Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In Which We Celebrate Jenn!

HAPPY GRADUATION to all who've survived, conquered, and thrived! Bless those who've redeemed their pain and sorrow, who've turned their mourning into dancing!

Special love to our daughter, Jenn, as we've partied all weekend, celebrating her graduation from nursing school ... with a 4.0.

Her little son Tyler's legacy will live on through his mama's goal to work with the littlest and most fragile of us. 'That's why I'm doing what I'm doing.'

Praising God, the Beautiful Redeemer of our griefs and our sorrows ~

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Mary & Sue

Sunday, May 19, 2019

'The Next Right Thing' * Grand Finale

Well, here we are!  Session #4, our grand finale.

I've loved that you've joined us as we explored just a few chapters of Emily Freeman's superb little book, The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions.  If you're like me, sometimes I don't decide to buy a book 'til after I've finished reading it and determined I want it to reside on my rather limited shelf space with my other absolute favorites.

If that's true for you, you can pick up the hardcover or the Kindle edition by clicking on these links.  {And yes, I make a small commission if you shop from here.  I'm so appreciative.}  

If you've missed our other dialogues along the way, here they are:

And if you're yearning for a bit more from Emily, please join me in listening to her Tuesday podcasts.  Hearing her kind, winsome voice as she shares her wise heart is such a needed, weekly pic-me-up. 

'Til then, let's chat ...

Chapter  18
Don't Give Your Critic Words

'The critic only lives if we let her live.  And I don't mean the critic that is helpful and has your best interest at heart.  This isn't someone in your co-listening group or one of your No Mentors.  I mean the spiteful one, the petty one, the one who said those things way back when.  Maybe the one who lives in your own head.'

'We aren't going to change their minds.  Instead, let's change ours.  Let's stop giving that critic words.  Let's stop handing her the mic.  Let's take her seat away from the table and put it out in the hall.  Our friend Jesus knows what it means to be questioned, challenged, humiliated, and critiqued.  Not once ever did he allow a negative critic to change one solitary decision he made on earth.  He was about his Father's business, and all was well with him.  His face was set like a flint.  His soul was always at peace.  His countenance remained kind.  His choice was always love.'

Chapter 21
Wear Better Pants

'As I moved through the house with a trash bag, tackling the piles and purging clutter, I noticed a shift, ever so slight.  My energy and my motivation began to sag.  Usually decluttering and straightening give me new energy, so I paused for a moment to consider why my shoulders were dropping, why my eyebrows were furrowed, and why I felt so fussy.  When I retraced my steps, I found it.  It was the jeans, the favorite ones I'd pulled on from the bottom drawer.  They were making it hard for me to breathe.  And because I'm always aware of how the outer life affects the inner life, I quickly made the connection between breathing in my soul and breathing in my body.'

'If I'm honest, I struggled about making something as trivial as getting rid of pants that are too tight into a spiritual practice.  It felt weird.  But then I remembered how life with Christ is about being a whole person, not pieced out into important parts or unimportant parts, seen or unseen, sacred or secular.  In this one day I can carry both serious concerns in my soul and a pile of old clothes to the car.  Making that pile of clothes was a spiritual practice for me that day, finally taking the time to honestly confront some of the small ways I've been disrespecting myself by keeping clothes that didn't fit.'

As we wrap up this literary journey, I'm curious to learn from your observations, your experiences, your learnings ... 

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In Which We Celebrate Jenn! 

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Mary & Sue

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Bookbag * 5 . 19

Yep, May's a busy one alright.  Our jam-packed calendar squares remind us that the endless housebound winter is long gone and the lazy days of summer have yet to arrive.

But always ... there's time to read.  Early in the morning we sneak in a few pages, we lull our selves to sleep with a couple of chapters in the midnight hours.  We tuck a small volume or our Kindle into awaiting bags hoping to capture a half hour to savor an exquisite storyline ... or invite Spirit-inspired words to change our lives in all the ways that matter most.

I've read 11 books in the two months since our March Bookbag post.  I paged through a few more before returning to them to the library unread.  And these are the three that I most highly recommend.

Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis
Abigail Santamaria
Attention All Becoming Mrs. Lewis Book Club Readers!  This is the follow-up volume for you.  Whether you absolutely loved Joy ... or wrestled with how she lived out her faith and had some misgivings about her pursuit of Lewis, you'll find this fascinating bio to be rich and full and answer quite a few of the questions you gathered in the course of our discussion.

Our stories along the way, for better or worse, surely influence the choices we make in search for a love that fully satisfies.

And just like Joy, author Santamaria pulls no punches.  This is must reading for all who found Joy to be an intricately complex woman.
Hardcover - $28.00
Kindle - $13.14

When God's Ways Make No Sense
Dr. Larry Crabb
I'm a huge Larry Crabb fan from way back.  A highly respected leader in Christian counseling circles, this esteemed psychologist always goes right to the heart of whatever subject is on the table.  You'll wince a bit as he shines the light on the inner motives of our self-absorbed souls, but you'll love the rich path toward an authentic faith that he leads us to.

'More often now than earlier in my Christian life, I find myself asking three rather weighty questions, questions that fifty years of counseling have convinced me that many others are asking as well.  Perhaps not out loud.  The questions might be heard as evidence of little faith, maybe as questions that really shouldn't be asked by Christians who trust Jesus to guide them through their lives.

But these are three questions that life will at some point nudge every honest Christian to ask:
Question 1: Why Must Suffering Play Such a Big Role in the Christian Life?

Question 2: Why Must Failure Be Such an Ongoing Part of the Christian Life?

Question 3: How Are We to Respond to Seemingly Random Suffering with No Obvious Purpose and to Repeated Failure That We Try Hard to Resist but Sometimes Can't?' {pages 30 - 31}.
Hardcover - $11.95
Kindle - $9.99

It's Okay Not to Be Okay: Moving Forward One Day at a Time
Sheila Walsh
We often talk about the waiting rooms of our lives.  It's there we dwell while trying to figure out the next right thing to pursue or perhaps while waiting for God's answers or direction.

But at least most waiting rooms have comfy chairs, magazines to leaf through, windows to gaze out of.  Being stuck in the hallway takes the waiting room to a whole other level.

If you're in that scary place, Sheila Walsh is an authentic, sensitive guide because she's been there, done that.  And her story will assure you that not only is it okay not to be okay, but that it won't last forever.  Because God has other plans.

'God not only lives in the wide-open spaces of our lives, God lives in the hallway, and His presence can be most keenly felt when the door has been slammed in our face.  So many of the distractions that had filled my life had numbed me to the whole point of my life: to bring glory to God, to know Him, to allow the Holy Spirit to invade every space.  I began to worship in the hallway' {page 45}.
Hardcover - $10.99
Kindle - $10.44

We're right smack dab in the middle of our conversation!  Emily Freeman's brand new gift to all us decision fatigued seekers is hitting home for readers.  It's not too late to grab your copy and jump right into the conversation!  Go right here to begin.
Hardcover - $11.28
Kindle - $9.99


Dana McMahan

Tom Hallman, Jr.

Diana Petrillo

Glorious Weakness:
Discovering God In All We Lack
Alia Joy

Holy Envy:
Finding God in the Faith of Others
Barbara Brown Taylor

Searching for Sunday:
Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Rachel Held Evans 

What recent reads would you highly recommend?  If you have a bookish blog post to share, please give us an intriguing preview and your link in the comment section!  I do love when my far-flung friends get to know each other ...

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AnneMary & Sue

Sunday, May 12, 2019

'The Next Right Thing' * Session #3

Hey, my dear Book Club aficionados!

We're launching into the home stretch of our Sunday Evening Book Club with Emily Freeman's mighty fine offering, The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions.  In this session we're going to be looking at how specially chosen relationships can make all the difference when we're struggling to figure out our own very personal next step or two.

We were never designed to do life without the warm supportive embrace of community, yet we often burrow down into hermit mode at the exact time when we'd be far better using our energy to connect with those souls who could offer us significant encouragement and insight.

And chances are, there are co-travelers around you who are yearning for you to do the same for them ...

Chapter 15
Gather Co-Listeners
{the original podcast & transcript}

'When we weren't sure what to do next, we decided to intentionally gather a few people whom we loved in our house to listen to us say words and then see what they had to say back to us.  We weren't asking for advice, exactly, although we were open to it.  We knew better than to ask for answers, though we always hoped for them.  Instead, we simply didn't want to feel so alone.  We wanted people we loved and trusted to hear what we were saying, to see if there was something obvious we were missing, and to be with us in the midst of our uncertainty.'

'The longer I walk with our Father God, our friend Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who lives and dwells within us, the more I have a hunch that he isn't so concerned with the outcome of our decision, at least not in the same way we are.  But he would be delighted to know that the decision we are carrying is moving us toward community and not away from it, that it is leading us to depend on others more and not less, and that it is turning our face toward his in a posture of listening with the hopeful expectation of receiving an answer.'

Chapter 17
Find a No-Mentor

'Unlike your co-listening group, your No Mentor will be no-nonsense, straightforward, and unapologetic.  She will not be deterred by glitz or glamor.  She is not fooled by shiny objects or mirrored balls.  She is relentlessly on your side and has the health of your soul, your family, and your work in mind.  Sometimes, this person will convince you to say yes - but this is rare and not the norm.'

'A No Mentor is not there to keep you from doing things you want to do.  And finding one is not an excuse to say no to stuff you don't want to do.  We are kingdom people and, in a real way, our time doesn't belong to us; it all belongs to God.  The problem is we've misunderstood what that means.  Instead of being people who look within and discern where he is leading us, we look around and overcommit ourselves.  When the whispers of our calling try to speak to us, we don't have the time or the space to listen.'

'When a friend comes to you with a question, a problem, or a tough decision, take a step back.  Ask lots of questions and listen to her answers.  Listen to both what she says and what she fails to say.  Watch how her body rises or falls when she talks.  Listen to her tone and her excuses.  See if her eyes light up when she talks about the thing.  Will she look you in the eye?  Does she use the word "should" a lot?  Does she sound motivated by guilt, shame, or pressure?  Consider the underbelly.  Be on the side of her soul.  Stand up for her in ways she may not yet the courage to stand up for herself.'  

Co-listeners, No Mentors, Encouragers.  
What's your experience been?  Are you one?  Do you need one? 

Chapter  18
Don't Give Your Critic Words

Chapter 21
Wear Better Pants

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