Video credit: Matthew Christian Foss
For nearly a decade now, some of us have had a desire to write and share devotions to go along with daily Scripture study. We've traded essays back and forth in various places, and we've grown in friendship with each other and the Lord. In spring 2017, the opportunity to widen our circle presented itself. We gathered a few more women, across generations, and wrote some small essays that would inspire us—and you— to daily take up the Word and read it.
When the volume was finished, we found it unexpectedly without a home.
So, we created one here.
In printed journals that you can hold in your hands and touch with your pens, we collected our conversations with God. These volumes allow us to both commit at least a little time daily to honest conversation with God in His Word, and to dig more deeply and respond more carefully when we have the grace to do so.
This site is for the overflow. We have gathered here to share with you our enthusiasm for God’s Word and to be encouraged by your insights as you read. What we want here is to hear your hearts, share your burdens, celebrate your joys, and pray the Scripture with you.
We come here with intention— to hold ourselves accountable to reading and pondering and responding to the Word of the Lord. We are Catholic women who hear and pray the Word liturgically in our worship spaces, but seek also to make Him personal in our hearts and our homes. And we welcome our sisters from across denominations into our conversations.
We know that the Bible is God’s story for us. And we want to live in the center of that holy narrative every day. We want God’s Word to give us words for one another, a common language of love in Him.
God’s Word endures—across the seasons of a woman’s life it is the constant. He is faithful every day. In every restless night, in every joyous celebration, in all the ordinary days in between, we can and do seek the voice of our Lord in His Holy Scripture.
We take our name from the pages of Saint Augustine’s Confessions quoted below. Now a Doctor of the Church, Augustine was living a life of miserable debauchery when he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to take up his Bible and read it. His entire world changed in a moment of conversation with Word.
We believe that ours can, too—on an ordinary day, in an ordinary living room or coffee shop or college dorm, to ordinary women. We pray it is so every single day.
Founder and Chief Content Director
Elizabeth Foss is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She’s happy curled up with a good book or tinkering with a turn of phrase. Long walks make her heart sing and occasionally cause her to break into a run. Though she travels frequently, it’s usually only between northern Virginia and her beloved Charlottesville, or to the weekend’s dictated soccer or dance destination.
Kristin Foss is a self-taught watercolor artist who focuses on bright, detailed florals. With a paint brush in her hand and fresh blooms in a vase, she finds peace in God’s word while putting brush to paper. She lives in Los Angeles with her two daughters and husband, escaping to the beach and exploring the city. She enjoys creative cooking, thrift stores, nature walks, water and cotton.
Designer, Writer, &Editor
Carly Buckholz studied poetry at the University of Virginia before earning a Master's in Higher Education. She is from Burke, Virginia, but now calls Charlottesville home. Often next to a pile of books, Carly spends most of her time trying to convince her friends to read more poetry and baking scones. She enjoys writing about her family, rosemary, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Katy Greiner is a daughter, a sister, a recent graduate, and an aspiring teacher who's getting ready to face the real world. In that project, she's fueled by music, books, a strong cup of tea, good conversation, and hearing God laugh.
Writer and Editor
Katherine Johnson is a wife of 22 years and the mother of seven children, spanning kindergarten to college. She’s made finding God among the pots and the posies her life’s work, because most often He makes Himself known in the profoundly ordinary moments of her every day life. An enthusiastic knitter, an adventurous home cook, and a voracious reader, Katherine has a heart for all things domestic. She keeps a home, tends a garden, and educates her children in Dallas, Texas.
Mary Lenaburg is a writer, speaker, wife of 28 years and mother of two. A writer and speaker, she travels the country to share with groups of all ages about God’s redeeming love, demonstrating that faith is the courage to want what God wants for us, even if we cannot see where the path leads. She continues to embrace her father’s advice: “Never quit. Never give up. Never lose your faith. It’s the one reason you walk this earth. For God chose this time and place just for you; so make the most of it.” She can be found at www.marylenaburg.com
Allison McGinley lives with her husband and two kids in northern Virginia. When she’s not dancing with her daughter or learning about Legos from her son, she writes, sings with a local worship band, and takes pictures of beautiful things. She shares her inspirational photography prints in her Etsy shop, “Be Not Afraid Prints.”
Colleen Mitchell is a wife, bringer upper of boys, Gospel adventurer, wanna-be saint, author and speaker. She is the author of the award-winning She is the author of Who Do You Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels and the soon to be released When We Were Eve: Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be. Her latest adventure has taken her from the jungle of Costa Rica where she and her family have served as missionaries for the last six years, to the wilds of a sixth grade classroom in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she is still living her mission to give everyone she meets just a little Jesus.
Ginny Sheller lives with her husband and eight children in Virginia. They keep bees, goats, and chickens and rarely have a clean house or a quiet moment. Ginny knits every day to maintain sanity, and shares her family’s life in words and pictures on her blog, Small Things. Ginny has graciously provided all the photos on Take Up and Read. You can find more of her art in her shop.
Children's Content Developer
Mary Beth Foss, a Liberty University senior, is majoring in Special Education. She divides her time between teaching in a Montessori school and coaching competitive dance. A lifelong wonderer in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium, she is currently developing children's companion journals.
Children's Content Devleoper
Cindy worked as a middle school
teacher before she was blessed with five children. She is currently homeschooling them all in Florida, where she lives with Chris, her husband of 15 years. Cindy is a certified lead catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and has worked in both Level 1 and Level 2 atria. When she's not leading an atrium, managing her homeschool co-op, or helping convert Catholic homeschool curriculum into co-op ready curriculum, Cindy enjoys sitting on her porch swing with a cup of tea, a good book, and some quiet time with God.
Claire Craig is a freshman at Virginia Tech, studying Political Science. A dancer, candy enthusiast, and lover of Christ, Claire spends her free time making music, working as a gymnastics teacher, and doing freelance artwork. You can find Claire's art in her shop.
Chapter XII.- Having Prayed to God, He Pours Forth a Shower of Tears, And, Admonished by a Voice, He Opens the Book and Reads the Words in Rom. xiii. 13; By Which, Being Changed in His Whole Soul, He Discloses the Divine Favour to His Friend and His Mother. 1
But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. Which, that I might pour forth fully, with its natural expressions, I stole away from Alypius; for it suggested itself to me that solitude was fitter for the business of weeping. So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus was it with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and in that state had I risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, most completely astonished. I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee, — "But Thou, O Lord, how long?" How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry for ever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities;" for I felt that I was enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries, — "How long, how long? Tomorrow, and tomorrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?"
I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony, that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell, - "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”[see Romans 13:13] No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended, — by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart, — all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrought in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This it was, verily, "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye;" which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother. We make it known to her, - she rejoiceth. We relate how it came to pass, - she leapeth for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, who art "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think;" for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other of this world's hopes,—standing in that rule of faith in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her in a vision. And thou didst turn her grief into a gladness, much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my body.
1. Text from "The Confessions of St Augustine" (Book 8, Chapter 12) translated from the Latin by J.G. Pilkington, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church edited by Philip Schaff, Series I, Vol. I (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1882).