Tuesday, December 26, 2017

In Which I Wrap Up 2017 with a Little Introspection . . . and a Whole Lot of Anticipation

Dear Friends ~

While visions of sugarplums, last minute menu items, shopping trips, and complex travel plans danced in many a weary head in recent weeks, I've spent more than a few nights writing blog posts in my sleep.  It could only mean one thing ... that I've missed putting pen to paper, even through the supposed busyness of the season.

But the truth is that things have been very calm and still around here.  All quiet like.

Maybe too much so.

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Thanks to all of you who dropped in during the daily Advent gathering.  It was like a month long open house, casual and relaxed ... so much fun to chat with you here and there, to share snapshots and Scriptures, to focus on God's great love for us.  I felt recalibrated and soothed by the experience of observing Advent in a more focused way ... and your willingness to take time to leave kind words in the midst of the holiday bustle blessed me.

It was a stressless online experience, it was a joy.

Some of you mentioned that you'd like to jump on in and do the same thing next Advent ... let's plan on it when the time gets closer, ok?

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Our family switches off holidays each year with the in-laws.  So the 12 of us celebrated this year's Christmas down in Annapolis at Thanksgiving.  I didn't have to do anything more than lend a hand, follow suggestions in the kitchen, occasionally set the table or wash some dishes.  No large meals to figure out, no crowds to corral in our tiny kitchen here at the Cape.  I could relax, hang out, and enjoy the festivities.

Delightful.  A bit exhausting, but delightful nonetheless.

On Thanksgiving Saturday, we took the family to see The Miracle of Christmas performance at the Sight & Sound Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as their Christmas gift.  Fabulous.  I love sharing an experience rather than buying alot of stuff that no one really wants or that doesn't fit or breaks in ten minutes.

The older I get, the more I value memory-making activities and events over objects and stuff.  

The bonus?  No steady stream of boxes from Amazon arriving on our doorstep once we arrived back home.  Little shopping to do.  No endless marathon gift-wrapping sessions.

More delight.










Tim and I spent a quiet Christmas afternoon with my mom.  Mom is much loved and adored by everyone who knows her.  Each day she models what strong persevering faith while living with chronic pain looks like.  We're inspired by her and honored to do life with her in this season.  Christ's peace radiates from her very being.  I love her so.

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Like every other family, we have encountered our fair share of challenges and sorrows intermingled with joy and victories this year.  Most of these stories are not mine to tell, yet I've found my faith tested, stretched, enlarged because of the hard lessons that the roller coaster of frustration, hope, disappointment, and uncertainty tend to bring.

As I shared in October's On Being Unraveled ... and Re-Knit Together, I have not always responded well to what's going on around me.  But God has been faithful to teach me the power of praise, of inviting endless verses of old hymns to play in my head during the night's wakefulness, of making choices to turn from my default grumbling / fear / what-if's to speaking words of praise right in the midst of the most unsettling circumstances.

I've seen Him answer prayers in recent weeks in ways that have left me weeping in relief and gratitude, awed by His timing and His mercy.  Sheer, matchless grace.

Praise You, Jesus.  Thank You, Lord.










What's ahead for the blog?

For sure, blogging's shifting and changing these days, with Facebook groups, Instagram, podcasts, and monthly newsletters vying for our creative attention.  But, being technologically ignorant and a creature of habit, I'm sticking with the tried and true.  I love doing community with you and I value our ongoing dialogue, whether substantial or light ... and it makes me smile when I hear that you're returning to a post a few days later to scan the comment section to see what's going on.

November's Emotional Health Series was intended to have a short little run, but the four posts birthed such vulnerable, powerful sharing online and off, with many of you telling me how helpful the conversations were turning out to be.  More and more topics kept coming to mind and it wasn't long 'til I realized that God was whispering that maybe emotional health should become more of a focus around here, that there are endless conversations to be had, that our yearning for healing and wholeness is great because God has designed our emotions and our spiritual lives to be so beautifully intertwined.

So that's the direction we'll be heading in the days ahead.  And yep, there'll still be book reviews, faith issues to explore, monthly wrap-ups, giveaways and resources and random surprises.  As always, I'd love your input along the way in the comment section or via lindastoll@juno.com.

I'm grateful for what God's doing as I head into my 11th year of writing online.

Please plan on celebrating with me as I give away a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card in a few weeks.  I hope you'll jump right on into the book discussion that will prompt the party.  Be sure to subscribe here so you don't miss out, ok?



  



Well, I didn't touch on half the things that have been floating through my mind.  They'll wait for another time.  Enjoy this final week of 2017.  I can't tell you how delighted I am to do life with you.  God has been so incredibly faithful, hasn't He ...




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i'll see you at

34 comments:

  1. I wasn't online much the last few days, but I so appreciated your taking time to drop by my place and wish me a Merry Christmas! It sounds like yours was a happy one as well! You have a lovely family. I like the format of blogging, too, and just celebrated my 11th blog anniversary last summer. I signed up for one or two newsletters from bloggers, but it was really just like another blog post, with a list of links to posts on the blog in case anyone missed them. So I unsubscribed and just read the blogs themselves. :-) Looking forward to reading more from you in the days ahead!

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    1. Maybe I'll be the 1st to wish you the happiest of new year's, Barbara ... and to thank you for seamlessly joining our community this past year! You've brought down-to-earth wisdom and life experience that's added to our conversations.

      I'm so grateful for God leading you in this direction.

      Blessings to you and yours ...

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  2. I love the photos and I'm glad you had good times with your family over the holiday period. I enjoyed your Advent posts and I'd be interested in taking part next year. Looking forward to further conversations on emotional health too! Blessings for a good end to 2017!

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    1. Well, ya' gotta know, Lesley, that this emotional health emphasis was birthed by your invitation to write that Unraveled post way back in early fall!

      Thanks for focusing on brokenness in your 31 Day series this past year. I just love how God brings it all together as we join hearts toward healing!

      Happy new year, friend ...

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  3. Your Christmas sounds delightful, and I'm completely with you in the valuing of experiences over more stuff.
    Looking forward to more details about the book discussion!
    Blessings to you in the new year, and very glad to hear that you are persevering in this blogging life.

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    1. I think you'll like the discussion, Michele.

      And P.S. ~ no one writes a better book review than you.

      ;-}

      And isn't it frigid in New England this week? Brrr ...

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    2. Aren't you sweet . . . and yes, we are barely making it out of negative numbers these days, even with the sun shining.

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  4. Amen, He is faithful! It sounds (and looks) like the perfect Christmas, Linda! Love that family photo!! and the touches of home you've shared. Looking forward to doing blog life with you in 2018! Blessings, dear friend!

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    1. We've been hanging out together for many years, haven't we!

      ;-}

      I'm thankful ...

      Happy New Year, friend!

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  5. We've been enjoying the memories of experiences with our children more too. This year it was an airboat ride on the Everglades with our son and his wife. More going, and going, but that was the new thing we shared together. I quite enjoyed your Advent blogs and was inspired by it too. Now I'm looking forward to a new year with your wisdom and grace. Blessings as we journey on.

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    1. We did an airboat ride on the Everglades a few years ago ... stopping to look for alligators or crocodiles or whatever they were.

      ;-}

      Great fun ... and sure beats a pair of slippers!

      And yes, I'm looking forward to heading into 2018 with you, too. Seems so weird to write.

      New Year's Blessings to you and your family and your ministry team!

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  6. Quiet times reflecting the Advent message, memory-making over objects, time spent with a faith-filled mama, learning to praise in difficult circumstances, answered prayers... So beautiful, Linda. I'm so grateful you will continue blogging, and I'm looking forward to more on emotional health. You have a special gift with people who are struggling, and I thank God we met in this blogosphere. :) What a beautiful family photo, too. :) Have a Blessed 2018!

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    1. You and Martha {below} should get some kind of prize for stopping in so often during the Advent Series.

      ;-}

      It meant alot to see you arrive, to have you say 'hi,' to spread cheer.

      Thanks, Trudy. And New Year's Blessings to you, too!

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  7. Thank you, Linda, for taking us all on your wondrous Advent journey - I looked forward each day to your photo and Scripture in my inbox. It always gave me pause to ponder and praise the greatness of God, and all the good things He has done and is doing for us.
    Glad you had such meaningful times with all the family, and the group photo is beautiful!
    Yes, I'm so glad you will continue to blog in 2018. Know I will continue to follow!
    Blessings for the New Year!

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    1. Like I just said to Trudy {above}, you guys were so incredibly faithful and kind for those Advent weeks. What an encouragement to see you pop in so often!

      ;-}

      Please know I appreciate your faithfulness, your support.

      Happy New Year!

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  8. loved this update. How friendly and great photos. I certainly agree with how blogging is changing and your sentence; The older I get, the more I value memory-making activities and events over objects and stuff. so true. Happy New year, Linda!

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    1. Maybe we're getting a bit wiser as the years tick by?!

      I'd like to hope so ...

      ;-}

      So grateful that you've joined the community here this year, Jean. I so appreciate the spiritual insight you bring with you.

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  9. Interesting about the experience over objects. I've learned that lesson this year because we are now in a good financial state (full time job, yay!!) and I thought I would love buying all sorts of stuff for the kids......but no.....it just made me stressed. So........we took the boys down to NYC to see the Christmas show, tree, window decorations, Times Square.....the works (Jake's 1st train ride) and we had a blast. Doing more day trips to see things around us and planning a big Disney trip in the Spring. We had a nice Christmas but the boys won't remember the gifts they got, but we will all cherish the new experiences we are having!! It's funny how you crave something for so long and then when you get it.......it's not what you thought it would be. I just LOVE God's lessons in life!!

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    1. Oh how good to hear from you, Val! And congrats on the job. Sweet! So happy for you guys. And I celebrate all the fun activities you're getting to do together. Absolutely wonderful ...

      I love that train ride from the Hudson Valley down to the big city.

      ;-}

      NYC in the winter ... oh so cool {literally!} Yet, I only went a few times all those decades in NY.

      Bless you All!

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  10. Linda,
    Looks like you had a nice time celebrating with family. I lived in Lancaster for 8 years and know well what a wonderful experience the Sight and Sound Theatre is!! More posts on Emotional Health are always welcomed. Not that I wish you less sleep, but I'm glad I'm not the only one that wakes up to blog thoughts in the middle of my dreams....
    Happy New Year!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. We love Lancaster ... I've got a few favorite shops I love to poke around in, a bountiful buffet to head to, always a wonderful show to see!

      And yay! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one writing in my sleep!

      Happy New Year to you, Bev ...

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  11. What a good looking family! Such a blessing! I think you are on the right track-respond to what the reader's seem to be challenged by! You have me thinking about my own future direction!
    Blessings, My Friend!

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    1. It's a good time to figure out where we're going with our social media stuff, isn't it.

      I can't wait to see what you come up with!

      Meanwhile, have a happy ...

      ;-}

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  12. Glad you are sticking with blogging Linda. I am too since I am not on FB, instagram, or any of the other social media things. I'm happy with that. See you in '18!

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    1. Yeah, I'm happy with it, too.

      Sometimes I kinda wonder what I'd be doing with it all if I was like 30 years younger.

      Ya' know?

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  13. We switch off holiday visits with the in laws as well! (Writing from my husbands parents as I type!) You have such a lovely family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my sweet friend! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. This works, doesn't it! Everyone knows what to expect and everyone 'gets their turn.'

      I couldn't be happier with the way this has played out over the years since our girls got married.

      Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family. Thanks for sharing the memories over at your place ...

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  14. Wishing you and your whole family all that is of the best this Christmas Season and in the New Year to come.

    Please keep blogging and more often. You will never know who is benefiting from what you write.

    God bless.

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    1. Happy New Year, Victor! What'd your British celebration look like?

      You bring up a good point ... we never know who's going to end up reading what we publish. Gives a blogger a bit of cause for pause ...

      ;-}

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  15. Dearest Linda, you are such a blessing! Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog! Wishing you a wonderful 2018!

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    1. So good to see you out and about again, Jandi! Happy New Year!

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  16. The show at Sight and Sound was probably amazing! I have not been there since I was a girl, but I want to take my son this year!

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    1. What a wonderful experience. From 7 - 63 years old, we were all captivated! Enjoy every minute, Teresa ... and thanks for taking the time to say, 'hi!'

      ;-}

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda