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.




welcoming back words

For years, I had buried words deeply into the earth

and I feared they were beyond hope of emerging.

If you picture an avalanche, the initial sliding snow

is relatively small, like frozen skidding pebbles, seemingly innocent.

As the speed increases, more snow becomes entangled with force

and anything in the path of an avalanche is obliterated.

I felt an unparalleled ambush of words, illustrations and images.

Notebooks were scattered all over the house for

quick retrieval to scribble down ideas.

I am sure I possessed a glazed expression as I

tried to upload the words coursing through my mind.

I am also sure it wasn’t always a joy to live with me.

After taking a few writing courses,

I started to gather scraps of courage

to share my writing beyond my journals.

What was I to do about physical therapy?

How does one who entered the field to help people

announce the need to exit?

It felt so counter and harsh to admit this reality.

However I could barely care for my family

much less physically shoulder the needs of patients.

I feared I would disappoint the people in my life by saying

I was abandoning the profession.

Undoubtedly I had put a lot of effort into becoming a P.T. but

others had been a tremendous help and support.

Was I going to let them down in the process of following my heart?

I recently heard author Sue Monk Kidd  explain her decision to no longer

be a nurse. She knew nursing was one of the noblest of professions

and she had chosen it because it was traditional and safe.

She recalls that she was a pretty good nurse, she cared,

did her best but she never felt as if it were her true

place of belonging.

She felt homesick for home.

When she began to write, it was a homecoming.

She believes it takes courage to find out what lies

at the bottom of our hearts.

I could have expressed the same sentiments.

I was a pretty good physical therapist.

I worked hard, I cared deeply about my patients but I

never felt exhilaration in the way I did holding a pen.

I did not work outside the home in any capacity until Caleb was 8 years old.

I decided to give physical therapy another try.

Perhaps after this long absence, the old feelings wouldn’t resurface.

My first day of holding a list of patients to treat, I felt nervous and rusty.

As I was working with my second patient, her two sons anxiously hovered

as I positioned a walker before her wheelchair.

She had emphatically told me she was not going to walk today.

Perhaps this is why I loved working with children, it doesn’t

occur to them to answer no to your requests.

I gently told this sweet lady, I was there to help and

all she needed to do was make an attempt.

She amazed herself and her sons by raising to stand and taking

some slow shuffled steps.

I placed just the right amount of contact on her back to keep her

moving forward, out of the corner of my eye,

I saw one of the sons writing something and putting a piece of

paper on my clipboard.

At the end of the session, I gave my final instructions and issued

a good-bye to this precious family.

As I walked back to the office to tackle the computer

charting system, I glanced down at my clipboard and

saw this note:



I set my clipboard down and I touched the words written by one of the

equally concerned sons.

I had extended simple kindness and expertise and considered it the natural

course of my work day.

To this dear son, it was everything.

I worked another 6 months and it became apparent

a shift in my heart had not occurred as well as aspects

of the practice had flown past me in my absence.

I also needed physical therapy myself for a neck injury.

At this juncture, I don’t know if I will work again in this field.

On the first day back in the trenches, what others

saw in me, despite feeling awkward and out of

practice was Christ in me, the hope of glory.

This was the visible reality of what others had

always seen leaning against each hospital bedside and kneeling

before wheelchairs.

There is no other way I can describe how

God worked through me repeatedly in spite of my weakness.

Two letters following my name allowed me to present an offering

to each patient on the hallowed ground of need.

Physical therapy had been a vehicle for His glory.

Writing was just a different make and model purchased

by the same God.


To be continued…

The last post (I promise) tomorrow.
This post is from a series called A Work of Heart History.
Feel free to read the other posts here, here and here.