Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Saved Your Life This Summer?


So ... where did summer go?  

Fall tchotchkes have been displayed on local store shelves since the beginning of August.  The kiddos are corralling their brand new school supplies and heading for the buses.  September weekends are filling up with lovely events.  An evening walk in this neck of the woods now invites a windbreaker to come along for the ride.

But before we hustle into autumn's high gear, I want to slow down and linger before summertime slips away too quickly.  Yeah, the weather's been a hot steamy mess, but yet I'm in no hurry to see these golden days fade.  So before we kiss this season good-bye, let's consider Episcopal pastor / professor Barbara Brown Taylor's superb query, 'what's saving your life today?'

Or rather ...

What were God's unexpected blessings, compelling invitations,
 refreshing wellsprings, or life-giving oases during these recent months? 

Here's the 3 graces saved my life last year.  And for this summer?  4 come to mind ...

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DOING A 5K WALK


Yep, I stopped with the excuses and have been walking up a storm this summer, actually venturing out to do a 5K ... my first one ever.  So what if I was the last one to cross the finish line?  I walked while everyone else was running and the racing horde literally left me in the dust, my 7 and 9 year old grandkiddos effortlessly zipping miles ahead of me.

But just making the decision to embrace the challenge was significant for this decidedly non-athletic / wanna-be-healthy / just-about-61-year-old woman.  My family cheered me over the finish line ... and yes, my feet are still paying the price.  But this personal victory was worth every single step.


DESIGNING A BUSINESS CARD


You might remember I told you last month that I know God has something 'round the bend.  I'm still not at all sure of the what / when / where / how.  But my resume is updated, my letters of recommendation are in hand, and 250 business cards are patiently holding court in my desk drawer. The details are still murky at best ... yet I'm confident He'll be unfolding the path I should take in the days ahead.  And that's good enough for me.

Talk about a leap of faith, huh?


1 - 1 MOMENTS WITH THE GRANDKIDS



Sure it's fun to have the whole gang together.  But my most prized moments are those rare quiet ones as just two of us stroll or color or read, nosh or cuddle or play with our tablets.  I cherish those 1-1 random unplanned encounters where we simply do a bit of life together.  And it's amazing how in those solitary moments, they often open up and share what's on their tender hearts or rattling around their always active minds.

It just doesn't get better than that.


SHORING UP MY DEVOTIONAL LIFE



All that early morning online running around too easily morphs into a weird striving that pulls me away from a rich quiet time with the Lord.  His invitation to get serious about focusing on Him has become a gently persistent yet gracious tug on my rather self-absorbed heartstrings.

These days I'm figuring out what it looks like to develop a more meaningful sacred relationship with Jesus, saying 'yes, please' with greater enthusiasm to the One who loves me best.  I'm finally getting a bit more creative and ramping up my devotional life by purposefully choosing a different medley of Bible study, worship music, intercessory prayer, devotional readings, journaling, artwork, prayer walks, or biblical meditation that delightfully varies every time I meet with Him.

For He is so very worthy ... and I am so very needy of His gracious loving presence.

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So ... how 'bout you?  Let's talk about what God's used to save your life this summer!



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sharing life with

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Mid-Summer Bookbag


Reading and summertime go together like a hand in a glove.  A well-pedicured foot in a comfy flip flop.  A big ol' lemon wedge in an icy cold drink.  Or a colorful buoy floating in the ocean blue.  Here's some recent page-turners of note ... and most are only a click or two away.

How easy is that?  

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Transitioning to a new location ... or still feeling strangely unsettled in the town you live in?  Grab a copy of journalist Melody Warnick's well-researched personal story, This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live.  You'll want to highlight / margin jot / dog ear / journal her creative yet practical insights on lacing up your sneakers, buying local, saying hi to your neighbors, volunteering, and eating local food.  

This bright red volume is a super motivating, thoughtful read ... a bit long in spots, but honestly?  A book I most certainly needed to absorb.

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3 of my favorite online reads this month {as shared on my LinkedIn page * click here to connect with me there!}
'By the time you get this, I will have begun an eight-day silent retreat.  During this time, I will not have access to cellphone or e-mail and will only be reachable by an emergency number at the retreat house where I will be staying.  This is not a vacation.  It is not a week at a spa.  It is not a study leave or even a sabbatical.  This is a retreat - a time for giving God my complete and undivided attention and giving God full and uninterrupted access to my soul.  There is never an ideal time for this - only times that are better than others - but I am trying to practice what I preach and God knows I need it ...'

Seven Signs You are Too Busy ~ Alli Worthington
'Before I broke busy in my own life, I proudly wore my busy badge of honor.  Busyness made me feel productive and needed, and I overlooked the havoc it was wreaking in my life.  Oh, there were warning signs, but I just kept assuring myself I could handle the stress and chaos ...'

'I dread small talk.  In my mid-twenties, soon after I got married, I entered the grown-up world of cocktail parties, where I inwardly groaned over the inevitable conversational effort that would be required of me.  I always felt that my husband had a magical gift that allowed him to be pulled into exciting conversations about theology or good books, while I always found myself in the corner, trapped in a back and forth over the latest episode of ...'

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Ann Voskamp's next bestseller is arriving on October 25th.  The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.  The preview says, 'This one's for the lovers and the sufferers.  For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts.  This one's for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness.'

Sign me up.  You, too?

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One of blogging's greatest treasures?  Meeting kindred writers, adventurers, dreamers, and creatives from all over the world.  I'm cheering for two online friends in far off places who are launching books this month!  

If you're feeling like a failure in some area of life, Dr. Ifeoma Samuel has some very good news for you in her 116 page devotional, Overcome Failure: Get Back On Your Feet.  What a great little handbook to add to your quiet time ... complete with Scripture readings, questions to ponder, and action plans to walk you into a renewed, hopeful perspective.

And if you're struggling through 'grief, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, unprocessed childhood memories and recovering perfectionism,' you just might resonate with Anna Louise Smit as she shares her personal story  ... and what she has discovered just might be the healing touch you're longing for.  Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering, is a 228 page memoir bathed in God's loving grace.

What page-turners are hitting home for you 
as the lazy days of summer are singing their final song?




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talking books with 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

When Our Stats Become a Lurking Danger . . . and a Bit of a Talkfest

We can say we don't care all that much about our social media stats ... but honestly?  Deep inside we do.  

And while we wrestle against them being the be-all-&-end-all, numbers do allow us to take the temperature of our social media presence.  They clue us into what lights up our unique community.  They inform us, by the world's standards, if we're effectively touching others.

But the truth is that we'll never know 'til we reach heaven how many souls our lives have impacted.  And by then it won't matter, because we'll be so enthralled in worshiping Jesus Christ.

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I do get a daily read of how readers many click onto LindaStoll.net, but I have no idea how many subscribers I have, all you who read these posts via email.  Those stats might be out there somewhere, but I have no idea how to access them.

And perhaps, that's just as well.  Those numbers could prove to be quite a depressing reality ... or could swell my ego in a most unpleasant way.  I'm not interested in either option.

Because all the numerous numbers in our lives {what the scale proclaims, the bills in our wallets, the great heaps of possessions, those pesky online stats} don't define us.  We're defined by our Savior!

It's only when we begin to let those numbers call the shots in our lives that we find ourselves in deep and troubled waters.  Because they will never never ever be enough.  And we'll end up constantly comparing ourselves with others and always feel like we're missing the boat.

Like we're less than.

What a lie from the enemy.

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It's a year since this little online home sprang to life, and I'm happy to share the five posts that have kicked off the biggest conversations.  No, these diologues aren't necessarily the posts with the most hits, and yes, a couple were connected with a giveaway.  But I think they're definitely worth another go 'round ... especially for you who are new to these parts.

Because these posts feature YOU!  You guys are such fine conversationalists!

Simply click on each title to read and enjoy!

Meanwhile, we're head off for our annual trip to Camp in NY's Adirondack Mountains with 22 extended family members {gulp!}.  And because I truly believe that to be cloistered in my room blogging would be a cryin' shame, I'll start writing again when I roll back into town.


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#1
May 23


Hey welcome!

We've been having a blast around here this month, sharing our living spaces, our challenges and brainstorms, our visions for what our dwellings are just begging to become ...

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#2
November 4


Sarah Bessey describes herself as mum of 4 tinies and a writer, speaker, and recovering know-it-all.  When a post bearing her name comes up in my reader, I'm there.  She's that thought-provoking, challenging, inspiring.  I'm a fan.

And though our theology might differ here and there, it matters not.  Because yes, there's room for non-essential differences in the Body of Christ ... but only if ...

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#3
January 4


As we've been busy pinning up our crisp new wall calendars and filling our uncreased datebooks with those all important birthdays and appointments, many bloggers have been sharing their plans and dreams for the new year.  I've eagerly been savoring your posts and have been inspired, intrigued, and occasionally fascinated by your carefully selected One Word, your resolutions and goals, all that God's calling you to do, to be, to accomplish in these 365 days ahead.

Truly.  But no ...
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#4
April 1


Ouch.  That stings!

I don't know where I first heard this question ... or if it sprang into living color in my own imagination.  All I can say is that it keeps on hitting home for me {big time} whenever I'm courageous enough to honestly gaze into my own mirror and allow God to gently poke and prod so that He can reveal the true state of ...

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#5
March 28


Potential pitfalls in any relationship are countless and plentiful, aren't they.

Too often, these sometimes ghastly occurrences emerge as no big surprise.  Truth be told, long ago we glimpsed the writing on the wall, but we were somehow unready, unwilling, or unable to wisely deal with attitudes or behaviors {our own or our spouse's} that ranged from mildly irritating to downright abusive ...

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I'm So Done With Making Excuses About My Body

A bit of a preface.

  This post is one of those monthly what-I-learned / what-I'm-into offerings.  

Please know that I am keenly aware that any conversation concerning those ominous numbers on our bathroom scales involves a very sensitive, delicate subject.  The following personal observations and calls to action are about my own specific health concerns, and are in no way a commentary on where you may or may not be.

We offer each other grace ...
  and maybe a nutritious smoothie.




In recent years, tending to the needs of my body has taken a bit of a back seat behind other seemingly more pressing concerns.  A string of major life-altering decisions, a huge relocation from New York to New England immediately followed by the deaths of my dad and my grandson, and a seemingly endless period of transition have crowded out thoughts of much else.

Yes, life happens.

I'm been the master of excuses as to why a low level neglect has become my reality, but recent days have found me done with my endless rationalizations and feeble half-baked efforts.  After too many months, I've begun to make more positive choices to take better care of the skin I'm in.  I don't want to look back and regret that I refused to follow the healthier direction that God had been nudging me toward.

Bottom line?  I want to be the healthiest woman I can be in this season.  I want to live a pro-active, no-regrets lifestyle.  I want to honor God with all that defines who I am ... soul, mind, and body.

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3 REALIZATIONS & ACTION PLANS

#1
Food shouldn't call the shots.
  I need to own what I put on my plate.



The past few years have seen my weight slowly creep up.  Up. Up.  I ate what I pleased, all the while inwardly making lame excuses and vowing that some day I'd get back to where I knew I needed to be.

I'm so done with that.  I'm back on Weight Watchers after a long season of emotional dining, aimless grazing, and mindless noshing.  I'm relearning to pay attention to my body's genuine feed-me signals, thoughtfully working on choosing to eat something decent just before hunger pangs arrive full force.  

I'm loving that the program is all online ... no more driving 40 minutes each way to weigh in.  Easy tracking, more flexibility {and points!} and heaps of videos, recipes, and all kinds of online support make embracing a long-term healthy relationship with food possible.

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#2
Lounging around is overrated.
  Soon after I wake, I need to grab my sneakers and head out the door.



I've never had an athletic bone in my body.  Growing up, I was usually the 2nd to last person chosen for any kind of team in gym.  I'm a born and bred curled up on the sofa / sitting at my laptop kinda woman.  Blogging hasn't done me any favors in this area.  

But recently, I'm up and out more days than not, hitting the pavement before heat and humidity lend more excuses for why I shouldn't be walking.  Every jaunt offers a different path, another bend around the road, a bit of a different vista.  I breathe gratefulness that my body still works ... and these minutes are when I have some of my most meaningful conversations with God.  And where future blog posts birth and morph into being.

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#3
I'm at a bit of a higher risk for some medical concerns. 
Neglecting checkups and followup is not a brilliant idea.



One of the big challenges of moving to a new area is that you have to find new caregivers.  So far, I like my dentist {even though I've seen her probably 13 times since last fall}, primary care doctor, gynecologist, and massage therapist.  I'm lining up the tests that need to be taken care of.  I'd much rather be anywhere else than in some strange examining room, but there's relief and gratitude when each visit is completed, knowing I've done what I needed to do.

And there's a sweet peace in knowing that absolutely every part of me rests in His capable hands.  

let's talk about self-care

what mid-summer challenges are you facing?

what's working for you ... and not so much?



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sharing summertime's discoveries with
Emily  .  Leigh  .  Holley

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Big Brave Adios to Fear & People-Pleasing

For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
 but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
 {NKJV}




Life's a series of choices, isn't it.  We get to choose how to respond to what's happening to us.  What to do with our emotions and thoughts.  And how we invest our time, energy, and whatever resources we possess. 

Consider some of the decisions you've made recently.  Big ones, small ones, whatever.  Were they well-informed and wise choices prompted by confidence, love, and sanity?  Or was fear calling the shots?

Our natural bent and unfortunate past life experiences easily combine to lead us to believe that something catastrophic is always lurking 'round the corner, that the other shoe's just waiting to drop, that a black cloud hangs overhead with lightening bolts aimed straight toward us.  If that's our story, then chances are that our laced-with-fear decisions will reflect those beliefs. 

And / Or ...

If we're obsessively controlled by what other people want / expect / demand, the choices that spring forth from their manipulation are probably going to end up falling flat or going nowhere fast.  And that simply makes the endless, vicious 'I am such a loser' cycle spin all the more, doesn't it.

We've recently been chatting back and forth about praying that God's will be done in our lives and knowing that something good is in the wind.  But beware!  Those two obnoxious fear and people-pleasing bugaboos are lurking in darkened corners, just waiting to jump out and trip us up every time we head forward in faith.

Make no mistake, they'll do their best to keep us from hearing the victorious freedom song that emerges when we truly desire to hear God's whisper, His direction, His purpose for our lives.  And you can be sure that the enemy of our souls would love nothing more.

Consistently living out 2 Timothy 1:7 is not an easy assignment, is it.  Fear is a tough taskmaster and an all too common default mode.  And people-pleasing always leaves us feeling 'less than' as our confidence continues to ooze away.

Fear?

  People-pleasing?
  
Which one trips you up?

And how do you close the door
 on these destructive decision-motivators?



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chatting with