Want Him to Read Your Mind? Yada, Yada, Yada

Do you wish your partner could read your mind?

Do you really want someone to know everything about you?

God knows. Does that make you uncomfortable?

Let’s look at the Hebrew word “yada” (to know) to discover why being known by God is actually a good thing, and why knowing God brings freedom, not fear.

Read it all here.


* * *

I’m writing today at Do Not Depart for our #OTHebrewWords series.

Will you join me thereyada, yada, yada?

4 Ways to Get Back on Track with 2017 Goals

4 Ways to Refocus Goals

You may not want to hear this, but the “new” year is almost 2/3 over. Christmas will be here in 133 days. And before we blink, it’ll be 2018.

Are you where you thought you’d be?

I’m not.

The StoryCorp app sits lonely on my phone. Unused since March 26. The last interview I recorded with it was with the 4 Corners, my three besties, on a spring beach getaway.

But I haven’t touched it since.

Story is my One word 2017. But I’ve gotten off track.

Did you set goals for 2017? Whether a One Word or a resolution or a to-do list, as we leave summer and enter fall, now is a good time to look again at those intentions. And do something with them.

4 Tips to Refocus Your 2017 Goals

Here are 4 common roadblocks to reaching your goals and 4 ways to regain your focus.

  1. Lost interest? Rethink it.

Sometimes we lose interest in what we thought we wanted to do. Our motivation is gone. The thing got boring.

And that might be good. There are certain resolutions we make that aren’t worth keeping.

But before you let it drift by the wayside, give your goal a few more minutes of the respect it deserves.

  • What was my original motivation for setting this goal?
  • Is my purpose still valid?
  • Would my time be better spent on something different?
  • Is there a different way to approach this goal?

If you decide no, then let it go in peace. Make a conscious choice to lay it down.

But if you decide this goal is still worth pursuing, adjust the spotlight back to center.

  1. Overwhelmed? Set smaller goals.

Sometimes we drop out because things get too hard. We’re overwhelmed with the largeness of our goal. Or we hit a roadblock that seems insurmountable.

When that is the case, maybe we just need to break it down into smaller steps. Set in-between goals.

Instead of looking at the whole picture, tear off one piece and just do that this week. Then next week do another small piece. By the end of the year, you may be surprised at what you accomplished.

  1. Lonely? Do it together.

Another deterrent to keeping our word is that we try too much on our own. We lose our way because we’re traveling solo.

See how you can involve others to accomplish your purpose. Maybe you can bring a friend with you to do your thing. Or at least ask someone to keep you accountable as you do it on your own.

Brainstorm how your individual goal can help the larger community, or how the community can help you.

  1. Failing? Give yourself grace.

We’re going to mess up. That’s a given. We say the wrong things. We miss a deadline. We flub up.

But that’s okay. There’s grace for that. Do you expect others to be perfect? Then don’t expect it of yourself either.

What speech would you give a friend who just messed up? Then give that same speech to yourself. Ask yourself (and possibly write down) the encouraging words that Jesus might say to you personally in this situation.

Revised and Stronger

When we thoughtfully revise our 2017 goals, we make them stronger. Our recommitment is then not only more realistic, but also more effective.

How we spend our days matter because how we spend each day determines our week, which decides our month. And next thing we know, another year has gone by.

This is our life.

I’ll be rethinking my One Word Story goal this week, tweaking it to make it more doable and setting more tangible steps to finish the year strong.

And yes, hopefully pulling up the StoryCorp app again and putting it to good use.

I want to be prepared and awake for the surprises God has in store for the remainder of this year.

* * *

Did you choose One Word for the year? What are you learning from it? Please share in the comments.


A Different Kind of Hospitality – The Turquoise Table

Hospitality always feels small when you hold it in your hands. It’s not until you let it go, released like an offering, that you see how extravagant and hallowed it is.

“Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost after all. We just need more practice at it.”
– Kristin Schell

How often do you have other people into your home?

And if it’s not as much as you think you “should,” do you feel guilty about it?

I don’t have people over as often as I once did. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to read yet another book on hospitality.

But this one is different.

  • It’s not about how to set your table (although it centers around a table).
  • It’s not about your menu (although the book gives a simple recipe in every chapter).
  • It’s not even about your guest list (because you never know who will show up).

The Turquoise Table is a book about opening your heart and your time as well as your space.

Specifically, open the space in your front yard. Because our front yards are what people see first, author Kristin Schell suggests we start there.

But it’s less about the where and more about the who.

Kristin started by painting her picnic table a turquoise color then placing it in her front yard. She filled a basket with plastic cups, a water pitcher, and leftover napkins from a birthday party.

Then she sat outside for thirty minutes reading the mail, writing a note, etc., until one by one a neighbor or two or three would stop by.

“We’re drawn to each other and our stories and through that, experience oneness. It’s how community is built: layer by layer, struggle by struggle, story by story. It’s why we come to the table, and these women and I were doing it. And I didn’t even have to clean the house.”

And this ministry grew and grew. Now there are Turquoise Tables in nearly every state and several different countries.

She says anybody can do it. Maybe not exactly like she did. (I can’t put a picnic table in my front yard.)

“Hospitality begins in the heart, not the oven.”

But we can each be hospitable in our own ways. It’s not about having a clean house and gourmet food; it’s about conversation and connections.

“We’ve got to debunk the myth that hospitality is the same as entertainment. Genuine hospitality begins with opening our lives. It’s just as important to open up our lives as it is our homes, and sharing who we are is far more important than sharing what we bake.”

Look at the lessons Kristen learned from her Front Yard People adventure. See which principles you could convert into reality in your own lifestyle.

  • Don’t wait for the perfect time; do it now.
  • Spontaneous gatherings are just as important as planned ones (and easier!).
  • You don’t need anyone’s permission to go outside and love.
  • Do it with a buddy to make it easier and more fun.
  • Be patient; it takes time to develop community.
  • Pray for the ministry of presence every day.

The book also includes suggestions for starting a Turquoise Table in other places, such as a community garden, a church courtyard, common areas at an office complex, or a neighborhood bus stop.

But Kristen always brings us back to this:

“While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for life at the Turquoise Table, in my experience, there is a pattern: Notice the needs of others. Pray. Show up. Love. Notice. Pray. Show up. Love.”

More Quotes from The Turquoise Table

“Sometimes we are the guest and sometimes we are the host. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.”

~ * ~

“I realized God was saying, ‘It matters to Me. When you show up, I’m at work.’ Hospitality always feels small when you hold it in your hands. It’s not until you let it go, released like an offering, that you see how extravagant and hallowed it is.”

~ * ~

“Don’t be afraid of silence. My neighbor Nicole loves to use the phrase ‘tell me more.’ It gives permission for people to go beyond polite conversation and share deeper.”

~ * ~

“Out of love and out of grace, God gave me a table. We know when He gives a gift, it’s meant to be shared. Once I was excluded, and now I belong. That’s what I want to give others.”

~ * ~

“Hospitality takes the posture of humility, no longer seeking to impress but to serve. The heart of hospitality is to make people feel welcome and at ease.”

* * *

How are you at hospitality? Got it down, or do you have room to grow? Please share in the comments.

Read more about starting your own Turquoise Table at KristinSchell.com.

Watch more here.


Thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book

What Are Middles For? To Live In


“Endings are for gratitude, beginnings are for faith.”
– John Piper

If endings are for gratitude, and beginnings are for faith, what are middles for?

Two years ago I pressed hard into “Now” as my One Word. But I’m leaning in again, especially as I reread The Power of Now with my bookclub.

One thing I continue to learn is:

This moment is never a throw-away.

Today is not a space to suspend while you wait for something better.

Middles aren’t meant to be wasted.

Middles are meant to be lived.

Yes, we still anticipate change for moments yet to come. And we still look back on moments past to reminisce.

But in this very moment—regardless of what bad or good things are also in it—we are to . . .

  • live joyfully,
  • love recklessly,
  • and believe intensely.

This is the moment God is most present in our lives.

It is the ending of one thing, whether we understand why or not (thank God for it).

It is the beginning of a new thing, however large or small (grasp grace that accompanies it).

There is enough in this moment.

Live it now.

* * *

Are you more prone to look back, to look ahead, or stay in the moment? Let’s discuss in the comments.

revised from the archives

Read more:

Links, Books, and Things I Love – August 2017

Here are favorites from July and what I’m looking forward to in August. We share once a month at Leigh’s.

1 Second Everyday

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

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Around the Web

Are You a Superstitious Christian?
by Scott Redd

“It can be hard to see our own superstitions. What objects, behaviors, and beliefs give us a false sense of control over our lives? What good-luck charms and theological talismans relieve us of the burden of true belief?”


~ * ~

Push to Walk? – Don’t Bother
by Matt Rocheleau

Another worthless button? Sigh. I’ve been suspecting it. The pedestrian buttons at crosswalks are like the “Close Door” button on elevators. They don’t do anything.


~ * ~

Almost 90% of Americans Don’t Know There’s Scientific Consensus on Global Warming
by Ruairí Arrieta-Kenna

Among climate scientists, at least 97% agree that human-caused global warming is happening. But most Americans don’t realize it.

~ * ~

Why Cancer Is Not a War, Fight, or Battle
by Xeni Jardin

“If the chemotherapy and radiation and surgery and drugs don’t work, and I die, will people be disappointed in me for not fighting hard enough?


~ * ~

Feeling poorly? 20 southern phrases to describe your ailments
by Kelly Kazek

Don’t y’all say these, too? Well, maybe not every one. Supposedly these are southern phrases. But which ones do you also use where you live?

  • Pastor Fred looks like he’s at death’s door.
  • Verna Jean is sick as a dawg.
  • I’m all stove up.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Books, Blogs, and Podcasts

How to Retain More from the Books You Read in 5 Simple Steps
by Darius Foroux

“Don’t read more. Read smarter. . . .But here’s the thing: It’s not about how many books you read, it’s about how much you retain from what you read.”


~ * ~

Podcast: The Bible for Normal People
Episode 15: Brian Zahnd – Violence in the Bible

On this episode, hosts Pete and Jared talk with Brian Zahnd about what to do with the violence in the Bible.


~ * ~

The Liturgist Podcast
Episode: Pale Blue Dot

Science Mike and Michael Gungor talk about seeing Earth from space and about work from climate scientists. They conclude with practical steps we all can take to protect life on our planet.


~ * ~

Cycleguy’s Spin Blog 
Series: 3 Feet Please
by Bill Grandi


Our blogging friend Bill is an avid bike rider. He suffered two accidents this past year due to encroaching automobiles. He did a great Safety Week series on his blog last week highlighting the 3 Feet Please campaign to educate us car drivers to avoid close calls with cyclists.


~ * ~

• 4 Books I Recommend
Here are 4 books I enjoyed this month, including the Glory in the Ordinary by Courtney Reissig and Fuel Your Faith by our blogging friend Jean Wise.

4 Books I Recommend-July-2017_LisaNotes

~ * ~

Books I’m Currently Reading

  1. The Nest
    by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  2. Reading People
    How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
    by Anne Bogel
  3. The Turquoise Table
    Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard
    by Kristen Schell
  4. The Better Angels of Our Nature
    Why Violence Has Declined
    by Steven Pinker
  5. Small Victories
    Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
    by Anne Lamott
  6. The Happiness Prayer
    Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today
    by Evan Moffic
  7. The Power of Moments
    Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
    by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Things I Love

Baby on the Way!

My oldest daughter Morgan is pregnant with our first grandchild! We’re very excited.



Morgan surprising her grandparents about their newest great-grandbaby on the way

~ * ~

First Day of School

Today is my daughter Jenna’s first day teaching at a different school this year. She met her students yesterday and is very excited to begin a new year, this time in 1st grade. I look forward to meeting the students soon, too.


~ * ~

For Life – Back to School Party

It’s like World Vision or Compassion, except For Life Ministries is within our local community. Last Saturday we helped with a Back to School Party for the sponsored families and got to spend time with our sponsored child, his mother, and several other families. They are no longer just a picture on our refrigerator.


~ * ~

Brandon Heath Concert

It was just Brandon on his acoustic guitar and his bass player – so good! It benefited our local Huntsville Community Drumline. They’re a great extracurricular program for youth to learn drumming, but also respect and discipline. Brandon spoke so directly into their lives and they played together on his last song, “Give Me Your Eyes.”


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

On the Blog

  • Does Work at Home Matter?
    “So, what do you do?” It can be an awkward question when you stay at home. I am still working on a good answer. Review of Glory in the Ordinary.
  • Homeless and Us – Survivors Together
    The world of the homeless camp feels brutally real. Sometimes I’m not sure whose world seems the most real one: theirs or ours.
  • Celebrate This First
    It’s discouraging to finally reach a goal, only to learn the bar is still higher. Celebrate THIS victory first.
  • Hear the Silence? The Deaf Movers
    The movers arrived. But didn’t speak. They were deaf. What do we do when we can’t hear?

* * *

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

previous Links and Books

On the Blog – July 2017

Love One More – We’re Adding On!


Family Math

I’ve been doing the family math lately.

  • Seven years ago, both my parents died, 7 months apart. Minus 2 here.
  • Six years ago, my oldest daughter Morgan got married. Plus 1.
  • Almost one year ago, my youngest daughter Jenna got married. Plus 1.

Although we never really lose the people we love when they die, our hearts do feel emptied by their absence.

And when we add in new people, our hearts expand to practice more love.

First Grandchild

We’re getting a new opportunity to love – our first grandchild is due in January!
A big plus 1.

Morgan and Fuller are expecting their first child. And we couldn’t be more excited for them and for us. (If you have good grandparent name suggestions, please share!)


Ultrasound pic, 4 weeks ago. Keepsake box, my Mother’s Day gift from Morgan.

When we decide to love someone new, the atmosphere shifts.

  • We move things around.
  • We clean out space.
  • We spruce things up.

(And we buy new toys. Jeff rescued this mechanical horse to restore for the new grandbaby. It needs a lot of work, but he can do it.)


Before shot – July 28. After – tbd.

Regardless of age or situation, adding a new relationship to our lives gives our hearts reasons to change for the better.

Who’s New?

Who new needs your love?

  • Maybe a new co-worker.
  • Or a neighbor who moved in next door.
  • Or an in-law marrying into your family.

Or in our case, a growing baby inside our own daughter. (We hope to find out next week if it’s a boy or a girl!)

Wherever and whoever, may we each continue to find new people to love. Another person made in God’s image.

Every time we do, we glimpse God in a fresh way, see him from another angle.

And we experience a flush of new love—a breath of God—inside our own hearts.

Do the math. Count your blessings. They keep adding up.

* * *

Who have you most recently begun to love? Any grandparenting tips? Please share your thoughts.

sharing with Laura, LyliJennifer,
Char, KellyBarbie, Terri, Anita

Does Work at Home Matter?

Why Stay-at-Home Moms Don't Need to Be Embarrassed

“What I’ve learned is that God is glorified in the mundane work as much as he is in the magnificent. In fact, it is the mundane moments, the moments where we live each and every day, where we come to see the true greatness of God and his love for us.”

“So, what do you do?”

It can be an awkward question.

I am still working on a proper answer.

Year ago I said, I’m in school. Then it was, I’m an accountant. Then, I homeschool my girls.

But now that I’m an empty-nester?

I don’t have a single word or phrase that sums up what I do with my life.

Women (and men) who stay at home often struggle with the “What do you do?” question. In Courtney Reissig’s new book, Glory in the Ordinary, she addresses some of the issues we struggle with.


  1. Not a “Real” Job

Like, we don’t have a “real” job unless we’re getting paid. It’s easy to feel undervalued when there’s no paycheck at the end of the month. Or no official title to mark your identity.

But Courtney reminds us that work at home is a real job. Money itself doesn’t make a job meaningful.

“It is important for us to see work as a contribution, and not always with a dollar sign attached to it.”

  1. Wasting Your Brain

There were days at home with my kids when I wondered if I was wasting my college degree. When you’re reading The Cat in the Hat and drilling multiplication tables, you can wonder if this is mush to your brain.

But I had to remind myself that I was using my education, and perhaps more so at home with my kids than when I spent all day doing accounting for a corporation.

Maybe our at-home work (or even at-the-job work) is not in our chosen field of study, but all our life experiences add up and contribute to how we interact with others. (And homeschooling was actually very taxing to my brain.) None of it is wasted.

  1. It Never Ends

For those whose lives revolve mostly around the home, you know it can feel you’re never off-duty. You live where you work. The work is always here. There’s no boss to prioritize your work (which can be both a bad thing but also a good thing!). There’s also no official quitting time when you clock off the job and drive home.

In chapter 6, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep,” we’re reminded that while we were made for work, we were also made for rest. Rest is another way we can bear the image of God.

“Only God gets his to-do list done. And I’m not God, so I should stop trying to measure up.”

  1. Feel Guilty If You Need Help

When you stay at home, you can succumb to feeling like you need to do it all. Take care of the kids, cook all the meals, wash all the clothes, etc. (You can feel like that even if you don’t stay at home.)

But nobody can do it all, whether you’re home full-time or work full-time. Courtney reminds us us that the home is everyone’s job, not just yours. You can’t do it alone. And that’s okay.

“When the work of the home is for everyone, then our identity isn’t destroyed when our husband helps around the house. We are able to understand and embrace that he is a contributor too.”

  1. Not Doing “Big” things

And finally, often we feel that our work at home is insignificant because it seems so small. We’re not “out there” changing the world.

“An even more troubling aspect of our culture’s understanding of work is that we tend to think that if our work doesn’t accomplish something big, it’s not worth our time. But we are defining big and important by the wrong scale.”

Caring for the people in our own circle of life is a big thing. It honors their worth. And it also honors God.

“It is caregiving that makes up the bulk of at-home work. The food is for people to eat. The sheets are for the beds that those people sleep in. The clean clothes are for them to wear. Care takes care of people, but care also shapes people.”

I laugh with my sister Sandy about our job titles these days. We used to say we were stay-at-home moms. But now that our children are grown, we can’t claim that title. We joke that the revised title “stay-at-home people” doesn’t sound quite right, especially when the truth is we are not often at home anymore anyway. We’re more available than ever to do things outside the home and to contribute our energies to those outside of our families.

While it’s nice to have the approval of others about what we do, our worth doesn’t depend on their evaluation of how we spend our days.

Because here’s the main thing: whatever our work—and wherever our work—(inside or outside our house), if it’s done for God’s glory, it’s valuable.

“With every ordinary task you do, you are bringing order into this chaotic world that we live in. While it might feel hardly God-like, I assure you that it is.”

* * *

Have you struggled with your “ordinary” work not feeling valued, whether at home or in a workplace? Please share your thoughts.

Read related articles from Courtney Reissig:

My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book

4 Books I Recommend – July 2017

4 Books I Recommend-July-2017_LisaNotes

Here are four non-fiction books I recommend and two fiction books that I half-heartedly recommend from what I read in July. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend

1. Glory in the Ordinary
Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God
by Courtney Reissig


Do you ever wonder if your work at home matters? To your family? To society? To God? This book gives a thorough look at why your work DOES matter. I could have used this pep talk when I was in the thick of it, raising kids and homeschooling, but I find Courtney’s words still pertinent to me now in my empty nest.

My review here of Glory in the Ordinary

2. This Fight Is Our Fight
The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class
by Elizabeth Warren


I don’t know if I agree with all of Elizabeth Warren’s politics, but I do love her passion for people. This was a library book that caught my eye when I was perusing the shelves. Warren is a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts who has a lot to say about how the American middle class can be helped.

3. Born to Run
A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Christopher McDougall


These are some crazy runners. Not just marathoners. Ultramarathoners. This book is an intriguing story about a tribe in Mexico (the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons), American distance runners, the mysterious runner Caballo Blanco, and a reporter’s journey in the middle of it all. It mostly reads like a novel, with a strong narrative thread throughout the whole book.

4. Fuel Your Faith
A Practical Guide to Igniting a Healthy Spirituality

by Jean Wise


I love reading Jean Wise’s spiritual blog at HealthySpirituality.org, so I knew her book would be good. She writes chapter after chapter on ways we can keep our faith on fire for God, including downloadable resources, prayers, and practical suggestions. I highlighted over 50 passages, including this one:

“Remember God is the fire. We cannot begin to contain him, to harness him, or to control the heat of his spirit. But we can nurture the sparks, awaken our conscious, and open the flue of our hearts to let his light inward to our souls.”

And right now you can get the Kindle ebook of Fuel Your Faith for free on Amazon!

Half-Heartedly Recommend

5. The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt


I liked it and I didn’t. This novel begins with a 13-year-old boy whose life is changed by a terrorist attack in NYC. The plot always moved along nicely. But I had trouble connecting with the main character and his decisions. In the end, I am glad I read it, but it is long and investment of time.

6. Me Before You
by Jojo Moyers


This novel was very engaging. Like The Goldfinch, part of me liked this one, too, but part of me didn’t like it at all. It’s about an out-of-luck common girl who becomes the caregiver for a rich quadriplegic man. I thought I’d predicted the ending early in the book, but I was wrong.

Reading Now

  • Reading People
    How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
    by Anne Bogel
  • The Turquoise Table
    Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard
    by Kristen Schell
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature
    Why Violence Has Declined
    by Steven Pinker
  • Small Victories
    Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
    by Anne Lamott

* * *

What good book have you read lately? Please share in the comments.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

Homeless and Us – Survivors Together


Buck (not his real name) and I are engaged in a conversation. It’s about the government. It’s getting heated, not because we disagree but because the subject gets him riled up.

I’m getting uncomfortable. Maybe I should change the subject to something less volatile.

But then Buck says something that shakes me.

If the world as we know it ever comes to a halt, whether it be by our own government (Buck’s presumption) or by outside forces, he says he knows who the survivors will be: his kind.

His people—the homeless—know how to survive.

I believe him. They prove it in my city every day.

They are survivors. How else could they live day after day with the substandard food they eat, the poor sanitation they have, the diabetes and cancer and alcoholism and drug addictions and mental illnesses that many endure?

Some do die, of course. And eventually all die. As do we.

But many of the homeless live long. They’re survivors.

Sometimes I’m not sure whose world is the real one: theirs or ours.

My world feels comfortably real on my air-conditioned drive on the Parkway overpass, singing worship tunes bluetoothed in from my iPhone, bottled water in my cup holder, a full wallet by my side.

But underneath that same overpass is their world, a different world. It houses tents, a fire for cooking, and people with few possessions.

Their world feels brutally real as I stand among them that Saturday morning outside their garbage bags of belongings and chat with Buck as the loud train roars nearby.

But we return to our church van and drive back to our church building. This is the world I know best. We close ranks, hold hands, and Norm words a prayer from all of us, for all of them—the survivors.

We thank God for the lessons those survivors teach us. If they can keep on going, so can we.

I want Buck and his friends—many are now my friends, too—on my side if the worlds we both know ever come to an end.

Because eventually, all our worlds get shaken up. 

So for now, I’ll keep stepping into Buck’s world and pray it makes mine a little less plastic and a lot more authentic. That it makes his a little less lonely and a lot more loved.

Our previous separate worlds will improve and merge at the intersection. It becomes less about our differences and more about our similarities.

The same God put both Buck and me in this same world.

And we are survivors together.

* * *

Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

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