. To help prime the pump, I thought you might enjoy the list of ideas I brainstormed for simple ways to practice resurrection.

    Before I share the list, here's how to share your photo story:

    1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days -doesn't matter).
    2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 
    3. Share it with me via email, share on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram (you can tag me with @asacramentallife or use the #PracticeResurrection2017 hashtag.) 


    1. Listen to the Easter portion of Handel's Messiah.
    2. Use a special candle at family meals.
    3. Add a "hallelujah" song (or proclamation) to the grace you say before each meal.
    4. Talk about baptism, retell baptism stories, set out family baptism photographs.
    5. Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (or the entire Chronicles of Narnia series), preferably out loud, and with children in the room. 
    6. Drape crosses and other liturgical art in your house with white or gold ribbons or strips of cloth.
    7. Take a short trip to a beautiful cathedral or prayer garden.
    8. Visit a botanical garden.
    9. Sing and play instruments often (or invite friends over who do).
    10. Plan an evening sing-a-long (maybe the first campfire of the season).
    11. Host a different group of friends for dinner each week during the season.
    12. Go to lunch with a different group of friends after church each Sunday of the season.
    13. Choose a place in your home to hang a visual reminder of resurrection (print, painting, verse).
    14. Keep fresh flowers on the table throughout the season.
    15. Take walks in scenic locations - maybe each Sunday afternoon of the season. Learn how to pray as you walk.
    16. Take a half day off work for a quiet retreat.
    17. Plant a flower garden (or vegetables) as a tactile reminder of Jesus as the vine and ourselves as the branches (Jn. 15:5). 
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Throw a spontaneous dance party in your living room. (Here's 12 dance moves I dare you try!)
    20. Order a butterfly garden kit and watch the miracle of metamorphosis.
    21. Keep a daily gratitude journal to help you pay attention to ordinary signs of life and joy.
    22. Read the Scripture passages recounting Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to his followers. (You can follow the daily lectionary readings listed in my Sunday blog posts.)
    23. Ask God for a renewed joy in the weekly liturgy of Communion.
    24. Take a picnic breakfast to the park (or just the back yard) and read the story of Jesus making breakfast for his disciples (Jn. 21).
    25. Visit a farm or petting zoo where you might see baby animals. 
    26. Visit a sheep farm or try to meet a real-life shepherd. Ask them what it means to be a good shepherd.
    27. Start a hobby you've always wanted to pursue. 
    28. Pick up an old hobby that used to bring you joy.
    29. Take an art class - drawing, painting, photography, calligraphy, ceramic, sculpting, improv comedy!
    30. Watch a movie that always makes you laugh. 
    31. Start music lessons or join a community choir.
    32. Join a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Search for new veggie recipes.
    33.  Plan one or more "sunrise services" for morning prayer, Scripture reading, or just quiet contemplation at a nearby scenic location. 
    34. Build a new piece of furniture.
    35. Repair or restore old furniture, appliances or fixtures in your home (or someone else's). Maybe even repurpose curb-side trash to furniture treasure.
    36. Paint a room in your house with a fresh new color.
    37. Pray for your enemies. Forgive someone who wronged you. 
    38. Invite your neighbor over for drinks on the porch.
    39. Bake bread (or try your hand at braiding bread). Give some away.
    40. Ride a bike.
    41. Learn a new game, or re-learn a game from your childhood. (Hopscotch, anyone?)
    42. Make homemade ice cream.
    43. Rent a canoe or kayak for a day.
    44. Learn the names of the trees in your neighborhood.
    45. Adopt a kitten or puppy.
    46. Wash your car by hand.
    47. Write a poem or short story. (Read Wendell Berry's poem for inspiration!)
    48. Go to the park, and swing on the playground. Blow bubbles. Make sidewalk chalk art.
    49. Try a new ethnic food.
    50. On Ascension Day, find a spot outdoors - a park, a hillside, a body of water - some place where you can see the open sky and clouds, to sit for an hour of meditation on the exaltation of Christ to glory.

    Choose 1 idea or 50, but whatever you do, do it with gusto! Also, thanks to Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross for some of the ideas above.

    I've been posting some photos on Instagram, using the #PracticeResurrection2017 hashtag. You can see that I keep it pretty simple! I find a lot of joy, though, in seeing these ordinary choices during my day as ways to practice a life that trumps death, a resurrection kind of life.

    I know this  looks  like Bourbon, but it's really delicious Darjeeling tea that a kind man offered us today. Grace Farms is one of our favorite places to read, write and study during the week.   #PracticeResurrection2017

    I know this looks like Bourbon, but it's really delicious Darjeeling tea that a kind man offered us today. Grace Farms is one of our favorite places to read, write and study during the week.  #PracticeResurrection2017

    Even if I didn't like the taste, I'd keep eating fresh veggies because they're so pretty. Looking forward to farmer's market season here in the Northeast! #PracticeResurrection2017

    Even if I didn't like the taste, I'd keep eating fresh veggies because they're so pretty. Looking forward to farmer's market season here in the Northeast! #PracticeResurrection2017

    Here's how you can share your photo stories with me for the blog:

    1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days -doesn't matter).

    2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 

    3. Share it with me via email, share on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram (you can tag me with @asacramentallife or use the #PracticeResurrection2017 hashtag.) 

    I look forward to hearing from you!