Monthly Mentionables {April}

April was a month filled with fabulous books, podcasts, recipes, and articles that stretched me and gave me much to think about. My husband, Adam, will be chiming in on the book and podcast section.  Be sure to read to the end for some surprises...


Leslie read:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It is the true tale of an African American lawyer in the south fighting for rights of death row inmates who were unjustly incarcerated.  Though it is non-fiction, it reads more like fiction as Stevenson draws you into the stories of the men and women he has met on his journey as an attorney.  This book illuminates the racial injustices that are happening not during slavery or the early 1900's, but RIGHT NOW.  It proves that we are not in post-racial times, but still living in the midst of rash injustice.  Please read it. 


The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
I read this in the mornings this month as a devotional.  Like his other books, Manning draws you up into his love affair with Jesus through his poetic words and vulnerability.  It is a very quick read and I'd recommend using it as a companion to your daily Bible reading.  Beautiful words from a beautiful soul.  

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy & 'Women's Work' by Kathleen Norris
This was a quick read and in a monastic way Norris aids the reader in extracting spiritual meaning from menial chores and simple daily living.  She says: "We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were." And another quote that summarizes her ideas is: "I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self."

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marylin Gardner
This was my night stand reading this month since each chapter was only a page or two and told a brief sketch of her thoughts about living "between worlds" in Pakistan, Egypt and the U.S. Having lived overseas myself, I could identify with some of her feelings of grief over leaving a  land you love and confusion about identity.  This is a lovely book that dives into deep subjects without making you feel that you are underwater.

Adam read:

The Stand by Stephen King
So, I (Adam) have this condition called popularity aversion.  I'm allergic to hype, as it were.  This means if something is popular I tend to avoid it and look down my snooty little nose.  Despite being a lifelong SciFi and fantasy fan, I have never read Harry Potter, and I read Game of Thrones back in the 90s when it was cool and no one knew about it, darn it.  All this to say I've avoided Stephen King my whole life.  Surely any writer that prolific with books cramming the airport book seller's stands must be low brow and common.  As I age and slowly pull on the mantle of wisdom (and aching joints), however, I'm trying to let this go.  So - The Stand.  I'm a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and The Stand is one of the only novels in this genre I haven't read, and I finally decided to give it a chance.  It's great!  A bit long at 1200 pages, but worth it.  He knows how to spin a yarn, and his characters have depth and reality.


Leslie's podcasts:

This was the month of podcasts, as you'll see.  I feel the need to explain how I managed to listen to so many (and thus prove I wasn't shirking all my other duties).  Here's when I listened: in the shower (if they speak loud enough--thank you, Megan Tietz), while doing laundry, cooking dinner, picking up toys, driving (I got some good listening in when I drove around the mountains for two hours while my kids napped on the way home from the zoo), while getting ready in the morning and while cleaning. 
The Liturgists:
Episode 34--Black & White: Racism in America
This is the most important podcast I've ever listened to.  At an hour and a half, it takes some time, but it is completely worth it.  In it, two white guys and two African Americans candidly discuss the race issue in America in a way that lays out the problem in a very articulate, real and honest way.

On Being:
Nadia Bolz-Weber--Seeing the Underside and Seeing God
Nadia was one of the keynote speakers at a recent writing conference I didn't get to go to, so I read many of her quotes on Twitter and admired her from afar.  I was excited to this podcast interview.  First of all, as a former comedian, she is hilarious.  And she is exactly the kind of out-of-the-box Jesus follower that reminds you that you are following a God become flesh and bone.  She is witty, honest, real and refreshing.   

The Practice:
This was a new podcast for me that I found mainly because I wanted to hear Sarah Bessey speak.  More than just a podcast, you find yourself entering into Jesus' presence as you are invited into this community's worship service.  It had me weeping more than once this month.  I have really loved the following episodes so far:
Stories of Resurrection in Religion: Sarah Bessey
Stories of Resurrection in Race: David Bailey
Seven Practices for Sabbath Keeping: Rabbi Evan Moffic

Because of my own story of coming home from China, I loved this podcast about Amy Young and her story of returning to the U.S. after 20 years in China.

Seminary DropOut:
This one was new to me and I am absolutely loving it so far.  Austin Channing Brown shared about how she got into racial activism and Shane Claiborne talked about radical living for Jesus.  I'm looking forward to delving into the archives to hear more. 

Gospel in Life (Timothy Keller):
March 21, Doing Justice & Mercy
You'll notice I'm listening to a lot of fringy-type Jesus followers these days and dipping my toes into some social activism, so I listened to this one to include some more mainstream evangelical thought into the mix.  He says, "It's grace that turns us into someone who does justice." This was a very biblical and inspirational sermon on justice and mercy.
Also listening to: The Simple Show, Sorta Awesome, World Citizen Podcast, What Should I Read Next? and Anne Kroeker Writing Coach, Shalom in the City

Adam's podcasts:

Radio Lab:
A great episode about the state of debate in the college scene, race, gender, and underdogs vs. top dogs.

In the Left Pocket by my Heart
A touching piece about the loss of a child.

Snap Judgement:
Fall Guy 
A series of vignettes, "Nellie's Pond" is an incredible example of story telling.

Love and Radio
Bride of the Sea
A half Irish half Libyan tells his story of fighting in the Libyan revolution.  

New-to-me Recipes:

Spring Roll Bowls (Pinch of Yum)
This was really delicious, though a bit time-consuming to make, as I'm finding many of the Cookie + Kate recipes tend to be.  It was very light and tasty and my kids even ate it!

Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas (Cookie + Kate) with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
I made this last night and went with the cauliflower instead of broccoli since broccoli in enchiladas just seemed to cross too many lines.  I was feeling ambitious and decided to make her sauce as well, which was fantastic and only took about 15 minutes while the veggies were sauteing.  I doubled it and froze the rest for later.  Though it took almost an hour total to make (20 minutes in the oven), it was very tasty and I will definitely make it again.


Didn't try as many new recipes this month since we were pretty busy, but I did have 4 ladies over for a dinner party when my husband was out of town.  We each made a recipe from the spring recipe list on the food blog Smitten Kitchen (well, some of us deviated, but it was a suggestion, not a requirement).  Here's what we tried:

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, YeJee, made these for our appetizer and they were really amazing.  Swimming in butter, they were certainly a treat fit for a ladies night!

Garlicky Party Bread with Cheese & Herbs (Smitten Kitchen)
I made this bread and while it tasted good, we had a hard time getting it off the loaf, so I ended up just cutting it into squares.  Because of that, it may not be the best for a party.  But my kids and I enjoyed the leftovers heated up in the microwave later! 

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta & Mint (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, Jessica, made this one and it was sooooo good.  She said she substituted red pepper flakes for harissa since she couldn't find that and it had a really nice kick to it.

Spring Panzanella (Smitten Kitchen)
I made this one and I really wasn't a fan.  I'd skip it.

Rhubarb Snacking Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, Melinda, made this and it was a very nice, light dessert.  It would make for a great coffee cake if you have guests over.

Spicy Thai Chicken and Quinoa (Pinch of Yum)
This is my favorite recipe this month.  I ended up using it as the entree for our dinner party since we had a last-minute cancellation and I had all the ingredients on hand.  It fulfills all of my food hopes and dreams: healthy, simple and delicious!

Articles (on race, ethics, culture and spirituality):

Creating with the Creator {how to start writing with God} by Elizabeth Trotter at her blog

Good Mom by Shannan Martin at her blog

Immigrants Explain What Shocked Them about American Culture by Serena Solomon at

It's Not a Multicultural Church if... by Starlette McNeill at Raceless Gospel

My Low-Pressure Approach to Cultivating Intimacy with God by Elizabeth Trotter at her blog

Raising Race Conscious Children--a site dedicated to this topic with many resources

The Recipe: A Reflection on Black Womanhood by Austin Channing Brown at her blog

This is Infertility at In Due Time

When Christians Won't Say #BlackLivesMatter by Kevin Wright at Huffpost

White Privilege: Lessons from a White Mama of Black Children by Christy Richardson at Elephant Journal

40 Ways to Go Greener at Home by Tsh Oxenreider at her blog

4 Things 'LEMONADE' Teaches Us About Black Womanhood by Courtney Hall Lee at

Leslie Published this month:

The Cult of Calling for A Life Overseas

I Was a Stranger, Extravagantly Loved for SheLoves Magazine

When Life is Less Radical Than You Imagined for The Mudroom

Scraping Raisins Posts 
(in case you missed them)  It was a very "listy" month;-)

3 Things Helping Me Right Now as a Mother

Surviving the Culture Shock of Motherhood

21 Ways to Live Counter-culturally

9 Things I've Learned in 6 Months of Writing 

Family News:

So this happened:

Then this:

And now we're getting ready for this:

Seemed worth mentioning;-)  So stay tuned for the posts about minivans and thoughts on having three children...

We're excited!


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April was a month filled with fabulous books, podcasts, recipes, and articles that stretched me and gave me much to think about.

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