Putting on Love

Early Ash Wednesday morning, as I clumsily prepared for Mass in the dark, I reached for a necklace with a simple heart pendant on it. I have always been a very visual person and that simple gesture was an outward sign of my conscious decision to “Put On Love” this Lent along with my Blessed Is She sisters.

Put On Love

Have you seen the gorgeous journal written by Elizabeth Foss and designed by Erica Tighe of Be A Heart? The physical copies sold out but it’s not too late to make this a part of your lenten prayer too with a digital download that you can print yourself.

It wasn’t long before that tiny silver heart caught my daughter’s eye. She was snuggling on my lap during the Liturgy as I tried to keep her calm and occupied.  That shiny necklace was just too much and she exclaimed loudly for all to hear:

“Mommy, you have a heart?

I get one when I grow up?

But I don’t want to grow up!

I just wear yours, Okay!

– Liesel Anne, age 2

Her face beamed as she looked up at me, eyes twinkling, smiling from ear to ear.  I had to laugh at the joyful exuberance and complete trust of my sweet child.

There was no question in her mind that I had something that was good, she was too little to get it herself, but that it didn’t matter because she was my daughter and everything I have is hers.

I Must Borrow Thy Very Love

It reminded me of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower, so childlike in her faith and trust in her Jesus to provide.  She desired nothing more than to be love in the heart of the Church but was keenly aware of her weakness and littleness.

Rather than hindering her, that humility and trust became her little way straight to the arms of the Father.

To love Thee as Thou lovest me I must borrow Thy very Love – then only, can I find rest.

Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

Put On Love 6

As I was pondering all of this after Holy Communion, I couldn’t help but think that this is what the Lord wants to teach me during this time away with Him in the desert of Lent.

“God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.”

Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

If I hope to love, it must be with Jesus’ own heart and not by my own efforts.

Put On Love 5

And so like my little Liesel Anne and like the Little Flower, let us put on the heart of Christ as Lent begins, with total confidence that He will gladly love in and through us all for the glory of God if we just ask Him.



* In addition to the Blessed Is She Journal, I hope to revisit I Believe In Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Father Jean C. J. d’Elbée.  It is on my short list of favorites but it’s been over a decade since I read it last.  I would love to have you join me as we seek to put on love this lent.

And So It Begins

Today is the day ~ We are LIVE!


Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that otherwise would have never happened. A whole stream of events issued from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance.

Whatever you do or dream you can begin it.

Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.

Begin it now. “

– Goethe.

I have been dreaming up this space, allowing it percolate in my mind and heart for some time now.  I truly desire it to be a place we can all come to record, remember and be transformed by the beauty and power of words together and so I have been working hard to prepare it.

The time has come to share it with you and so we begin it now.

keepingcommonplace__058_webWords are powerful.  They impact each of us in profound ways which is why I have determined to gather them together as so many precious gems kept here in my little commonplace book.

Sometimes Keeping Commonplace is not only collecting the words that inspire and gathering them in a book distinctly yours but also finding, keeping and delighting in the simple pleasures of life others would cast aside as worthless “commonplaces”, uninteresting or unworthy of time and attention.

Beauty abounds in books, quotes, days, faith, and art.  The practice of Keeping Commonplace gathers them all together and opens our eyes to see what we might otherwise miss.

I hope you will join me in collecting them all, that we will return together to our priceless storehouse of wisdom and beauty as often we have need of it, and that we will each leave a little richer than when we came.

This is my commonplace and it is for you!

Stay awhile and let me show you around a bit.

  • Start on the Welcome page to see what Keeping Commonplace is all about.
  • Let’s Get Acquainted! Find out a bit more about me and introduce yourself here.
  • Take a sneak-peek at the syllabus for a self-led course on cultivating the capacity to truly see over at Commonplace Beauty
  • Scroll through my Liturgical Journal and explore the connection between Keeping Commonplace and increasing our faith under the category Commonplace Faith.
  • A card catalogue hand lettered quotes can be viewed under Commonplace Quotes
  • Read recent musings on all things Keeping Commonplace over on the Blog
  • Browse favorite volumes that have become dear friends to me on my Beloved Bookshelf

And so it begins.

I am so happy that you are here.


Osmosis by Handwriting

Entering into the art of commonplacing,

I have found that something wonderful happens when you write.

It has been called osmosis by handwriting,

this wonderful phenomenon of writing words out slowly in one’s own hand that allows the meaning to sink in deep:

The key was to write the ideas in your own hand. – by this means, by laboriously and carefully copying out insights of other people smarter than you, you could absorb and internalize their wisdom.

Call it osmosis by handwriting.

Alan Jacobs

This longing to absorb the wisdom of words through handwriting has also been described as learning what excellence feels like:

whenever I read a passage that moves me, I transcribe it in my diary,

hoping my fingers might learn what excellence feels like.

David Sedaris

This has certainly proven true in my own life time and time again.


I have always been the one who with a journal in hand, furiously writing out copious notes as I listen to speakers or course lectures.

I am forever reaching for a pen, scavenging my immediate surroundings for something, anything, to write with.

Even if I never return to that piece of paper again, many times, the process of writing alone is enough to make it a part of me in a way that simply hearing it never would.

Tracing my pencil across the page and sketching out multiple patterns before committing a quote to ink commits it to my mind and heart as well.   Creating a finished piece of hand lettered art to celebrate words worth remembering makes them my own in a way copying and pasting simply does not.

In a time with so many technological resources, it is tempting to forgo writing words out long with tools as archaic as pen and paper.  There are certainly many new tools that can aid one looking to catalogue their reading and learning with the various digital means at our fingertips.  In fact, Pinterest has been called the modern man’s commonplace book and I love my overflowing pin boards there too.  That being said, the two are intrinsically different.

We can’t avoid this wisdom of the ages:

Something wonderful happens when we write.

If you want to try your hand at commonplacing and hope to reap the immense benefits that have been enjoyed throughout the centuries, I highly encourage you to pick up your pen and write.


A Scene to Remember

I vividly remember settling into the movie theater with my mom and sister during a visit home from college for the oh-so-satisfyingly sappy film,  A Walk to Remember.

Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel by the same name, it is the unlikely teenage romance between the sweet and wholesome yet underestimated minister’s daughter, Jamie Sullivan, and high school rebel, Landon Carter who has always been far too cool to notice her.

Although I do recall crying my way through more than a few tissues and being stunned by Mandy Moore’s incredible voice (in the role of Jamie), most of the other details are a bit fuzzy over a decade later with one notable exception.

The scene to remember was this one:

We see Jamie, sick in her hospital bed, and there is this intimate moment of sharing a book of quotes passed down from her now deceased mother with the one she is falling in love with.

It’s got quotes from her favorite books and quotes by famous people, her thoughts…”

Without flipping a page, we hear from a vast spectrum of contributors: Aristotle takes up residence alongside Dolly Parton and St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  Written out in her own hand, these were the words that meant something to the one who kept them, words that she wanted to pass on to those she loved most in the world to have after she was gone.

Here is her daughter, finding strength in this most treasured possession and relying on its insights during her own time of sickness.   The consolation offered is evident on Jamie’s face as she closes her eyes to savor words that have become so dear that she knows them by heart.

That, my friend, is the beauty of a commonplace book.

What so struck me as I watched this scene unfold in the theater was that I had been saving words by writing out quotes in blank journals, across scraps of paper, receipts, napkins, (anything I could get my hands on) for as long as I could remember.  Since I could read and write, it was just something that I did.  That being said, I had no idea that anyone else did it or that it could be done in such an intentional and beautiful way until that moment.

Although, I still didn’t know it was called a commonplace book and wouldn’t learn that commonplacing was a practice dating back as far as Aristotle himself until I began to research classical education as a homeschooling mother years later, this scene was the first glimpse I ever had of the art of commonplacing in action and it was love at first sight.  I have never forgotten it.

How about you?

Had you ever heard of commonplacing before now?  Is it something that you have been doing without ever realizing what it was?  Do you have any inclination to keep a commonplace book?

I would love to hear your thoughts.