WHO STOLE MY JULY?
Ok, that is a bit dramatic, but seriously, I can NOT believe today is already the last day of July. I just pulled up my calendar to see what the heck I was doing all month. Summer is already 2/3 over, so I guess it is time to jump on those “things I will get done this summer” plans!
For those of you joining us for the first time, at the end of each month, I join a few of my writing sisters in a blog link-up to talk about four things we want to share with our readers: Something Loved, Something Said, Something Learned, Something Read. We have been doing this since January, so be sure to click on this link Share Four Somethings, if you want to read my other monthly wrap up posts. My desire for this post each month is for you to walk away with something meaningful, useful or thought-provoking.
SO, let’s see what jewels of inspiration July had to offer for us, dear reader!
The first week of July, my favorite thing happened– BOTH my daughters were home for a visit! In addition, my siblings and I got our families together for some fun on the Severn River over the July 4th holiday weekend. I am blessed to have siblings who I count as friends, and grateful that they married people who I love just as much. Between us, we gave birth to eight more amazing people and we have a blast every time we get together. With children growing up quickly, I am certain it will be increasingly difficult to gather the entire crew, so I am grateful this July included a few days together. We were so busy having fun, I forgot to take any worthwhile photos, but here are a couple that capture the “hard work” involved.
However, many of you probably spent time with loved ones this July as well, so pictures of me floating in water, as lovely as they may be, are not really recommendations worth noting. One of the cardinal rules of blogging is to avoid having your reader say “so what?” after they read your words. So let me give you one more thing I loved in July that WILL be a gift to you. Guaranteed!
My brilliant daughter Brooke started her own blog! Her language can occasionally be a bit more salty than mine (at least out loud on the world wide web 🙂 ), but I promise she is wise, insightful, creative and laugh-out-loud funny. She is also a MUCH better writer than me. As of this writing, she only has three posts up, but I promise you need to go check out the blog and subscribe. Her observations about the hipster inhabitants of her local Brooklyn coffee shop literally made me spit my coffee across the room. Yes, in case you are wondering, Brooke’s mom thinks she is really, really funny! It is aptly called By the Brooke: Post-Grad Chronicles.
And do me a favor? Please share her blog with all your friends, as we hope to eventually get her off the payroll, making a lucrative living as a writer. Thank you in advance for your support.
Poet Mary Oliver regularly speaks truth to me. I saw this graphic rendition of one of her poems about prayer recently and it made my whole day. I am often guilty of making prayer too complicated and I love, love, love this reminder of how simple it can be. Pay attention, patch a few words of gratitude together, take a deep breath, and allow space to listen.
In case you can’t see the photo clearly, this is the poem:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
In the summer, I spend a fair amount of time in the car and this year, I am filling that time listening to podcasts. I am a bit late to the podcast game, but what I lack in experience, I make up for in enthusiasm. Actually, that sentence could be my life theme in so many ways 🙂
Here are my two favorite podcast recommendations right now. I listen to them for completely different reasons and incorporate the learning I find there in completely different ways. Click on the title and it will take you to more information.
I listen to Kathi Lipp and her various guests for help in all things blogging, writing, and speaking. I have also purchased a few sessions with Kathi for coaching and she is every bit as personable, funny and helpful “in person” as she is on the podcast. These podcasts are incredibly PRACTICAL for anyone trying to grow their business as a communicator. They are also short, with clear take aways that you can put to work immediately. From the best blogging plug-ins, to apps every writer needs, to best practices for making a weekly schedule, Kathi and her crew are committed to helping you work SMARTER. As I try to grow my coaching, speaking and writing business, this continues to be an invaluable resource.
If you have ever read my blog before, you know my fierce affection for my buddy, Jen Hatmaker. My buddy- did you get the familiarity? We are practically BFF’s as evidenced by this photo 🙂 I’ve been reading her books for years, but I had the opportunity to actually visit her home a couple of times and meet her in person through my participation in the launch of two of her books. Her sense of humor, her endless curiosity, her deep faith and her infectious love for people make her perfectly suited for this new-ish form of communication and it is my hands down favorite place to visit in the podcast world. Her format is to host a series of podcasts on a similar theme (For the Love of Food, For the Love of Summer, For the Love of Parenting, etc.) and have a variety of guests sharing their unique take on the subject. I have listened to almost every single podcast, but if I had to recommend just one of the series, I would definitely put “For the Love of Exploring our Faith” at the top of my list. Simply put, Jen and her guests remind me why I still fight for my faith and the church, and why it matters that I not give up, even when it gets hard. Go check out Series 8 on Jen’s podcast. I promise, you WILL be challenged, inspired and encouraged. If you are ready for a second recommendation, check out the “For the Love of Women Who Built It” series.
(Just between us, I’m actually thinking about starting a podcast myself. What would you call a podcast hosted by yours truly? What should we talk about? And since it would DEFINITELY be a conversation, who should we talk to?)
This month’s book recommendation is by one of my other favorite authors, Rachel Held Evans. If you don’t know Rachel, go listen to her episode on Jen’s podcast. Fun fact, Rachel was actively in labor with her second child during her conversation with Jen!
I have read all of Rachel’s books and this is easily my favorite. As a bonus, I am reading this book with a group of brilliant women from my church and our weekly conversations around some arguably difficult issues have been life-giving for me. Simply put, Rachel’s book Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again is just what the doctor ordered in these contentious, controversial times in our country and in our churches. I love the bible, but I absolutely hate the way it is increasingly being used as a weapon. Rachel does a beautiful job of intelligently, thoroughly and thoughtfully examining why the bible is more relevant than ever in these difficult times.
I have underlined 40% of this book, but in the interest of this post getting too long, here is the quote that most succinctly gets to the heart of what I love about this book:
There are parts of the Bible that inspire, parts that perplex, and parts that leave you with an open wound. I’m still wrestling, and like Jacob, I will wrestle until I am blessed. God hasn’t let go of me yet.
Trust me, you want to read this book! It inspired me, healed me and made me hungry to keep “wrestling” with my bible in all the best ways. I am attending a conference in October curated by Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey (another favorite author) and I guarantee this book and the issues it raises will be a frequent topic of conversation. The conference sold out almost immediately, but TODAY they released live stream tickets for the main stage speakers. This is an INCREDIBLE lineup of speakers, so check it out HERE.
That’s all for this month! Thanks again to my friend Heather for hosting our linkup. Check out my smart friends and their recommendations HERE!