A curated list of what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.
(1) photo from this week
My thoughtful and generous parents drove to Connecticut (from central NY state) just to have lunch with us and take a walk in the September sunshine. They also delivered some bedroom furniture that my grandparents no longer need that will eventually go into Kendra’s home after she GETS MARRIED next spring! We managed to fit in a first-look in real life of the stunning engagement ring, a visit with the engaged couple, lunch around the table, and a walk at Seaside Park. Family is a good gift and I’m so, so grateful to God for my parents.
(2) posts in the second-annual Work Stories series
More Work Stories: bringing back a favorite for Ordinary Time - This year again, I’m delighted to share some stories from a few friends who are on the same journey of living out their callings one day at a time. I’ve asked them to give us a one-day snapshot into their work life that will help us see what they know to be true right now about who they are made to be. Some live out their callings in a way that they get paid to do the thing they’re most uniquely suited to be in this world, others work jobs that pay the bills so they are able to pursue those callings. Most are a combination of the two.
Matt Evans' Work Stories: One Job, Many Titles (including "the worst") - Here’s a teaser from a day in Matt’s life as a “husband, a father, a small business owner, equine veterinarian, amateur painter and uber-amateur stand-up comedian”. It’s a pretty great kick-off to this year’s series!
“…here we are, smack in the middle of Ordinary time again like we mostly are, and Tamara asked me to write a bit about what I fill my Ordinary time with, my Vocation if you will (you will.) Vocation seems to be a popular buzz word among the liturgical thinking community just now. Our church has hired a Director of Vocation recently and while I’m not any more sure of what he does than the Canon, I haven’t seen him at my office helping me extract a horse tooth as of yet, so I’m guessing Vocation is a term that, like Ordinary, is used to encompass that part of the Christian life that is, well, most of it.”
(3) links to reorient our concerns about the border
“If we aren’t showing up for immigrant families before the raids happen, we’re already too late.” Jessica Courtney shares her experience I’m an Immigrant in Another Country. I’ve Been Arrested and Separated From my Children. Here’s What I Want You to Know via Preemptive Love.
When a small town loses 100 people in just a few hours, kids come home to find their parents missing. In Sudden Departure, This American Life producer Lilly Sullivan talks to people trying to make sense of where they went and if they’ll come back.
One of the voices I continue to appreciate most on the subject of immigrants and refugees in the United States is Sarah Quezada. Over the past month, she’s invited her weekly newsletter readers to join her in prayer for Stephen Miller, immigration policy advisor to the president. Because Miller’s strong anti-immigrant sentiment is woven throughout each of the policies he writes, Sarah Quezada encouraged her readers to pray for the Lord to soften Miller’s heart. Read more about The Adviser Who Scripts Trump’s Immigration Policy, join us in prayer, and subscribe to Sarah Quezada’s weekly newsletter.
(4) bits & bobs related to work
Plough’s autumn quarterly just released and - fun surprise! - it’s on the subject of Vocation. You can browse the articles online here (or better, yet, subscribe to the print version): Plough Quarterly No. 22: Vocation.
Hear! Hear! It’s Time To Destigmatize Service Industry Jobs via The Urban Phoenix - “With a changing economy and a “new normal” when it comes to making ends meet, we must begin to accept that service jobs are opportunities for growth and stability, not evidence of an unsuccessful life."
Something I’m pretty sure many of my teacher friends and family would endorse, a new monthly column, In Praise of the High School English Teacher via LitHub. “In order to survive as a high school English teacher, you have to be an idealist and a realist in equal parts.”
A sweet and poignant gift from my friends at Think Christian, A Theology of The Office. “In six funny and relatable essays, an array of TC writers break down your favorite episodes, characters, and moments from The Office to unveil the way God’s story can be seen even in Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch.” (Don’t miss the companion-themed Work Playlist on Spotify!)
(5) links to celebrate the beginning of Autumn!
For my local friends - 15 Places To Get Apple Cider Donuts In CT
For my regional friends (and everyone else who wants to visit NYC at this exquisite time of year!) - Where to see fall foliage in NYC: 10 of the best spots for leaf-peeping in the five boroughs
From our Canadian neighbors: The science behind the smell of fall
For my reading friends: Weathering the Books by Rebecca D. Martin via The Rabbit Room
For all of us: 3 Autumn Poems by Jane Tyson Clement via Plough
(6) personal favorite book recommendations for atmospheric autumn reading
Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
My first rapturous words for this book and author are written in this post all the way back in 2007. While the Pulitzer-prize winning title chronicles the author’s entire year exploring on foot the Virginia region surrounding Tinker Creek, my imagination has always been captured by the autumn Monarch butterfly migration. This work is nothing if not an atmospheric depiction of the life (and death) cycles of nature.
September: A Novel by Rosamunde Pilcher
“September...when the heather is in full flower, the first chill of autumn cools the air, and the countryside stirs with the hunt, balls, dinner parties, and dance.” A simple, cozy read which requires a mug of tea and a fluffy quilt.
A Gathering of Larks: Letters to Saint Francis From A Modern-Day Pilgrim by Abigail Carroll
The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi is October 4! Hug your pets and buy Abigail Carroll’s warm, lighthearted and substantive book. Interwoven through the letters, we get a glimpse into the life of the infamous saint, the author's life, and our own lives as well. This book is an autumn fixture on my nightstand since my first read back in 2018.
Still Life: An Inspector Gamache Novel (Book 1)
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal just after they celebrated a Canadian Thanksgiving (always the second Monday in October). As they go traipsing through the woods to discover clues around the dead body, they kick up loads of autumnal chill and intrigue. If you’re knee-deep into the bestselling series, this first story is worth a re-read!
Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection by J.K. Rowling and Illustrated by Jim Kay
Since the entire series revolves around the rhythms of a Hogwarts’ school year, autumn is the perfect time to re-read or dive in for the first time! I’m planning to borrow the gorgeous illustrated full-color editions from my children who’ve been pestering me to finally, and for Christ’s sake, finish reading this series!
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
If your typical fall reading includes a couple spooky tales, Flannery O’Connor’s got you covered. Our church’s reading group read the entire collection of short stories together last autumn and it reminded me just how chilling and grotesque O’Connor draws her characters. If nothing else, read her masterpiece A Good Man Is Hard To Find
(7) posts from the archives
Related to the Work Stories series and highly recommended! 5 of my favorite authors on discovering & honoring our calling (2018)
What would you say? If you could talk to the world right now (2016)
Still one of my favorite stories from our newlywed days. The time we got mac & cheese as a wedding gift [a mini story] (2013)
Always a needed reminder for me! Becoming forgiven [imperfect prose] (2011)
Last week I was trying to describe to a friend my favorite childhood place. Here are the best words I’ve been able to write so far. On the Subject of A Place: an essay, imperfect prose: a Place for rest, pondering words and pictures on a Wednesday morning (2010)
I’ve never forgotten this epiphany. As through a glass: trying to imagine myself a young widow (2009)
12 years ago
An ordinary weekend overflowing with the good medicine of friendship and beauty.
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!