Musings — October 2017

The sturdy wooden stakes that supported my tomato plants through their season of growing have been pulled and re-purposed. Now that the garden lies exhausted and well past fruition, those beat up stakes have been pressed into service holding burlap to protect our rhododendron bushes from the weight of snow and the whip of howling wind that will scour my winter backyard. Fall is a season of preparation, a time for re-tooling and battening the hatches in obedience to the gentle warning that is carried on autumn’s rasping voice.

As I read slowly through the book of Jeremiah during these fall days, I’ve been encouraged that even stalwart and stoical prophets need encouragement sometimes.  Praying his loneliness, his hurt, his anger, and his fear, Jeremiah received words of strength to carry him through a long winter of disappointment:

Jeremiah: “But why, why this chronic pain,
    this ever worsening wound and no healing in sight?
You’re nothing, God, but a mirage,
    a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!”

God: “Take back those words, and I’ll take you back.
    Then you’ll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining.
    Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me.
Let your words change them.
    Don’t change your words to suit them.
I’ll turn you into a steel wall,
    a thick steel wall, impregnable.
They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you
    because I’m at your side, defending and delivering.”

Sometimes we need to hear the Truth again:  God is still faithful.

On My Nightstand

 

Picking up C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce after a long absence, I have been surprised to find not only the expected words about the great chasm between good and evil, but also glorious truth for kicking myself out of the center of the universe. When a visitor from the bus comes unglued over her perception of the unfairness of heaven, she receives this rebuke:

“Friend, . . . [c]ould you, only for a moment, fix your mind on something not yourself?”

Good question.
What is God using these days to startle you into noticing your selfish choices?

On the Blog

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This thoroughly ransacked and flagged copy of Jayber Crow belongs to Pam Ecrement, one of the veterans of our ongoing discussion group. Once again, I’m reminded that community enhances the enjoyment of a reading experience. And did anyone else see that CT Magazine listed Jayber Crow among the top five books to read when you’re looking for a pastor? Click here to read the article. Those of us who are reading this delightful work of fiction by Wendell Berry have enjoyed pooling our observations of Jayber, the bachelor barber and “honorary pastor” of Port William, Kentucky.

I was thankful to be able to share Kelli Worrall’s Pierced and Embraced on the blog at the beginning of the month. In her study of the lives of women in the New Testament, she was startled to note that Jesus’  manner of dealing with women was a uniquely gentle pursuit of their hearts, a piercing embrace. It was the piercing that grabbed Kelli’s attention in the midst of her struggles with infertility and the heartbreak of three miscarriages. She raged against the unfairness and felt abandoned by God until He helped her to see the embrace of His love that came alongside the piercing.

Some of you may remember Liz Curtis Higgs polling her Facebook friends some time ago to discover their favorite verses from the book of Proverbs. Well, she narrowed the list down to the top 31 Proverbs to Light Your Patha month’s worth of daily wisdom, comfort — and jarring insights. The application of ancient truth to a thoroughly modern life begins with opening the pages of Scripture and allowing the Spirit of God to speak Truth into our words, our relationships, and our motives as we are led along His straight paths.

Our gatherings around the table for feasting and fun are symbolic, a pale adumbration of a larger feast, and Sally Clarkson points her readers toward this truth in The Lifegiving TableRemembering her own family’s heritage of traditions, she shares her motivation behind it all: “The soul satisfaction of belonging to one another, the anchor of commonly held traditions, and the understanding that our home was a sanctuary from all the pressures and storms of life.” (5)

 

In Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia, Dr. John Dunlop asks,“How can such a tragedy as dementia be dignified, and how in the world can God be honored through it?” He’s well-qualified to seek the answer to his question. As a geriatrician (a medical doctor trained to meet the special health issues of older people), he has worked with dementia patients and their families professionally. He has also experienced the challenges of dementia from the patient’s perspective as he walked that hard path with his mother, his father, and his mother-in-law, so I was grateful to be able to pass his wisdom along to readers in my review.

And then, finally, Unseen is the product of Sara Hagerty’s collision course with the beautiful “waste” of a poured out life that hides behind hardship, disappointment, challenging circumstances, or the simple routine of an obedient following. We will never know the comfort of God as our “refuge and strength” until we come to a place in our lives in which we need to take refuge.  It’s clear that “our hidden places aren’t signs of God’s displeasure or punishment,” but rather places in which God intends to teach our hearts to sing. (33)

Cancer Journey

Cancer is this month’s theme for The Redbud Post, and I was able to add my voice to the message that cancer does not have the final say by contributing a compilation of five book reviews from various perspectives on the topic. My hope is that this will be a resource to those who are learning the grace lessons of a day-to-day struggle with cancer.  I’d love it if you’d join me over there, and be sure to check out the other offerings and share, as appropriate, with those in your life who need the encouragement that cancer does not have the last word.

On My Mind

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Some of you may have seen my announcement on Facebook about the new Living Our Days Facebook page. This was a project that had been on my mind for quite some time, but an upcoming guest post in which the host specifically asked for a link to a “public” Facebook page pushed me into accepting the help of my gifted friend Abby to bring it to pass.  Click here to visit, and while you’re there I hope you’ll give it a “like” and share any relevant content with your own Facebook community.

I also encourage you to drop in on my friend Abby’s site, Little Birdie Blessings, a place of Christian encouragement that features vintage images she creates and shares (daily!) along with hymns, Scripture, and inspiring quotes.

This picture of Abby’s kitchen table with our two laptops glowing and our coffee getting cold while we worked and chatted has become a symbol for me of the community that has become so much a part of this blogging life. It is a privilege to write words that are read by receptive hearts. Thank you for the gift of your presence here and for your faithful encouragement.
Blessings and love to you.


If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

60 thoughts on “Musings — October 2017”

  1. This quote got me: ‘…the beautiful “waste” of a poured out life that hides behind hardship, disappointment, challenging circumstances, or the simple routine of an obedient following.’

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    1. Sara did such a great job unpacking that story about Mary and the gift of oil she bestowed upon Jesus — against the backdrop of disapproval and judgment. What others saw as a waste, Jesus declared to be the perfect embodiment of poured out worship.
      Thanks for sharing the sections that spoke to you from the review.

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    1. And it’s such a challenge to remember this — or at least I find it to be so. Most of the time, when I’m writing a book review, I’m reporting on the parts of it that really hit home with me.

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  2. Ah … ‘cheap whining.’

    Guilty as charged. Redeemed from my most natural bent! Thanks for that conversation between Jeremiah and the Lord.

    Don’t you love reading and writing these end of the month musings? As we pull it all together, we see once again how faithful God has been, how fruitful our work has {sometimes surprisingly!} turned out to be, and how very blessed we are.

    Sabbath joys to you, my New England friend …

    ;-}

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      1. I think I noticed that at the time, and didn’t think a thing of it because I didn’t come up with that image myself. If it’s the one I’m thinking of (the heart shaped stringy thing?) the talented people at The Redbud Post put the image with the article, and I was very happy with their good work.
        Maybe you’re not like me, but I do find that to be the most challenging part of blogging.

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    1. That’s taken from Eugene Peterson’s rendering of Jeremiah 15, and I’ve gotten so much good out of that chapter on Jeremiah’s prayer life.
      And yes, the month-end re-cap does help me to see that more has been going on in my writing life than I recall. And I enjoy reading other bloggers as well.

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  3. So true that we need to be reminded of truth, even truth we well know. I came across a new-to-me children’s song yesterday about God loving us on days everything goes well and on days when we fall way short – a truth I have known for decades, but it keeps almost bringing me near tears as that song keeps coming to mind. Sometimes when starting to write a blog post on something going on in my own heart, and searching my blog for something else, I’ll discover that I already wrote on that very thing some years previously.

    I use those little sticky tabs in books, too! I’ve really loved reading this book with a group online – I have gotten so much more out of it than I would have otherwise.

    I’ve read The Great Divorce but had forgotten that line. It’s one I need to tape on my mirror, my desk, my windowsill above the kitchen sink….

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    1. I keep running into lines in TGD that I remember, but had forgotten they came from this book. And, to be honest, I’d have said this used to be my least favorite of Lewis’s “theological” works because of the confusing thoughts on the afterlife, but I’d say now that it’s worth overlooking that because of the gorgeous truth about God and the Christian life.
      Are you planning to do a post on Jayber? If so, be sure to let me know, and I’ll share it.

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  4. Michele,
    Many of your posts resonated with me! I recently read through Jeremiah again, and God’s faithfulness through ALL the times His people turn away is truly amazing. We do need a continual reminding of His faithfulness because we are prone to forgetfulness when it comes to this. Having gone face to face with cancer for my second time and come out on the conquering side – I could relate to your Redbud post. I also like the reminder that God is right there with comfort when life’s trials and disappointments pierce our souls. All great stuff. Thank you for beauty and hope you bring to the blogging community and others.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  5. Michele,
    Always enjoy your musings and glean so much from them!

    This time in particular your statement that:
    “The application of ancient truth to a thoroughly modern life begins with opening the pages of Scripture and allowing the Spirit of God to speak truth into our words, our relationships, and our motives as we are led along His straight paths.”

    It reminded me of this verse from Jeremiah 6:16 Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

    Gratefully,

    Katie

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  6. I awoke this morning with such a heavy heart. Our circumstances feel so unbearable right now, and it is so hard to feel God. The words rushed through my mind, “What about when the prayer warriors need prayer?” So discouraged I felt, and then I came to the computer to find a precious, precious encouraging email from dear Bettie and I found your post in my inbox…both of them ministered deeply to my weary heart. The blogging community has become such a dear source of encouragement and blessing to me, too, Michele. I am so very thankful for it. I loved the passage you shared from Jeremiah…boy, was it what I needed right now.

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    1. Cheryl, I don’t know the details of your heavy heart, but will be praying for you. I just came from reading your piece about that sweet family recovering from the accident, and I’m convinced that God has given you a gift for carrying the burdens and entering into the pain of other people. That’s a lonely calling, and I’m sorry that the weight of it is bearing down on you this morning. Isn’t it wonderful that Jeremiah (the burden bearer of stubborn Israel!) found the great faithfulness of God to be so present that his lamentation stumbled into praise for God’s goodness right in the middle of anguish.
      Praying that for you, Cheryl.

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  7. Thank you for all of the book recommendations as well! I read C.S. Lewis Great Divorce a long time ago and I was just thinking a few days back that I wanted to revisit it. Thank you for the reminder, again! God bless!

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  8. I’m so glad you picked up The Great Divorce again…reading it always makes me want to read George MacDonald (to know the man who Lewis considered a great mind and guide!).

    Also, I do not know how I have never read those verse from Jeremiah, but I am so very glad you shared them today.

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    1. Everything sounds so different in The Message.
      Also, reading Lewis makes me want to read Chesterton, and (fingers crossed — and toes) I’m hoping to plow through Orthodoxy in 2018. . . we’ll see.

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  9. Change your words to change them – what a great thought to start my week with. Working on not whining? Ouch. 🙂 Thanks for good thoughts, as always and thanks for linking up at #inspirememonday!

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  10. Dear Michele, I so enjoyed your blog. What a great end to my Sunday finding you when I was reading Anita. I loved this saying, ‘Sometimes we need to hear the Truth again: God is still faithful. I know I needed it. I am in a new church and not very friendly so I was feeling sorry for myself. Blessings My friend. Diana

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  11. I’m always impressed by how many books you manage to read and you’ve covered a great selection this month! I liked your thoughts on Jeremiah- those reminders of God’s faithfulness are so important! Heading over to like your Facebook page!

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  12. Michele, Thank you for sharing all your good finds. Question? Where do you find all of this time to read? I know you must just love it and it is a priority. I love reading but never seem to have enough time.

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    1. I read faithfully every night before I go to sleep. And I carry a book with me all the time, so I can get a few pages in as I wait for pick up and drop off, and all the other waiting things that would make me grumpy, but because I get to read, I’m ok.
      I do read pretty fast, Maree, which is a sad thing when I’m really enjoying a book and wish it could last longer. (Like Jayber Crow which I just finished again last night and wish I had time to start it all over again.)

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  13. I always love this glimpse into your life. I’m glad you have stretched your writer page into the world of Facebook. I love seeing you there too.

    You have such a gift that you share here. Thank you for opening up this space to us each week.

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  14. Doesn’t this quote get right to the heart of our problem, “Friend, . . . [c]ould you, only for a moment, fix your mind on something not yourself?” I think it’s our lifelong battle! As always, enjoyed your musings, Michele. Blessings!

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  15. I love the quote on the graphic at the top of this post: Sometimes we need to hear the truth again, God is still faithful. And I am always encouraged by the lamentations of God’s people recorded in His Word. It reminds me I can share my deepest pain with God, even question what He does, as long as I remember He is God and I am not.

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    1. I was encouraged by the way God met Jeremiah in his discouragement with the same kinds of promises that were made at the beginning of the book when he called Jeremiah. I’m thankful that God is faithful — even when we come to him with our resignation notice!

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  16. Every time I read your blog I sit in wonder of how much reading you accomplish. I am enjoying my littles, but I also look forward to the day when I won’t get interrupted 15 times while trying to read and comment on even one blog post! Thanks for sharing all this. I always know where to come for a great book review. 🙂

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    1. I do remember the days of littles. When I was expecting #2, I had a very young toddler, and I was trying to read through a bunch of Russian novels — great big thick books with lots of names, and my only recollection of that period is gorgeous descriptions of vast, landscapes and getting hit in the face with a hardcover book when I fell asleep reading in bed.

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  17. Thanks Michele for the encouragement that God is still faithful-sometimes we need that reminder in a different way! I’m looking forward to checking out a few of the books as well. Thank you!

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  18. Wow, Pam wasn’t playing around with her reading, was she? 🙂 Isn’t the community the absolute best part of doing this. Well, actually, I think maybe I’m wrong. The best part is the calling…the participating in Kingdom work. But, it’s just like God to allow us to find enjoyment and community through the process. 🙂 Enjoy your musings, friend. And, yay for your FB page. I’m pretty sure I liked it already, but I’ll double check when I go back on FB. 🙂 xoxo

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    1. Yes, she reads like a warrior! An organized warrior.
      I’ve taken pages and pages of notes as I’ve read, but they won’t be around for long, so I should have used post its.
      Yes, when God gives, He gives in abundance!

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  19. In catching up with your posts with a good cup of coffee on this chilly day, I feel as if I was sitting with you versus hundreds of miles away. Your review speaks of many things, but one is clearly how much the Lord is using you in the lives of so many (including mine). I also love the pic of my Jayber Crow book that you used!

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    1. I have this idea that some day there will be a grand meeting of all the blogging community — maybe in the library of heaven, and we’ll sip our Celestial Roast in just the right mugs and laugh about how profound we thought we were and how, at times we came so close to the truth without even knowing it, and at other times (those times when we thought we were amazing!) we were missing the mark by a mile.

      Thanks for taking time to visit here and now.

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  20. Michele, I so enjoyed reading all of this. Many of the books sound amazing. I love CS Lewis and I also am a Sally Clarkson fan.

    I highlighted this quote from Unseen which you spoke of, “We will never know the comfort of God as our “refuge and strength” until we come to a place in our lives in which we need to take refuge.” Amen!

    I think I liked your group page and yes it is awesome to take new steps! Love the photo of the two laptops. Shows what fun it can be to do things together as you do here so often.

    I am encouraged here and love your heart for sharing. Have a wonderful week!

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