things that make me happy

things that make me happy

– freshly roasted coffee from small-batch roasters
– the Salty Dog from B. T. McElrath
– surprises in the mail from those near and dear to me (reference said Salty Dog and fab coffee mug)

That ‘Coffee Hound’ part? True story.


words make me happy

Time with a good book is one of my favorite things. Here’s what I’ve read the past few months:

Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self & Society by Jay Bakker and Martin Edlund
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge
Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart by Becca Stevens and The Women of Magdalene
The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele
House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer’s Journey Home by Mark Richard
Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community by Enuma Okoro
The Beauty of Different by Karen Walrond
Making Sense of Scripture: Big Questions About the Book of Faith by David J. Lose
Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron
It’s Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism, and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian by Samir Selmanovic
Discover What You’re Best At by Linda Gale
Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart by Shutter Sisters
I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
Juxtapoz Photography by Diana Weber
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I’m also knee-deep in these right now:
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Long Goodbye: A memoir by Meghan O’Rourke
The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement by Tony Jones
My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman
The Promise of Despair: The Way of the Cross as the Way of the Church (Living Theology) by Andrew Root
The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner

***photo is of my moleskine journal. the sticker on it is from Sarah Utter‘s work at Check it out.

favorite new tunes

Since we’re a little over halfway thru the year, I thought I would share my favorite albums of 2011 thus far. Meaning, new music I enjoy that was released this year. The top three are my very favorites. Otherwise, they’re in no particular order.

Here goes:

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender

Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

Lucinda Williams – Blessed

Drive-By Truckers – Go Go Boots

The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes & Keys

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would have been my mom’s seventieth birthday. These last few days, I’ve found myself wondering what the last nineteen years would have been like, and who she would be today, had her story here on earth ended differently.  That’s not to say that her legacy doesn’t live on in me, and in my brothers. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, that I don’t miss her fiercely.

Today I wonder:

…would green still be her favorite color?

…would she still have the ever-present glass of iced tea within arm’s reach?

…could she ever get enough of the three little bitty Cliffords?

…would theological differences be a hard line in the sand?

…would she still be sneaking into construction-in-progress houses on her evening walks, trying to imagine what the finished product would look like?

…what would be the winner in her Garden & Gun Ultimate Southern Food Bracket?

Yes, there are stories I never heard, and stories that I’ll never know the true endings to that I wonder about. But mostly I wonder about the un-lived mundane details that strung together make a life.

In Tennessee, the daffodils are blooming now. By this time, my mom would have made her way out to the country, to what we called ‘one of the old home places’ – a former family property with only the remains of a crumbly foundation, maybe only a few bricks left – to cut some daffodils (or buttercups as we called them) that still bloomed there. One of the ways she always welcomed spring.  Think I’ll track down some grocery store daffodils today.

Happy birthday, Mom.

The Ultimate Southern Food

So, Garden&Gun Magazine recently released the Ultimate Southern Food Bracket on their website. I could tell who my winner would be before I filled out the bracket. Pulled pork BBQ.

Not just any pulled pork BBQ, but Chester County BBQ. Most BBQ nowadays is cooked in an electric smoker. But you can’t beat real BBQ that was cooked whole hog over an open hickory pit.

In 1992 I was living in Birmingham and I took some friends home with me to Tennessee for the weekend. After going to my favorite hamburger joint in the world, my dad decided that everyone needed to see how real BBQ came into being. So, we hauled everyone to Jack’s Creek to check out a BBQ operation. He asked if we could go out back so he could show my friends how BBQ was made. We filed out the screen door to watch the guy in the pit pulling BBQ off the hog and putting it into those little red and white checkered trays. This seemed totally natural to me. No health code, no OSHA regulations, just down-home BBQ. My dad was so proud of this, and bought some for us to take home. Apparently the portly dude in the white undershirt with sweat dripping off of his nose back onto the hog was too much for my friends, and they never tasted it. Me, on the other hand? I would almost get in my car now and drive across the country for a pound of that sweat-infested slow cooked pulled pork. Pulled from around the ribs, of course.

photo of the day – sept 4

The two formerly known as the Little People. I’ve known these two since birth. So fun to get to take them to dinner and to see Despicable Me tonight. 

my life’s really fun

This was one of my favorite moments of Thanksgiving:

4 year-old niece and I are out on our one-on-one outing, which is becoming a tradition when I visit. We’re headed to a coffee shop and bookstore. I see a cupcake shop, which is famous for its cupcakes and pull in.
Me: Here’s a cupcake shop! Do you want to go in?
4 year-old: Can we get a cupcake?
Me: Yes.
4 year-old: Then, yes.

We’re sitting at the bar, enjoying our cupcakes when she says, “My life’s really fun.”
I want THAT kind of joy.