Monthly Mentionables {December}: Books, podcasts, recipes & articles

My family spent Christmas here in Grand Lake, CO with my parents, brothers and their families. It was breathtaking and good for my soul.

Hygge, “woke,” enneagram, writing, submissions, edits, rough drafts, pregnancy, depression, minivan, lament, Jesus, racism, election, baby, church-hopping, twitter and podcast are all words I would use to distill down the essence of 2016 for me. I have written at length about some of these, will write about some others in 2017 and may keep some of these things to myself as I continue to learn and process.

Which words characterized your year?

I’ve been planning posts for the year and will have a series soon called 12 Days of Books where I’ll be sharing all my favorite books. I’d love for you to join me and if you have a blog, you are welcome to share links to your book posts in the comments section! 

Here are some of the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing I have been into this month:


On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser
The first time I read this was for a writing class in college, so I was due for a refresher. It was just as helpful as I remembered and is a book I will return to in the future.

Blue Horses: Poems, by Mary Oliver
I’m still experimenting with poetry and I read this one in one sitting. A friend of mine advised that poetry be read and enjoyed like a glass of wine, but I don’t always have that luxury these days! I want to pick up some more books by Mary Oliver. I liked this one, but I still feel like an amateur when it comes to poetry, so I’ll refrain from giving too much of my opinion since I don’t feel qualified yet.

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us, by Christine Gross-Loh, Ph.D
I’m adding this to my list of favorite parenting books. As someone who has lived overseas and studied culture in grad school, I love books that explore non-western ways of doing things. This book has provided fodder for interesting conversations about preconceived notions about parenting. 

Several Short Sentences about Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
The first thing you will notice about this book is the structure. Every sentence begins with a new line.  This as well as On Writing Well, both emphasize the need for short, clean sentences. I loved this book and it is on my list of favorite books about writing.

(Check out my favorite podcasts of 2016 here!)

Faith Conversations: Anita Lustrea

Mark Scandrette 
(His wife shared this post on SheLoves last month!)

Esther Emery

Carolyn Custis James

Makoto Fujimura

Lisa Sharon Harper

On Justice and Reconciliation

Faithfully Podcast

Will Christians Ever Get Race Relations Right?

White Christians, the Confederate flag and the Civil War

Black Lives Matter, the Black Church and the Prosperity Gospel


I binge-watched every single episode of their second season in a week;-) The episode with Ann Voskamp was very powerful, but I would recommend all of these episodes to anyone who is interested in writing or blogging.

Sorta Awesome

The awesome freedom of the DON’T do list

The best in books & reading for 2016 


Aside from forcing myself to watch the Gilmore Girl’s reunion on Netflix (I have to), I would highly recommend the much more life-changing, important documentary called 13th, which is also on Netflix right now. It falls right in line with all that I’ve been studying this year and features Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander among others who take a deeper look into the prison system in the U.S. 


For a new Christmas morning tradition, I used this cinnamon roll recipe shared by a woman from the Velvet Ashes community. I made them ahead the night before, froze them before the second rise and left them out of the oven 30 minutes before cooking.  They turned out perfectly!

We had two familes over and made Chinese hot pot for New Years Eve. Although I probably had hot pot about 30 times in my five years in China, I used this site as a guide for what to buy in the states. I bought this hot pot from Amazon and found the spice packs at our local Asian market. Though it was a bit tricky trying to feed kids who aren’t the best at waiting, it was such a fun, communal meal and I’ll definitely do it again!

Thought-provoking Articles from the Web:

Favorite Fiction of 2016, by Leigh Kramer on her blog (I’m using this list with my book club to pick out some fiction books this year.)

It’s Not Just a Danish Word that Made Dictionary’s shortlist; It’s a Lifestyle, by NPR (an article on hygge!)

Life After ‘The New Jim Crow,’ by Brentin Mock of Citylab (an interview with Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)

Where Love Abides, by Leah Abraham at SheLoves Magazine (a reflective practice for the new year)

4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears, by Jennifer Loubriel of Everyday Feminism

10 Reflections on Ten Years of Reentry, by Ruthie at

30 of the Most Important Articles by People of Color in 2016, by Zeba Blay for Huffington Post

55 of the Best Diverse Picture and Board Books of 2016, by Mrs. G at

In Case You Missed it:

6 Things to Do When You Live on White Island 

When You’ve Lost Your Wings {a poem}

Breastfeeding and the Liturgy of the Hours {for SheLoves}


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

**This post contains affiliate links!  

Linking up with Leigh Kramer


22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016

22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016

This was the year of the podcast for me. I’m convinced podcasts are the stay-at-home mom’s version of continuing education. Podcasts turn mundane tasks like folding clothes, getting dressed, washing dishes, driving to the grocery store, cooking dinner and even showering into opportunities for personal growth and development.

Most of the podcasts I love fall into the categories of social justice, motherhood, writing/creativity and spirituality. Many of these have altered the way I now view the world. Thanks to each of these hosts for sharing their time, wisdom and connections with the world. Many of you are changing history right from your tiny padded bedroom closets. Thank you.

On Motherhood: 

A Mom’s Missionfield
I love the concept of this show and appreciate that Tiffany Castleberry doesn’t expect moms to drop all other callings when they see two pink lines on a test.

God Centered Mom
This show is so solid. Not a bit cheesy or fluffy, Heather MacFadyen plans challenging, encouraging and practical episodes that truly help you to be a better mom.

The Global Mom Show
If I had my own podcast, this would be it. I can really relate to wanting to raise kids with an awareness of the world outside of our small sphere.

On Race-related Issues:

Pass the Mic
Of all the podcasts, this one has impacted me the most this year. These African American men offer their intelligent, Bible-based perspective on the race issues in our country.

Faithfully Podcast
This podcast is newer to me, but has guests that discuss the intersection of faith and race and I really appreciate the insights I’ve gained from their discussions.

Kin City
I love that this podcast focuses on Chicago since I lived there for fifteen years. It’s a fascinating look at many of the social issues in Chicago today.

Code Switch
Code switch discusses current race issues from a more secular perspective since it is put on by NPR. But they have a way of handling heavy issues in a light way that I appreciate.

On Holistic Living & Spirituality

Seminary Dropout
(He also has a new podcast called OnRamp focused solely on racial issues that I’m excited to listen to!)
Shane Blackshear has some outstanding guests.  This show steers clear of evangelical buzzwords, clichés and assumptions. I appreciate the fresh perspective and focus on looking at Jesus and the Bible instead of just going through with the motions of Christianity.
The Practice
The Practice is the church service of a subgroup of Willowcreek that is attempting to integrate ancient church practices into their community worship. The speakers always usher me straight into the presence of God.

The Liturgists
This episode was the most powerful episode I listened to on race all year. Please listen if you haven’t! I would put The Liturgists into the category with Seminary Dropout of hosts who appreciate real, raw Jesus-following above status quo evangelicalism.

This podcast focuses on current articles or events in culture and spends time discussing them from an intelligent, Christian perspective. The discussions remind me of talks we would have late into the night about topics that our college professors would have brought up during my days in Christian college.

Quick to Listen
This and the following one are podcasts put out by Christianity Today.  This one takes on controversial issues, attempting to reframe them from a Christ-centric perspective.

The Calling
This podcast, also put on by CT, has had some fascinating guests recently such as Michelle Higgins, Propaganda, Shauna Niequist, Katelyn Beaty and Jemar Tisby. At the beginning of the podcast, the host always asks about a person’s calling, which is a topic I love to think about.

Epiphany Fellowship
This is one of the African American pastors I am listening to each week in my attempt to desegregate the Christian messages in my life.

Faith Conversations with Anita Lustrea 
I just discovered this podcast recently and have binge-listened to about ten of her episodes.

On Being
I have a girl voice crush on Krista Tippet. She is my favorite interviewer. She is SO well-prepared, thoughtful and inspiring. Unlike so many hosts, she rarely interjects herself into her interviews and does an outstanding job of drawing insight from the souls of those she interviews. LOVE.

Shalom in the City
The premise of this show is that we are all able to contribute to “Shalom,” or peacemaking in the cities where we live. Osheta has a variety of guests who are incredible world-changers on both large and small scales.

For Fun: 

Sorta Awesome
This podcast has THE BEST Facebook hangout group. I go here with questions before I go to my Facebook timeline! But the show itself is fabulous and after listening I always feel like I just sat down to have an intelligent conversation with a couple of girlfriends.

What Should I Read Next
My husband, narrator Adam Verner, was on this episode this year! Anne Bogel also has a fabulous voice and has contributed to the addition of approximately 100 books on my Goodreads to-read list. If you need suggestions for books to read, this show is for you!

On Writing:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach
Each of these episodes last anywhere from three to seven minutes as she provides snippets of encouragement for writers of all kinds (which I am in constant need of). I’m thankful for her wisdom.

Hope Writers
This podcast also provides lots of valuable advice for writers.

Beautiful Writers
I liked some of these episodes more than others, but loved the episodes where they interviewed professional writers on their daily rituals and practices in writing.


Check out my “Monthly Mentionables” posts for more of the specific episodes I loved this year!

What were your favorite podcasts?
I’ll be sharing lists of all my favorite books, so be sure to subscribe below so you don’t miss the discussion!
Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Previous Post: Book Discussion Questions on Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016


Monthly Mentionables {November}

This month the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908, Donald Trump was elected president, Mosul was invaded and the Gilmore Girls staged a timely reunion whereby we could all drown our sorrows in sappy Stars Hollow after stuffing ourselves with turkey and sweet potato casserole.

November 2016 really happened.  This is real life (and yes, this links to THAT YouTube video…).

In the midst of these huge (and not-so-huge) events, I learned a lovely new word, the Danish word “hygge.” Think snuggling up in an oversized chair next to a crackling fire, feet tucked under a plush throw blanket as you sip tea (or red wine) while re-reading Little Women and you have a pretty good working image of hygge. Tanya Marlow goes into greater depth in her article on the topic and joining the 900+ member Facebook group started by another SheLoves editor, Holly Grantham, will offer you daily doses of cozy if you’re into that kind of thing (which I am).  Hygge dives head-first into the search for contentment, making it perfectly okay to pour time and energy into your home environment if that will make your nest a peaceful place you truly want to spend time in and invite others to snuggle into as well.

Hygge is a pretty good picture of Sabbath rest.

Christmas wears hygge well, I’d say.  Twinkle lights, winking candles, pottery mugs of hot cocoa, fake or real fireplaces, and our houses wreathed with spiced air.  

But Christmas also brings honor to the spirit of waiting. We light candles with our littles, shushing them and ignoring their whining, hoping to invite them into the mystery that is God as a baby on earth.  We meditate, read and sing of Advent wonder–Jesus coming again–maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, or perhaps one thousand years from now. At Christmas, we enter into childlike delight--even if it is out of duty.

I need Christmas this year.  I think we all do.

But in spite of the heaviness of the past month, I want to share some of the books, podcasts and articles that I’ve been reading and listening to. Many of them have brought sparkling light to the dark corners of November.


Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom, by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart
Ooh, I loved this book! It is the modern day Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art for moms. These ladies understand the tension moms have between wanting to care for their families while at the same time yearning to create.  They share the stories of more than 30 moms through clear, thoughtful and poetic writing. Life Creative is a perfect mix of practical and abstract, outward-looking and reflective.  If you are a mama with the desire to write, act, sing, paint, draw, sew or any other creative venture, you should definitely check this book out!

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
We read this for our book club this month and I have to say that while this was entertaining and educational on some levels, it did not have as much depth as I hoped.  The reading level did not strike me as being very high and it almost felt like a Hallmark version of a WWII story, or a PG movie at the very least. I listened to most of it on an overnight road trip from Chicago to Denver, though, so the fact that it kept my attention in the wee hours of the night has to be an indicator that it was at least interesting enough to keep me awake.



Epiphany Fellowship
This African American pastor, Eric Mason, was recommended to me by someone from the Be the Bridge Facebook group. The week after the election, I really needed to hear how people of color were responding to all of this. Since I attend a nearly all white church, I am committing to listening to a sermon by a person of color each week to diversify the voices I listen to.

In God We Trust (First sermon after the election). 


#WokeChurch: It’s Time for the Church to do Something

#WokeChurch–Lamentations 3:1-18

#WokeChurch–Jesus on Justice

Kin City (On social issues in Chicago)
The South Side & Segregation with Natalie Moore

(Haven’t listened to many yet, but others are on how cops are trained, racial reconciliation, homelessness, adoption and tokenism)

On Being
Vincent Harding (Civil Rights leader)–Is America Possible?

Isabel Wilkerson (author of The Warmth of Other Suns)

Pass the Mic
Processing Donald Trump with Jemar Tisby

Round table: Perspective 

Current Events: The Election of 2016

This is one my favorite podcasts these days. I appreciate that the hosts are not afraid to discuss controversial issues in the church today, but also love the way they represent Christian women as intellectual, capable and respectable. 

The Outsourcing of Women’s Discipleship to Para-church Personalities
(On the issue of Lifeway’s dismissal of Jen Hatmaker books).

Evangelicals Are Having an Identity Crisis

Seminary Dropout
#SheLeads Summit–Austin Panel 
A panel with Latasha Morrison (founder of Be the Bridge), Tish Harrison Warren, Keith Atkinson and Kenny Green about how women are incorporated into the church body.

This American Life
The Sun Comes Up 
Interviews with both Trump and non-Trump supporters in the day and week following the election.

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

An Open Letter to the Evangelical Church, from the Black Girl in Your Pew, by Ilesha Graham for Huffington Post.

Dear Children of Aleppo: The People of the World Needed to tell you THIS on #GIVINGTuesday, by Ann Voskamp at her blog.

Finding Contentment in the Uncomfortable, by Christen Bordenkircher for The Mudroom Blog (I loved this for selfish reasons because it was so similar to my own story!)

Gilmore Girls: A Series in Books, by Anne Bogel for Modern Mrs. Darcy. (A glimpse of some of the 339 books we saw Rory reading in the first seven seasons!)

Glennon Doyle Melton’s Gospel of Self-Fulfillment, by Jen Pollock Michel for Christianity Today.

I Was an Evangelical Magazine Editor, but Now I Can’t Defend my Evangelical Community, by Katelyn Beaty for The Washington Post.

In Defense of Domesticity, by Tyler Blanski for Crisis Magazine.

Lifeway Stops Selling Jen Hatmaker Books Over LGBT Beliefs, by Kate Shellnut for Christianity Today.

No Place for Self Pity, No Room for Fear, by Toni Morrison for The Nation.

To the Mamas of Littles During the Holidays, by Lora Lynn Fanning at Vita Familiae.

Trump Syllabus 2.0 by N.D.B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blaine (an actual syllabus of a course that explores the foundations of “Trumpism”)

What I Want Pastors to Know About Women’s Ministry, by Sharon Hodde Miller for Christianity Today.

5 Ways Parents Pass Down Prejudice and Racism, by Danielle Slaughter for Huffington Post.

Barefoot Books: Diverse and Inclusive Books
(Great books for Christmas presents)

The Advent Project Devotional Series (sign up for free for daily devos for Advent including art, music, a hymn, prayer, scripture reading and a devotional)

For SheLoves

Madeleine L’Engle Made Me Do It

For Scraping Raisins:

This Was Not the Plan

Posts about Christmas & Advent

The Anticipation of Advent (four ways we like to celebrate Advent as a family)

The Truth About Family Advent 

Living the Sticky Life 


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer  and Emily P. Freeman

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monthly Mentionables {October}

Running, cooking, baking, reflecting and socializing (aided by much additional coffee drinking) have resumed a bit now that our new little one is nearly two months old and I’m out of the the Month One Fog. I feel more like myself than I have in about eight months, actually.

I’ve also had a chance to listen to some more podcasts this month, which directly correlates to the amount of laundry, cleaning and showering I do since that is when I usually listen to them. (Laundry is happening a lot more than showering these days since we can get by without me being completely hygienic, but not without clothes for our family.)

I’ve also been spending more time working–yes, working (and I don’t mean the butt-wiping/endless-feeding/boo-boo-kissing/mothering type of work)! Albeit as a volunteer, I’m officially an editor for the online publication, SheLoves, a fabulous community of women who are dedicated to living out their love for Jesus in practical ways in the world. I edit pieces that run on Mondays and get to publish with them monthly. I’m loving it!       

Here’s some of what I’ve been up to in the book, podcast, recipe, article and writing departments this month:


The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
This was the book for my book club this month and I stayed up waaay too late to finish it. It didn’t change my life, but was definitely engrossing and entertaining.  It was fun to read a page-turner instead of my standard, serious non-fiction fare.


Given: Poems, by Wendell Berry
I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first book of poetry that I have read cover-to-cover in about ten years AND the first book by Wendell Berry I have read (shameful, I know).  Last month I attempted to read A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, edited by Luci Shaw, but took too much time analyzing the poems and reading them aloud that I had to return it to the library before I was finished.  So this time around, I decided to just read it as I would a book, hoping that I would absorb a bit of beauty along the way.  His poetry was very readable for the non-poetry reader.  My favorite poem in the book was “How to Be a Poet (to remind myself).” Here’s an excerpt:

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill–more of each
than you have–inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time 
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment…

Have you read a book of poetry before? What was your favorite? I’d love to hear your advice on the best way to read it in the comment section!  Enlighten me;-)

Monthly Mentionables {October}: Here's some of what I've been up to in the book, podcast, recipe, article and writing departments this month.
Morning Walk


The God-Centered Mom

The Power of Sex in Marriage: Francie Winslow

The Ripple Effect of Healthy Sexual Connection: Francie Winslow

Life Creative: Kelli Stuart 

10 Ways to Stop Meltdowns & Arguments: Kirk Martin


A Woman’s Place with Katelyn Beaty (Part 1)

A Woman’s Place with Katelyn Beaty (Part 2)

Home is Where the Art Is

The Self We Find in “Eat, Pray, Love”

Sorta Awesome

Social media tips, tricks, advice and more

(This is a tell-tale sign that I am feeling 90% better than a month ago:  I feel like cooking again!)

Chicken Corn Chowder (Plan to Eat)
A woman from the church we’ve been visiting brought enough of this soup over to feed us for FIVE days. And anything I’m willing to eat five days in a row, must be tasty, right?  I made it last night for Halloween and didn’t love it as much as I did when this friend made it, but it’s definitely worth keeping in the fall repertoire and tweaking. 

Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka (Smitten Kitchen)
This was delicious and very easy as long as you already have all the Indian spices like coriander, garam masala, ginger, etc.  We ate it with rice, topped with purple onions, lemon wedges and cilantro.  Yum.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread (Cookie + Kate)
Ok, so this was “healthy” in that it used coconut oil, wheat flour and maple syrup instead of the usual fare, but in this case “healthy” also meant “doesn’t taste very good.”  That said, if you’re looking for a healthier pumpkin bread, this would be a good choice with one caveat: ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry (Pinch of Yum)
This was very tasty and I’ll make it again.  Next time I think I’ll add chicken just so it’s not so starchy with the potato + rice combo.

Miso Salmon with Mushrooms (PBS Food) 
A friend of mine brought this dish after the baby was born and I begged her for the recipe.  It is very simple as long as you are able to pick up Miso and Mirin.  I found Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) in the regular grocery store, but my friend brought me the Miso from an Asian grocery store.  I actually made it twice this month–once making the foil “pouches” and once just covering the dish with foil.  I’d definitely recommend using the pouches.  I also used frozen salmon (defrosted) and it tasted just fine! I served with white rice and fresh spinach nuked in the microwave for a minute, then tossed with a bit of soy sauce.  Delicious.

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web

Book Club Questions for Fiction/Novels from Lit Lovers (used for our book club this month)

Ethical Fashion and Sustainable Lifestyle Resources at Eco Warrior Princess

How Millennial Moms are Changing the World by Kelli Stuart for Huffington Post

‘This Is Us’ and the Dignity of Human Emotion, by Abby Perry for Christ and Pop Culture 

This One Shift in Perspective Will Change Your Life, by Claire De Boer at her blog, The Gift of Writing

What Jen Hatmaker Gets Right About Christian Love, by Katelyn Beaty for Christianity Today

What White Children Need to Know about Race, by Ali Michael and Eleonora Bartoli

18 Children’s Books with Characters of Color, by Joanna Goddard for her blog, A Cup of Jo

For Fun:

These Hilarious Parenting Comics Are Almost Too Real, by Valerie Williams for Scary Mommy
The Adventures of George Washington (language alert!)

Published Elsewhere on the Web:

Frozen Manna, for SheLoves

In Case You Missed it on Scraping Raisins:

In This Season (of motherhood)

An Evening with Bryan Stevenson: Get Closer 

What about you?  I would LOVE to hear any recommendations you have for any of the above categories!


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer

~This post includes affiliate links

Monthly Mentionables {September}

I had a baby this month!

Not just worth mentioning, but worth celebrating, I’d say.

While rocking our already unstable world, he is a precious gift whose only demands seem to be to be held, fed and held some more.  Though life is a bit of a blur right now, I’m trying to see through the fog to capture these mental pictures and special moments that are so fleeting.

So because of this new life that is shifting mine, this month may be a bit light (mainly because the time is ticking…my husband agreed to strap him on in our Moby wrap while he roasts coffee so I could sneak downstairs and write baby-less for a couple hours).

Here’s what I’ve been into this month:


Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
As a trained actor, my husband has an entire shelf designated for books on faith and art. I plucked this one off the shelf one night in hopes of inspiration as a writer. Written by two different people, I definitely preferred one of the writers over the other, though the writers themselves were never identified.  That said, it was a quick read and offered many good thoughts for those in creative fields as they confront their fears of insignificance and inferiority and combat perfectionism in themselves.  This book is an optimistic cheerleader on the sidelines for those who are in need of a bit of a pep rally for themselves.

The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris
My husband actually picked this one up from the library and thought I’d like it.  It has been my companion through the night vigils of nursing (at least after the initial first week of binge-watching the last season of Downton Abbey).  As we have been attending a liturgical church recently, I found this book about Ms. Norris spending many months at a monastery to be fascinating.  The format was a bit convoluted for me (which could be because I was reading it in a slightly hallucinatory state) and confusing to follow since it was a composite of essays she had published in various other publications.  It also seemed to be about 50 pages too long, but it was enjoyable enough that I stuck it out to the end.  My husband and I especially enjoyed her thoughts on celibacy and marriage and found a lot to discuss in those chapters.  I would recommend it if you are at all interested in the monastic life or are a life-long evangelical dipping your toes in liturgical life.


God Centered Mom
Connecting with Your Kids in Any Circumstance:: Jim & Lynn Jackson 

Stay in Your Hoop:: Vela Tomba

The Art of Nurturing Boys:: David Thomas

The Boob Group
(seriously!)  This was new to me, but has a lot of different great episodes on breastfeeding for the nursing mama!

Tongue Ties and Lip Ties: Symptoms, Treatment and Aftercare

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach

What to do When You’re Unsure How to Begin

Your Writing Can Change the World

Pass the Mic
Current Events: Keith Lamont Scott, Terence Crutcher, and NMAAHC

A Pastoral Perspective on the 2016 Election

Pandora Stations I’m Enjoying:

Fernando Ortega

Josh Garrels

The Weepies

(Now that I’m nursing around the clock, I seem to have more time to watch T.V. in the wee hours of the night.)

This is Us
(tailor-made to fill the void left behind by Parenthood)

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

Getting Hurt by the Church Doesn’t Mean You Should Abandon God, by Elizabeth Trotter for Relevant

I Am Not Labeled, I am Named, by Alia Joy for SheLoves Magazine

The Sugar-Coated Language of White Fragility, by Anna Kegler for Huffington Post

Stop the Revolution, Join the Plodders, by Kevin DeYoung for Ligonier Ministries

That Is Not My Jesus, by Travis Eades for Huffington Post

Yes, We’re Going to Talk about IT {The Grove: Sexuality}, for Velvet Ashes (this includes lots of links to great resources for those in all walks of life!)

For Fun:

Sleeping Baby Has No Idea She Becomes the Star of Cosplay During Her Naps 

Hilarious Parenting Comics, for Scary Mommy

Find Me Elsewhere:

The Best Years of Our Lives for the Mudroom

Falling Off the Missionary Pedestal for SheLoves Magazine

In Case You Missed it on Scraping Raisins:

The New Normal 

39 Weeks: These Strange Days 


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer: What I’m Into 

**This post includes affiliate links

Monthly Mentionables {August}

I’m a little over 38 weeks preggers, so that is much on my mind these days.  Yesterday it took me 20 minutes to walk a little under one mile, going at a steady pace.  I now outweigh my husband and my children can’t sit on my lap.  I’m ready to have a baby instead of a belly.

But in the midst of trying to keep cool and stay sane as I chase around two other little ones, I’ve enjoyed some really great books, have written out my angsty thoughts and listened to some new podcasts in the midst of sorting baby clothes and starting projects I usually don’t have the energy to finish.

I’d love to hear what you’re learning and being entertained by this month, so be sure to drop a note in the comments!

Next month’s mentionables post should include funny looking newborn baby pics…;-)


Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield

Check out my review of this book here.  If you are involved in cross-cultural work of any kind, then this book is a must-read!

Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith, by Luci Shaw

This was the first book I have read by Luci Shaw and I couldn’t put it down.  Along the lines of one of my favorite books of all time, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Wheaton Literary Series), by Madeline L’Engle, Shaw reflects on the dissection of faith and art in such a beautiful and logical way.  It will be one of my new yearly reads, I am sure.  Very inspirational to those of us attempting to write or create.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin 

Okay, though I admit I definitely read more than one line aloud to my husband saying, “Listen to this–this is hilarious!” (usually about the “ecstasy of childbirth” or the woman’s “parts” being referred to as “the gates of life”) this is still my favorite book about natural childbirth.  This was a re-read for me in preparation for baby #3 coming in a few weeks.  What I love most is the way she discusses the mind-body connection and the way childbirth is considered as a natural, beautiful occurrence instead of a medical and scary one.


Beautiful Writers

I have binge-listened to this podcast all month.  Two women interview writers and others involved with the publishing business about how they work, what works for them and what they’ve learned over the years in the business.  My favorites were with Marianne Williamson and Seth Godin (though I seriously listened to more than half of them and enjoyed many!).

The Liturgists

#37 The Enneagram
(Just took the test for the Enneagram and I think I’m a 3. Hard to be an “Achiever” AND a pregnant mom of littles.)  This show, though probably the longest podcast I’ve ever listened to at two hours, is a great overview of what the Enneagram is if you have never heard of it before!

Global Mom Show

If I could host my own podcast, this would be it.  Love this idea and have gotten some great tips about books to read, fair trade clothing to buy and just a general outlook on life as a mom who hopes to raise kids who look past their own backyard.

Back to the Basics and Blog Posts (This gives a good overview of what this show is about!)

Fair Trade, Fashion and Global Girlfriends with Stacey Edgar

Books for Global Moms with Anne Bogel

Living Barefoot with Nancy Traversy

God Centered Mom

This podcast was also new to me this month and I LOVED it. Though I listened to at least six of these, these were my favorites:

Calmly Parenting the Strong-Willed Child with Kirk Martin

Debunking Spiritual Leadership Myths with Jen Wilkin  

Relief Journal

#3 D.L. Mayfield (author of the book I mentioned above, Assimilate or Go Home)

#1 Marilyn Chandler McEntyre


Slow Cooker Carnitas (All Recipes)
This was so good and incredibly easy.  I copied some of the comments and put the meat in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 just to brown the meat a bit more after it had cooked. I also threw together a salsa made of chopped purple onion, garlic, cilantro, lime and tomatoes.  Add some shredded cheese and put in warm tortillas and you have an amazing meal.  LOVE easy food.

Zucchini Rice Gratin (Smitten Kitchen)

Our neighbor gave us a GIANT zucchini, so I was excited to find this recipe to put it to use (we only used about 1/6 of it!).  This could have used a bit more salt, but other than that it was really good.  We ate it with some Italian sausages and that really made it, I think.

Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Pinch of Yum)
I made the mistake of doubling this recipe, thinking I would be smart and save some soup for when the baby comes, but now I have about 4 extra containers in my freezer!  It was good, though a bit richer than I would have liked.  Next time I think I’ll use less butter and try it out with 1% milk instead of whole milk.  This will be a great soup for cold weather.

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web

An Open Letter to the Parents of Well-Behaved Children, by Jillian Lauren for Huffington Post 

Children’s Books to Help Talk about Race with Kids 

Don’t Carpe Diem, by Glennon Doyle Melton for Huffington Post

How to Make Your Voice Sound Better So People Will Actually Listen to You, by Laura Vanderkam for Fast Company  (My hubby was interviewed for this article!)

My Lack of World-Changing Extracurriculars, by Megan Gahan for SheLoves

Pregnant with God, by Danielle Strickland for SheLoves

So you’re thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate… by Rachel Held Evans at her blog

Ultimate Guide to Keeping Young Children with You at Church, at Living and Learning at Home

5 Actions White Educators Can Take to Help Make Schools Anti-Racist, by Jamie Utt for Everyday Feminism

Published Articles

I once was (color) blind, but now… for Altarwork

How Our Muslim Student Became Auntie Boo for SheLoves

In Case You Missed it at Scraping Raisins:
(Lots about pregnancy this month now that I’m in the final stretch–no pun intended…)

What My Pregnant Body is Teaching Me

When You Can’t Quit Your Job (a reflection on my time at the Simply Jesus conference I went to at the end of July)


The 37 Week Pep Talk for the (Scared) Waiting Mama

What have you been into this month?


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Previous Post:  A Fellow Failed Missionary {A Review of Assimilate or Go Home}

Next Post: 39 Weeks  ~ These Strange Days

Linking up with Leigh Kramer

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a book and buy it through Amazon, you will not be charged extra, but I will receive a very tiny commission.

Books, podcasts, recipes and articles I've loved this month!

Monthly Mentionables {July}

What a month. 

Doesn’t it feel a bit like fear is steering the ship? 

If you’ve forced your eyes, ears and heart open like I have in spite of longing to turn off the news, jump back in bed and binge on T.V., then you may be feeling like fear is delivering us straight into the darkness. 

But an image has helped me not to be overcome by hopelessness. Sitting on our back porch in the early hours of the morning recently, I re-read the familiar words of Psalm 139 about God searching me and knowing me, knowing when I sit and rise, etc.  But seemingly new words reached out from the page, grabbing my chin and speaking straight to my doubting face as David cried out to God:  

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.”

And it hit me: God sees in the dark.  

He does not stumble blindly, knock into the coffee table or stub his toe 

God has night vision. 

In fact, darkness is not even dark to Him, but is as bright as the day. We are never alone in the darkness.  Although we cannot see the way ahead, Someone is walking with us who can.

God has used some of the following books, podcasts and articles this month to encourage, challenge and grow me.  Many of them have been twinkling lights in the darkness.  I hope you find the time to click on some of the links and I’d love to read some of your recommendations in the comments section!


Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faithby Anne Lamott

This was my first Anne Lamott book that I picked up at our local Little Free Library.  Irreverent and honest, Anne invites her readers on a refreshing faith journey that does not hide the bumps and bruises she receives along the way.  Having attended churches full of squeaky clean Christians most of my life (and having been one myself), I appreciated having a peek behind the curtain at how Jesus meets with other sisters and brothers before they get all cleaned up (and even when they don’t). 
Brennan Manning does it again and manages to combine extensive research, deep spiritual truths, an incredible vocabulary and jarring images to present a message of grace lived out by a life of tested faith.  I loved the chapter titled “Artists, Mystics and Clowns” because of my husband’s background in acting and my love of writing, but thoroughly enjoyed the entire book as I absorbed short passages with coffee in the wee hours of the morning this month.


A Mom’s Mission Field
This podcast was new to me this month.  The host, Tiffany Castleberry, brings on guests who do not believe that being a mom and following God’s call on your life are mutually exclusive.  I especially enjoyed the following episodes:

Flower Patch Farm Girl Blooms in the City: Shannan Martin 
I loved this interview with Shannan Martin and am looking forward to her new book coming out this fall called Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted.  She’ll also have an essay in this book full of other amazing writers called Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption by Emily P. Freeman, Sarah Bessey, Trillia Newbell and more, edited by Cara Sexton.

A Sweaty Conversation about Racial Reconciliation: Retha Nichole and Emily Thomas
Such a great conversation between two white women and an African American woman about race relations following the shootings earlier this month.

Following Your God Dreams while Raising a Family: Tricia Goyer
This was the first episode I listened to of this podcast and I loved the way the women talked about following God’s calling on your life in the midst of raising a family. 

Code Switch: Race and Identity, remixed
Extra: No Words (reflecting on the shootings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the 5 policeman in Dallas)

Pass the Mic
I discovered this podcast the day after I published this popular post on race resources for white people and I really wish I had included it in the list! What I appreciate about this podcast is that not only are the hosts completely candid about discussing race in our country, they also come at it from the perspective of how a Jesus follower should learn and move forward when it comes to race issues in our country. Here were a few episodes that were especially helpful in filling in blanks for me:

Defining White Privilege

Defining Systemic Racism

Roundtable: How to Be a White Ally

Real Hurt, Real Hope: Racial Tension and Perseverance (reflecting on the shootings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the 5 policeman in Dallas)

Shalom in the City with Osheta Moore
#14 Seeking Shalom for the Immigrant
Loved this interview with a woman married to a man from Guatemala and her experience working in immigration in America.

#16 Everyday Practices of Peace for the Homeless
If you’ve ever interacted with homeless people or are have questions about how we should think about homelessness in America, this interview with a woman who has worked in homeless ministries and public health for 20 years is a great source of further education in this area.

Village Church Sermons
Justice and Racial Reconciliation (from the week of the shootings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the 5 policeman in Dallas)
This panel discussion was healing balm to my soul after that rough week.  I’m thankful for Jesus followers who are not afraid to have the hard conversations.

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel
#31 Lifetime Favorite Books and reading for a living with Adam Verner
Everyone should listen to this episode featuring my hubby, audio book narrator, Adam Verner!  I’ve listened to Anne’s podcast since January and it dawned on me that my husband would be the PERFECT guest since he’s an audio book narrator and devours books even when he’s not working. He had a great conversation with Anne that I know you’ll love (though I’m slightly biased);-).

(No New Recipes This Month…did I mention that I’m 8 months pregnant…?)

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

A Letter to My Son, (an African American man’s letter to his son), by Rev. Otis Moss III for Huffington Post

A Week from Hell, by Charles M. Blow for The NY Times

Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD in Children, Study Shows for The Inquisitr  

Lacrae: Humility is the Key to Understanding Race Relations: Guest Essay, by Lecrae for Billboard 

[Love Looks Like] Choices, by Sarah Bessey

Misogyny in Missions, by Jonathan Trotter for A Life Overseas

My Husband Isn’t Called to Ministry, by Cara Meredith for Christianity Today

The Truth of Loneliness, by Liz Ditty for The Mudroom 

Verge Network 7 Part Series on Racial Justice

White Fragility: Why Its So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism, by Dr. Robin Diangelo for The Good Men Project

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree on, by Katelyn Beaty for Her.Menutics

10 Ways to Live Well, by Amy Young for SheLoves Magazine
38 Resources to Help Your Church Start Discussing Race Today by Missio Alliance 

Just for fun (language alert!)  

God Makes Animals (these are the types of things my husband finds on the Internet)

New (to me) Websites and Blogs:

Good Black News
This site is pretty self-explanatory and shares wonderful things that are happening in the African American community.  For example, this article mentioning that some black women will be acting in the movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time.

Reformed African American American Network
Along with offering the podcast, Pass the Mic, that I mentioned above, this site is a treasure trove of resources on race relations in America.

White Allies in Training
This site offers a ton of resources for white people looking for more information about racism and how they can be involved in being a bridge towards reconciliation in America.

A Life with Subtitles (blog for Sarah Quezada)
I heard about Sarah on this podcast about marrying an immigrant and working in immigration and ran straight over to her blog. This is a great blog for anyone working, living or loving in a cross-cultural setting. 

D.L. Mayfield (personal blog)
I am currently reading her book, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith (due to be released in August), and really enjoying it!  More on that later;-)  I absolutely love her wry and honest writing style and can really relate to so much of what she writes about as she worked for years with refugees in America.

In Case You Missed it on Scraping Raisins:

70+ Race Resources for White People 
It’s time.  

Maybe you read a news article on your Facebook feed or listened to a podcast and feel it’s time for you to finally DO something about the injustices in our nation.  

Perhaps it is time for that.   

But our African American sisters and brothers have asked that before we speak, we be sure that we have done something else first: educate ourselves...” continue reading    

I once was (color) blind, but now…
As white people, we brag that we are “colorblind” and congratulate ourselves for being inclusive and tolerant. Because we don’t actively hate, abuse or reject those of another color personally, we would never call ourselves “racists.” We say we see everyone as the same and silently assume that everyone, deep down, is like us.

But as we boast that we are colorblind, what we are blind to is that color really does matter. People are treated certain ways simply because of the color of their skin.

My journey toward sight began as all breakdowns of prejudice inevitably must: through a relationship…” continue reading

A Muslim in Our Home
Perhaps the only difference between our Fourth and yours was that we spent ours with a devout Muslim who is currently living in our home, a close friend whom our children call “Auntie Boo.”  She lived with us for a year in Chicago and is now staying with us for a month after recently finishing her studies in Denver.  We invited her to celebrate the 4th of July at my parent’s house a few hours away in the middle of the Rocky Mountains…”  continue reading…   


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Next Post: When You Can’t Quit Your Job

Previous Post: “Open a Vein” {Thursday Thoughts for Writers} 

Linking up with Leigh Kramer: What I’m Into 
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a book and buy it through Amazon, you will not be charged extra, but I will receive a very tiny commission.


Monthly Mentionables {June}

The month of June enveloped us with her open arms as my husband and I left our children with the grandparents and took our first week-long vacation in San Diego without kids. We marveled at the silence and relished the rest and opportunity to get to know one another again after the past four years of being in survival-mode with little ones. It was wonderful.

On the tail of that came The Readjustment to Real Life. (Ahem, reminding our children, who had a vacation of their own, that mommy and daddy do things differently than mimi and papa). And just as soon as it seemed that life was back to “normal,” I plunged into potty training BOTH my children.

But thanks to the vacation, where I put my phone aside for an entire week, I was able to indulge in reading, do a bit more self-education about race issues and listen to some fascinating new podcasts. Here’s some of what’s been blowing my mind this month:


The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings is written from the perspective of one white woman from a slave-owning family in South Carolina and the African American attendant she was “given” as a girl. The chapters alternate between these points of view and walk us through their lives as the United States begins to awaken to the injustices of slavery. The themes regarding race, women’s rights and the role of history and religion in the formation of our laws are discussions that are still applicable around our living room, at bars and certainly on the Internet today. Packed with imagery and symbolism, this book provided a great discussion for our first book club.  I would certainly recommend that you explore its depths with a friend or two.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, by Joshua Becker
Here’s a snippet of the review I wrote for this book:
This book is a practical how-to book for the minimalist novice looking to explore the benefits of a simpler lifestyle. As I already agreed with Becker’s concepts of minimalism at the outset, I didn’t need a lot of convincing and personally found the first half of the book to be purely common sense. But the second half of the book offered so much practical advice on how to actually incorporate minimalist ideas into the average American’s life that I found it to be a gem in the midst of so many books now available on this current trend…continue reading 

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle
This is one of the most powerful stories I’ve read about real lovers of Jesus doing the hard work of living and working among the poor right here in the U.S. Gregory Boyle breaks the mold as a fearless, potty-mouthed priest who moves into the ghetto of Los Angeles. An expert story-teller, Boyle poetically juxtaposes stories of loss alongside humor in a way that dunks you into the emotions and reality of life on the streets again and again, but still leaves you gasping for breath (and sometimes even laughing) at the end of it all. If you are in the market for a true and inspiring story about a man making a difference, buy it right now (don’t make the mistake of checking it out of the library like I did–you’ll want to underline this one!). 

Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame, by Heather Nelson
Shame is a buzzword that is rising to the crest of discussions on identity and self not just in the world of psychology, but also in society at largeThis book provides a much-needed seat at the panel discussion of shame as it delves into this topic from an overtly Christian perspective. Heather Nelson clearly pinpoints the shame that is so prevalent, though often unrecognized, in the life of the Christian, and offers hope through holding that shame up to the cross of Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus who is at all familiar with the work of Brene Brown on the topic of shame, then you will find this book to be a powerful and necessary compliment to her work as it address the topic from a biblical angle. (And this is the first book I’ve ever read that was written by a real, live friend of mine! I’m in awe.)


Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed
I’m so excited about this new podcast. Its a group of journalists of different races that talk about some of the hard issues surrounding race. I really appreciated the first episode I listened to and it gave me lots to think about: Can We Talk about Whiteness?

On Being with Krista Tippet
Oh my. I’m obsessed with Krista Tippet’s VOICE (so I just may love people with great voices…). It is so soothing. In addition to that, she is one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard. I’m really enjoying this very professional, deep and insightful podcast with some of the best thinkers alive today.

Revealing Ramadan
Michelle Alexander–Who We Want to Become: Beyond the New Jim Crow

Sorta Awesome
I now feel like these ladies are my friends, so I love just listening along and always come away with some new book to read, recipe to try or fad to explore. It’s positive listening in a heavy world, so I appreciate that so much!
The Good, the Bad, and (Rarely) Ugly of Blogging

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
Jamie is such a laid-back, down-to-earth host and she has some incredible friends on the show. I loved this one with Jen Hatmaker, who is just as hilarious in person as she is in her books!
#50 Jen Hatmaker

Coffee + Crumbs
I sort of binge-listened to this podcast this month. It feels like listening to a few mom friends chat about everything I’m thinking about these days, so I loved it!

#2 Making Mom Friends
#3 It’s Their Day Too  
#4 Mommy Doesn’t Go to Work  
#6 Potty Training is the Worst  

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

I Used to Lead Tours at a Plantation. You Won’t Believe the Questions I Got about Slavery., by Margaret Biser for Vox

“The site I worked at most frequently had more than 100 enslaved workers associated with it— 27 people serving the household alone, outnumbering the home’s three white residents by a factor of nine. Yet many guests who visited the house and took the tour reacted with hostility to hearing a presentation that focused more on the slaves than on the owners.”

One Small Square, by Lisha Epperson for The Mudroom (The Mudroom actually did an entire series on race during the month of June that was fabulous.)

“There’s a difference between contemplative silence and a quiet birthed from fear. I found myself knotted up in the latter and afraid to admit it. It’s the kind of quiet that kills and makes hope a commodity you think you can’t afford. It’s also easier, but would never lead to the kind of redemption I sought. It was time to still my silence, unleash the internal verbal parrying to the page as prayer – to move forward in courage.

A reawakening happened as I zeroed in on the heartbeat of my everyday world. Surely I could handle one small square. Using a teaching technique that’s worked well with my children, I leaned into the specifics of my piece of the quilt – my portion. I got clear on the questions I needed to answer. Who do I want to be to my family and community? How do I want to show up in the faith communities I’m called to and how I can I align myself with the gathering of courageous ordinary people doing the work of justice in their daily lives?”

The Heartbreaking Reality of Raising Black Children in America, by Jacalyn Wetzel for the Huffington Post

“As a mother of two black boys, I have to be extra vigilant in making sure they understand how their presence can make people feel threatened, while at the same time help them understand they have value. I have to have a conversation with them when they get a little taller about how they will “fit the description” most of the time, and how to react when they do. Sometimes the reason for being pulled over is because you’re brown and the sad truth is, if you don’t act in a manner that is completely compliant, you can get a jolt of a Taser or worse. As parents our goal should be raising a boy in America, not raising a black boy in America or a (fill in the blank) boy in America.”

This ‘Hamilton’ Star Validated What So Many Women Feel–But Rarely Say Out Loud, by Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy of Fusion

“I would just love to say that if you know anything about me, I have spent the last 10 years of my life—what some would consider the life blood of a woman’s career—just trying to have children. And I get to testify in front of all of you that the Lord gave me Benjamin and Brielle and he still gave me this,” she shared from the stage, holding her statue…”

When Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy, by Ashley Hales at her blog

“Because ultimately the strength of that covenant doesn’t rest on words we said when we were just babies. It rests on the great I AM who says he will never leave us or forsake us, who runs to welcome his wayward bride, who clothes us with the robes of family. He is the rock of ages and, on that foundation, we can keep placing our little wooden marital pew.”

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh

This article has been around for 30 years, but I’m ashamed to say that I am just now reading it. To learn about white privilege, read through the checklist (there are 50 total) and see how many you would say “yes” to… 

  1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
  3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented… 

White Privilege and What We’re Supposed to Do About It, by Kristen Howerton at her blog, Rage Against the Minivan

“Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage. It usually refers to something inherent . . . something you were born with rather than something you worked for. There are many types of privilege: economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, and of course . . . racial privilege. Racial privilege can take many forms, from minor things to life-threatening things. White privilege can look like being able to grab some shampoo at the grocery store and being confident they carry products for your hair type. White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone. White privilege can look like waling through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there. White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.”


So I mentioned we were on vacation for a week, right?  And the potty training thing…? It was a bit tricky getting back into the swing of cooking, so I went with a lot of invented recipes this month involving some combination of bean/grain/roasted veggies/feta for suppers that I won’t bother you with. I did try these out, though, and would recommend them:
Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa and Spinach {Cookie + Kate}
We actually ate this as a meal, but it would make a great side for a cookout or potluck since it’s so pretty. I didn’t have a fancy spirilizer, so I just used my vegetable grater and that worked fine.
Lemon Raspberry Muffins {Cookie + Kate}
I made a big batch of these before we had a week of house-guests and they were a hit. I love anything with lemon and fruit, so it was a great find for me. And because they were healthier than your normal muffin, I had no hesitations in giving them to my kids for snacks.


Published Posts:

Chicago’s Uptown at You Are Here
(I love the essays on this site–if you are into the connection of place and identity like I am, then you should head over and read more!)

“A fire engine shrieked through the stoplight, casting a light show in my room and spraying the bare white walls with color. Even through closed windows, the sound was deafening. Within minutes, an ambulance from the hospital in the other direction bayed and bounded through the intersection. I rubbed my eyes. The city had assaulted me through the night, pushing away any hope of restful sleep. The thought of coffee propelled me out of bed….continue reading

A Book for the Budding Minimalist {The More of Less} at Blogging for Books (excerpt above)

In Case You Missed It on Scraping Raisins:

Overcoming Smartphone Addiction

“A monarch butterfly sailed on the wind as I sat waiting for my latte at an open-air coffee shop in San Diego. I watched it glide, dip and twirl around the men and women busily setting up tables and canopies for a weekly farmers’ market. Suddenly, I realized that I wouldn’t have noticed this spectacular solo performance just a week ago. Nose-down, scrolling through any number of messages, alerts and notifications on my phone, I would have missed this simple dance on the wind…continue reading

Potty Training a Strong-Willed Child

“If you are not currently a parent of toddlers or preschoolers, please feel free to skip this post or pass it along to someone who is in this stage of life–I won’t be offended. But hopefully this will be helpful to those of you in the middle of this insane time of life where we actually get excited about our kids’ poo…continue reading

Loving Like They’re Lost

“My babies are my tattoos. When I gave birth to them, my flesh ripped and I was left with beautiful, forever scars. I’ve been branded. Altered. These tattoos are a display of the divine artist who chose the intricate motions that would sear my skin and create the unique patterns of each child. Like a fresh wound, motherhood leaves you vulnerable and exposed. Motherhood sensitizes you to pain, but also to raw joy… continue reading

My Friends Are Books: Finding More Time to Read

“… My husband and I call books our “friends.” When we decided to declutter and minimize our possessions before our move last year, my husband sifted through more than one thousand of these old pals to choose which ones to say goodbye to. It was a painful parting.

Just as any relationship evolves, so, too, our on-going affair with reading. I was that kid in elementary school, narrowly missing smacking into other students as I walked the hallways with my head buried in a book. I read billboards, cereal boxes at breakfast and shampoo bottles in the shower. Anything with words would do…continue reading


What have you been up to this month?


Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a book and buy it through Amazon, you will not be charged extra, but I will receive a very small commission for your book.


Previous Post: Potty Training a Strong-Willed Child

Next Post: A Muslim in Our Home

Linking up with Leigh Kramer

Here's some of what's been blowing my mind this month.

Monthly Mentionables {May}

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve been missing being a teacher.  Before leaving my job to stay home with kids, I taught middle school, ESL to college students in China and fourth grade. Though I don’t miss the bureaucracy, grading papers or interacting with livid parents, I do miss the continual learning, creative planning and being a part of the “light bulb moments” that make it all worth it as a teacher.

But who says the learning has to stop?

Just because I’m home with teeny tiny kids all day doesn’t mean all intelligent thought must cease.  I can still read, listen and learn. So lately, along with the typical mom stuff, I’ve been gravitating towards educating myself on social justice issues.  More than half of those I follow on Twitter are people of color.  I love watching my Twitter feed as it chatters all day long with the voices of the world changers and points me toward more resources about doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God.  Here are the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing projects Ive been into this month.  I’d love to hear some of your favorites as well!


Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, by Sarah Bessey 

Since I come from a more conservative background where “feminist” is a loaded word, I was a bit nervous to read this book, honestly. But in reality, I found Sarah Bessey’s discussion of women’s roles in the family, church, and world, to be a refreshing reminder of God’s love for women–and anything but scary or offensive.  

While I didn’t agree with everything she said, I appreciated hearing credible evidence for certain doctrines that had often been dismissed as “unbiblical” among conservatives–using plenty of biblical proof. But more than anything, Sarah always carried her discussion back to the living, breathing, pulse-in-our-veins soul relationship with Jesus and the hope we have in Him.  She is not out to declare war on those who disagree with her, but to remind us we are not to worship our creeds, traditions and black-and-white theology, but worship our Jesus and see ourselves the way that he sees us as women.  Though this book was clearly well-researched, it was not intended to be a reference manual, but more of a personal testimony.  I appreciated hearing the experience of another daughter of the King who is following His way in freedom. 

The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles and Hope, by Seth & Amber Haines

The Mother Letters is a book of letters compiled by Seth Haines for his wife, Amber, during a time when she was struggling as a mother.  You can read my review of this book here, but if you can’t get to it, then know that I would highly recommend it for all moms!

Still Life (Book #1 in A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series), by Louise Penny

This was the first fiction book I have read in a while and I mostly listened to it over the Nebraska plains in the middle of the night as we drove to Chicago and back in early May.  I loved the characters and was immediately engrossed in the story that took place in the quaint town of Three Pines in Quebec.  It had been a while since I read a mystery story, so listening while driving in the wee hours of the morning wasn’t ideal for paying attention to detail, but I felt the sense of triumphant success of solving the case myself in the end that drives a person to dive right back into another mystery.  I would recommend this and I’ve heard that they just get better and better in the series, so I look forward to reading the next one.  

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
I think this was the third or fourth time I’ve read this book, but the first time since I actually started calling myself a “writer.”  Even so, it always stirred a secret compartment of my soul that yearned to write. Her perspective on writing is honest and I appreciate the way she validates both the difficulties and the joys of this way of life that I am learning to live.

This quote stuck out to me this time:

“Why do you never find anything written about the idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it us up to you.  There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain.  It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin.  You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment” (p. 68). 

Currently Reading (Books):

I’m trying out a new reading strategy–read several books at once. So far, if I have books scattered around the house, with a pencil already marking my place, I seem to be more likely to pick them up and start reading when I only have a minute or two.  It also seems to help to have them in different formats (Kindle and the audio book version).  Here are books I’m currently reading or about to start.  And, to be fair, we’re going to San Diego for a whole week WITHOUT KIDS, so I‘m being pretty ambitious with my reading goals this month.  Anyone want to read along with me?  

A Fatal Grace (Book 2), by Louise Penny  

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert 

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd (for my new book club!) 

The More of Less, by Joshua Becker 

Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen  

Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, by Terri Crane (ugh–I’ll be skimming this one)  

Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning 

Favorite Podcasts this Month:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach

#42 Manage Your Energy So You Can Write

#49 Here’s to the Writer Moms
(This podcast inspired me to write this post)

#50 Stop Waiting for Last Minute Writing Inspiration

On Being

John A. Powell: Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging

Nikki Giovanni: Soul Food, Sex and Space

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

#67 Sarah Bessey

#45 Shannan Martin

The Hope * Writers 

What I Wish I’d Known Before I Wrote My First Book

Seminary Dropout

Deidra Riggs on Women of Color Writers, the Church, and More!

Jo Saxton on Post-Christendom, Discipleship, and Being a Woman of Color

Michelle Higgins on That Sermon at Urbana (Here is the talk that this is about: Michelle Higgins)

Sorta Awesome

All the Awesome for Summer 2016!

What Should I Read Next? 

#19 Great Literary fiction, inspirational favorites, and high school English with Brian Sztabnik


Balsamic Roasted Potato Salad (Your Home Based Mom)
I’m not a fan of mayo-based potato salad, so I was really excited to find this recipe.  And it has bacon;-)

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas (Smitten Kitchen)
Apart from the smoky house, these were really yummy (and hid lots of veggies so my kids ate them without realizing it).

Cilantro Lime Dressing (All Recipes)
I made this to top a salad with lettuce, roasted corn, and avocado and it was really delicious (I skipped the honey).

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup (Smitten Kitchen)
This was really good, but not my favorite for summertime.  I’ll pull it out again in the fall, most likely.

Also made these again (reviewed in previous posts):

Spring Roll Bowls with Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce (Pinch of Yum)

Sunday Frittata (Pioneer Woman)

Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas (Cookie + Kate) with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

An Open Letter to My Grown Boys: I Miss You, by Christy Mobley at For Every Mom (this one is a tear-jerker!)

“I miss you.

And to be honest, when the normal busy of the day gets tucked away and I’m ready for sleep…sometimes my heart will ache with the miss.

It aches for tiny arms stretching around my neck to squeeze the ever lovin’ life out of me.
It aches to hear chipmunk-like voices say, “Mommy, I love you more than anything in the world.”
It aches for the heart to heart talks about problems only a mama can solve…”

TGIF: How I Made Peace with my Breasts in a Brothel, by Tina Francis for She Loves Magazine (a must-read for anyone who has spent time in Thailand.)

Pema Chödrön writes that the truest and best measure of compassion lies not in our service of those in the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.”

Ten Things White People Need to Quit Saying, by Melody Moezzi for Huffington Post

“1. Do not use the word “exotic” to refer to humans who do not look like you. We are not fruit, and it is not a compliment. The longer you insist on assuring us that it is a compliment, the stupider you look. Just give it up.

2. Do not use the word “ethnic” as though it were a distinct race or nationality.

3. Do not ask people where they are from more than once. Trust them the first time. No need for “Where are you really from?” or “Where are your parents from?”… 

Thirty Ways to Reset Your Day, by Ginny Ellis at Wichita Mom Blog 

“1. Eat. Even if you all just ate, see if a PB&J or apple may help get everyone back in the groove.
 2. Play with Play Doh. Bonus for lavender calming dough.
 3. Give the kid(s) a bath. Daytime baths are so much fun.
 4. Throw a mini dance party. Turn up a Disney classic or T. Swift jam and dance it out.
 5. Practice calming breaths. Even for the little, little ones. Smell a flower, blow a candle, repeat.
 6. Watch puppy or videos on YouTube. Or goats. Goats are cute…”

White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic (language alert!)

Why White People Freak Out When They’re Called Out About Race, by Sam Adler-Bell for Alternet

“For white people, their identities rest on the idea of racism as about good or bad people, about moral or immoral singular acts, and if we’re good, moral people we can’t be racist – we don’t engage in those acts. This is one of the most effective adaptations of racism over time—that we can think of racism as only something that individuals either are or are not “doing.”

In large part, white fragility—the defensiveness, the fear of conflict—is rooted in this good/bad binary. If you call someone out, they think to themselves, “What you just said was that I am a bad person, and that is intolerable to me.” It’s a deep challenge to the core of our identity as good, moral people.”

7 Books that Will Help You Care for the Poor, Relevant Magazine (Haven’t read any of these, but they’re going on The List).

Published Articles:

A Letter to My Daughter, for Self Talk the Gospel

The Cult of Calling (originally published at A Life Overseas, but republished this month at For Every Mom)

The Ugly Truth about Diversity, at For Every Mom

When You Feel Like God Misled You, for Middle Places

In Case You Missed it on the Blog…

The Minivan Identity Crisis

To the Writer Mamas

Three Children is a Bad Idea (and why we’re doing it anyway)

You Know You’re Married to a Voice Actor When…


Do you have any recommendations of books, podcasts, recipes or articles you’ve loved this month?

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  I’d love to get to know you better!


Previous Post:  To the Writer Mamas

Next Post: Loving Like They’re Lost 

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and Leigh Kramer  

What I'm Into

Here are the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing projects I've been into this month.

Monthly Mentionables {April}

April was a month filled with fabulous books, podcasts, recipes, and articles that stretched me and gave me much to think about. My husband, Adam, will be chiming in on the book and podcast section.  Be sure to read to the end for some surprises…


Leslie read:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It is the true tale of an African American lawyer in the south fighting for rights of death row inmates who were unjustly incarcerated.  Though it is non-fiction, it reads more like fiction as Stevenson draws you into the stories of the men and women he has met on his journey as an attorney.  This book illuminates the racial injustices that are happening not during slavery or the early 1900’s, but RIGHT NOW.  It proves that we are not in post-racial times, but still living in the midst of rash injustice.  Please read it. 


The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
I read this in the mornings this month as a devotional.  Like his other books, Manning draws you up into his love affair with Jesus through his poetic words and vulnerability.  It is a very quick read and I’d recommend using it as a companion to your daily Bible reading.  Beautiful words from a beautiful soul.  

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy & ‘Women’s Work’ by Kathleen Norris
This was a quick read and in a monastic way Norris aids the reader in extracting spiritual meaning from menial chores and simple daily living.  She says: “We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were.” And another quote that summarizes her ideas is: “I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self.”

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marylin Gardner
This was my night stand reading this month since each chapter was only a page or two and told a brief sketch of her thoughts about living “between worlds” in Pakistan, Egypt and the U.S. Having lived overseas myself, I could identify with some of her feelings of grief over leaving a  land you love and confusion about identity.  This is a lovely book that dives into deep subjects without making you feel that you are underwater.

Adam read:

The Stand by Stephen King
So, I (Adam) have this condition called popularity aversion.  I’m allergic to hype, as it were.  This means if something is popular I tend to avoid it and look down my snooty little nose.  Despite being a lifelong SciFi and fantasy fan, I have never read Harry Potter, and I read Game of Thrones back in the 90s when it was cool and no one knew about it, darn it.  All this to say I’ve avoided Stephen King my whole life.  Surely any writer that prolific with books cramming the airport book seller’s stands must be low brow and common.  As I age and slowly pull on the mantle of wisdom (and aching joints), however, I’m trying to let this go.  So – The Stand.  I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and The Stand is one of the only novels in this genre I haven’t read, and I finally decided to give it a chance.  It’s great!  A bit long at 1200 pages, but worth it.  He knows how to spin a yarn, and his characters have depth and reality.


Leslie’s podcasts:

This was the month of podcasts, as you’ll see.  I feel the need to explain how I managed to listen to so many (and thus prove I wasn’t shirking all my other duties).  Here’s when I listened: in the shower (if they speak loud enough–thank you, Megan Tietz), while doing laundry, cooking dinner, picking up toys, driving (I got some good listening in when I drove around the mountains for two hours while my kids napped on the way home from the zoo), while getting ready in the morning and while cleaning. 
The Liturgists:
Episode 34–Black & White: Racism in America
This is the most important podcast I’ve ever listened to.  At an hour and a half, it takes some time, but it is completely worth it.  In it, two white guys and two African Americans candidly discuss the race issue in America in a way that lays out the problem in a very articulate, real and honest way.

On Being:
Nadia Bolz-Weber–Seeing the Underside and Seeing God
Nadia was one of the keynote speakers at a recent writing conference I didn’t get to go to, so I read many of her quotes on Twitter and admired her from afar.  I was excited to this podcast interview.  First of all, as a former comedian, she is hilarious.  And she is exactly the kind of out-of-the-box Jesus follower that reminds you that you are following a God become flesh and bone.  She is witty, honest, real and refreshing.   

The Practice:
This was a new podcast for me that I found mainly because I wanted to hear Sarah Bessey speak.  More than just a podcast, you find yourself entering into Jesus’ presence as you are invited into this community’s worship service.  It had me weeping more than once this month.  I have really loved the following episodes so far:
Stories of Resurrection in Religion: Sarah Bessey
Stories of Resurrection in Race: David Bailey
Seven Practices for Sabbath Keeping: Rabbi Evan Moffic

Because of my own story of coming home from China, I loved this podcast about Amy Young and her story of returning to the U.S. after 20 years in China.

Seminary DropOut:
This one was new to me and I am absolutely loving it so far.  Austin Channing Brown shared about how she got into racial activism and Shane Claiborne talked about radical living for Jesus.  I’m looking forward to delving into the archives to hear more. 

Gospel in Life (Timothy Keller):
March 21, Doing Justice & Mercy
You’ll notice I’m listening to a lot of fringy-type Jesus followers these days and dipping my toes into some social activism, so I listened to this one to include some more mainstream evangelical thought into the mix.  He says, “It’s grace that turns us into someone who does justice.” This was a very biblical and inspirational sermon on justice and mercy.
Also listening to: The Simple Show, Sorta Awesome, World Citizen Podcast, What Should I Read Next? and Anne Kroeker Writing Coach, Shalom in the City

Adam’s podcasts:

Radio Lab:
A great episode about the state of debate in the college scene, race, gender, and underdogs vs. top dogs.

In the Left Pocket by my Heart
A touching piece about the loss of a child.

Snap Judgement:
Fall Guy 
A series of vignettes, “Nellie’s Pond” is an incredible example of story telling.

Love and Radio
Bride of the Sea
A half Irish half Libyan tells his story of fighting in the Libyan revolution.  

New-to-me Recipes:

Spring Roll Bowls (Pinch of Yum)
This was really delicious, though a bit time-consuming to make, as I’m finding many of the Cookie + Kate recipes tend to be.  It was very light and tasty and my kids even ate it!

Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas (Cookie + Kate) with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
I made this last night and went with the cauliflower instead of broccoli since broccoli in enchiladas just seemed to cross too many lines.  I was feeling ambitious and decided to make her sauce as well, which was fantastic and only took about 15 minutes while the veggies were sauteing.  I doubled it and froze the rest for later.  Though it took almost an hour total to make (20 minutes in the oven), it was very tasty and I will definitely make it again.


Didn’t try as many new recipes this month since we were pretty busy, but I did have 4 ladies over for a dinner party when my husband was out of town.  We each made a recipe from the spring recipe list on the food blog Smitten Kitchen (well, some of us deviated, but it was a suggestion, not a requirement).  Here’s what we tried:

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, YeJee, made these for our appetizer and they were really amazing.  Swimming in butter, they were certainly a treat fit for a ladies night!

Garlicky Party Bread with Cheese & Herbs (Smitten Kitchen)
I made this bread and while it tasted good, we had a hard time getting it off the loaf, so I ended up just cutting it into squares.  Because of that, it may not be the best for a party.  But my kids and I enjoyed the leftovers heated up in the microwave later! 

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta & Mint (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, Jessica, made this one and it was sooooo good.  She said she substituted red pepper flakes for harissa since she couldn’t find that and it had a really nice kick to it.

Spring Panzanella (Smitten Kitchen)
I made this one and I really wasn’t a fan.  I’d skip it.

Rhubarb Snacking Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend, Melinda, made this and it was a very nice, light dessert.  It would make for a great coffee cake if you have guests over.

Spicy Thai Chicken and Quinoa (Pinch of Yum)
This is my favorite recipe this month.  I ended up using it as the entree for our dinner party since we had a last-minute cancellation and I had all the ingredients on hand.  It fulfills all of my food hopes and dreams: healthy, simple and delicious!

Articles (on race, ethics, culture and spirituality):

Creating with the Creator {how to start writing with God} by Elizabeth Trotter at her blog

Good Mom by Shannan Martin at her blog

Immigrants Explain What Shocked Them about American Culture by Serena Solomon at

It’s Not a Multicultural Church if… by Starlette McNeill at Raceless Gospel

My Low-Pressure Approach to Cultivating Intimacy with God by Elizabeth Trotter at her blog

Raising Race Conscious Children–a site dedicated to this topic with many resources

The Recipe: A Reflection on Black Womanhood by Austin Channing Brown at her blog

This is Infertility at In Due Time

When Christians Won’t Say #BlackLivesMatter by Kevin Wright at Huffpost

White Privilege: Lessons from a White Mama of Black Children by Christy Richardson at Elephant Journal

40 Ways to Go Greener at Home by Tsh Oxenreider at her blog

4 Things ‘LEMONADE’ Teaches Us About Black Womanhood by Courtney Hall Lee at

Leslie Published this month:

The Cult of Calling for A Life Overseas

I Was a Stranger, Extravagantly Loved for SheLoves Magazine

When Life is Less Radical Than You Imagined for The Mudroom

Scraping Raisins Posts 
(in case you missed them)  It was a very “listy” month;-)

3 Things Helping Me Right Now as a Mother

Surviving the Culture Shock of Motherhood

21 Ways to Live Counter-culturally

9 Things I’ve Learned in 6 Months of Writing 

Family News:

So this happened:

Then this:

And now we’re getting ready for this:

Seemed worth mentioning;-)  So stay tuned for the posts about minivans and thoughts on having three children

We’re excited!


Previous Post: Are You Afraid to Speak Up? {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  I’d love to get to know you better!

Next Post: Dear Daughter

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and Leigh Kramer

What I'm Into

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

April was a month filled with fabulous books, podcasts, recipes, and articles that stretched me and gave me much to think about.