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