Weekend Daybook: Candlemas & TGIFebruary edition

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

Before the links, here’s a happy reminder that today is Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation! Several years ago I wrote a brief essay about the prophetess Anna, and it’s been one of my favorite Scriptural figures ever since: Anna’s Advent Prepares Her For A Glorious Epiphany.

Here’s a lovely write-up from The Homely Hours about the meaning of Candlemas and a family liturgy printable for Candlemas. Don’t miss the enchanting Candlemas gift at this post!

And it wouldn’t be a feast day without a playlist!

(1) photo from this week*

*January’s been rough! Except for this sweet weekend Alex and Rebekah visited from Texas, one or the other of us has been sick since Christmas. I prepared this post last week and then never published it. It’s a week late, but still full of goodness. Hope you enjoy!

Alex & Bekah visited us from Austin! We spent one afternoon traipsing through New Haven & Yale campus in freezing temps.

Alex & Bekah visited us from Austin! We spent one afternoon traipsing through New Haven & Yale campus in freezing temps.

(2) of my favorite tributes to the poetic gifts of the late Mary Oliver

  1. Mary Oliver: The Gift of the Word Despair by Allison Backous Troy via Image Journal | “But in my case, as for the millions who have read “Wild Geese,” the poem popped up in my life at a time where what I needed to hear was that I was heard, and known, beyond what I could say, and that the world was not simply what I had known it to be–a flatland of concrete strip malls and familial anger–but something exciting, something that called out to me, lonely and unloved as I had felt.”

  2. With Thanks to Mary Oliver by Nancy Nordenson | “Reading her was like having a friend next to me, urging me on to pay attention, to pause, to look, to wonder, to praise.”

(3) podcasts I enjoyed recently

  1. How Does One Remember God? Christian Wiman with Krista Tippett via OnBeing | “The poet Christian Wiman is giving voice to the hunger and challenge of being religious now. He had a charismatic Texas Christian upbringing, and was later agnostic. He became actively religious again as he found love in his mid 30s, and was diagnosed with cancer. He's written, "How does one remember God, reach for God, realize God in the midst of one's life if one is constantly being overwhelmed by that life?"

  2. Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts via Without Fail, Gimlet Media | “On this episode, host Alex Blumberg sits down with his mentor and former boss to talk about the early days at This American Life, what Ira taught Alex, and how being a good boss means learning to set people free.”

  3. Think Christian has a podcast! Here’s Episode 1 - Heroes and Humanism (Stan Lee, Doctor Who) | “Both the Doctor Who franchise and the superheroes created by the late Stan Lee are rooted in secular humanism. How might Christian humanism relate?”

(4) photos from Alex & Rebekah’s visit earlier this month

  1. We spent an afternoon walking around Yale Campus and eating delicious Cuban food in New Haven.

  2. Also shopping at bookstores.

  3. Alex & Kendra led worship for us on Sunday and it was such a sweet gift! At one point, Brian was on the platform with just Alex, Kendra and Jordan (Kendra’s wonderful boyfriend). I snapped this photo and thought “What a blessed man!”

  4. Sunday afternoon naps are still our favorite way to hang out together. It’s Juliet’s favorite, too.

(5) links about current events in peacemaking and reconciliation

  1. We See What We Believe by Propaganda (Jason Petty) via Preemptive Love Organization | “Listen, I have no desire to adjudicate this moment. Even with the myriad of videos, no video can discern the heart of man. I am here to give commentary about us, the onlookers.”

  2. The pro-life movement has always been pro-women. Our priorities should reflect that. via America Magazine | “We should be passionate about making sure that the rest of the world can see our respect for women as well.”

  3. What It’s Like for Secular, Liberal Pro-lifers at the March for Life by Ashley Fetters via The Atlantic | “Though some describe themselves as the “counterculture within the movement,” many members of nonreligious and left-leaning pro-life groups feel welcome at the largely Christian, conservative event.”

  4. A Long Road From ‘Come by here’ to ‘Kumbaya’ by Samuel G. Freedman via New York Times | “Robert Winslow Gordon, below in 1928 and at the Library of Congress with his wax cylinders, captured the sound of someone named H. Wylie singing a lilting spiritual in the key of A.”

  5. Freedom’s Ring via Stanford University | Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech animated. This is an excellently crafted multi-media experience.

(6) links reflecting on the values of minimalism, simplicity, and tidying up

  1. Holy Clutter by Matt Miller via Comment Magazine | “Our stuff isn’t just for private joy; we have things to share.”

  2. Liturgies of Less … and More by Tish Harrison Warren with Sarah Hamersma via Comment Magazine | “There’s nothing in the Anglican liturgy that is explicit about simplicity. That’s different, maybe, from the Quaker tradition or certainly the Amish tradition. That said … I think being intentional about liturgy itself can be a practice of simplicity, in the sense that there is a kind of consumeristic impulse in evangelicalism that makes every church service novel, every church service entertaining, every church service ramping up—“This is going to be different than anything you’ve seen before.”

  3. Minimalism By Design by Bob Hamersma via Comment Magazine | “I was at peace with the realization that I would be forever changed, bereft of not only material goods but also physical abilities to do almost anything.”

  4. We Were Wrong About Marie Kondo by Lisa-Jo Baker and Christie Purifoy via Out of the Ordinary podcast | “This is the story of the secret shame we all carry about our houses. And the one thing that can free you from it.”

  5. Simplicity by Erin Ware via Tend podcast | “The spiritual discipline of simplicity is often tied up with money or belongings, and specifically the idea that, if we are to follow Christ, then we have to give up everything we own (at least the good stuff!) In this episode we talk about how that is not really it. It's far deeper and much more simple.”

  6. The Reasonably Clean House via Like Mother, Like Daughter | “The Reasonably Clean, Fairly Neat, and Comfortably Tidy House: Start Here for the Plan.”

(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

  1. 2018 - Encountering Christ in Chiquila, Mexico {Walking Epiphany 2018 series} (We first met Amy at Church of the Apostles and is one of the mightiest encouragers I've ever met. Through her, we met Adiel, and together they shared with us through their stories and their work with Hands Offering Hope their great love Adiel's hometown of Chiquilá. Since our very first conversation around our kitchen table, I've been excited for the day I get to visit Chiquilá for myself. )

    You can see more from this series that published this time of the year: WALKING EPIPHANY in Juneau, AK: neighborhood notes from Wendy Wall.

  2. 2018 - 8 books our church read together last year {Apostles Reads} (I'm happy to look back on our first year reading together and see that the Apostles Reads group has been up to the challenge. They have responded to each title - from the martyrs and apostates in Endo's 17th-century Japan to the four lonely children rummaging through a wardrobe into Narnia -  with grace, humility, empathy, and intellectual curiosity.)

  3. 2016 - Next in the Series of Fortunate Events, the Rehearsal Dinner {pretty, happy, funny, real series} (The pretty, happy, funny and real photos from the Rehearsal Dinner we hosted for Alex & Rebekah's wedding party and families on New Year's Day.)

  4. 2013 - Parenting Unrehearsed: Family liturgies for Christmas and my mama's rule for feasting (And so we're learning to order our days and seasons as a liturgy. We do our best with the truth we know -- pray together as often as possible, giggle at ourselves when we fall asleep on the couch watching Home Alone instead.  We revel in the permission to both feed the hungry homeless as well as the four children grazing at the refrigerator in our own kitchen.  We take delight in the pantry bulging with ingredients for the feast that arrives on Christmas Day.)

  5. 2012 - 7 quick takes: a photo diary (A photo diary from our first January in Austin.)

  6. 2010 - IAM Reader's Guild review: Silence by Shusaku Endo (Endo masterfully depicts a stark and silent world -- in the subtle descriptions of buzzing insects, withering heat and rotten food, dark water and crimson blood stains on dusty courtyards.  His storytelling had a sobering effect on us all and we were grateful for the chance to come in from the cold January evening and cheer each other with brisk conversation, merlot and gummy fish. It was a good evening and we are looking forward to gathering again.)

  7. 2008 - Once (I love, love, love this movie and this is where it all began.)

9 years ago

January 2010: hiking through Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University, NC. I still have the pinecones I gathered on this walk. (Also, back when I lied about my hair color!)

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 first of 2019 edition

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

(1) photo from this month

January walk at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock (Bridgeport)

January walk at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock (Bridgeport)

(2) links to celebrate MLK’s birthday

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. – His Prophetic Faith in 15 Quotes via Englewood Review of Books

  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. – In His Own Words [Video] via Englewood Review of Books

(3) new blog posts from this week

  1. Epiphany 1: Baptism of the Lord (Look, Listen, Read, Pray, and Do to remember our own baptism in the belovedness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)

  2. 7 Literary Books Our Church Read Together in 2018 {Apostles Reads} (From the true and devastating accounts of one lawyer’s campaign to free the wrongfully imprisoned in Just Mercy to the bittersweet fictional tale of a lonely college rad roaming the streets of Chicago with a basketball and a fantastical pet dog in Chicago to the relentlessly shocking characters in Flannery O’Connor’s deep South and more, this little reading community has responded to each title with grace, humility, empathy, and intellectual curiosity. I’m honored to be among them.)

  3. What I Read October - December {From the Book Pile 2018} (Hope you enjoy these micro reviews!)

(4) photos from Kendra’s UNT graduation!

In mid-December we drove (!) to Denton, TX to celebrate Kendra’s graduation from University of North Texas. We rented a mini-van in order to take Natalie the rest of her belongings we still had stored in a closet and to bring back all of Kendra’s belongings from her college life. I’ve come to understand that about 70 % of parenting is figuring out how to keep track of everyone’s stuff.

We rented an Airbnb in Denton so all the kids could crash together with us for the weekend. On Friday we celebrated a belated 21st birthday party with Natalie (more on that another time), on Sunday we celebrated Christmas (another bonus for driving - presents!), but Saturday was all about KENDRA. She persevered through some pretty tough circumstances to make it to this day (as do most college students, I imagine) and we wanted her to know we were so proud of her accomplishment. I helped Alex prepare pots of his famous chili recipe so that a bunch of Kendra’s amazing friends from the past four and a half years could come to the rental house and celebrate with us. It was pretty much perfect (including my obligatory ceremonial cry).

(5) links (that I’ve paid attention to) re: about the border crisis

  1. Advent, Caravans, and Engaging Their Humanity by Rev. Michael Jarrett via The Diocese of Churches For the Sake of Others ("I think one of the countless gifts our Lord gives us is a renewal of our faculty to care.")

  2. Phoenix-area families opening their homes to migrants released by ICE by Griselda Zetino via KTAR News ("“They’re here to help serve food or help distribute clothing,” he said. “But as they get a chance to meet the people and see the people, by the end of the evening they’re stepping up and saying ‘Hey, I’m willing to take somebody home with me.’”)

  3. Trump’s Border Wall Prototypes Are Minimalist Art — and Should Be a National Monument via New York Magazine (Artist Christoph Büchel saw the prototypes for President Trump’s border wall, and proposed that they be made a national monument — a concept several critics dismissed as trolling. But New York’s Senior Art Critic Jerry Saltz begs to differ; the monuments, he says, are “perfect minimalist sculpture.”)

  4. Maria Rivas and Emily via StoryCorps (“Im terrified of missing you growing up.”)

  5. Retirees and Refugees: How 93-year-old Julia Allen builds community through ESL (“Their long-term goal is to help 11 elderly refugee participants pass the naturalization test that they must take within seven years of being granted entry to the U.S. — if they hope to access social services.”)

(6) photos from Christmas in Texas with our kids!

We managed to fill the mini-van with presents, some of our Christmas decorations, and some of the pots and pans we use for our favorite traditional recipes. Have Christmas, will travel!

  1. Our “Christmas” morning nativity story on the back porch in Texas farmland.

  2. One of the favorite gifts for our teacher son who sees Fred Rogers as an icon for the classroom.

  3. My friend Jen felted these little HP ornaments FROM SCRATCH to give to our kids.

  4. Brian surprised me with the incredibly thoughtful gift of asking our friend Monica to add to the set of Christmas stockings I’ve had since I was a little girl. She also cleaned up the old stockings which were singed in our New Year’s Eve 2002 house fire. Can you tell which stockings are the old ones?

  5. Some of our favorite Christmas Eve tastes and smells.

  6. This 28-year-old, handmade (by my sister-in-law, JoAnn) Nativity set deserved to be carried along on this Christmas pilgrimage after surviving all those years we’d never heard of unbreakable nativity figurines and let our little kids handle them while we scolded and read them the Bible.

(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

  1. 2018 - Encountering Christ in a D.C. Suburb {Walking Epiphany 2018 series} (As a former youth leader, I hope it's okay to say I am so proud of the woman Glorya has become, and I wish I could have heard her Neighborhood Honor Contract idea when my kids were younger!)

    You can see more from this series that published this time of the year: Rio Grande Valley & University of Notre Dame)

  2. 2017 - A Few More Words About the Hole in Wendell Berry’s Gospel (As I’ve been given the gift to reconsider my essay, I’ve been able to gain clarity what I’m hoping to say in response to those who wish to follow his ideals.)

  3. 2016 - A Season of Abundant Celebrations, part 5 {pretty, funny, happy, real series} (Thanks to outrageous generosity by our Christ Church friends and neighbors who helped provide beds, vehicles, and even entire houses, we were able to let the Wedding feasting last a whole week (sort of like the old Jewish customs, maybe?))

  4. 2011 - Dismantling the Family Enterprise (Ten of us cousins snarled up together at every church meeting, every family celebration, every summer picnic.  Some might have seen the perfect opportunity for legendary whiffle ball tournaments, starry-night manhunt sessions.  Not I.  I saw the ideal set-up for creative productions.)

  5. 2010 - I Surrender (A painting that changed my life and helped me forgive.)

  6. 2009 - Making Moments {Disciplines for the Inner Life series} (In my past I would have shot straight toward the Grand Plan to Cheer Up this Friend. I just happen to be out of grand plans when it comes to relationships. So I stood and gazed and nodded. We prayed together. And, like a small thought, a small idea, during the final sentence of prayer it occurred to me. "We're going to Subway. Do you want to join us?" )

  7. 2009 - Solitude {Disciplines for the Inner Life Series} (For, perhaps the first time in my life, I began to understand that God's rescue at noon and at night might possibly look like me laying in my bathrobe, propped up on pillows, kept company by a box of tissues and my journal. It was not pretty like an extreme close-up of a pink, tear-stained face at the end of a movie, but I'm quite certain that if I could have seen into the spiritual realm that afternoon I might have been able to see a ten thousand demons fallen by my side and a thousand at my right hand. I had made it through the day.)

6 years ago

Visiting home and enjoying time with my sister and pre-born niece, Ellie.

May your weekend include some time at home and some time with friends that welcome your tears as well as your laughter. 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 voting, hiking, praying edition

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

(1) photo from the week

kept this candle burning as a prayer reminder throughout this week.

kept this candle burning as a prayer reminder throughout this week.

(2) photo essays about everyday work stories in America

I’ve so enjoyed hosting the Work Stories blog series this fall. At the same time, with only one week left in the series, I’m aware how lacking in socioeconomic and racial diversity the stories represent. I offer the following two excellent photo essays (one journalistic and one artistic) as a supplement. Enjoy!

  1. 24 HOURS IN AMERICA: Documenting moments across the country, large and small, quiet and indelible. via NY Times

  2. NightShift: Photos by Florian Mueller via Faith is Torment (I find these fascinating and can’t help picture them as an icon for the nativity. Anyone else see that?)

(3) new posts in the Work Stories series

  1. Walter Wittwer’s learning-from-the-least calling (I love how Walter reminds us that we’re all called and we’re also all on the spectrum of need. May we look around our places of work and be encouraged through Walter’s story for God’s mercy to flow through us.)

  2. Krista Vossler’s hiddenness calling (Krista’s words remind us of the kingdom paradox that only as we embrace our hiddenness in Christ do we have eyes to rightly see the unseen realities in our relationship with God, others, and our own wild and precious lives.)

  3. The call that rose up like a road to meet me (More personal reflections about our journey of work, calling, and vocation. “Like the way people describe love at first sight, I knew immediately this invitation was just right for me.”)

Related: the IG Live video conversation brian and I had about our attempt to be Via Media voters. You can  watch it here.

Related: the IG Live video conversation brian and I had about our attempt to be Via Media voters. You can watch it here.

(4) recent & brief articles following election day

  1. Your Catholic 2018 midterm roundup: health care, wages, abortion and more by Michael J. O’Loughlinvia America Magazine (“While the waviness of Tuesday’s midterm election continues to be debated, Sister Simone Campbell called the day “a tremendous success,” at least when it came to the dozen U.S. House races targeted by the “Nuns on the Bus” national tour that ended earlier this month outside President Trump’s Florida home.”)

  2. After the midterms, can the new Congress work together? Here’s where they could start. via America Magazine (“Several legislative opportunities stand out as ripe for bipartisan action.” May it be so!)

  3. Have Evangelicals Had Enough Yet? via Jesus Creed (“With these latest reminders of how much hate is waiting in our nation to ignite into murder, have we had enough demagoguery yet, or do we want more?” Written before the mid-term election, and worth asking all the more.)

  4. The Demise of the Moderate Republican by George Packer via The New Yorker (“Ryan Costello, a centrist wonk, ran for Congress to solve problems—but his colleagues fell in line with Trump’s parade of resentment.” As a person with a penchant for centrists, I found this interesting and also discouraging.)

(5) photos from this week’s walk in the woods

Mountain Laurel Open Space in Fairfield, CT

IG Screenshot from a lecture we attended last weekend from Dr. Danny Carroll (see resources below).

IG Screenshot from a lecture we attended last weekend from Dr. Danny Carroll (see resources below).

(6) recommended links as you pray for the “migrant caravan”

  1. Dr. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas - Hispanic Immigration: (We had the privilege of hearing Danny Carroll speak at our diocesan convention last weekend on the biblical lens for immigration. I’m looking forward to sharing the video from those sessions. In the meantime this is an excellent resource.)

  2. Sarah Quezada’s interview with Matthew Soerens of World Relief about the migrant caravan traveling toward the U.S. (Sarah is quickly becoming my go-to source for down-to-earth, factual, biblically-informed, and gracious information about immigration and refugee issues. I especially recommend her to you if you have children at home that you're trying to educate about the current crisis.)

  3. Humanitarian groups at U.S.-Mexico border prepare for the migrant caravan by J.D. Long-García via American Magazine (“While it may be more than a month away, humanitarian groups on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are already preparing for the possible arrival of the migrant caravan from Central America.”)

  4. The ‘crisis’ of the migrant caravan is one of misperception Antonio De Loera-Brust via America Magazine (“The 3,500 or so unarmed men, women and children seeking asylum in a country of 350 million represents as much a threat to the United States of America as a glass of water is to the ocean.”)

  5. 12 Children’s Books About Refugees (Picture Books) via What Do We Do All Day (“My hope is that these books help you open an honest dialogue with your children about the plight and experiences of refugee children and families around the world. Teach your kids to be the change.” I suspect these would be beneficial for readers of all ages.)

  6. Children of the Caravan via Reuters (I’ve heard people say that journalists exploit children for political agendas. Children are exploited constantly and from every direction, it’s true, but this is definitely not that. I pray that journalism like this fits is more like Jesus pulling a child to his knee in order to help his followers get the Gospel “Whoever welcomes one of these, welcomes Me”.)

(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

  1. 2013 - God and Sisters Are Not To Be Ignored (For Kaley on her November 5 birthday!)

  2. 2011 - Enlarged in the Waiting (“We live from grace to grace in this life.  The space in between is the waiting and it always feels like we're not going to make it.”)

  3. 2011 - My One Parenting Strategy That Actually Worked (And Alex wrote about it in his college application!)

ADVENT IS COMING! ADVENT IS COMING! Which is to say WAITING IS COMING on December 2! (That doesn’t quite roll of the tongue, but is a pretty good description of life, don’t you think?)

  1. 2016 - How We Prepare For Advent (Join us?)

  2. 2016 - A Few Simple Ways to Decorate for Advent

  3. 2017 - Our 10 Favorite Advent Devotional Books (for all ages)

2 years ago

A Veteran’s Day ramble with Brian & Leo on the Pequonnock River Trail in Trumbull, CT.

May your weekend include some time at home and some time with friends that welcome your tears as well as your laughter. Peace...

Work Stories: Christie Purifoy's placemaker calling

Welcome to the newest 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.

Today’s guest is one of my favorite new author relationships in the past several years. I met her first as a facilitator for a writing group at Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing in the spring of 2016. Christie disarmed the insecurity I was feeling with her beautiful blend of professionalism and personal connection. In a swarm of writers promoting new books, it was her Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons I purchased at the festival and read cover to cover in my hotel room before returning home. I was in the middle of a bit of a crisis in my own sense of calling and the beauty and grace with which Christie told her story served as a kind of rich rain over some very dusty, discouraged places in my own heart. It also reminded me - achingly - of all the reasons I love the Northeast.

Since then I’ve enjoyed following Christie through her blog, and Instagram account (please don’t miss Christie’s other account, the always-beautiful Maplehurst Gardens account) and am now delighted to listen to her weekly podcast conversations 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 still don’t live in a home where I can tend a garden, but am grateful to Christie’s encouragement to continue planting seeds and burying roots deep into a place anyway. May her work story encourage you in the same way today.

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A Day in the Life of a Placemaker

 Placemaker. It’s a funny little word, similar to homemaker but distinct from it in important ways, as well. I can no longer remember if I coined the word myself, whether I encountered it in some book, or whether a friend dropped it into conversation, but it’s the one word that expresses most clearly, and most succinctly, the sum of my days.

I am a wife and a mother. I am a writer and a gardener. But these roles are wrapped up within the one encompassing vocation I will pursue for the rest of my life: I will cultivate a place and share it with others.

Like the God who made the green hills I call home, I am a placemaker.

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While no two of my days look exactly the same (and that’s probably true for most of us—this is the day that the Lord has made, after all), these autumn days share a distinctive rhythm. I rise at 6 to darkness and a mostly quiet house. My husband cooks breakfast and spends time with our older children before they leave for school. I sit in a corner of the parlor to read and pray.

Our place, the one I am making with my husband and four kids, is called Maplehurst. It’s a red-brick farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. It has quite a few bedrooms (those nineteenth-century farmers needed a lot of live-in help) and a few acres of land, and we love nothing more than to fill those bedrooms with guests and those acres with neighbors, friends, even strangers.

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We grow vegetables and flowers, and we keep a baker’s dozen of egg-laying chickens, and, since we moved in six years ago, we have planted many, many trees. I intend to stay, to send my own roots deep, and watch those trees grow.

The rhythm of my days changes with the seasons. In spring, I hustle to clear debris and plant seeds. In summer, I take my kids to swim in the community pool and out to taste that Philadelphia favorite: water ice. In winter, I sketch new garden plans and read stacks of books. On this early autumn day, the work of laying the garden to rest hasn’t yet begun. I am still cutting dahlias and bringing them indoors, still deadheading roses, still letting the chickens loose to forage under the tomato vines.

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But as I do in every season, I am writing. My second book will come out this March, and there are final edits to make, my newsletter to write, and magazine articles and book reviews to revise. I am making beds for guests. I am choosing paint colors for the kitchen cabinets that desperately need a new coat of paint and researching safe paint strippers for the 100-year-old bedroom doors that appear to be shedding 100-year-old paint.

When my youngest leaves for kindergarten, I walk up the narrow back stairs to my third-floor office in order to write. When the words begin to blur, I go for a walk or try some yoga. Lunch is always leftovers, sitting alone at our large kitchen table. Afterwards I water the potted plants and feel the sunshine on my skin.

My big kids walk themselves home from school in early afternoon, so the two hours after lunch are always a race—write the emails, check the to-do list, begin a new draft—how much can I fit in before they walk in the door? Once the screen door slams hello, afternoon is for checking in, checking homework, reminding everyone twice and three times to practice piano. Then, while the kids run around outside or do their homework behind closed doors or bicker in another room, I light a candle, pour a drink, turn on some music and prepare dinner. One more exhale before the chaos of family dinner and bedtime routines. In between one thing and another, I am reading Harry Potter with one son and Betsy-Tacy with one daughter.

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This season has also brought the joy of creative collaboration. Writers are solitary creatures, introverted writers even more so, but I recently launched a podcast with one of my oldest and dearest friends, fellow writer Lisa-Jo Baker. Welcoming her to Maplehurst every few weeks to record new episodes may be the sweetest part of my working life these days.

In the evenings, once the kids have settled down and we have closed the doors that are so in need of new paint, I remember a hundred things I should have done, meant to have done, and somehow didn’t do. But my husband has just washed the last dish, and I remember, again, that all those things can wait. This is the day that the Lord has made, and while we can’t pause time, there is always time to pause.


Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for a picket-fenced garden and a writing desk. She is the author of Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons (Revell) and Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace (forthcoming from Zondervan).

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What about you?

What are your various roles and what word(s) might describe the way they come together to encompass God’s calling on your life?

A song and a prayer for all of us this week:

Unless you are working, O Lord, I work in vain; unless you are watching, O Lord, I watch in vain; so let me trust in you as I work and rest in you as I sleep.

Let your favor be upon me, O Lord my God, and prosper for me the work of my hands - O prosper the work of my hands!
— Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God

(You can read all of the Work Stories here.)

Weekend Daybook: joy in the tension edition

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

(1) photo from the week

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A homey scene from this past week. I love this little bookish candle and really wish someone would enroll me in Frostbeard’s candle-of-the-month club. (Christmas is like 3 months away now, right?)

(2) new posts in the Work Stories series

  1. Work Stories: Amy Willers' calling in a life transition (I’ve been enjoying hearing from many of you on how much you’re appreciating this series!)

  2. 5 Of My Favorite Authors on Discovering & Honoring Our Calling (Little booster shots of hope that our calling matters in ways that bring joy to us and goodness to those around us.)

(3) things I enjoyed watching in the last couple of months

  1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (There’s been quite a buzz around this beautiful documentary, and all of it well-earned. See this film. I’m afraid to mention that I bawled right in the movie theatre in case you’re the type of person scared away by feelings. Go anyway.)

  2. The Assets (This series based on the true story of CIA officers in the 1980s look for a mole to save the lives of Soviet agents working for the U.S. is eerily timely again. The story of Aldrich Ames is unbelievable, but true. The women who devote years of their work lives to catch him are unbelievable, but real. Also, Jodie Whittaker is one of my favorite actresses even when she’s acting with an American accent.)

  3. Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (Loved the book and thoroughly enjoyed the movie!)

(4) links that felt helpful to me during this week in the news

A screenshot from what I shared on  Instagram  this week inspired by the way someone reached out to me.

A screenshot from what I shared on Instagram this week inspired by the way someone reached out to me.

There’s a time and place for each one of us to dive deep into a particular news story in order to engage with the realities surrounding us and to steward our relationships with our neighbors. There’s a time and place for each of us to unplug from the stream of news in order to steward our own hearts, minds, and souls. Most of the time, I’ve found myself somewhere in the middle. These links represent what I chose to engage during the news spectacle of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings.

Click on this link to hear the healing experience that happened to me this week.

  1. Pantsuit Politics and Left, Right, and Center episodes (I have given up on televised news, and find these resources and a few others helpful to represent a collection of voices on current events.)

  2. Believing Women in an Age of Narcissism by Chuck DeGroat

  3. Between Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh, when do girls matter? by Simcha Fisher

  4. 12 Motivations Victims of Abuse Might Have for NOT Telling Their Story by Wade Mullen (Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for sharing this link.)

(5) of my favorite books on the subject of vocation / work / calling

  1. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer

  2. Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure by Nancy J. Nordenson (Also: Check out Nancy’s Finding Livelihood playlist on Spotify!)

  3. Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman

  4. The Stories We Live: Finding God’s Calling All Around Us by Kathleen A. Cahalan

  5. Work Songs: The Porter's Gate Worship Project Vol 1 (Not a book, but if one can "read" songs, this album is a gorgeous theological treatise on the goodness of work.)

(6) photos from this week

May your weekend include meaningful personal interactions, celebration, 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!