Words

A Bridge to Span the Divide

It almost ruined our friendship. A cancerous disagreement gained cells every day while it remained unspoken, avoided, skirted in conversation. The longer it remained buried, the bigger it grew, until it could no longer be ignored. Through tears, we hashed out our grievances, listened, apologized, and contended for hours over the phone and in person, […]

The Mudroom Turns 4!

We have been going strong for 3 years and we want to make our 4th year something special too. We’ve added a few features such as Dear Portia, our advice column with Heather Caliri and Flashback Friday starting next week, where we’re posting a piece from the archives. There’s too much good writing on here […]

Holding My Words

“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Joan Didion   Tonight I get to write in a quiet house. I can’t remember the last time this occurred. There are seven of us living in this house, ranging in age from six to eighty-five. There are days there are so many words […]

Books as Soulmates

Books are like soulmates— friends who meet us at just the right time and connect to our souls more deeply than we had anticipated. They teach us, help us, inspire and shape us. Madeleine L’Engle says, “Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses […]

The Birth of a Book

Several weeks ago, I had my first conversation with a literary agent. A real literary agent! She had contacted me, inviting an introductory phone call, and I was just beside myself with excitement. I spent hours researching her and her agency before gathering questions and talking points for our call. When it came time to […]

Ruthie’s Multicultural Book List

I’m THAT person, the one who’s constantly distracted by letters, words, print. It could be a menu or a magazine cover or a newspaper. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it comes across wrong, I look nosy or inconsiderate when glancing at words that are written on something that’s not mine. Oops. I can’t […]

On Writing My First Book

A few weeks ago, I turned in the manuscript for my first book to my publisher, Finding Holy in the Suburbs. I suppose there had been others — scrawled words in composition notebooks and spiral notebooks, abandoned stories where I gave up writing and thought I could only write about writing, and a PhD that approximately […]

The Books that Help Us Story Well

“You see these spots?” my dad would ask, pointing at my nose. “They aren’t freckles. They’re print that’s rubbed off from having your nose stuck in a book.” He wasn’t far from the truth. I read voraciously as a child. I took a book along with me everywhere—just in case. Just in case I got […]

Restoration After Exile

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! […]

The Red Handkerchief

In the story The Giver, they had a phrase “precision of language”. This was an admonition when people used an irrelevant term, something their culture didn’t believe in anymore. We have antiquated words that don’t serve us or even offend us now, and we have phrases whose etymologies are hard to trace. I’m captivated by […]

Loneliness is a State of Mind

  There can be a loneliness in reading, because it is such a solitary act. Even in talking about books, it can be hard to accurately describe their affect, because how can soul-deep language be reduced to mere words? There can be an aloneness in reading, too, in that one does it to be alone, […]

Books Can Keep You Stitched Together

The first book to ever hold this type of “keepin” power for me was, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I slept with this book under my pillow every night. I was even willing to pay the “lost” fine fee that my middle school library would eventually charge me for not returning it. […]

Spoken Blessings

When my twin sons accidently caught 17-acres of land on fire while filming a World War II movie with their high school friends, it wasn’t the scorched trees I remember most. Or the helicopters flying over head to drop water. Or even the news stations capturing the flames on camera. It wasn’t the shots of […]