Outside my window: There’s a sparrow on the post of the clothesline, the sky a pink explosion behind it. In the mornings here in my new house, I am greeted by the sunrise (when I’m up early enough). And after all the reflecting I’ve done on sunsets over the years, because my old kitchen was west-facing, I am delighted to see the others side of the sky at the beginning of the day.

Around the house: My six-year-old has a new habit. When she hears any indication of things going on, she gets up. Today it was at 5:15. She doesn’t stay up; she curls on the couch and goes back to sleep. She doesn’t want to miss Daddy, you see, and she wants him to kiss her goodbye before he leaves for work. So she’s on the front couch, I’m in my office, and everyone else is still (wisely?) in bed.

In my kitchen: The coffee’s made, the window’s open, and the dishes are put away. Did I mention that I have a dishwasher now? For the first time ever in my married life?

In my thoughts: I’m full, this morning, of conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, there are the deadlines this week. Big ones. On the other hand, there’s the first week of Confirmation boot camp that I’m helping to teach.

In my plans: This week and next week, I have 12 hours of Confirmation boot camp. I have writing projects and some parish projects as well, but the beginning of both weeks are consumed with these 25 young people. I haven’t taught religious education in six years, and I’m excited. It’s a reminder to me of why I have that degree in education.

In thanksgiving: For the blessings of the past week, when, despite the impossibility of my to-do list and circumstances beyond my control, I experienced peace of mind and the rather miraculous completion of a few things, along with the humility to ask for help.

In my prayers: To be an instrument of the Holy Spirit during this Confirmation instruction. (Will you pray for us?) A special intention. My family, near and far.

Nose inserted: Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones, a book I heard about from Katharine at 10 Minute Writer a while back. It’s total chick lit, but…I like it. I’m whipping through it and realizing (as I do so often) that fiction feeds me. Especially when it’s a good story!

Recent reads: I can’t wait to share more about the books I’ve finished recently. Here are snippets:

  • A Biblical Walk through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, by Edward Sri – I thought I’d have to endure this book, and I started it because I’m fascinated with the upcoming changes in the Roman missal. Having heard the author interviewed, I had hopes, but nothing prepared me for the passion and beauty of this book. Sri writes with a tenderness about the Mass and reminded me of what I so love about the Eucharist. Behind the facts contained in this book is the deep water of true love for Jesus. Highly recommended.
  • Disorientation: How to Go to College without Losing Your Mind, edited by John Zmirik – Julie brought this to my attention quite a while ago (she does that a lot), and so I signed up for it from not one, but two review programs. Um, oops. Lucky for me, they’re understanding people, these Catholic reviewer program people, and I have a copy to give away at CatholicMom.com with my review there. ANYWAY, I loved it. It was a dose of philosophy for the distracted and is the kind of book I won’t have any problem lending, rereading, and talking about. It summarizes exactly what was “wrong” with my college education, and I plan to gift this to every graduate in the future. Even though it’s Catholic, I’d recommend it for anyone–the truths it points to are universal. Highly recommended.
  • Anna Mei, Escape Artist, by Carol Grund – What a delight to have my old friend Anna Mei back! I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed its predecessor, and I can’t wait until my six-year-old, who has just discovered Junie B. Jones, is old enough for Anna Mei. In this, we’re faced with more of the difficulties of friendship and discerning how to treat people, especially close friends who are hurting and confusing you. In the face of a big misunderstanding, Anna Mei finds herself battling feelings and learning to grow in interpersonal skills. (Can you tell I’m trying not to spoil it?) I enjoyed it, and I’ll bet your intermediate reader will, too! Highly recommended.
  • Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards, by Dr. Ray Guarendi – Dr. Ray is one of the only authors I’ll take parenting advice from, so I was interested to see his new book about marriage. This book was not only peppered with his usual flair of self-effacing humor and insight, but full of practical advice that every single married couple should employ. Whether you’re struggling in your marriage or sitting quite content, Dr. Ray’s small steps will give you something to think about and something else to try. It was designed to be a fast read, but also to be the sort of thing you can pick up and put down without any danger of forgetting or losing your momentum. This isn’t just a book you should read, it’s a book you should share with your family, your parish, and your friends. Highly recommended.
  • Prayer in the Digital Age, by Matt Swaim – Wow. I just finished this book this weekend, and I’m still left with that overwhelming impression: wow. It was not only what I needed to read when I needed to read it, it was a gem of a book. Swaim doesn’t try to be a theologian, but comes at his topic with all the practicality and sensibility of someone who struggles just like the rest of us. His observations ring true, because he’s speaking what’s been niggling in the back of my mind. I especially enjoyed how he suggests solutions, as opposed to just ranting about how bad things are now. One of my favorite books so far this year. HIGHLY recommended.

A favorite thing: The Among Women podcast, which is celebrating 100 episodes! Congratulations, Pat!

Food for thought: “And when our ideas of how the world should be run meet with opposition, our conclusion is that we are being attacked by the devil; we rarely conclude that we ourselves might not have the best set of ideas for the situation at hand.” – Matt Swaim in Prayer in the Digital Age

Worth a thousand words: The view from my kitchen window