After the jump

16 July 2014

Hello old friends! It's never too late to join me over at the new place - Here's what I've been working on over there:

I'm writing slower (hello, lazy writer). I'm filling up notebooks with a lot of rubbish and contemplating what direction the blog and my work away from the blog will go, and how. I don't want to fill up your browser with nonsense. My hope is to offer a fresh perspective on faith and cultural issues, promote the things I care about, and share stories from our life here. And plenty of pretty pictures of Ireland. And the kids. And sometimes the dog. And coffee.

I hastily buried letters under pillow and covers, trying to compose myself. How to tell them what it was like to discover at 19 the person you were meant to spend the whole of your life with? How to explain the humid hormone factory that is a Bible college campus? How to admit that - stupid as we were - we wouldn't change a thing? We'd walk this same road a thousand times over to be where we were that day: surrounded by the memories and the children and the life we were living. The story we were writing.

TRIW was never particularly focused, but I liked that. I felt freedom to "pour it out in a poem to the King... and occasionally yell." The river ran the gamut of mommy to faith to lifestyle to culture to transition to expat to re-pat to whatever-type blog. Many good conversations were had, great Jesus-y and internet-y connections were made, and it provided a tiny amount of pocket change (like $20/year, which just barely covers my yearly haircut). And then, the river ran dry.

The immigration office is filled with those who have no other place to go. Non-profits are set up for the very purpose of counseling immigrants and refugees in navigating this new home because their old one is lost to them. They have come here for safety, for security, for their children, for a future. Many have come fighting for their lives. This is not us. So I make myself aware of the priceless gift we have of choosing where we want to live. And how, when 2016 comes and we may in fact have to leave, we have someplace to go. Families who will take us in. New countries we could pursue if we wanted to. Our life will go on.

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Writing this blog was such a big part of my life - nearly all of Jack and Ella's life has been documented and every bit of Asher is on these pages. So the archives will stick around for awhile. But still, I hope you'll keep reading after the jump - and add your own words and ideas to the mix. :)

Here & Now (and a belated goodbye)

01 June 2014

Leigh tells me it's about time for the monthly What I'm Into blog link-up. And right now I'm underneath a burgundy throw, feet up on an Amish ottoman, watching The Daily Show from a Kansas sitting room.

I'm in a new space. Literally and figuratively. One will vanish fairly quickly... like 4am tomorrow quickly. And the other I hope will stick around for awhile. Karen Huber ( has gone live and I'm packing up things around these parts. Thanks for keeping up with me here, there and everywhere (don't worry, The River Into Words will still be live while I import the old into the new).

But now? Here's what I'm into... (click on over to the new site to keep reading... and don't forget to add to your feedly, blogloving or favourite online feed. See you there!).

The Ultimate Weekend Image

27 May 2014

This is how I spent my Memorial Day weekend! How did you spend yours?

Thank you, sweet Hailey from The Urban Romantic, for capturing this perfect moment!


29 April 2014

A soul-friend of mine sent me a quote today, about writing and God and being confused, and how sometimes writing about God IS about being confused. One of these days she'll show up here and share her own confusing God thoughts with you, because I think you need to hear them like I needed to today... I'm confused, too. Not just about God and writing, but because I'm in flux. And this blog is in flux because I am in flux.

And my migraines have returned, with such shocking full force that I've had to step away from the computer, from the kitchen, and occasionally from the children, just to catch my breath and close my eyes and pray it passes. They tend to come when I'm distracted and anxious, when the trees are sprouting new blooms and the seasons change, when the world itself is in flux.

Soon I'll be travelling, but before that will come some more visits regarding my visa, putting me back in a state of stress I'd so rather be living beyond by now. And I've spent too much time lately wondering what I'm meant to be writing about, wondering what this blog is supposed to be about, wondering what I'm going to do with this one wild and precious life? You know, besides mothering and wife-ing and carpooling, coffee-ing and walking and befriending, worshipping and laundering and praying.

But that's what life life is. It's not on the blog, on a screen. It's in the air, even if that air is making my sinuses implode right now.

So I'm off to spend these beautiful spring days in the garden with my kids, with my sisters, celebrating family and marriage and grace. And when I come back, things around here will look different. In fact, things may not even be here.

But I'll take you with me, and we can wander together.

Five Friday Favourites

25 April 2014

I've had this post sitting in my drafts for ages; not that I couldn't come up with five things, but I've just not felt like writing. At all. But it's Friday night, the usual weekly cinema party is in full swing downstairs, and I'm surrounded by clean laundry in need of folding. Clearly now is the time.

1. I'm obsessed with neutral, organic home decor. We're in the midst of painting our kitchen white (really our only option since we are stuck with natural wood cabinets and green tile) and already I feel brighter and more at ease in our little rental. Love these images of whites, woods and simplicity.

Clockwise from top: 1 source unknown / 2 Scandinavian Kitchens / 3 Remodelista

2. Playing Uno with the big kids. Ella's at this great age where she understands - and enjoys - math, and they're both starting to figure out that playing by the rules is way more fun than cheating. :) This morning I came downstairs and found them playing side by side on the couch, laughing and helping each other and throwing cards down like Vegas sharks.

3. Easter Sunday. You've already seen the family pictures, but what I could not capture with a camera phone was the spirit of the celebration during the worship service. Our church is still relatively new to us, but on Easter morning, it felt like family.

4. Wedding invitations! Finally, after months of anticipation, the invitations to the wedding of the century came this week! We're officially one month out from my little sister's wedding and I could not BE any more excited (imagine me saying that line like Chandler Bing a/k/a "My scone. MY scone!" If you don't get that, move right along...).

5. The Mini Break. We were able to escape the bustle of suburban Dublin for a couple of days, just our little crew (plus a dog, now). We love it in Clare: sitting by the peat fire, the children in and out of the door and wandering through fields, waking up to the Atlantic, a bright purple sunset. Best part: no cell reception and no TV. Ok, maybe a movie or two on the laptop, and the kiddos brought their little mobile game devices. We're not saints, ya'll. But we were quieted, slept well, jumped on rocks and cuddled in tight. No excuses: take any chance you can and get away with the people you live with, even for a quick 48 hours. We all need a Sabbath from normal life every once in awhile.

hike/nap at Poulnabrone

rock pools, kilkee, county clare


Your turn! Hit me with five of your favourite things right now.

Saying goodbye to the Easter Dress

22 April 2014

:: 2011 ::

It's not really a big deal. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Easter isn't about the dresses, and when you really think about it, pageantry is kind of the opposite of what happened on that desperate weekend so long ago. But still, in my formative years, when I was transitioning from awkward girl to awkward teenager, I could always count on a new Easter Dress. I have many memories of flowered skirts and white shoes, of the anticipation of the new outfit that would propel me into the fashionable orbit of Easter Girls. Ironically, princess-type frills were never my thing, but on Easter I threw those ideals out the window and embraced the glory of femininity.

:: 2008 ::

In a childhood where resources were tight, my mother still made sure to treat us to those Easter dresses. It was like Christmas in April and my sister and I always felt special, beautiful and girly, standing in front of my grandparents' house on a sunny Kansas morning. I have no idea what kind of church clothes I wore the rest of the year. I assume there were skirts and pointy shoes, maybe red bows for Christmas. But the only images that remain are of those Easter Dresses, a symbol of the celebration of resurrection, and the feeling of being pretty for my friends (and for the boys) on at least one day a year.

Ella last wore a dress for Easter in 2012. And it wasn't really a dress so much as a navy suit. She chose to forgo the flowers and the fluff, opting instead for white piping and zebra shoes. I didn't think about it so much at the time, but in the two years that have passed, it has become the norm of her identity: she is not a dress girl. She'd rather not wear skirts. She will only wear pink if there's some sort of animal on it (Christmas 2011 saw her in the "human cat dress" - thanks, H&M). And her usual Sunday attire consists of jeans and a hoodie.

:: 2012 ::

We used to fight about this. Not that I always wanted her in dresses, but we had a closet full of them. She's the only granddaughter on my side of the family, and her aunts and grandparents generously showered her with a beautiful wardrobe, a rainbow of skirts and dresses. They paid close attention to her style and personality, always careful to pick out something sporty or unique. But still those dresses hung in the closet, mostly untouched. We'd have standoffs at the bedroom door, me not wanting these gifts to go to waste, her not even willing to consider them.

I wasted so much time driving us both crazy over it. But somewhere along the way, I gave up this less-than-noble fight. For me and my strong-willed girl, there are bigger battles to wage... like school uniforms. In her Irish Catholic national school, girls wear pinafores and skirts, tights and dress shoes. Ella wears trousers, her brothers hand-me-down school jumper, black Mary Jane's. This has been a whole other ordeal for our opinionated tomboy.

But back to the Easter Dress.

:: 2007 ::

This year I gave it a passing, fleeting thought. Considered whether to take her shopping, let her pick out an outfit. In the end, we woke up on Sunday like we wake up on most Sundays. I gave her a few options, vaguely stricter guidelines for what she could wear on Easter. I knew we had already said goodbye to the Easter Dress, at least for now. I'm not going to force her into a skirt because it just doesn't matter in the least. I'm not going to make her feel wrong or uncomfortable. I am going to let her be her, within reason.

And I'm going to tell her she's beautiful, just as she is and chooses to be... on Easter, and every other day.

:: 2014 ::

Ironically, her brothers were more than happy to let me pick out what they wore. I will unashamedly dress the boys in coordinating Easter outfits as long as they let me.


What are your thoughts on the Easter dress? Did you have similar traditions growing up?

Screen-Free Sunday and other Parenting Shenanigans

13 April 2014


We've been slightly neglectful parents in that we kind of let the wee lad have the rule of the roost. He's four now and even though the terrible twos are far behind us, he's the most belligerent, the most vocal, the most opinionated and the most adorable of the lot. So rather than wage a lengthy, logical tug-of-war with this cute little menace, we allow too much leeway in the area of Wii games and videos. And we have paid a hefty price.

And, of course, it's Easter Holidays around here, which means instead of the week-long spring break we used to say was "way too short," we now endure the two-week Easter Break which is "way too long." So to keep all three from melting their brains during this hiatus from school, we start things off right with Screen-Free Sunday.

"Screen-Free Sunday" is actually code for "make Asher so upset that he cries himself to sleep and takes a good long nap and the rest of us can breathe easy and do things like clean or read or also nap until he wakes up an angelic and well-rested version of his former self." 

We sorta, kinda try to make this an actual weekly habit. Some Sundays are better than others. Some Sundays bring us sun and long walks in Phoenix Park and some Sundays bring us scattered showers and back-to-back showings of Shark Boy & Lava Girl. Today was both, but due to a manic cold infecting the younger two, and the aforementioned wailing and gnashing of teeth over our screen-free delusions, mandatory naps were had by all. Ash - who was up for several hours last night cheerfully coughing and blowing his nose - finally gave in, climbing next to me in bed. His sticky, snotty fingers pulled the quilt up over his chest, dug down deep in Daddy's pillow, and so quickly and silently fell asleep I had to check to make sure he was still breathing.

Three hours later, I pull all these arms and legs out of bed. Ash first, then Ella. Jack reads to himself in the armchair, The Horse and His Boy plays on the stereo. Matt is in the back garden victoriously organizing a new-to-us garden shed, and I open the laptop to write for the first time in weeks.

Screen-Free Sundays aren't so bad, and I have eventual long-term hopes we'll get pretty good at them. But like everything else, we wait it out and power through, until we finagle some peace on the other side.

Be Safe {a guest post from Fiona Lynne}

07 April 2014

One of my favourite things about blogging is getting to know people online whom I may never get a chance to cross paths with. Fiona is one of them and I'm always challenged and inspired by her words. I asked her if she might consider writing for my wee blog and I'm so glad she said yes. I know you'll be just as enchanted as I was.

Be safe. Be safe. Be safe.

These words have become my main prayer for the child growing steadily inside me. It’s what I wish to it in prenatal yoga class when our instructor gives us a moment to send the baby a message. It’s what I pray with every twinge, every uncomfortable stretch of ligaments as it begins to demand ever more space within me.

Last month I went on retreat to the north of England for four days. In the walled garden was a labyrinth, formed from raised turf and grass, its path winding slowly towards the centre. No way to get lost. Only space to perhaps find something – a thought or prayer – that was lost.

I stood at the entrance to the labyrinth for a good five minutes before I took my first step in. Then I walked slowly, reminding myself to breath, self-conscious in case one of the other residents should wander into the garden at that moment. I walked to the middle, encouraging my mind to be still when it started to dart off in a hundred directions, pulling my thoughts back with the help of my own word – dwell, dwell, dwell. Dwell here in this moment.

I’d never have done this ten years ago, even five years ago. It might have seemed too mystical, too new-agey. I’d have said with a naive confidence that we didn’t need such tricks and games to pray. We could pray at any time.

I still believe that but now I’m older and I’m better acquainted with grief and with doubt and with heartache. And sometimes my body needs to enact what my heart has a hard time believing.

At the centre I stood and closed my eyes. I made it. I was always going to make it. There’s no wrong turn on this journey, although the double backs in the pathway at moments made me feel like I was getting further from the centre than closer. But here I stood.

I turned to walk out again, the way I’ve come. The labyrinth is a two-journey experience: in to the centre – of truth, love, grace, my own soul – and out again to the world, to the path I will keep walking now.

My hands slip down to my expanding belly as I walk. I’ve become one of those pregnant women who absentmindedly rub their stomach at awkward moments. Now as I walk along the grassy paths, my prayer repeats again: Be safe be safe be safe. And the tears start to roll as I think of the one who wasn’t meant to be mine in this lifetime.

Truthfully? I’m scared for this little one. As much as I’ve prayed against fear for the past two years, as much as I’ve embraced each day as another day toward that midsummer due date, as much as I’ve understood it wasn’t my fault. Still, I quietly beg this body of mine each morning to be a good home, a safe home for this child making itself known more each day.

It is totally surreal, this round bulging of my stomach. It feels too good to be true many days, that I will actually get to hold this child in my arms. I’ve wanted this so much that I don’t like to mention how hard it is too – how my skin is suddenly so dry it’s flaking, how my boobs have grown at least two sizes from their already-substantial start, making me feel bulky and matronly, how the ache of everything stretching can be so intense some afternoons it makes me want to curl up and weep.

But then a wild kick to the side of my belly and my heart bursts into a million happy pieces as I watch the movements vibrate across my front.

There’s no getting lost on this journey. No steps are wasted, no turns in the path are unexpected to the one who steps out ahead of me, showing me the way. What has been cannot be undone. And what will come, will come. The important thing is to learn to dwell here in the moment, in this step. And to discover in the centre of it all, unexpectedly, that I am safe. 


Fiona is from the UK and lives with her Danish husband in Luxembourg. She's fascinated by culture and people’s stories, and loves living in a community with so many different nationalities. She works for Serve the City Luxembourg, a movement of volunteers seeking to make a difference in their communities. She loves gathering people together to celebrate and collaborate, and baking is her favourite spiritual discipline. Fiona blogs at and tweets @fiona_lynne.

How I don't follow social media rules, on purpose

02 April 2014

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want follows, you gotta follow. And then they follow you back. And then you follow each other.

The end.

I'm super bad at this, you guys, playing the Twitter / Facebook / [insert any other social media platform here] game. I only barely know the rules, I don't ever post at the right time, and an average of 40 people even see my posts pop up on Facebook because I won't pay Facebook to "boost" or "promote" my posts.

Clearly I am winning the game.

So here are five ways I'm not following social media rules, and why I feel pretty good about it (also known as: How Not To Grow Your Blog).

On Twitter, I don't follow to be followed. I don't have time for HootSuite or any other some such nonsense wherein I have to learn an entirely new platform just to navigate the platform I already subscribe to. I don't follow thousands of people and I don't want to, even if it means less follows, favourites or retweets of my posts.

For sanity's sake, I have a carefully culled list of 325 people, news sources, friends and organisations I want to keep up with. This keeps me invested in people and issues I'm already fond of and encourages engagement that I can keep up with and grow within. Yes, this means I *only* have 271 followers after blogging for 6 years and being on twitter for over 2 years. Oh well. I've found my tribe and I'm happy it's small. My blog may stay small because of it, but I don't want thousands of followers who don't give a crap what I have to say. And vice versa. If you're like me and you follow 10,000 people, that's probably 9,900 people you don't care about.

Follow who you want. And forget about the rest.

I tweet and use my FB page when I want to. And when I write a blog, I want to share it right then, when I'm thinking about it. Occasionally I will schedule blog posts, especially if I'm in that amazing place where I can't stop writing and want to spread out the awesomeness. When this happens, I'll go back to it that day and share the post, but don't give all that much attention to when it goes out.

Unfortunately this means that sometimes my peeps in America are asleep. Or my Irish friends are at work. But those I engage with frequently (see above) will still read and like it and are all kinds of encouraging and wonderful about it.

Write however you can, whenever you can.

I don't know, it's weird. I have this thing where I feel like I don't want to over promote myself or share too much of my writing - which is often inadvertently intimate - with my real-life friends on Facebook. And yet I'm super cool with a group of strangers reading my stuff. In fact, I want them to! But I struggle with blending these boundaries. And sometimes... well... I want to go out on a limb and really say something, and I'm afraid at how it will be taken by people who actually know me. So I either hold back in my writing, or hold back in my sharing of it within my close circle of friends and family. Case in point: last week someone close to me told me they were bothered by my "voice" on an issue. It was a surprisingly painful example of why I'm guarded in what I'm willing to write about, share and cross-post.

I'm hoping, trying, to grow in this area, to keep my voice authentic so readers AND friends will recognize and honour it. And I'm actually thinking of doing away with one or the other (delete my personal page and keep my blog page, or vice versa), but we live far away from home and our families need instant grandkid gratification.

Write what you need to, promote what you want and keep boundaries in place if you need them.

On the flip-side of under-promoting myself, I over-promote the brilliant things my family, friends and wanna-be-friends do. I'm kind of a stalker, so if there's a blog, writer or article that moves me, I will share it with you a half dozen times or so. And when people close to me curate festivals (Middle of the Map, on this weekend!) or write praise albums (The Flint Hill Fellowship, available now!) or create literary art (Conversations | Reconstructed, opens Friday!), I want to share it - a lot - with everyone. I'm hoping my overindulgence reflects poorly on me as opposed to them. I can be a little overeager.

Share what you love. More than likely, they'll return the favour.

This is the one that currently stumps me. I think The River Into Words may have run its course. I still want to blog, but wonder if I should move from being TRIW to being just Karen. If I were honest, I'd have to say this blog runs the gamut from Christian mommy blogger to expat blogger; from faith blogger to a very public Dear Diary. Do I have something else, more or different to say?

Also, I apparently have a common name, which was not available as a twitter handle, email or blog address. Do I integrate my maiden name? Take on a new identity? Or be a different name on every form of social media everywhere? I have no idea. So for now I'm staying put, even if my handle, blog, email and FB page don't match. When it's time to move on I will. Until then, the river into words will keep going.

Stake your claim on a name, but be open to how the words, ideas or questions move through you.

Oh, and bonus #6) When in doubt, always post a picture of a cute kid and an ocean. Nobody can withstand the cuteness of a kid and an ocean. Instant followers for life.


So, that's how I don't do social media well. How do you do it? Are you OK with playing by your own rules?

What I'm Into {March 2014}

31 March 2014

You know how I promised I'd pay better attention this month? Yeah, well, I didn't. All the stress from last month's visa snafu bled into March, exacerbating some dormant anxiety issues I'd hoped would fade into mature adulthood. These last two months? Just really not very great.

But, BUT! There are so many things to look forward to, good things that are happening. And you know? I cling to this thought, this thread in the seam of everything. "The reality is Christ," Paul says. So I'll say it, too, and move into April with it stitched firmly on my heart. (You know, like the L & S monogrammed on Laverne and Shirley's sweaters. What? Did I take that too far?)


Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Finally. Our book buying budget is woefully small, so when it went on sale for Nook & Kindle this week, I jumped. Sarah soothes and challenges at the same time. There are no clanging cymbals here. Clanging forks on the great, big table and a lot of tambourines, maybe. I'll be sure to give you the full lowdown when I'm finished.

Other books on rotation: Jesus Calling, Bread & Wine, Devotions for Lent, Gospel of John


Netflix is my favourite these days, so we're catching up with Homeland, Seasons 1 & 2 of Sherlock and Pokemon (well, that's the kids, but I overhear it A LOT). Oh, and thanks to Cocoa deciding Season 4 of Parks & Recreation looked super tasty, we'll soon be taking the walk of shame into the library and purchasing the 4-disc set. Treat yo'self, am I right? And I can't even talk about The Good Wife, yet.

LISTENING pretty much exclusively to my Lent Meditation playlist.


New York City apartment tour | Cup of Jo... I'm fascinated with (upper middle class) apartment life in big cities
In which the Spirit inhabits the praises of the people | Sarah Bessey
Christian College Solidifies Complementarian Stance | Christianity Today... related: Rachel Marie Stone's piece for the Religion News Service
A Thread Called Grace | Jonathan Merritt for Christianity Today
Stuck in the Middle with You | Sharideth Smith


  • You know your child is a Third Culture Kid when you receive the above text from her youth leader.
  • Buds in bloom.
  • The feeling you get two days after you purchase plane tickets back home for your sister's wedding when the initial shock of the cost of it wears off and all you care about know is that YOUR SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!
  • Long walks/hikes/adventures with the family.
  • Coffee/Prosecco/Chocolate with friends (this never gets old).
  • Hearing something you worked so hard and long on is appreciated and making a difference.
  • Filling the fridge with good food.
  • M&Ms in the post (mail).
  • Remembering and grieving with old friends. There's a surprising fellowship in shared grief, for which I'm so thankful.
  • Slane in the rain.


So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: 
compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. 
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. 
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 
And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. 
It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-14 {MSG}


Alright, that's a wrap. Tell me what you were into this month! And join the rest over at Leigh Kramer's place.

Four positives from my latest rejection

28 March 2014


A few weeks ago I applied to be a contributor at an online magazine. It was kind of on a whim, and even though I didn't necessarily feel 100% suited to the intended subject matter, I went for it anyway. I was trying to try, as you know, and it seemed like it could be a possible avenue for growth, both in my writing and in my perspective.

As sometimes happens, I received that fated rejection letter today. In all honesty, I had forgotten about my application in the first place, and while I never like to get a rejection letter, I wasn't all the surprised.

I was, on the other hand, annoyed.

You see, I like to win. I like to be picked and I like to be noticed. In my senior year of college we had this assignment to put together our portfolios and resumes for future literary employment. My friend James and I had a friendly competition going and when his portfolio and resume got higher marks than mine did, I was livid. I went home, clicked on my computer for two days straight and arrived back in class with a victorious case of carpal tunnel syndrome and Mrs T's high praise. I didn't really care about the resume and it never got me that job in journalism (though it served me well when I eventually landed that coveted, ahem, secretarial position), but I wanted to be the best.

I'm annoyed I wasn't recognized, that I didn't win. But in the long run, it doesn't matter because I'm learning a few things about rejection.

1) Rejection will never happen if you never try. It's true. If you don't want to be rejected, don't try. Whew! That's a relief! However, never trying means always wondering what could've been. What's worse: if you never try, you'll never win, never get chosen, never hear "Yes! We want you!" I've heard that a few precious times, and it is worth the trying. It's even worth a few rejections. (Case in point: an online writing course said we should risk rejection and submit a guest post to writers we admire. So I emailed a blogger whose style and vision matched my own and just asked. She ran my story that very week. Trying sometimes works, ya'll!)

2) Rejection can clarify your calling. Did I want this opportunity? Yes, I did! I wanted to grow in my writing, I wanted to make a difference. And honestly, I wanted the exposure. But I didn't feel especially called to the vision they have for their site. I knew I could do the work, but I didn't feel passionate about it. Maybe this is just me trying to make myself feel better, but getting that rejection confirmed it wasn't the place for me. And it spurs me on to find the niche where I belong.

3) Rejection is hard for them, too. My rejectors felt really bad about it. They wanted to hug me, they said (another sign it wasn't the best place for me, as I super like my personal space). But with great power comes great responsibility, which sometimes means saying "No, I'm sorry. This isn't the place for you." To be the bearer of bad news is never fun and most of us don't like letting others down. Just because they rejected me doesn't mean I suck or that they're horrible. They're a good group of people, so I'll keep following their site; maybe even submit a piece or two. ;)

4) Rejection gets easier with time. No one gets rejected forever and I've had several great yesses! And though I hate not getting picked to play on so-and-so's team, I'll keep on trying out and showing up. Those rejection letters are a part of a writer's life. I think they're a part of everyone's life. There's no escaping them, so we might as well lean into them, learn the rules and play the game. Because when the yes comes? It makes up for every no that came before.

Do you find it hard to try for something you you're just not sure about? Or have you recently heard that dreaded "No?"

A Good Woman

23 March 2014

I have so much to say, and nothing at all; alternating long hours of speechlessness with a raging river of words. I think I will write about it long, good and hard someday soon. But for now, I'll say this:

One of the greatest influences of my life died this week. My mentor, teacher, ally and friend. Apart from my own mother, no other woman has impacted the trajectory of my life as much as she did. Probably unknowingly. Most definitely with humility. Always with extra measures of grace, mixed with a good bit of sassiness. And even though I know she is resting in her heart's Home, I am heartbroken. I can't imagine her not here.

She was a good woman. The very best. And I miss her so.

I'm sure I'll be back around soon enough. Life is wild as always. There's an American holiday to be planned and writing goals to work on and menu planning (always with the cooking?) to do. But for now I'm keeping a bit quiet, thinking a lot, crying in sudden jags, feeling so very far from home and all my old friends who knew and loved her like I did.

Eshet Chayil, Mrs T, woman of valour.

Rest in peace.


Obituary is a terrible word. I hate to have to use it. So for my friends who grieve for Mrs T, rememberances and condolences can be left here.

Not So Great in the Valley {a guest post for Velvet Ashes}

19 March 2014

I'm very honoured to be contributing graphics and words at Velvet Ashes, a website for encouraging and connecting women who live and serve overseas. And when Danielle told me what they'd be focusing on this month - mental illness, depression and fear - I knew God had given me something to say, a chapter of my story to share, and I wrote it all out here. For you. Ok, and for me, too.
It was a beautiful moment. A triumph.

We stood on the platform waiting for our respective trains, buzzing from the evening’s festivities. Only three months after first arriving on the field, I had managed to clean myself up (leaving my normal mommy uniform of jeans and a Kansas Jayhawks t-shirt at home), get myself to the train and find my way through the city centre, guided by Georgian doors and the brisk, independent European gait. It was my coming-out party; or at least, it felt that way to me. My first act of service, volunteering at an esteemed lecture, diving deeper into the culture I wanted so desperately to understand.

Four hours later, my feet were killing me, but I felt alive. So alive, I knew what was coming.

“You’re doing so great, all of you,” my new friend and trusted colleague said to me. “How do feel about it, now that it’s been a few months? Do you feel like you’re doing great?”

“Yes,” I said, “I think it’s been really great. But I’m afraid,” I paused, uncertain of her response, but knowing my rhythms and the patterns that have followed me all my life.

“I’m afraid,” I began again, “I’m about to be not so great.”

Come visit us over at Velvet Ashes to continue reading... 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

17 March 2014

Saint Patrick's Day blessings upon you, friends!

We woke up to a sunny and mild day here, perfect for lounging in bed to an Irish music soundtrack. Paddy's Day here is like Fourth of July in the US, coupled with a dash of celtic mysticism, religious lore... and a LOT of partying.

Here's some Irish goodness to help you celebrate wherever you are!

At Home in Ireland (my 31days series)
Five Favourite Irish Movies (and five more to see)
Sundays with the poets
A Discombobulated Day in the Life


Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney
Dubliners, by James Joyce
How the Irish Saved Civilisation, by Thomas Cahill
PS, I Love You, by Cecilia Ahern
The Truth Commissioner, by David Park

SOUNDTRACK (what we're listening to today)
Brian Houston
James Vincent McMorrow
Lisa Hannigan
Snow Patrol
The Cranberries / Dolores O'Riordan
The Swell Season / Glen Hansard
The Script
The Chieftans
The Frames

Like everything around here, this list is nonexhaustive and limited to our iTunes account, browser feed and time constraints. If you're hanging around here, I'm sure you've got your own list of Irish goodies. Add yours in the comments below!

Dialing down the Easter playlist during Lent

11 March 2014

My friend Ann (you beautiful tropical fish) was kind enough to share my Easter Playlist post from last year. I'm a week behind on my Lenten activities, choosing this year to focus on just a couple of things to give up/put on (giving up? biscuits (cookies) / putting on? Devotions for Lent).

And I'm also dialing down my "Must-Have" Easter playlist. I wanted to choose just 20 songs to meditate on during this season, those that speak and stay with me, ones that challenge and lead me towards confession.


1 John 1:7 / The Flint Hill Fellowship
Amazing Grace / Sufjan Stevens
Body And Wine / Jars Of Clay
City Of Sorrows / Fernando Ortega
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy / Fernando Ortega
Creed / Rich Mullins
Hallowed / Jennifer Knapp & Phil Keaggy
He Will Come / Waterdeep
Holy, Holy, Holy / Sufjan Stevens
How Deep the Father's Love for Us / Wilder Adkins
Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet / Jars Of Clay
Less Like Scars / Sara Groves
My Deliverer / Rich Mullins
No Greater Love / The Flint Hill Fellowship
Roll Away Your Stone / Mumford & Sons
There Is A River / Jars Of Clay
This Too Shall Be Made Right / Derek Webb
Yahweh / U2
You Did Not Have A Home / Rich Mullins
You Did That For Me / Sara Groves

What I'm Into, which isn't much {February 2014}

03 March 2014

I honestly don't know what to say about February. There was very little reading, a LOT of netflix, and one significant social event. I'll play fast and loose with the details, but suffice it to say: I'm glad that's over! Bring on March!


I'm over halfway through The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty, after spending a cool six months on the library's waiting list. (You can take the girl out of support raising, frequent moving and penny-pinching, but you cannot take the "Oh, I just don't know if I can spend 8 euro on a paperback!" out of the girl. Sigh.) Though I'm not digging it as much as What Alice Forgot, it would be a fantastic spring break or beach read. Love the multitude of strong female characters, even if some of them are painted (or written) with a broad brush.

Yep, that's it. That's all I'm reading. On the other hand, Matt's been staying up late and GETTING UP EARLY (what?!) to read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I should ask him to give you a good review of that book... if he can ever finish it. He's absolutely entrenched in Bonhoeffer's life and ministry, postponing the last chapter because he just can't bring himself to read about his execution. Softie.


Let's see... Parks & Recreation has been fantastic therapy after the immigration debacle. Leslie Knope is simply one of the most fantastic characters ever written (or brought to life, by the brilliant Amy Poehler). I went back to the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who in solidarity with my friend Allison who is watching for the very first time.

As a family we're digging The Voice Ireland, but even that pales in comparison with the amazing, spectacular Lego Movie. I loved the return of villain Mugatu, I mean, Mr Business. I won't spoil anything for you, but lemme just say the moral of the story hit pretty close to home for Matt. And Jack. Ella, on the other hand, felt vindicated.


On my ipod: Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and James Vincent McMorrow's Post Tropical. (Also known as the answers to You Might Be A Gen-X Hipster If...)



A birthday lunch with Jack at Lemon and reading side by side in a city bookstore. This kid wrecks me with his awesomeness.

Middle of the Map Fest. I'm thrilled to say that MOTM Fest is back this year, sporting a fantastic line-up and making me so sad that we live so far away. I've introduced you to my future brother-in-law Nathan Reusch and his label The Record Machine, and once again he's behind the helm partnering with INK Magazine. If you're within a day's drive of Kansas City, please go enjoy all that the midwest has to offer in music (and film!). The festival starts April 3rd, multiple venues, Kansas City, MO.

A house full of friends and kids and dog for Jack's birthday. I felt immensely proud when, upon everyone exiting the house in the late bedtime hours, Jack informed me, "This was the best day of my life." #momwins

You've Got Mail on the telly on a Sunday afternoon.

Ella reading to Asher before bed.

Woman Writing by Pierre Bonnard, via Bo Fransson's tumblr

And finally, speaking of art: Conversations | Reconstructed. My good friend Stacey Covell is showing a multi-media art exhibit in Dublin. She was inspired by the idea of taking iconic poetry of the past, dissecting its words and themes, and reconstructing them into new works of literary art. As she's done this, other artists are joining in the conversation through each one's particular genre: paint, sculpture, graphic design, graffiti. I'm planning to be there, and if you're in town, so should you! The exhibit runs April 4-19 at The Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin. 


This is a prayer for knowledge and insight that only can come from God.
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully.
Colossians 1:9-11 (The Voice Translation)

That's it! February OUT. Lemme know what you've been reading, watching or listening to. And maybe especially, what are you really, truly loving?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer & What I'm Into.

When your "one word" bites you in the backside

27 February 2014


I laid in bed for an hour this afternoon. George Winston was on shuffle and in my mind, I alternated prayers with opening sentences. There are times when I can't decide between praying and writing, and it all comes out of my left-brained heart, anyway. And really, isn't it the same? Each one of our prayers are subconciously written, aren't they? Depending on who you are - or who you ask - only one person gets a chance to read them. But still, that's one reader.

This last week and a half has arguably been the single most humbling time of my life. When a dousing of cold water reminds you that you aren't really as in control of things as you thought - hoped, wished - you were. And when it hits the fan (you know the "it " I speak of), you're left with two choices. You remember that which you believed (that you entrust a higher power to know better, that He is good and you'll be ok), or you crawl in bed and cry for four days.

I did the latter. While, begrudgingly, still clinging to the former.

And do you know what I thought the whole time, the phrase on repeat in my mind?

"I tried so hard!"

In all the ways I'd hoped I'd grown these years, this inconvenient truth remains: I still want to control my own destiny. And, even when I think I'm doing everything right, have every box ticked, have tried super hard, things will still go wrong. Or be different. Or not turn out the way you hoped. He will have His way, not mine.

If you want the nitty gritty details, I'll sum it up for you in this: I was denied a visa (not the money kind, the immigration kind) and now I've gotta play catch up. I'm collating documents and rewriting letters and clarifying what needs clarity. I'll submit these fine things and then I'll wait.

And I'm told - I hope, I wish (I pray) - it'll be ok.

So today I laid in bed for an hour. A week's worth of not eating, late nights and poring over documents has left me weary and on hypersensitive overdrive. I tried to slow it all down, to pray in deep breaths and let the music soothe my spirit. I prayed for wisdom and peace. For comfort in the waiting and confidence in the mess. And also that He'd help me calm the heck down.

In the meantime, things may slow down here a bit. All of my wordy energies are being used up in legal mumbo jumbo. And I'm just really, very tired. I want to not have to sneak a nap in the middle of the day to sleep-pray. So some new faces may pop up here. Or maybe nothing but a picture or two so you know I'm still around and not gone yet.

But let's also make a deal. When it hits the fan for you as it did for me, let's try this: you go ahead and get in bed and cry for four days. But meet me back here. Let us remind eachother of who does what in this heaven-earth-God-man equation. It's so much less you and me than we think. We can try all we want to have it all together. But then, let's let it go.

Dear Sister, a repost {I am not cut out for espionage}

20 February 2014

Dear Sister,

So there we are, sitting in immigration for unending hours, our number just about to be miraculously called, when Matt has to leave. E is done with school in 40 minutes, and we are in the city centre, a 20 minute bus-ride away. He asks me, "Are you OK here?" and I'm all like, "What? Me? Me and the stress migraine? Yeah, sure, I'll be fine. What can possibly go wrong?"

This is all a part of moving to another country. Visas (or immigration bureau cards) have to be applied for, procured, renewed every year. It's routine, really. Except you gotta be specific, have to assure them we won't work here, that we live off of funds from the United States and won't be a drain on their own fragile State. There are words you should use, words you definitely cannot use, and then there's the fingerprinting. No matter how honest and upright we are in the citizenry department, I still feel like a criminal. I still feel like I'm in deep cover, using an alias. 

As it turns out, I am not cut out for espionage. I text Matt all panicky and maniacally. I forget I have a bank card. And the fingerprinting - done digitally - takes as I can't hold my shaky hands steady. I joke with the immigration officer about my dad being a policeman, how I should know how to do this, how it's really so crazy they can't get a clear image of my prints and we have to do them over 2, 3, 4 times. "I'm sorry," I say, "I really don't know what the problem is."

But today I remember, the hours we sat there with the television on. Sky News and the dragging of a man behind a police van. police van. Images may be graphic, they say, but it's really the best way to get you to pay attention. You can't unsee this, is what they should say, as a crowd of men pulls him kicking and screaming, ties his hands behind his head, and attaches them to the bed of the van. It pulls away slowly, maybe to make sure he holds, I don't really know. Then it takes off, and the man - hands over his head and backside banging along a dirty South African road - is gone. He died in custody, they tell you.

And you, you just can't unsee that. In a room filled with immigrants, veiled and exhausted and babies crying under unfamiliar eyes, we all can't unsee that. And it's not until later when I think, maybe the others there, from every country and language imaginable, maybe they've been much closer than a television screen to that man on the South African road. Maybe that's why they're here. Giving fingerprints. In deep cover.

So no, Sister, for as much Alias as you and I have watched together, I'm just not cut out for espionage. Or international intrigue. Or torture. Or police with blood on their hands. But I am cut out for here, and for these people, and when he says, "You must've liked it well enough to come back here again," I say, "Yes. We love it." And my shaky fingerprint leaves a smudge.

I miss you. Hug dad.



a repost from February 2013, with some foreshadowing mixed in for good measure

To take hold of Him {a guest post at Velvet Ashes}

16 February 2014

One year ago today we shuffled three exhausted children and 18 suitcases through customs and past the sliding doors of arrivals. We were met by a gaggle of our new/old team, friends and peers and leaders, waiting for us with coffee and breakfast. They were good to not mind the wild ones, the blank stares, the just barely hidden fears and tears. We'd been gone so long, I felt. Two and a half years was just so long. Leaving after our first term was hard, brutal, painful. The waiting to return even more so. Resting and patience came only in the months and months of God gently calling us home. 

Join me over at Velvet Ashes to read the whole story, for the remembering and the celebration of one whole year back home... again.

Jack was the first

11 February 2014

Every mother has a birth story. Some of us have several and all of them are memorable. I've never heard a birth story where my jaw didn't hit the floor in one way or the other. Just last week an acquaintance of mine shared her beautiful birth story with me, of her second child being born by the serene and comforting light of their Christmas tree. Every story carries with it the gift of creation, even the hard ones. 

I've got three, and Jack's was the first.

Eleven years ago I was 24 and, really, still a child. I cringe to think about it, squeeze my eyes shut tight, What were we thinking? It doesn't matter all that much what we thought as his coming and being was so beyond our control. It was a stroke of luck, my OB said. We weren't sure it would ever happen, nevermind so soon. But marriage at 20 guarantees babies will soon come, and he did.

I could go on and on about the pregnancy, about how I went to England and Ireland and came back pregnant, ringing Matt from Temple Bar and telling him I was ready, unaware a little 5-week gift hovered within me. I could tell you about all that weight gain and second dinners and Matt working two jobs. I could talk about the stretch marks or the attorney at my work who always managed to brush up against my belly in the hallway (I was quite wide, you see, and the only way to let me pass was to shimmy up against the wall so I could waddle by... Mr. S didn't care to shimmy). I could tell you about going into pre-term labour at a Coldplay concert, how we had to leave, and how disappointed I was as Matt curled up against my back when the contractions subsided. I was still pregnant and had missed my favourite song. And I could talk about the postpartum depression and the months of fear and shame.

But this is a birth story, and all those other memories pale in comparison.

Some babies come hard and fast, but not Jack. I was induced the day before his due date because I was huge and he was huge and high blood pressure was a real worry. The few weeks prior were already spent on modified bed rest and when the needle refused to go down at my last appointment, I was told to pack my bags and check in. I stood in my dad's basement and cried as Matt hurried to finish the crib, all the worries of being, you know, A MOTHER.

We checked in and waited. Watched a KU game. Ate some Taco Bell. Contractions were on and off in the night and by 6am I was hooked up to Pitocin, bringing horrible, long-lasting contractions. The needles of the fetal monitor would rev up and never quit, one right after the other for hours. An epidural at noon brought sweet relief and some sleep and within an hour, we were ready to go.

Except, he wasn't ready.

Four hours of pushing and narcotics and back spasms and a second epidural later, Jackson Matthew was born. I'd spiked a fever at some point and he'd already passed meconium and, though responsive, was lethargic and suffering some wicked road rash on his head. I've been told there was an actual ledge (I had passed out by this time) and a squad of nurses and doctors rushed him to another room. My parents were in a fit, having heard nothing for hours, expecting the news at any minute. Matt emerged a new dad at 4:55pm. He was fine, but not quite fine. Something was off.

jack and mom 2

They brought him to me to nurse and he'd wake for just a few seconds and doze back to sleep, uninterested in eating, too exhausted to cry. This 9 pound, 6 ounce brute was just as wrecked as I was and within a few hours they decided to keep him in the NICU and dose him with antibiotics. The heel pin-pricks didn't stir him, not even the circumcision caused him to cry. There was an infection somewhere.

Two days later I checked out and we left him there. We slept at my dad's, a short 5-minute drive away. In a NICU full of preemies, our brute laid naked under a heat lamp, a tiny IV taped to his hand. I could feed him some pumped breastmilk through a tube attached to my pinkie, rock him for a few minutes. Valentine's Day was spent at a cafe near the hospital, without him. Finally, on the fifth day, he was alert and stable enough to come home.

We have no idea what went wrong, the only clue being the meconium and my fever. And really, that's the only thing to have ever gone wrong since. This child, his head is hard as stone. He's fallen and been dropped on it so many times, we must've knocked loose the reading comprehension part, kicking it into overdrive. He's fit as a fiddle, tall and lean. Not a bother on him, as they say here. Our sensitive lad, our hugger and writer. Giver of kisses, he asks me, "How was your day? What was your favourite part?" 

Today? My favourite part of today is you.

Antsy wonderings on the coming spring

07 February 2014

A strange thing happened this week, super tiny and insignificant to the naked eye. I started following an indie radio station from my hometown, who happened to follow me back, and then an email that I'd been added to their list of Kansas City writers. I felt conflicted and, albeit, a little bit shamed. No, I think, like a reflex, like a gasp of air after emerging from a wave. I'm not a writer, not in Kansas City, not really worth following. 

I'm a fraud, I think. I think this a lot.

But I smile anyway. Twitter doesn't lie, I hope.


Every few months or so I get super antsy about this blog. It's probably a seasonal thing, and with the ebb and flow of weather and responsibilities, I wonder what exactly it is I'm supposed to be writing about. I worry about the focus and goal of it, wonder if I should be concerned with growing it or just let it be an organic expression of our life here. I don't have any answers to any of those wonderings.

But I will say...

We are in a sweet time with Asher, our surprise baby, surprising us every day. I'm so grateful, once fearing I'd not be the mother I needed to be for him. But this morning my heart swells as we zip up his coat. He's taking his sister's pink backpack (with hearts, obviously) to school, all blonde wispiness and excitement. I am in love. So is Matt.

The eldest, the boy who turns 11 next week, is having a bit of trouble in school. Once a week he comes through the gates barely holding it all in, not from bullying or any such super serious goings on. But the self-esteem takes a hit occasionally, the hopes of a hoped-for reward dashed, and I can't ignore it. But I can't do much about it, either. A friend - a woman of valor and beauty and wisdom - tells me to send in the Powerful One, He who knows all and who actually has the power to bring change. So I will. Jack and I will go to Him, together.

And Ella? She is a steady force to be reckoned with, a fury of beauty. With a bad cough, as always.

How did these three become mine?


Today the sun brings such warmth and glory after so many days of wind and rain. I take Cocoa for a walk. Matt brings me coffee, kisses me goodbye as he heads out for the day.

It is February. Spring is nearly here.

Linking with Velvet Ashes

What I'm Into {January 2014}

01 February 2014

I remember as a child thinking it would be weird to start the years with a "Twenty" instead of "Nineteen." Two decades later I write a 14 next to my 20 and I'm in shock. My eldest is turning 11 in a week. We are entering our fourth year living abroad. My sister is getting married. 2014 is crazy, people. CRAZY.

But anyway, here's what happened in January:


Early in the new year I quickly finished Dust, the final book in the Wool series by Hugh Howey. As a whole, it was entirely unique, unlike anything I'd ever read. And even though I was worried that dystopian literature had been overdone as of late, Howey managed to create a world and plot so narrowly terrifying, I felt claustrophobic for days... then jubilant at the finale. It also left me with many ethical/philosophical questions about war, control, the human "need" to rebel, and if knowledge is indeed power... I don't want to spoil it for you, so may save a proper review for later. But you should read it. ALSO? Amazing heroine(s) at the core of the books. Bonus points.

Also read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain about the young, tumultuous marriage between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. Somehow I've managed to pick two books, with artist/genius antagonists and their long-suffering wife/lovers originally from Oak Park, IL who move to Europe. :) A specific genre, to be sure! Although I knew Hemingway from his Chicago and Kansas City days, I've never read his work and only had a brief acquaintance with his philandering ways. Told from Hadley's perspective, with subtle passages highlighting Hemingway's inner turmoil, I found myself drawn to him just like she was. The passion that fills an artist's lungs to overflowing is an uncontrollable (unavoidable?) energy. I found myself wondering, though, how is it that so many talented, intelligent artists - men (and women) who have made the world more beautiful - are so ugly and desolate on the inside. Both Hemingway and Wright (from Loving Frank) seemed utterly unable to maintain a faithful love despite the purity and, perhaps, human naiveté with which they saw and contributed to the world. Is this the only way to create beauty, to find oneself bereft of it? Perhaps they're not any uglier than the rest of us, just better able to accept it, use it and maybe, hopefully redeem it...

Currently reading: Jesus Calling, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Bird by Bird, The Great Gatsby, The Long & the Short of it (written by my friend Annmarie Miles... will come back to this when I'm finished!).


Was there anything else but Sherlock on this month? This season had arguably more laugh-out-loud moments than the first two, though the final episode brought us to an even darker place than The Reichenbach Fall. Magnusson is absolutely terrifying, but the character of Mary saved the day. Funny, smart, dangerous. Loved her.

Other television viewing included finishing up Spooks (I can't even talk about it!) and catching up with The Good Wife on Netflix (I now have an insatiable desire to buy dress suits).


A slow movie month, but thanks to the husband's illness we were able to finally watch Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (sad to say I loved the trailers for it more than I loved the actual film, though it is certainly spectacular and troubling) and rescreening an old favourite, The Royal Tenenbaums (the thing about this poignant movie is, though it may not be fit for mass consumption due to "adult" themes, it is absolutely overflowing with redemption and reconciliation; also, hilarious).


Not much new... still listening to Reflektor (if you're a fan of Arcade Fire or Rainn Wilson, make sure to watch this short video from Metaphysical Milkshake) and downloaded Jars of Clay's latest, Inland.

my usual haircut / "Give me the Tina Fey!" I say.

  • Friends nearby who offer me lifts and coffee late in the day and playdates for our dogs
  • Writing group, even on the intense days, and the intimacy that comes from shared stories
  • Celebrating the book launch of a friend who's chased (and caught) his dreams, over and over again
  • Rainy mornings with nothing to do but lay in bed and drink coffee
  • Related: kids who - mostly - play well on their own on said rainy mornings
  • The days getting longer
  • Designing some images (and making new friends) for a new site for women serving cross-culturally
  • Friends who come over for THEIR birthdays
  • A fix for our car that only required buying a litre of oil
  • A couple of brief mornings in the city
  • Talking with my dad during his trip to India, rare times when we were the only ones in the family awake, seeing and hearing his thoughts "face to face"
(January was an intense, busy month and I'm realising I didn't take all that much time to enjoy it. People got sick and cars got fixed and many things were on the to-do-list, and it was mostly cold, rainy and dark. I'll try to pay better attention in February.)

For other things I love, visit me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram



Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
Romans 13:10 {NIV UK}

Linking up with Leigh Kramer again this month. Tell us, what were YOU into? New books, music, movies I should know about? I've gotta do something with my life now that Sherlock is over again.