Weekend Daybook: July edition

A month 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

I love this photo my sister took during our annual Hill Family Vacation at LeTourneau Camp on Canandaigua Lake in NY. Sweet moments.

I love this photo my sister took during our annual Hill Family Vacation at LeTourneau Camp on Canandaigua Lake in NY. Sweet moments.

(2) things I published this month

  1. What I Read January - June, part 1 [from the book pile 2019] (Life’s been a bit upside down lately, and I’m especially grateful for the companionship of good books. Hope you enjoy the micro reviews + publisher blurbs!)

  2. Why Am I Here?”: A Missional Approach to Identity and Vocation (I’m grateful to contribute to the excellent conversation at The Telos Collective and was pleasantly surprised to see it published this week. We live in a culture of workism where people both define themselves by their work and struggle to find its meaning and purpose.)

(3) summer-related blessings and encouragements

  1. Summer Benediction by Malcolm Guite via The Cultivating Project (Short, but oh so sweet.)

  2. Summer Stress and Summer Rest: A Spiritual Director’s Thoughts on Holidays via Kutsu Companions (In a season of intense caregiving, Brian and I are trying to best discern what it means to rest. Anyone else in the same boat?)

  3. Seminary Grads: God’s Name for You Matters More Than Your Masters by W. David O. Taylor via CT , excerpted from Master of God, Beloved of God: My Commencement Speech at Fuller Theological Seminary via Diary of An Arts Pastor (A good word for all of us from our beloved friend, David. “And so, beloved, remember your true name and, as you exercise your Jedi powers of naming the world faithfully and responsibly, carefully and graciously, remind the people of God of their true name, too: the beloved.”)

(4) links about the person I’d vote for if I had to vote today

  1. Mark Charles for President 2020: “Building a nation where ‘We the People’ truly means: All the People” (You can see his campaign announcement here.)

  2. An Independent, Native voice: Mark Charles launches 2020 presidential campaign by Dario Thundercloud via Last Real Indians

  3. Navajo man wants the nation to hear its official apology via CNN

  4. Mark Charles on Reconciliation, Lament, and a Campaign for All the People via Pantsuit Politics

(5) podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed this month

  1. Touching Eternity: A Conversation with Scott Cairns and Malcolm Guite on The Image Podcast (A bit literary geeky, but cozy as a cup of tea.)

  2. Tony Hale on the Creative Life and Process on Fuller Studio's Conversing with Mark Labberton (Is it possible to be a fan of an actor without actually being a fan of any of his shows? That’s me + Tony Hale.)

  3. Episode 32 - The (Beautiful) Reality of Befriending Someone with Down Syndrome on The Lucky Few (A good word for all of us, and especially for families.)

  4. #18 Hell and Heaven on Ask NT Wright Anything (I’m really enjoying the format of this podcast!)

  5. Season 2 | Episode 1: Raising Peacemakers on Preemptive Love’s Love Anyway (A new way to think about what it means to care about our children’s safety.)

(6) posts from the archives

  1. 2017 - In past years, July seems to have been a fruitful writing month for me, at least at Think Christian. These are 3 of my favorite articles I ever wrote for them. Catastrophe’s Refreshingly Ancient Take on Marriage  , Lindy West, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Embracing Our God-Given Bodies , and in July 2015, Instead of Facebook, a book of Faces

  2. 2015 - Monday morning thoughts: dancing bear act, crash helmets and a Doxology (A, hopefully undramatized, stream of conscious meditation about Sunday worship which I try often to recall.)

  3. 2014 - The 14th Annual Epic Family Tradition (It’s 2019 and we’re still managing to keep it going!)

  4. 2012 - Dying the Many Little Deaths of Ordinary Service (Still accurate: “I am a weakling when it comes to everyday service. There's a whole set of psychological reasons -- some rather legitimate -- I could give as rationale. At the end of the day, though, I don't like to do mundane, grubby work. Plain and simple. The purpose for this disclaimer is to say I've only just begun to learn what I'm about to share here, four practices of everyday service.”)

  5. 2010 - "Sometimes we have to change jobs in order to maintain our vocation." -- Eugene Peterson (That year Brian had to lay himself off, and we’ve never been the same since.)

  6. 2009 - Meditation [disciplines of the inner life] (Another epiphany I still find relatable: “God wants to form a Grand Canyon in me and all I want to be is a rain gutter.”)


13 years ago

Hill Family Vacation 2006, Bethany Beach, DE


this year

Hill Family Vacation 2019, Canandaigua Lake, NY

(a bunch of) photos from this year’s Hill Family Vacation

Natalie and my niece Karis spent hours making this video highlight reel of our 19th annual family vacation. It’s kind of epic. (Avenger Endgame fans keep your ears open for the credit score.)

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!

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: the end of summer edition

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

(1) photo from the week

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

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

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

(2) new posts in the Work Stories series

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

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

(3) writer-ly links

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

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

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

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

    Here’s one of my favorites….


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

Check out my Pinterest board: Autumn Holidays & Occasions

  1. Loungy Autumn

  2. Folk Autumn

  3. Autumn Instrumental

  4. Autumn Worship

(5) New & New-to-Me Podcasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out my Pinterest board: Liturgy for Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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9 years ago

Last day of summer badminton match (2009).

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

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

7 quick & flowery takes

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

(1) playlist for Spring

Oh my goodness, spring has sprung! Here's some favorite tunes about flowers, birds, rain, and love. Enjoy!

Spring on Spotify


(2) links to celebrate May flowers

  1. 21 Fresh Cut Spring Flower Arrangements and Bouquets: Love these!
  2. All Things New (A Springtime Giveaway): Christie Purifoy makes beauty with words and with flowers, and I follow her blog, newsletter, and all of her Instagram feeds religiously. With the help of a delightful illustrator, Christie's giving a free download (what she calls four pages from the "book of her dreams"). On a related note, read Christie's real-life book, which I found beautiful and inspiring: Roots & Sky: A Journey Home In Four Seasons

"We participate in spring. 

When our hearts are broken, when our eyes are open, we don’t simply wait for spring. We join in. We dig our shovels into the dirt, and we help to release rivers of justice and peace. When the flood finally comes, I like to think we will turn to our Jesus and say, we made things new, didn’t we?" (Christie Purifoy)


(3) podcast episodes I've enjoyed lately

  1. Introducing the On Being Project | On Being: I find these sorts of conversations fascinating, and so helpful in my understanding of what spirituality means in our culture - particularly for those who are younger than me."What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? Who will we be to each other? These questions have been at the heart of On Being from the start — as it grew from a radio project into a thriving public space for delving into the big questions of our lives together."   FYI, you can read some of my thoughts about the gracious, if not altogether orthodox, content of this excellent podcast in this piece I wrote for Think ChristianOn Being with Krista Tippett—and Jesus?
  2. Duplass Brothers On Working Together And Growing Apart: 'We Are Ex-Soulmates' | Fresh Air: When two brothers who love making art and spending time together very, very much they sometimes end up making something that gets our attention. I couldn't help but think of my kids' relationships and creative endeavors as I listened.

  3. Burning For Justice: Exploring the work of...Martín Espada | Poetry Off the Shelf: A couple of months ago I attended a conversation of artists at our former home church in Austin. Our friend Rachel, a poet, read aloud Martín Espada's profound "Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World" for the community of Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty students and six educators lost their lives to a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. I'd been stunned to hear the poem for the first time, and to realize that our church meets once a month in the very same building that Mr. Espada describes in the poem ("Listen to the bells in a town with a flagpole on Main Street, / a rooster weathervane keeping watch atop the Meeting House...") With all of that in mind, I enjoyed hearing more about Martín Espada's life and work in this interview-format episode. The interview doesn't include the Newtown poem, but you can listen to the poet read it here.

(4) farewell photos

Last Saturday, our youngest daughter Natalie made the big move to Austin. She's been living with us for the past year and a half, and we've covered a lot of emotional ground together as she navigated post-high-school life decisions and we settled into our new home and work in Connecticut. She joked a lot that her only friends were all under the age of 8, but the truth is that her work as a babysitter brought her so much joy. It seemed fitting that the crew of kiddos and parents would be our guests at Natalie's farewell party. (Thanks also to the Dominguez Duo for sharing their spectacular backyard with us!) We prayed that these months of participating in the daily lives of children would not be an incidental speed bump on Natalie's journey, but rather a lifetime reminder that children lead us into the kingdom of Jesus. 

Also, there's a couple of photos of Natalie's last day worshiping with us at Church of the Apostles. A sweet congregant caught Natalie and me during the closing song. 

(5) links re: EJI's new lynching memorial

Since reading Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy, I've been following his organization the Equal Justice Initiative. I am moved by the photos and video footage of the new monument the organization spearheaded in Montgomery, Alabama. I can't even imagine what it's feel like to visit in person. Some day I hope to do that. In the meantime, here's a brief list of links related to the work.

  1. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice | EJI's website

  2. New Lynching Memorial Is A Space 'To Talk About All Of That Anguish' | NPR

  3. In Apology For Decades-Old Lynching, Police Chief Aims To 'Interrupt The Past' | NPR

  4. Communion, a Counter-Monument | Missio Alliance ("Communion as a monument against White Supremacy.")

  5. Why Build A Lynching Memorial? | EJI

(6) flowering photos from our town

After dropping Natalie at the airport last weekend, I spent some time trying to capture the beauty of the flowering trees dotting the roadways toward home. These represent two favorite scenes in Southport and in Bridgeport (a couple of blocks from our home.)

When I shared the photos with a friend, she reminded me of this lovely line from one of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's journals. 

Miracles, indeed.

After all, I don’t see why I am always asking
for private, individual, selfish miracles
when every year there are miracles like ... dogwood.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

(7) blog posts from the archives

2017: S-Town's Limited Understanding of Empathy [sharing at Think Christian today] - My feelings haven't changed about this review one bit. "Yet as Reed gets spun into the story as a character invested in the lives of the people he encounters, his empathy morphs into a voyeuristic pity, one that fails to intervene for the truest good of those he’s encountered."

2016 & 2015: Murphy people updates in a season of Fortunate Events & 7 quick family update takes - We're just said good-bye to one daughter, and are getting ready to welcome one of our kids back home for the summer. Sort of like in 2016. "In the meantime, we're going to soak up as much time together as we can in the coming weeks - drinking morning coffee, packing suitcases, fighting over the bathroom, and thinking deep thoughts. God bless us, every one."

2015: Book Pile - I mentioned last week that I'm way behind in updating my book posts for 2018, and thought it might be a good time to point out the page I've got devoted to everything I've read for the past 12 years as cataloged on the blog. Phew! "When I first started this blog in 2006 one of my goals was to nurture a forum that kept me accountable for the cultural goods I consume."

2013: A poem and a playlist for my dear momma - In honor of Mother's Day, some of the best words and songs I could come up to tell my own mom how much I love her.

2012: Landing on our knees - I've been thinking lately how much my personality dislikes transition. For example, the weeks of the year between seasons when one day is hot and the next cold. Or the part of the day that isn't quite evening but no longer afternoon. I've been thinking about it because I feel like our family has been in a non-stop transition season for about eight years, and it's taken a huge emotional and physical toll. I wouldn't trade any of it, really, but I'm also a bit wrung out. In 2012 when I wrote this post, I was only just beginning to understand. "I could swear I've been holding my breath for 9 months and am just now coming up for air. Gulping in God-beauty, warbling out grateful worship."

2011: Tuesday is for Hospitality: did not our hearts burn within us? - Still my favorite post-resurrection story, and the older I get the more I realize God's invitation to my own calling is embedded in these biblical account. "I love this God who refuses to be pinned down to one method of revelation. This God who knocks Saul off his horse in a blinding light on the Damascus Road is the same God who dimmed Himself, trudging along with the disheartened disciples on the Emmaus Road."

2010: Liturgy of a Laity Lodge retreat [the word, part 2] - Speaking of naming and vocation, this post is calling me louder now than it did eight years ago! "But, of course, this retreat conversation was much more than etymology -- derivations and the like - - it was about ontology, about our is-ness. Naming as soulish, Adamic, dusty work. Naming and being named represents our first God-given task, and, it seems, we've all but lost the instinct to do the job. We're walking around as a great unnamed mass, attaching self-adhesive tags to ourselves like dimestore trinkets, so hungry are we for this ancient rite."

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3 years ago!










Alexander & Rebekah got engaged during a private tour of the White House Rose Garden. 

May your week ahead include true, good, and beautiful things, friends!


7 November quick takes

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

(1) Brian's current sermon series

Brian's begun a series of sermons considering five values that God is calling Church of the Apostles to embrace. These five values are Rest, Rhythm, Relationship, Restoration, and Reach.

You can read Brian's encouragement on the value of Rest in his weekly note to the parish here.

You can hear his sermon on Rest (from 10/29/17) here.

Also, I thought some of you might enjoy this playlist I've been making for years filled with songs that help me meditate on the meaning of holy rest: Rest (on Spotify)

p.s. Somehow Bob Dylan made it into this playlist and I'm keeping him there.

(2) postscript links from previous weeks

P.S. to Heading home [sharing at Art House America this week]: A few years ago, I thought to myself, "If I could get published anywhere in the world, I'd want it to be at the Art House America Blog !" That's how much I appreciate the content and community that gathers there. I'm honored to have been able to publish there a couple of times now, and am enjoying the unveiling of the blog's new look! If you enjoy reading the essays they publish, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Your generous support makes it possible for them to pay their writers (like me!), the editors, and their site fees. Thank you!

P.S. to 7 quick & cozy takes, 1 new album I'm listening to on repeat (It's that good!): Work Songs: The Porter's Gate Worship Project Vol. 1  Here's the Porter's Gate Songbook for each song on the album. So, so, so good.

(3) podcast episodes I've enjoyed lately

How Living in A Library Gave One Man 'The Thirst for Learning' - Can you imagine how wonderful?!? Someone needs to turn this into a book series ASAP. "Decades ago, custodians who worked in the New York Public Library often lived in the buildings with their families. Clark's father, Raymond, was one of those custodians, and he and his family lived on the top floor of the Washington Heights branch in upper Manhattan." | via StoryCorps podcast

Episode 103 - Does Meek Mean Weak? // Carolyn Arends - I found this talk on the Sermon on the Mount (with emphasis on "Blessed are the meek...") refreshing and thought-provoking. | via Renovaré podcast

Robert Mueller Indicts Manafort and Gates and We Talk with Gretchen Carlson - This is a new podcast for me, but I think it's going to quickly become one of my favorite political podcasts, and this episode was especially excellent. "Sarah from the left. Beth from the right. No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance." | via Pantsuit Politics

(4) photos of our super fun afternoon at the Hootenanny!

On Saturday afternoon I saw a photo of a PIEROGI TRUCK roll through my Instagram feed. I hollered downstairs to Brian, "There's a PIEROGI TRUCK in Black Rock today!" He hollered back, "I just need to throw on a sweatshirt and we can go!"

And, so we did. And it was so much fun. And that big oak tree seemed to dress up just for the day. And we ran into friends at the Source Coffee Truck. And we ate PIEROGIS. And it was very good.

(5) blog posts from the archives

2014 - Balancing vigilance and providence in the face of Ebola [sharing at Think Christian today] ("Is it possible we are not trusting reason at all? What about a providential God?")

2014 - Sewing hope with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe [sharing at Think Christian] ("We need to know that people like Sister Rosemary live and flourish in the middle of unspeakable human suffering.")

2011 - My One Parenting Strategy That Actually Worked (Thanks, Alex, for letting me steal an excerpt from your college application essay.)

2010 - Tuesday's Top 10 guest post: Let's Hear it for New York ("Top 10 Things that I Love about New York City" by Brian Murphy - and probably still the same list now!)

2008 - I Have No Talent for Politics (If only I'd known then what I know now, I'd have been a whole lot less perplexed!)

NYC.Brian at Dillon Gallery.Mako.jpeg

8 years ago

Mako Fujimura exhibit at the Dillon Gallery - NYC

(6) photos from in and around Fairfield County

On Fridays Brian writes sermons and I write, well, other stuff. Sometimes we do this from home and sometimes we go somewhere else for a change of scenery. Last week it was Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, under the watchful gaze of Gertrude Stein.

On Fridays Brian writes sermons and I write, well, other stuff. Sometimes we do this from home and sometimes we go somewhere else for a change of scenery. Last week it was Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, under the watchful gaze of Gertrude Stein.

On a walk through Black Rock. Stunning.

On a walk through Black Rock. Stunning.

On the way to the Pequot Library in Southport. That's Trinity Episcopal Church.

On the way to the Pequot Library in Southport. That's Trinity Episcopal Church.

A church a couple blocks from our house on our walking route to the Bridgeport train station.

A church a couple blocks from our house on our walking route to the Bridgeport train station.

View from the porch at the Pequot Library, Southport. Heavenly.

View from the porch at the Pequot Library, Southport. Heavenly.

(7) recent favorite Cities,Towns, & Neighborhoods links

Follow my Liturgy for Life board on Pinterest

Saving Silence by Nathaniel Peters- Unlearning the sin of curiosity. ("Noise thus becomes “a whirlwind that avoids facing itself” and a kind of tranquilizer that keeps many from confronting wonder, God, and the demands of their own emptiness.") | via Plough

The Art of Dying by Rob Moll - How should the Christian community respond when a member is told he or she has a terminal illness? | via Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight

I pardoned a convict who killed again. Here’s why I still believe in mercy. by Mark Singel "Having so often petitioned a gracious God for the blessing of mercy, how could i deny it to others?" | via America Magazine

20 Years Later - Listen to this related, stunning story from the perspective of the vicitm's daughter who interviews Mr. Singel as part of her grieving process. | via This American Life

The Stranger is to be Welcomed as Christ Himself: Benedictine Wisdom on Welcoming and Pastoring Strangers, Visitors, and Newcomers by Fr. Lee Nelson- "Hospitality for strangers, visitors, and newcomers, is paramount task in the ministry of a parish church. The rituals of hospitality serve as “threshold events” into the divine life. We observe these rituals either poorly or well, and according to Saint Benedict, the key is to welcome every guest like Christ."  | via Anglican Pastor

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident by Joni Eareckson Tada - This is one of the first memoirs I ever read, the story of Joni's diving accident, and subsequent trusting Christ to meet every single need. I respect her and her work so much, and just listen to this audacious statement (from the article), "I really would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus as I do than be on my feet without him." | via The Gospel Coalition

Praying the Jesus Prayer Showed Me Christ by Allison Backous Troy - I've never met her, but I can honestly say that I love Allison.  "But the prayer was much more than a centering exercise. As I prayed, I became attuned to the people surrounding me in hospital corridors and clinic waiting rooms, patients and their families, all carrying their own burdens of pain." | via Faith & Leadership

May your weekend include something true, something good, and something beautiful.

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!