Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Bookbag * January 2019

The discussions, the insights, the exposure to ideas we might never have come across otherwise have become both a challenge and a delight.  The sharing of what excites or troubles each of us in our reading has doubled the impact of the chosen words as we see them through the eyes of our friends, through the lenses of different histories and backgrounds.  To read in company has broadended us as individuals and bound us together in friendship.

Ah ... so many books to page through and links to pursue!  Grab a cup of something warm and settle in with me to explore a selection of winsome mid-winter treats.



Brene Brown
You might have shied away from Brene's latest because you don't consider yourself a leader.  But you are!  A leader is an influencer, a guide, a mentor, a door opener ... and each one of us serves in that role in some area of life ... home, church, relationships, community.  The chapters on living with empathy and leading from our values are simply exceptional.

A whole selection of Dare to Lead workbooks, inventories, checklists are right here.

Michelle Obama
It might seem a tad early to guess that this might end up being one of my top picks for 2019.  But Mrs. Obama's biography is that powerful.  Exquisitely written, I burned the midnight oil savoring her eloquent writing, her perseverance in her emerging years as she conquered the odds along the way, the weaving of her compelling life story.

And while politics is discussed here and there, this is not a political diatribe.   A superb pick for substantial book club conversation.

Sarah Clarkson
If you're a what-to-read-list fan, this one's for you!  A true book lover's guide, Sarah writes from a biblical, Oxford educated world view ... intelligent, beautifully spoken, and exceptionally well read.  I particularly enjoyed the first three chapters as she wrote deeply of the crafting of to-read lists and creating habits, rhythms, and space for your own bookish life to flourish.  

I skimmed the rest of the book, the lists of friends' picks, the classics, children's reads, spiritual guides, novels, poetry, books on the arts, biographies, read-alouds, books about books, etc.  Comprehensive, for sure!


This post kinda got lost in the end of the year shuffle ... but I think it's worth a re-share in case you missed it.  Click here and scroll down.

Susan Orlean

Joshua Becker

Margaret Feinberg

Susan Meissner

Alia Joy

Emily Freeman

Ed Cyzewski

Emily Temple

Joshua Becker


Modern Mrs. Darcy


Let's talk books!

like what's happening around here?
I'd love if you'd share



sharing titles with
Anne  .  Mary  .  Sue


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Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Simple Gift of Rainy Days

There's something restful, calming, almost magical when it comes to rainy days ... the ones where you get to stay home.  You don't have to run errands or head off to work.  You get to stay put.

This is the introvert's dream come true.

You're alone, but not lonely.

And your soul gets replenished by leaps and bounds.

These are the days when you rise slow, when you putter with plants and laundry and bed-making.  You sit quietly with God, you journal your prayers, you meditate on His Word.

You might make biscuits or write notes or pay bills or get a bit creative.

You read.  For sure.

And take a nap.  Or two.

These days work best when done in silence.

Yet, for some reason you can't quite figure out, you feel strangely compelled to reach out and share where you are with those in your world.

All is well.

These are the good old days.


Links to Linger Over
Ruth Haley Barton

Karianne @ Thistlewood Farms

Ed Cyzewski

Emily Freeman

Stay Cozy ~

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

It's OK to Choose Grace & Space

2019 is here.  Like it or not.  

We're cleaning up the remnants of Christmas with an odd sense of relief ... and as we begin to pin up our crisp new wall calendars, we're shifting gears yet once again, re-focusing on the seemingly endless expectations and demands and challenges that await.

In the process of this annual re-calibration, you might be experiencing a not-so-subtle push to set some big goals, or drum up a list of life-altering resolutions, or claim a very special One Word as your very own guiding star.

Or not.

Instead, you might be consumed with an undercurrent of anxiety or overcome with paralyzing loss.  Deepest disappointments.  Unending frustrations.  Uncertainty about the future.  Or a pile of regrets all tied together in a stranglehold of ever-present fear.

The last thing you're thinking of is figuring out the year ahead.

I have good news for you.  There's no Goals Police or Resolutions Monitor waiting to slap your hand if you don't produce.  

It really is ok if you're not interested.  Please don't go there if your only prompt is some kind of self-imposed ought or should ... or an odd fear of missing out if you don't.  Indulging in these sometimes helpful activities will only guarantee that there'll be little if any substantial follow through {accompanied by a weird sense of false guilt} if you're not prompted by genuine enthusiasm or an inner joy.

Can I encourage you to give yourself some grace and space instead?

I spotted this 2 Chronicles verse during devotions a few months ago and quickly sent it off on wings and a prayer to a sweet someone who needed a big dose of reassurance.

These sacred words in black and white hit home for her.  And if that wasn't good enough, the little obscure verse revisited her again that evening at Bible Study as the group worked through their study guide.  It was a special grace gift from God, a solid reassurance that even though there were few clues to her next step, this one thing could be true:

She could stay completely focused on Jesus and trust Him for every desperately needed grace she yearned for.  


My friends, He's got 2019 all figured out.  And that's the loveliest grace of all ...

please don't
miss a post in 2019 ...



sharing with 

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Great Big 2018 Loose Ends & Bookbag Round-Up

The cookie tray is just about empty.  The kids' handmade paper chains, snowflakes, and crayoned Christmas pictures are still taped to beams and rafters  The floors are vacuumed once again, the washer and dryer are in recovery after caring for mounds of towels and sheets, and the fridge is completely bare.

All is calm, all is bright after a whirlwind Christmas celebration and an extended family gathering of 23 and a 1/2 of our nearest and dearest, the first since my Dad passed away three years ago.  Through it all, the Spirit has whispered comfort and joy.

I feel blessed.  Full.  In all the ways that matter most.

And ready to pull together this end of the year round-up.

So ... pour yourself a mug of something warm, grab your coziest quilt, and curl up on your favorite chair.  I'm so excited to share the year's highlights ... posts and books, links and holiday snapshots.  Feel free to share, to bookmark, to stay awhile, to chat ... or simply reflect quietly.



We tend to look fondly at the good old days, yet if we invest too much energy on staying fixated to what was, we become unable to move ahead because we're too busy defining our ourselves by who we were, what we did, what we accomplished ...


Every once in a while, I like to jot down a few life-savers that are bringing some sort of stillness or sanity or grace to my daily routines.  Forever a student, I'm learning to be more fully present to what's going on right in front of me rather than being distracted by every random happening that wanders through my brain or intersects with my field of vision ...


My favorite home blogger, The Nester, is hostessing a cozy summer home gathering on Instagram.  She writes, 'You're invited!  We're doing it again, a seasonal virtual open house!  Show up and share your home with a community of imperfectionists, summer-embracers and pretty-layer-lovers ...


Invitation to Solitude & Silence
For six weeks, we'll be exploring Ruth Haley Barton's little guidebook, hopefully with a yearning to grasp hold of and put into practice the spiritual invitations that God is lovingly extending to each one of us who follows Him ...

Adam writes, When my book, The Listening Life, was published, I asserted at the time that there was a crisis of listening in our society.  That was December 2015.  Let's just say that the last two and a half years have not exactly done anything to change my mind about that thesis.  What was a "listening crisis" then may have been sucked into a "listening vortex" now ... 


I've never ever read more than I have this year.  On my 62nd book, I can't quite figure out why except for the fact that there's been so many stories and sagas I couldn't bear to put down.  November alone found me finishing off 11 titles. 

I'm guessing it might be because my tablet died off mid-year and I found myself with additional hours each day to invest in something more worthy than endless, mindless games.  I'm watching less TV, too ... no reason to go into details why.

And I've been quicker not to waste my time with books whose characters or storylines don't grab me after 50 pages.  In December alone, I returned two New York Times Bestsellers back to the library, disappointed even after reading rave reviews.

If you told me I could only pick only 3 books to share with you, these are the ones that jump out at me as I scan through the list in my reading journal.  I don't have to think twice to recommend ...

Kate Bowler
Stunning, raw, tragic, with wisps of humor and wisdom that refuse to be quenched, author Kate Bowler gently extends her hand to the reader as she walks through the valley of the shadow of searing loss and the unspeakable diagnosis of Stage IV cancer at the age of 35 ... in the midst of caring for those she adores, forging ahead with the beloved work she's been called to do, and wrestling with broken-hearted faith ...{read my whole review}

Anne Bogel
My favorite gift to give this Christmas.  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 ... {read my whole review}

In the last year, I've become a great big fan of historical fiction.  And hands down, Patti Callahan's beautiful saga of the intimate relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman is now tops on my list.  Captivating, enthralling, all those good things.  The dialogue is so real and rich, their journey into the depths of intellectual and spiritual truths so mesmerizing.  And yes, love finds a way although there are numerous twists and turns that finally take them there ... {read my whole review}


Out of the thousands of posts I've scanned or carefully read word for word this past year, these are the ones that grabbed my heart and held me close.  They so poignantly capture one of my biggest passions in life ... women in ministry.

{You can catch up on my recommended posts on a myriad of topics over on my LinkedIn page.}

A Letter to My Brothers - Beth Moore 

Dear Brothers in Christ, 
A few years ago I told my friend, Ed Stetzer, that, whenever he hears the news that I’m on my deathbed, he’s to elbow his way through my family members to interview me about what it’s been like to be a female leader in the conservative Evangelical world. He responded, “Why can’t we do it before then?”
“Because you know good and well what will happen,” I answered. “I’ll get fried like a chicken.” After recent events following on the heels of a harrowing eighteen months, I’ve decided fried chicken doesn’t sound so bad ... {read on}
I am a part of a Christian tradition that has ordained women as elders since its inception during the American Holiness movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first church in which I ever served as a pastor was founded by a female circuit rider who planted churches across west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The church’s second pastor was also a woman. That church has had nearly 90 years of fruitful ministry, producing numerous pastors, pastor’s spouses, missionaries and dedicated lay people. It has a long and rich history of serving the community in significant ways ... {read on}


I can't wait to do 2019 with you, my friends ...

i'd love if you'd head into
 the new year with me!
and share ...



doing life online with
Mary & Sue