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.



happy happy joy joy

happy happy joy joy


‘Tis the season for compiling the best and brightest of the past year.

Deidra at Jumping Tandem wrote about her Happy Things.

{in}courage has an amazing list of “the bests” of 2012 from readers…there are over 1600 comments.

Here’s my list of what made me say happy happy joy joy!


Lion Sightings in the Rose City (Volume 1)

Lion Sightings in the Rose City
This is a brand new favorite given to me by a dear friend.
I am enjoying taking a stroll through Portland and seeing God’s
handiwork. Thank you Barb!

The Night Circus
Definitely a  page turner with a huge dose of magic.

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
This memoir amazed me with the power of sparse
words written with depth and emotion.
Only criticism…wished it had been longer!

An Altar in the World
I read this book in August in the midst of a self-proclaimed respite.
Oh how I adore this book. It shattered my respite in the most gentle
way. My respite from  noise turned into seeing the sacred in the midst
of the throng. I feel such a deep kinship for the author and in tiny ways
this blog has been my pursuit of making an altar in my little piece 
of the world. I plan to read this book again soon.

10,000 Reasons
Matt. Redman. Never. Disappoints.

A New Liturgy
A beautiful way to spend time in prayer and worship in
less than the space of 30 minutes. I dare you not to be repeating
the words through your day.

MOMENTS (and one which also contained my quickest organizing
task ever.)




Our living room spread out with dozens of annual photo calendars
and Christmas card/letters.
Non-stop laughter and sweet Caleb patiently waiting until his year of 
After years in a file all the Washington family Christmas
histories are in a binder with sheet protectors. 
Seriously should have done that YEARS ago!



This boy looking so much like his father, it took my breath away. Even the way he sits(sigh.)

Oh this college girl holding her last year’s roomie’s beverage of choice.
Starbucks hire that smiling girl…she’d be good for business!

This smile…paid for every one of those pearly whites…just like in the photo above.
So glad she has more to be happy about than just straight teeth…oh so glad!

That day with that guy!


Can’t wait for season 3 of Downton Abbey…looks like a few new faces!

Call The Midwife helped me wait for Downton Abbey.
There is a Christmas special on tonight!


I have had this hiding in a cupboard.
No more!
Wonderful to keep your winter skin soft and smooth!

Nature’s Wick candles

A wonderful candle with a wooden wick.
It mimics the sounds of a crackling fire.
I found mine at Target and opted for a single wick for longer burning.


Praying the Names of God Journal

Praying the Names of God Journal

I will be continuing to work through this journal into
2013. It has been a rich help to focus on one name of God
for 3 days with pages to journal, write out prayers and reflect.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

If I don’t allow God to satisfy me early…I will find
much to drag me down as soon as I walk out my
front door.
Some days it can happen before the coffee is poured.
Meeting Him before my eyes, ears and heart greet the
day helps to counteract discontent.

Every day [with its new reasons] will I bless You
[affectionately praise You]; yes, I will praise Your
name forever and ever.

Psalm 145: 2

Don’t you love that with God there will be a new reason
each day to bless and praise Him?!

My word for 2012 was fixed.
To live satisfied, to find new reasons to praise God
is the definition of remaining fixed.
I will write more about this word and a word for
the year to come soon.

But for now…

O God,
my heart is fixed (steadfast, in the confidence of faith);
I will sing,
I will sing praises,
even with my glory
[all the faculties and powers of one created in Your image]!

Psalm 108:1

What things made you do the happy happy joy joy dance?

I would love to know!