Don’t Just Read the Story – Keep the Conversation Going

Don't just read the story

Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
Mark 4:36 (NIV)

As she reads Mark 4:36-19, I listen intently. At first, the first word lingers: “Leaving…” Jesus is leaving the crowd behind.

She reads the passage again.
I move with her this time. With Jesus.

I feel the wind, the cold air blowing on the disciples, as they leave safety behind, heading into a storm, one not of their own making.

I shiver.

Where is Jesus? Asleep? Of all things. In the back of the boat.

Anger arises. Doesn’t he know—or worse—doesn’t he care? They are in danger! Their very lives hang on the mercy of wind and water.

Or on Jesus.

Jesus. Don’t you care? I’ve left the crowds for you. Am I in danger now? Are you really sleeping?

I’ve heard the story before. So many times. I know what happens next.

But I listen again. A third reading. This time takes me beyond. It’s no longer just a story of historical facts, of Jesus’ commanding power over nature.

Now it’s an invitation.
To me from him.
I take it personally.

The winds and the waves may splash, soaking me in an angry torrent. But is there a safer place to be than traveling with Jesus?

Even when I’m not sure where we’re going.
Even when I think he’s sleeping.
He’s still in control.
Of me.

Peace, O soul. Be still.

I shiver again, this time in awe at his supremacy, appreciating the authority behind his words, imagining what they meant to his followers on that journey, knowing what they mean to this follower on mine.

Oh, the grace. Oh, the freedom.

  • If Jesus is with me, I’ll leave behind my comfort.
  • If Jesus is with me, no tempest can shake my grip.
  • If Jesus is with me, calling peace, I’ll be still and receive.

I yield to his command.

My soul settles into the quiet, the stillness, on this peaceful side of leaving.Regardless of my new destination, my passage is secure—I’m journeying in the boat with Jesus.

I’ll stay the course.

Instead of rereading the words of the story that changed lives then—“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”—and changes lives now, she invites us to talk of them. To keep the conversation going between Father and child, between brothers and sisters.

I pray for her, my new friend. Another new friend prays for me. He whispers words in silence for my journey of leaving, yet traveling in safety with Jesus, for staying the course.

In such stillness, there is peace.

I am still.
He is my peace.

* * *

The Bible story is an invitation. Don’t just read it. Take it personally. Keep the conversation going.

Listening to his stories still move us. What story has taught you anew lately?

revised from the archives

Is the Church Living Up to Its Name?

When I dreamed of marrying Jeff, I practiced writing what my new name would look like: Mrs. Lisa Burgess. When a bride takes on her husband’s name, it’s symbolic of a oneness like no other.

What about when the church, the bride of Christ, takes on His name?

Are we wearing His name well?

Don’t take a poll. You’ll be disappointed. Our ratings as Christians are poor. For too long we’ve been a bad taste in the mouth of the world. Many may like our Christ, but not everybody likes His followers.

Are we not living up to our name?

Read it all here

Church Living Up to Name_pin

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I’m writing today at Do Not Depart. Will you join me there on living up to our name?


Where’s the Book Inside You?

We ran into each other again at Manna House a few Wednesdays ago. It’s where we usually see each other these days.

Cowboy and I first met in his homeless camp. From first glance and first conversation, I knew Cowboy was rich in life stories.

When I couldn’t believe he was as old as he said—he didn’t look his age—he volunteered his ID to prove it. But as the stories added up, I knew he had lived many years. How else can you squeeze so much living into one lifetime?

The past several months he’s been promising me a book. One that he’s been writing. It’s about his life.

I definitely want to read Cowboy’s book.

Where's the Book Inside You

But Cowboy doesn’t always get to the library to type up his tales on the computers there. His health isn’t as great as it used to be. And his years continue to add up.

Will I ever get to read his book?

I’ve read a lot of books in my life. But I haven’t read enough yet. There are more books I have yet to read.

Because there are more sides of God I have yet to see.

Each life tells a story. Each life shows a different side of God. Cowboy’s life shows a side I didn’t grow up with. Perhaps more troubled. Rougher around the edges. Yet protective and gentle, also in unique ways.

If Cowboy never gets his book finished, I hope I’ll continue running into him at Manna House or the library or occasionally at a mutual friend’s funeral.

I can listen, even if I can’t read. He can talk, even when he can’t write.

On the last Wednesday we talked, Cowboy and Susan needed a ride back to their homeless camp (they’ve since moved into an apartment of their own again!). We dropped them off at the edge of their woods.

As they walked deeper into the woods, deeper than we could see, I thought again about Cowboy’s future book full of his past stories.

Even if I never get to read them, Cowboy’s stories have already enriched my stories. His life has enriched mine.

But I still hope he’ll finish his book.

You might want to read it, too.

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Whose life story would you like to read? How you written your own story? Please share in the comments.

Read more:


5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – June 2019

Every month I share my list of favorite 5’s.

  • 5 interesting things online
  • 5 articles about words, books, or podcasts
  • 5 pictures of things I love
  • 5 blog posts from the month

What are you enjoying this month?

5 Links I Love June 2019

1 Second Everyday

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

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5 Things Around the Web

• 10 Ways to Spoil an Apology
Um, I’ve probably used all ten of these at some point. I’m so sorry.

What Makes a Sermon Hard to Listen to
I agree; these seven things can make me tune out to a sermon, unfortunately.

• How to Make Time Go Slower
Sometimes I wish we could actually make time go slower. But at least we can help it feel slower. Sort of. (Hint: Do something new today.)

Where Do You Park Your Car at Church?
Jeff likes to park in the most distant spot. (He’s a parking lot attendant at church, so that partially explains it). Here are some suggestions for making church more welcoming.

The Making of Paper Props for Movies
We rarely notice these hand-made paper props in movies and TV shows. But someone has to create them. This is fascinating to me.

Prop Master's Work video

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5 Things with Words/Books

People Who Read More Are Nicer?
That’s what they’re saying here. “According to research, people who read more—specifically fiction—tend to display more sociable behaviors and are more empathetic.” Maybe I need to read more novels.

What Word Does Your State Have to Look Up to Spell?
Here is each state’s top word they google “how to spell” in 2019. (English teachers will be sad.)

• Younger Parents Are Skipping Out on This Traditional Part of Parenting – Are You?
Children need to be read to AND sung too. Sing, Mama, sing.

• How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content
This video is a little long (for me anyway), but as a true book-lover, I got sucked in and watched it all.

 7 Books I Recommend
I finished some extraordinary books in May. Here are 7 books I recommend.

7 Books I Recommend

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5 Pictures of Things I Love

• Grandbaby #2 Growing
Our second granddaughter is cooking right along! Almost halfway there. We’re excited for her appearance mid-October.


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Hugs, Hugs, Hugs
You can never get too many hugs. These sweet kids in my life (including one of my godsons) are always good for lots of hugs.


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• Grown Kids
Morgan and Fuller came into town for a wedding over the weekend. We loved having them. And also loved that Jeff and I got to keep our sweet grandbaby.


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• Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Jenna got in on the fun, too. Her auntie game is on!


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• Baby Boomer Selfie
This meme makes me laugh. Do you get it, too?

Baby Boomer Selfie

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5 Things on the Blog

• Do Big Kids Need Their Mother, Too? Review of Doing Life with Your Adult Children
How do you do life with your adult children? This is a great new resource by Jim Burns for parents of adult kids.

• Welcome the Outsider
I’d never tried Vietnamese food. Then again, I’d never had a Vietnamese friend. God was ready to change that. Welcome the outsider.

• Only God, Only Good
I think God may be an exception to synecdoche. It is safe to credit complete goodness to him. It’s impossible to ascribe TOO much goodness to God.

• 4 Ways to Enjoy Your Peace Again
Have you lost your peace? Here are 4 ways to find and enjoy your peace again.

• When We Lose Another Author – Goodbye, Rachel Held Evans
When a favorite author like Rachel Held Evans quits writing, mourn the silence. But keep listening for God’s voice.

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What was a highlight from your May? What do you have planned for June? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

Do Big Kids Need Their Mother, Too? Review of “Doing Life with Your Adult Children”

Parenting Books

My kids do grownup things. They have jobs. They have husbands. One already has a child.

Why would they need their mama now?

My parents have been gone for nine years. I still wish they were here. We would always like to have good parents with us, yes?

Yet as adults, we don’t need our parents in the same way that we needed them when we were children. That’s where it gets sticky.

I read lots of books on child-rearing when my girls were small. I wanted to do things the best way, the right way, God’s way.

As they grew older, the books I read changed. No longer about parenting babies, but about parenting elementary kids. Then about teenagers.

But now that the last one has graduated from high school and college and married, do I still need a parenting book?

Parenting Adult Children

Actually, the years of parenting adult children will likely surpass the number of years we parented small children. It’s just very different. It has to be from a distance. And loose. And non-judgmental.

Jim Burns new book, Doing Life with Your Adult Children, is a helpful resource for these years. (His subtitle is profound: Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out.)

Doing Life with Adult Children

Here are the nine principles Burns shares in the book. Is there one you need the most?

  1. Your role as the parent must change.
  2. Unsolicited advice is usually taken as criticism.
  3. You can’t ignore your child’s culture.
  4. They will never know how far the town is if you carry them on your back.
  5. Your job is to move them from dependence to independence.
  6. You can’t want it more than they want it.
  7. Financial independence and responsibility is the goal.
  8. Wear beige and keep your mouth shut.
  9. Being a grandparent may be your greatest legacy.

This book is full of wisdom, some of which I’ve already learned (often the hard way, such as, don’t argue about holidays), and some of which I’ve yet to experience.

My daughters don’t need me like they did when they were younger, but I can still play an important role in their lives, and they in mine.

I want to do this stage of parenting well, too.

Quotes from Doing Life with Your Adult Children

“Most parents I’ve talked with have told me they lost sleep worrying about their kids when the kids were younger, but I’ve been surprised to discover how many parents of adult children tell me the same thing.”

“It’s important to acknowledge your old job description as a parent so that you can set it aside. That’s the only way to make room for your new job description.”

“This transition of moving from daily involvement and hands-on parenting to a more intermittent involvement will likely be an easier move for your kids than it is for you.”

“There is absolutely nothing more important in life than a right relationship with God and a right relationship with family. Ultimately, that’s what defines the legacy you leave your children.”

“Many parents of adult children tell me that the most difficult part of their new job description is abstaining from giving advice when they know they’re correct.”

“Trust that experience is a better teacher than advice….If we keep our mouths shut and keep the welcome mat out, we increase the odds that our children will come to us for guidance on their own.”

“Parents who continue to take care of their adult sons and daughters out of their own need to be needed do so at the expense of their adult children’s maturity.”

“Your child’s choices don’t have to break you. Your child’s regrettable decisions do not make you a bad parent. Even good parents have children who make poor choices.”

I highly recommend this book to parents of adult children. This line from it makes me laugh the most: “The first forty years of parenting are always the hardest.”

My adult children are worth it all.

* * *

Are you parenting an adult child? Has anything been difficult? Surprising? Do you have a favorite parenting book? Please share in the comments.

My thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book
(and to Beth for the real thing!)


7 Books I Recommend – May 2019

I’m stingy with my personal list of 5-star ratings.

But for books #1-5 below, I easily give 5-stars. So, so good.

(#6 and 7 are also very good.)

7 Books I Recommend_LisaNotes

Books I Recommend


1. Atomic Habits
An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
by James Clear

Atomic Habits

If you care about making good habits in your life, this is a must-read. I’d been hearing it was good; it lives up to the hype. I’m already applying several little tricks to my own life to improve habits.

“Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”

[click here if you can’t see 1-Minute Book Review]

James Clear has a great newsletter you can sign up for here. It is often excerpts from the book Atomic Habits.

2. Never Split the Difference
Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It
by Chris Voss

Never Split the Difference

This book is also SO good. Author Chris Voss is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI. He uses his experience (such fascinating stories!) to explain nine strategies we can use to make our lives better (not just for negotiations, but for relationships).

“Your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. . . .You can be very direct and to the point as long as you create safety by a tone of voice that says I’m okay, you’re okay, let’s figure things out.”

Chris Voss also has an informative weekly newsletter with one tip each week at his blog, Black Swan. Even when it doesn’t apply directly to me, there’s something I can use each time.

3. Off the Clock
Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
by Laura Vanderkam

Off the Clock

This is yet another game-changing book. Too often I catch myself saying, “I just don’t have enough time.” This book helped me realize mistakes I’m making with time and how to correct them.

Off the Clock is not just a time-management book though (although it is partially that), but also a philosophy of living.

Be warned: Laura Vanderkam strongly encourages you to track your time for two weeks to see where it’s actually going. It’s painful. But enlightening. (I’m using the free version of Toggl to track my time; if you want a digital tool to track your time, I highly recommend Toggl.)

“I repeat a two-part mantra: Plan it in. Do it anyway. If my anticipating self wanted to do something, my remembering self will be glad to have done it. Indeed, my experiencing self may even enjoy parts of it. I am tired now, but I will always be tired, and we draw energy from meaningful things.”

I also listen to Laura Vanderkam’s short podcast, Before Breakfast, each morning.

4. Dreyer’s English
An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
by Benjamin Dreyer

Dreyer's English

If you write anything (blogs, books, emails, etc.), this book is a wonderful resource. But beyond that, it is very entertaining. Author Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief at Random House) is an expert at using words. Who knew a grammar book could be so funny? I had to read excerpts out loud again and again to Jeff because they were so witty.

Here’s some writing advice:

“Here’s your first challenge: Go a week without writing very, rather, really, quite, in fact. And you can toss in—or, that is, toss out—’just’ (not in the sense of ‘righteous’ but in the sense of ‘merely’) and ‘so’ (in the ‘extremely’ sense, though as conjunctions go it’s pretty disposable too).

   “Oh yes: ‘pretty.’..And ‘of course.’ That’s right out. And ‘surely.’ And ‘that said.’

   “And ‘actually’? Feel free to go the rest of your life without another ‘actually.'”

5. Doing Life with Your Adult Children
Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out
by Jim Burns

Doing Life with Your Adult Children

There are thousands of books on parenting young children. But parenting adult children? Not many. This book is excellent. Written from a Christian perspective, Jim Burns answers questions like:

  • When is it okay to give advice to our adult children?
  • What do we do if they’re about to make a big mistake?
  • How do we relate to our child’s spouse?
  • Where’s the line between enabling and helping?

“There is relatively little available about the challenges of parenting an adult child. Yet we will spend more time as a parent of an adult child than we will as the parent of a young child and adolescent.”

My daughters are both in their 20s, but I’m still their mother. They still need me, just in a different way. This book helps clarify the way. (Thanks, Beth, for tipping me off to this one and for the giveaway copy.)

[See review and more quotes here of Doing Life with Adult Children]

6. The Lost City of the Monkey God  
by Douglas Preston

Lost City of the Monkey God

This is a 4-star book for me, only because it had more historical detail than I needed. But if lots of background information is your thing, you might give it 5 stars. It’s the true story of discovering a lost city in the jungles of Honduras. It’s not for the squeamish. The journey was dangerous, snake-filled, and disease-ridden. But fascinating.


7. The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

Poisonwood Bible

This novel is about a traditional, evangelical Baptist missionary, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959. The female characters take turns narrating the chapters. Living in Africa turns out to be much more difficult than they had imagined or prepared for.

Barbara Kingsolver does an excellent job switching voices for each character and keeping the plot rolling along over three decades. It’s a long book (546 pages), but the length felt necessary to fully hear the story.


  • I’d Rather Be Reading
    The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
    by Anne Bogel
  • Glorious Weakness
    Discovering God in All We
    by Alia Joy
  • Outliers
    The Story of Success
    by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Almost Everything
    Notes on Hope
    by Anne Lamott
  • In the Shadow of Statues
    A White Southerner Confronts History
    by Mitch Landrieu
  • The Highly Sensitive Person
    How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
    by Elaine N. Aron
  • Born to Run
    by Bruce Springsteen
  • Nine Perfect Strangers
    by Liane Moriarty

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What good book are you reading this month? Please share in the comments.

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend