Friday, December 3, 2021

Porch #26 * Grace & Space Edition

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light 
and the darkness, 
send your Holy Spirit upon 
our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to 
hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious
 over many things
 look forward to 
your coming among us.

We who are blessed
 in so many ways
 long for the complete joy
 of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy
 seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people,
 walking in darkness,
 yet seeking the light.

To you we say,
 “Come, Lord Jesus!” 

- Henri Nouwen -

Yearning for grace and space right about now, friends?

Starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by lists swirling around your head, a jam-packed calendar, the uncertainty of the weeks ahead?  Undone shopping, endless menu planning, your rapidly emptying wallet?

All the Christmas things our family/church/community/culture deem important?

The demands on our time and energy stack up, layer after layer.  Much of what we throw ourselves into are self-imposed-shoulds.  Burdensome traditions that have long since lost their meaning.  Or assorted people-pleasing activities, reluctantly carried out with a heavy dose of sighing and grumbling.  

A frustration-fueled resentment simmers and builds as we say 'yes' even as our heart cries 'no, no, no.'

And it shows.

Maybe this will help:

1.  Grab a pencil and a pile of index cards or scrap paper. 

2.  Quickly write one task on each card.  10 or 100, whatever.

3.  Spread those cards out in front of you.

4.  Pick 3 to do today.  Just 3.  That's all.

5.  When you've completed your task, simply toss that card.

6.  Repeat tomorrow.  And the day after and so on.

You might be surprised at all you accomplish over the next few weeks.  And discover how much wasn't all that important to begin with.

Your sigh of relief is almost palpable, isn't it.


We make it our goal
to please Him.
 - 2 Corinthians 5:9 -

Each of you should give what you have 
decided in your heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
 for God loves a cheerful giver.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 -


The unsettling, riveting memoir by this acclaimed Christian writer is my hands-down 2021 Book of the Year.

My absolute favorite Christmas candle is 50% off.

Here's one scrumptious looking cranberry pecan baked brie {excuse the website's name}.

Mom loves this Thomas Kinkade perpetual Scripture calendar.  A perfect gift for fans of this Painter of Light.

A powerfully moving prayer for the broken-hearted.  Print it out.  Say amen.

This carol.  Because more than ever, we need hope.  And soul-soothing videos that calm our angst.

May you accept the grace and space He invites you to ... even as you extend His love to others ~

P.S. #1
Thanks to you new subscribers and those who've shared positive words about Porch, this fledgling weekend newsletter {yep, I've shortened the name!}  

If you like what's happening around here, please spread the word to your people by forwarding or using the share buttons and encourage them to subscribe and join the party.

P.S. #2
As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a financial benefit when you make an Amazon purchase using the links on this site at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for supporting my work and keeping my online home ad free.

P.S. #3
I share Porch with Richella, Lisa, and Jeanne / Lisa J.

Friday, November 26, 2021

On the Porch #25 * 4 Somethings

Welcome back, my friends!

It looks like we've survived all the turkey, stuffing, and pie that's been passed our way.  Perhaps a joyfully chaotic gathering or two, maybe far too much highway traffic to contend with, or an overdose of mind-numbing happy activity.

Meanwhile there are people among us who've received some rather unsettling news since last we met.

Come with me to a quiet place.  Shut the door oh-so-softly.  Go ahead and curl up in that comfy chair in the corner.  Shhh ... perhaps no one will even notice you've stepped away.

It's time for a little 4 Somethings review with an unplanned emphasis on choosing to live an intentional lifestyle.  Two family snapshots remind me how quickly time flies.  A life-altering quote serves as a wake up call.  A handful of links invite you to live this holiday season {and into 2021} with a bit more intentionality and purpose.

And yes, a book list awaits your attention simply because we can't get enough of those around here.




10 Exceptional Books To Calm + Heal + Inspire

CT's Holiday Guide for Book Lovers

5 Great Resources for Raising Grateful Kids

ECPA Christian Book Award Finalists

The terrible gift of a terrible illness is that it has, in fact, taught me to live in the moment.  Nothing but this day matters ... when I look closely at my life, I realize that I'm not just learning to seize the day.  In my finite life, the mundane has begun to sparkle.  

The things I love - the things I should love - become clearer, brighter.  Burdened by the past, preoccupied by the present, or worried about the future, I had failed to appreciate the inestimable gift of a single minute.
No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)
- Kate Bowler

Christmas cards?  
Three to-the-point questions are worth considering.  Especially #2.

Check out these eight smart tips ... #4 and #5 hit home for me. 

17 degrees out? 
How 'bout this?

People pleaser? 
Showing up for yourself might be a better choice.

Let's talk about living with intentionality and purpose.  What would that look like for you in the next month?  In 2022?  What would you need to release ... or increase?  

be sure to subscribe to receive 
both this weekly newsletter & the
traditional blog posts in your inbox
linking with
Lisa  .  Heather  .  Jeanne
as an Amazon Associate
I may receive a financial
benefit when you use 
Amazon links on this site.
thanks for supporting
my work!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

On the Porch #24 * Thanksgiving Edition

When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Let earth's wide circle round 
in joyful notes resound: 
May Jesus Christ be praised! 
Let air and sea and sky 
from depth to height reply: 
May Jesus Christ be praised! 

Be this, when day is past, 
of all our thoughts the last: 
May Jesus Christ be praised! 
The night becomes as day 
when from the heart we say: 
May Jesus Christ be praised! 
Caswall & Barnby

Wow, gang!  It's the weekend before Thanksgiving!  

A big ol' turkey?  Endless football games?  Pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream?  The parade?  Church service?  A quiet solitary day?  A pre-made lasagna?  A visit to the care facility?  Grandma's traditional recipes?  Serving at the community meal or soup kitchen?  Board games or a movie or a brisk walk?  Maybe a tryptophan-induced snooze to fortify you for very early Friday morning shopping? 

{I will do my part to make the festivities even more out of hand by heading out on the road with 53.4 million of my closest friends.}  

Whatever floats your boat, I hope that all is calm and bright wherever you find yourself ... and that your people are healthy and fortunate enough to gather together.  

Thankfully, our 'people' don't have to be related by blood.  And traditions do well to be flexible and expansive, free to change from one year to the next as we're sensitive to the needs of those around us.  Our 'people' are those we reach out to, those who God has put on our hearts to enfold into this day ... and hopefully into our lives.

Sometimes that enfolding is completely accidental and long lasting like it is for Jamal and Wanda.

Could be that overwhelming grief nudges you to upend tradition by roasting marshmallows over the fire instead of going around the table saying what you're thankful for.

There's not a gathering that wouldn't benefit enormously from a Tech Shabbat.

And an extra dose of kindness if strong differences on faith, covid, or politics is the elephant in the room.

Hopefully this ridiculous kitchen disaster won't happen.

For sure, these chocolate covered strawberry turkeys look like a whole lot more fun. {J - can we make these?!} 

Meanwhile, grab the tissues for this song.

And I'm offering this prayer up to heaven yet again.

It never fails to amaze me at the odd ways tender sadness and sparkling joy mingle, how the bittersweet ache and hearty laughter truly can go hand and hand ... and how the craziness of it all can kick off an onslaught of gratitude that we simply must speak out loud.  It's how He made us.

Bless your grateful heart, bless your open door, bless your hospitable spirit ~

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traditional blog posts in your inbox 


thankful for
Lisa  &  Jeanne 


Sunday, November 14, 2021

10 Exceptional Books to Calm + Heal + Inspire

Dear Devoted Readers ~
Book are our treasured companions, our lifelong friends.  They were meant to be ingested and savored, highlighted and bookmarked, shared and discussed, given and received.

A book is such a personal gift, isn't it.  You can tell when someone has gone out of their way to find a volume that fits you to a T.  It makes you cherish the giver and the gift all the more as you appreciate the thoughtful kindness that's gone into their selection.

I've purposefully chosen these ten books for Christmas giving because I've gained renewed life and fresh energy from their pages.  Along the way, my thirsty soul, over-stimulated brain, jangled emotions, tired daily routines, untended relationships and/or blah living spaces have been enriched in one way or another.

Four of these selections have been Book Club picks here on the blog.  Check out the conversations we've had to get more insight into why these are must-reads.  You'll find those links at the end of the reviews.

May you feel gently calmed, motivated, and blessed as you spend time with me here today.   And then have fun making up your Christmas shopping list ... and your own very personal wish list, too!

- Sarah Young
Filled with soothing, personal, Christ-centered devotional readings, favorite Scripture, and stunning wintertime photography, this is one gorgeous book.  I feel like a kid in a candy store as I've often leisurely wandered through these pages.

What an opportunity to buy two copies, one for yourself and one for a friend, and then meet together weekly during Advent to share what you're discovering.

Buy a stack for hostess gifts, last minute presents, a thank you to the kid's Sunday School teachers, and Great Aunt Sally.  At this giveaway price, it's a steal!
BUY the Hardcover - $8.45 {wow!}

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path
- Erin Loechner
'Renew your priorities with prompts and charts that ask you to consider your words and choices.  Shift your focus with recipes and resources to help slow your life.  Refresh your perspective with insights worth sharing to uncomplicate your life.'

Erin has penned a uniquely out-of-the-box, creative volume ... a beautifully illustrated gift for yourself or another imaginative soul who yearns to live life well.  

I absolutely adore her writing style and her innovative spirit.
BUY the Hardcover - $23.57 

- Adam McHugh
If you've been around here any length of time, you'll know this is probably one of my favorite books.  Remember the Book Club conversations we had?  The best ever.  If you read only one book in 2022, make it this one.  I recommend it all the time.

McHugh is a gifted author rich in insight, wisdom, and humor.  He's the first to admit the mistakes he's made in the past, and while the subject is soul deep, it's a practical and readable guide.  

I can't think of one single person that doesn't need to soak up and live out the truths of this book.  Not one. 
Book Club, April 2018

- Emily Lex
I can't get enough of Emily's whimsical watercolor drawings that adorn the book's front and back endsheets and are artfully scattered throughout her meaningful story.  'You’ve tried harder. You’ve been more intentional. You’ve done everything “right.”  In your search for meaning and purpose, you’ve placed your hope in many different things—only to find yourself at a turning point, quietly asking, Is this all there is?'

I found pieces of myself throughout her story.  How comforting to know we're not alone with our struggles!  I think you'll walk away saying the same thing.

Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round
- Myquillyn Smith
'A home that's ready for the seasons is automatically ready to host all sorts of seasonal celebrations.  Be the one who volunteers her home to host because you're finally confident and ready.'

This is not a typical home decorating how-to, but instead a common sense approach to creating your own signature home style that will leave you smiling and wondering why you waited so long.  Myquillyn's keep-it-simple hostessing tips will make opening your doors to others a more natural and relaxed experience.

Because it's not about your domestic expertise.  It's all about the hospitality.
BUY the Hardcover - $23.03

- Dane Ortlund
My faith has been strengthened, my soul calmed and quieted as I've sat reflectively with each chapter.  It'd be safe to say that God has used the author's prayerful words to continue the soul restoration He's been doing after a season that almost did me in.

Our most recent Book Club pick, you'll find yourself falling in love with Jesus all over again.  This is not only a beautiful gift, but also could be a most meaningful small group discussion guide.
Book Club, September 2021

- Liz Marie Galvan
Eager fans of homes with lots of white space, vintage furniture, and meaningful collectibles will want to scoop up this gorgeous book.  Each page features stunning photos and unique decorating ideas for you to incorporate into your own place.  

You'll find yourself 'oohing and aahing' you make your way through Liz's 1800's farmhouse.  And who knows, maybe you'll find yourself getting a bit motivated to try your hand at one or two DIY projects along the way!  

Her emphasis on all things 'cozy' hits home for me.

Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode - and into a Life of Connection and Joy
- Aundi Kolber, MA, LPC
'One of the best parts of learning to open myself up to God and allowing him to sit with me in my joy and grief is this: I have learned to see myself as He sees me ... during our hardest, scariest times - whether our bodies feel stressed and jumpy or sluggish and slow - God is there to reassure us that we are no defined by our best days or our worst days.  We are His beloved.' 

For those who've been living in survival mode, Aundi's wise counsel is soothing and life-altering.  Even the book's title will cause you to exhale just a bit deeper after living on high alert for far too long.  This process of finding gentle healing from continued anxiety and stress is necessary, a sacred work so we are able to move ahead into whatever God has for us to be and to do.
BUY the Paperback - $13.34

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
- Anne Bogel
'In this book, we'll dive into the personal nature of reading - what shapes us as readers, what we bring to the page.  We'll explore how to read, how to choose good books, and what happens when we read bad ones.  We'll dive into why we connect with some books so powerfully.  We'll peek into other people's reading lives.  And we'll enjoy every minute of it because that's the kind of people we are.  How good it is to be among people who are reading.'

Anne's ode to the bookish life is every book aficionado's delight.  If you view books as vital to your daily life, this lovely, whimsical read has your name on it.  

The perfect gift for your favorite bibliophile.  And a perfect size to toss into your bag as you head out the door.  Because you'd rather be reading.
Book Club, October 2019
BUY the Hardcover - $9.32

Invitation to Solitude & Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence
- Ruth Haley Barton
'The image of the jar of river water captured what I knew to be true about myself.  I could not avoid the realization that I was the jar of river water all shaken up and the sediment that swirled inside the jar was the busyness, the emotions, the thoughts, the inner wrestlings I had not been able to control.  It was a moment of self-discovery - which is where all good spiritual journeying begins.'

This was the book that started it all for me ... the pursuit of a deeper, more reflective spiritual life.  This little guidebook helped deepen my walk with the Lord in ways that have been life-changing.  

If your relationship with the Lover of your soul has become rote or stagnant, may He be pleased to use this volume to draw you into a deeper, more substantial love relationship with Himself.
Book Club, February 2018
Buy the Hardcover - $12.69


Well, there you have it!  It's been a true pleasure to gather these ten volumes for you to consider.  May your Christmas wish list include some {or all!} of these gentle literary gems ... and may you find the perfect gift for your favorite people right here.  

Please note that as an Amazon Associate, I may receive a small financial perk when you use the above links.  Do order soon while supplies are available and as delivery seems to be fairly quick in this November time frame.

Let's talk about the selections that are catching your eye ... or tugging at your heartstrings.  As always, if you find this list helpful, please do share this post with your friends, fans, and followers!

I'm kind of excited at the surprise debut of the unintentional On the Porch Weekend Newsletter ... your enthusiastic response has been the icing on the cake!  Be sure to subscribe to receive both the newsletter and the traditional blog posts in your inbox.  

connecting with
Anne  .  Jeanne 
Richella  .  Lisa

photos are from 
author's websites.
All others are my own.