“With every word, I pulled myself a little bit further out of the abyss. With every sentence, my focus sharpened. With every story I began to form myself from the inside out.” Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

Content. I didn’t realize I would use this word to describe myself until I scribbled it into my journal on my birthday. Alone in a screened gazebo, I listen to distant sounds of boats and waves churning on the lake, empty lines in a journal balancing on my lap, pen tapping against bare skin. A breeze quickly shifts to gusts of heavy wind, blowing hair up and covering my eyes.

Waiting. My husband and son woke up before the house was humming to tow the boat across the lake. On the journey to Canada we all breathe a little shallow until the boat motor roars and we watch it float out of the cradle. Two days and we haven’t been able to exhale deeply yet. We’re anticipating playing hard but not able to fully rest until we know the outcome.

Aren’t we all waiting for something?

For the mailman to show up, a promotion to be granted, the release of a dream, a response to a proposal. I’m waiting to see how my daughter’s future evolves, if my son’s test results are good enough, how my first book will be received by the world, for lake water to warm up, for a boat to carry us safely into the deep.

Expectant. The clank of spoon on glass bowl causes my gaze to shift from a boy on a paddle board to the house. Vertical blinds shimmy and bump into each other over the sliding glass door. Beyond them, my daughter is making crust for a blueberry pie next to an abandoned chess game spread out on the table.

Nothing seems fully real or understandable until I pen words on paper and transcribe what I’m experiencing. “Language became my navigational tool.”

On vacation I took along some good reads. Six books, some of them new and some I re-read, inspired thoughts I fastidiously penned. Today, I’m sharing quotes from the ones I love.

And I’m giving away two copies of Soul Bare, a collection of stories about redemption written by 31 authors and edited by Cara Sexton. I’m one of them! Redemption Looks Beautiful on You, it’s been the tagline for email subscribers for years and the title of my contribution for Soul Bare. Read this review and check out my vacation reads.


Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw – “Faith informs art, and art enhances faith. They both, for each other, are breath for the bones.”

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr – “We are created with an inner restlessness and call that urges us on to the risks and promises of a second half to our life. There is a God-size hole in all of us, waiting to be filled. God creates the very dissatisfaction that only grace and finally divine love can satisfy.”

The Joy of Poetry by Megan Willome – “Inner quiet is available at the end of a fly line in a cool river. It can also hide in a poem.”

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh – “The truth is that your listening style reveals your lifestyle. If you life is saturated with busyness, hurry and distraction, then your listening will be scattered and rushed.”

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer – “We listen for guidance everywhere except from within.”

Walking on Water by Madenline L’Engle – “The novel we sit down to write and the one we end up writing may be very different, just as the Jesus we grasp and the Jesus who grasps us may also differ.”

What book do you love? What book makes you think? What book inspires you? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win Soul Bare. I’m selecting two winners!

Giveaway is now closed. The winners are Jolene Underwood and Nancy Ruegg. Congratulations!