For Your Weekend

for your weekend april

Sometimes we get to see, know, and hear right away. The answers make sense, it all works out, and our hearts feel light as we celebrate over dinner.

Other times, though, we walk around with arms stretched out in front, feeling our way through the darkness. We have no answers, nothing works out, and our hearts are heavy with the burden of sorrow.

If the unknowing is bending your waiting into questions or the quiet into fear, may Christ be near to your broken heart today. May he show himself in a way you’ve not yet seen and offer comfort in a way you may not have noticed this time last week.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few things that might make it better:

The Quiet Revolution – This is a website co-founded by Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (my personal favorite tagline ever written). The site hasn’t officially launched yet, but they have an active Facebook page and I dig what they’re doing.

The Gray Havens – Lately I can’t get enough of these two. I keep linking to Far Kingdom (one of my favorite tunes on their album) but y’all. They are giving away two of their albums for free until midnight Sunday. They said to share the link so I’m sharing the link. Download them now. You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

Songs in the Night – Speaking of music I’m into, this seven song album is stunning, written by local artist and musician Michael Van Patter. He is our worship pastor and friend at our church here in Greensboro. Writing these songs while his young son went through cancer treatment, Michael says this about them: “This is an album borne of long nights, impossible questions, fear, waiting, and hope. These are songs for the brokenhearted.”

Choosing a Book Rhythm That’s Right for You

Well, then. I think one thing we’ve established is that Chatting at the Sky readers really like to talk about books. I loved hearing your advice about which book I should read from my 10 best books I’ve never read list.

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Several of you mentioned how you choose what to read next depends on your mood, your season of life, and state of mind. I couldn’t agree more.

Meema even mentioned she can’t have a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. “I can’t mix them,” she says, “like a kid who won’t allow her food to touch on her plate.” So interesting!

I thought it would be fun to tell you how I decide when to read which books and then ask how you do it in the comments.

Personally, I don’t mind if my books touch (that still kills me, Meema!) and I actually prefer having several books going at once. Instead, what book I pick up depends on the time of day.

morning reads

1. Morning – Reflective or Theological

Sometimes I’ll get up in the 5s before the kiddos and I’ll have lots of time to read. Other times my morning reading only happens once they head off to school. Whether I have five minutes or an hour, I always choose something reflective in the morning, usually devotional, theological, or memoir. (The Bible, Ann Patchett, Eugene Peterson, John O’Donohue, Hannah Whitall Smith).

2. Daytime – Creative or Business

My work hours are from around 8:30 in the morning until 2:30 when the kids get home. Sometimes I will work until 4 or 5 if I have a particular project, but usually those 6 hours in the middle of the day are for writing, email, conference calls, and anything else work-related. Those are also the hours where I’ll throw in some laundry, run an errand or two, workout, and maybe make my bed.

All that to say, I don’t tend to read in the middle of the day, but every now and then I’ll find a pocket of time (maybe while I eat lunch or waiting at the DMV, for example). The type of book I’ll pick up during a weekday is one having to do with writing, marketing, or creativity (Seth Godin, Natalie Goldberg, Steven Pressfield).

3. Evenings, Weekends, and Airplanes – Fiction and Funny Memoir

I have to save fiction and funny memoir for evenings, weekends, or traveling for the simple reason that I suffer from story addiction.

This means my family is neglected and ignored when I get into a book. For the sake of the safety of my children and the well-being of my family life, I need to save the imaginary worlds or hilarious words of others for evenings after dinner (Everyone is fed! You’re all going to be okay without me!), before I go to bed (They’re sleeping!) or when I travel (What? Flying through the air at 500 mph? Who cares! I’m engrossed in a novel!) See how that works? (Kate Morton, Sarah Addison Allen, Tina Fey).

Now. Here’s what happened after I read your comments:

That very night I read the first chapter of Anne of Green Gables outloud with one of my daughters (Notice: Fiction in the evening). We’ve both seen the movie so know what’s coming, but it’s delightful to read together.

circle of quiet

The next morning, I settled in with A Circle of Quiet by Madeliene L’Engle (Notice: Reflective memoir in the morning) as it’s one I’ve been especially wanting to read for a while and it’s also one several of you mentioned on Instagram, saying it changed your life.

Yes, please.

(Speaking of Yes Please, I read Amy Poehler’s memoir a few months ago – I saved that one for evenings and weekends. Notice: Funny memoir).

Anyway, when I sat down to read A Circle of Quiet, I opened it to the first page and this is what was there to greet me:

a circle of quiet

Don’t you love used books! I don’t know if Elaine listened to Mary’s advice and waited to read until things settled down, but I’m learning to stop waiting until life slows down to do things. A reading rhythm helps with that.

While some things in life I can’t control, there are many things I can. My life tends to move at the pace I allow, and let me tell you with my new book releasing in 17 weeks, the pace is quickening, the lists are growing, and the deadlines are landing in my inbox like bang snaps on concrete.

For those of us who tend to think rest, fulfillment, and clarity live just around the corner, we would do well to learn now that Surprise! Life doesn’t actually have corners.

Instead, we create our own stops, our own spaces, our own circles of quiet. One way to do that is to develop a reading rhythm that works for you.

“Often I need to get away completely, if only for a few minutes. My special place is a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet from which there is no visible sign of human beings.”

Madeleine L’Engle

Do you have a book-reading rhythm you follow? Tell us in the comments! If you’d like to hear about the books I’m currently reading, I share that list every month in my newsletter. You can receive that monthly letter by signing up here.

The Top 10 Best Books I’ve Never Read

Anne of Green Gables

Back in January, I decided to join Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) in her first ever reading challenge. The objective is simple: read 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. The first category was "a book you've been meaning to read" so I started to make my list of candidates in my bullet journal. After listing fourteen, I made myself stop. I hadn't even gotten to "a book from your childhood" or "a book your mom loves" or "a book you should have read in high school." As I filled … [Continue reading]

For Your Weekend

ducklings at the nester's house

After days of clouds and rain, it can begin to feel like you can't quite remember the feel of the sun warm on your back, the lightheartedness a blue sky can bring, or how hope shows up on warm spring breezes. Sometimes faith feels like days of clouds, like you can't quite remember what it feels like to believe without worry or doubt, like maybe you're a hypocrite because you say you believe God but you still feel scared on the inside. It helps to remember that hypocrisy does not mean … [Continue reading]

The Kind of Surprise We All Want

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Every time I am in an airplane during takeoff I am one part convinced the plane is going to crash and the other part stunned that my childhood dream of flying has come true. It's the same event that causes both thoughts - fuzzy terror and breathtaking awe. Sometimes I feel them at the same time. When our plane took off right at sunrise, lifting us up right along with the morning, I snapped this shot over Portland. And then we made a turn, and glory showed up outside the window. You know … [Continue reading]

How to Stay Calm in the Midst of Big Projects

celebrate progress

“Instead of trying to accomplish it all — and all at once — and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential.” Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less If you've ever been guilty of biting off more than you can chew or of expecting too much too soon, then perhaps you will resonate with Greg McKewon's … [Continue reading]

3 Questions to Help Determine Success

redefine success

The other day someone asked me a question that, at first glance, seemed like it should have been easy to answer. But when I couldn't quickly respond, I realized the answer is waiting beneath some layers within me that will take some time to uncover. Here's the question: How do you define success? It was asked in the context of my work (writing and releasing books, in particular) but as I've thought about how to answer it, I've considered many aspects of my life. I considered all the … [Continue reading]

For Your Weekend

waiting

Today is the waiting day. We wait like schoolchildren for the final bell. We wait with tapping foot, huffing breath, rolling eyes. We wait like a mother for the gushing of birth water. We wait like branches holding pink petaled secrets. We wait with tears of frustration or eyes filled with anger. We wait with tears of joy or eyes wide with wonder. In the waiting rooms of life, our hope is mixed, our longings more so. But still, we wait. Forgive us for our impatience, Lord. We believe, … [Continue reading]

Let’s Share What We Learned in March

what we learned in march 2015

It's the end of another month and time to share what we've learned. If you're new around here, this is a regular practice we engage in together, as we are learning the value of looking back before moving forward. We’re all at different spots on the journey, and these end of the month posts are a way to reflect, share, and celebrate on purpose - the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred and small. If you have a blog and want to share your own list, you can do so at the bottom of the post. Or if you … [Continue reading]

Bread is the New Hustle

dinner making

I invited you to procrastinate together with me on Tuesday and you did that so beautifully! You'll be glad to know I finally got serious about the work and turned in the edits yesterday with a great hoot and holler and a frozen lemonade from Chick-fil-a. And the thing is I don't even like lemon-y things but the photo made it look so lovely and delicious and celebratory. So I bought it and drank half and then voxed Holley Gerth and Kendra because they are both people you want to high five when … [Continue reading]