Monthly Mentionables {May}

I never thought I'd say this, but I've been missing being a teacher.  Before leaving my job to stay home with kids, I taught middle school, ESL to college students in China and fourth grade. Though I don't miss the bureaucracy, grading papers or interacting with livid parents, I do miss the continual learning, creative planning and being a part of the "light bulb moments" that make it all worth it as a teacher.

But who says the learning has to stop?

Just because I'm home with teeny tiny kids all day doesn't mean all intelligent thought must cease.  I can still read, listen and learn. So lately, along with the typical mom stuff, I've been gravitating towards educating myself on social justice issues.  More than half of those I follow on Twitter are people of color.  I love watching my Twitter feed as it chatters all day long with the voices of the world changers and points me toward more resources about doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God.  Here are the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing projects I've been into this month.  I'd love to hear some of your favorites as well!


Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women, by Sarah Bessey 

Since I come from a more conservative background where "feminist" is a loaded word, I was a bit nervous to read this book, honestly. But in reality, I found Sarah Bessey's discussion of women's roles in the family, church, and world, to be a refreshing reminder of God's love for women--and anything but scary or offensive.  

While I didn't agree with everything she said, I appreciated hearing credible evidence for certain doctrines that had often been dismissed as "unbiblical" among conservatives--using plenty of biblical proof. But more than anything, Sarah always carried her discussion back to the living, breathing, pulse-in-our-veins soul relationship with Jesus and the hope we have in Him.  She is not out to declare war on those who disagree with her, but to remind us we are not to worship our creeds, traditions and black-and-white theology, but worship our Jesus and see ourselves the way that he sees us as women.  Though this book was clearly well-researched, it was not intended to be a reference manual, but more of a personal testimony.  I appreciated hearing the experience of another daughter of the King who is following His way in freedom. 

The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles and Hope, by Seth & Amber Haines

The Mother Letters is a book of letters compiled by Seth Haines for his wife, Amber, during a time when she was struggling as a mother.  You can read my review of this book here, but if you can't get to it, then know that I would highly recommend it for all moms!

Still Life (Book #1 in A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series), by Louise Penny

This was the first fiction book I have read in a while and I mostly listened to it over the Nebraska plains in the middle of the night as we drove to Chicago and back in early May.  I loved the characters and was immediately engrossed in the story that took place in the quaint town of Three Pines in Quebec.  It had been a while since I read a mystery story, so listening while driving in the wee hours of the morning wasn't ideal for paying attention to detail, but I felt the sense of triumphant success of solving the case myself in the end that drives a person to dive right back into another mystery.  I would recommend this and I've heard that they just get better and better in the series, so I look forward to reading the next one.  

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
I think this was the third or fourth time I've read this book, but the first time since I actually started calling myself a "writer."  Even so, it always stirred a secret compartment of my soul that yearned to write. Her perspective on writing is honest and I appreciate the way she validates both the difficulties and the joys of this way of life that I am learning to live.

This quote stuck out to me this time:

"Why do you never find anything written about the idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it us up to you.  There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain.  It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin.  You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment" (p. 68). 

Currently Reading (Books):

I'm trying out a new reading strategy--read several books at once. So far, if I have books scattered around the house, with a pencil already marking my place, I seem to be more likely to pick them up and start reading when I only have a minute or two.  It also seems to help to have them in different formats (Kindle and the audio book version).  Here are books I'm currently reading or about to start.  And, to be fair, we're going to San Diego for a whole week WITHOUT KIDS, so I'm being pretty ambitious with my reading goals this month.  Anyone want to read along with me?  

A Fatal Grace (Book 2), by Louise Penny  

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert 

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd (for my new book club!) 

The More of Less, by Joshua Becker 

Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen  

Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, by Terri Crane (ugh--I'll be skimming this one)  

Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning 

Favorite Podcasts this Month:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach

#42 Manage Your Energy So You Can Write

#49 Here's to the Writer Moms
(This podcast inspired me to write this post)

#50 Stop Waiting for Last Minute Writing Inspiration

On Being

John A. Powell: Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging

Nikki Giovanni: Soul Food, Sex and Space

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

#67 Sarah Bessey

#45 Shannan Martin

The Hope * Writers 

What I Wish I'd Known Before I Wrote My First Book

Seminary Dropout

Deidra Riggs on Women of Color Writers, the Church, and More!

Jo Saxton on Post-Christendom, Discipleship, and Being a Woman of Color

Michelle Higgins on That Sermon at Urbana (Here is the talk that this is about: Michelle Higgins)

Sorta Awesome

All the Awesome for Summer 2016!

What Should I Read Next? 

#19 Great Literary fiction, inspirational favorites, and high school English with Brian Sztabnik


Balsamic Roasted Potato Salad (Your Home Based Mom)
I'm not a fan of mayo-based potato salad, so I was really excited to find this recipe.  And it has bacon;-)

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas (Smitten Kitchen)
Apart from the smoky house, these were really yummy (and hid lots of veggies so my kids ate them without realizing it).

Cilantro Lime Dressing (All Recipes)
I made this to top a salad with lettuce, roasted corn, and avocado and it was really delicious (I skipped the honey).

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup (Smitten Kitchen)
This was really good, but not my favorite for summertime.  I'll pull it out again in the fall, most likely.

Also made these again (reviewed in previous posts):

Spring Roll Bowls with Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce (Pinch of Yum)

Sunday Frittata (Pioneer Woman)

Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas (Cookie + Kate) with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

An Open Letter to My Grown Boys: I Miss You, by Christy Mobley at For Every Mom (this one is a tear-jerker!)

"I miss you.

And to be honest, when the normal busy of the day gets tucked away and I’m ready for sleep…sometimes my heart will ache with the miss.

It aches for tiny arms stretching around my neck to squeeze the ever lovin’ life out of me.
It aches to hear chipmunk-like voices say, “Mommy, I love you more than anything in the world.”
It aches for the heart to heart talks about problems only a mama can solve..."

TGIF: How I Made Peace with my Breasts in a Brothel, by Tina Francis for She Loves Magazine (a must-read for anyone who has spent time in Thailand.)

"Pema Chödrön writes that the truest and best measure of compassion lies not in our service of those in the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them."

Ten Things White People Need to Quit Saying, by Melody Moezzi for Huffington Post

"1. Do not use the word “exotic” to refer to humans who do not look like you. We are not fruit, and it is not a compliment. The longer you insist on assuring us that it is a compliment, the stupider you look. Just give it up.

2. Do not use the word “ethnic” as though it were a distinct race or nationality.

3. Do not ask people where they are from more than once. Trust them the first time. No need for “Where are you really from?” or “Where are your parents from?”... 

Thirty Ways to Reset Your Day, by Ginny Ellis at Wichita Mom Blog 

"1. Eat. Even if you all just ate, see if a PB&J or apple may help get everyone back in the groove.
 2. Play with Play Doh. Bonus for lavender calming dough.
 3. Give the kid(s) a bath. Daytime baths are so much fun.
 4. Throw a mini dance party. Turn up a Disney classic or T. Swift jam and dance it out.
 5. Practice calming breaths. Even for the little, little ones. Smell a flower, blow a candle, repeat.
 6. Watch puppy or videos on YouTube. Or goats. Goats are cute..."

White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic (language alert!)

Why White People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race, by Sam Adler-Bell for Alternet

"For white people, their identities rest on the idea of racism as about good or bad people, about moral or immoral singular acts, and if we’re good, moral people we can’t be racist – we don’t engage in those acts. This is one of the most effective adaptations of racism over time—that we can think of racism as only something that individuals either are or are not “doing.”

In large part, white fragility—the defensiveness, the fear of conflict—is rooted in this good/bad binary. If you call someone out, they think to themselves, “What you just said was that I am a bad person, and that is intolerable to me.” It’s a deep challenge to the core of our identity as good, moral people."

7 Books that Will Help You Care for the Poor, Relevant Magazine (Haven't read any of these, but they're going on The List).

Published Articles:

A Letter to My Daughter, for Self Talk the Gospel

The Cult of Calling (originally published at A Life Overseas, but republished this month at For Every Mom)

The Ugly Truth about Diversity, at For Every Mom

When You Feel Like God Misled You, for Middle Places

In Case You Missed it on the Blog...

The Minivan Identity Crisis

To the Writer Mamas

Three Children is a Bad Idea (and why we're doing it anyway)

You Know You're Married to a Voice Actor When...


Do you have any recommendations of books, podcasts, recipes or articles you've loved this month?

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Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and Leigh Kramer  

What I'm Into

Here are the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing projects I've been into this month.

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