Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Winner * The Book Club * The Bouquet

It's been a fun week around here with old and new friends coming and going, keeping company together, and sharing favorite 'desert island' reads all while putting yourselves in the running for the $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway.

The Winner ... 

writer .  photographer . ministry leader . therapist

Congrats, Pam!

The Book Club ...
The new Book Club begins right here on the blog the first weekend of February.  Yay!  We'll have six conversations on Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton.  You can get your copy through the link above or grab your Kindle edition here.  

Read why I chose this book as my all time favorite by going there.

Each gathering will open up on Thursdays or Fridays.  I can't wait to sit around our virtual table, throw out a few conversation starters, and let you do your thing in the comment section.  We'll be chatting about our obsession with wordiness.  Being dangerously tired.  Our odd resistance to silence.  What rest for body, mind, soul could look like for where you find yourself in this season.

For Gathering #1, read right up through Chapter 2.  We'll be discussing Beyond Words and Beginnings.

~  The book is only about 140 pages.

~  You don't have to sign up or read the book to participate.

A Bouquet of Absolutely Worth-Your-Time Links ...

Cara Joyner @ Relevant Magazine

Barbara @ One Hopeful Year

Sarah Bessey

Celeste Headlee @ Thrive Global

Katherine Schafler

Joshua Becker

Rachel Macy Stafford @ Thrive Global

Stay cozy, friends ~


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The $25 Giveaway & The Book Club

Dear Friends ~

I'm kicking off my 11th year of blogging by giving away a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card to one book-lovin' reader!

I'm so excited about what's coming up as we continue to do community together ... a deeper emphasis on emotional health and spiritual growth with plenty of opportunity for give and take as you share your stories and wisdom in the follow-up conversations.

A 6 session weekend book club right here beginning February 2nd.

And yep, there'll still be those monthly wrap-ups, random 'aha' moments, worth-your-time resources, book reviews, fun giveaways, and maybe a series or two.  They're not going anywhere.

Read on.

If you were being hustled off to a desert island and you could only bring your Bible and one other book, what game-changer would you toss in your bag?

Don't run off to check your shelves, dig out your book journal, or spend alot of time racking your memory.  Simply sit quietly for a minute and let God bring to mind that one special book that turned your life upside down and inside out.


For me?

Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence 
- Ruth Haley Barton
'Truth be told, it was desperation that first propelled me into solitude and silence. I wish I could say that it was for loftier reasons, pure desire for God or some such thing. But in the beginning it was desperation, plain and simple. There were things that needed fixing in my life, longings that were painfully unmet, and I had tried everything I knew to fix what was broken and to fill what was lacking, but to no avail' {page 25}.

This is the book that transformed my oft' boring quiet time, my lackadaisical attitude toward intimacy with God, my uninformed thoughts about what meditating on His Word could truly look like.  This is where 'be still and know that I am God' began to take on a whole new meaning.

Ruth's story grabbed me {oohh, you, too?} and inspired by her own spiritual journey, I began to invite God to shake me free from the tired oughts-and-shoulds of my uninspired devotional life.  And in the process, I fell head over heels into Jesus' waiting arms.  He, the Lover of my weary soul, had been patiently beckoning me closer all along ... and I finally invested in saying, 'yes.'

Thirteen years ago, this book spun my spiritual life around and impacted me in all the broken, untended, lazy places that needed God's powerful touch.  I'm in the process of reading it for the third time and I want to share this little treasure with you.


We're going to be talking about Invitation to Solitude and Silence for 6 weeks right here beginning the weekend of February 2nd.  Mark your calendar and grab your copy of the hardcover here or your Kindle edition there.  I can't wait to sit around our virtual table, throw out a few conversation starters, and let you do your thing in the comment section.

We'll be chatting about our obsession with wordiness.   Being dangerously tired.  Our odd resistance to silence.  What rest for body, mind, soul could look like for where you find yourself.

Don't want to read the book or want to simply sit quietly with us?  No problem!  Please drop in any time to see what's going on.


To enter the giveaway of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, leave a comment on this post by Thursday, January 18th at 9 am {eastern, US only please}.  Share your favorite book and why you'd take it to that imaginary island ... and if you've talked about it on your blog, please include the link to that post so we can all check it out!

Or simply email your comment to and I'll post it for you.  Email readers, click right here to come on over and join the party!

Hint to the wanna-be-winner:  Be sure your name is somehow linked to an email address that I can hunt down easily, ok?

I'm chomping at the bit to hear all about your absolute favorite pageturner.  And if you're IN on the book club, please let me know!

if you like what's happening around here,



spending time with

Monday, January 8, 2018

On the Need to Release Our Former Roles

In recent days a fresh realization has dawned, oh so slowly at first.

I'm not who I was.  I'm not where I was.

You, too?

We tend to look fondly at the good old days, yet if we invest too much energy on staying fixated to what was, we become unable to move ahead because we're too busy defining our ourselves by who we were, what we did, what we accomplished.  

And if we are even slightly obsessed with that rear view mirror, we become sluggish in the willingness to venture forward, easily missing the boat when it comes to discovering who God is beckoning us to be in this fresh season.

For anything healthy grows, morphs, and changes.

We can't afford to stay stuck.


For 13 years I was a ministry leader with a title, a nameplate on a door, a place on the letterhead, a seat at the table.  I was given golden opportunities to counsel, to teach, to coach, to facilitate.  I listened and designed.  I created and led.  I had worked hard to get to that place and it was not lost on me how God opened doors for service in ways that I hadn't quite imagined.  I poured myself into the ministry, it became part of the air I breathed, it gave me purpose and fulfillment.

For good or not, it began to define who I saw myself to be.  

Ministry leadership is not for the faint of heart, certainly not without its daunting challenges and surprising pitfalls, for sure.  I was forever changed, I am forever grateful, forever in awe at what God did during that span of time.  It was a season of my life I'll fondly remember.  Always.  

31 months ago that whole ministry leadership role ended abruptly with our huge move from there to here.  I referred my clients to new counselors, donated half my books, packed up the diplomas and accolades, the files, momentos, and accomplishments.  

Leaving that role was surreal and heart-wrenching, kind of like an out-of-body experience.  Saying farewell to all that had become familiar after 38 years in one place was a bittersweet experience indeed.  {You can page through The Transition Journey ~ An Unexpected Series right here if you'd like.}

We moved on to a new state, a new culture, a new church, a new rhythm.

And things have never been the same.

Life moves at a much slower, quieter pace in this neck of the woods.  I've gradually released my expectations and agendas, worked through the surprises and frustrations, and embraced what life looks like in the here and now in this sometimes desolate but always beautiful place.

Can I tell you I love it?

These days there are no titles or nameplates, letterheads or meetings.  The diplomas are in a drawer and my commute is across the driveway and up a flight of stairs.  

Yet the essence of my counseling work with women hasn't changed a bit.  To be invited into another soul's journey is a priceless gift that I hold with gentleness and respect.  To listen to another's heart, to guide her onward to the healing place is an awesome privilege.

I've learned afresh that transitions are a seemingly endless winding road, an unseen pathway that twists and turns in oft' startling ways.  For there is much to sort through, to grieve fully, to release.  But the good news is that the journey finally opens up to new vistas if we dare go the distance ... and stay focused on what's ahead rather than forever looking behind at all that was.

I don't know what roles you've embraced that have long since lost their purpose, what experiences have defined you that are no longer valid for where you find yourself.  I'm not sure what your story is, what changes have been required in days past, what griefs and regrets you bear, what urgent yearnings are filling your soul.

All I know is that God longs to do a new thing with our giftedness, callings, and passions.  Chances are that what He's uniquely designing for each of us will only bear a faint resemblance to our past experiences.  

And that's ok.  It truly is.

And while everything around you may be changing and uncertain, the true joy is that He remains the same.  His character never wavers and His plans refuse to be thwarted.  But if we want to experience that fullness of joy and purpose, we must emerge from the past and finally release all that was ...

Up next?  
The $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway!



connecting with Holley
every Wednesday

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Launch-Yourself-Forward Worksheet

We humans keep brainstorming 
options and plans,
but God's purpose prevails.
Proverbs 19:21
{The Message}

We're up and running, ready to roll right into a brand new year.  And when it comes to making grand resolutions, setting big goals, or choosing the perfect One Word, our collective enthusiasm is soaring higher than a kite.

{By the way, click here to find out why One Word doesn't work for me, but loosely held plans usually pan out well.}

Yet, all our good intentions can easily wane and soon get lost in the shuffle of daily schedules and unexpected challenges, our once golden dreams lying in a pile gathering dust in some corner somewhere.

Did we miss the boat on what we thought God wanted?  Did we even consult Him to begin with?  Or did fear of missing out push us into some kind of half-hearted action without our own enthusiastic personal buy-in?

I'm happy to present this little fill-in-the-blank worksheet with 6 prompts to help you clarify your hopes and dreams for 2018:

My resolution / goal / One Word is ...

I'm aiming for this because ...

My biggest challenge in follow-through will be ...

The motivation that will propel me is ...

Here's what I'm putting in place so I'll succeed ...

God is whispering these words to my willing heart ...


More Worksheets: 

please feel free to share this post
with your goal-setting social media friends


the $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway
is right around the corner



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

In Which I Wrap Up 2017 with a Little Introspection . . . and a Whole Lot of Anticipation

Dear Friends ~

While visions of sugarplums, last minute menu items, shopping trips, and complex travel plans danced in many a weary head in recent weeks, I've spent more than a few nights writing blog posts in my sleep.  It could only mean one thing ... that I've missed putting pen to paper, even through the supposed busyness of the season.

But the truth is that things have been very calm and still around here.  All quiet like.

Maybe too much so.


Thanks to all of you who dropped in during the daily Advent gathering.  It was like a month long open house, casual and relaxed ... so much fun to chat with you here and there, to share snapshots and Scriptures, to focus on God's great love for us.  I felt recalibrated and soothed by the experience of observing Advent in a more focused way ... and your willingness to take time to leave kind words in the midst of the holiday bustle blessed me.

It was a stressless online experience, it was a joy.

Some of you mentioned that you'd like to jump on in and do the same thing next Advent ... let's plan on it when the time gets closer, ok?


Our family switches off holidays each year with the in-laws.  So the 12 of us celebrated this year's Christmas down in Annapolis at Thanksgiving.  I didn't have to do anything more than lend a hand, follow suggestions in the kitchen, occasionally set the table or wash some dishes.  No large meals to figure out, no crowds to corral in our tiny kitchen here at the Cape.  I could relax, hang out, and enjoy the festivities.

Delightful.  A bit exhausting, but delightful nonetheless.

On Thanksgiving Saturday, we took the family to see The Miracle of Christmas performance at the Sight & Sound Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as their Christmas gift.  Fabulous.  I love sharing an experience rather than buying alot of stuff that no one really wants or that doesn't fit or breaks in ten minutes.

The older I get, the more I value memory-making activities and events over objects and stuff.  

The bonus?  No steady stream of boxes from Amazon arriving on our doorstep once we arrived back home.  Little shopping to do.  No endless marathon gift-wrapping sessions.

More delight.

Tim and I spent a quiet Christmas afternoon with my mom.  Mom is much loved and adored by everyone who knows her.  Each day she models what strong persevering faith while living with chronic pain looks like.  We're inspired by her and honored to do life with her in this season.  Christ's peace radiates from her very being.  I love her so.


Like every other family, we have encountered our fair share of challenges and sorrows intermingled with joy and victories this year.  Most of these stories are not mine to tell, yet I've found my faith tested, stretched, enlarged because of the hard lessons that the roller coaster of frustration, hope, disappointment, and uncertainty tend to bring.

As I shared in October's On Being Unraveled ... and Re-Knit Together, I have not always responded well to what's going on around me.  But God has been faithful to teach me the power of praise, of inviting endless verses of old hymns to play in my head during the night's wakefulness, of making choices to turn from my default grumbling / fear / what-if's to speaking words of praise right in the midst of the most unsettling circumstances.

I've seen Him answer prayers in recent weeks in ways that have left me weeping in relief and gratitude, awed by His timing and His mercy.  Sheer, matchless grace.

Praise You, Jesus.  Thank You, Lord.

What's ahead for the blog?

For sure, blogging's shifting and changing these days, with Facebook groups, Instagram, podcasts, and monthly newsletters vying for our creative attention.  But, being technologically ignorant and a creature of habit, I'm sticking with the tried and true.  I love doing community with you and I value our ongoing dialogue, whether substantial or light ... and it makes me smile when I hear that you're returning to a post a few days later to scan the comment section to see what's going on.

November's Emotional Health Series was intended to have a short little run, but the four posts birthed such vulnerable, powerful sharing online and off, with many of you telling me how helpful the conversations were turning out to be.  More and more topics kept coming to mind and it wasn't long 'til I realized that God was whispering that maybe emotional health should become more of a focus around here, that there are endless conversations to be had, that our yearning for healing and wholeness is great because God has designed our emotions and our spiritual lives to be so beautifully intertwined.

So that's the direction we'll be heading in the days ahead.  And yep, there'll still be book reviews, faith issues to explore, monthly wrap-ups, giveaways and resources and random surprises.  As always, I'd love your input along the way in the comment section or via

I'm grateful for what God's doing as I head into my 11th year of writing online.

Please plan on celebrating with me as I give away a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card in a few weeks.  I hope you'll jump right on into the book discussion that will prompt the party.  Be sure to subscribe here so you don't miss out, ok?


Well, I didn't touch on half the things that have been floating through my mind.  They'll wait for another time.  Enjoy this final week of 2017.  I can't tell you how delighted I am to do life with you.  God has been so incredibly faithful, hasn't He ...


i'll see you at

Monday, December 25, 2017

Light * Advent Whispers


Then Jesus cried out,
'When a man believes in Me, 
he does not believe in Me only,
but in the One who sent Me.

When He looks at me,
He sees the One who sent Me.

I have come into 
the world as a light,
so that no one who believes in Me
should stay in darkness.'
~  John 12:44 - 46  ~




to scroll through the
Advent Whispers 
Series ...
follow the >>
at the bottom of each post


Thanks for joining me for this year's Advent journey!
 Sweetest Christmastide blessings 
to you and yours ...



Sunday, December 24, 2017

Love * Advent Whispers


Dear friends,
let us love one another, 
for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves 
has been born of God and knows God ...

This is how God showed 
His love among us:
He sent His one and only Son
into the world that 
we might live through Him.

This is love:
not that we loved God, 
but that He loved us
and sent His Son 
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
~  1 John 4:7, 9 - 10  ~




light the candles
hold them high
for He is the Light 
in a very dark world

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wonder * Advent Whispers


Show the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.

Keep me as the apple Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings ...
~  Psalm 17:7 - 8  ~





The 2 year old's big blue eyes 
shine with wonder as her
little fingers gently caress the twinkling lights 
on the decorated Christmas tree.

'Yes, they do look like candles,' 
her mama softly replies.

With simple delight, the little one observes,
'For Jesus' birthday!'