Weekend Daybook: lots of reading and some television recommendations thrown in

Until Advent (minus some vacation weeks this summer) I’ll share some of the things helping me to worship God, love people, and enjoy beauty each week for you to peruse during your weekend downtime.

(1) photo from this week

our little patch of springtime

our little patch of springtime

(2) more meaningful resources on the meaning of the Feast of the Ascension

  1. Ascensiontide Novena , What Are the Rogation Days? and Rogation Prayer Bunting via The Homely Hours (I’m so grateful to learn how to intentionally and devotionally prepare for Pentecost! I also printed out that bunting and there’s no small children in my home.)

  2. Saint Augustine’s Homily on the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord via Beliefnet (So profound in so few words.)

(3) new blog posts this week!

  1. Sixth Sunday in Eastertide: Going Away / Coming Down (I’m enthralled with “Sky Ladder”, Cai Guo Qiang’s pyrotechnic installation art. Video included on the blog post.)

  2. Practice Resurrection with Amanda McGill (Southwest Ohio) (Make sure you take a moment to listen to Amanda reading us the poem in the video at the top of the post, and please don’t miss the adorable poetry buffs who show up at the end!)

  3. Ascension Day! (I hope the collection I’ve curated for us this week will be meaningful for you, as well. You can see previous years' Ascension Day meditations here. )

(5) insights into the intersection of literacy and strong towns

  1. Librarians Are Trying to Encourage Children to Read—by Bringing Books Straight to the Laundromat by David Beard via Mother Jones (Several initiatives across the country are turning laundromats into libraries to front-load literacy.)

  2. The Secret Life of Libraries By Eric Klineberg via Slate (The children, readers, learners, neighbors, and karaoke singers who use one local library every day.)

  3. How a Local Bookstore Can Make Your Town Richer—In More Than One Way by Kea Wilson via Strong Towns

  4. 16 Incredible Libraries From Around the World by Jessica Miley via Interesting Engineering (These wonderful libraries both new and old might distract you from your reading. We’ve visited #14 several times!)

  5. Community and creativity in mundane retail spaces via Austin Kleon (In The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, Ray Oldenburg praises “third places” where people can just get together and hang out as essential to healthy public life.)

(6) links inspiring us embrace the intersection of spring and summer!

  1. Bookish Spring Weekends: 10 Things To Do If You’re Feeling Bored via A Little Blue Book (Not sure how many of us have the luxury of boredom, but here’s a handy list just in case!)

  2. Liturgies for Springtime via Every Moment Holy (My friend texted me this week that she was praying for me while she planting flower seeds. Beautiful, right? )

  3. It’s BACK! Project Summer: Frugal Fun Guide plus your own FREE Printable Summer Planner via Cha-Ching on a Shoestring (Huge list of free and cheap stuff to do with your kids this summer from my brilliant sister!)

  4. 2019 Summer Reading Guide via Modern Mrs. Darcy (Any of you a Modern Mrs. Darcy groupie? I’m hoping to read at least 1 title from each cateogry this summer!)

  5. 10 Fiction Classics for Summer Reading! via Englewood Review of Books (Some of my favorites are included in this list. I’m adding #8 to my TBR for this summer.)

  6. How to Do Kids’ Discipleship in the Woods by Kelli B. Trujillo via CT Women (Creation care does more than conservation. It cultivates faith formation, says A Rocha.)

(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

  1. 2016 - Alex is a college grad! (A fun update during our Season of Fortunate Events).

  2. 2016 - We’re moving: A stream-of-consciousness reflection (It's these moments when God's love makes us appropriately small so that His presence can loom large that I most believe in His goodness + my Friends playlist!)

  3. 2013 - We are the Pentecost-ed (Before this epiphany I mostly felt a low-grade anger that God letting people die during Eastertide was wrecking my liturgical mojo.)

  4. 2013 - This one’s for you [Ryan] (I love you, Ryan Anthony Hill.  Happy Birthday, brother and friend.)

  5. 2012 - You don’t have to be a worship leader to worship God in a mall parking lot (Meditating the practice of everyday worship in honor of my aunt and because I lived in Austin at the time of this writing and was learning that sometimes dependent prayer is the only tool I had left to find decent parking.)

  6. 2011 - A new way to be human guest post: Forgiveness (I collect stories of radical forgiveness and this one from my friend is a good one.)

  7. 2009 - Confession: Part 1 and Part 2 (Disciplines of the Inner Life series)

  8. 2008 - Pick your own metaphor (How many times have we moved during the month of May?!?)

Alex grad.Brian.jpg

3 years ago

Father and son at Alex’s graduation from Rice University, Houston.

May your weekend include plenty of space to practice resurrection. Hallelujah! Christ is risen, friends!

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

On the Tenth Day of Christmas: 10+ Beautifully Made Commercials To Indulge Your Sentimental Side

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

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

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

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 10.41.10 PM.png


I basically refuse to watch Christmas commercials until after the gifts have all been purchased and given. I’m too susceptible to the manipulation! So, today I’m sitting back and letting my sentimental side fly free. Want to join in?

p.s., Are British Christmas adverts far and away better than anyone else’s? Or is it just me? Whatever this John Lewis company is selling, I’ll buy all of it! I’ve added a couple more runners-up toward the bottom of the list. The Heathrow Airport bears get me.

p.s. #2: Don’t miss the bonus “making of” for behind the scenes of an animated commercial - it’s almost as good as the actual thing!

p.s. #3, If the first nine selections weren’t enough, you can power through the ten more clips in the last link. Good luck.


  1. John Lewis - Buster the Boxer, Blink

  2. John Lewis - The Long Wait, Blink

  3. John Lewis - The Journey, Blink

  4. John Lewis - Monty’s Christmas, Blink

  5. John Lewis - The Bear & The Hare and The Making of ‘The Bear & The Hare’, Blink

  6. Heathrow Airport - Coming Home for Christmas, Outsider

  7. Heathrow Airport - Home For Christmas, Outsider

  8. Erste Christmas Ad 2018: What Would Christmas Be Without Love?

  9. Lily and the Snowman, Cineplex

  10. Top 10 Touching Christmas Commercials, Jake’s Top 10


Read: Psalm 136; Genesis 28:10-22; Hebrews 11:13-22; John 10:7-17

Pray that “hopes and fears of all the years” for each one who celebrates Christmas would meet the One who gives above and beyond our every imagination.

The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.
— "Christmas Day" by G.K. Chesterton, Generally Speaking


Stay firmly rooted in the Incarnation story

[from my 2013 post: “12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas”]

“Keep reading after the manger, celebrate the magi's arrival, pray the words of Simeon and Anna in the temple. Notice the characters, ask the Father of Jesus to make you worshipers like the very first who bowed in adoration to His son.”

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

7 Quick January Takes {weekend links}

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

(1) Netflix series we binge-watched this week

Somebody Feed Phil

Fun, funny, fascinating, beautiful, occasionally tear-jerking - food, travel, human connections, and a really funny TV writer/producer (Everyone Loves Raymond) turned travel guide. Two thumbs up!

(2) short and sweet stories from my blog feed this week


Dr. Weaver remembers integrating his high school football team in Knoxville, Tennessee  - It's hard to believe, and so good for us to hear. |  via StoryCorps

Two very curious brothers ask their Dad some outlandish questions - I also love this little audio peek into a relationship between a good Dad and his hilarious sons. 

(3) books I'm reading

Make A List: How A Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts by Marilyn McEntyre - This great little book releases February 27, 2018. I was able to read a preview copy for the next Englewood Review of Books issue

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi - My Mom gave me this book ages ago, and I'm so glad to finally be reading it!

Chicago by Brian Doyle - This is the next title - for the season of Epiphanytide - we've chosen for our reading group at church (Apostles Reads).

(4) vintage winter nature books on my wish list

(5) links in honor of MLK Day

Martin Luther King, Jr - Reading ListThere have been hundreds of books about MLK published in recent decades. Here are some of the best of them. via Englewood Review of Books

Martin Luther King, Jr. – His Prophetic Faith in 15 Quotes - Mainstream American culture tends to have a narrow view of King’s work, limited primarily to his leadership in the Civil Rights movement. However, King’s vision was rooted in the desire for a beloved community in which not only were all people equal but in which all violence, poverty, and injustice were abolished — a vision that flowed from King’s deep faith in the life and teachings of Jesus. | via Englewood Review of Books

Frederick Douglas, American - An excerpt adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on May 12, 2017, at the dedication of a statue of Frederick Douglass on the College’s Liberty Walk. | via Imprimis

MLK speeches and songs - An excellent collection of links to speeches, music, poems and reflections in honor of Dr. King. | via Global Christian Worship

Embracing the Whole Martin Luther King Jr by Bill Wiser - "As we remember his Dream, let's not fail the man or his message. Only by realizing the gravity of our position and making those hard, but liberating choices can we truly honor The Dream and march beyond it as Martin Luther King did." | via Plough

(6) photos from Christmas with our kids

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



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!

    Best of February

    that china pattern belongs to Your HOme Public library in Johnson City, ny. Could this display at their book sale be any more charming?  

    that china pattern belongs to Your HOme Public library in Johnson City, ny. Could this display at their book sale be any more charming?  

    Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
    — Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

    February moved along at a fairly happy clip.  Some of the sadness that always falls in January lifted a bit and made space for us to enjoy time with our daughter (who's moved back home for the semester), new and old friends, family and our new town.  As much as I need great blocks of quiet aloneness, I'm finding there is a limit to how much of that is healthy for me emotionally.  I'm also getting reacquainted with the darkness and starkness of winter in the Northeast, which, on the whole, is something I actually enjoy.  It's been six years since we've experienced this sort of winter, though, and we're a bit rusty!  

    A few more things we enjoyed in February:

    • A prayer walk with a local college campus ministry leader that led us to the on-campus masjid (mosque) to hear stories of immigrants and/or Muslims. While we visited, one of the students made us tea and we learned some about the Muslim community on campus. The mosque director expressed to us how much the students in his community have felt welcomed by the university and the city of Bridgeport in recent weeks. It was an encouraging, hopeful meeting.
    • We drove to Church of the Cross in Boston to attend the ordination of a new Anglican priest.  It was good to be with this sister congregation, and fun to be in Boston the night of that crazy Superbowl!
    • More winter beach walks!  (those sea shells amaze me)
    • Our first major snowfall in Connecticut, and then a week of enjoying its beauty.
    • Our once-a-month visit with our parents back in NY.  This time we squeezed in a few minutes to see my youngest brother.  Oh!  And that spontaneous afternoon trip to Philadelphia area and back so I could have dinner with 2 of my sisters.
    • A library book sale love story: part 1 & part 2
    • Our second get-together with our reading group at church (see book below).  It's been an honor to host meaningful conversations with such thoughtful people. 

    In addition to time spent with people, I'm grateful for some new writing and ministry projects that have come my way.  I'll keep you posted, and in the meantime, we'll begin walking through the season of Lent here on the blog.  I'll be posting a daily journal of Scripture selected from the Book of Common Prayer lectionary along with a song, prayer, image and spiritual exercise for each weekday in Lent.  You can receive each post in your blog reader or by subscribing to the email list in the sidebar on the right of the website.  

    Another way to keep up to date with the Lent daybook posts is to follow the blog's Facebook page.  Once you've "liked" the page, click on the "following" button and then in the drop-down box, underneath "notifications" click on.

    How about you?  How'd February treat you?  How are you planning to observe the season of Lent this year?  Drop me a note in the comments below.  I love to hear from you.

    May you know more and more the gentleness of Christ's presence and the faithful friendship of his people,


    What I Read

    5. Andy Catlett: Early Travels (Port William) by Wendell Berry - I read this as part of my goal to read all of Berry's fiction, and as recommended by some of the criticism I received for the essay I published in Plough magazine's winter issue.  Andy Catlett: Early Travels tells the story of young Andy's first solo visit to both sets of grandparents.  It's a story of a nine-year-old's rite of passage and a recounting of all the small, but poignant details a child remembers from time spent with loving grandparents.  This will now be the book I recommend as an introduction to all of the Port William novels. 

    6. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - We read this together with our church's reading group (Apostles Reads).  Written in 1967, this is the last book Dr. King wrote before being assassinated in 1968. The title alone felt important for our current political climate in the U.S. I will write a longer review soon, but for now I'll say that this as provocative and prescient as anything I've ever read/heard from Dr. King. I'm grateful for the group of thoughtful people who were willing to read along with me, and engage in the deep conversations the book initiates.

    7. How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny - I kept hearing about Inspector Gamache, and enjoyed everything about this book.  I'm hooked!

    8. Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett - For the past year or so, I've been listening to the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett.  This is my first time reading her, and I feel like I've found another important mentor.  Tippett is eloquently skilled at communicating her own faith while intelligently engaging people of all faiths to share their own stories.  This is a rare skill, and I want to grow in it.

    9. The Way of Letting Go: One Woman's Walk Toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen (for ERB) - I read this newly-released book for a review at one of my favorite book recommendation sources, the Englewood Review of Books.  Once the review is published, I'll update here. In the meantime, if you are hoping to become a person able to live in the freedom that comes with radical forgiveness, add Derksen's book to your must-read pile.  It's a hard and redemptive story, as characterizes most profound Gospel stories. (update:  The book review can now be found at ERB's site 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

    Father Brown (season 4)

    Woman in Gold (2015, starring Helen Mirren & Ryan Reynolds)

    Chef's Table (season 3)

    What I Heard

    february rainy night vibes

    february rainy night vibes

    For my funny Valentines playlist on Spotify

    Epiphany, 4 & 5 playlist on Spotify: Beatitudes - We spent a few Sundays in the Sermon on the Mount this year, and this playlist kept me reflecting all week.

    from Art of Simple on Spotify: Deep Work playlist - I love this playlist that Tsh put together!  It's just the right kind of background music when I'm needing to focus.



    A few of my favorite podcasts lately:

    What I Wrote


    keep calm and write something. jpg


    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!