A whole year of days stretches out in front of us.
Stretches out like a promise.
And I pray that your 2014 is a year filled with mint-chip ice cream, fuzzy slippers, snow angels, great books, dark chocolate, sweet surprises at your front door, laugh-til-you-cry friends, good endings, the presence of mind to stop for someone who needs you, a perfect pair of jeans, take-your-breath-away sunrises, sentimental stories, fresh air in your lungs, thimbles of wine and pinches of bread at the altar, people to tell you how you matter, new starts, fresh dreams, and more love than your heart can hold.
My “Best of” for 2013
Our 2013 Highlights, in 38 seconds flat.
My Most Treasured Ministry Moment with The Girls
We pitched hundreds of rocks into a lake, each rock bearing the named burden of a woman — burdens like fear, approval of others, not enough. We threw the rocks far, far away. And we’ve been reminding each other to keep our hands free. Because we can love better with empty hands.
My Favorite Guest Post Elsewhere
Ann Voskamp — a dear friend — invited me to her porch. We are both farmer’s wives, whose husbands like green tractors and pigs. 🙂 And she has been one amazing encourager in my writing journey, and in my faith life. You can find the post here: When It Seems Like It’s Just One Trouble After Another.
My Most Popular Guest Poster Here
In 2013, I hosted a series of writers who shared encouragement for storytellers. Lynn Morrissey rocked the blog with this piece, found here. She wrote:
“Just write! Write like time is running out, because it is. Write like you have something to say, because you do. Write like you’ve been gifted to write, because you have. Write like God has called you to write, because He has. Write like He wants you to obey, because He does.”
Favorite #TellHisStory Post from the Community
Each week, I try to feature one #TellHisStory post from our linkup, by including it in the sidebar on the blog. One post, by Michelle DeRusha, still has me laughing out loud. Read it, and then bookmark it for Christmas 2014: One Small Thing (Done in Slightly Irritable Love).
Favorite books from 2013
Prototype by Jonathan Martin
I couldn’t put this book down. I inhaled it, underlined it, out loud “Amen”-ed, and drew smiley faces in the margins where this pastor made me laugh out loud. As Steven Furtick wrote, Martin is both “measured and unfiltered… searing and soothing… articulate and accessible. Jonathan has written a book designed to body-slam your presuppositions, bear-hug your insecurities, and shake the contents of your heart with a gentle violence. It’s not every day you get to meet David and Goliath and it’s the same guy.”
This book will help you rediscover — or discover for the first time — how beloved you are, and how that can really change everything.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.
This book transformed Decembers and Christmases everywhere. As Max Lucado said in his endorsement of The Greatest Gift, “Ann Voskamp on Christmas is Monet on sunsets — made for each other.”
begging encouraging Ann to write a devo for every month of the year. Please, Ann? 🙂
All is Grace by Brennan Manning (with John Blase)
It’s hard to imagine a world without more books by Brennan Manning. He died April 12, 2013. He has deeply influenced my spiritual life, and my thoughts on grace. I wrote my thanks to Manning here.
About the book: “It has been over twenty years since the publication of The Ragamuffin Gospel, a book many claim as the shattering of God’s grace into their lives. Since that time, Brennan Manning has been dazzingly faithful in preaching and writing variations on that singular theme – “Yes, Abba is very fond of you!”
But today the crowds are gone and the lights are dim, the patches on his knees have faded. If he ever was a ragamuffin, truly it is now. In this his final book, Brennan roves back his past, honoring the lives of the people closest to him, family and friends who’ve known the saint and the sinner, the boy and the man. Far from some chronological timeline, these memories are witness to the truth of life by one who has lived it – All Is Grace.”
Books You’ll Want to Read in 2014
I got an early peek at some great books that will be coming to a bookstore near you in 2014. You’ll love these. LOVE!
latest book, You’re Going to be Okay
, releases in February. This book is for every woman who has been disappointed, who has watched a dream die, whose life isn’t what she imagined it would be. Holley’s wisdom, authenticity, and warmth resonate on every page. We don’t get rote answers with Holley; we get a deep sense of how we are deeply loved by God, who meets us right where we are. You’re Going to Be Okay
is a must-read.
Also: Check out Holley’s new community of encouragement, Coffee for Your Heart, launching Jan. 1, 2014. You won’t want to miss it.
Lisa Jo Baker’s debut work, Surprised by Motherhood
, releases in April. This is the finest book on motherhood that I have ever read
. Hands-down. With breathtaking prose, Lisa-Jo takes moms by the hand, and leads us straight into wonder, which we can find right next to our dirty dishes, Cheerio-strewn floors and overflowing diaper pails. This book is rocket fuel for mamas. And I am recommending this book to every mother I know.
Michelle DeRusha’s memoir, Spiritual Misfit
, also releases in April. This book is profoundly insightful and laugh-out-loud funny – the kind of book you carry with you to the kitchen sink and to the laundry room and even to the bathroom, because you can’t.stop.reading. Michelle is a master storyteller and brilliant writer. With candor and humor, Michelle picks up the pieces of her faith story (and her faithless story), then spreads them out on the pages like an offering. This book reveals a loving God who isn’t surprised or repelled by our misfit tendencies – but who pulls us closer. Spiritual Misfit
is for any one of us who has ever groped through the dark – which is pretty much every one of us.
Favorite Instagram Moment of 2013
This moment was a dream come true.
And so yes, there’s one more book I’m hoping you’ll consider
in the coming year. 🙂
I’ve written the words in this book for you, and while I poured myself out on the page, I felt God pouring in, changing me in the most profound ways.
I can’t wait to tell you more. Stay tuned.
(I’m on Instagram at @dukeslee.)
Your turn! What’s on your “Best Of” list?
Tell me about one of your best moments of 2013, and what most excites you about 2014. Feel free to share in the comments, or link with us here at #TellHisStory.