Monday, May 22, 2017

Mandisa's New Song, Tyler's Video, and The Giveaway

What can I say?  

Mandisa has a very special place in my family's heart.

I popped her brand new album, Out of the Dark, into the CD player as I headed out to do some errands last week.  And before I had gotten to the end of the driveway, I was fighting back tears.  The hot stormy kind that refuse to be thwarted.

For the first track, 'Voicemail,' crashed right on into my soul.

Big time.

'Cause I know what it's like to hit bottom.

There's some beautiful music here.  Songs of worship, of deliverance, songs of the brokenhearted, of the redeemed.  

And as I tooled around town that morning, I claimed 'Comeback Kid' as an ode to my own incredible grandchildren.



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Mandisa's last album was released in 2013.  She wrote the hit song Overcomer to encourage her close friend Kisha, who was battling breast cancer.  Mandisa believed that God was going to heal her, but when Kisha went to be with Jesus in 2014, Mandisa’s foundation was shaken in a way she never expected.  

She fell into a deep pit of depression for close to three years, shutting out her friends, family, and the rest of the world.

She tells her story to ABC's 'Good Morning America' here.  

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December 2014

Meanwhile ...

In the midst of Mandisa's suffering, our family claimed Overcomer as 'Tyler's Song' with a touching video of his story made by big sister, Kathryn.  It was her sweet gift of hope, honoring her adored adopted brother's fight for his life.

The Lord took our youngest grandson home to heaven in September of 2015, but not before he ... and his sister's little video ... powerfully impacted lives right and left around the globe.

Kathryn's moving video is here and Tyler's mom and dad share their family's story there.


Summer 2015

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Fast forward a year or so ...  

Mandisa believes that if she continued down the dark path she was on, she would not be here today.  But God stepped in and lifted her out of that pit of despair by using her close friends to communicate their love for her and God’s love for her.  Mandisa's brand new album is her way of letting all of us into her redemption story.



I'm absolutely delighted to give a brand new copy of Out of the Dark to one random person who leaves a comment on this post by Thursday, May 27th at noon {eastern time, continental US residents only, please}.

Bless yourself ... or someone who's walking through a dark night of the soul.

For Jesus' sake.



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sharing Mandisa with 

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTs 16 CFR, Part 255:  Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising:  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Friday, May 19, 2017

On the Necessity of Marking Unsettling Anniversaries

How's your week been?

In this neck of the woods, friends and family are beginning their annual pilgrimages here, even as we've morphed overnight from early spring to early summer.  Grabbing a sweatshirt has quickly been replaced with grabbing a tall glass of ice water.

It's blazing hot.  At least for a couple of days.

Go figure.




A different kind of unfolding has also begun, the quiet kicking off of a very personal anniversary season.  This is the second year where we mark Mother's Day, my Dad's birthday, my parents' anniversary, the day we moved from New York to Massachusetts followed by the sudden death of my Dad the day after.

Woven into this time frame are Father's Day, grandkids' birthdays, kids' anniversaries, remembering the birthday of our littlest grandson, Tyler.  And then marking his early death just two years later.

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It's important to notice how we're feeling as our remembered losses come to call, deep sorrows wrapped around joyful memories sweet.  Not to notice leads to shoving weird unexplained emotions deep down inside somewhere dark, even as odd behaviors and strange responses seemingly pop out from nowhere.

Which can only lead to all kinds of maladies and messy junk ... emotional, physical, spiritual, relational.

I'm all about remembering, sifting through a difficult season yet once again.  

Not in a maudlin way, but rather reflectively, quietly, considering all that has emerged in the weaving of our family's story.

And then laying that chapter to rest, for now, moving ahead from out of its shadow, acknowledging the impact, for better or worse, of all that God has allowed.  

And thanking Him that He specializes in redeeming our losses in ways far beyond our wildest dreams, in restoring those 'years the locusts have eaten' {Joel 2}.

I believe that this is what it looks like to continue to grieve well. 






P.S.
I'm curious what you do to mark your own difficult seasons, when grief seems to bubble up from those subterranean places.

P.S.S.
Mandisa's back and I'm celebrating with a giveaway of her brand new CD, Out of the Dark!  Come back to visit on Sunday night or sometime Monday to get in on the drawing ... and find out how she's impacted our family in a way we'll never forget.  You can subscribe here so you won't miss out!

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Friday, May 12, 2017

An Ode of Gratitude to Our Spiritual Mothers



This one's for all those spiritual mothers who've led us on the way.  

Those faithful souls who shared wisdom laced with integrity and joy.  The ones who brought comfort to our sorrows big and small.  You took us by the hand and modeled what loving Jesus and serving God looked like.

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You, the souls defined by music and melody who taught eager hearts and little lips to sing sweet Jesus songs that remain with us to this day.

And the stalwart teachers who patiently showed us how to tuck Bible verses deep into our hearts with wonderful flannel graph stories accompanied by pots of sticky glue adhering to bits and pieces of multi-colored crayoned construction paper.

Mamas and grandmamas.  Aunties and Sunday School teachers.  Pioneer Girl leaders and music instructors.  Camp counselors and youth group leaders.

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And in years to come, it was those faithful women's Bible study leaders who took us deep into God's Word week in and out.  And you nurturing Titus 2 women modeling a lifestyle of significance and impact.  Dear friends who had weathered their own journeys, emerging just a few steps ahead of us along the way, your own souls just a bit battered and worn, yet strong and fragrant with the aroma of Christ.

Those oh-so-wise professors and the heaven-sent spiritual directors and counselors, coaches and mentors who patiently sat with us and our endless questions and concerns, the challenges and doubts.  You empathized fully 'cause you'd 'been there, done that.'

You modeled for us fledglings how to gracefully enter unknown territories, influence in board rooms and meetings, our heads grazing against stained glass ceilings in churches that didn't quite know what to do with us.  You bore the bumps and bruises with us and taught us how to be filled with courage, mercy, and truth.

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You tenderly showed us how to listen quietly to the Spirit's promptings and embrace His calling on our lives with a hopeful anticipation.  

Your wise guidance led us to make ourselves fully available to the Spirit's leading and discernment and power for ministry.

Your lives helped us claim the truth that that tender hearts mingled with a godly courage could send us far, build us strong, shaping us into humble servants fully available for Kingdom work.

You are our Proverbs 31 women, filled with beautiful valor and integrity, godliness and strength.  All of us who've been shaped and grown through your generous tutelage join hands and proclaim, with tears in our eyes and hearts overflowing, that with everything in us,  we 'thank God upon every remembrance of you ...'


i'd love for you to share this ode of gratitude 
with your spiritual mothers ...
social media links are below

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and i'd love for you to 

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

In Which We Open Doors of Hope for Each Other



Of course you'll encounter trouble.

But behold a God of power who can take any evil 
and turn it into a door of hope.
*  Catherine Marshall  *


Let's admit it.

Somewhere along the line we've secretly mused, 'why me?'

Too many spoke the lie that the Christian life included great heapings of lavish prosperity and unlimited health for those who named it and claimed it.  

We figured that 1 + 1 = 2 and if we did all the right things then life would run rather smoothly and be relatively trouble-free.

Yet we found our own personal pathways strewn with messy heartbreak and surprising misfortune ... and the specific answers to prayer we yearned for never quite appeared.

We wondered if we somehow missed the boat.

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We seemed to have forgotten Hebrews 11:36-39 where the passionate faith of New Testament martyrs led to destitution, persecution, and grisly, unspeakable deaths. 

Jesus Himself said,' in this world you will have trouble' {John 16:33}.  His own torturous crucifixion for our sins showed that He was not exempt from life's cruelties.

But there is a door of hope.

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God specializes in turning our miseries into miracles, our woes into wonders, our disasters into deliverance.  He offers a life-altering comfort right smack dab in the midst of the troubles and the wrongs that have come our way ... so that we in turn can offer hope to the next one down the line.

'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God' {2 Corinthians 1:3-4}.

Emerging from our deepest sorrows, we are able to hold open the door of desperately needed hope to the next one down the line who's been yearning to know that there is a tomorrow.  Our own deeply personal sufferings allow us to offer those shining rays of hope with empathy and authenticity.

Grace and mercy are given freely, intermingled with our tears and the compassion of Jesus Christ.







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sharing with

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Smattering of Springtime Snapshots . . . and Introducing The Nest

Raw, rainy weather can't keep us New Englanders down.

Listen to me talking like I've lived here forever.  It's only our 2nd springtime in this little town tucked between the ever-changing bay and the ocean deep.

And even though multi-shaded daffodils and purple azaleas have slowly but surely burst into a very welcome bloom mode, the ocean's frigid temperatures have kept us reaching for our sweatshirts, cradling hot cups of tea, and enfolding ourselves in flannel sheets at night.

A fine mist seems to have permanently draped itself like a fragile veil over the ferns settled atop old milk cans outside the kitchen door, the square tin of pansies perched on a little table, and perennial herbs that stubbornly emerge from dormant earth.

And then wonder of wonders, defying the ever gloomy weather report, heavy low clouds scoot off to sea, the sun pops out of nowhere, and brilliant blue paints the skies.

Throwing open our windows wide and grabbing my flip flops and a book, I head outside to welcome the long yearned for warmth and beauty with open arms, a sigh of relief, and a smile.

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The Snapshots



























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The Nest 
The peaceful, light-filled room nestled in the treetops over the garage is finally complete.  Insulated, painted, heated, and filled with old familiar furniture, it's proving to be a comfy location to curl up with a book or indulge in an uninterrupted afternoon snooze.  

We picture it as the go-to locale for a breather from a houseful of energetic company ... or the place to indulge in rowdy late night board games while the rest of the family sleeps in heavenly peace over at the house.  

But, most especially, this cozy little nest has been designed to be a haven of serenity and healing, a quiet retreat where I counsel women one day a week.

If my former Creekside office and NY family room got together and had a baby, this is what it would look like ... 


-  before  -

-  after  -


My husband crafted this fabulous wall of shelves.  My favorite books and collectibles were relieved to emerge from cardboard boxes, coming out of hiding after 2 years.  It was like welcoming old friends back home. 


-  built, painted, installed  -


-  filled to overflowing  -


I love the skylights, the vintage painted furniture, those little quilts on the wall, and the ancient post office cubby filled with little tchochkes that sits atop a three-drawer dresser.  Cozy quilts and extra pillows stack in my chippy pink childhood doll crib.  I couldn't be more delighted ... or grateful.














it'd make me all kinds of happy if you'd subscribe

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sharing springtime joys with 
Leigh  .  Holley