Monday, January 13, 2020

I’ve Seen the End of You by W. Lee Warren, MD

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thought this book was going to be more about diseases of the brain. I thought it could help me to understand things going on within the minds of my family members. What I found was something I could barely put down. This is a book about a neurosurgeon who struggled with faith and prayer as he performed surgery on tumors that were almost always fatal. His honesty is compelling.

Let me be honest. If you like nerdy scientific information about the brain and your heart being ripped out by story, this is the book for you. This is about a man who started writing as a way to deal with the horrors of war that he saw as a surgeon of war in Iraq. He then kept writing as a way to deal with his feelings on faith as he operated on Glioblastoma, treated trauma victims, tried to save brains ravaged by suicide. Then he used it as a way to shepherd his own kids through pain and loss. It’s riveting.

I have seen so many of my family members die. It is a sacred space. I cannot imagine walking through or carrying the weight of being present during death nearly every single day. Lee has so much on his shoulders. Instead of going through the motions of it all, he has thought deeply about what he was dealing with and wrestled with God through it all. It gave me quite a bit to chew on and I came away with so much. I am thankful for the hard work that was put into this. I am thankful for the perspective that he had when he realized how we are all very much the same at our core. Fantastic.

This book was graciously given to me by the publisher for review.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

  A few months back I was sitting in a room attempting to share something deeply personal. The people there started discussing it amongst themselves and formulating opinions out loud about it. No one asked me any questions or dialogued with me about it in any way. My sharing felt completely pointless. 

That evening I came home to the first 55 pages of this book in my inbox from the publisher. You’re not listening. Exactly. I read those first pages right then and quickly fell in book love. 

I’m a listener. I have fought hard against shyness, introversion, and anxiety to learn to ask good questions. My heart ebbs and flows on people feeling seen and finding healing. I love people. The personality type that I would call the kryptonite to my calling is the no breath, no pause, non-stop talker. If you can’t stop talking, I know you have no desire to listen and I don’t talk. My brain shuts itself off.

Dear extreme extroverts, never underestimate the power of a good edit. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how brilliant, thought out, researched, and well-written this is. Kate has interviewed everyone from CIA interrogators in bulletproof cars to grandmas over tea. Her background at The New York Times is on full display. She has learned the uncommon art of listening to learn and hearing what isn’t being said. 

I read one person’s comment that this is a perfect tool for dining table or board room. You can stop talking at and talk with. You can stop being distracted and engage. You can change the questions you’re asking to build real relationships with the people around you. You can stop putting your ego ahead of other people’s vulnerabilities. You can learn to listen. 

Listening to others changes our inner dialogue. How we talk to ourselves effects how we hear others. The main regret people have at the end of their lives is how they related to their family. Learning to listen will change the conversation at your table and the depth of your relationships. Read it...for all of us.

Celadon Books graciously gave this book for review.

Thanks for reading and supporting 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Ring Out, Wild Bells: Books & Questions for 2020

I don’t  know about you, but I am a woman in constant need of regrouping. We all have these reasons that our brains sway off track. Without vision, I spend my time reacting to life instead of acting on the hopes of my heart. I have found that the little things matter most. They are generally why I spend my time doing bigger things. Cultivating home for people. The simple, quiet behind the scene things are the richest treasures. Everything revolves around that for me. The books I read, the questions I ask myself, the recipes I make, the classes I take, the friends I have, and the people we feed. It all comes back to loving well. In doing all of these things, Jesus is ever healing my heart. I am increasingly discovering God’s grace in the spirit of hospitality.

I wanted to share a few things with you to kick off your new year. I try to steadily read 52 books a year (not more or less to keep balance). Books offer my heart some quiet therapy. I must have needed a bit of extra therapy this year because I accidentally read 78 books. I went through and picked out my ten favorites for you.

A few years ago, I started going through Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide. Writing out the things I hoped to change and work for became a prayer of my heart and took on a life of their own. I came across three distinctly different sets of questions to evaluate and help restructure your mind for 2020. I am praying for you to have renewed hope and a great sense of purpose in the year ahead.

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
—T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Life without revision will silence our souls.
—Sleeping at Last, Snow

Let’s start with a poem.

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

 - 1809-1892
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

This is a reflective and fun list for summing up your year and thinking about what you might change. It’s good for me to remember the highlights. I tend to forget the wonderful things and get bogged down in the muck of each common day. I forget the beauty there. 

This list is about addressing your heart and how you might like to change what is happening inside yourself. Most of our lives are lived internally. It’s good to be introspective.

Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide helped me to keep some things God put in my heart at the forefront. Writing vision and hope out on paper has truly given me a jump start where I was lying dormant. I print it out and fill it in.

Top Ten Books Of My Year (not listed by rank)
1. The Second Mountain by David Brooks *(the first half and the section on building community are primo). His insight into human resilience is fantastic. 
2. Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson * This is a deep, thoughtful look inside the creative life. It made me feel more alive and more creative. 
3. Miracle on Voodoo Mountain by Megan Boudreaux *If you enjoy the God of the impossible, this is a true story for you. It’s set in my beloved Haiti. 
4. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson *This book shook me. Black history is fascinating to me and the true crime that white men waged on them is excruciating to see. See the movie too. 
5. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder *Wow. The life of Paul Farmer and his life of service to eradicating disease around the world and to the poorest of people is inspiring. Tracy is a phenomenal story teller. 
6. True Grit By Charles Portis *I loved the writing. The story is great and Charles Portis wrote in a way that transported you back in time. 
7. Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher *This was a fascinating read on the intrepid nature of women by a sociologist. 
8. Crescendo by Allen Cheney *This true story spoke deeply to my heart about healing and valuing the simple things in life. It surprised me. 
9. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann *It is hard to believe this story happened to the Osage Indians. True crime and devastation. 
10. You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy *Oh my word. I loved this book. Y’all. Read it. Kate is a journalist for the New York Times. This is a must read for the boardroom or the home. Fantastic. 

I also listened to Where the Crawdads Sing while I sanded our bedroom floor. Great story telling.

Share books with me on Goodreads.


Thanks for giving to the homeless this year at
The Boho Table

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Faith of Queen Elizabeth by Dudley Delffs

I didn’t really like this book, but hats off to the Queen. She seems like a woman rich in character

The Faith of Queen Elizabeth: The Poise, Grace, and Quiet Strength Behind the CrownThe Faith of Queen Elizabeth: The Poise, Grace, and Quiet Strength Behind the Crown by Dudley Delffs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hate to say it, but this was a “meh” read for me. If you have watched the Crown and done a little Google search, you’ve read this book. It’s a recap of her life and how the author believes the Queen operated in faith in certain situations. There were a few things I learned about her, but it was largely a so so read. The story drug along and jumped around. It’s like a fan letter with people the author ran into that knew the Queen. He did not speak to her. The closest he got was thinking he saw her majesty along a trail once. The book lacked depth. It’s sad to me because her faith seems to be a driving force in her decisions.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Spreading Joy: A Homeless Tale at Christmas

A few nights ago, I was walking along the San Antonio Riverwalk and came across several homeless people with their blankets laid out on benches. I often feel like my heart is going to come clear out of my chest when I see people sleeping on the streets. I’m sure it’s a mixed bag for them down there. The people make them feel safe and I’m sure they equally want us to go home so that they can go to sleep. 

People coming together as a community gets to me. People making a sacrifice for the common good is a powerful beacon of hope. It made me cry in Frozen 2. It made me cry on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Twice I saw restaurants feeding the homeless. When we were walking by a pizzeria, one of the employees called out to a homeless man by name and said he had his food waiting. He put his arm around him and walked him to the counter. 

The reason I was with my two friends on the Riverwalk was another story all together. My friend Kenny in his early 40s and has cataracts so bad that he cannot see to read, drive, or work. Dr. Mike Tschoepe has graciously donated surgery for Kenny who was sitting around waiting to go completely blind. He had lost all hope. Mindy, our volunteer coordinator, has donated her time to bring Kenny to at least 6 appointments. That’s six hours of driving and overnight stays here at our mission house.

 It’s beautiful to me. I see the community rising up to meet needs. The amazing part is seeing the givers effected and changed as much as the receivers. Standing near the broken hearted as God binds up their wounds seems to have a spillover effect. My wounds are being bound up too. 

I want to invite you into my community. Be a part of us. Receive the spillover. Follow our non-profit story at The Boho Table (

Help us throw a Christmas Party for our Homeless Small Group:

Read a little thing I wrote about joy:

Thank y’all. You build up my confidence in humanity and the powerful work of God in all of our lives.