Saturday, September 24, 2016

Let's Pray for Each Other



A number of us are dealing with major challenges right about now.  You and I have chatted together or I've read it on your online space.  We need to do more than talk it through.  We need to pray.  Steadfastly.  Fervently.  With each other, for each other.

I'm committed to pray for you.

You are grieving a great loss that has shaken you to your core.

Your kids are making choices that are breaking your heart ... and leaving you frightened beyond words.

You've gotten a recent diagnosis that has left you filled with anxiety.

Your church is going through an unsettling upheaval.

You're shaking your head in bewilderment at what's happening in this country and wondering how / if you'll vote in the upcoming election.

An important relationship is in tatters.

You've got some big decisions to make ... and soon.

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I invite you to accept any or all of these 3 invitations:  

1.  Share your prayer request, big or small, with this community in the comment section.  No need to give private details ... and you can call yourself Anonymous if you'd like.  God knows who you are.

If you're comfortable responding to another's prayer request with a written prayer for them, please do so in the comment section.  What a huge blessing you will be.

Come back throughout the week to check in and see what God is doing.  Feel free to leave more than one request or prayer.

{Reading this post on email and want to participate?  Simply go here to arrive online where you can click on the little red comment link at the end of the post.  If you have trouble navigating, just let me know at LindaStoll@juno.com and I'll take care of it for you.}

2.  Email me your private request at LindaStoll@juno.com.  Let me know that it's private and your needs will remain between Him, you, and me.

3.  Find a prayer below that fits where you are and claim it as your own.  Go ahead and bookmark these for future use if you'd like.  And yes, please feel free to share these with your small group, on Facebook, Twitter ... or wherever.











And I'd so appreciate your prayers as I have a same-day procedure on Monday to remove a cyst and a few bits and pieces that don't need to be inside my body anymore.  {No, it's not cancer, and yes, I'll leave an update here afterward!}

Gratefully we lift each other up to the One who loves us most.  We bear one another's burdens, we pray for miracles, we trust that God will hear and respond to the desire of our hearts in the ways He deems best.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus  ~ Philippians 4:6 - 7.

Let us pray ...



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visiting with Holley on Wednesday

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Exquisite Gifts of Autumn



Change happens in an instant.

That split second stroke of a pen.  A clock's steady tick-tock.  The shrill, heart-stopping ring of the phone in the middle of the night.  A calendar page flipped.  That long-dreaded farewell. 

But transitions? 

These steady visitors to our lives, so deeply yearned for or completely unbidden, can linger on.  And on.

We've all experienced those seasons that range from mildly discombobulating all the way up to the numbing, excruciating grief of a severed relationship, a death, an abandoning.  A financial upheaval, a health crisis.  A betrayal, a relocation, a denial. 

And the endless waiting spaces in the midst of it all that can leave us a little worse for wear.





And then there are the transitions that breathe fresh life, that kick off brand-new routines, that open doors to long dreamed of opportunities that wait around the next corner.  These are the graces that let you know that the earth keeps spinning, that life goes on, that all will be well.

We're experiencing it here, now.  It starts when we awake.  Instead of throwing off the covers, we reach to pull them up closer and linger in the cozy overnight cocoon we've created for ourselves ... even as we vow to dig those gently fraying flannel sheets out of the back of the closet and get them tucked over and on to the awaiting mattress.

We start our days by donning the worn, warm robe and wonderfully fleecy socks instead of a tee-shirt and shorts.  And when we stumble to the kitchen, we grab a favorite mug and brew a 'hot cuppa,' rather than reach for a glass to fill with icy cold juice.




As we prepare for the day, we hear the engines of school buses passing by instead of the fan's endless whirring or the air conditioner's incessant hum.  We leave the oven door open after pulling the golden blueberry muffins out, just to get a bit more warm air in the room.  And when we head out the door, we grab a scarf or a sweatshirt, just in case.

Classes and groups, clubs and meetings start anew.  Schedules emerge and seem to take on a life of their own. The calendar fills ... to overflowing if we just can't say 'no, thanks.'  And we know, for sure, that the lazy days of summer have become a distant memory.




We dig out the crockpot instead of lighting up the grill.  Candlelight emerges once again, starting at suppertime and soothing us with its warm glow and gentle fragrance as the coolness of evening descends and another day comes to a close.

And as we chat back and forth, catching up with the day's details, we realize that our nightcaps have morphed from ice cream sundaes into steaming mugs of hot cocoa with whipped cream on top ... as we hunker under an old quilt or two.  For it's way too early in the season to turn the heat on.

I don't know about you, but I've been through lots of transitions that I never want to experience again.  But autumn's gentle rhythm, its compelling rhyme, its steadying cadence, its awaiting invitations?

I'm leaning right into it all.




And I'm comforted by this truth.  That when {not if} the transitions come that leave me gasping for my next breath, I will be held and comforted and strengthened. 

Because He never changes.

And that, my friend, is good enough for me.



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adapted

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visiting with
  Holley & friends

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

3 Generations Are Loving This Amish Author

We can't wait to chat about our most recent reads with our friends, can we.  And we look forward to our next book club gathering, or the rockin' monthly link-up at Anne's place.  

But what could be better than sharing books that have captured your heart with your very own family?




Suzanne Woods Fisher's Amish writings are making the rounds through three generations here in Massachusetts these days with Mom {in her 80s}, my baby sister, Marilyn {in her 50s}, my oldest daughter, Kristin {in her 30s}, and I swapping volumes of fiction back and forth and comparing notes on who's read what.  It's just been plain fun for mother to share books with daughter who shares books with sister who shares books with granddaughter ... well you get the drift.

It's a pleasure to welcome you to our family powwow today.  None of us are particularly fond of the camera so I promised not to share pics if they'd participate.  But be sure they're lovely women, each of us relishing a relaxing page-turner at the end of a long day.




So ... grab yourself a coffee as we chat together.  As always, I've added links so you can check out specific books on Amazon {I get a few cents a book if you buy}.  None of my dear sparkling conversationalists have read the others' responses, and I've taken the liberty of throwing in my two cents here and there in blue print.




Here goes ...

#1.  The four of us have been talking about Suzanne Woods Fisher and her books!  Who of you found her in the first place ... and how'd you hear?

Mom:  A year ago I ordered a book by David Jeremiah from Christian Book Distributors and in ordering I noticed a 3-books-in-1 volume about Amish life by Fisher and the price was either $2.99 or $3.99.  There was also a book The Heart of the Amish which was talking about forgiveness for $2.99.  My ears picked up and I ordered them both.

Marilyn:  I found one of her books in our local library around a year ago, read it and loved it, but then couldn't remember the author's name!  I was at Mom's right before vacation a few months ago and told her I was looking for something to read while I was away.  I took both her books.

Kristin:  I've been looking for some good, clean reading and my mom mentioned that my grandma had been reading a series by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  I absolutely LOVE her writing!  

#2.  There are a number of authors out there who write Amish fiction.  What makes Fisher's work unique?

Mom:  She's not the typical writer of this type of book and I found she was writing very positively about their beliefs and how their spirituality worked out in their daily lives.  She didn't talk negatively about their lifestyles.

Marilyn:  I have read many Amish / Mennonite / Quaker books over the years.  I have enjoyed most of them and they have been quick reads.  Sort of a Christian Little House on a Prairie - easy to read, life was simple then, no technology, family oriented.  As soon as I started reading Fisher's books, they were different.  Her descriptions are so detailed, you feel as if you are in the kitchen with her characters or out in the fields, smelling the fresh meadows, fruit trees, cow manure {gross, Marilyn!}.  

She also doesn't fantasize that this choice of lifestyle is easy.  The kids moan and complain about not wanting to do their chores.  Washing clothes by hand takes all day and the sisters try to get out of doing their part of the work.  It is realistic - I can relate to it {sounds like us growing up, huh?}.  

Their faith comes across real.  They question God when they don't understand why things happen.  Teenagers have real emotions like jealousy, insecurity, not feeling pretty enough, nervous around boys or girls.  In one story, the main character was chosen as a minister and he was reluctant to do it because of the demands on his time and family.

Kristin:  I've only read one Amish fiction book before this and I just couldn't get into it.  Suzanne's writing is light reading and entertaining.

#3  Your favorite book so far ... and why.

Mom:  I love The Inn at Eagle Hill series ... I felt like I was living right in the inn and was sitting at their table.  Fascinating.

Marilyn:  Don't know the name - ex-boyfriend supposedly killed in the war, but his death ends up being wrongly identified.  Meanwhile, his brother's wife dies and the ex-girlfriend falls in love with the brother and becomes a teacher / mentor to the children {is this a tad confusing or is it just me?}.

Kristin:  I've read 3 of her books, and the one that really got me was when a very dramatic and unforeseen event happened.  I just sat there and cried!  SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT  {I don't want to give it away, but it was when Menno died and gave his heart to his dad.}

#4  We've got three generations talking here.  What is it about Fisher's work that seems to resonate no matter what the reader's age?

Mom:  Their day to day life is just like ours with its frustrations and joys, their concerns for each other and wanting to be able to help.

Marilyn:  There is something in each story that everyone can relate to.  Making your home into a bed & breakfast due to financial struggles, the loss of a spouse, a child with a stuttering problem, the crops that get ruined by a storm, moving to a new town and having to find new friends.

Kristin:  There are characters of all ages, she covers so many different topics, she touches on many stages of life.

#5  Anything else you want to add?

Mom:  In each book, she weaves in a delightful addition.  I learned about bee-keeping and making honey, falconry, basket weaving, the sky at night, natural remedies, baking.  I have not read any Amish books in a long time but when I did, each one seemed just like the previous one ... until I read this author.

Marilyn:  I'm in the middle of The Heart of the Amish, short stories about forgiveness in everyday life.  That is what allows them to forgive the major things we hear about like after the murder of the children in the schoolhouse a few years ago and the community ministered to the widow of the killer.  It takes a lifetime of living at peace to be able to do that with God's help.  

This can be used as a devotional book - there is a lot to learn.  She calls the first part of the book "Everyday Friction" - all those small annoyances that we need to forgive.

Kristin:  As long as you like this genre, it's fabulous!  I like how Fisher integrates Christian principles throughout the book without being preachy.  SPOILER ALERT  SPOILER ALERT  When she talked about Menno's dad accepting Menno's heart, she wove in how it was similar to our relationship in Christ. 






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chatting about books with

Monday, September 12, 2016

Free Webinar ~ Are You In An Emotionally Destructive Marriage?

I'm a big Leslie Vernick fan.

I believe her books The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope are lifesavers, game-changers ... and must reading for all people helpers as well as those who are entwined in relationships that are unhealthy or toxic.

Leslie is offering a FREE 90 minute webinar on Tuesday, October 4th.  I've already signed up and I'm encouraging my readers to do the same.

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Leslie writes ~
'As a Christian counselor and licensed social worker, I have witnessed the devastating effects of emotional abuse in a marriage.  Sometimes couples try to fix the issues but how do you know when a destructive person is TRULY changing or just faking it?

Maybe you know someone in this type of relationship, or you wonder if your relationship IS this.  After all, many women do not even realize their relationship is destructive and may even think certain behavior is normal.  

For this reason, I am doing a FREE 90 minute webinar where I will share with you what you need to do to reclaim your voice and speak up, set boundaries, and heal your own damaged identity.

During this webinar, I will cover how to:

*   Recognize the behaviors and heart attitudes of someone who is really changing.

*   Confront and speak truth in the right way and at the right time.

*   Build an identity in Christ and not in your marriage.

I invite you to join me on a live webinar on Tuesday October 4th @ 7:30 PM EST

CLICK HERE to join us.  As women, we need to educate ourselves so we can recognize this very real problem that we face and learn how to handle it in a way that glorifies God.  Please join me.'

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Meanwhile, check out Leslie's website ... it's filled to overflowing with videos, conversations, evaluations, and solid Biblical wisdom.  So desperately needed ... sadly.

'See you' at the webinar, friend ...

Oh and by the way, would you please spread the news about Leslie and the webinar to your social media tribe and women's groups?  I'm guessing that everyone who skims through this post probably knows someone who's just been waiting for the help she's offering.

And maybe you have no idea at all.

The links are below.







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pleased to share this info with
Crystal  .  Beth  .  Holley

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Very Personal Task of Grieving



It's been a year since our littlest grandson Tyler went home to be with Jesus.  

My heart's cry as his grandma is to honor his much too brief life, to remember him out loud, to tell his story.  But profound words are simply unavailable to me.  You'd have to be a much better writer than I'll ever be to even begin to capture the incredibly deep wholehearted love of a family, the unspeakable impact of the death of a child on those who adore him, and the stunning, very individual, private grief journey that follows for each one who gathers 'round.

And I'm not sure I want to try or even should.  Some things in life are too very personal and should be honored as such.

But I do want the world to know that he was a real cutie, a significant little guy, oh so brave and trusting.  He had quite a personality and was cherished like crazy by all who had the joy of knowing him.  He will always hold a very special place in our hearts and yes, we still talk about him.  Not a day goes by that we don't recall him, miss him.

I can tell you that we are forever altered as a family.  And as individuals, we will never be the same.

So instead of digging around for words that just aren't capable of emerging, I simply offer you what I shared a year ago.  A Journey Through Grief ... and A Prayer for Those Who Grieve.  I'm also placing Jenn and Barry's Adopting Tyler story in your tender hands. 

I know that many of you have suffered loss as well.  I hear your souls' cry and I want you to know that you are not alone.  

Please don't let anyone tell you that there's some kind of magical three step formula to grieving well.  They're just kidding themselves and giving you false hope.  Yes, life goes on.  But grief is a very personal journey, a daunting, sometimes overwhelming task filled with winding bends, deep valleys, and yes, some mountaintop vistas.  And the whole process goes on much longer than you'd ever dreamed.  

But move forward?  Yes, you will.  Not easily, but yes, by God's never ending gracious mercy.  He will never leave you, He won't forsake you.  And He'll carry you as long as you need to be carried.

Oh yes, He most certainly will ... 






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