December 31, 2015

The Blog Review for 2015

Happy New Years' Eve, ya'll!

I started doing this Year in Review several years ago and I love it because it gives me the chance to look back through the blog and see which posts either got the most traffic or stirred up the most conversation in the Comment section! 

We have all heard and read (and felt) about the decrease in Commenting and interacting on blogs in the past year or so... but I am so in love with the Community that God has gathered here and I love it when you take the time to read, and to comment! 

I keep asking New Years' Eve questions like this one: 
"Are you doing anything fun to celebrate?"
Yeah... we used to be fun.  We used to make plans and do stuff... but then we got older and tired... and by New Years Eve we are kinda partied out, so we tend to spend NYE all cuddled up and cozy, watching a movie in pajama's, and flipping through the channels at midnight to watch all the festivities... you know, from under our fleece blankets. It's really quite exciting!

December 30, 2015

Ermagherd... Berks! ...aka The Post About All the Books

Hey y'all... you know how I love me some books?

Well, it should come as no real surprise then that I would reflect back over the year and revisit some of my favorite reads! I'm linking up with Kate Motaung for a special Five Minute Friday link up on BERKS!!! 

Here is an almost exhaustingive list of books I read and loved this year! I left out the few that I didn't love... or didn't force myself to finish! You book lovers know what I mean, right? I used to think if I started it, I HAD to push through... yeah, no. I don't do that anymore!

Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order because you all KNOW how I can not pick a favorite!

We will start, however, with my TOP THREE READS:

December 29, 2015

How WONDER Showed Up and Showed Off this year (and my OneWord365 for 2016!)

For the last several years, I've joined in with the growing community who picks one little word... or actually, allows one little word come and pick us! It's not that I don't still entertain the idea of goal setting and whispering a few New Years' Resolutions... I am still all in for that. 

But the thing is, I want to make changes - to allow changes to come all year long and not just fade away by midJanuary February! What I have come to love about OneWord365 is how by simply inviting one word into your life... it opens you up to find it all year long

As the OneWord365 website says, "Forget New Year's Resolutions.  Scrap that long list of goals you won't remember three weeks from now anyway.  Choose just one word.  One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.  One word that you can focus on every day, all year long."

My OneWord365 for 2015 was "Wonder" - what a great word, right? (So much better than what I'm hearing for 2016, but I digress! Insert whiny voice there!)

I wrote a bit about Wonder here and here and here --but really, Wonder and how he showed up was sprinkled all over the blog this year! 

In looking back over 2015, I see how Wonder was peeking around every corner and just begging for a little attention! I suspect he had been there all the while, but it took my focusing on Wonder and actually looking for him for me to finally see that truly, He is everywhere! 

When we seek out Wonder, we will find it... Him... everywhere we look!

December 26, 2015

The Slow Fade of Christmas... the Day After.

Because I posted 'That Thing I Do Now' earlier this week, but I still like to visit with y'all on a Saturday morning, I thought I'd repost this piece because - well - because it still says everything I want to say right about now... 

It will be quiet a bit longer around here as we prepare for the New Year... looking forward to another one spent with you, my friends! 

Until then... this:

Ah yes... whether this thought makes you giddy or sad,
- it is true either way:

Christmas is fading!

 It seems - in our culture - Christmas 'starts' in October somehow... the stores are filled with all things Christmas, WAY too early if you ask me!  Then comes the actual shopping... the stress... the joy... the family and friends and increase (hopefully!) in all things social... the decorating and baking and cleaning and cleaning and recleaning again... the crafting and caroling... the laundry and dishes... the parties and game nights and the telling and reading of stories - new and old... the breathing and slowing down in the midst of the crazy... the love and the legacy and the remembering and forgiving... the sharing and giving and receiving and thanking... and the Reason for the Season trying to shine bright in the middle of all of it!

December 24, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Vol 121 (An Early Holiday Edition)

Merry Christmas Eve!

I know this is coming to you a few days early, but let's be honest - there will not be much blog reading (or writing) going on over the next few days! So in order to still hook you up and take a little holiday break myself, this comes to you a little early... like a gift you can open before Christmas Day!

Featured this week are Advent and Christmas posts by Emily P. Freeman, Tresta Payne, Aliza Latta, Christie Purifoy, Kris Camealy, Graham Cooke, Ashley Larkin, Shannan Martin, plus a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

December 23, 2015

Let there be Peace on Earth...

Can you feel it?  That tugging that starts down deep...  In a world spinning fast, all dizzy and blurred, I love that pull that is nearly tangible to slow it down, to stop, to breathe in deep this cold winter air. 

It fights within us... the drive to keep up, and the need to slow down!  

There is a hunger and thirst for more than just some peace and quiet, but for Peace on Earth and a little Silent Night!

Can you feel that, too?  It can go unnoticed, nearly ignored all together. We can rush right by it... push it back down and keep running around, crossing things off our bossy lists. But oh how I pray that we don't do that! No - let's not dismiss it... instead of pushing through, let's lean in!  

Lean IN to the Cradle, and in to the Cross.

Let's agree together that what this weary world needs most is a Holy Night, is a Falling on our knees, is a little rejoicing!  I'm learning more and more about Advent and the glory of waiting... of expecting Him to come!

December 21, 2015

A Few of my Favorite Things... Christmas 2015

It's almost Christmas. For many, myself included this year, it hasn't really felt much like Christmas yet. 

To be fair honest, I began to feel a bit of Christmas warming my heart over the weekend. Partly because I finally got to spend some face to face time with my girlie, and partly because I finished a large project and I didn't realize how much weight I was carrying on my shoulders until it was lifted.  It was all self-imposed pressure (deadline included!) but it felt oh so nice to wrap it up with a bow and cross it off my list.

So... I wanted to write just a little something today to let you know that I am praying for you. Yes, you.  If you are reading this right now (which - hello... you are!) I am praying for you.

Maybe you too have been grasping for a bit of Wonder and Awe and coming up empty handed... maybe you are frazzled and racing through the month... maybe you are loving all the festivities and activities and are dripping in Christmas Cheer.  Whether it is one extreme or the other, or somewhere gloriously in between, I am praying that Christmas will come... that joy and hope and love will well up from deep inside and no matter your circumstances or situations, the Light of the World will light your path and glory will stream along the way.  

I wanted to share just a few of my Favorite Things this year... and invite you to share some of yours with me too!  Plus... well, a Giveaway, because who doesn't love giving away a gift of two just for fun?

December 19, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Vol 120

Can you even deal with the fact that it is December 19th already? 

I am somehow in shock at this fact!  It doesn't feel like Christmas time yet... but here we are, with Christmas just around the corner! Are you ready... with everything wrapped and waiting, or are you a last minute shopper who thrives on Christmas Eve at the Mall? Either way, I am here to offer a little reading material to help you slow and savor a bit of your weekend - even in the middle of all the holidays! 

Featured this weekend are posts by Emily P. Freeman, Shannan Martin, Kris Camealy, Lisa-Jo Baker, Ann Voskamp, Erika Morrison, plus a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

December 18, 2015

Tis the Season for Receiving... a Five Minute Friday post.

Oh what a surprise Kate gave us last night... This week flew by and even though I am 'ready' for the holidays, I have not quite been feeling them just yet.  So when Kate decided to let us all choose a word for ourselves, well-- I really wanted someone to boss me around just a little bit! So instead of writing right away... I took a break, sat in my comfy chair without a screen in sight, and I let the One who bosses me best give me a Word... a truth... to write on.  So - here we go... let's see what happens!

This is Five Minute Friday (- a five minute timed free write) and our One Word Prompt for the day is actually all up to us! We each got to pick our own word. So the Word I picked, or that picked me, is: RECEIVE


"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing..."

Tis the season, right? The season for Joy... for rejoicing... for preparing Him room... for receiving our King... 

And yet...

Joy feels far away and the rejoicing has yet to really pull us up out of this heaviness we may find ourselves under.

We prepare many things, but often we forget about preparing our hearts. 

And receiving our King? Well, yes... that would be great. 

We should remember to do that.

I don't know about you... but I know for me --I sung the words to this Christmas Carol for years before truly knowing Joy... 

December 15, 2015

When Your Grown Up Christmas List Seems Hard...

I don’t know about you, but it seems for the past few years anyway – my Grown Up Christmas List has included less merchandise and a cry for more of the miraculous… less of the lighthearted wants, but more of the heavy and urgent needs.

Sure – the newest iphone would be great… maybe a cute pair of boots, a necklace, a sweater, all the books, but what I really want is less tangible, more necessary!

What my soul longs for is a little peace on earth and a weary world rejoicing!

This year, a bit of all the hard and heavy things have been weighing on my heart and I haven't given over to the usual joyful holiday spirit quite yet. Oh, it is coming... I can feel it. But the magic of it all has been a little further out of reach! Maybe you too are praying for bigger wishes… Things you are hoping for, not so much tucked under a tree, but available because of the Cross.  What I desire is to unwrap the gifts that are already ours… the ones already promised long ago...


I am honored to be Guest Posting over at my sweet friend Barbie Swiharts' place today, sharing about when our Grown Up Christmas Lists seem hard! I'd love for you to join me over at Barbie's to read the rest of this post.

P.S.  I'm linking up with these lovely writers:


December 14, 2015

All the Festivities... and All the Social Events (in one weekend!)

It's no secret that I am an Introvert.  

I think I actually am a little of both. I love to be with friends and family... I love a fun party or a dinner date out but not quite as much as I love my pajama's, a good book, and some quiet time.

Close... but not a tie!

Oh and Coffee. I love coffee.

So this last weekend pushed beyond my normal social 'needs' and was filled with all kinds of celebrating and noise and, well, --people. It was a FULL weekend! Good, but full, y'all! (and it's no small wonder that I made it through without feeling overwhelmed and while still mostly being cordial and all that jazz!)

From our first ever Dad's House church Christmas party Friday night, to a full day working on Saturday and another party Saturday night to celebrate the cutest boys' First Birthday, to a great, full day of church on Sunday... there were small wonders all around and much joy and celebrating enjoyed by all (--even us introverts, as it turns out!)

December 12, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Vol 119

Happy Weekend, friends!

Featured posts by Jennifer Dukes Lee, Deidra Riggs, William Paul Young, Tammy Hendricksmeyer, Emily P. Freeman, Michelle DeRusha, plus a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

December 11, 2015

Reflecting on Traditions and the Light of the World... a Five Minute Friday post

Once again, somehow Thursday turned in to an all day work-in-this-chair-and-stare-at-this-screen day! It was accompanied with Adele and lots (and lots) of coffee... but come nightfall, I took a break... stepped away from the light of the screen to spend a little time reflecting with the Light of the World... (Oh - you will see what I just did there in just a sec!)  Then I returned, but not to work... oh no... to party! Even after a long day on this computer, I couldn't imagine not connecting up with my tribe... because, of course! 

This is Five Minute Friday (- a five minute timed free write) and our One Word Prompt for the day is: REFLECT


In the dark of night, with just a little light... reflections bounce off of every surface and with the glow of candles still burning and fire still stirring, we are surrounded by flickers of Glory.

It's Christmas time when daylight is spotty at best... for when the sun is up - so often lately it is (or feels) hidden and I find myself longing for the warmth of it... of Him.

December 9, 2015

He's All In! (... aka Ya Gotta Love a God who quotes Luke Danes!)

I have this phrase... this thing I say often, when I am talking with the Lord - or when I am encouraging others to press in to Him... it's "All In" --and I am! 

I am All In with the Lord... He gets all of me! There is no more holding back! (Oh... there was a time... but those days are over!)

He gets all of me... all of my heart... all of my hopes and dreams... all of my successes and failures.  He gets me on my best days and on the days I don't even want to crawl out of bed and adult at all... He gets me when I am feeling pretty good and when I am feeling all the feels and am, let's face it, irrational and broken and feeling pretty bad... He gets me on those days, too! (Yeah... I'm a real treat sometimes!)

He gets me... because I know He's got me.

So "All In" is a saying I know all to well. I tell others to give in and give up and just go All In, too! I remind friends as well as myself of it when the temptation to pull away or hide is strong or when our hearts feel vulnerable and scared.  

I've never regretted going All In with Him! He's never let me down, and He won't start now... because, here's the thing:

He's All In, too!

How do I know? Well... lots of ways, really! But I know for sure because, this week, He told me so! (Twice, really... and then in a million other ways, too!)

December 7, 2015

These Are The Days Of... a Poetic offering of Small Wonders

I don't know how your Monday has started off, but mine started off like this:

Rainy, quiet, still... enjoying a bit of Silence with cozy socks, a homemade eggnog latte in my favorite Santa mug (circa 2001ish!), and time spent with baby Jesus, slowing the busy and making room for the waiting of Advent... Once again, unwrapping the Greatest Gift!

Mostly... that just means it was spent gaining perspective. And who doesn't need a fresh dose of that on any given Monday, am I right? 

December 5, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Volume 118

I pray y'all had a blessed Thanksgiving!  I thought I had last weekends' Gathering of Awesome all ready and scheduled to go out --but alas, I found it mid-week still waiting in my drafts! Instead of posting late, I gave myself Grace and we'll just pick up this week fresh.

Featured posts by Emily P. Freeman, Kelly Chripczuk, Tiffany Parry, Anne Dahlhauser, Gwen Shipley, Aliza Latta, Jennifer Dukes Lee, plus a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

December 4, 2015

Tis the Season (and other expectations!) - A Five Minute Friday Post

I was sitting in front of this screen all day yesterday working on editing a wedding and by dinnertime I was so ready to look away and relax. Only I completely forgot it was Thursday!  So I made it late to the party, but I made it! If you haven't joined in with the #fmfparty community over on Twitter, I highly encourage you to come check us out next week! It's one of the most amazing, encouraging communities online!

This is Five Minute Friday (- a five minute timed free write) and our One Word Prompt for the day is: SEASON


Tis the Season...

It's the first thing that came to mind when I saw the prompt because, of course!

And also because, it is

It IS the season...
"Tis the season to be jolly...fa la la la la, la la la la"
But here's the thing:
What if you're not

What if you are not feeling jolly?  What if you just can't muster up some Christmas cheer?  What if the deadlines and the headlines and the shopping lines all have you standing on your last nerve and what you really feel is anything but jolly? Anything but fa la la la la... what then?

December 2, 2015

He is Standing Right in Front of You, Offering You His Presence and a Present.

Yesterday during worship at my Bible Study, I had a vision of Jesus and oh my goodness, what a gift! (We'll get to that, I promise... just read on.)


I pulled out all our decorations this week and decked the halls, cranked the carols, and strung the lights. But in all of my arranging and hanging, draping and dangling, it felt a little-- well, empty.

I shrugged it off as one of those growing pains as we stretch into the new normal of Empty Nesterhood.  

It was partly that, sure.  
But it was also partly this:

I was looking at the month ahead and felt the need to just. push. through. Yeah. Already.

You see, I already lost sight of the fact that in this season of frenzy and fun, of over-scheduled calendars and under-valued quiet --I forget that more than glitter, I want Glory... more than presents, I want Presence.

November 30, 2015

Aaah Advent... The Glory of Slow and Waiting and Wonder.

We welcome December tomorrow, y'all!
Can you even believe it?

Sunday was the start of Advent.  Advent is something new to me.

I know? I'm still learning about the traditions and deep meaning of it. I've been in love with Jesus for over half of my life now, but never knew much about what Advent was or why people were talking about it. Honestly, I thought Advent was simply a calendar countdown to Christmas, with a bonus of tiny chocolates hidden behind little doors.

It turns out the bonus is better than chocolate.
Wait. What?

It's true! The true bonus of Advent, as I am just now discovering, is the glory of slowing... of waiting... and of wonder. 

November 24, 2015

When It Comes To Entertaining for the Holidays, This is What I Know...

We woke up to snow today...

Everyone else was taking down Autumn decor early and putting out all things Christmasy, but I was not ready!

I love Fall... my wish is that he would hang around until... well, you know... until almost Spring! 

But still... 

This is nice too! 
 (and now maybe I am ready... but my Christmas decorations will have to wait until after next weekend anyway!)

Even when the temperatures are falling outside, the invitation is open to go out, enjoy that crisp Fall air (or crisper Winter chill), and then retreat to some place warm and inviting!  

I think it is easiest in the Fall to create a space that is nourishing and welcoming.  All the lit candles, and yummy scents of the season - maybe it's just me, but there is something special in the atmosphere around this time of year that seems to beg for Community!

November 21, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Vol 117

Can you even believe that next week is THANKSGIVING?

At least here in the States it is! That is crazy! This year, which has been full of change and wonder, has flown by! Some of the change and wonder has been great... some of it has been heavy and hard, right? I think that is true for all of us!

There was a LOT of heavy and hard around the interwebs this week... I pray this little Gathering will give you room to process and to be encouraged!  Read on, my friends!

Featured posts by Emily P. Freeman, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Sarah Bessey, Bri McKoy, Jeremy Courtney, Graham Cooke, Lori Harris, plus a post from right here, the winner of the Giveaway announced, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

November 20, 2015

Dwell... A Five Minute Friday Post

I was in and out of the #fmfparty over on Twitter last night.  I was fighting off not feeling well and walking that thin line between pushing through and giving in.  I'm sure we are all aware of that line. Battling that for me yesterday looked like hot tea, reading, and half-napping through Netflix through out the day. Today, however, is a new day... so let's dig in!

This is Five Minute Friday (- a five minute timed free write) and our One Word Prompt for the day is: DWELL



It's one of my favorite words. (And you know me and picking favorites!)

I love it for so many reasons... to me Dwell releases Peace and Joy, Safety and Security, Blessing and Belonging.

Try it! Just say it out loud... 
Inhale deep, exhale slow.
Close your eyes and say it again.

See?  To Dwell, as the Bible defines it, means to abide (another favorite word around here, obviously!)  It means to settle down, to stay, to inhabit.  The Lexiconcordance (a Hebrew Dictionary) defines Dwell as something to seek hospitality with. I love that.

Who are you seeking hospitality with? 

Immediately, when I think of Dwell, I think of all the psalms... but specifically, Psalm 37.
So how do we cultivate faithfulness? It's by dwelling in the land... by dwelling in His Presence!

November 18, 2015

Muscle Memory or Phantom Pain?

Lately, the Lord has been unfolding a new thought to me...

It's something beyond my understanding,
but I feel anointing and wisdom and breakthrough all over it. 
So I wanted to share it with you because, of course!
Who couldn't use a bit more anointing... increased wisdom... 
and some breakthrough in one area or another (or 12!), right?

This is what He keeps asking me when pain arises from within... 
"Is that muscle memory, or phantom pain?"
We have ALL been hurt... we've all had things not work out, hearts broken, been wounded and left unattended... 

We are human, living in a fallen world and oh my goodness how we let each other down.

November 16, 2015

How to Sync Your Heart to His... and other Small Wonders.

Happy Monday, my friend!

I wrote a bit about exhaustion last week... of the desperate need for Self-Care, of how quickly we forget this is needed and how fast it slides to the bottom of our To-Do Lists... 

Sometimes it is easier to write about or talk about than it is to DO it, right?

Well, on Friday - in the midst of a crazy full week and upcoming full weekend ahead, I found made the time to grab a coffee and my camera and take a stroll around the Arboretum, because for me... well, sometimes that is all it takes to find the calm and quiet... and to feel the refreshing and realigning once again.

Sometimes a little Self-Care is, in itself, full of Small Wonders... if we will but slow and look! 

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