Friday, December 28, 2018

The Great Big 2018 Loose Ends & Bookbag Round-Up

The cookie tray is just about empty.  The kids' handmade paper chains, snowflakes, and crayoned Christmas pictures are still taped to beams and rafters  The floors are vacuumed once again, the washer and dryer are in recovery after caring for mounds of towels and sheets, and the fridge is completely bare.

All is calm, all is bright after a whirlwind Christmas celebration and an extended family gathering of 23 and a 1/2 of our nearest and dearest, the first since my Dad passed away three years ago.  Through it all, the Spirit has whispered comfort and joy.

I feel blessed.  Full.  In all the ways that matter most.

And ready to pull together this end of the year round-up.

So ... pour yourself a mug of something warm, grab your coziest quilt, and curl up on your favorite chair.  I'm so excited to share the year's highlights ... posts and books, links and holiday snapshots.  Feel free to share, to bookmark, to stay awhile, to chat ... or simply reflect quietly.



We tend to look fondly at the good old days, yet if we invest too much energy on staying fixated to what was, we become unable to move ahead because we're too busy defining our ourselves by who we were, what we did, what we accomplished ...


Every once in a while, I like to jot down a few life-savers that are bringing some sort of stillness or sanity or grace to my daily routines.  Forever a student, I'm learning to be more fully present to what's going on right in front of me rather than being distracted by every random happening that wanders through my brain or intersects with my field of vision ...


My favorite home blogger, The Nester, is hostessing a cozy summer home gathering on Instagram.  She writes, 'You're invited!  We're doing it again, a seasonal virtual open house!  Show up and share your home with a community of imperfectionists, summer-embracers and pretty-layer-lovers ...


Invitation to Solitude & Silence
For six weeks, we'll be exploring Ruth Haley Barton's little guidebook, hopefully with a yearning to grasp hold of and put into practice the spiritual invitations that God is lovingly extending to each one of us who follows Him ...

Adam writes, When my book, The Listening Life, was published, I asserted at the time that there was a crisis of listening in our society.  That was December 2015.  Let's just say that the last two and a half years have not exactly done anything to change my mind about that thesis.  What was a "listening crisis" then may have been sucked into a "listening vortex" now ... 


I've never ever read more than I have this year.  On my 62nd book, I can't quite figure out why except for the fact that there's been so many stories and sagas I couldn't bear to put down.  November alone found me finishing off 11 titles. 

I'm guessing it might be because my tablet died off mid-year and I found myself with additional hours each day to invest in something more worthy than endless, mindless games.  I'm watching less TV, too ... no reason to go into details why.

And I've been quicker not to waste my time with books whose characters or storylines don't grab me after 50 pages.  In December alone, I returned two New York Times Bestsellers back to the library, disappointed even after reading rave reviews.

If you told me I could only pick only 3 books to share with you, these are the ones that jump out at me as I scan through the list in my reading journal.  I don't have to think twice to recommend ...

Kate Bowler
Stunning, raw, tragic, with wisps of humor and wisdom that refuse to be quenched, author Kate Bowler gently extends her hand to the reader as she walks through the valley of the shadow of searing loss and the unspeakable diagnosis of Stage IV cancer at the age of 35 ... in the midst of caring for those she adores, forging ahead with the beloved work she's been called to do, and wrestling with broken-hearted faith ...{read my whole review}

Anne Bogel
My favorite gift to give this Christmas.  Curling up with this little treasure was like sharing conversation with friends over our mutual affection for books.  Anne is smart and fun and has an exquisite flair for writing.  Over time, she has accumulated a vast knowledge of a number of genres and knows how to pull her reader in and get you excited about the reading life ... {read my whole review}

In the last year, I've become a great big fan of historical fiction.  And hands down, Patti Callahan's beautiful saga of the intimate relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman is now tops on my list.  Captivating, enthralling, all those good things.  The dialogue is so real and rich, their journey into the depths of intellectual and spiritual truths so mesmerizing.  And yes, love finds a way although there are numerous twists and turns that finally take them there ... {read my whole review}


Out of the thousands of posts I've scanned or carefully read word for word this past year, these are the ones that grabbed my heart and held me close.  They so poignantly capture one of my biggest passions in life ... women in ministry.

{You can catch up on my recommended posts on a myriad of topics over on my LinkedIn page.}

A Letter to My Brothers - Beth Moore 

Dear Brothers in Christ, 
A few years ago I told my friend, Ed Stetzer, that, whenever he hears the news that I’m on my deathbed, he’s to elbow his way through my family members to interview me about what it’s been like to be a female leader in the conservative Evangelical world. He responded, “Why can’t we do it before then?”
“Because you know good and well what will happen,” I answered. “I’ll get fried like a chicken.” After recent events following on the heels of a harrowing eighteen months, I’ve decided fried chicken doesn’t sound so bad ... {read on}
I am a part of a Christian tradition that has ordained women as elders since its inception during the American Holiness movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first church in which I ever served as a pastor was founded by a female circuit rider who planted churches across west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The church’s second pastor was also a woman. That church has had nearly 90 years of fruitful ministry, producing numerous pastors, pastor’s spouses, missionaries and dedicated lay people. It has a long and rich history of serving the community in significant ways ... {read on}


I can't wait to do 2019 with you, my friends ...

i'd love if you'd head into
 the new year with me!
and share ...



doing life online with
Mary & Sue


  1. I'm so glad you had a lovely Christmas! I have I'd Rather Be Reading and Becoming Mrs. Lewis waiting for me in the new year!

    1. I can't wait to read your reviews, Barbara ... you always give us a thorough walk through!

      Happy New Year to you and yours ...

  2. The Beth Moore letter ranks very high on my list too! Thanks for sharing this round-up, Linda. I always enjoy these!

    1. Yes, Beth Moore has become an exceptional voice for women in evangelical circles when it comes to leadership issues as well as sexual misconduct, violence, and cover up in church and parachurch organizations.

      I expect that she will continue to have a wise and strong voice for issues impacting women in the church in the years ahead. God knows we need more like her ...

  3. You have had a full and very blessed year Linda. Mine was richer having known you and read your blog. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Bill, thanks! Sometimes we wonder if our words matter.

      You've encouraged me today ...

  4. A wonderful glimpse of what looks to have been a wonderful year. Just lovely, Linda. I look forward to what is ahead in this space as I know it will be filled with words of wisdom and grace.

    1. We move ahead into the unknown months wondering, hoping, waiting, praying, my friend.

      Grateful to share community with you ...

  5. What an amazing year we have enjoyed with you, Linda! I definitely need to check out many of the books you've suggested, especially "Becoming Mrs. Lewis" as C. S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors. Looking forward to another marvelous year in 2019 with you, my friend!
    Happy New Year!

    1. Your enthusiasm is such a grace, Martha! Thanks for sticking with me every step of the way and for the warm support you bring to every conversation.

      Bless you and yours, friend ...

  6. What a beautiful group of loved ones!!!! It is good to see a growing family.

    Books are the bomb! Reading Mrs Lewis and I’d Rather Be Reading (thanks for the suggestion and present). Enjoying both immensely. Bravo for your 62 books read——more than one a month. I can sometimes read 2 a month but haven’t counted. Maybe I will do that for 2019...

    Keep up the good work with your informative and encouraging words, pics, suggestions and observations. So glad we can commune from afar.

    I remember that tranquil sunny deck.

    1. Gosh, I miss you, Buddy ...

      * sigh *

    2. And I just finished 'Little Fires' 5 minutes ago. What a mess!

  7. Hey Linda, enjoyed visiting your site. Thanks for connecting on Linked-In and for your comment over at my blog. Love the big family photo, beautiful! Blessings!

    1. Always fun to connect with a sister blogger, Karen! Looking forward to getting to know you better in the new year ...

  8. What a great year, Linda! So thankful to you for all the inspiration you've shared here! I just started Becoming Mrs. Lewis and was thrilled to see it listed here! Wishing you all JOY in 2019, my friend!

    1. There's something uniquely special about that book, isn't there ...

      Meanwhile it's so good to see you out and about, my friend. Your sweet presence has been missed!


  9. This is a great round-up, Linda! I'm glad you had a good Christmas and I love the photos you shared. Thanks for the book recommendations too - I think I'd appreciate all of these! Blessings to you and your family for 2019!

    1. I'm grateful you're in my life, Lesley! New year's blessings to you, friend ...

  10. Wishing you all the best for 2019 and beyond.

    God bless.