Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How Can I Pray For You Today?

It's the last question I ask a client at the end of a counseling session.

It's today's post for those who gather at this online community.

It's the text to my loved ones this morning.

How can I pray for you today? 


offering the question @ Holley's

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Feeling Kinda Bookish in the Dead of Winter

There's no better time to curl up with a meaningful book than right now in this, the dead of winter.  It's too cold / gray / windy / icy to be anywhere else than under a cozy blanket, a mug of something steamy at hand, Christmas lights still perched on narrow windowsills, refusing to be boxed up as they keep on twinkling their cozy warmth.

I've been paging through ...

The Power of the Other: The Startling Effect Other People Have on You from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond - and What to Do About It
- Dr. Henry Cloud
For decades, this psychologist has been a major player in the Christian counseling field.  In recent years, Cloud's emerged as an insightful, energetic leadership coach.  Working with major players in the corporate world, his perceptive observations, laced with dry wit, are simply superb.

Bottom line?  The best and brightest leaders don't simply focus on building their own personal skills, knowledge, and talent but become most effective and successful when they draw on 'personal and professional relationships that fuel growth and help them surpass current limits.'

We don't accomplish anything of value all by ourselves.  Strong healthy relationships are absolutely vital and can impact us in ways we never dreamed.  And because we're all leaders in some way, I'm recommending this book highly.

No Tomorrow
- June Caedmon
Many of us have been inspired by June through her breathtaking photography and steady, gentle wisdom on her blog.  If you're looking for an easy yet substantial read, this lovely book of fiction will be just your cup of tea.  Well written, set in Hawaii {sigh}, here's a story of a couple wrestling with past trust issues, stark health realities, and fear of the unknown future as they figure out if they truly belong together.

This is a book to keep on your coffee table, to share across the generations, to donate to your church library.  A wonderful mid-winter read.  Simply delightful.

Just like the author.

Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend
- Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.
'Being betrayed by a friend whom you once considered an intimate is as jolting as being rear-ended at a stoplight' {page 70}.

If you've been there, you know that this kind of breakup is akin to making your way through divorce.  It's excruciating, traumatic ... and sadly, most of us have experienced this all too common heartache.

Amazingly, I've never seen a book on this subject before which is odd since best friend breakups are not particularly rare.   Well-researched yet super easy to read, Levine shares many stories that will hit home, plus some poignant insights on building as well as ending female friendships ... and the need for forgiveness as you both move on.

Book club discussion questions are included.  Need I say more?


Yes, please, more bookish stuff ...
Four Reasons to Slow Down - 'I want to stop aiming at volume so I'm freer to linger, meditate, memorize, and record what I need to press deeper into my soul.'

17 New Books to Read in 2017 - Emily Freeman shares brand new releases coming our way.

Why You Need a Reading Plan - Ann Voskamp's building a monthly community around 'life-giving, life-transforming' books.

Beth's Big Book Club - Beth Moore's The Undoing of Saint Silvanus webcast is this Friday, January 20th.  Read my review right here ... and then sign up to join the party.

What's in your bookbag these days?


talking books with 
Anne & Holley & Brenda


if you liked what you read,
I'd love if you'd subscribe & share

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In Praise of the Courageous Venturer . . . and Those Who Welcome Her

Tentatively, you rap on the door.  It seems so ... well, imposing. 

It's always awkward venturing into an unfamiliar situation ... especially by yourself.  But before more doubts have time to gather and send you fleeing in the opposite direction, the door swings wide and the welcome offered is surprisingly gracious and warm.

People shove over so there's room for you on the sofa while someone fetches a cup of something warm and offers it to you with a smile that's not forced or phony.

Your radar goes up as you quickly survey the room, listening to the chatter and laughter, looking at the faces, sensing the body language.  Is there even a chance that a kindred spirit could be here?  It looks like there's genuine delight in each other's company and it feels ... well, safe.

There's nothing cliquey or exclusive or la-de-da going on.

It's not long til you're casually drawn into the conversation without anyone making a big deal about it.  Eyes meet and smile back.

These are just normal everyday people .... just like you with their baggage and their dreams and their yearning for acceptance.

Maybe, just maybe, this community could be a safe place to land.

The subject matter on the table isn't exactly profound, but it seems to somehow strike a chord, spark a bit of a flame.

And the sharing begins, a bit slowly at first, then picking up steam as iron sharpens iron.  You have a distinct impression that no one takes themselves too seriously, yet wisdom and insight flow like a river.

The facilitator quietly works the room, being sure that no one dominates the dialogue and that everyone's contributions are affirmed.  She leans forward just a bit when someone speaks, not wanting to miss a word ... and others do as well.  Heads nod in understanding and you get the distinct impression that this is a judgment free zone where truth and grace mingle well.

The Spirit is most certainly present ... enlightening, guiding into all truth, convicting, unifying.  You find yourself opening your heart to Him, to the prayers of those sitting by your side. 

And when the gathering concludes, the participants reluctantly head out the door feeling richer for having been there.  Each and every soul can't wait 'til next time.

Especially you.

Monday, January 2, 2017

What Saved My Life Last Year

We've eagerly flipped our calendars, we're looking straight ahead.  And while we see 2017 through a glass dimly, we're dreaming, planning, and hoping.  Venturing, striving, and leaning forward.

To help us navigate well, we grab hold of goals, songs, resolutions, words, verses, images {and yes, perhaps numbers ... I love this!}, claiming them as our own.  And for many accomplished seekers, leaders, dreamers, and creatives this is exactly what's needed to move ahead with great purpose and enthusiasm.

I'm such a wet blanket.  I'm sorry.  

The whole One Word thing doesn't work for me.  I choose a word, it looks good to me, I write a post or two, we all chit chat about it and within weeks it's completely off my radar, never to cross my mind again.

And I'm not so much for goals and resolutions.  Maybe it's my age, but I seem unmotivated, I get bored quickly, those good intentions seldom stick around long enough to see the ink dry.

Songs and verses stream through my mind by the hour but it'd be hard for me to narrow down THE one to hang my hat on.  And the only number that keeps me on my toes is the digitalized one that quickly appears when I stumble onto the scale each morning.


For some reason, looking backward equips me to proceed forward, hopefully a bit wiser than the year before.

And the question that floats my boat is ... 'what's saving your life?'

I need to examine what worked and what didn't.  I'd prefer not to make the same boneheaded mistakes and thought-less choices as I have in the past.  The least I can do is learn from my messes.  It's helpful for me to actually lay the past to rest, and in doing so, a brighter light is somehow freed up to illuminate the steps ahead.

So ... before I go barreling full steam ahead into this chilled, gray January, the lifesavers below have come to mind.  Actually, they came tumbling out without much thought over at Lois's place mid-December.  Yet, they beg for me to recognize them, to acknowledge their impact, to honor their importance in my life.

Always, always the sure foundation, Jesus has saved my life from the pit and from my sins, from my self-absorption and my ugly heart attitudes.  He has been faithful, strong, and true when I have been the polar opposite.  I am fully, wholeheartedly committed to His Lordship in my life.  He's never abandoned me for one single second.

Where would I be without the blessed Trinity ... Father, Son, and Spirit?

I absolutely shudder to think.


Reflection has been a major player this past year.  Most days flow one into the next, rather free and unstructured.  I'm home much of the time, I write, I read, I rest, I do a bit of work.

I walk the neighborhood or maybe a beach's shoreline.  I sit and look out the window, I putter, I look in the refrigerator.

I've been in the waiting room for a good year and a half.

While one or two well-meaning people have told me I've got far too much time on my hands, all this space has been profitable.  My pace has slowed, I am {usually} fairly calm.

Body, mind, and spirit have slowly but surely been recalibrated.  I have shed unwanted pounds.  I am working on making our house a home.  I have survived a breathless transition.  I have grieved well.  My dearest relationships are in a good place, a few sweet friendships are developing, and I'm grateful for the Bible Studies I now attend.


Contentment has emerged as a lovely gift borne from the hours of reflection, morning devotional time invested with the Lord, a purposeful focus on naming and speaking gratitude day in and out.

Yes, there's unfinished business here and there, there are situations I am concerned about, and I wonder about more things than maybe I should.  But contentment laced with thankfulness has become a soothing reality, an energizing constancy.

I can breathe deep, I am at peace.


A sure foundation is that relationship with Christ.  Reflection and contentment have been icing on the cake.

Anticipation is the bright red cherry on top.

What does God have for me to be, to do?  Which door will He unlatch and swing open wide?  He has put a call on my life ... what's that going to look like in the days ahead?

The options and details are still a bit fuzzy, but that's ok.  And while I have my fair share of wondering moments, I choose to anticipate instead of go into any kind of default worry / hand-wringing mode.

In one of my most favorite quotes ever, Ruth Haley Barton said it all.  'God does not waste His gifts or His calling.  As I am engaged in the process of becoming the kind of person God can use, He will place me where I can be of greatest use to Him.'

He's never let me down.  I've found His timing to be impeccably astonishing.  And I'm ready to say, 'yes, please, Lord.'  


Meanwhile, let's talk about what navigating tools you're claiming as you head into this fresh new year.  If you've written a post about launching into 2017, feel free to share those links.

August 2016
i simply loved these gifts

January 2016
vision for the year proved to be spot on

December 2015
3 immense graces

creative wisdom from Emily Freeman



you guys are the best ever ...
thanks for sharing & subscribing


you'll find me at Holley's
on Wednesday

Friday, December 30, 2016

My 8 Most Vulnerable Posts * 2016

mmm ... 

Do I share the posts that got the most hits?  Or the ones that sparked the biggest discussions?

Nah.  Numbers don't say it all. 

How 'bout what saved my life in 2016?  {Here's what did it in 2015.}

Maybe we'll go there next week.

These are the out-on-a-limb posts.  

Complex relationship realities.  The wear and tear of the daily grind.  Demanding crossroads that have forever altered my own personal landscape.

I've discovered that God specializes in comforting and redeeming and growing us right in the midst of our stuff.  That He invites us to lean hard into Him while our hearts our tender or fragile, to learn important lessons that we never would have if we had only sat around with our feet up over on easy street.

I'm guessing that you'll find some 'ah, you, too?' moments amidst the somewhat vulnerable offerings below, listed in the order they were published.  And I'm praying that you'll discover generous portions of hope and grace as you realize you're not at all alone as you navigate loss ... relationships ... illness ... politics ... depression ... marriage ... life balance.

Out on a limb.  That's where the best fruit is.

destructive bugaboos to steer clear of 

we're not talking about entertaining

a letter to my dad a few years before he died

a low level neglect became my reality

a friend saved my life, literally

there's no simple magic formula

musings 3 days after surgery

confessions of a political junkie


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God {2 Corinthians 1:3-4}.


feel free to leave a link to your most vulnerable post 
& what prompted you to share your story



a great big thanks to those who've been so generously sharing
what's happening here on your facebook pages
i'm forever grateful.  truly.



visiting with LeighHolley & Brenda