Friday, March 17, 2023

Porch #83 * Homebodies, Introverts, & Solitude-Seekers

a soft place to land
a calm weekend haven
a gentle pause from life's busyness
so we may experience
the tender lovingkindness of Jesus
as we do life together
in community

'I have come to believe that the greatest thing we can do to change the world is to quietly, humbly form our character around the person of Christ.  God meets us in the secret, anonymous space of a heart that trusts in his work over our own.

It's not that our ministries aren't meant to be successful.  It's not that we don't sometimes go and do hard things for God and for others.  It's just that the enduring impact of a soul at rest in their creator is, I believe, the most compelling legacy to leave in a hurting world.'
Amanda Held Opelt

It's raining more days than not here on the Cape.  Starting in March, we can expect at least two months of gray and wet with occasional glimpses of glorious blue skies and sunshine.  We wonder if spring will ever arrive.  And then as soon as she makes her grand appearance, it's summer.

All this stay-inside weather has given me more than enough time to go through Mom's papers, cards, photos.  Re-organize my life - the kitchen, closets, file cabinet, dresser drawers, basement shelves.  Rid the spare rooms and porch of piles, stacks, and miscellaneous items searching for a home.  Share, donate, shred, toss.  Write, nap, sit by the fire, study, text, plan, read, pray.  

Maybe make supper.

But I am pushing myself to get outside at least a half hour a day when it's not too wet/dreary/windy/cold/snowy.  Meet up with a friend, go for a walk, turn the compost, sow the wildflower seeds.  Even for us born-and-bred homebodies, introverts, and solitude-seekers, enough is enough.  

these little visits with Paola?  always calming, a bit whimsical, and creativity-inducing

find the best grocery deals on Amazon, thanks to Money-Saving Mom's newsletter

the Bookbag was jam-packed with goodness this week

this movie gave my granddaughter 'the chills' ... and the next two generations gave it a big thumbs up 

Lauren's new song speaks to exactly where we are

What good things occupied your time this week?

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thanks Paula & Jeanne & Donna & Richella & Lisa

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Chatting Books with Cheryl + Michelle + giveaway!

If we're mid-way through the month, it's time for THE BOOKBAG.  I've been writing short-ish book reviews for about 15 years now and the icing on the cake has always been connecting with so many passionate readers from all walks of life.  Over time, you guys have ramped up my curiosity, enlarged my borders, grown my faith, and toppled my TBR (to-be-read) list.  

And I can't help believing that avid readers are the most fascinating conversationalists!  That's why the comment section at the end of a bookish post is THE place to connect with like-minded people.  Be sure to join the dialogue ... and get in the running for our giveaway!


Cheryl Smith has done what many of us have dreamed of doing but never set out to accomplish.  She's complied her favorite writings into a second quiet time companion, Homespun Devotions: Volume Two50 short stories of God's loving impact on her life's journey.

My friend writes, 'Homespun Devotions: Volume Two continues a series of books that record the piecing together or many of the stories of my life and the rich spiritual truths that God has imparted along the way.  As you read these homespun narratives of faith, family, love, marriage, motherhood, friendship, and the music that is such a part of my heritage, you will discover glimpses into moments of the soul-searching and intense struggles I have experienced while journeying to a place of complete surrender to the One who bled and died for me.'

Cheryl's writing is spiritually refreshing and yes, authentically homespun. She's the real deal and I'm happy to highly recommend her second devotional not only for your personal use but also to jump-start a family devotional time if that's something your gang is lacking or has given up on.

Cheryl is generously giving a paperback copy of Homespun Devotions: Volume Two to one reader!  Please leave a comment to enter the giveaway by this Friday, March 17th, at 10 pm {eastern}, USA only.  And be sure to check back to see if you've been randomly chosen!

Sorry - I am not able to track the winner down or ask for your name and mailing address!  I must have your snail mail address within 48 hours or, sadly, you will forfeit your book.
linda stoll @ juno . com



I seldom watch the news anymore (it ratcheted up my anxiety level), but I do appreciate a good read from those who've served on the frontlines, no matter what their political persuasion.  Every person has their own unique storyline woven from a lifetime of influences, especially those early formative years.  I find this reality to make for fascinating and informative reading.  

Both of these authors go there.  Come with an open mind and a discerning heart.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times
Michelle Obama
- on empathy -
'For each little point of connection between us, I also felt the possibilities for a kind of understanding that went beyond the things we shared.  Because the truth is, for whatever we have in common, there is plenty we do not.  We are different.  The same way you can't truly know the innermost contours of my life or feelings, I can't know yours ... 

All I can do is try to draw closer to your uniqueness, to feel linked by the small overlaps between us.  This is how empathy works.  It's how differentness starts to weave itself into togetherness.  Empathy fills the gaps between us, but never closes them entirely.  We get pulled into the lives of others by virtue of what they feel safe and able to show us, and the generosity with which we are able to meet them ... I think the most we can ever do, really, is to walk partway across the bridge toward another person and feel humbled that we get to be there at all.'

So Help Me God
Mike Pence
- on forgiveness -
'The truth was, as reckless as the president's tweet was, I really didn't have time for it.  Rioters were ransacking the Capitol.  Some of them, I was later told, were chanting, "Hang Mike Pence!"  The president had decided to be part of the problem.  I was determined to be part of the solution.  I ignored the tweet and got back to work.'

'I was still angry at how his reckless words had endangered my family and all those serving at the Capitol.  President Trump was wrong, I had no right to overturn the election ... That said, I believe in forgiveness.  My faith instructs me to "forgive those who trespass against us," and the Bible also admonishes to "forgive as the Lord forgave you."  I have been shown grace in my life.  So that morning I prayed for the strength to meet the remaining days of our administration in that spirit.  But that was easier said than done.'
(466 & 476)


When Michelle Watson asked me to join her for a Page-Turners by the Dozen feature, I couldn't say yes please fast enough.  Click here to meet 12 reviewers and authors talk about our favorite all time page-turners.  

Michelle puts out a weekly 'balm for your bookish soul' newsletter with reviews, printables, and all kinds of worthwhile goodies.  I love it.  Click here to subscribe.


Brene Brown


The Last Song
Nicholas Sparks


Lauren Winner

Sarah Young

What's on the top of your TBR pile?

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linking with Anne & Paula & Jeanne & Donna & Richella & Lisa

As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small commission when you do your regular Amazon shopping after clicking on their links here ... at no extra cost to you!   Thanks for continuing to support my work.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Porch #82 * Joy in Chaos Edition

a soft place to land
a calm weekend haven
a gentle pause from life's busyness
so we may experience
the tender lovingkindness of Jesus
as we do life together
in community


Yay, we're together again!

Was this another weird jumble of a week or what?  From crummy disappointments to awesome answers to prayer to living with a half-done kitchen, March has been a topsy-turvy ride.  Knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever is the most glorious stabilizing force in the Christian's life (Hebrews 13:8).  I'm so grateful He's written the end of the story and I don't have to figure out every last detail of what's going on.

Meanwhile, when I read something that grabs my attention, I'm always excited to share it.  Because we're all students of life, sitting at the feet of The Master Teacher, our friend Jesus.  And there's no place I'd rather be.  Here's what came across my radar this week:

Jon Acuff
If your teenager has a hard time managing their phone, remember, there wasn't a single time during your entire childhood where your parents gave you a fragile, pocket-sized, distraction casino worth $500-$1,000 and said "Here, good luck.

3 Reasons Your Adult Child Treats You Like Dirt 
- Psychology Today
'As children grow up, they may develop values or beliefs that conflict with those of their parents, leading to disagreement and tension ...'

A Stubborn Habit 
- Pam Ecrement
'We prefer our own way of doing things and for us they become the “best” way and as a result we can be judgmental and critical of how anyone else does it and a stubborn habit of dissatisfaction develops without even realizing it’s there ...'

Pondering the Pillars of a Healthy Spirituality - Humility
- Jean Wise
'To be honest, being humble is tough.  Elusive.  The minute you think you captured humility and can practice it well – poof! – you are no longer humble.  This characteristic isn’t high on many lists of desirable traits yet still belongs in the mix for cultivating a healthy spirituality ...'

Jennifer's response to This is Helping Me Grieve Well
'Speaking my father’s name and remembering his genuine and all-encompassing love for my children have helped me to grieve well.  When the pain of missing him overwhelms me, I go someplace quiet and allow the tears to fall.  The year after my dad died, my husband had a sign made for me.  It contains a quote from a dream he had, where he encountered my Dad in a park.  Knowing how sad I was, my husband asked my father in the dream, “What message can I give Jen from you?”  His response: “Take a little piece of the Gospel and make it part of you every day.”  The sign hangs in our bedroom, where I see it every day. ❤️'

And this song refuses to leave my head: 

May the sun shine brightly on your weekend.  And may you continue to move through March holding joy in chaos and cherishing peace that makes no sense.
Linda 🌞

P.S. 1
Thanks, Judie, for sharing that Scripture right up top.

P.S. 2
To clarify, my adult children are not treating me like dirt but there's some important cautions for us all when it comes to 'making intrusive comments and showing problematic listening skills.' 

P.S. 3
Subscribers - click on today's title, scroll down, and jump right into the conversation.  Not a subscriber yet?  Click here now to join the party.

P.S. 4
Thanks Paula & Jeanne & Donna & Richella & Lisa for letting us bloggers share our work at your online homes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

This Is Helping Me Grieve Well

Oh, Mom would just love this!

Mom would be so excited!

Wouldn't this make Mom happy!

She'd get such a kick out of this!

It's been almost nine months since she entered heaven, yet Mom is still very much present. 

Speaking her name and drawing her right into anything worth celebrating has kept her spirit alive and well in my heart. 

It didn't start on purpose.  But it's ended up being natural.  And it's turned my mourning into gratitude. 

These days, when people, places, or things she enjoyed pop up, I invite her right into the conversation.  Delicious food.  The ocean's majesty.  House projects.  Lovely flowers or beautiful music.  Habitat for Humanity.  

And anything that revolves around her family's antics, adventures, and accomplishments. Nothing that mattered to any of us was too insignificant for her focused attention and enthusiastic response.  

Unbelievable!! she'd declare with a big smile.

She never drew attention to herself.  Never complained.  And found comfort and hope in her deeply personal relationship with Christ.  It was always about Him ... and everyone else who crossed her path.


Sure, there's still moments of intense sadness.  I want to send her snapshots of the great-grandkids and fill her in on all the latest happenings.  I feel my stomach jolt when we drive by the Quaker Meeting House Road exit or as I push the cart through the supermarket and spot the Belvita or Taster's Choice or Depends.  A big hug from one of her friends makes me ache with longing.  And some worship songs lead me into a puddle of grief that leaves me drained for the rest of the day.

Yet because His mercies are new every morning, the daily bounty of good and lovely and excellent and praiseworthy gifts of grace come surging in again, filling my heart with gratitude.  I'm compelled by Mom's life of extraordinary faith to focus on living in ways that honor Christ and would bring her a quiet satisfaction. 

Grieving well is enabling me to release the trauma of that awful, endless, final season of her life.  The pain is fading slowly but surely into the background even as peace and joy are taking center stage right where they belong.

What's helped you in your grief journey?  What's hindered it?

3:19-26, 31-33, 55-58