Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.25.2014


Things I love?  Reasonable people saying reasonable things.  Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why we Must Have Both, is a statement signed by a number of respected, thinking people saying that they support gay marriage AND they support the right of others to disagree without being punished.    And here’s a statement from Dale Carpenter at Volokh explaining how he does and does not agree.

Esther Emery’s Why I Will Not Leave the Evangelical Church Today.  Another piece of nuanced, compassionate writing from my friend in Idaho.

A new series is starting up at and it looks FANTASTIC.  The first post is up:  Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America.  (h/t to Belle at CapHillStyle.)

Joy the Baker has a story/recipe combo post on her blog, making The Old-fashioned, which is (after a bit of trial and error) her cocktail.  It looks awesome and like it would bring a little extra credibility and sophistication to a night out.

Finally, we’ve got a Writing Lessons post from Emily Maloney that has stayed with me this week.  She writes about how she learned to put into practice the important writing mantra of showing up and getting it done.  Reminds me about what Anne Lamott said at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and a new effort to write words on pages at #6am led by my new friend Ed Cyzewski.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 3.23.2014

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This post from Jezebel really made me think:  What Life is Like When Getting Your Period Means You are Shunned, by Rose George.

Once again, Kate from Eat the Damn Cake writes something that sticks with me.  This week’s post, What Do Women Do All Day?, is kind of awesome and wonderful and, just like last week’s post about danger and whether you should save yourself or a stranger, sits in the tension that is so much of everyday life.

Richard Beck’s post on being a famous, influential Christian without being a jerk (or, as he calls it, On Christian Celebrity), was incredibly thoughtful.  So much of what I read online is extremes and hyperbole, and this is just good thinking.

Alise has a post up about forgiveness entitled Redemption Only Through Failure?.  She asks whether her marriage that began in an affair with the worship pastor of her church has to end in divorce for her to receive forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation with the Church.  And to be honest, I don’t think there are any easy answers here.

Last but not least, my friend Osheta Moore’s post for A Deeper Story, Speaking Fear, Praying ShalomFull disclosure: I was granted a preview of this post and provided a few editorial comments on the draft about a month ago, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for it to come out because I LOVE Osheta and her voice her is so important to the conversations around race and public safety and how we raise our children and how we make our world better. Please do read this. 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 3.1.2014

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Well, we’re a day late and a dollar short with Five Things this week.  I haven’t been reading and saving blogs at my typical frequency because I’ve been, well, doing other things.  However, while it is Saturday instead of Friday, these links are still just as awesome as they were yesterday, and I hope you enjoy them!

1.  How to Improve your Presentation Skills — without an eccentric professor vibe.  I read Ask A Manager almost religiously.  So many things that I didn’t understand or did wrong in the first year of my professional life could have been avoided if I’d read all of this first, and so I make sure to check in each day to AAM as well as to skim through the comment sections.  There is so much good information in here, and the comments on how to be a better presenter do not disappoint.  My two cents:  you make a presentation for an audience, not yourself, so think about what they need to know, not all of the things you have ever known so you can prove to everyone how smart you are.

2.  When this is all I have to say about Jesus and religious freedom, by Preston Yancey.  I don’t know Preston, and nearly every time I comment on his blog it somehow gets a-w-k-w-a-r-d, but some people who I love know him in real life and call him friend, and I can see why.  I’m so glad to hear him and other popular internet people speaking love.

Will bakeries be declining to make cakes for gossips and slanderers and the proud also?

If so, then my wedding is tanked.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I would bake the cake.

And I think Jesus would too.

I operate from the premise that Jesus is kind.

3.  Discuss: The Empty Hearing Room, at Capitol Hill Style.  I love it when Belle gives an insider’s perspective on how things work ‘on the Hill,’ and this post is a good one.  It is shocking to see how empty hearing rooms are on Capitol Hill — I too have visited a session to see a senator making a speech to basically no one — but while it seems weird it actually isn’t:  she is getting her words on the record and that’s what counts.

4.  The Lectionary and a Legacy: A Letter to Myself, by my friend Caris Adel.    Caris is knocking it out of the park these past few weeks, as she wrestles with being white and privileged.  I’m sticking with her as she journeys into her history, which is also my history.  Only good can come from asking these hard questions.

5.  How to Create a Progress Gantt Chart in Microsoft Excel 2010, a video by Euguene O’Laughlin (YOUTUBE).  If you follow me on Facebook you heard already how I successfully made a beautiful Gantt diagram in excel this week, under the auspices of ENGLISH MAJORS CAN DO ANYTHING.  If you’d like to know what that is, or how to do it yourself, watch this short video that taught me how.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week 2.21.2014

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I gave you something kind of vulnerable this week, and my top reads reflect that same positioning: they are stories of our journeys to find who we really are in the midst of who we thought we were, who others think we are, and who everyone else told us we would be. Click through and give them the love they deserve.

One. Sacred/Scared Day Two at Momastery.

I don’t typically read Glennon’s blog (because, like, it’s called Momastery and I’m not a mom), but every now and again I see a link that leads me there and this is a winner. I never expected to have so much in common with Kristen Howerton! It’s weirdly comforting to read a more mature version of your own insecurities written by someone you respect. 

Two. On Changing Dreams at A Beautiful Mess.

Three. In Defense of the Sharp Lefts, by Elora Ramirez. Holy wow.

Four. Caris Adel’s I’m White and It’s Uncomfortable.

Five. Leanne Penny’s What Mental Health Isn’t.

Also: tip of the hat to Dr. Richard Beck’s series on Johnny Cash’s theology. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of Cash’s album Bitter Tears. Any English majors reading this blog today? This could be a great source for a senior thesis topic.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 01.24.2014

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1.  In a very timely discussion, given recent(ish) posts by Grace Biskie and Modern Mrs. Darcy on this topic in the world of religion, we have Sarah Milstein for the Harvard Business Review with Putting an End to Conferences Dominated by White Men. These are practical tips that you can use when speaking with any conference planners about this issue in the future.  You can just send them this link.

2.  How to Suppress the Apology Reflex, by Audrey S. Lee for the New York Times. I loved this personal essay on how a smart women learned to stop apologizing every time she spoke. AMEN, SISTER. You should not be sorry for taking up space or having opinions. I mean, seriously. [rant over, sorry NOT sorry.]

3.  My friend Osheta’s compilation of posts on race and reconciliation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. So many good words.  Please do read them.

4.  And on a similar note, this post at the Shriver Brief links you to just about everything you need to know about the relationship between race and poverty and our responses to them both.

5.  Things I want to eat/drink right now this very second: these Grapefruit Mojitos, homemade Dulce de Leche (without condensed milk!), these lemon poppy-seed pancakes, these stuffed bell peppers, and clearly my sickness is showing through because I also really want this fancy-pants bowl full of vegetables.

(Yes, you heard that right!  For my birthday, God gave me the croup.  How lucky am I?!  I’m sure H thinks this cough is incredibly attractive.)

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 01.10.2014

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1.  Telling Tulsa’s Story, by Jen Luitwieler at A Deeper Story.  This post tells the story of the Tulsa race riot in 1921 in a beautiful, moving way.  I really loved reading it.

When the fires finally died, after eighteen hours of rioting, Greenwood was gone. Thirty-five city blocks were ruined. Millions of dollars in damage had been done. The earliest reports claimed sixty nine “negroes” were killed, but eyewitnesses and Red Cross reports indicate that over 300 men, women and children were killed. There were minimal white casualties.

But that was just the start of their victimization.

2.  Penelope Trunk’s Three cheers for women who say they don’t want to work.  At least they’re honest.  This made me laugh.  It’s a really interesting, slightly in-your-face take on whether women can or can’t have “it all.”  Or if they even want to.

Some people will tell you that such an admission is a throwback to the 1950s and it’s discouraging. That’s true.

Except for one thing: divorce law protects women today. In the 1950s, if you allowed a guy to take care of you, if you put your career aside for kids, then there was no protection for you. So women went nuts – fighting for rights, fighting for jobs, fighting for an equal right to a piece of the pie. But now women are guaranteed money to raise the kids, whether the guy stays or not.

3.  Ed Cyzewski’s When Church is Like a Party, at A Deeper Church.  Typically, these kind of things make me want to run away and hide, because my God-given personality is 99.9% party-averse.  BUT, I met Ed once [at STORY Chicago], and I heard him say something about his upbringing and that dancing was completely out of his comfort zone, and I’ve always felt the same way about clapping in church, it’s just so weird, and I hate to do it. . . anyway, I really connected with this post.

Dancing just wasn’t a big part of my upbringing, and when my religion classified dancing as a hip-grinding gateway to sexual insanity, I didn’t ask any questions. No dancing allowed? Phew! Where do I sign my name?

I’m in my 30’s now. I’ve had what seems to be the obligatory falling out with the church in my 20’s. At a certain point Christianity  and church in particular just flat out stopped working for me, and as I searched for something to hold onto, I started to suspect that freedom in worship may have something to do with it.

4.  My friend Abby’s post A Year Long Epiphany: No More Scarcity.  I mean, read this and tell me you haven’t felt exactly this same way:

I stress myself out on a regular basis making very minor decisions, like which groceries to buy, which present to pick, which route to take. Usually, these decisions are such that there is no wrong answer, all answers are acceptable, and yet…yet I am pulling out my hair and beating myself up because, THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT ANSWER AND OH MAN I MADE THE WRONG ONE AND COST US (three minutes, six dollars, absolutely nothing) AND IT IS ALL MY FAULT.

5.  Brianna Wiest at ThoughtCatalog with 18 Things Women Shouldn’t Have to Justify.  It’s funny and honest and true.  For example, take number seven:

7. Enjoying what would otherwise be called guilty pleasures because they’re “girly” things. They don’t have to be “guilty” pleasures, they can just be pleasures. You can enjoy getting your nails painted and wearing a skirt and re-watching 13 Going On 30 a thousand times without floundering in stereotypes.


Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 12.20.2013

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On Homelessness

The New York Times’ Invisible Child series that will blow your mind and have you running to volunteer at your local homeless shelter, and a response and personal story from one of the bloggers I have recently begun following which responds to the series by showcasing her own story of homelessness.

1.  Invisible Child, Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life, written by Andrea Elliot with photography by Ruth Fremson.  

It is Dasani’s belief that she and her siblings are the cause of her mother’s ruin. It never occurs to her that, for Chanel, the children represent her only accomplishment.

[Can we just put a pin here, to talk about the layers in these two sentences?  How children are a burden and a blessing, living in seemingly hopeless situations but also our only hope?  Oh my goodness.]

2.  Becca Rose at The Bookworm Beauty, with The Tent.  

Years later, my dad would tell me,

“I’m so glad we went through that time, because it really taught you kids about faith and trusting God.”

What I wanted to say but didn’t was that no, it didn’t teach me about faith. It taught me what it feels like when God abandons you.

 * * *

I constantly hear diatribes against food assistance, free health care, and other benefits that kept me alive as a child when I was homeless. I don’t think there’s a human face on the other end when people say things like this, because if they knew what it was like – if they knew how a child’s life would be affected when they vote to decrease funding for those things – I can’t believe they’d really do it. I can’t believe anyone is that heartless.

On Journaling as a Personal Practice

3.  Claire de Boer at The Gift of Writing with Five Questions to Take to Your Journal (and life).  

To stop, ask the question and either write the answer or ponder it throughout the day, has been the hearth to my cold wintry bones.

I’ve been trying many different journal writing techniques over the last few months—everything from writing letters, free-writing, dialoging and list-making, but to simply ask one of these five questions has been the most nourishing of all.

On Being Careful with our Words (and using our privilege and power wisely)

4.  Brad Littlejohn at The Sword and the Ploughshare with The “All I Really Meant…” Syndrome.  

None of this is to say that we always have to speak in carefully-measured, lifeless academese, with a footnote to define our every term so as to remove all cause for dispute.  There is a place for provocation.  But provocation must always be according to truth.  “I’m playing the prophet!” is never an excuse for non sequiturs, or false generalizations that have no basis in reality, or for sloppy language that would confuse even a well-educated, well-intentioned reader.  Moreover, even where it avoids these pitfalls, it must always be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.  Just because you might succeed in getting the attention of some that you otherwise might not get doesn’t mean it’s worth it.  Not if you alienate many more whom you otherwise might have won, or sow division where you could have sown peace.

On Productive Meetings and Good Management

5.  Amy Gallo for the Harvard Business Review’s Blog with The Seven Imperatives to Keeping Meetings on Track.  

Valuable information regarding how to plan for meetings that are focused, productive, and positive experiences for your team.  Emphasis on “planning,” because if you aren’t planning your meetings, chances are they will not be focused, productive, or positive experiences for anyone.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 12.06.2013 (remix)

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Well, NaBloPoMo kicked my butt (as expected).  I planned to take a few days off to rest after blogging every day for the month of November, and ended up taking off nearly an entire week!  It’s been a good week, long and busy.  I’m preparing for things to start moving very quickly over the next few months in the office, cleaning up after a week of guests (who were remarkably clean for boys), and decorating our apartment for the holiday season.  This weekend I have wreaths to hang, Christmas cards to write, and shopping to do.  Also, now that we are a Pepsi family, I need to find a recipe for Christmas ham that doesn’t use the competitor’s product.

The internet was full of beautiful things this week.

I enjoyed readings surrounding the opening of Advent, which began on Sunday, December 1st.  In the background of the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, there is a strong and steady hope for God to work, waiting for suffering to end, waiting for justice and peace to come.  We’ve lost Nelson Mandela this week, we are surrounded on all sides by death and sickness and darkness and sadness.  It’s a dark and stormy world, but we hold fast, waiting for God to work in our world.

Advent: a Prison Story, Richard Beck, Experimental Theology

In which Advent is for the ones who know longing, Sarah Bessey

Blessings for Benton.  My friend is writing through her journey in the NICU as she sits and hopes and prays while her son fights for his life.  Please sit and wait and pray with me, with her.

And now it’s time to start shopping.

I planned to make you a gift guide to help fill your Christmas shopping needs, but as it turns out there are so many excellent gift guides out there that there’s really no reason for me to try to add to the portfolio of great shopping ideas.  Instead, I’ll mention the sites that I’ve been using for my own shopping inspiration:

A Cup of Jo, check out for excellent gift ideas from this year and previous years.  (I’ve linked to one post in particular but there are others for moms, sisters, etc.)

Rage Against the Minivan.  Kristen Howerton has posted a great gift guide for gifts that give back, as well as regular gift suggestions as well.

Sarah Bessey gave us a Christmas gift guide where each item empowers women.

Kendi Everyday.  She started with the “fancy lady” gift guide but has more coming.

How Sweet It Is.  I shared these guides last week but they are still awesome and at least one of the items on my own Christmas list came from here.


Thanks for sticking with me over the last month of daily updates, and during this past week of quiet.


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