for the love of memoirs

for the love of memoirs


Sunbeams bounce off the stack of book beckoning dust particles to flight

and announcing the passing of a day.

My son has arisen from his virus-induced stupor and occupies himself with homework

of days gone by.

The rising,

the setting,

of the sun

and all that is compressed between east and west

is a day in the life.

At day’s end, we could write a daily memoir.

I suppose that really is what a diary or a journal compiles.

I imagine most people wouldn’t consider their lives interesting enough

for public consumption.

Yet aren’t we curious about other people’s lives and thoughts?

Memoirs give us that “fly on the wall” experience.

Memoirs have become one of my favorite genres to read.

The books picture at the top of this page are ones I grabbed

from my shelves and baskets.

It is by no means an exhaustive list but books which have

knitted themselves deep into my soul.

(I am just now remembering I forgot Cold Tangerines.)

Click the book title link for synopsis information.

Below each title will be my brief attempt to explain why

the book is found on my stack.

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer

I remember early marriage and parenthood. I remember trying to
figure out that delicate balance of trying to do it all, carve out an
identity and stay close to God.
Reading this book took me back to that time and even now, I still
try to juggle it all with less flexible hands. I am a sucker for someone
who is sweet on the Benedictine monks and likes to hang out with them.
This book reminded me of the joy of realizing the God you fear
is hiding is simply waiting to be found.
Marvelous grace.

Girl Meets God

Lauren Winner was raised by a Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother.
She became an Orthodox Jew.
This memoir is about how she became a Christian.

My Christian make-up has looked different over the years.
Perhaps depending on what

church I was attending.
At times, I have felt an outsider.

Other times, I have felt I had to be separate.
Although Lauren Winner and I have very different religious experiences,
reading this book gave me freedom to grab back practices
I mistakenly felt I needed to abandon.

Truly I want my faith to look like God and not a church.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

This was the first book that blew open the door to 
being real in matters of faith.
Anne was everything that this good girl was not and was
too afraid to admit,
I was only a whisper away from being not so good.

I don’t think I have read any of her books without nodding and 
“uhuh-ing” and laughing.
She helped me see all of life as a sacred hilarious faith walk.
She prodded me to pay attention long enough to see God
right there in the midst of the most simple things.
When faced with the mundane,
I am confronted with the Holy.
(P.S. I dragged Carl to a reading years ago to hear
Anne and we laughed ourselves silly.
Bucket list-check.)

Blue Like Jazz

I was 10 years late to the party for this book but right on time for me.
If Anne Lamott opened the door to thinking about faith from a different
vantage point.
Donald Miller thrust back the hangar door.
I am not sure I can adequately describe why this book had 
such an impact other than I read it quickly,
I didn’t underline much because of the speed. 
It was page after to page of confirmation
of my thoughts about faith.
I didn’t know that in less than a month after reading this book,
we would be leaving our church and would land in the church
he helped plant.
This book helped me to remain in church.

An Altar in the World

It is always hard to pick a favorite but if I did,
it would be An Altar in the World.
If the last two books, gave me permission to ask
questions and to think differently about faith.
This book was the one which wrapped its paper
arms around me and showed me my reflection.
So much of this blog is about paying attention
and striving to see the spiritual in the natural.
Barbara Brown Taylor declared from every
page, “Me too, Helen. Me too.”

Craving Grace: A Story of Faith, Failure and my Search for Sweetness

If you have ever been a chronic rule follower, a perfectionist,
or someone who felt they could obey well enough to earn God’s
love, you will speed through these pages.
I cringed for the girl I have been and the woman who still wants to 
be good enough for God.
God is not armed with a measuring stick.
He is all grace.

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

My friend Paige and I have a long distance book club. We send
each other books we love, in hopes of the gift of shared book affection.
Paige sent me Tattoos and I was riveted.
Gregory Boyle began a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles called
Homeboy Industries. The stories chronicled in this book will break
your heart and deposit hope into your soul.
I was reminded what a difference extending compassion rather than
judgment can make in another person’s life.
Thank you Paige!

Traveling with Pomegranates

Sometimes books are just made for dreaming.
I can only dream that my mother and I would be able to take
several trips to Greece, Turkey and France.
But Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor didn’t
dream, they lived the experience and documented it.
Perhaps this book also possessed a piece of reality as Sue
was turning 50 and so was I.
Her daughter was 21 and so was one of mine.
It was a glimpse inside both women’s attempts to grapple with
these milestone ages and their relationship now as adults.
If you have read The Secret Life of Bees, this books hints
of those buzzing bees to come.
If you just like to read about travel with a mixture of some
mysticism, I know you will enjoy this book.

Three days absence= one long post

More shorter posts on the way this week.
I promise.

Hooray for memoirs.

What’s your favorite memoir?
This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.



springtime musings

springtime musings

Marimekko April desktop

Hello Spring!

Time for new desktops for April.

I have always loved Marimekko.

Marimekko has two desktop options with or without a calendar.

You can make your selection here.

I could never get my act together to post March’s selection

but I still love it. Feel free to download it without the calendar here.

One last option from Dawn Camp, go here.


Last week during spring break, we took a trip to Astoria.

I am so glad we seized the opportunity as it was THE best

weather day of the week.

Carl worked in a laboratory for two years before we married.

The girls were too young to remember visiting years ago.

It was fun to have Carl show the kids where he lived, worked and

we also fulfilled a bucket list item for the girls in visiting

The Goonies house.

Carl lived in Astoria during the filming and his claim to cinematic fame

is part of his truck is

seen in some versions of the film.


I love this picture of our three. But I am not going to say a word about how old my son

looks. It could be that he has decided to rock the ‘fro these days but my word.

I see the future and I am unprepared.

Like I said, not a word.


During one of the monsoon-like days,my parents were visiting us here in Portland.

It seemed the perfect time to watch 20 Feet from Stardom.

My second time watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and

rent it. If you live close to me, you can borrow my copy.

If you don’t believe me, it won the Oscar for the Best Documentary.

I wrote about how I forgot to eat my Red Vines while watching here.



My beautiful and brilliant mother celebrated her birthday yesterday!

With each passing year, she exudes more joy and compassion,

more generosity and energy,

and more fully Felicia!

I love you Mor.


I remember I could hardly wait to turn 30.

I suppose it was due to the fact that it felt like I could finally

qualify and call myself an adult.

I also have never really gotten “freaked out” about big milestone


Most likely because I was one of the young ones in my class.

I was barely 18 when I started college.

But as the sands of the hourglass have been quickly amassing,

I have had much more reason to pause turning 50.

It seems solid and weighty.

I feel I am at a particularly critical juncture in my life.

I am career-less.

I wonder what is my vocation?

What is next?

Retirement is closer than it was 20 years ago but

at this point, I won’t retire from any job.

I question if I am stewarding my time well?

It hasn’t been until this chapter in my life that I can accurately

see how driven I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

My 40’s have been the polar opposite.

I think my 40’s have been recovery from burn-out

on almost every role in my life.

So as I simmer in this end of decade soup,

even though I feel quite unresolved

in my identity moving onto 50,

I am looking at this patch of time as a gift.

I am doing a lot of soul digging instead of

wallowing which can be like trying to keep upright

on a downhill slip ‘n slide.

This week I started Donald Millers’s Create Your Life Plan.

Don and Shauna Niequist have created a 10 video module

coaching program to help create a life of meaning.

I have almost done half of the modules and it has been


It has helped me upend the hard parts of my life history

and find gratitude and understanding.

There is a cost for this program but it is way less than one

therapy session.

They are still offering an early bird special and there is a

100% money back guarantee.

But truly the two names Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist

should be more than enough to convince you.

It would fun to do as a couple, in a small group or of course



Books I have read recently:

Tatoos on the Heart-my friend Paige sent me this book. After I was halfway through
the book, I sent her a text saying that I had given up underlining and was simply
bracketing sections I loved. I can’t say enough about this book especially since
it is true. (Adult language-heads up)

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair-I read this short book over
an evening. It’s Anne Lamott which is really enough said. But I loved reading her
thoughts about life in a post-911, post-Katrina, post-Sandy Hook world.
So much suffering, how do we live?
Great thoughts,stories and as always excellent weaving of words.

What I am reading now:

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer-I am loving this book already.

On Writing-A Memoir of the Craft-just because.

Pastrix:The Cranky,Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.

You could say I am on a memoir feast of sorts.


I hope you have gained a little something from me unleashing the contents

of my mind onto the screen.

I know I have aged a bit just in the writing.

Welcome Spring!

A time of new life, beginnings and perhaps even

a bit of soul-searching.

Bring on the showers, digging in the dirt

and basking in the splendor of blossoms!


P.S. Check out my tweet on the sidebar if you

want to know how April Fools Day dealt with me!