Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wow! 2017's 3rd Stocking Stuffer Giveaway!




I'm thinking of that gentle Saturday morning not long past, in the relaxed company of a couple of the creative grand-girls.  

Together we idled the time away, feet up {theirs literally}, doing a few fun art projects, chit-chatting away, playing on our tablets, the little one casually launching into spontaneous one handed cartwheels and death-defying splits at a moment's notice.

And singing.

{Yes, the two of them are holding paintbrushes with their toes.}

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The hours passed by with songs of praise playing in continuous forward motion all thanks to You Tube.  Ol' Grandma learned a few new praises, the three of us loving the songs that were belovedly familiar.  I relished the sound of their sweet voices singing quietly, with occasional bursts of energy and joy.  And I joined in with them.

How cool to all say at the same time, 'Ohhh, I LOVE this song!'

I can't think of anything I'd rather do than sing to the Lord with the next generation.  It just doesn't get better than that.  Our hearts united by more than genetics and history, eternally knit close by our mutual love for the Holy One we sing to.

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That chart-topping band Kutless has a brand new rock / worship album, their 10th one ... and I'm absolutely sure that the gang will love ALPHA / OMEGA.  Maybe I'll bring their music along when we gather for Thanksgiving.   And maybe all twelve of us will sing King of My Heart together.

I'd love that.  And I can't help but believe that He would, too. 


I'm super happy to share this year's 3rd Stocking Stuffer Giveaway today!  Maybe you'll be the one to take a copy of ALPHA / OMEGA on your next journey to see someone you love ... to tuck deep into a Christmas stocking ... or give as a lovely hostess gift.  

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post by this Sunday evening, November 26th at 9 pm, eastern {continental US only, please}.   I'll be announcing the winner right here that evening!

Let's reach the next generation with the love of Jesus ~



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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255:  Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising:  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Grief * Emotional Health Series

If someone you adored has died, you know what grief is all about.

It surrounds, overflows, overtakes our very beings.

Sorrow is a nebulous and elusive companion, seeping into every crack, nook, and cranny of body and soul.  It stubbornly refuses to be neatly labeled into steps 1-2-3 or quickly placed inside a storage box for examination at a later, more convenient time.  

The oft-raging, yet sometimes oddly-at-rest emotions can't be separated from our beating hearts, our breathing lungs, our racing thoughts.  

Our very souls.

There is a great heaviness that descends, for grief is heavy laden and seemingly unmovable.  It lodges firmly in place, here to seemingly abide forever.  It crushes the spirit, dulls the mind, slows the body to a grinding halt.

There are no words, this is true. 




Loss comes in a myriad of forms, shapes, and sizes ... some grab us and shake us senseless while others subtly step in to make their presence known.  Yet to emerge from the ashes with some modicum of health and sanity, these losses must be acknowledged, named, honored, processed completely.

And wept over.  In the presence of our compassionate Father.

An abandonment.  A diagnosis.  A pink slip.  

A divorce.  An overdose.  An assault.  A miscarriage.

A cold shoulder.  A door firmly shut tight.  A transition.

A dream that's finally died.

A family member who turns their back.

A decision that makes you ache somewhere deep.

A final 'no' uttered once and for all.




Please don't let anyone tell you that there's some kind of magical three step formula to grieving well.  They're just kidding themselves and giving you false hope.  Yes, life goes on.  But grief is a very personal journey, a daunting, sometimes overwhelming task filled with winding bends, deep valleys, and yes, some mountaintop vistas.  And the whole process goes on much longer than you'd ever dreamed. 

We are blessed beyond measure if there is another soul to listen quietly, to affirm what is most true about us with the gentle touch of a hand, a silent tear falling, the simple nod of a head, a word of grace and consolation carefully spoken.  Tender friends who refuse to lob Scripture at us, preach unwelcome words, or share their seemingly endless sagas in an effort to make our hard-to-watch pain somehow magically vanish from view.

And Jesus.  Sweet Jesus.  By the presence of the Holy Spirit, He never leaves our side.  Having borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, He truly gets our misery ... yet gently, repeatedly offers a peace that makes absolutely no sense at all.

What amazing grace.




Every anniversary date and holiday makes us prone to ache deep yet once again.  I mean no disrespect, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you might want to shake things up a bit as you gather with those you love.  Like maybe abandoning a well-worn tradition to embrace something fresh and unexpected.


Would you share your losses with us here?  What do you do with those dreaded anniversary dates and holidays?  Please speak of what you've found to be a comfort.  And what has not.  

P.S.
You guys are fabulous conversationalists!  If you haven't read the follow-up talk to this series' posts, please head on over to the comment sections where you'll find lots of hard won wisdom, a number of 'oh-you-too?!' moments, and just enough humor to bring a smile.

Feel free to jump right on into the dialogue.  No, it's not too late.  I know that you'd bring a unique and needed perspective. 



I'm heading off to join the gang for the holiday.  I pray blessings for you as you gather with those you love ... or as you choose to bask in some much needed solitude.  Even in the midst of the dramas and traumas we've all encountered this year, God is incredibly faithful and strong, loving and kind.

Let the gratitude flow!

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visiting with 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Masquerade * Emotional Health Series

Pretend. 

1. to cause or attempt to cause {what is not so} to seem so: 
to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.

2. to appear falsely, as to deceive;
feign: to pretend to go to sleep.

3. to make believe.

Pretending can be great fun!  Like making believe that you're asleep when you're really wide awake.

Notice that the old lady is quite an accomplished pretender!  

Six years ago, these grandchildren found it difficult in pulling the whole charade off.  And the younger the child, the harder it was to fake it.  But sooner or later they got the hang of donning the requisite mask.

Kind of like far too many of us have done along the way. 








In real life, pretending is not all that entertaining.  It works against us.  Those 'fake happy' or 'pious Christian' or 'I've-got-it-all-together' masks are far from the reality we're living ... like all is well when nothing could be farther from the truth.  When our default mode involves donning a false persona, we lapse into some kind of odd, exhausting role play game where we expend our energy in passing ourselves off as someone we're not.

Christians are quite prone to this whole masquerade thing.  I've even heard some speak with great pride in their expertise.

In the process, we become incredibly inauthentic instead of genuinely real and transparent.  Over time, the results yield a terribly damaging toll.  An unsettling amount of emotional unrest creeps in because we're not living in integrity with what we proclaim we believe, value, and prize.  A spiritual numbness sets in ... with emotional and physical ailments not far behind as anxiety and depression slowly weave their way into our beings.

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Along the way, many of us had to pretend that all was well.  It was a tool for survival.  For coping.

But there comes a time when we begin to yearn for something more.  We start to outgrow the selection of masks we've accumulated along the way.  Like a pair of pants that just doesn't fit any more, living with all the smoke and mirrors grows uncomfortable and unsettling because we're not experiencing the peace, freedom, and joy we thought would be ours.

The faith-fueled values we claim and the daily choices we're making aren't one and the same.

We long to be free from the constraints that are holding us hostage.  A great yearning for freedom rises up within our souls.  Our deepest desire is not to hide anymore even as we begin to notice a relentless thirst for emotional healing.  Truth is we're craving deep soul transformation ... to become someone who's genuine and authentic, whole and free.

An all-in Christ follower who's weary of self-protection and is ready to experience healing in every way that counts.

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I love that Jesus specializes in inviting us to come to Him as we truly are.  To approach Him with no phony pretense or futile playacting.  He gently beckons us closer because He knows that we are weary and burdened with all our woundedness, our drama, our stuff, our shame, our pain, our sin.  He knows that our deepest longing is to find rest for our souls {Matthew 11:28-29}.

Perhaps the most important question He asks, then and now, is this one right here:

'Do you want to get well?' {John 5:6}.



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on Wednesday

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Let's Talk About Emotional Health * A Little Series

I recently shared a late afternoon messy meltdown with you, how I held my speechless husband hostage with my torrent of ranting and raving, a long litany of deep disappointments loudly acknowledged and proclaimed with no holds barred.

{And for those of you who were left wondering ... no, it had nothing to do with our marriage!}

In the process, I demonstrated exactly what can easily happen when our emotions build up over time, swirl around unexamined and untended deep inside, and end up spewing out all over whoever might be around at any given moment.

You can read that unfortunate out-of-control saga right here just in case you missed it.

{ sigh }

Thank God for forgiveness.




Now, let's move ahead with that promised little series on emotional health.  I thought I'd come up with an easy-to-follow handy dandy plan, but honestly I have no idea where we're going with this.

That's right.  No 1-2-3's, no A-B-C's.

The ball's in your court, my friends.  

I'm going out on a limb and am choosing to write this series based on your responses to the posts.

We're going to forge ahead, inviting the Holy Spirit to take the lead on this for He specializes in guiding us into all truth {John 16:13}, even as He whispers, 'this is the way, walk ye in it' {Isaiah 30:21}.

Let's see what He is going to teach us together as we dialogue back and forth about emotional health, an essential aspect of who He's shaped us to be.




Meanwhile ...

Let's stop believing that emotions are a big bad word or an unpardonable sin.

Let's not ignore their reality or pretend that they don't exist.

Let's put an end to being afraid or shamed or daunted by their power.

Let's not keep shoving one after the other some place way down deep until they rise up unbidden and threaten to swallow us whole with out-of-control outbursts, terrifying anxiety, the heavy blanket of depression, or a wide range of life-altering addictive behaviors.

Let's not let our emotions call the shots, damage our relationships, or destroy our testimonies.




Instead ...

Let's pay attention as soon as our emotions come to call, and claim the time to look at these messengers that whisper the truth about what we're feeling.  And then choose right then and there to understand what the churning's all about.

Let's learn to make pro-active choices to thoughtfully respond in ways that tap into God's awesome power, show respect to others, and give grace and peace to ourselves.

Let's ask God to somehow redeem our emotions.

Let's stop saying, 'I'm angry.'  Because you are not your anger.

Instead let's give ourselves full permission to calmly say, 'Right now I feel ...' whatever the emotion is.

For we are not defined by our hurt, frustration, fear, sadness, disappointment, or whatever we happen to be feeling at that moment.

We are defined by our Savior.




Let's talk emotions -  where you're at, what you're struggling with, how you've been convicted, and what God has taught you along the way.   

You'll give hope to someone who'll read your words.  Your willingness to be transparent lets another reader breathe a huge sigh of relief, even as they whisper, 'oh, you, too?'

Email readers, go right here to jump into the discussion.

If you're not comfortable leaving a comment, please email me at lindastoll@juno.com and I'll add your thoughts into the online conversation, just using your first initial to protect your privacy.

Please share this series with your social media tribe!  I'm guessing you've got a few people around you who're feeling rather emotionally spent right about now.


you won't miss a single word

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sharing emotional health with

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

On Making Excuses, the Joys of Cozy + My Blueberry Scone Recipe

Well hello, friends!

My plans were to jump right into a little series on emotional health, but for some reason it's not coming together.  I can dream up some excuses, but the stark truth is that just like you can't hurry love, you can't force imagining, creating, writing.  Any good thing of value must flow from a place of unhindered freedom, not cobbled together from some kind of calendar notation or mandated to-do list.

Later.  We'll do it later.  Promise.





I'm shaking my head at November's reality.  The heat kicking on this morning reminds me that summer is long gone, that the holidays {gasp!} aren't all that far away.  You might not be ready to go there, but I do have one essential question for you to consider before we start galloping into that frenetic pace and it's right here.

Meanwhile, a glance at the unmade bed with its flannel sheets and electric blanket, the toasty slippers on my feet, and my dad's old fleece bathrobe wrapped tight all serve to remind me that chill has descended.  Tucked away are the beloved flip flops, tee-shirts, and shorts.  Last night I donned a fuzzy purple scarf as we headed out the door.  The fleece vests are already getting a workout and the gloves aren't far behind.








Every season has its own winsome pleasures.  Yummy stews and sauces and pot roasts simmer all day in the crockpot.  Candles sparkle in the windows at dusk, throws and quilts land on every chair, piles of magazines await in the big old turquoise enamelware bucket, and the living room rug's been unfurled yet once again.

Cozy has become the name of the game.

The fire pit we ordered will be arriving any day now.  We'll be sitting outside close together with great mugs of steaming hot cocoa in hand {extra whipped cream for me, two marshmallows for him} as we burn the huge pile of old cedar shingles he tore down when re-siding the garage.

If I get especially motivated, I'll head to the kitchen to bake a batch of blueberry scones to keep that hot cocoa company.  Check out this favorite recipe right here.




I do believe that winter's right around the bend.  And much to my surprise, I'm embracing it all.






P.S.
This year's 3rd Stocking Stuffer Giveaway is coming up, along with that Emotional Health series!  Help me get going on that by letting me know what you need to read either in your comments or via lindastoll@juno.com.  And thanks to those who've already done so.  Be sure to subscribe here so you won't miss out!


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Better late than never
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