Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#MyCozyFallHome * collection

'It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.'
-  The Nester  -

My favorite home blogger, The Nester, is hostessing a cozy fall home gathering on Instagram.  She writes, 'You're invited!  We want you to show up and share your home with a community of imperfectionists, cozy minimalists, autumn-appreciators, and crunchy-leaf-lovers.

Join us this week as we share photos on Instagram inspired by the daily theme.  To join us, simply check out the daily theme, take a photo of your home with the theme in mind and post one photo per day on Instagram.  The key is to use the hashtag #MyCozyFallHome - that way we can all find each other.'  

Read more about The Nester's gathering here and join her on Instagram there.

I don't know the first thing about Instagram, but I'm crashing the party right here on the blog.  I'll be sharing a snapshot and a few words for each of the daily prompts.  And I hope you'll join me in chatting about what you're grateful for in your own uniquely personal home-sweet-home.

Because it's downright true - 'it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.'

Be sure to tag your posts with #MyCozyFallHome.


day 1


my favorite collection?
always and forever?

vintage wooden spoons and rolling pins
mallets and whatever she used 
to create her family's meals
way back in the day



don't miss one day of #MyCozyFallHome

sharing this little series with

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Bookbag * Jumbo Early Fall Edition

'Reading was her long exhale after being on her feet all day.  Long after we'd been tucked in and read our bedtime stories, she'd pour herself into bed and reach for one of those dog-eared paperbacks.  A slim ribbon would glow reassuringly under her doorway long into the night.  It was the only time I saw my mom take time for herself, time no one else needed or claimed.'
- Alia Joy -


It's been four months since we last unpacked a traditional Bookbag post around here.  Since then, I've made my way through 19 books - 5 fictional reads and the rest a very broad selection of biographies, political tomes, spiritual writings, and counseling related volumes.

Today, I'm happy to share a wide array of reviews, scads of links, some bookish snapshots, coming attractions I can't wait to scoop up, and my favorite 12 year old's smart-alecky but honest book report.  I'm thinking you'll find something here tailor-made just for you.

Grab a cup of tea, put your feet up, and enjoy ...

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack 
Alia Joy
I don't even know where to begin to tell you how Alia's writing grabbed my heart, wrenching it and expanding it, breaking it in two.  She writes of her struggles with bipolar disorder, childhood sexual abuse, the horrors of poverty on the mission field, the nakedness of physical pain, her own experiences of racial injustice.

The flow of her words is beautiful, painful, powerful.  

'I never imagined that the call for the last twenty years would be to stay and walk faithfully with God while struggling with mental illness, unable to be involved in any "ministry."  I didn't know my ministry would be words often written from hospital beds or in recovery.  That I'd shake out my story with trembling hands and I'd testify to a God who meets me here when I haven't a single thing to offer' {page 134}.

Read this book.  Please.  It will change you.  
When I Can't See God's Face in the Dark @ (in)courage
Paperback - $8.58
Kindle - $2.99!

Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy
Bill Dunn & Kathy Leonard
The last thing someone who's grieving needs is a book that ties everything up in a neat package.  This book is NOT that.  It's a year's worth of simple meditations for those who've lost someone they love.  Never preachy yet solidly biblical, it will be a gentle companion for someone walking through heartbreak, confusion, emptiness, anger, fear, and numbness.

I read a page or two every night.  I highly recommend this solid, reassuring lifeline from GriefShare for your grief journey.  In lieu of flowers or yet another casserole, this is a very thoughtful gift.
Paperback - $10.99
Kindle - $2.99!
Free daily email version

Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make Room for Happiness
Gretchen Rubin
I love this book!  Nothing makes my heart sing more than decluttering, organizing, finding a home for everything, getting rid of what's not needed, finding usable discards a new home.

But this book is wonderful for those who aren't big fans, but would like just a bit of guilt-free encouragement to head in that direction.  Short, page-long vignettes invite the reader to 'tailor our approach to suit our own particular challenges and habits.'

This book will make you smile ... and perhaps, roll up your sleeves.

'For most people, it's deeply calming to see outer order emerge.  Perhaps it's the tangible sense of control, or the relief from visual noise, or the release from guilt and frustration. Creating order - even with things as mundane as socks or supplies - gives a disproportionate boost of energy and cheer.  There's so much we can't control, but we can control our stuff.'

A wonderful little book to tuck in your bag for those random moments when you need a boost of motivation.
Hardcover - $9.89
Kindle - $9.99

Massachusetts: A Novel
Nancy Zaroulis
A great big huge 709 page tome, a James Michener style saga that follows the fictional Revell family from Plymouth Rock for hundreds of years.  The storyline wends its way through wars with Indians, the battle for freedom from British rule, the Industrial Revolution, the abolition of slavery, the Civil War, Irish immigration, the development of unions and right on up to the 1960s.

Fascinating, riveting for the reader who loves getting lost in a great big storyline.  I'll call this PG-13 for some violence and sexual content.
Hardcover - $9.09

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All Of Us Have To Give Up In Order To Move Forward
Dr. Henry Cloud
I'm a huge Henry Cloud fan, and this book is probably one of my favorites.  No, it's not all about business relationships, so don't check out yet if that's not your thing.  Worth the price alone is this leading Christian psychologist's discussion on the foolish and / or evil people we encounter and how to wisely respond to the challenges they constantly throw at us.

We're talking issues on trust.  Character.  Boundaries.  Emotional intelligence.

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, I'm going to encourage you to head right over to Pam Ecrement's fabulously insightful post on this fascinating subject.  Her post, and Cloud's book, are absolutely must reads because if we ourselves hope to be wise, we are obliged to figure out how to respond in healthy ways to the difficult people we encounter in our personal relationships, professional lives, political culture, and churches. 
Hardcover - $22.69
Kindle - $17.49

The Norman Williams Public Library
Woodstock, Vermont
built 1883 - 1884

Cape and Islands Bookstore Trail

Kindle & Nook Readers:
You know you don't own those books, right?
John Warner

Mistakes, Imperfections & Perceptions
Debby Hudson

How to Create an Idea Capture System 
Christa @ do a new thing

Why I removed some of my commentary
from a chapter of Praying God's Word
Beth Moore

Why I Don't Save Journals
or Other Sentimental Items
Courtney Carver

How to Be a Better Reader
Sarah DiGiulio

Fall 2019 at Magnolia Market - Wholeness
Joanna Gaines

So You Want to Write?
How Introverts Cultivate a Writing Practice
Anne Cathrine Bomann

9 things to know before going
to your next (or first) book sale
Anne Bogel

What is the Aim of Christian Writing?
Cody Cunningham

How a Prayer Journal Helps Me Pray
Ed Cyzewski

8 Ways to Find More Time to Read
Even If You're Super Busy
Elizabeth Sile

3 Steps to Rewriting Your Narrative
For a Happier, More Rewarding Life
Angie Johnston

I rate this novel 0 star because it was confusing and way too long.  The descriptions took forever like when the author explained how rhythmic the people of Camazots were and went on for paragraphs that made the book really hard to follow.  I recommend this book to people that want to be bored to death.  The book deserves credit for being the most confusing and boring book I have ever read.  Do not read this book unless you are forced to.

The Reading Life: The Joy
of Seeing New Worlds Through Others' Eyes
C.S. Lewis

Miracles and Other Reasonable Things:
A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God
Sarah Bessey

The Preacher's Wife: The Precarious Power
of Evangelical Women Celebrities
Kate Bowler

The Guardians: A Novel
John Grisham

7 Days of Christmas: The Season of Generosity
Jen Hatmaker

Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions,
Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life
Anne Bogel
{March 2020}

Let's talk books ... share your recent favorites, your bookish links, and other fine thoughts. 


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Monday, September 9, 2019

Remembering Tyler (2014 - 2015)

Tim and I were happily chatting with another couple recently and they asked if we had any grandchildren.  'Yes, we have seven ... the littlest one is in heaven,' I replied.

It's abrupt and people often aren't quite sure how to respond.  But I haven't found a more subtle way to share what is true about this precious little boy we were blessed with for such a short time.

It's four years ago today that our youngest grandchild went to see Jesus face to face.  His name was Tyler and he still lives very close to our hearts.  Since that awful day when God suddenly took him up to his new heavenly home, I'm confident that the little guy's been happy and whole, finally able to freely shout with joy, powerful little legs finally allowing him to run and jump and play in the celestial city with his great-grandpa who died just two months before him.

If you didn't know Tyler, his short story is here.  If he was still with us, he would have boarded a yellow school bus last week to start kindergarten.  I bet he would have loved being with all the kids, relished the activity, been the leader of the pack.

My tears brim yet again.


I'd like to think that five short weeks ago, an angel or some celestial being corralled Tyler and his great-grandpa and directed them to head over to heaven's gate right before his mama's cousin Jessica suddenly came to join them.  She adored them both and I'm positive that all three of them were overjoyed at their family reunion.

Jessica sketched this picture of Tyler after his death.  I'm thinking of them together with my Dad who prayed faithfully for them when he was on earth.  Maybe they're soaking up the sun around the crystal sea ... or found a good spot together before the throne.  Dad always did love to get the best seats in the house for those he loved.

I've recently been wondering if Dad was surprised that a great-grandson and a granddaughter came to join him so soon ... or if somehow he knew they'd arrive before their time and had been lending a hand in preparing a place for them.

Or was he too caught up in the unspeakable magnificence of singing praises with the heavenly host, his vibrant tenor voice worshiping Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I guess we'll never know for sure 'til we get there.  I can't help but think that by then, we won't care much about the details.  For we'll be so taken up in joining in the indescribably holy, joyful chorus of adoration to the Lamb who was slain.


As we continue to walk through this season of grief, I don't ask God why.  I don't know if I ever did.  If anything, I love and worship Him with a more deeper adoration than ever.  I am so grateful that He is solid and steady and doesn't change like shifting shadows.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and He's not going anywhere.

I find incredible comfort and solace in that reality.

It gives me that peace that passes understanding.


I don't believe that we were designed to lose those in the generations that follow us while we're still alive.  It goes against the rhythm of life as we know it.  It's a horribly surreal and hugely out of kilter experience to bury someone far before their time.  It's a unique grief that's excruciating to experience, mind-blowing to sift through, impossible to put into words.

But I know for sure that Jesus weeps with us.  That the Spirit holds us tight when the tears come, when things absolutely don't make sense, when the bottom seems to fall out of our world.

When we all get to heaven,
what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus
we'll sing and shout the victory.
Eliza Hewitt

I've found incredible comfort in sharing my grief stories in recent years.  I want the people I love to be remembered and valued.  Knowing that you're not alone in grief is a huge gift we give each other as we do community together.  Please feel free to share your story of loss with us ...

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Eavesdropping on the Porch

Most weekends we're gathering right here on this virtual porch.

I make room on the couch for you, we pull up a few more chairs.  You bring your mug of coffee and I share tidbits that have hit home during the week, maybe answer your questions or offer some quick reads.  I do love these cozy visits with you.

Especially when you keep the conversation going with your hard won savviness and wisdom.  Your quirky humor and your honest commentary.  Your godly perspective.  Your best and finest post of the week.  A poem.  Whatever. 

I'm you're new around these parts, click here to experience exactly what I'm talking about.  And be sure to head to the comment section on each post because that's where the good stuff is.


I don't usually have the TV during the day.  But I sure am glad I stumbled onto this conversation online this week.  You might find, like Maria Shriver did, that 'I wasn't done with grief and grief wasn't done with me.'  And that 'bringing your narrative up to date' might be a worthy, much needed choice right about now.

There's much to take note of in this exceptional 7 minute clip, friends.  

And then let's talk about what might need some 're-wiring' in your life.

And are there some tender areas in your inner world that you need to stop beating yourself up over?

Are you ready to release yet one more long-cherished heartache to the Lord?

I'm ready to listen.
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