Share Four Somethings—November 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


Last July, Jeff and I attended the Wild Goose Festival, a faith-inspired social justice gathering in very hot and very muggy North Carolina. In one of the small group sessions I attended, I met two women, Naomi and Rachel, who I bonded with immediately.

We ran into each other a few more times during the weekend and exchanged phone numbers so we could stay in touch.

Wild Goose Festival

Not only have we stayed in touch, but a week ago we spent an entire weekend together at Naomi’s home, just the three of us. It was so spiritually-nurturing.

I’m very grateful for their friendship, their encouragement, and for the way these amazing women are doing the work to make this world a healthier and more compassionate home for all human beings, including me.

 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Reading


A few years back I read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, and greatly benefited from it. The four agreements are: 1-Be impeccable with your word, 2-Don’t take anything personally, 3-Don’t make assumptions, and 4-Always do your best.

I later tweaked them a little to create my own four agreements:

While at Naomi’s house last week, she pulled out this set of uplifting cards from The Mastery of Love by the same author for a closing activity before we all went our separate ways again. We each drew one card and shared what it meant to us. My card said: “Love is kind and just.” 

Back home, I downloaded The Fifth Agreement, also by Miguel Ruiz, from my library. (Rachel is now reading her own copy, too). This agreement is: “Be skeptical, but learn to listen.” It’s been a fascinating read so far (I’m about halfway in.)

“I am responsible for what I say, but I am not responsible for what you understand. You are responsible for what you understand.”

The Fifth Agreement

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Learning


While I love reading nonfiction books, I struggle to read poetry. But I want to make a more concerted effort in this coming year because poetry is so valuable. I’ve begun reading some poems this past month and am loving it.

I just have to slow down enough to let them sink in. So in conjunction with my 2024 One Word (I’ll reveal it soon!), I would like to memorize select poems. I’ve been trying it out this month with Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese. So far, so good!

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

What I’m Eating


This breakfast & brunch restaurant opened up near us several months ago. Jeff and I finally made it there one Friday morning for breakfast. It did not disappoint. (Although Jeff still prefers Jack’s.)

You can’t pick up one of their biscuits and take a bite though. They’re too big. I got a plain chicken biscuit, but Jeff got the works.

Maple Street Biscuit Company

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

Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties

7 Books I Recommend + 7 Books Recommended to Me—November 2023

“We read books to find out who we are.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin

7 Books I Recommend

Here are 7 books I recommend from what I finished reading in November, plus 7 books recommended by other bloggers during this month of Nonfiction November. 

[See previously recommended books here]


1. 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

I Didn't Sign Up for This

This is a very interesting book by a marriage therapist about her practice with clients as well as how she needs to apply her advice to her own marriage. 

[Read more about it here.]

2. Dr Karl’s Little Book of Climate Change Science
by Karl Kruszelnicki

Dr. Karl's Little Book of Climate Change

If you don’t know much about climate change, this is a great starter book. It’s (mostly) easy to understand while very informative. 

3. Right Kind of Wrong
The Science of Failing Well
by Amy C. Edmondson

Right Kind of Wrong

Edmondson shares her research that creating a safe venue for failure (corporately and personally) actually sets you up for greater success. 

4. How To Talk About Guns with Anyone
by Katherine Schweit

How to Talk About Guns with Anyone

I highly recommend this book for everyone who wants to understand more about firearms, laws, amendments, attitudes, etc. around our gun culture. 

5. Find the Helpers
What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
by Fred Guttenberg

Find the Helpers

Guttenberg is the dad of 14-year-old Jaime, who was killed by the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This is his story before, during, and after this horrific tragedy.

6. The Day the World Came to Town
9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
by Jim DeFede

The Day the World Came to Town

This is a wonderful feel-good book about what happened to several planes that were re-routed from entering the U.S. after the terrible 9/11/2001 hijackings. Many went to Gander, Newfoundland, whose residents opened their hearts to the passengers for days. 


7. Counterfeit
by Kirstin Chen


This novel is about a con artist who manufactures fake designer handbags and how her hustle interferes with a college friend’s life.


  • Romney: A Reckoning
    by McKay Coppins
  • Your Heart Was Made for This
    Contemplative Practices for Meeting a World in Crisis with Courage, Integrity, and Love
    by Oren Jay Sofer
  • Wolfpack
    How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game
    by Abby Wambach
  • Optimal Illusions
    The False Promise of Optimization
    by Coco Krumme
  • Forgive for Good
    A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness
    by Fred Luskin
  • The Fifth Agreement
    by Miguel Ruiz and Jose Ruiz
  • When Religion Hurts You
    Healing from Religious Trauma and the Impact of High-Control Religion
    by Laura E. Anderson

7 Books Recommended by Others

Here are 7 of the many titles I collected this month from the blog posts of other writers during Nonfiction November. Do you see one you’re interested in, too? See more recommendations at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life’s Week 5 roundup post

1. Unfollow
A Journey from Hatred to Hope, Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
Recommended by Market Garden Reader

2. Ultra-Processed People
The Science Behind Food That Isn’t Food
Recommended by Books Please

3. Avid Reader: A Life
Recommended by The Intrepid Angeleno

4. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
Recommended by She Seeks Nonfiction

5. Love Your Enemies
How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt 
Recommended by Readerbuzz

6. Fascism: A Warning
Recommended by HopeWell’s Public Library of Life

7. The Ends of the World
Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions 
Recommended by Unsolicited Feedback

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

Read more about reading: 

sharing at these linkups

Tell Your One Word 2023 “Thank You!”
{One Word 2023 November Linkup}

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

~ * ~ * ~

As we pause in November to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, are you thankful for your One Word, too?

Try a gratefulness practice with your One Word. Write down 5 or 6 things that you’re grateful for about your word this year.

Such as, “Thank you for…”

  • A lesson your word taught you
  • New people you’ve met, thanks to your word
  • Improved attitudes you’ve adopted due to your word
  • Physical changes instigated by your word
  • Spiritual disciplines shaped by your word

If you’d like, write these down on an actual thank-you card. Place the card where you’ll find it again in a few weeks as a reminder to remain grateful for how your word served you in 2023.

We’d love to see your list, too! Take a photo or screenshot of your list and share it with us in a blog post or in our Facebook group.

~ * ~ * ~

Here’s my Thank You Letter to my word HUMAN.

Dear “Human,”

Wow. You’ve been amazing this year to reveal so many things to me about my own humanness, and about humanity all around me.

1—Thank you for prompting me month after month to value my own worth as a human being on this planet, mistakes and all.

2—Thank you for nudging me to make new friends in the flesh this year, incredible human beings like Naomi and Rachel. As a human, I need other humans.

3—Thank you for helping me live more embodied, to be aware of my senses, to place this human body in new spaces.

4—Thank you for rooting me deeper in humility, for showing me I haven’t yet arrived, while giving compassion to myself for my humanness as well as compassion on those around me for theirs.

5—Thank you for focusing me on a human’s most important value: love. What an array of opportunities you prompted me to see in 2023 to love and be loved, in both predictable and unexpected ways.

Even though this year is almost over, you and I will remain intrinsically linked every year. I am, after all, Human.

THANK YOU, my word, from the fullness of this human heart,

~ * ~ * ~

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

Our final One Word linkup for 2023 will open on Saturday, December 23.

If you’d like to receive our monthly One Word emails and ideas for 2023 and soon to be 2024, sign up here.

For what can you say “thank you” to your One Word? Leave a comment here about your One Word.

Link Up About Your One Word!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

5 Books that Shape Our Thoughts on Guns
Nonfiction November - Week 4

For years I’ve seen the guns every time I visit. They’ve been in plain sight. They’re neatly stacked against the fireplace brick.

I’ve also seen some of the dead animals, the stuffed trophies mounted above the hearth. I’ve eaten from fresh kills of doves, quail, geese, and deer.

I know the guns I see aren’t loaded. Definitely not. The family is ultra cautious with firearms. They abide by all the rules, purchase the appropriate hunting licenses every year, and maintain flawless records of gun safety.

Yet why do I feel uneasy seeing the old firearms now, when I hadn’t felt uneasy before?

Perhaps because our culture has changed.

While firearms have always been used to kill people in wars, in personal arguments, and in moments of despair, they weren’t always used to kill bystanders in grocery stores, in movie theaters, and in elementary schools.

In many states like my own Alabama, you can see guns on hips when you’re eating a chicken biscuit at Hardees, or peeking out of your girlfriend’s purse when you’re riding together in her car. But having guns everywhere isn’t making us safer. Twenty years of data have proven that guns in the hands of civilians have not reduced targeted violence. In only a very few incidents has an armed civilian successfully stopped a shooter.

I also see guns in my own house. My husband learned to hunt with his father and grandfathers and uncles. It’s a family tradition. He’s never had to even buy one himself. They’re passed down through the generations as family heirlooms.

Our firearms stay locked away, safely secured. I don’t have to worry about a child accidentally finding one, or about guests playing with one.

But not every home is so secure. Not every child is blocked from walking around with a loaded gun. Actually, 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one loaded, unlocked gun.

As I read more books about guns this year, it’s disturbing.

Below are five books I recommend from what I’ve read this year, both as a gun owner AND as an advocate for more reasonable gun laws. I encourage you to get more educated about gun use and gun laws, too, whether from books, advocacy groups, conversations, or your own research.

Then do what you can to encourage responsible gun ownership and legislation. Not to take away all guns from all people. But to use common sense to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible people or people in a mental health crisis, just like we do with cars, with medicines, etc.

Regardless of where you stand politically, aren’t we all on the same side of wanting fewer deaths from gun violence? Fewer suicides? Fewer domestic abuse cases?

Have conversations. Learn facts. Promote better laws. Vote for responsible representatives. Buy a gun safe. Join or donate to organizations doing the work.

And maybe read some books, too.

1. Standing Our Ground
The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story
by Lucy McBath

Standing Our Ground

This story by Lucy McBath is about her 17-year-old son Jordan who was shot dead at a gas station by a man who thought Jordan was playing music too loud on his car stereo.

2. Find the Helpers
What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
by Fred Guttenberg

Find the Helpers

When Fred Guttenberg heard there was an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, he didn’t know his precious 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of the victims, changing his own life forever.

3. How to Talk About Guns with Anyone
by Katherine Schweit

How to Talk About Guns with Anyone

Educate yourself with this easy-to-follow book about all things related to firearms: its history, court decisions, current legislation, the Second Amendment, and all types of weapons.

4. The Violence Inside Us
A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy
by Chris Murphy

The Violence Inside Us

Learn about the origin of violence in the United States, and the path it has traveled through the years, plus what we can do now to save lives.

5. Fight like a Mother
How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World
by Shannon Watts

Fight LIke a Mother

Shannon Watts describes why and how she started Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement to protect people from gun violence (loosely modeled on MADD, Moms Against Drunk Driving) after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

It’s not impossible to change our attitudes, our cultural divisions, and our gun laws.

Together, all our individual things can add up to a better and safer world for everyone.

It’s Week 4 of Nonfiction November. We’re linking our posts with Rebekah at She Seeks Nonfiction about Worldview Shapers, books that change the way we see the world.

Do you know someone who has died from gun violence? Do you have a book you’d recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read More:

You’re Going to Mess Up. So Also Do This.

When I Go Off on a Rant

Why won’t he answer his phone?

I dial again. I’m trying to reach Jeff, my husband. We said we’d meet up at the horse statue, but I already walked past it and I have a better idea now. I need to talk to him to decide a new meeting place to save us some walking time before the ballgame we’re going to.

But Jeff is still not picking up my call.

I call him twice more. Still no answer. Frustrated, I turn around. I give up. I retrace my steps back to the horse statue.

When I finally see Jeff, I’m a little angry. Not only my words, but also my tone reflects this emotion. 

If you would just listen for my calls more often, this wasted time (and steps) could have been avoided and we would have already been at the basketball game.

I blather on. Blah, blah, blah.

Jeff takes it in stride, says he’s sorry, and we walk on.

Now my own phone is ringing.

The Butt Dial

The call is from Jeff’s mom, my sweet mother-in-law. She says she saw that I had called her, so she’s returning my call.

I quickly look at my Recent Calls as we talk. Indeed I had accidentally called my mother-in-law just minutes ago from my phone in my pocket. The record shows the call lasted 3 minutes.

It dawns on me what I’ve just done.

While I had been lecturing her son, my phone had been capturing it all in a 3-minute voice message to my mother-in-law’s phone. Even if she couldn’t catch my exact words through my jeans’ pocket, she probably caught my tone. This is not good.

Ugh. I feel horrible.

I briefly explain to her that my call was just a butt dial. And thankfully, she shows no sign of having overheard my 3-minute rant, neither my words nor tone (or else she has already forgiven me). She’s as pleasant and kind as always.

I escaped this time. But Jeff had heard me lecturing him. I knew I had been too harsh. I apologize to him. He quickly forgives me. Now I need to forgive myself.

Love Every Day

If you need more grace, too, in your relationships with others as well as yourself, here’s a book of 365 love practices that I’ve just finished sampling. I’m pledging to start it again on January 1 and read it daily in 2024.

It’s called Love Every Day: 365 Relational Self-Awareness Practices to Help Your Relationship Heal, Grow, and Thrive by Dr. Alexandra H. Solomon, a clinical psychologist.

Love Every Day

In Love Every Day, Dr. Solomon gives 365 short practices for developing healthier relationships, including relational self-awareness questions. The daily lessons don’t take long to read, but their impact can last much longer if we’ll put them into use.

Here are some excerpts I’ve already highlighted from Love Every Day.

“Instead of asking, ‘Why didn’t you do X?’ try asking, ‘What kept you from doing X?’”

~ * ~

“You and your partner will stand again and again at decision points that require asking three questions: What do I need? What do you need? What do we need?”

~ * ~

“Our relationships tend to need less problem-solving and advice and more space-holding and empathy.”

~ * ~

“Overreacting may mean that you buried your feelings about earlier slights.”

~ * ~

“Shift your binary stance of ‘You versus Me’ to the relational stance of ‘You and Me versus The Problem’.”

~ * ~

“Just because something is hard does not mean you’re doing it wrong.”

~ * ~

We all mess up time and again with our partners, like I overreacted with Jeff about not answering his phone. These blunders are a given. The real progress comes in the reconnecting work.

So along with the mishaps, may we also continue to empower ourselves with the right tools to love better every day.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + PESI Publishing
for the review copy of Love Every Day

What Nonfiction and Fiction Books Go Well Together?
Nonfiction November - Week 3

Do you ever read a novel and think, Did any of this really happen?

Or read a nonfiction book and think, This is such a great story!

Many nonfiction and fiction books work well together. For Week 3 of Nonfiction November (hosted by Liz Dexter), we are pairing up nonfiction and fiction books that complement each other.

Here are my 4 pairs.

Book Pair #1

I Didn't Sign Up for This and The Golden Couple

NONFICTION – I Didn’t Sign Up for This

We all can use a little help with our relationships, right?

Even therapists themselves?

Of course. This book by couples therapist Dr. Tracy Dalgelish enlightens us not only on how she does therapy with her clients, but also how she needs to apply the principles in her own marriage.

Dr. Tracy brilliantly guides us back and forth between the stories of four couples in her therapy practice and her own story of problems with her husband.

She writes,

“I’ve been a human a lot longer than I’ve been a therapist. . . . Even for therapists, knowing better and doing better are two vastly different things.”

If you’d like a true behind-the-scenes look at therapy—plus get advice for your own partnerships—I highly recommend this book.

FICTION – The Golden Couple

On the other hand, if you want to escape real-life for a bit, you can get a similar behind-the-scenes therapy look from this novel by Greer Hendricks.

The plot centers around a wealthy couple, Matthew and Marissa Bishop, who sign up for marriage counseling with a renegade therapist Avery Chambers. The mysterious story takes you through secrets that everyone is holding on to, including the therapist. (I loved alternating between listening to the audiobook and reading the hardback.)

Book Pair #2

The Day the World Came to Town and Anxious People

NONFICTION – The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

We often assume incorrectly that catastrophes bring out the worst in people. To counter this myth, read this true story from Gander, Newfoundland, about the week of 9/11/2001. I highly recommend it.

It’s a true feel-good story of how a small town welcomed thousands of surprised and stranded passengers from all over the world into their community for days after the U.S. closed down airspace due to the September 11 attacks.

I also saw the Broadway musical Come from Away about this story; it too is fabulous.

FICTION – Anxious People

A very different but comparable story of random people coming together in a crisis is this exquisitely written novel by Fredrik Backman.

It’s a quirky story of a bank robbery gone awry. Backman uniquely and intricately weaves together an entire cast of random characters who show up at the same time for an apartment viewing. Along with the bank robber, they are trapped together and forced to interact with each other.

As soon as I finished the book, I had to return to the beginning and reread the first few chapters with my new knowledge of the ending. Masterfully written, Mr. Backman.

Book Pair #3

Good Inside and The School for Good Mothers

NONFICTION – Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Even though I’m years removed from my active parenting years, I still benefited greatly by reading Dr. Becky Kennedy’s parenting book Good Inside. It’s applicable to all relationships, regardless of age, not just for parents.

Dr. Becky’s advice is to prioritize connecting more than correcting. And to intervene by looking for the good inside each person instead of reacting from frustration and anger.

“Underneath ‘bad behavior’ is always a good child.”

This advice is helpful to remember for all human beings.

FICTION – The School for Good Mother

The School for Good Mothers holds the exact opposite premise of Good Inside, which makes for an interesting pairing.

In The School of Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, each mother who has made a mistake with her child is constantly told how horrible she is at her core, whereas in Good Inside each person is reminded they are essentially good at their core.

The School for Good Mothers is a horrific story in the genre of The Handmaid’s Tale. It revolves around Frida Liu, a struggling mom who makes a poor decision one morning to leave her toddler alone for a few hours. For that crime, she undergoes a year-long stay at a parenting school under the worst conditions, mentally and physically.

Book Pair #4

Saving Us and The Ministry for the Future

NONFICTION – Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

I learned so much from Katherine Hayhoe’s book Saving Us. She writes about the harm we’re causing our planet, but more importantly, also about what we can do about it (other than groan, which used to be my go-to). The book addresses our treatment of Earth from many perspectives—science, psychology, and Hayhoe’s Christian faith.

Saving Us is both easy to understand and hopeful. It was highly recommended to me a few months ago, and it didn’t disappoint.

FICTION – The Ministry for the Future

This novel marks a turning point for me.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson prompted me to join a climate group, among other things, and (indirectly) to read Katherine Hayhoe’s book and other nonfiction books about climate.

The novel is written from multiple eye-witness accounts (fictitious but plausible) of how climate is affecting the world. It centers around the Ministry for the Future, created in 2025, and moves forward into multiple dismal stories.

Honestly, it was a depressing book to me. And long. And confusing (it helped when I switched to the audiobook and could hear different voices to understand who was narrating).

However, it motivated me. I don’t want to live in a world like that. So I recommend it to you, too.

Which nonfiction and fiction books would you pair? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read more on Fiction and Nonfiction books: