Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Handful of Great Big Surprises I Never Saw Coming

Spring is officially here!  

Can I get an amen?

The weatherman somehow seems to have missed the notification.  

But that's ok.  

We're stretching un-exercised limbs after a long winter's nap and it won't be long
 til we're flinging our windows open wide to breathe deep the warm breezes.  
Padding around in the sunshine in worn, soft t-shirts and bare feet with vividly painted toenails.  
And settling in with a thick page-turner in the hammock that swings gently.

March had more than its fair share of surprises this year.   
And it wasn't just about the winter weather that refused to fade away ...


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My man and I packed our bags and headed off on a long awaited, hastily planned last minute cruise to celebrate our 39th.  A question that never even dawned on our way-too-cluttered brains as we made our preparations?

There's no chance, is there,  that  .  this  .  just  .  might  .  be  .  spring  .  break?

Imagine our surprise / horror / disbelief as we made our way through the snaking terminal lines and discovered that there we were with a few other brave souls, some random families ...  and 1500+ of our new college friends more than ready to party hardy.  

Before we even found our bags, scantily clad and drink toting students took over every public space.  The pool area looked like one big 24 / 7 mosh pit and was pretty much out of bounds for those over 21 or under 18.  On the second day, just a bit overwhelmed by the whole chaotic scene, I indulged in my own personal pity party for a minute few minutes, prompting my husband to set off to discover a couple of quiet little nooks where we could regroup.


Undisturbed.


To be fair, any kids we bumped into here and there were polite and well-mannered and we met some very pleasant people on our journey.  When all was said and done, a good time was had by all of us who were sober and conscious enough to remember this end-of-winter grace gift.


Especially 1976's very young bride and her groom.


/   2   /

Back in the day you hand quilted your carefully gathered scraps with needle and thread over a wooden frame or with a big old hoop in your lap.  It took forever and a day, but the end result, the daily used heirloom, was always worth the time invested.  Always.

Times have changed, but the passion to creatively craft our masterpieces remains.  Check out this video and see long time Creekside commenter Debby showing us her stuff.  Surprise! This ain't your Grandma's quilting bee!     


To say I'm impressed is an understatement.  Simply wow, Debby.


/   3   /

Blogging?  

For me, it's penning words that tumble out of a very full heart that yearns to share a discovery or a truth or a musing.  Reading the same from the hand of others that are so inclined.  Coaching writers as they figure out what they truly want their online spaces to look like ... and relishing conversations that go deep to ferret out why we do what we do.

I love the supportive community that grows one post, one comment at a time, and the connection that knits one kindred spirit to another who truly gets who you are and what you're trying to say.  

the amazing Deidra Riggs
This month's surprise highlight?  The sheer relief in not blogging for 3 weeks.  

And sitting with Deidra's The Art of Blogging: A Series.  Hands down, her musings on writing and community are simply the best I've ever savored.

Deidra was gracious enough to chat with me just a bit about my own hurts as I've navigated the pathways in finding my place in the blogging community. The surprise?  Her wise and candid words to me quickly emerged to become a healing stream flowing into my heart.  Click here and scroll down to check out our little conversation.

And please tell her that Linda@Creekside sent you.


/   4   /

It wasn't all that long after I boasted about my culinary expertise that our aging oven burst into flames one morning while the weekend chef was attempting to pull together an egg sandwich.  

the fruit of my labor back in the day when the oven actually worked
Surprise!  

Sad to say, I haven't been able to use the lower half of my kitchen stove in about a month and a half as we begin to search for a new appliance to replace the ancient one.

No worries.

The 29 year old vintage crockpot has proven to be worthy of the space it takes up in the cupboard.  The grill was shoveled out of the snow and put back into service.  The little toaster oven proved to be a handy, seldom-before-used gadget.  

And the lack of warmly luscious baked goods straight from the oven can only be a boost toward my goal of shedding the pounds I've gathered about my bones during the long winter months.


/   5   /

I do love me some good games of Candy Crush. Maybe it's my therapy.  Who knows.

But I've learned caution the hard way.  'Cause if you play video games in the evening, be sure that you'll play them all  .  night  .  in  .  your  .  sleep.  

And THAT surprise is just not fun.  At all.





 
What's surprising you these days?
 
/  /

I'd love if you'd subscribe before you head off to read something else!
Click here to make it happen.

And did you take a peek at 
From Hither & Yon  : :  Shareworthy Reads
on the sidebar?

/  /

Having fun chatting with Mary  *  Holley  *  Emily  *  Leigh

Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's Sing Glory With Her

'May our dependably steady and warmly personal God 
develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other
 as well as Jesus gets along with us all.

Then we'll be a choir - not our voices only, 
but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem 
to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory.  
Jesus did it; now you do it!'
~ Romans 15 {The Message}


video


there  .  are  .  simply  .  no  .  words.

but still we keep on searching for those elusive phrases 
that just might begin to give a glimpse of our heartfelt adoration.

accept the honor and praise we bring to You today, 
Lord God Almighty.

with redeemed souls that overflow with deepest gratitude and joy, 
we lift Your sacred name up high.

show us how to encourage each other to seek 
Your glory, Your fame, Your majesty.

and we'll be oh so ever grateful, in Jesus' name.

for You are supremely worthy of our worship 
as we gather 'round the holy throne.

amen.


Monday, March 16, 2015

5 Simply Splendid Reasons to Take a Break from Blogging . . . and a Coaching Giveaway

The sabbatical.

It's been called blogging suicide.  Some of us take a break from our online presence with great apprehension and only after hitting the wall with exhaustion from our self-imposed demands. 

Questions swirl.  Will anyone care if I'm not around?  Will my readers be there when I return? 

Who am I if I'm not blogging? 

Other writers could care less.  As much as they love hanging out online, they're not finding their identity in the site that bears their name.  They'll be back when they get to it.  And somehow, their readers magically return.

I'm coming off from three weeks away from Blogger.  I didn't realize how much I needed to be away from the keyboard, how my soul was deeply yearning to be still and quiet.  To be fully present to my family.  Refueling from the demands of ministry and tending to some emotions that were swirling deep.  Digging with a startling hunger into journaling my prayers once again.

And choosing to have a good time without toting around some kind of device with me.

Simply put, I lived life without being tied to a screen.  And even though I missed connecting with you, wonder of wonders, for the first time since 2007, I felt no urgency about getting back here again.

{Gasp!}

If you're longing to cut yourself a break and take some much needed time off from the dailyness of blogging, here's five simply splendid reasons why that's not all that bad an idea ...

*   your family
The ones you love most in this world need your full focused presence.  There's a celebration scheduled.  A sudden emergency has cropped up.  Or a series of events have cascaded down like dominoes and you know you can't be two places at once.

There's only so much energy to go around each day.  Our family members are waiting patiently {or not so much} for us to tear ourselves away from our laptops / tablets / phones.  And there's no better way to tell them that we care than hitting the off button and paying full attention to what's going on right in front of our noses.

OR

*   your hem
Jesus noticed when someone in great need touched the hem of His garment {Luke 8}.  He could literally feel the power sap out of Him.  Fully God, yet fully man, He was intensely engaged with those he interacted with, yet knew when He had to get away from the demands of the crowd to regroup with His Father.  Scriptures tell us He chose to do so.  Often.

If you work as a people helper, a ministry leader, or a parent, you know exactly where He was coming from.

OR

*   your emotions
You begin to notice some not-so-attractive feelings as you engage with others online.  Frustration and disappointment begin to accompany some of your interactions.  You feel like you're kind of excluded or you might be missing out on something as you wander from site to site.  You're starting to feel petty and small when others don't notice you.  The endless stats and numbers take on far more significance that they should.

You reluctantly realize that writing's not giving you the joy it has in the past.  And you begin to feel just a bit crispy as burnout begins to move on in

OR

*   your Saviour
It dawns on you that you've invested little heavy duty time with God in recent days.  Your beloved Bible gathers dust, you rely on quick, light devotionals instead of saturating yourself in His precious Word.  Your prayer life is dwindling rapidly from faithful intercession to irregular SOS calls.

Online writing has slowly but surely taken the place of the prayer journaling you used to pour yourself into.  Early morning / late evening link-ups and the self-imposed push to hit the PUBLISH button by a certain hour begin to own you instead of the Lover of your soul having full possession.

OR

*   your life
You wake up one day and realize you're living at your keyboard instead of out in the real world.  Sure, you might be writing about life, but the reality is that you really long to get out and about and experience true, vibrant living that is full and free, filled with challenging experiences, deep face-to-face conversations, and interactions that are just plain fun.  

You begin to long to make a difference in ministry or head back to school, re-connect with a long-lost friend or volunteer in places that desperately need what only you can give.

*

I've been there, done that.  All of it. 

Maybe our goal should be to keep short accounts with ourselves and an online friend or two, all the while keeping up a steady conversation with the Lord about how our commitment to blogging is impacting the core of who we are, for good or ill. 

And making the conscious choice, often, to settle down in solitude and silence, leaning in to experience His tender invitation to be still and quiet.  And allow Him to love us well. 


Do you schedule time away from online action
or does the need to remove yourself from the scene sneak up on you?

What concerns you most about your blogging commitment?

*

In this blogheart posting, we've gone behind the scenes of our writing,
past the numbers and the how-tos, and headed straight to the heart of what we do and why.

The best part of this monthly feature?  A FREE name-it-and-claim-it blog coaching session is offered to the first reader who leaves a comment.  If that's you, simply shoot me an email at Linda@CreeksideMinistries.com and we'll set up a time to chat. 
*

Thanks, all you social media fans, for sharing this post with those in your world! 
As always, the links are below ...
*
Joining friends at Mary's & Holly's

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Embracing the Hope of Spring



It doesn't matter that it was 7 below zero this morning and the icy snow is piled high and frozen solid like a stone.  I'm officially done with winter on this online space.

There will be no more snow-laden scenes painted here.

I'm embracing the hopeful promise of spring's glorious warmth with arms wide open!  Even if the calendar insists that its arrival is weeks away.

*

Thank you for all your sweet words and powerful prayers for our new grandson Tyler in the last few weeks.  Honestly, some of your lovely comments and emails brought tears to my eyes and made me so deeply thankful once again to be sharing life with you.  We're headed out soon to cuddle with the little guy and hang out with his forever family. {Be sure to read his story and watch his big sister's welcome home video here.} 

And then my man and I are off to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary.  To say that Tim is God's richest blessing in my life is no exaggeration.  {Here's the hard won lessons I've learned about marriage along the way.} 

*

I'm hearing from readers here and there that you're realizing that you've got a bit of a love / hate relationship going on with this online world we inhabit.  If you've even got a whiff of desire to unplug yourself for a bit, please push aside your fears and listen to that voice that whispers deep, inviting your soul to some needed recalibration and refreshment. 

And if you need some encouragement to go there, please read my post Our Obsession is Growing.  It's packed with important observations about this ongoing struggle that we're just a bit reluctant to speak about. 

All that said, I'm begging off from just about all things digital /online in the next few weeks.  I'm leaving a sampling of springtime posts for you to savor if you drop by.  Click on the titles below to take you there.   And don't forget to check out From Hither & Yon : : Shareworthy Reads on the sidebar.

Please be sure to subscribe so you'll know when I'm back onboard, ok?  Thanks!

*

The Imperfect Table ~ 2014
It's circa 1960s, this photo is, with loved ones gathered around the mahogany table, layered in white linen starched and pressed within an inch of its life.  All have donned their Sunday go-to-meeting attire and another homemade feast has been savored.  The main course {savory chicken and dumplings laced with fresh rosemary ... or perhaps a herbed roast leg of lamb with mint jelly} has been polished off.  Dessert is about to be served on the beautiful blue-rimmed china.  Fresh flowers create ...


A Clean Slate ~ 2013
It's just about springtime.  FINALLY!  {Even if it is snowing in the Hudson Valley today!}

And it's all about a clean slate and the choices you can make to take you there.  Kind of like a much needed pruning that clears away the dead wood, releasing new life and healthy growth and fragrant blooms ...


Choose the Ladder ~ 2012
I've always loved playing Chutes & Ladders!  As a little girl, blossoming young mama, or hanging-in-there grandma, my competitive edge has emerged more than once.  I've really gotten into zipping up those big tall ladders, flying right past my opponents, and getting nearer to my goal of stepping onto that final golden square marked '100.'  

But along the way, my heart has dropped like a stone.  More than once.  My attitude has taken a sudden, negative lurch for the worse ...


Figuring Out Your Responsibilities ~ 2011
WHEN I FEEL RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHERS ...
I carry their feelings, don't listen, fix, protect, rescue, control, beg, plead, whine, bribe, tantrum, manipulate, prevent natural consequences from taking place

I am concerned with the solution, answers, circumstances, being right, details, performance

I feel exhausted, anxious ...

 
Jan Johnson hit the nail on the head when she penned, 'I wish God would tell me ...' is usually followed by a desire to know about something that will affect the next 20 (at least) years of our life.

My experience is that God doesn't do things that way, but shows us only our next step: make a telephone call, study up on something, look within at our motives.  If we knew more steps than that, we would probably be ...

 
Clutter 201 ~ 2009
Clutter.  Stuff.  Junk.  Things.  Mess.  Piles.  Trash.

Call it what you want, chances are if your home is filled with it, it probably reflects what's happening on the inside.  In your mind.  Your heart.  Too much going on inside paralyzes us.  It renders us ...


Grieving.  It's not just about mourning the dead.  We also encounter great loss when we experience divorce.  A catastrophic illness.  Job termination.  The end of a friendship.  The long distance move of someone we love.  Leaving a church family.  How do we do this well so that we can move on and not be held in grief's grip and allow a root of bitterness to set in?  How do we move ahead after being overwhelmed, paralyzed, consumed ...

See you later, my friend ~

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where Feet May Fail

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them,
walking on the lake.

When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
  'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them:
 'Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid.'

'Lord, if it's You,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to You on  the water.'

'Come,' He said.

The Peter got down out of the boat walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink,
 cried out, 'Lord, save me!'

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.
  'You of little faith,' He said, 'why did you doubt?'

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying,
 'Truly You are the Son of God.'
Matthew 14:25-33
 




Lord, sometimes you beckon us to take courageous steps forward that are just plain scary.

We freeze in our fear-filled tracks, seemingly unwilling and unable to move ahead.

Build our faith so that our waning confidence rests completely on Your character,

and not on the unknown, sometimes terrifying path that lies beneath our feet.

Calm us gently and focus us clearly, 

so that our steps will take us to where You want us.

Straight to Your waiting heart.

Amen.
 


. . .  joyfully following Christ into our community's 8th year  . . .
 
 
*
 
stopping by to see Barbie & Mary

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Little Black Bag * Party Giveaway #3

Hey gang ... what's a party without a whole bunch of gift bags?

Over the years we've given away scads of books and a bunch of gift cards.  Free blog coaching sessions, too.   But hands down, I do believe that this is our best giveaway ever!

During the celebration of our anniversary month, we've been giving these little bags to our house church community, our clients ... and now to YOU, dear faithful readers.




To get your little black Creekside tote bag {scarves not included}, simply do two things ~ 

1.  Leave a comment on this post and let us know:  

the state you live in

&

what you're gonna stash in your bag

2.  Send your name and address to Linda@CreeksideMinistries.com. {If you live in the Mid-Hudson Valley and would like to pick up your gift at Creekside, you'll save me postage.}

If you read the blog via email, click here and come on over to the website to join in the fun.

You win.  It's that simple.




Sorry, US only.  This offer is good until Wednesday, February 25th at 11:59 pm {eastern} or while supplies last.

I just wanted to say a great big thanks to YOU for doing community with us here!  Whether this is your first visit or you've been hanging around since 2008, well, to say I'm grateful is simply an understatement.

The apostle Paul penned it best when he wrote, 'Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God'
{Philippians 1:3 NLT}.




celebrating the kick-off of year #8


-  Giveaway Disclosure  - 
Please note that Creekside Ministries has underwritten the purchase of these bags,
but the cost of shipping is from my own personal funds.
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