Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Stop With the Excuses

It all started with one of those emails from the church, a woman's scooter accident, a badly injured leg, requests for prayer ... and for meals.

I said a quick prayer, shut down the computer, and went on my way.  She was someone I had said 'hi' to a few times here and there but I really didn't know her and it had been eons since I had taken a meal to someone I didn't know.

But through the hours that followed, God kept whispering, 'take her a meal ... take her a meal ... take her a meal.'

And finally I said 'yes' to Him and to Meal Train and to my church family.

Yes, I'm a part of this Body.  Yes, I will step up to the plate.  Yes, I'm done looking for reasons why I can't ... or more accurately, why I won't.

I suppose this sounds like no big deal to you, right?  Someone's in need, the church sends out a call and you say, 'yes, of course I'll bring a meal.'  But truth be told, if you're introverted or kind of new, it can be hard if we don't know the person, have no idea where they live, aren't sure what to whip up in the kitchen, don't really feel like a part of things, don't know alot of people.

Blah, blah, blah.

Oh what we've missed along the way in serving others, in honoring Christ, because we felt uncomfortable, or didn't want to be inconvenienced, were simply far too self-absorbed ... or {gasp} just plain lazy.  And it has little to do with being introverted or new in town.

Stop it.

Stop with our endless variety of lame excuses why we're not reaching out the way we've been called to.

Stop waiting around for some kind of gold plated invitation to get involved, to serve lavishly, to love well.

My husband's been noticing an unmet need in our community in recent days.  Actually it's been a few years.  I've been nudging him to go for it, to step up to the table, to use his giftedness and his experience, to kick his vision into gear.

Too bad I haven't been taking my own advice.

On Sunday afternoon, I chopped up a whole bunch of stuff for a big ol' chef salad.  Grabbed a Pillsbury brownie mix and rolled out my infamous Mom's Biscuits.  Put the oven to work.  We hopped in the car and I had the loveliest visit with the sweetest woman who radiated Christ to me.  I got to pray with her.

I left full and overflowing ... strangely relieved and at peace.  Finally obedient to a simple request God had placed right in front of me.

No more excuses.

Forgive me, Lord, for the ways I've let You and my church family down.  You know my heart ... and You love me just the same.

If you like this, please share!
Email, Twitter, FB, and Pinterest 
share buttons are quietly available
in the gray box below
you can

visiting with
Mary & Sue

Friday, July 12, 2019

On the Porch * Random Weekend Conversations

'Let's go sit on the porch!!'

That's what I'd say if you made your way down the winding drive and dropped in for a visit.

On the Porch debuts today ... occasional weekend conversations with you and me chatting about whatever ends up on the table.

Think open house + small group + your BFF + book club + your therapist + TGIF all coming together to join forces!

You never know who or what's going to show up.  I like that.

  I might serve up some Scripture or some music that's hitting close to home, a bit of link love, a snapshot or two, or an 'aha' moment that's too awesome to keep to myself.

  This is the place for all my fabulous blogging friends to link up your finest post of the past week ... I want to give you every opportunity to get the word out about your amazing-ness.

  After four years, Dear Linda is finally back again!  Ask your questions about relationship challenges, social media stuff, ministry leadership, homekeeping quandaries, healthy living issues.  I promise to listen well to your heart and attempt to offer you some encouraging insight ... or maybe a bit of straight talk.

Click here to read a few Dear Linda posts. 

Keep in mind that I'm a board certified pastoral counselor and a certified life coach ... not a doctor, lawyer, magician, biblical scholar, miracle worker, or licensed mental health professional.

I'd love to hear what's on your mind.


The bookish links that didn't make this week's My 12 Best Summertime Books simply because the post was already way long.

Enjoy ...
How to Find Time to Read
Kristin @ White Arrows Home

Anne Bogel

6 Reasons Why Introverts Make the Best Writers
Christine Berhard

Ruth Haley Barton

Erin Loechner

Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Lisa Burgess


So very happy that you're here with me ~
Go ahead!  Share your week's best writing, whisper a Dear Linda question {yes, you can be anonymous}, chat about one or two of these bookish links, or simply sit back and enjoy.

If you like this, please share!
Email, Twitter, FB, and Pinterest 
share buttons are quietly available
in the gray box below
you can

visiting with
Mary & Sue

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

My 12 Best Summertime Books

Wow, my bookish companions!

I've combed through eleven years of summertime posts searching for the books that would be the perfect fit for you, my readers.  

These are the volumes that have hit home during this most laid back of seasons ... lounging on the beach, swinging in the hammock, or laying in front of the fan.

These twelve are the ones that impacted, sharpened, tenderized me.  I hope they'll do the same for you.

Click on the links to read more or to buy at Amazon.  {And yes, I get a few cents if you make a purchase! 

Dig in ...

Rachel Held Evans 
After Rachel's untimely death this spring, I felt a strong pull to read one of her books, to get to know this remarkable woman who struggled with the church and left her indelible mark on the next generation of seekers, the wounded, the marginalized.  Searching for Sunday is a deeply powerful memoir, a stunningly penned 'road map back to church.'

Rachel was a lover of God, savvy and wise, with a superb gift of storytelling, her memory keen with an eye to detail; her observations, sharp and pointed; her humor, wry.  She wrestled with her own cynicism and pride and insecurities, she learned hard won lessons along the way and shared them freely.

And if you grew up in the evangelical church like she did, you will laugh and cry at her stories, her recollections.  I promise.

I found myself challenged, convicted, and disturbed ... sometimes all in the same paragraph.  I'm guessing that some of her thoughts will leave you unsettled in your spirit, too.  You might embrace every word as your own ... or reject her viewpoint entirely.

However this book impacts you, I'm guessing that Rachel would smile knowing that some of her readers headed to their Bibles and did some heavy-duty soul searching as a result of reading her impassioned writing. That maybe we'd be open to conversations we've been putting off.  That maybe hope or faith, understanding or forgiveness or reconciliation would somehow be kindled.

This is a must-read for every believer, every soul wounded by the church, every outcast and wanderer.  Like me, you might find that these pages end up leading you, by the power of the Spirit, to begin yet again to clarify and sharpen your own biblical view of what the Body of Christ is meant to look like.

'The church is God saying: "I'm throwing a banquet, and all these mismatched, messed-up people are invited."'
Paperback - $9.51
Kindle - $7.99

2.  The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction
Adam McHugh
McHugh's the kind of guide you'd choose if you're taking a long, winding journey to someplace unknown.  He's wise, he's got a keen sense of humor.  He knows where he's headed, because he's the first to admit the mistakes he's made in the past.  His subject matter is deep, yet engaging and readable.  He's got some crack-you-up anecdotes to share along the way {and his wry humor is even interlaced in the books's end notes}. 

If you like reading with a highlighter or pen in hand, grab yours.

'The question that drives this book is, how would our relationships change, and how would we change, if we approached every situation with the intention of listening first?  What if we approached our relationship with God as listeners?  What if we viewed our relationship with nature as one of listening?  What if we approached our relationships using our ears rather than our mouths?  What if we sought to listen to our emotions before we preached to them?' 
Paperback - $12.61
Kindle - $9.99

Susan Cain
If you're an introvert, there's a good chance you read Susan Cain's huge 2013 bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.  And you probably breathed huge sighs of relief as you found yourself in every chapter.  At last, someone finally gave clear voice to who you truly were ... and you felt so incredibly validated, uplifted, and empowered by the time you finished the last chapter.

{Not sure if you're an introvert or an extrovert?  Take this little assessment!}

If you have younger introverts in your life ... kiddos, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students ... you'll want to grab hold of this book.  Her latest book is geared to 'tweens / teens and focuses on the big challenges they face in navigating schoolwork, the cafeteria, parties, extracurricular activities, peer relationships, and family life.

In a word, I think it's superb.

And while it might be written for the next generation, the author doesn't talk down to her target audience ... and the adults who read this little masterpiece won't find her style in any way childish.  The illustrations are charming and Susan's practical wisdom and down-to-earth stories offer hope to quiet kids who are weaving their way through the oft' overwhelming maze of daily life.

You'll wish this book had been available to you back in the day.

Introverts have beautiful gifts, marvelous strengths, and unlimited potential.  The more we understand ourselves and the unique way God has shaped us, the more we're empowered to live life big and bold ... but in ways that align with who we are.  Giving this gift of insight to the kids in our lives is a priceless gift that equips them to soar.
Paperback - $9.08
Kindle - $9.99

Sally Cabon Gunning
I loved this novel ... complex and beautiful, detailed and mesmerizing.  You won't put it down.  Promise.

The author says, 'I can't tell you how excited I am about this novel.  When I discovered a letter Martha Jefferson wrote to her father when she was fourteen, "I wish with all my heart all the poor Negroes were freed . . . " I knew I had to read more about her.  I poured through her letters to her father and his to her and realized that she and I had embarked on a similar mission: to figure out her father. This now meant, of course, that my new mission was to figure out Martha. The relationships between father and daughter, between daughter and husband, between daughter and children, complicated by the reappearance of an old love who haunts her conscience kept me happily awake over many long nights.' 
Paperback - $6.75
Kindle - $8.99

Barbara Kingsolver
This is my second read of this 1998 classic novel, 'a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.  They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil.  

What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in post colonial Africa.'

Powerful, beautifully written, disturbing, compelling.

Paperback - $14.55
Kindle - $11.99

Atul Gawande
'In the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit.  Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs.  Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot.  Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.'

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families.  He puts four simple yet profound, clarifying questions on the table that will assist those struggling with endless options, helping shed light and sanity to huge personal choices that can enable us to live well right to the end of our days.

This as a solid, vital resource for those facing life-altering medical choices ... and a must-read for every health care professional, therapist, and pastor.
Paperback - $10.48

Kindle - $9.99

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.
There's something about the author's writing that is absolutely compelling ... I can't put my finger on it but I can tell you that I was totally immersed in the cadence of her words for three hours without ever thinking of getting off my chair.

It was like curling up on the sofa crying with a beloved friend, captivated and mesmerized by the sound of her voice, the enormity of her sorrow, the interwoven hope.

And if that weren't enough, this Duke Divinity School professor tucks in Absolutely Never Say This To People Experiencing Terrible Times: A Short List and Give This A Go at the end of the book for all of us that might be prone to responding to tragedy by doing nothing ... or saying the most ridiculously hurtful things.

Read this because you must.  Read this because you can't not go there.
Paperback - $11.54

Kindle - $11.99

Rosamund Pilcher
By the end of the first page, I was hooked. 
Set in the English countryside and by the sea, spanning three generations, the oft' times subtly stormy relationships that Penelope has with her children make for some fascinating reading. 

Throw some priceless artwork into the mix, add in a variety of interesting characters along the way, and this 530 page book was a wonderful escape, a splendid piece of fiction centered on a turbulent life and heartbreaking loves.
Paperback - $8.09
Kindle - $2.99!

Miriam Drennan
Here's a wonderful little devotional for your Kindle.  Sweet little readings, nothing too heavy, and wonderful photos make this a good choice that you'll reach for again and again.  
Kindle - $3.99!

Jen Hatmaker
If you're overwhelmed by all that's crowding you out of house and home and are ready to explore an 'experimental mutiny against excess,' Jen Hatmaker's 7 is your baby this summer.  And if you're thinking 'mmm ... not so much,' then this is absolutely must reading!

A client wrote, 'Just wanted to check in with you ... I am loving the book 7 which I bought used!  It is giving me tons to think about.  I have been shopping in my closets and pantry all week.  My kids are excited about this project, my husband is thrilled.'
Paperback - $15.84

Ruth Haley Barton
This volume is Ruth at her best.  It's absolute must reading for every pastor, ministry leader, board member ... and those who sit in their pews.  While easy to read, it's not an easy read.  You will be stretched, awakened, challenged, energized ... and possibly disturbed.  Read with your Bible open, your journal available, a highlighter handy.  There is so much packed into each thought-provoking paragraph, that you will be repeatedly drawn to simply sit quietly and reflect.

It will change your perspective on how you "do ministry."  It will change your perspective on how you interact with God.  It will change you.

Hardcover - $15.77
Kindle - $9.99

Peter Scazzero
'Ah - that's IT!'  I practically shouted out loud. 

And over and over in his books, Peter Scazzero hits the nail on the head as he deals with emotional health and the church. I consider his books to be an incredible breakthrough in how we "do" church life and leadership ... and these truths extend to how we function as families, as well. In a nutshell, he maintains that we can not claim we are spiritually mature and still respond to life in an emotionally immature way.

Coming from his own life experience as a pastor, he vulnerably and honestly shares his journey and powerfully weaves together a Christ-centered approach to the integration of emotional health, contemplative spirituality, and discipleship.

Incredibly right on.
Paperback - $11.98
Kindle - $9.99

Any books in your beachbag?  Any links to recent bookish posts?  Do tell ...

Like this?  Share this!
Email, Twitter, FB, and Pinterest 
share buttons are quietly available
in the gray box below
you can

visiting with
Mary & Sue & Anne

Stack of books photo by
Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Holy Hands

'Ultimately, all are commissioned.  All are called.  All belong to the holy order of God's beloved.  The hands that pass the peace can pass a meal to the man on the street.  The hands that cup together to receive Christ in the bread will extend to receive Christ in the immigrant, the refugee, the lonely, or the sick.

Hands plant, and uproot, and cook, and caress.  They repair, and rewire, and change diapers, and dress wounds.  Hands tickle gigging children and wipe away tears.  Hands rub heaving bellies of big, ugly dogs.  Hands sanctify all sorts of ordinary things and make them holy.

Through touch, God gave us the power to injure or to heal, to wage war or to wash feet.  Let us not forget the gravity of that.  Let us not forget the call.'
Rachel Held Evans 
{1981 - 2019}

Weekend blessings as you tenderly touch and faithfully serve ~

Thanks for spreading the word!
Email, Twitter, FB, and Pinterest 
share buttons are quietly available
in the gray box below
you can

visiting with
Mary & Sue