6 Books I Recommend—September 2023
—Grace & Truth Linkup

“The goal of reading is not to get anywhere, but to open where we are.”
– Mark Nepo

Here are 5 nonfiction books + 1 novel I recommend from what I finished reading in September. 

[See previously recommended books here]


1. Falling Down and Getting Up
Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength
by Mark Nepo

Falling Down and Getting Up

Mark Nepo writes with great insight on our falls. If you need encouragement to get back up again, again, and again, this book will inspire you to look reality in the face, yet still continue forward. 

[Read my full review here of Falling Down and Getting Up]

2. “All the Real Indians Died Off”
And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

This is the October selection for our online Moms Demand Action book club. Some of these myths I already understood to be false about Native Americans, but other chapters taught me lessons I needed to learn. The writing is a bit more academic than I’d prefer, but it’s definitely readable and engaging.  

3. Saving Us
A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World
by Katharine Hayhoe 

A valuable book. I learned so much about the harm we’ve been doing to our planet, but more importantly I also learned what we can do about it other than groan. The book addresses our treatment of Earth from many perspectives—science, psychology, and the author’s Christian faith.

4. Speak Your Truth with Love and Listen Deeply
A Training in Mindfulness-Based Nonviolent Communication
by Oren Jay Sofer

I listened to this audiobook from Hoopla in a couple of days. It’s about how to have respectful communication without arguing, blaming, or judging. As a student of Marshall Rosenberg’s method of Nonviolent Communication, Sofer’s principles here are familiar to me but still worth listening to in his own words.

5. A Life in Light
Meditations on Impermanence
by Mary Pipher

Although engaging and well-written, I didn’t read this memoir word-for-word. Until I got to the last few chapters. Then I slowed down and read every word that Mary Pipher said (she also wrote Women Rowing North, a fabulous book about aging and one of my top 10 books I read in 2019). Her wisdom about life’s many changes is valuable. 


6. The Golden Couple
by Greer Hendricks

The wealthy couple Matthew and Marissa Bishop agree to marriage counseling with the renegade therapist Avery Chambers. The mysterious plot takes you behind the secrets that everyone is holding on to. An interesting story! I alternated between listening to the audiobook and reading the hardback.


  • Language Power
    100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You
    by Norbert Schmitt
  • American Idolatry
    How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church
    by Andrew L. Whitehead
  • Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir
    by Pidgeon Pagonis
  • I Never Thought of It That Way
    How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times
    by Monica Guzmán
  • I Didn’t Sign Up for This
    A Couples Therapist Shares Real-Life Stories of Breaking Patterns and Finding Joy in Relationships, Including Her Own
    by Dr. Tracy Dalgleish

What good book have you read lately? Please share in the comments.

sharing at these linkups



Grace & Truth Featured Post

Maybe you like to read as much as I do. And/or maybe you also like to write. What have you been writing lately? It’s what Linda asks in this week’s featured post. 

What Are You Writing These Days?

Link your own blog posts below. 

Review the rules here about adding your most recent Christian Living posts and how to be the Featured Post. Visit all four hosts social media here or websites here: Maree Dee, Lisa notes, Lauren Sparks, Tammy Kennington.

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Share Four Somethings—September 2023

Near the end of each month at Jennifer’s linkup we share four somethings that we’re loving, reading, learning, and eating.

I also share my previous month’s One Second Everyday video . . .

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Loving


I recently discovered this hilarious podcast: Strike Force Five. It is random conversations by five late-night TV hosts currently unable to broadcast their own shows: Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver, and Stephen Colbert.

Strike Force Five Podcast

They created this podcast with all proceeds going to support their staffs who had been out of work until today due to the writers’ strike. (And it’s amazing how many people work for each late-night show.)

When I can’t sleep at night but don’t want to read or listen to something too serious, I put this podcast in my ears. And then try not to laugh out loud and wake up my husband.

 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Reading


I signed up for an online book club in October to discuss how to talk better with people with different views:

I Never Thought of It That Way
How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times
by Mónica Guzmán

I’m about 80 pages in. So far, it’s been excellent.

I Never Thought Of It That Way

Here are a couple of excerpts.

“If there’s one question I want to persuade you to ask more often, it’s ‘What am I missing?’
‘What am I missing?’ is not just any question. It’s the question.”

“To keep our minds open when so much pushes them closed we’re going to have to kick it old-school. We’re going to have to talk—really talk—with actual different people. This is the work.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Learning


Every night for awhile now Jeff and I have played Wordle and Spelling Bee on the New York Times website. (I play Sudoku on my own time.) Then a few months ago we added The Mini Crossword to our routine.

But the past few weeks we’ve added in the new game Connections. It may be the most challenging of the games we do together. We’re finally getting the hang of it (most nights anyway), and love having it in the routine.

New York Times Games

All in all, we can finish the four games we play together in less than 15 minutes (although I haven’t timed us), depending on how quickly we get the pangram for Spelling Bee. It’s been so enjoyable!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Eating (or Drinking)


This has been the year I’ve swapped my daily treat of a Diet Dr. Pepper for a drink without aspartame. I still occasionally drink a Diet Dr. Pepper (or a real Dr. Pepper if I’m indulging myself) but more often I now treat myself to a Sparkling Ice Zero Sugar Classic Lemonade instead. It’s been a much easier trade than I expected.

Sparkling Ice Classic Lemonade

What is something you are loving, reading, learning, or eating/drinking this month?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties

Learn A New Fact About Your One Word
{One Word 2023 September Linkup}

Link all of your ONE WORD blog posts below. Share an update about your One Word in the comments.

~ * ~ * ~

You and your One Word 2023 have been together for 9 months. You’ve likely learned a lot from it.

But is still there more to learn during the last quarter of 2023?

Of course!

Look up your One Word on Wikipedia or a resource of your choice. See if you can discover 2 or 3 new facts about your word.

  • What’s a new fact you learned about your word?
  • Does it change how you view your word? 
  • Does it gives you a new idea for practicing your word? 

For my word HUMAN, this is what I learned.

  • New fact (to me):
    Humans are also among the best long-distance runners in the animal kingdom, but slower over short distances.
  • How it changes my view:
    It gives me a greater appreciation for a human’s ability to endure something for the long haul, and less concerned that we may be slower than we’d like in the short run. 
  • New way to practice Humaning:
    Give more grace to myself and others when we’re slow to change. Imagine how much a situation or person can grow over 10 years (for example), instead of focusing on 10 days, 10 weeks, or even 10 months.

We want to know if you find anything new or if it confirms what you already know. Leave a comment below or link any of your own One Word blog posts. 

~ * ~ * ~

This September linkup for One Word updates will remain open for two weeks, closing at midnight on Saturday, October 7. Each link shared here will also be shared with our One Word Facebook group

Next month’s One Word linkup will open on Monday, October 23.

If you’d like to receive our monthly One Word emails and ideas, sign up here.

What new fact have you learned about your One Word this year? Leave a comment here about your One Word.

Link Up About Your One Word!

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Click here to enter

You’re Going to Fall. Get Back Up (Again).
—Grace & Truth Linkup


It’s about to be dark outside. Yet I’m still not home. I know it takes four hours in the car to drive from Mississippi to Alabama.

But I’m not in a car.

I’m on a tricycle.

Thankfully, I wake up. It was a dream. It’s a recurring one. I often dream about wacky modes of transportation, trying to get from here to there.

I laugh about these dreams when I’m awake. But when I’m asleep, the slow progress and the looming distance ahead in inadequate vehicles are torturous.

Stay Awake

That’s why I need to read authors like Mark Nepo in my non-sleep hours. He keeps me awake to my real life so I can move forward, even when it’s hard.

And it’s been hard the past two years. I keep falling down, only to have to get back up again. And again. And again.

So this latest book by Mark Nepo is right on time: Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength.

Nepo frames our challenges as opportunities for deepening. He asks us to befriend our fears, pains, and griefs, not be crippled by them.

How? Like many spiritual teachers, Nepo advices that one way is to stay present in this moment because fear gains its power from the future and the past.

“Strength and resolve are always restored through the complete surrender of our naked attention.”

So stay aware of now. Pay attention to this. Face life here. 

Fear gains its power from not looking. Consider the proverbial boogeyman in the closet. The longer we don’t look, the bigger the boogeyman gets. Until some kind grandfather or aunt takes us by the hand, saying, ‘Well, why don’t we take a look in there, together?'”

Begin Again

And after we look under the bed—even if what we see causes us to fall down again—get back up, and be willing to accept help as needed.

“While nothing can minimize the pain and loss that comes from falling down, nothing can keep us from helping each other up.

We all have falls. Many falls. But the damage comes when we refuse to get back up.

So be willing to begin again. Open to where you are.

And do it often. I have to choose each day to begin again.

Not Here to There, But In to Out

Fortunately, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever have to travel from Mississippi to Alabama on a tricycle. That’s just for my nightmares. But even if I did, by beginning again each day, I’d eventually make it.

This journey through life—one that we each are on—might feel as daunting as riding a skateboard or a unicycle through mountainous terrain (yes, I’ve had those dreams, too). But as Nepo writes in Falling Down and Getting Up:

“The inescapable truth is that we don’t travel from here to there, but from in to out.”

You bring what lives within you out into the world each time you get back up again.

It’s less about where we’re going but how we’re growing.

Get back up again today and see.

Do you have crazy transportation dreams, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + St Martin’s
Press for the review copy of this book.

I’m linking at these blog parties


Grace & Truth Featured Post

I’m grateful for books that help me get back up. What are you grateful for? Read our featured post this month by Lynn Simpson to open new possibilities for yourself through a gratitude practice.

Read all of Lynn’s post here at her blog.

The Power of Gratitude – Receive New Possibilities

Now link up your own blog posts below. 

Review the rules here about adding your most recent Christian Living posts and how to be the Featured Post. Visit all four hosts social media here or websites here: Maree Dee, Lisa notes, Lauren Sparks, Tammy Kennington.

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

When You Can’t Offer a Guarantee, Cry About It

Her Grandson Was Murdered

As we chat on her balcony, I see the tears pooling in my friend’s eyes. She’s worried about about her adult daughter, the one whose son died a year ago because another boy shot a bullet instead of throwing a fist when he got annoyed.

My friend still feels the heavy grief herself. The teenage boy was her only grandson.

But the most urgent emotion rising in her throat this afternoon is helplessness. She knows her daughter is struggling hard with the absurdity of her son’s murder. Of the lack of quick justice in the courts. Of her searching but finding no meaning through it all.

As the mother of this daughter in pain, my friend doesn’t know what to do.

As she pauses her story, I want to fill in the gap with a guarantee, that everything will be okay, that this will work out fine in the end.

But I can’t do that.

I feel helpless, too.

Things We Can’t—and Can—Do

I have no fix for her pain. I have no solution for her daughter mourning her son fresh in the grave. I have no words that can explain why this happened and what will happen next.

In moments like these I am most aware of our shared humanity. Here we stand, my friend and I, fellow survivors in the messy middle of other humans also trying to survive.

So I simply bear witness to her pain. I see her wounds. I allow my eyes to weep, my tears to blend with hers.

Humans need to be in the presence of other humans as they hurt.

The Gift of Shared Pain Is Connection

See it as a gift when someone shares their pain with you. Hold their burdens with tenderness, with holiness, with care.

Yes, it might make you sad, too, as you validate another person’s aches. But it will also connect you. Allow it to fulfill one of your missions here as a human being: to connect with other human beings—through kindness and grace and compassion.

Connecting with others strengthens us to walk through our own sadness, too. Connecting is one of our most valuable powers to heal our breakings.

And sometimes, connecting is the most human thing we can do.

  • We need human hands to rest on our shoulders with a gentle squeeze.
  • We need human faces to turn toward ours as they listen.
  • We need human eyes to to leak salty water as they mirror our own wet eyes.

Being together feels better than being alone. We need to know we’re not the only human in the room.

Hold On to That Wispy Thread

After a bit, my friend’s mood shifts ever so slightly. She still remains worried, sad, even fearful of what she might have to face in the days ahead with her daughter as they both continue to grieve.

But my hope is that she feels a little less alone today in those emotions. Presence is more authentic than any false guarantee I can offer.

At the door, we hug goodbye. I step away from this holy moment. But I’ll keep holding my friend close.

In the crisscrossing of thin places, the wispy thread of connection is stronger than it looks. It bears weight.

Hold on to it for dear life. Because all of life is dear, even in our sadness.

I continue to ponder on my One Word of the Year, Human. What does human connection mean to you?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read more:

  • Sit with the Pain
    Those who sit with us as we sit with pain are those we remember. Pain will never be my best friend, but it leads me into the presence of those who are.
  • Camera On or Off? How to Bear Witness
    I search for the “camera off” button. I don’t want to be seen today. But her plea changes me.
  • How Does It Feel to Be Alone?
    My grandson is about to be born. I feel alone. Until I hear footsteps. I look up. It’s not who I expect.