Tuesday, March 14, 2017

6 Books * Taking a Breather From the Break

The sweeping winds howl outside, ferocious rain pelting against rattling windows as stormy gusts make their wild presence known.  As winter makes its noisy exit, I'm more than happy to crack open the ol' laptop and cast my blogging break to the side, ready to chat books with you once again.

My fingers are eagerly renewing their acquaintance with the keyboard which has been quite idle for weeks now.  Celebrating the beginning of my 10th year of blogging by taking a break from its familiar cadence has been a breathe of fresh air, a needed grace.

Yes, abundance comes to call when we get courageous enough to do life unplugged, gently laying aside the comfort zone that our online travels provide, and freeing ourselves up to discover what awaits unhindered when we're finally untethered from our beloved screens.

One sweet benefit of ratcheting back our online hours is that we can lend fuller attention to volumes gathered here and there that have been patiently whispering, 'pick me, pick me.'  This, the priceless gift of paper and ink, a gathering of stories and adventures and invitations begging to be welcomed and embraced.

Books make the finest companions, don't they?  Always ready and waiting whenever we choose to spend time in their presence, yet without fierce demand on our energies.  Quiet company on long late evenings or a needed distraction during spare moments grabbed here and there.

Like these ...

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path
Erin Loechner
Coffee table book? Memoir? Workbook?

When Erin hits the publish button on her blog, I'm there.  Even if she's penning observations about shoes or smoothies or children's clothes ... it matters not to me because her writing style is so winsome and her words captivating.  I find slow and gentle oh so very appealing.

She writes, 'This book is a work of creative nonfiction.  This means I can write a true story about my life but still throw a dinner party and invite those whose names might have been changed.'

Photos, snapshots, space for you to jot your thoughts, sidebar treats.  This lifestyle volume is a lovely treat.

Shelly Miller
No doubt, Shelly's book will remain one of my top favorites this year.  This is a gentle invitation to sabbath loveliness, not sabbath legalism.  Shelly weaves her compelling discoveries with the stories of women she's connected with along the way.  It's a slow, thoughtful read that will leave you yearning to establish this grace into your own life's rhythm, one paragraph, one chapter at a time.

Loved this spiritual invitation, Shelly's soothing style, her godly wisdom.  Absolutely.  A fabulous personal treasure ... or an important discussion starter.

A Fall of Marigolds & Lady in Waiting
Susan Meissner
If your book club hasn't met Susan, let me be the first to introduce her.  Her well crafted storylines weave themselves together over great spans of time.  These are pages you just can't put down.

Marigolds features a beautiful fragile scarf that unites the stories of two women in NYC ... one in 1911, the other in 2011.  These are stories of tragedy and fire and bodies falling from buildings ... life permanently altered for women who've loved and lost, slowly making their way to the other side of grief.

And Lady features a 1600's bejeweled ring worn by royalty, the name 'Jane' inscribed on the band's smooth inner surface that finds its way into the hands of a modern day 'Jane' even as her marriage hits rock bottom.

Just superb.  Plan on savoring this author's stories late into the wee hours.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
Tsh Oxenreider
Get ready to roll up your sleeves with this spiral bound hardcover or perhaps just skim through for creative homemaking ideas.  Sublime photos ... and scads of charts, inventories, templates, worksheets, checklists, and tips fill Tsh's motivating pages.

This is a treat for any homemaker who wants inspiration, reflective questions, and a clear guide forward.

The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass: Beach Comber's Edition: Finding, Collecting, Identifying, and Using the Ocean's Most Beautiful Stones
Mary Beth Beuke
Here's a gift for all you beach scavengers who can't wait another day til you hit the shorelines again.  This huge, hefty book is a treasure trove of gorgeous images of my favorite frosted collectible ... and fascinating stories on how the ocean's magnificent pounding waves turn discarded glass into rare, stunning finds.


I'm curious ... 
what's on your 'to-read' pile these days?


to be one of the 1st to know when I return in April


connecting with Anne & Holley

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Celebrating a Great Big Blogging Milestone

I'm quietly easing headlong into my 10th year of blogging.  

You and I've been hanging out together and talking life over for quite some time.  I hear that there's still a few of you around from way back in the day, 1500+ posts later.

I'm grateful that since that first little post, blogging around here has slowly evolved from a very tentative one-woman-show into an interactive iron-sharpening-iron dialogue with other like-minded souls, that's always laced with encouragement and grace.

I just love what God has nurtured and grown.  

Back and forth we've chatted, weaving a tapestry of stories, some fairly inspirational, others more than a bit unsettling.  We've been nudged forward, gently soothed .. and shaken up a bit.  We've reverently cradled surprising outcomes, unexpected disasters and over-the-top blessings.  We've offered each other desperately needed hope, more than a few virtual hugs ... and tons of links and resources.

Tears have spilled onto virtual pages.  And other times, we've laughed til our bellies ached.

Community.  Relationship.  Encouragement.  Accountability.  Love.

And while we're talking, if you read these posts via email and aren't an active part of this ongoing dialogue, I would love it if you'd come by often and check out the comment section at the end of each post.  The icing on the cake is the conversation that spills forth from whatever subject's on the table.  A number of interesting savvy creatives and a few wise-guys gather to share their unique observations and humor-laced wisdom.  It's usually a discussion worth checking out ... and jumping on into!

a few blogging tidbits I've embraced ...

#1.  Write when the Spirit stirs.
Not because it's a self-assigned day of the week or because there's a weekly link-up or because some expert somewhere told you to hit the publish button every three days.

Pick up that pen when you're compelled to.  Write when you can't not write.  Tap away on that keyboard when there's a fire in your bones. Speak when you're bursting forth with words that you believe will deeply impact your reader.

#2.  Relationship is just as important than content ... maybe more so.
You can have the sharpest writing skills and style in the world, but if you're not choosing to cultivate relationships, your readers might not be with you for the long haul unless your content is spectacular in some way.  Responding to comments, visiting your reader's websites and cheering each other on are lovely blogging graces.  

And it's not a you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours scenario.  Over time, the actions we take in growing our blogs end up giving us something much richer and more significant than we imagined ... supportive kindred spirit friendships that somehow span the miles.

#3.  Simpler is a huge gift.
Technology gone amok freaks me out.  White space works.

There's absolutely nothing flashy or trendy around here.  No bells and whistles, no widgets and gizmos.  Just a safe place for you to land, a gentle pause in the busyness of your online travels, a calm haven where you might catch your breath and be refilled.

Along the way,  I've cut out the sidebar and updated up the pages.  The photos I choose are usually large and unhindered by words stamped atop their beauty.  Tons of white space works for me.  It reflects who I am ... and it becomes a gift of quiet stillness to those who drop by.

#4.  Don't be afraid to take a breather.
Let's face it, some of us bloggers are a bit hesitant about taking time off even when our creative energies are waning or we're feeling a bit crispy around the edges.

Will our stats drop while we're gone?  {Yes, they will.}

Will our readers return?  {Most likely, especially if the relationship and encouragement you offer resonates deeply ... and if they've subscribed.  You can do so here.}

Is there life away from our laptops?  {Most certainly.  And our writing will most likely reflect that reality when we return refreshed, revitalized, renewed.}

Who am I when I'm unplugged?  {If we're asking ourselves that question, it's most likely past time to discover what that looks like.}

All that said, I'm off for a bit of an early spring break.  

I'll be continuing the launch of my counseling practice here on the Cape even as my husband is jumping into what looks to be a productive retirement {he's a big Habitat for Humanity fan}.  We're in the home stretch of putting final touches on The Nest over the garage ... and I can't wait to show you what it looks like!  And we'll be doing a bit of traveling as we jaunt here and there, wrapping up a damp gray winter and welcoming spring in all its warm radiant glory.

Meanwhile, I dug around the archives and am resurrecting The Blog Forum ~ A Creative Little Series for all you blog aficionados.  It's filled with all kinds of goodies that I'm guessing you might find helpful as you continue to design and refine your craft.

Now, it's your turn ... I'd love to glean from all your blogging tidbits, wisdom, and secrets!

Missing you already ~

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Dormant Ground

There are weeks when urgent writings spring forth from a heart crammed with good things that simply must be shared.  You awake early and hit the ground running because a persistent thread has woven itself into something warmly substantial through the darkest hours and just begs to be offered when light dawns. 

Or a song, a word, an observation plays a winsome tune over and over and invites itself to be penned.  A flash of insight comes out of left field and you just can't wait to put fingers to keyboard.  Or perhaps God repeatedly whispers a persistent message and it calls to be placed on the table with awe and reverence.

Posts stack up in the queue, ripe for publishing.

And then there are other weeks when silence descends and there is nothing of significant value to place in the hands of others.  Fingers are still, minds and hearts rest gently idle.  There are no productive musings coming to call, no wisps of brilliance that await, nor any profound words of wisdom that are worth sharing.

And that, my friends, is as it should be.

A needed lesson pushes its way to the forefront, patiently waiting to be heeded.  And once again we are reminded that we are not defined by our productivity, our creativity, or our accomplishments.  We are defined by our Savior.

And He whispers, 'peace, be still.'


visiting with Holley & friends 


Monday, February 13, 2017

A Splendid Book-Nudge for Couples

Technology's seeped into every nook and cranny of our lives, hasn't it.  Truth be told, most of us would agree that it hasn't done our closest relationships any favors.  

Here's how one couple has redeemed their screen time, melding technology with some good reads ... and a cozy intimacy.

Janet writes ~
I enjoyed your recent blog about books you are reading and was wondering if you and Tim ever read books together.  My husband and I enjoy reading books on his Kindle ... he reads his Kindle while it reads out loud and I follow along on my Ipad.

Does that make sense?

Anyway we are always looking for books we would both enjoy and I didn't know if reading was something that you and Tim did together or not.

Linda responds ~
I love how you read with each other!  Your story's a perfect example of how technology can bring a couple together.  I love this.

We don't do alot of reading together, although recent days have found us side by side in our chairs at the fireplace, each of us with our nose in some kind of reading material.

It's quiet and cozy and kind of intimate.

Anyway, if you'd share some of the books you've read together, I'd be most interested ... and would love sharing your list, too!

Janet recommends ~
These are the books we have read together -

You & Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
- Francis & Lisa Chan

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
- Francis Chan

You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times
- Max Lucado

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream
- David Platt

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
- Kyle Idleman

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope & Healing for Families Living w/PTSD & TBI
- Marshele Carter

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected
- Nik Ripken

doing any reading out loud with your loved ones?

do tell ...


sharing Janet's story with


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Monday, February 6, 2017

On Toes & Eggshells & Hen's Teeth . . .

You don't want to step on toes 


you don't want to walk on eggshells


So my brilliant sister has been known to say.

How often have we been guilty as charged when it comes to failing to communicate well?

It seems that without a whole lot of thoughtful sensitivity, we're sorely inclined to tromp all over each other another with our self-absorbed personal agendas and our tiresome strident opinions.

Or do the polar opposite.

Apologizing profusely for daring to speak above a whisper, we dance around the subject at hand with mouse-like trepidation, never fully speaking the truth for fear of offending.

There is a better way.


Speaking the truth in love.

These five words jump out in Ephesians 4, as Paul writes to his friends in Ephesus.  He's talking about the necessity of cultivating spiritual maturity, pursuing the daunting task of being a unifier.  He's urging humbleness, gentleness, and patience prompted by a sacred love and consideration for each other.

Yes, even {and especially} when there is a compelling need to speak truth that's necessary for others to hear.


In this season where kindness, grace, and respect seem to be as rare as hen's teeth, God continues to issue this urgent invitation to claim a more uplifting, productive way of communicating what begs to be spoken.

Not so we feel relieved to get something off our chests.  

But that Christ may be honored by every word that tumbles from our lips, springing forth from hearts fully yielded to Him.


visiting with