If you follow the HopefulLeigh Facebook page, you might have seen my byline appearing in the church bulletin last weekend. So much fun! We never know who reads our words or how they'll respond to them. This is but one example.
June has been full of the unexpected, both for me and my loved ones. Some good, some bad. Some altogether weird. It makes me wonder what on earth July has in store...
Read and Reading:
The Phenomenally Indecisive Book Club took on The Night Circus, resulting in surprising discussion. (Spoiler alert if you click on the link.) Gorgeously written, Morgenstern's story of a magical circus allowed my imagination to run wild. Even now, I find myself mulling over the story and the way characters interacted with each turn of the plot.
A Discovery of Witches (Harkness), a reader recommendation from last year, is a new favorite of mine. Reminiscent of Kostova's The Historian, Harkness seamlessly blends a rich historical backdrop with a world where witches, vampires, daemons, and unaware humans dwell. Given that I never read about vampires or witches up until a few years ago, I'm still surprised when these stories grip me. Harkness explores what happens when a witch and vampire fall in love- against the Convention's rules- with staggering implications for the supernatural realm. It's exceedingly well written with rich characterization and a multilayered plot. In fact, it turns out to be book one of a trilogy. What luck for me though! Book number two comes out July 10 and the author will be stopping by Parnassus Books on July 23. I can't wait!
My copy of Half the Church (James) is filled with underlines and notes. Beginning with a global look at how women are treated, James unveils the horrifying consequences of being born a girl in patriarchal society and then shows how this affects us all. She advocates women use all of their giftings. I'll be reflecting on this for some time.
I had vague memories of Julia Child's cooking show, supplemented by the movie of Julie and Julia, before I read her book My Life in France. Julia's personality shines throughout. Her determination to perfect recipes and compulsion to continue working on her cookbooks after years of work is quite inspiring. Truly, her efforts changed the way cookbooks are published. I enjoyed the discussion over at Tea and Cookies.
I try to read a few writing related books a year. Hence, my friend Ed Cyzewski's ebook A Path to Publishing. (Here I note Ed gave me a copy out of the kindness of his heart but this does not have any bearing on my opinion.) While focused on Ed's experiences in publishing non-fiction, fiction writers will still get a lot out of this treasure trove. I love the action steps included in each chapter, along with concrete examples. Ed doesn't mince words, which is helpful for those of us taking our first hesitant steps toward queries, book proposals, and building a platform. By the time I finished reading, I brimmed with ideas about my next few steps.
Currently reading: The Last Best League (Collins), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Kaling), Love Does (Goff), When Helping Hurts (Corbett and Fikkert) and The War of Art (Pressfield).
(I read 9 books this month.)
TV: Must-see TV: So You Think You Can Dance, Breaking Pointe
If you like dancing shows or are still grieving the loss of Gilmore Girls, you should watch Bunheads. At times, it comes across as Gilmore Girls Does Ballet but it's finding its own voice. Plus, it's great seeing Kelly Bishop in action again, along with whatever other Stars Hollow cast members pop up.
The Real Housewives, minus the Atlantians, are a guilty pleasure of mine. I'mthoroughly enjoying the new additions to the New York cast. I also loosely diagnose certain cast members according to the DSM-IV.
A modernized Anne of Green Gables tv show is in the works. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I heard the news. Then I shook my head in sorrow. But I'll probably watch at least the first episode to see how they've ruined our Anne Shirley.
Given my past career in hospice, I was so moved by an interview Bono gave in which he discussed his Dad's final days. Worth watching for sure.
Who doesn't relate to Henri the Existential Cat?
I finally got to see Josh Garrels perform on Friday. I know I blather on about how his CD was my favorite from last year but seriously, you guys. You need to listen to him! He has such a unique voice and those lyrics pierce me in new ways every time I listen. I loved hearing about the meaning and inspiration behind the songs. What a gift he gave the audience!
If you enjoy snark, Suri's Burn Book is about to become your new BFF. (Note: this was discovered well before the TomKat split.)
Dozen was at the West Nashville Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago, offering free samples of their cookies. Delicious! I naturally needed to try their pecan squares and now I am hooked. They're at two other farmers markets and rumor has it, they're looking to eventually open a shop.
In the Blogosphere:
Here are the Mid-June Links.
"Love that is forced, is not love." Wonderful post from Kelly at Love Well.
My friend Amanda writes poignantly after the death of her dad. What a legacy!
"Let’s just write, and then if something earth shattering comes out of it, let it sit a while if it must. Let it fuse together. Let it kill off the unclean. Let it do what it does. Sometimes that means writing it and letting it sit so the tone can work itself out...The ingredients of a work come in pure, like a dash of salt or a cup of honey." I simply adore Amber at The Runamuck and her way with words.
Abby's words will leave you viewing the experience of breakfast in a whole new light.
An interesting interview with Focus on the Family president Jim Daly on the organization's new stance on immigration reform.
Beautiful, beautiful post from Micha Boyett about her son's baptism.
Such a great news story on the Smucker family's 4 month RV trip. I really don't understand why a publisher would pass on a book about their trip but Shawn used this setback to write the 5 Stages of Dealing with Rejection.
Sarah Bost Askins wrote a great conversation starting piece about being a stepmother over at Rachel Held Evans's blog.
"Black Protestants have good cause to eye Republicans warily and mistrust the label “evangelical”: the Christian right’s concerns do not match their own experience or priorities." A fascinating look at Southern Baptist history as it elects its first black president.
I appreciated AndiLit's post about a dinner party discussion gone awry. How would you have handled this?
Nora Ephron's sad passing has inspired many a moving tribute, with nary a cross word about her. My favorite comes from the New York Times.
This woman's letter about her former boyfriend and ex-gay ministries blew me away. Her questions at the end are worth consideration. If you're wondering what ex-gay ministries currently advocate, try this Atlantic piece interviewing the president of Exodus International.
What happens when a Christian health care executive visits a free medical clinic? Abstract dialog takes on human flesh; he became one of the most supporters of Obama's health care legislation. It all comes down to faith. Whether you agree with ACA or not, this is a compelling story.
I love thrift stores. But this inside glimpse into the way Goodwill and Salvation Army process clothes has given me pause. I already had the author's book on my To Read list and bumped it up higher after reading the article.
This letter from a homeless man was more eye opening than it should be. That the homeless have to scrape off the moldy bits of donated food? Broke my heart.
I was going to write a post about my CSA experience but then my friend Shanna did and she did a better job than I ever could. Plus, we're a part of the same CSA so we can pretend that I actually wrote this piece instead. Just kidding, Shanna!
I know many of the changes in the food industry are not good, nor are they good for us. This insightful NPR piece examines how tomatoes have changed and how the Quest for All Red resulted in less flavorful fruit.
On Ye Olde Blog:
Without a doubt, the biggest post was Do Unto Singles: Suggestions for the Church. Rachel Held Evans featured it not once but twice during the Week of Mutuality and it popped up in a couple of link lists. I've been amazed and humbled by the response to the post. Whether married or single, thank you for sharing your experiences with me and for sharing it with your church.
What have you been into this month?