What I’m Into – February 2015

whatimintofeb2015I’m glad to be reminded of the shortness of this month, because I blinked, and it was over!  I drove to Kansas to spend a quick few days with my Aunt and friends and enjoyed a delightful afternoon at the best bookstore in the world. {pictured above.}  I experienced my first ‘thunder sleet storm’ {a term that I think can only be fully embraced in Texas} and my husband and I hosted a cooking club night at the end of the month.  And as usual, I also read some wonderful books and found some favorite things.

 {Affiliate links in this post, if used, support this blog.  Thank you kindly!}



What I Read

On Being A Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Kroeker & Craig

I discovered this book in one of my favorite ways: by meeting the authors first!  I attended a retreat at The Laity Lodge last November, where I had wonderful and profound conversations with both authors of this book, Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig.  They are amazing women who have carved out their own writing careers, respectively, and   joined forces to write this informative read on the writing process.  I like that the chapters alternate between their voices and stories, and each chapter has fantastic reflection questions for both journaling and discussion.  This is a slim paperback packed with info for everyone from the newbie writer {like me} to the seasoned author – a must read!

Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler

Confessional and story time with this book: I started this book last year when it first came out, and raced through the first 2/3rd of the book.  I loved Fulwiler’s narrative, and was sucked in to her story of converting from atheism to Christianity.

As I was drawing near the end of the book, I suffered what can only be known as my ADD-book syndrome: there were a handful of new releases I’d been looking forward to reading, and I set this book down for some other reads.

Cut to this past month: I found out I had a blood clotting disorder, and was quite nervous about it, as I am experiencing infertility and moving toward going through IVF.  I decided on a whim to pick up this memoir and turned to the chapter where I left off.

I kid you not, the first words of the chapter had Jennifer discussing the exact same blood disorder I had just been diagnosed with, in a story about a high risk pregnancy she went through.  I almost cried at the Godscidence/serendipity.  Hearing her story helped me work through my own experience.  I really felt I was supposed to read those pages at that exact time.

I enjoyed the whole of this book for sure, but was especially grateful for the personal stories Jennifer told – they inspired me and encouraged me more than she could know.

Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Beth Moore

Beth Moore is, hands down, one of my favorite women’s Bible study teachers.  Since I first did her study Breaking Free, years ago, when my Mother was battling breast cancer, her words have been part of the healing salve on my heart, along with her teaching on various books of the Bible.  Children of the Day is her latest full-length Bible study and was released last year.  I have been steadily working through it since last May.  While it wasn’t one of my absolute favorite studies of hers (those would be Breaking Free, Jesus: My One & Only & James), it is still first rate.  Like her previous study James, she has a section at the back of the study to handwrite the entirety of the two books, which I loved doing.   Her teaching videos are also amazing, and one of the reasons I do her studies–I think you miss a big part of the message without them.  Highly recommended.

Dancing On the Head Of A Pen by Robert Benson

Robert Benson is one of the only authors I can actually remember writing a physical letter to. (Not an email, a real live pen and paper letter.  You know, back in the dark ages before Twitter.)   Benson had made the statement in his book that he would write back someone who wrote him, so I was confident I would receive a response.

Well, you know how the story ends.  I never heard back, and felt sad and jaded.  Perhaps the letter never received his mailbox or his hands, I’ll never know.  Not surprisingly, at the back of Benson’s new book, he makes the same promise–that if you write him, he’ll do his best to write you back.  Mr. Benson, consider this a short attempt at a virtual letter, if you will. {If you actually do read this, Mr. Benson, I would love to write you with actual paper and pen!}

As far as writing books go, I loved this book.  I’m also a big fan of Benson’s personal writing style, whatever he writes.    I like that whether he’s writing about spirituality, personal experience, or writing {as he does here}, he has an easy, conversational style that makes me feel like we’re chatting over coffee, and could be instant colleagues.  One of my favorite parts of the book was him sharing the details of his book writing process, from start to finish.  This is a slim book, and a quick and pleasant read – don’t miss it!

What I’m Reading

Scary Close by Donald Miller, The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, Many Alarm Clocks by Sy Safransky, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, First Impressions by Charlie Lovett, Footnotes by Tommy Tune and  The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle.


Lenten studies I’m going through this year:

{Unfortunately, the print versions of both of these studies are sold out.  You can download a pdf copy of the Naptime Diaries ‘Follow’ study here.}

Follow – Naptime Diaries Lent Study 2015

Near The Cross – She Reads Truth Lent Study 2015

{also pictured above is my current favorite translation of Scripture, The Voice BIble.}


Blogisphere Beauts

Emily Freeman:  How I Keep Track of What I’m Learning 

Jen Hatmaker: On Becoming A Writer  

Gilmore Girls Greatness!


Though this is midway down the blog post page, it probably should’ve been first, because if I’m honest, I was obsessed with this show this month!  All I can say is HOW IN THE WORLD did I miss this show the first time around?  Thanks to hearing other friends and bloggers speak of their love of binge-watching the Gilly’s {yep, its my affectionate nickname for people that don’t exist in real life} on Netflix, I started watching the first show on a whim, and couldn’t stop.  Yes, I know its a problem, and no – I’m not dealing with it.

I’m at the end of season 3 right now, and love, love, LOVE the show.  I even  ordered an older/slightly vintage CD compilation of songs used in show, {in the spirit of Lane and her CD-hoarding ways–regular watchers, you know what that reference means!} Our Little Corner of the World: The Music from The Gilmore Girls.   I highly recommend it.

I’m a fan of the witty dialogue, the charming setting that is the fictious town of Stars Hollow, Conneticut, the quirky town characters, and the infamous Friday night dinners at the mansion with Lorelai’s parents, played by the fantastic actors Kelly Bishop and the late Edward Herrman.

I enjoy this show so much, I’m actually writing a post about it.  If you’re a fellow Gilly fan, you won’t want to miss it!

More Happenings & Favorites







My {Current} Favorite Young Living Oil:


Peace & Calming is my first favorite Young Living Essential oil. Its a delicious-smelling blend of oils – Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli & Blue Tansy.  Everytime I inhale it, I smile and breathe a little bit deeper.

  My favorite uses include wearing it daily as a perfume (definitely cheaper than Dolce & Gabbana!} and diffusing it on my nightstand every night as I go to sleep.

{If you’re interested in ordering Young Living Essential oils, send me an email, or sign up for a starter kit here.}


What were you into this month?

{This linkup of Leigh’s is my favorite.  But you probably knew that.}

What I Was Into – January 2015 & *What I’ve Learned – February 2015


HEADS UP FRIENDS: This is an overdue post, and its pretty long!  However, its chalk full of fun and interesting links and info – enjoy!


January 1st has become one of my favorite days of the year.  I love a clean slate, a blank page, a spanse of time in front of me with no mistakes and unlimited possibility.  By association, the month of January looks white and pristinely pretty in my mind.  Its a month I revel in: its not usually insanely hot like many of the months in Texas;  my husband is usually home from work on New Year’s Day, and it just feels…good to have a fresh start.

January was no exception to that thought process for me.  It flew by in a flash, with a delightful 3 week contract job of a most lovely musical in concert at a local theatre (Annie Get Your Gun), wonderful books to read, movie dates with my man, and general everyday life wonderfulness.

THERE WAS ALSO STING!... {Insert giddy school girl laugh here.  See more later in this post.}

**{Because I also lurve Emily Freeman’s What I’ve Learned linkups, I’m sharing a tidbit I learned in every section of this post, and joining her linkup here.}**

**Any affiliate links in this post, if used, support this blog – thanks!** 

Blogisphere Beauts

**WIL {What I Learned}What can I say, I’m a creator of habit when it comes to my favorite posts and podcasts.  I’m learning that if Tsh posts a podcast, I’m gonna barrel through the whole thing, regardless of the subject.  The particular one down below is with one of my favorite writers on the internet. {And NOT because this post is a part of her linkup!}   I’m also apparently suckered in with a witty or funny blog post title.

The Art of Simple Podcast: Coffee In My Soul {with Emily Freeman}

The Art of Simple podcast is my favorite.  Bar none.  I’m working on putting together my own podcast, and I will unashamedly say here that this particular podcast is one of the biggest inspirations for my own.  In this episode, Tsh is talking to one of my favorite bloggers and writers.  Their conversations always feel like kindred spirit ones.


Tsh Oxenreider: The State of the Blog Address 2015 

 If my gut reaction is right, I see a trend with the blogsophere moving back to the good old days. I’m hearing it everywhere, how bloggers miss the simplicity of pure blogging from the 2000s…

As for me, I’m all over old-fashioned blogging.


Shauna Niequist: Stocking the Pond

I’m talking about taking responsibility for stocking the pond of your own mind and heart, so that when it’s time to tell a story, it’s rich with details and life and texture, and so that when you’re staring at a blank page, sure that you have nothing to say, all you have to do is walk out to the pond you’ve been stocking every day: fish upon fish upon fish.

The first step in writing happens way before the typing: it’s the stocking of the pond. Take notes on your phone, snap pictures, scribble on the back of receipts–notice everything. The first part of writing is noticing.


Playbill:   Super Bowl Prep!  Football Terms Explained For Theatre People The Expert Guide to Vocal Health: Broadway Professionals Share Their Secrets   

Oh.my.Gersh.  Playbill’s Super Bowl post was one of the BEST ever – fusing Broadway (yay!) and sports (ehh) together was perfection.  {Sidenote: I knew my husband was really in love with me when I asked him what a ‘down’ was, and he answered back lovingly without batting an eye.}

If you’re like me and just CANT understand the football hullabaloo, this article that defines various football terms is your answer.

Super Bowl XLIX is right around the corner, and you’ve been invited to a party, but you’re facing a dilemma: You’re only educated in theatre! In our below list, Playbill.com explains football terms for theatre people.

The New England Patriots: The Patriots make their eighth appearance at the Super Bowl (tying for the most Super Bowl visits of any team in the NFL) and have won three titles. They’re essentially the Audra McDonald of the Super Bowl.

Punt: In football, a punt is when a player is kicking the ball to the other team — it’s a switchover. In theatre, it’s like when we’re at a put-in. The stage manager is kickin’ it to us, and we’re just trying to catch up with the rest of the gang because… “OMG. I HAVE A SHOW TONIGHT!”

Melanie Dale: Oils Can Save Us From the Zombie Apocalypse     

I clicked on this post merely because of its title.  Melanie’s witty and funny, and even though I too have jumped on the oil bandwagon {see the end of this post}, I loved that she can make fun of the current craze, while still enjoying the benefits of a practice that’s been around thousands of years longer than the homeschooling soccer Moms who sing its praises.

Remember the internet before people discovered essential oils?  Me neither.  I like to pretend that I’m immune to all these excited friends talking about how oils cured their abscessed bellybutton warts – with pictures – but I can only take so much before my natural cynicism crumbles for the promise of a flu-less existence.  Oils can save us from paper cuts, bad trips to the hair stylist, excessive armpit hair, and the entire spectrum of herpes.  Sign me up…

One thing I’ve realized with my foray into this oily world is that oils are for grownups, and we don’t have any of those around here.  We cannot be cool about these little elixirs…


*WIL: At the start of a New Year, I almost am paralyzed by what to read first.  I start by reading a HUGE pile of books, and the one that immediately grabs my attention with its writing style is the one I don’t put down or abandon  wins.My first read this year was fantastic, and unlike any other memoir I’ve read before.

What I Read


My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This book takes us back to New York City in the 1990’s, when Rakoff was a new college graduate in the big city, and working for a large literary agency still stuck in its fancy-schmancy bookish past.  She comes to realize her boss is none other than J.D. Salinger’s agent.

Sometimes I was annoyed by her stand-by-her-man ways with her less than loving boyfriend, but then I thought back to all of the time I spent in bad relationships long ago.  I quickly changed my tune to  nothing but appreciation for her honest writing.  This book sucked me in immediately, and I couldn’t put it down.  If you’re a writer, love a good memoir or just want to revisit NYC in the 90’s, this read’s for you.

Kiss the Wave: A Memoir On the Attributes of God by Tara Leigh Cobble

I’ve read every one of indie musician Tara Leigh’s memoirs.  I was a Kickstarter donor for her latest book, and though it was a tad disappointing that her book was delivered over a year after the promised date, I once again remembered I’ve yet to write a book of my own, and checked my judgment at the door.

I don’t quite agree with every conclusion Tara comes to in her own spiritual life, but I really respect her transparency and honesty.  Each chapter “extols the aspect of God’s character that was revealed” to her through specific circumstances.   I read this one quickly, and gained wisdom from her story–a lovely read.

The Accident by Chris Pavone

I learned of this book from Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy, and was intrigued by the premise.  A mysterious and anonymous manuscript ends up in the hands of an agent with a past, and that’s about all I want to give away.  I liked how each chapter was usually narrated by a different character that was somehow interlinked into the story.  The end got a bit lengthy for me, with a rather abrupt ending, but I still thought it was a great read!

What I’m Reading

Dancing On the Head of A Pen: The Practice of A Writing Life by Robert Benson,  The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, Scary Close by Donald Miller,  and Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler.

 Annie Get Your Gun in concert


*WIL:  There are musical projects that try and test you, and musical projects that are just 3 weeks of plum fun!  Being a part of Annie Get Your Gun in concert was most certainly the latter!  I loved being a part of an ensemble, and took more pleasure in a tiny character role comprised of 3 lines than I have with some larger roles.  Everytime I work at Lyric Stage, I am honored,  overjoyed, learn more about my performing craft and enjoy the company of wonderful people.  For a musical theatre creative, it  just doesn’t get better than that!


Inspired Snippets On My Blog

*WIL: I’m unfortunately still a no-good-verrrrry-slow blogger these days, but hey, I’m working on it.  One of the ways I’m doing so is taking an online writing course designed to help hone your distinct writing voice.  One of my first assignments was to write a poem, which terrified me.  I learned this month that sometimes poetry writing can flow easily and be extremely therapeutic.  Posting it on my blog was a vulnerable step for me: find that post here.

I also shared a couple of booklist posts: What I Read in 2014 & The 2015 Releases I Can’t Wait To Read.

Movie & Telly Watching

*WIL: Confessional moment: I didn’t really learn this at this particular moment, but I’ve been reminded of a sad and dismal fact: I might be addicted to my DVR.  That is all. 

Many of my favorite T.V. shows came back this month: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder, for starters.  My hubby and I also love to watch The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family & Blackish.  My Sunday evenings are now happily filled with dinner and Downton Abbey – and I’ve even got my hubby watching this season!   I’m also watching Top Chef and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this on the internet) The Millionaire Matchmaker. And let’s not even go into the binge-watching I’ll be experiencing in February on Netflix.

Yes, I know I have a problem. {All hail the DVR.}

Things I Loved

Sting! Sting! Sting in Concert!


The photo collage above is only a smattering of the photos I took with my husband’s phone of Sting and the concert we went to in January.  I thought it was an early Valentine’s present, but my darling man wouldn’t hear of it, and said if we couldn’t get to NYC to see Sting in his Broadway musical, it was the next best thing.

His show, The Last Ship received good reviews, but had dwindling ticket sales, and even though profits surged when he stepped into the show himself, it wasn’t enough for the show to stay open long term.  It closed the weekend I performed in Annie Get Your Gun, so I had to settle for the happy thought that Sting and I were treading the boards (ok, he was on Broadway, I was not) at the same time.

For one Sunday night in January, they closed the show of The Last Ship so Sting could come give a concert sponsored by AT&T as part of the college football playoffs here in Texas.    We had fantastic seats for less than $30.  I thought perhaps he would be exhausted from doing an eight show week on Broadway, but I was blown away by how fantastic he sounded! My crazed fandom aside, from a vocal standpoint, I’ve never heard him sound better!

I sang along with every lyric, danced in the aisles and wore a slap happy grin like a school girl.  My husband enjoyed it too and said he loved how goofily happy I was for those two hours.

Sting inspires me to be a better artist every time I listen to his music or see him sing live.  A January highlight for sure.


Stationary Products Galore {otherwise known as the Target Dollar Spot}


*WIL: If any cute stationary product is priced at $1, I’m gonna get it.

Ok, so my Whitney English Day Designer shown above is slightly  way more than one dollar, and one of my favorite pens, the stainless steel fine point Sharpie is under $5, the cute pen pouch and the stickers were both found at the Target Dollar Spot–no doubt when I was stopping in for a quick grocery run.  I know I sound like a ridiculous suburbanite voicing my love for the DollarSpot, but I think you could also trace it back to my love of stationary products I first had as a child.

Getting on the Young Living Bandwagon


*WIL: Yes, despite my love for snarky blog posts about the {current} essential oil craze, I have been doing my own research and trying out essential oils for myself.  Using a handful of oils in December and early January helped me decide to take the plunge, and order a starter kit from Young Living.

One of the actresses I worked with in  Annie Get Your Gun uses Young Living oils, and gave me a lot of helping information on using them.  I love diffusing Lavendar, Lemon & Peppermint when my allergies are bothering me.  I’ve also been using oils in various headache and muscle rubs for years, so this feels like a natural progression.  I’m working on filming some YouTube videos about my YL journey – I’ll share the links to those when I post them soon!

What were YOU into & what did you learn this month? 

Linking with Leigh this month, as per usual.

Soul Keeping – Words & Music For Soul Care



Given the fact that my favorite genre of book is the spiritual memoir, I can safely say that I am no stranger to reading books about the soul.  I still remember picking up books like Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul when I was barely old enough to understand its depths.

While I’ve read books that focus on aspects of soul care, until I read this book I don’t think I’ve ever read words that so accurately and simply define what a soul is in ways I can understand and actually comprehend.  The soul is such an intangible part of us, and yet it is everything.  Its breath and life, and the part of ourselves that will endure when our bodies are long gone.


John Ortberg’s latest book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You is a book to move through slowly, lest you miss all the wisdom packed in its pages.  This is a book best served with a side of contemplation–one that requires swigging and sloshing around its wise passages like fine wine.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the glimpses Ortberg gives us into his lifelong friendship with Dallas Willard.  The book is dedicated to Willard, with various quotes, stories and interactions with him on every aspect of the soul.   One of my favorite quotes from Willard imparts profound truth:

 “The most important thing in your life,” Dallas said, “is not what you do; it’s who you become.  That’s what you will take into eternity.  You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”

The book is broken down into three sections: what the soul is, what the soul needs, and the soul restored.  At times he does get a tiny bit long winded, but usually brings the reader’s attention back with a story or quote from Willard.   One of my favorite things about Ortberg’s writing is his ability to converse about complicated topics, while always remaining conversational and relatable.   Ortberg takes his deft hand and breaks down heady thoughts; distilling the information into easy to understand morsels.  This was one of my favorites:

 The will is a form of energy.  You can drive and stretch and push the will.  The mind has an endless ability to think and feel.  You can direct your attention.  You can focus and study.  The body is your little power pack.  You can place demands on your body.  You can exercise it, strengthen it, hone it, and force it to run for miles.

But it is the nature of the soul to need.

Ortberg speaks my artistic language when he reminds us of an important fact about the soul.  “We can’t seem to talk about beauty or art without talking about the soul–particularly music.”   I was inspired by this book to create a Soulkeeping Playlist. {To listen, click on the Spotify link below.}

If you’re looking for a book to speak beyond the surface of life, and enrich your soul and spirit, look no further than Soul Keeping.  Open its pages, grab a cup of coffee or hot tea, {and perhaps take a listen to my SoulKeeping playlist while you read?} and get ready for the nurturing of your mind, spirit and soul.

Ortberg reminds us that “the best place to start doing life with God is in the small moments.” Any time spent in these pages will be well worth it to your own spirit and soul.

{I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.}

Writing Lessons & Where I’m From


One of the things I’m enjoying in the New Year is taking my first writing e-course.  I chose this particular one because it focuses on an area I’m grappling with in my writing  – Finding Your Writing Voice.

Ally Vesterfelt {author of the book Packing Light} is guiding a small band of writing novices like me through exercises to help us not only hone our own unique voice, but figure out our message as writers.  {More information about her e-courses opening this spring can be found here.}

Our first writing assignment was a poem.  The thought of writing poetry practically sent me into a case of hives, but once I started writing, it unexpectedly and rapidly spewed onto the page.  This was my first time actually fleshing out a writing exercise like this, though I’ve seen variations of it before.

Mustering up my courage to share it in this online space isn’t easy for me, but doing so makes me feel like I’m finally starting to get to the heart of why I write.


 I’m from the cherry wood upright piano I learned to play on.

I’m from the tiny kitchen with the window above the sink and the closet in my room where I made a pretend childhood library from my young adult paperbacks.

I’m from my mother’s soft hands, and the way she took care of me when I was sick.  From “Does this mean I HAVE to take you to rehearsal?!” and “Love You, Sissy!” to her childlike rebellion.

I’m from Star Trek re-runs and Herbie Hancock and The Phantom of the Opera records.

I’m from the scent of her freshly washed hair and perfume, when I hugged her goodbye in the dark of the morning before she left for work at the hospital.

I’m from the bedroom at the end of the short hall with the light blue curtains and the twin bed.  I’m from Gammon Elementary across the street and the three-legged race at the National Awana Olympics.

 I’m from the First Bible Baptist Church and middle school choir anthems The Walrus & the Carpenter and The Prayer of St. Francis.

 I’m from the way she cursed and her handwritten lists.   From her astrology knowledge she espoused, then said she didn’t believe.  I’m from her heart and her excellent advice when wearing her nurses hat.

I’m from dinner in the living room while watching T.V. and Christmas Eve Gumbo and new traditions with my husband’s family.

 I’m from birthday cake in a metal pan and ‘Happy Birthday Sarah’ in thick icing letters.

I’m from love and fear and basement doors slamming and cassette tapes playing and simple means.

I’m from loving step-parents and the reserves of strength I never knew she had.  From a distant Father and “You’re My Favorite Granddaughter!”

I’m from divine saving grace of a Godmother and spiritual families.

I’m from 5 year old salvation at the church down the street, and the house on Dellrose.

I’m from more love than I’ll ever remember.


Sacro Speco {Sacred Space} – Sunday


Today’s Sacro Speco Soundtrack: Sunday by Billy Porter & the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir

Its a cloudy, cold and dreary Saturday in Texas.

The perfect day to bring back to the blog a practice I started two years ago.



I like to share pictures, Scriptures and/or quotes that lead to rest, reflection, meditation and reverent quiet. {I am occasionally adding music to the mix as well}.

I call this practice Sacro Speco, which is Latin for ‘Sacred Space’. 


I am aspiring to return to the pursuit of Sacro Speco in my own life this year and look forward to building community here.


In the past I have done linkups so other bloggers can share their own Sacro Speco inspiration.  Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d like me to start doing again.

Grace, Peace & Rest to you friends.