Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Bookbag * September 2018

'If you are indeed what you eat, a well-strung sentence is a rack of lamb.
Read plenty, read often.  Get thee a library card.  
Try on the classics; abandon what doesn't fit ...

Find an author to love, one who reveals the impossible to you, 
who shakes you by the shoulders a bit.'

Bring Me a Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope
Pam Ecrement
'Our greatest wounds happen in context of relationship.  An all-loving and all-knowing God heals in the context of relationship as well.'

Author / counselor Pam gently weaves the chaotic, redemptive story of her client, Becky, in this stirring, unsettling, and ultimately victorious book.  If you've grown up with no one to model safety or boundaries, you'll find you're not the only one.  If you've devalued your intelligence and abilities, if you've been abused verbally, emotionally, or sexually, this story is for you.  If you haven't been able to get to the heart of your hurts and trauma, if you've been rendered unable to parent well because of all that you've lacked, Pam's book is tailor made for your yearning heart.

And if your life has somehow been void of pain and heartache and loneliness, it's probably best that you pick this book up as well.  Because there's a hurting world out that yearns for your loving kindness .. and compassionate action.

Written by a wise counselor who lavished acceptance on her client even as she modeled grace and spoke truth, this book reveals the beauty of the counselor / client relationship ... and the awesome healing power of Jesus Christ for His wounded and weary daughters.

And their scarred children.

Any profit after expenses goes to Rahab Ministries, reaching hundreds of women each month caught in the web of human trafficking.  Please note the book is available only through Pam's website.  Click here to buy.

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering
Joanna Gaines
If a traditional cookbook and a gorgeous coffee table book had a baby, Magnolia Table would be her name.

I'm not a cook.  The kitchen isn't my favorite room.  But paging through this gorgeous volume filled with recipes and their stories was relaxing ... and inspiring, too.   I served the yummy Three-Cheese Quiche on a sultry summer evening to supper guests.  {Hint - add lots of bacon.}  We took a crockpot of tender Sunday Supper Beef Tips to share with my mom on a Friday night.  And I even bought a 5 lb. bag of bread flour so I could create JoJo's Biscuits.

{I do love homemade biscuits straight from the oven with just a pat of butter on their steaming, fluffy insides.  You, too?}

I've been using a copy on loan from the library.  But I'd really like my very own.  'Cause maybe I'll be spending a bit more time in the kitchen in the days ahead.

Oh, that reminds me ... I need to pick up a pound of baby kale for the Sausage and Kale Soup.

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
Anne Bogel
Curling up with this little treasure was like sharing conversation with friends over our mutual affection for books.  Anne is smart and fun and has an exquisite flair for writing.  Over time, she has accumulated a vast knowledge of a number of genres and knows how to pull her reader in and get you excited about the reading life.

She chats about her life long love affair with books, the serendipity of living next door to the library, how books seem to find their perfect reader.  She drops hints on organizing your shelves to suit you best ... and admits 'bookshelf envy.'   She talks about her one day stint as a bookshop seller, and clarifies why it's not a great idea to be 'book bossy.'  And along the way she drops the names of a number of titles that'll have you enlarging your own must-read list.

Chapter 10, Bookworm Problems, is worth the purchase price alone ... the rather humorous dilemmas of a life filled to overflowing with much loved reads.

I don't want to be 'book bossy,' but this truly is the best gift to give your book club pals, your hostess, and any and every reader on your Christmas or birthday shopping lists.

And be sure to buy your very own copy.

The Trumpet of the Swan
E.B. White
I've never been what would be called a 'fun' grandma.  I don't jump on trampolines, scale rock walls, or water ski.  You won't find me shooting hoops or hanging upside down on the swing set.  Not going to happen.

One of my joys as mama and grandma has been to cuddle up close and read.  Bliss.

If you loved Charlotte's Web, you'll adore this E. B. White book.  How very fun to turn pages with a little one in your life ... and be as captivated and caught up in the story as they are.

Confession.  I actually had to check out the book after said grandchild returned home with her copy.  I couldn't not finish the rest of the story.

It's that good.

On My To-Read-When-Published List
Brene Brown

Joanna Gaines

John Grisham

Bookish Links
Anne Bogel

John Grisham

Cybil@ Goodreads

Sarah-Mae McCullough

Jamie DuCharme

What pages are you turning?

to receive
The Bookbag 
Loose Ends Newsletter
and other writings


chatting about books with
Mary  .  Holley  .  Anne

Friday, September 7, 2018

On Resilience . 01

Resilient people are committed to finishing strong.

They believe that quitting is not an option.

They know that 'walking' is unthinkable.

They are convinced that building resilience is a daily pursuit.

They despise aimlessness.

They have the faces of champions.

- Gordon MacDonald - 



Monday, September 3, 2018

The Life-Altering Scenario of Retirement . . . and Other Major Transitions

Hi Linda -

Hope I'm not intruding on your summer. I have a feeling you're pretty good at step away from emails, etc. when needed.

I think you know retirement is coming up for us. I wonder if there are any books you have to recommend on this changing time of life. I'm okay with retiring. Not a problem. But of course there are all those questions about purpose, aging, etc. that sometimes get the best of me. Books have often provided guidance and lessons for me. I have I probably need to read again but I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask others. 

Thanks so much for your consideration.

You may now resume what's left of your summer ;)

Sure!   I'll see what I can dig up ...

Could I use your middle paragraph as the basis of a blog post without identifying you ... might get a whole lot of interesting input from readers.

Whatever works for you is good for me ...

Linda x

Absolutely.  Feel free to use it ...


Sorry to take so long in getting back with you.  Lots of family time has kept my laptop closed.  But you've been on my mind.

I have 3 books that might encourage you ... they're not about retirement per se, but might touch the musings you have in this season.

Gordon MacDonald

Alan Nelson

Rick Warren

And these 3 links ...

a huge potpourri of information

 A - Z from a Christian perspective

financial how-tos

I'll be centering a post around your email in the next week or so.  Would love to get a conversation going re: transitions, change, retirement, etc.

See you then ~

Hey Blog Readers!

You may be facing retirement or currently find yourself making your way through one of a million life-altering transitions.  For better or for worse, whatever wonderful or dreadful events you're living through or have survived, this post is for you.

And not only for you, but by you, too.  I'm inviting you to weigh in on anything and everything to do with retirement or transitions, this oft' challenging process of releasing our hold on what's behind so we can embrace all that lies ahead.

To kick off our discussion, I've asked the retiree I know and love best, my husband Tim, to talk about lessons learned in his recent leap into {smile} the 'golden years'.

3 Top Things I Considered When I Retired

1... I needed something to do.  
Years ago, I heard you need at least 7 interests in retirement for it to work well.  Maybe 5 is a better target to start off with. These can be simple things that take just a bit of time or things that require more time commitment.  Asking your spouse, 'What are we doing next?' does not count.

2... I found weaning off the 40 - 70 hour work week a good approach. 
It tended to help with financial adjustments and gave me time to learn how to fill all those extra hours I now have.  I would suggest a year or less of weaning as you work on #1 above.

3... I wanted to stay in contact with people I had worked with because they are part of my life story.
I doubt too many businesses fail because of the departure of any one person, so make these contacts about life stuff.  Remember, you retired from work. The ones still working really really love to hear how much fun you are having with your 40 - 70 hour play week.


4 Thoughts on Transitions

1.  Transitions come into our lives with amazing regularity.  Some are planned for and others knock the wind out of us with their sudden arrival.  
We're talking of the space around life events - births, deaths, marriages, divorces.  Job situations, re-locations, financial upheavals, betrayals.  Loss of relationships, pets, status.  Moves to and from churches, schools, and homesteads.  Accidents, health diagnoses, abandonment, addictions, legal challenges.  

The list goes on and on.  These range from the most joyous of happenings to the most tragic of events.

2.  Healthy transitions involve two processes ... saying farewell and saying hello.
On the Need to Release Our Former Roles explores the need to allow ourselves the grace to morph and grow.  Shedding our former roles is a necessity so we can open ourselves up wide to what God has for us next.  This can involve a whole lot of grieving, re-imagining, reinvention.  It can be exhilarating, exhausting, inspiring.  

And it can be quite difficult if you've grown to define yourself by the hats you've worn along the way.

3.  A whole bunch of transitions colliding together within a short space of time?  We're talking seismic impact ... and the lengthening of a 'typical' transition time frame.
In a three month window of time, I said farewell to ministry leadership, counseling clients, my hometown of 38 years, my dearest friends, our house, familiar hang-outs and routines.   We encountered a new state, a new culture, a new church, a new rhythm ... and the sudden deaths of my dad and grandson.

Add my husband working from home for two years, retiring last year, and some difficult family situations.  Honestly?  Three years after the much anticipated move, I'm still figuring things out.

4.  Transitional seasons offer a perfect scenario for our faith to take roots and soar.
When all around us is shifting, collapsing, or morphing, embracing the comforting truth that God is in charge and that He never changes can settle our souls and give us a healthy perspective.  Leaning into His strength lends us the grace and emotional energy to do the hard work of releasing what's behind and embracing all He has planned for us to be and do.

Ok, it's your turn, my friends.  Do tell your stories about transitions, retirement, and everything in between.  We want to hear what worked and what didn't ... and please share any resources, links, and books that might help others.

The floor is yours ...


find this helpful?
i'd love if you'd 


connecting with 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Loose Ends * August 2018

I'm not done with summer.  No way.

This in-between-seasons interlude finds us pleasantly held hostage as we continue to embrace all those good things that define our own personal summertime.  I'm not at all interested in reading about {or experiencing} hand-crafted pumpkins, richly laden soups, fluffy flannel sheets, or snugly woolen sweaters just quite yet.

I'm still very much in the moment, thank you very much, and in no hurry to launch forward even though everybody and their mother is heading back to school.


in praise of moments with family 
Speaking of everybody and their mother, at last count I got to mingle in one way or another with about 38 family members this summer.  That included everyone from my cousin's daughter-in-law's sister to my daughter's sister-in-law's son, a variety of folks related by love and blood, genes and affection, from a couple months old right up to 88 years.

I feel rich indeed, even if we only got to chat for just a few minutes.  One of summertime's best highlights?  Watching my mother cradle her 9th great-grandchild for the first time.

Family gatherings matter.

in praise of spiritual traditions
Our 5th grandchild was baptized by her parents in Lake Pleasant, New York at the Christian camp that's been our life blood for four generations.  Praise.

To see your children baptize their own children is soul-stirring to say the least.  Glorious.  Victorious.  There are no words.  And we continued our tradition of giving a well-used family Bible to each grandchild who makes this beautiful public confession of faith.

More praise.

in praise of a $7 kite
I find it astounding that a cheap kite could provide an afternoon of total absorption and sheer delight.  It turned out to be more than just a random plaything.  The up-up-and-away sent a child's confidence soaring, her joy compounded as the string unfurled, as long streamers flew unhindered, the colorful diamond winging its way higher and higher on a golden summer afternoon.

Her grandmother took a few minutes to run down the beach with her little sidekick, kite in hand, singing 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' with more energy than she knew she had.  Fellow beachgoers had no choice but to observe this rather odd scenario.

A serendipitous afternoon for sure.

in praise of shopping local
Out of nowhere, my washer died a natural death after what may have been 18 years of faithful service.  Of course it was filled to the brim with umpteen gallons of water, heavy beach towels and jeans when it suddenly ground to a halt, with 10 days of laundry yet to wash.  But that's another story.

The point being that once again, instead of driving a half hour to the big box stores, we decided to shop local.  No jammed parking lots, no crowds to jostle, no endless overwhelming selections to wade through.  More often than not, small is better.  I'm a big shop local fan.

in praise of a way-early fall cleaning
It all started when I asked my husband to do a bit of cleaning.  The house was beginning to resemble The Adams Family homestead with far too many cobwebs dangling in space and more than a few surfaces that needed scrubbing.  By the time he was done scouring, brooming, and wiping down every floor to ceiling surface in sight, I decided that our fall cleaning was done.


in praise of worthy online reads

Tyler Huckabee

Michelle DeRusha

Rebecca Muller

Diane Langberg, Ph.D.

Lois Flowers

in praise of women and the church
This, a tender subject, a deep passion for me in recent decades.  This little wake-up invitation hit home in more ways than one ...

Dear Church,

Jesus protected women.

Empowered women.

Honored women publicly.

Released the voice of women.

Confided in women.

Was funded by women.

Learned from women.

Respected women.

And spoke of women as examples to follow.

Your turn.


sharing summer bliss with
Mary  .  Holley
Leigh  .  Emily