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.
Elizabeth is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She’s also the Founder and Chief Content Director of Take Up & Read. 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, our Art Director, is a self-taught artist, plant-person, thrifter, minimalist-wannabe, and ENFP (who appreciates intimate gatherings). She likes an Americano with a splash of maple syrup and almond milk, a good street taco, and korean bbq, but most nights she’s home sharing a simple homemade dinner with her family. She gravitates towards bright, vibrant pigments, and everything feminine and joyful. She believes home is a priceless place and there are no rules to your heart’s idea of aesthetic and beauty.
Micaela is a wife, mother, and a homeschooling mama. In addition to being a contributing author for Take Up & Read, she is the social media manager. Micaela is one of the co-founders of the Fiat Conference, an annual gathering of Catholic women in Southern California. She has a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Mother, and Saint Joseph. You can find much of her past writing at her now defunct blog, California to Korea.
Rachel, contributing writer, is the author of Make My Life Simple: Bringing Peace to Heart and Home, and How Do You Tuck In A Superhero?. She is a newspaper columnist for the Southern Cross and blogs at Testosterhome.net. Rachel is a co-host of The Gist, a talk show for women on Catholic TV and teaches journalism at Augusta University.
Rachel and her husband Paul live in Georgia and have five strapping sons and one precious daughter. In a former life, Rachel was a newspaper reporter, and she has a Masters in Journalism from the University of Georgia. These days she writes about faith and family, and how keeping her bathroom clean will make her a saint.
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.
Colleen Connell 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 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.
Katie was born in Chicago and is a Midwesterner at heart, though she’s lived in New England since high school. She graduated from Boston College, where she returned to get her Master’s in Philosophy with a strong interest in Philosophy in Literature. While she was getting her PhD in Philosophy she had her first child, and decided to stay home and fell in love with cooking and writing. She posts her favorite recipes on her food blog, The Humble Onion. She writes freelance for several magazines and is currently the food columnist for Coastal Design, as well as a contributor for Take Up and Read. She also published her first novel in 2017, The Wideness of the Sea. She is currently working on her second novel. She lives with her husband and six kids near Portsmouth, NH. When she’s not feeding her kids…never mind, she is always feeding someone.
A writer and editor for Take Up & Read, Emily is life-long Ohioan and the oldest of three children. She is a graduate of Capital University, where she studied Political Science and English Literature. For ten years she worked in state government, but now she’s a freelance writer who loves writing about the joy of living out God’s plan for your life. Her first book, The Way of Your Cross, will be published by Ave Maria Press in Spring 2020. You can read more of her writing at emilymdeardo.com
Katy’s favorite question to ask old and new friends is, “what’s been on your mind for the past two weeks?” She’s unafraid to inquire after your relationship with your mother, your satisfaction with your job, and your opinion on Costco samples, but she loves chatting about your kids and your dogs and your favorite TV show, too. A Take Up & Read Writer since the beginning, at the moment, Katy is inspired by audiobooks, Chick-Fil-A sauce, her resilient family, positive Instagrams, and the unique joy of teaching high school students English and journalism. She loves a good Charlottesville blue hour, tea over coffee, all kinds of music, and hearing God laugh.
Ana Ana is a wife of ten years and mother of 6 children. She enjoys educating her 3 school-aged daughters at home and playing planes with her two toddler boys while nursing her sweet newborn baby girl. In her rare spare time she works on making her home bright and cheerful and sharing bits of that, as well as other motherhood musings on her blog,, Time Flies When You're Having Babies.
Katrina Harrington is a wife, mother of four with one on the way, and artist who can be found constantly pinching herself over getting to paint for a living. Her desk might appear to be rather haphazard, but, don't worry, she knows where everything is! Katrina first declared she wanted to be an artist in preschool, but she didn’t realize the dream until she was twenty-five with two toddler boys at her knees and a little one on the way. Her first attempts at watercolor were with a garage sale paint kit courtesy of her bargain hunting mother. Through her art shop, Rose Harrington, she seeks to blend the subtle and the profound through botanical theological symbolism and the wisdom of the saints. Katrina grew up showing chickens at the state fair, and her favorite dessert is fried bananas. She currently lives in Orange County, California.
Writer Mary is a thirty-something wife, mom, birth doula, and author who writes about motherhood, birth, miscarriage, marriage, the Catholic faith, and any other deep thoughts that strike her fancy. She’s a passionate lover of Jesus, Scripture, the Church, JPII’s Theology of the Body, , and her husband and six boys. Her book, Made for This, is a Catholic mom’s guide to birth. When not swimming in a sea of testosterone she can be found working with doula clients, escaping for the house for (quiet!) coffee and writing session, or enjoying a much needed glass of wine with friends. She lives in an old farmhouse in Western New York with her boys, a flock of chickens, and a whole lot of dreams.
Take Up & Read editor, Rosie Hill lives in a 19th century farmhouse in Virginia with her husband and seven noisy children, most under the age of reason. She loves Jesus, gardening, cooking, cold brew coffee, and grammar. When she isn't homeschooling her children, she's busy sending them back outdoors (again) so she can work on baking the perfect loaf of sourdough bread.
A native of Virginia, Meg, a contributing writer, spent her college and graduate years at the University of Notre Dame, earning two degrees in theology. She spent time as a high school teacher before following God’s call and becoming a hobo missionary, living out of her car. Fifty states and twenty-five countries later, this seems to have been a less ridiculous decision than she initially thought. She blogs at www.piercedhands.com and at www.aleteia.org, though she's much more prolific on Instagram and Facebook.
Mary Lenaburg is a writer, speaker, wife and mother and has a heart for encouragement and healing sharing the truth that God’s mercy is bigger than your greatest shame. She has learned through her experiences that healing and hope live in fiery moments of grace and no matter what you are facing, God remains. Always.
Mary’s first book, Be Brave in the Scared: How I Learned to Trust God During my Most Difficult Days was published by Ave Maria Press in 2019. Mary and her husband live in Northern Virginia with their grown son Jonathan. They have been happily married for 31 years, finding joy among the ashes after losing their disabled daughter Courtney in 2014. She can be found at www.marylenaburg.com and across all social media platforms @marylenaburg
Rakhi McCormick is a wife, mother, recovering nerd and convert from Hinduism. Her greatest joy is speaking light into darkness and encouraging others to discover the beauty and gifts they possess. She uses these pieces of her life as her inspiration as an artist, a writer, and a speaker. Rakhi lives in the Metro Detroit area with her husband of 10 years and three children, and will be returning to youth/young adult/young family ministry part-time for her parish this fall. You can find her hanging out mostly over on Instagram at www.instagram.com/rakstardesigns and see her creative work at www.rakstardesigns.com.
Allison lives in the Philly burbs with her husband and kids, and is living her dream with a church, library, and diner within walking distance. She returned to her faith during college, and nothing has been the same ever since, in the best way. Writing is the way she processes life and discovers the beauty all around her, and she’s been known to write in her closet at night when the right words are suddenly found. She’s happiest when taking photos of beautiful things, worshipping God through song, drinking a cup of coffee, or standing by the ocean. You can find her on Instagram @allisonbenotafraid.
Laurel loves to create in whatever medium is placed before her. Like Dostoyevsky, she believes that beauty will save the world. With a heart for ministry, that blossomed at a young age, she’s always loved connecting with others whether at home or in the world. It has been a gift to reach out to others through the written word in numerous articles published online and print publications. As a hope*writer, she is learning how to share her heart better. Much of her days are filled with schooling and adventuring with her young daughters, and counting down the minutes until her husband returns home from work. She likes to escape to her flower garden or relax with a cup of tea and yarn attached to knitting needles. You can find her musings at ‘Muff’in Dome.
Heather Renshaw is a wife and mother of five living in the missionary territory of the Pacific Northwest. She rarely turns down an opportunity for deep conversation, loud singing, good eating, or silent Adoration. Heather is the author of an eight-week study on the Beatitudes, contributing author of All Things Girl: Truth For Teens, and the author of Death By Minivan. When she's not tackling the myriad tasks of her domestic church, Heather enjoys speaking at events and connecting via Twitter and Instagram (@RealCatholicMom). Heather may be found at www.RealCatholicMom.com.
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 for Consider the Lilies and Stories of Grace.. You can find more of her art in her shop.
Kendra Tierney believes that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. To that end, she has nine kids (so far), literally wrote the book on liturgical living in the home, hosts the annual Fiat Conference for women, and, in her spare time, is renovating the family’s hundred-year-old Los Angeles-area home. Her books, A Little Book About Confession for Children, The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life, the Catholic All Year monthly prayer companion booklets, prayer and saint quote prints and downloads, and blog posts about Catholic living, parenting, homeschooling, and, occasionally, zombies, can be found at her blog, Catholic All Year.
Kate Wicker is a wife, mom of five, and a recovering perfectionist. She is a frequent speaker at women’s conferences and the author ofGetting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy & Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood (a 2018 Catholic Press Association Award Winner) and Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body. She loves reading, running, shoes, God, and encouraging women to embrace the messiness of life instead of trying to cover it up, make excuses for it, or feeling ashamed of their brokenness or their home's sticky counters. From her home in Georgia, Kate strives every single, imperfect day to strike a balance between keeping it real and keeping it joyful. To learn more about her writing and life, please visit KateWicker.com, or follow along with her not-so-curated Instagram feed @KateWicker.
Cindy, our children’s content collaborator, 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.
Kathryn Whitaker, a native Texan, is a wife and mom to six kids, teen to toddler. She shares her perspective on marriage, motherhood, college football, Texas BBQ and her Catholic faith with honesty and authenticity on her blog www.teamwhitaker.org. She's a frequent guest on Sirius XM's "The Jennifer Fulwiler Show" but all her kids really care about is what time dinner's ready. In her spare time, she operates her own graphic design business, working primarily with Catholic campus ministry programs around the country.
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).