Links, Books, and Other Things I Love – October 2016 Edition

Once a month we share articles, books, and things we love at Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into.

Here are some of my favorites from September and what I’m looking forward to in October.

1 Second Everyday 

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

~ * ~ * ~

Around the Web

The Best Question to Ask

This is a great question to ask not only your hurting friends, but any of your friends.


• Top 10 Secret Features in iOS 10

If you’ve downloaded the latest iPhone updates, you know there were lots of changes this time. Here are 10 interesting features. I like the magnifying glass option.


The Seven Fears Controlling Controllers

We all like to feel in control, right? David Murray shares seven fears we need to consider about what drives that need.

How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers

When I hear people speak in other languages, it sounds like gibberish to me. How might English sound to them? This is a great video using fake English to show us.


I love to eat, but not cook

Do you plan your meals in advance? This often happens when I try.


~ * ~ * ~

On Reading

• 7 Books on the White-Black Racial Divide You Should Read

To learn more about our race issues, here are essential book recommendations from people who would know. The list includes Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson, one of my personal favorites (my review here).


Reading for the Rest of Us

Here are 6 tips when you think you don’t have enough time (or energy) to read more or better books. I’m partial to the last tip. It’s not intuitive, but it works.

Majority of Americans Still Reading Print Books

Do you prefer print or ebooks? I want both. “A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats.”


• Read the Day’s Most Fascinating News

If you like a great list of articles to read without scouring the internet yourself, Dave Pell’s newsletter is a great source. He’s witty and has broad tastes. I never read all the articles he shares, but I always read some. Visit online, get it as an email, or read through an app.


Six Books I Recommend


Currently Reading

  1. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
    by Chris Cleave
  2. The Underground Railroad
    by Colson Whitehead
  3. The Road Back to You
    An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
    by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

~ * ~ * ~

Things I Love

Handcrafted Gifts

The father of my future son-in-law Trey made (!) this beautifully exquisite bowl for us out of some lumber that my dad had left behind. What a gift I’ll treasure for years and years.


The Enneagram

I’ve been reading more about this personality typing system and it is so thorough. But in October, I’m stepping it up. I plan to attend a conference by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile and their new book, The Road Back to You. So looking forward to it.

Free Enneagram test here.

Family Shower

Almost all the girl relatives were able to come to the bridal shower at Lindsey’s house for my baby girl Jenna. Such fun seeing aunts, sisters, cousins, grandmothers, and moms come together to celebrate Jenna and Trey’s marriage.


Almost all the girl cousins got to come!


She’s so ready!

The Wedding

It’s almost here – the main event! Sunday is the day! A couple weeks ago we did the trial run of hair/makeup and bridal portraits.



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On the Blog

• Why You Should Keep Your Hopes Up 

We can’t adequately prepare for the future. But we can hope in God’s future gifts to meet us there.

• It’s Not About Looking Good 

I’m trying not to be all wedding, all the time. But because it’s near, it’s consuming a lot of my head space. And sparking anxious thoughts.

• When Desire Is Greater Than Fear

Behind many of our fears is the lack of control. But the way to overcome fear isn’t to have more control; it’s to replace it with something stronger. Includes quotes from Edward T. Welch’s wonderful book, Running Scared.

• 26 Surprising Ways to Encounter God, A-Z

Series starts tomorrow! Not as connected to God as you’d like to be? Experience 26 surprising ways to encounter God in just a few minutes per day.



* * *

What was one of your highlights from September? What are you looking forward to in October? Please share in the comments.

My previous link posts

sharing at Thought-Provoking Thursday,
100 Happy Days, Thankful Thursdays

Six Books I Recommend – September 2016

Below are three non-fiction and three fiction books I read this month that I can recommend to you.



1. Essential Enneagram
The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide
by David N. Daniels


Do you know about the Enneagram? It’s a personality typing system and then some. This book isn’t my favorite (The Wisdom of the Enneagram is, so far), but it’s shorter and it’s still helpful. It offers specific practices for spiritual growth for each of the nine types.

2. Without You, There Is No Us
My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite
by Suki Kim


Excellent book by a journalist who went undercover to teach English at a boys’ college in North Korea. Kim’s stories are haunting and sad, but also endearing. I count this an important read to understand more about North Koreans.

3. The Jesus Creed
Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight


I recommend this re-read because it gets back to the basics: love God, love others. It’s what our Christianity is all about. We too often forget and get distracted.


4. The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker


A little disturbing, this novel is a coming of age story when the earth’s rotation suddenly begins slowing down, more each day. I have mixed feelings about it, but it’s definitely a book that will get you thinking about how you would react if catastrophe struck, albeit in a gradual way like this.

5. The War that Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


In another coming of age story (this won the WSJ’s Best Children’s Book of 2015), nine-year-old Ada and her brother get moved out of London during World War II to escape the bombings. But the move is interesting when you compare what they leave behind to what they move to.

6. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler


Rosemary Cooke tells the story of her life, alluding to some mysterious event that occurred early on. It takes awhile for her to reveal it, and I never would have figured it out on my own. A very unusual  but interesting plot.

Reading Now

  • The One-in-a-Million Boy
    by Monica Wood
  • The Underground Railroad
    by Colson Whitehead
  • The Road Back to You
    An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
    by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

* * *

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

sharing at Purposeful Faith, Book Date

26 Surprising Ways to Encounter God, A-Z


Do you feel you aren’t as connected with God as you once were or as you long to be?

Maybe the traditional trio of practices (while wonderful and powerful!) isn’t working like it once did:

  • You’re bored with Bible reading.
  • Prayer isn’t keeping you engaged.
  • Church leaves you dry.

But you don’t have time or resources for a week-long retreat in the woods or two hours daily on your knees for private conversations with God.

For the month of October, I’ll be sharing short, but frequent, suggestions for encounters with God in a fresh way. 

Mondays through Saturdays will be short A-Z exercises. Sundays will be for reflection and review.

It won’t require a huge investment of time. Just an intentional welcoming into the spaces where you already are, a proactive awareness of God’s presence already with you.

I pray these few moments each day will lead us into . . .

  • a stronger faith in the realness of God,
  • a more confident peace regardless of circumstances,
  • and a greater ability to express our love not only to God, but also to those we share life with already.

Join me each day beginning October 1 for surprising ways to encounter God.

God is already here. We don’t have to go find him. We just have to see him.

* * *

Four ways to follow along:

1. Bookmark this page (it will be the index). Or,
2. Sign up for emails. Or,
3. Subscribe in a news reader (Feedly is my favorite). Or,
4. Join me on Facebook.

I look forward to how we’ll see God together in the upcoming month! What’s one of your favorite ways to spend time with God? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing at Women with Intention, Christian Blogger,
Coffee for Your Heart, Tell His Story, Intentional Tuesday,
Testimony Tuesday, Glimpses, Moments of Hope,
Good Morning Mondays, Small Wonder

When Desire Is Greater Than Fear


Steep mountain roads scare me. High bridges. The St. Louis Arch.

But not airplanes. Nor snakes (not too much anyway). Nor dentists.

Our rankings of fears are as individual as we are.

Maybe that’s because our ranking of desires are as individual as we are, too.

In Edward T. Welch’s excellent book on fear, Running Scared, he says,

“Listen to your fears and you hear them speak about things that have personal meaning to you. They appear to be attached to things we value.”

Maybe that’s why we fear for the safety of family members. For our own health. Of being hurt.

“There is a close connection between what we fear and what we think we need. If we need comfort, we will fear physical pain. If we need approval from others, we will fear being criticized. If we need love, we will fear rejection. If we need admiration for our attractiveness, we will fear getting fat. Whatever you need is a mere stone’s throw from what you fear.

But instead of running from our fears, Welch says to step closer.

“Rather than minimize your fears, find more of them. Expose them to the light of day because the more you find, the more blessed you will be when you hear words of peace and comfort.”

Behind many of our fears is the lack of control. We don’t like being dependent on others, on circumstances, even God. Humility doesn’t come naturally to us.

But the way to overcome fear isn’t to have more control; it’s to replace it with something stronger. What’s the strongest thing possible? Love from God.

God’s love manifests itself in many ways, from directly feeling it, to seeing the gifts he gives us daily, to how we’re able to love others.

With God’s love, we do braver things.

Welch points out, “A woman with a fear of water will lose that fear if her child is in danger of drowning.” When what we love is greater than our fear of not having it, we shift.

That love is grace.

“Grace to believe that God is good. Grace to have joy even while the body is wasting away. Grace to cry out and be certain that God hears. Grace to know that you are not alone. Grace to trust rather than fear. Grace to know that death is not the end.”

And grace to ride the steep mountain roads to reach the top. When your desire for the view is greater than your fear of the road, know God is present.

His views are always worth it.


Mount Rainier, Aug 2016

More Quotes from Running Scared

“The God who calls you to trust in him when you are afraid will spend a great deal of time showing you that you can trust him. He doesn’t ask you to live with your eyes shut. Faith is not blind.”

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“Most human beings respond to cries for help. When they do, it is because they are in some small way chips off the old block. They are looking like their Father.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Whenever Scripture says anything about God hearing, watch out, because you know something is about to happen. When God hears, he acts.”

~ * ~ * ~

“He doesn’t hear because of us and the quality of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.”

~ * ~ * ~

“One of the strategies for dealing with worry is to be overtaken by something more important than the object of your worries.”

~ * ~ * ~

“If I can trust the word of a friend, why do I question the word of the God of the universe? Go figure. Sin is truly bizarre.”

~ * ~ * ~

“If the difficulty you anticipate comes upon you, you will receive grace to know God’s love and grace to love someone else.”

* * *

When has your love been greater than your fear? If fears bother you too, I highly recommend Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing at Give Me Grace,
Grace & Truth, Faith ‘n Friends,
Faith-Filled Friday, Thought-Provoking Thursday,
Thankful Thursdays, 100 Happy Days

Changed, Yet Changing

“A Christian is a radically changed person the moment he or she trusts Christ.

This doesn’t mean we become ‘saints’ in practice overnight. It does mean a new creation — a new principle of life — has been planted within us by the Holy Spirit, and we can never be the same again.
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

Yesterday morning we sang the song once. Twice. Three times.

Each time, I was moved.

“I’m no longer a slave to fear/
I am a child of God”

That usually means something. The song was meant for me.


No Longer Slaves \\ Jonathan and Melissa Helser \\ Bethel Music

But it’s one thing to sing the words. And another thing to mean them.

I do know I’m a child of God. I totally believe that.

But no longer a slave to fear?

Um, I’m not there yet.

It can make me question whether I’ve been truly transformed into Christlikeness. I know I’ve been fully justified, but what happened to being sanctified?

It’s a process. A long one.

But a real process, nonetheless. I mustn’t forget. Because the truth is, I have been delivered from bondage to fear. And as I grow in understanding and practice of that, I continue to see more of the transformation.

“In justification we rely on what Christ did for us on the cross. In sanctification we rely on Christ to work in us by His Holy Spirit. In justification, as well as regeneration, God acts alone. In sanctification He works in us but elicits our response to cooperate with Him.”
– Jerry Bridges

I want to fully depend on what Christ did then.

And I want to fully cooperate with what he’s wanting to do now.

So I continue singing:

  • to declare it as truth,
  • to preach it deeper into me,
  • and to claim it as a promise that will be fulfilled.

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it /
My fears were drowned in perfect love /
You rescued me so I could stand and sing /
I am a child of God”

Even though I’ve been changed, I still continue to change—sometimes in ways I can see, and sometimes in invisible ways that lie beneath the surface.

Either way, I’ll never be the same again, praise God.


* * *

In what ways have you seen change? In what ways do you still long to see change? Please share in the comments.

Listen, believe, and worship with No Longer Slaves here. 

sharing at Spiritual Sundays,
Tell His Story, Testimony Tuesday,
Purposeful Faith, Intentional Tuesday,
GlimpsesMoments of Hope,
Inspire Me, Good Morning Mondays

Why You Should Keep Your Hopes Up


How good are you at preparing for the future?

We are usually lousy predicators of what’s next.

We can plan and prepare, but life is often more unexpected than expected. The unknown is out of our control. We don’t have the foresight or ability to stockpile enough resources in advance to prepare for every possible scenario.

We’re sometimes afraid to get our hopes up.

So how do we deal with this?

Read it here . . . Get Your Hopes Up – Gifts in Your Future

* * *

I’m writing today at Do Not Depart about our hope in future grace. Will you join me there?

And while you’re there, get your free download of scriptures on “Hope in Future Grace.”


sharing at Give Me Grace,
Spiritual Sundays, Grace & Truth,
Faith ‘n Friends, Faith-Filled Friday

5 Steps to Write a 31 Days Series

Whether you’re a blog writer or a blog reader, this upcoming October might be one of your favorite (and most challenging!) months of the year.

Each October, Crystal Stine invites us to post something on our blogs every day around a theme of our choosing for #Write31Days.


If you’ve never participated, consider it this year. It’s a great way to learn more, visit more, and engage with others on topics that you enjoy. I always find new blogs to read and friends to keep.

Here are 5 steps to get started with your own 31 day series.

1. Choose your overall topic

This week think about a subject you already know a lot about. Or a subject you want to know more about. Or a subject that you can’t quit talking about. All would be good topics to share with others in October.

Then narrow the topic down to something specific, if it’s too large. Or broaden it a bit, if it’s too small.

Get inspired by looking at the categories for the link-ups:

  • Family Life
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Food, Health & Wellness
  • House & Home
  • Inspiration & Faith
  • Personal Endeavors
  • Simplicity & Organizing
  • Too Awesome to Categorize
  • Writing, Blogging & Internet Stuff

2. Decide how many posts

While you’re encouraged to write all 31 days (or post a picture, song, something), you don’t have to. If writing on the weekdays and taking the weekends off is what works for you, choose that (21 posts). Or do a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule (you’d need 13 posts).

3. Make an outline

Keep this simple. Print an empty October calendar or make a list numbered 1-31 (or however many days you’re going to be writing). Then jot down a word or two that you could write about on that day. It doesn’t have to be a full description; just something to give you a jumping-off point for later.

4. Create a button

You don’t have to create a button, but it’s fun. And you’ll need a button to add your link on October 1 (see more about Linking Up here). Go to to create an easy graphic to use for the link-up and also for your blog or social media.

5. Write your first post

The first post is often the hardest. Go ahead and write that one now. Schedule it to post on October 1. Then see where the month takes you!

More Resources

This month Crystal is doing Facebook video chats to offer tips and encouragement. The 31 Dayers Facebook Community meets here.

Lots of tips here.

Below are examples of my previous series (and a preview to my new series).


  • 26 Surprising Ways to Encounter God (begins October 1, 2016)


(Coming soon . . . )



Want the right words to tell yourself right when you need them?

Scripture memory isn’t a spiritual discipline just for kids. We adults need the Word, too.

It’s easier than you think. You’ll benefit more than you imagine.

If you’ve always wanted to put scripture into your head for instant access, this series will gives you tools to walk through it, one small step at a time.

At the end of 31 days, you’ll not only have memorized a chapter of the Bible, but you’ll have a working pattern to memorize any chapter or portion of scripture that you choose.



Want more grace? How much time do you have?

  • Lots of time? 
    Read one of the 26 books recommended in this series.
  • Not much time? 
    Read a few paragraphs from each book. Click on the post titles to get there.
  • Only a little time?
    Read one sentence shared from each book.
  • No time? 
    Download all the articles as a pdf now to read later.




I share a few paragraphs from a favorite book of faith for 31 days. See the series index to get an excerpt of the excerpts. Click on the links to get the full quotes.



The more grace we see, the more grace we’ll give. More quotes and articles on grace.

* * *

What are you going to write about this October? Is there a topic you’re likely to follow? The series I love to read each year are on Inspiration & Faith, Simplicity & Organizing, and Writing, Blogging & Internet Stuff.

Please share in the comments

sharing at Tell His Story,
Intentional Tuesday, Purposeful Faith,
Testimony Tuesday, Inspire Me, Small Wonder,
Good Morning Mondays,
Moments of Hope, Glimpses

She Had a Gift


I first saw it in her eyes.

They were glued to the dancers, following their lithe movements, gracefully dancing along with them.

Then I heard it in her voice“Oh, I wish I had my sketch pad!”

We engaged in conversation—me and this white-haired old lady in a wheelchair in a nursing home cafeteria. Her lucidity surprised me, and pulled me in deeper.

Together we watched the ballerinas leap across the cafeteria floor. But she was creating an even better scene in her mind’s eye, using her artistic vision. She said she wished she could dim the overhead lights, scale back the front lights, and use a spotlight on the dancers.

She had a gift. She wanted to use it.

Her vision was strong and active. So was her graciousness. She talked of how lovely the girls were; how wonderful it was that they were performing for them; how much pleasure they were bringing her.

But I asked for a little more. And she gave.

She told me that she was indeed an artist, as I had suspected.

In particular, an artist of stained glass. She had done several of the church windows in Huntsville. She spoke of her gift with both pleasure and gratitude, a gift well-used. She said she toys with the idea of using it again, but it is too involved, and she couldn’t manage.

Her name? Fran. And she wanted to know mine. We exchanged thank you’s for the joy we had brought into each other’s day.

Yet I was able to walk away, while Fran remained behind in her wheelchair.

But the next time I drive by a church in Huntsville and notice the sun reflecting off a design on stained glass, I’ll think of Fran.

And her gift of a life well-lived, then and now.

* * *

Do you have a gift that you used in your youth, but no longer use? How could you still share it? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

It’s Not About Looking Good

I’m trying not to be “all wedding,” all the time. But because we’re less than a month away from my baby girl getting married, it’s consuming a lot of my head space.

As a contemplative by nature, an ISTJ on Myers-Brigg, and a 1 on the Enneagram, I’m quite comfortable spending time in my head.


Checking off details in my mind can be a good thing (and even better when I get them onto a to-do list!).

But when an anxious thought follows up each detail, that is not a good thing.

So while I’m there in my head, I’m asking why I’m anxious. The wedding plans are actually running smoothly—all major decisions have been made; Jenna is an easy-going bride; friends and family are helping.

It must be this:

  • I’m still too caught up in pride.
  • I still wonder too much what others will think.
  • I still want everything to go perfectly, when I know the only perfect thing in my life is how Christ loves me.

Once again I need to ask God for forgiveness.

And replace pride with humility.

Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.
– Andrew Murray

God is eager to help us in our weak spots. I want to be eager to receive his help. (Is it any coincidence that our worship ministry is beginning a new study together this month on Humility? Excellent timing, God.)

As I was praying over my theme for September in my year of Welcome,—see each month’s themes here—God dropped this on me and I’m praising him for it:

Welcome love. Let go of judgments.

And wedding planning is a perfect place to practice this.

When I start to get anxious, I want to remember the wedding doesn’t need to be flawless (although we do want it to be smooth and lovely for Jenna and Trey). But it’s about starting their marriage off with the right foundation: love for God, love for each other.

No, the wedding won’t be perfect. Neither will their marriage.

But both can be evidence of love, of grace, of God.

Because it’s not about looking good.
It’s about loving well.

It's not about looking good

* * *

How do you deal with your anxious thoughts? Is perfectionism a problem for you, too? Please share in the comments.


Links, Books, and Other Things I Love – September 2016 Edition

Once a month we share articles, books, and things we love at Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into.

Here are some of my favorites from August and what I’m looking forward to in September.

1 Second Everyday 

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

~ * ~ * ~

Around the Web

Your Political Facebook Posts Aren’t Changing Your Friends’ Minds – They’re only judging you for them.


“Those long rants about how Trump is a bully and a buffoon, Hillary is a crook, and conspiring against Bernie Sanders has doomed America forever aren’t changing voters’ minds, a new study found.”

• What Does a Dog Want More — “Good Boy” or Treats?

“Is social reward on the same footing as food, or is it potentially more valuable?” he wondered.

How Do We Evangelize Now?

“Our responsibility is to point people to Jesus, to tell the Story of Jesus, and to tell of our own story with Jesus.”

To Lose Weight, Spend 45 Minutes in the Kitchen, Not the Gym

“While it’s true that exercise has many health benefits beyond weight loss, if you have only 45 minutes a day to spare, choose your kitchen, not the gym.”

A Visual Guide to How Terribly the World’s Best Human Athletes Fare Versus Most Average Animals
“Usain Bolt might be the fastest man alive, but an average warthog could probably take him.”


~ * ~ * ~

On Reading, Writing, and Blogging

Write Blog Posts in 30 Minutes with 5 Questions

It’s not a magic formula, but “after writing down answers to the 5 questions, you’ll be left with a crystal clear outline for your blog post.”

Your Pictures on Facebook

Does this happen to you, too?


Audiobooks: The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing 

“Smartphones and multitasking have stoked an explosion in audiobooks. . . . Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today.”


Nine Books I Recommend

9 Books I Recommend

Currently Reading

  1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
    by Karen Joy Fowler
  2. Without you, There Is No Us
    by Suki Kim
  3. The Jesus Creed
    by Scot McKnight
  4. The Telling Room
    by Michael Paterniti

~ * ~ * ~

Things I Love

• Reinforcements

We’re heavy into wedding planning mode for Jenna and Trey. When Morgan came home for the weekend, she went straight to work to keep us on track.



• But it’s not all work. We had such fun at Jenna’s bridal shower!



So thankful for my besties who celebrate life with me!

Kay, Lisa, and Selwyn

Kay, Lisa, and Selwyn

Then Jeff and I left for a get-away to Seattle, Washington.


Mount Rainier

Doing scary things . . . not scary to Jeff, but for me it was terrifying to cross the Nisqually River on this “bridge.” Somehow I made it.



Being a true tourist

Reuniting with friends who moved from Alabama to Seattle


Scott, Kirsten, Lisa, Jeff

~ * ~ * ~

On the Blog

4 Prayers about Politics

Do you know who you’ll vote for in the election? Here are 4 things to pray about, regardless of your political party.

Why I Know It Will Work Out

The young black lady approached us white women to ask about hair. But it was so much more. I know we’re going to be alright.

You Remember What You See—I Can’t Forget This

I pass the fire again in my neighborhood. But what I didn’t know was what was burning. Until later.

Want More Grace? Books, Quotes, and a Giveaway

Read 31 quotes of grace. Or click through to read full paragraphs from 26 books on grace. Or download all the articles as a free pdf.


* * *

What was one of your highlights in August? What are you looking forward to in September? Please share in the comments.

My previous link posts

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