Musings: April 2018

Musings: April 2018

When a committee of five gathered to draft the Declaration of Independence, it was Thomas Jefferson’s pen that framed the colonies’ complaints against England. Then, taking their own quills in hand, his colleagues made 43 changes to the document, and when it was presented to Congress, they made an additional forty-plus edits. Learning that Thomas Jefferson weathered no fewer than 86 alterations to his draft is a lesson to me about the importance of collaborative process. It’s also a warning for me and all writers about the value of holding loosely to our ideas with a mature objectivity so our offerings can be improved upon by editors and others who care enough to give their input.

On the Road

This little historical moment has come courtesy of my visit to the National Archives where a friendly volunteer docent answered our many questions and enhanced our visit with his wealth of knowledge.

With traffic and frequent stops to stretch a St. Bernard’s legs, it’s a good 10-11 hour drive to our friends’ house in Delaware. We were thankful to have that time in the car with our youngest son and his best buddy, and it was fun to listen to an audio book along the way.

Our day trip to D.C. was packed with more sights and sounds than we could properly absorb, but we maintained a pretty relaxed pace for the remainder of our vacation. It’s good to be back home again well-rested, and I was thankful for a week away from Living Our Days so that I could focus on living my days in real life.

On the Blog

Have you ever had the experience of someone calling something out in you that you didn’t know was there? That’s what Kelly Baker did when she invited me to write a post for her site on the topic of time management.  Could I really do that?

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Community among believers is so valuable, and I invite you to visit her place to read the post and also to profit from the great writing and spiritual insights you will find in other posts.

Every Day Habits of Holiness

It was also a pleasure to be on the receiving end of hospitality from Sarah Koontz and the Living By Design community where I shared some thoughts on spiritual disciplines in the context of everyday life. Everyday habits of holiness nurture our faith and remind us that God is, indeed, ever present and always available.

The Crash and Burn of a God-sized DreamIt’s been a joy to be a regular contributor to the God-sized Dreams website, and when this time rolled around the theme was “When Your God-sized Dreams Go Wrong.” With a rueful smile, I shared a crash-and-burn ministry fail that happened early on in my ministry, how it has stayed with me, and what I learned in the aftermath. I hope you’ll pop in over there for a quick read!

With all that virtual gadding about (and a vacation in real life!), there wasn’t much time for book reviews, but I was happy to share three very special books in the month of April:

Amy Simpson noticed early on that the tidy claims of Christianity were not lining up with the reality she was living at home. Suffering from the impact of her mother’s serious and debilitating mental illness, her family was certainly not strolling toward heaven with all their needs met and a smile on their faces. In fact, even though they seemed to be “doing the Christian life” according to all the patterns and prerequisites, their family was always just shy of “normal” and the provision they experienced always just short of enough. Unsatisfied with government cheese and feeling deprived on every level, Amy’s childhood was characterized by unmet longings and the dream of a“normal” life.

At this point, standard issue story-telling practices beg for an ending tied with a bow:  college, marriage, a successful career, and a loving family of her own–all a straight arrow toward deep satisfaction. However, in Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World, the reader is caught up in paradox, for even though many of Amy’s personal and professional goals have been met, she confesses that she still lives “with a kind of unsatisfaction that will not be lifted in this life.”

It was also my privilege and joy to serve on two book launch teams this month!

Jamie Sumner is one of my favorite people in the magical world of blogging. She writes with a blend of intelligent prose and humor that is more a grin than a guffaw, and we frequently exchange eye rolls over the mothering life and fan-girl squeals over C.S. Lewis quotes.

I wish her book had been written 25 years ago because motherhood, for me, started out like a tightrope walk. To keep my balance and maintain my place on the tightly stretched wire, I read all the books, analyzed all the angles, second guessed all the decisions, and the only thing that saved my sanity is that Google had not been invented yet.

I’m still in the process of taking grace for this mothering gig, and one huge encouragement along the way is the shared experiences of others. Jamie Sumner is also a mother who walks on the tightly-wound side, and Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood is a memoir of her mothering journey in which she allows her own story to tell itself, while weaving in fresh re-tellings of the familiar life stories of biblical women.

Then, as a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild, I’m getting to know a platoon of gifted women who write and serve God in a number of ways. Shelli Hunt Wildman is first a mum and then a writer, and her thoughts on parenting in First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship invite readers into an intentional practice of envisioning the kind of family we want and then, by God’s grace, doing what needs to be done to make that vision become a reality. Fortunately, Shelly is writing from a place of self-awareness that prevents her from sounding off as a “parenting expert.” With honesty about her own shortcomings and failures, she shares her own goal of greater mindfulness with the voice of a fellow-traveler on this bumpy road of parenting.

 On My Nightstand

OrthodoxyG.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy has a permanent spot on my nightstand this year, and is also finding a place in my heart. April’s installment of the on-going discussion centered around the challenge of Chapter 4.  In his pre-Christian life, Chesterton worked to frame a personal philosophy or a “natural religion” (75) that would express his thinking about some of the fundamentals of life.

Imagine his surprise in finding that (1) the essence of all he had “discovered” was already embedded in Christianity; (2) his thinking about the world had been shaped by his reading of fairy tales. If you missed the post, catch it here, and be sure to add your own thoughts to the discussion.

Meaning Orthodoxy

 

One of Madeleine L’Engle’s lesser known works found its way onto my night stand last year, and I’ve been plugging away at it, but a recent bout with a stomach virus helped me to make some real progress. (Hey, lemonade, right?)
Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Places (Wheaton Literary Series) is classic-Madeleine with her insights on faith and practice interspersed with anecdotal accounts from her interesting life. The strange title springs from her visit to Antarctica and her musings on the human tendency to make idols out of the good gifts of God which He grants as icons:  “An icon is something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God and God’s demands on us than I would otherwise.”

“Whatever is an open door to God is, for me, an icon.” (16)

On the Hill

At Christmas time, I had the urge to take a blogging break, but (very unwisely) let the pile of books on my bureau bully me into persevering through the end of the year. Consequently, I’ve been running and writing on fumes ever since.

Live and learn.

Vacation with family was just what I needed to refuel and then return with new energy. When we returned, the crocuses had made their appearance, and daffodils had sprouted and multiplied as if they had an actual business plan! Spring is slowly making her presence known here in Mid-coast Maine. We’re still a long way from planting the garden, but it’s never too early to start dreaming about those sunflowers and ripe tomatoes.

I’m encouraged these days by the spontaneous words of praise from Jeremiah from his context of imprisonment and national chaos:

 “‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”  (Jeremiah 32:17)

Whatever challenges you are facing today, my prayer for you is that you also are encouraged by God’s ability to do anything and His wisdom in knowing just the right thing to do.

Rejoicing in the Truth,


Many thanks to my friend Abby who created the lovely “April” image and then graciously allowed me to use it here, thereby extending my vacation by the minutes/hours it would have taken me to produce an image for this post.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the titles listed in this post simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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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 nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. 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.

71 thoughts on “Musings: April 2018”

  1. You amaze me with your prolific writing and contributions to so many terrific sites, Michele. And such quality of content and writing skill you exhibit! Happy you had a break and ‘lived your days’ while on your trip. Love to read your posts.

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    1. My goodness, I should print this comment and carry it around with me for a few days to get the full impact of all its positive feedback. Thanks for your regular encouragement here in the comments (and for the frequent smiles and commiserations over Maine living that I enjoy over at your place!)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, sweet friend! You have been busy! I am so thankful you had a wonderful vacation with your family and also hope you are feeling completely well from the stomach virus. Your words at the end of this post struck me deeply, “are encouraged by God’s ability to do anything and His wisdom in knowing just the right thing to do.” I now await answers for two things, and my anxiety level has been over the roof…I swing between laying it all down at Jesus’ feet, then going back and picking it back and worrying about it all over again. Your words were so edifying to me this morning. God bless you for your faithfulness!

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    1. That verse in Jeremiah keeps rising to the surface for me, and that word of truth about God’s wisdom that comes along with His power was so encouraging to me as well. It’s so tempting to exercise our abs with the putting down and picking up of burdens. Better to exercise our faith by leaving them with God–and then turn on a workout video . . . 🙂

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  3. This recap made me smile, Michele. As I’ve read your words throughout the past season, I remembered what I was doing as I read some of the posts described above. This is also challenging me to recap our past few months! There’s something powerfully transforming about that kind of looking back! Thanks for this today!

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  4. I’m glad you enjoyed your break! I know what you mean about “running and writing on fumes”. I took a break last week too and even a short break makes such a difference! I enjoyed learning about the edits to the Declaration of Independence! I’m going to be working with an editor for the first time on something soon so that is encouraging to remember!

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    1. I always find the input of editors to be a gift–so much of this blogging life is done from the seat of our pants and with only our own eyes to find mistakes and glaring inconsistencies! (Yipes!) But I also know the feeling of minor grumpiness when I am working with another site and they cut or change. As they say, sometimes we have to slay our darlings! Poor Thomas!

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  5. Wow, Michele! You HAVE been busy! I don’t know how you do it all! So maybe I should stop by Kelly’s to find out more about your time management style! 😉 Also, thanks for these book reviews. The book by Amy looks intriguing to me.

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    1. It seems like so long ago that I wrote that review, but Amy’s book is so helpful because she’s sharing her own story, but dipping into her rich experiences in helping others–kinda like you, Beth!

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  6. It’s always a pleasure to read what you’ve been doing over the month! How blessed to have opportunities to write for other bloggers blogs. They are both wonderful ladies!

    I have yet to visit Washington D.C. My husband is going there on business at the end of June, but I need to work. One of these days. lol.

    When I was homeschooling my children we read a Madeleine L’Engle book, but I can’t remember the title or what it was about. But I do remember I loved her writing!

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I always appreciate the hospitality of others in this great community! And I also appreciate your taking time to read my end of month ponderings. Yes, you would love D.C., and L’Engle’s writing is always a great gift!

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  7. It was the April image that brought me to your post from the LMMLinkup today! Nice of your friend Abby to share it with you. D.C. is a really neat place to visit. Wow, a St. Bernard on a long road trip! The audio book was a great idea. Hope you’re recharging. Blessings for the week ahead!

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  8. Sounds like you had an action packed April! Hope you had a fun time on your vacation. And I enjoyed that little snippet of information on how many rounds of editing the Constitution went through!

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    1. Fascinating, right?
      There’s a huge painting in the Archives that depicts all the signers, sort of standing in a candid way. I think it was painted long after the fact, but the docent shared all kinds of interesting (and juicy) tidbits about the process and the people. A good story makes everything more interesting!

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  9. I love how God is using you here, there, and everywhere! You’re touching many souls with great heapings of wisdom, Michele.

    And I’m one of them.

    Bless you. I’m grateful every time our paths cross …

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  10. My husband has always wanted to visit DC. My two oldest went there on senior trips, but the youngest missed it due to a change in schools. Maybe someday! Glad you got to go!

    I’ve been struggling with words in my writing lately, and just recently in a book by an author I have been reading for some 30-35 years, she said that writing didn’t come easily for her. I was shocked but also encouraged that my experience wasn’t all that unusual, and if I keep slogging on, hopefully eventually it will come together. 🙂 I didn’t realize the Declaration of Independence had gone through so many revisions, but I understand it – the writing process itself calls for that, and trying to gel a satisfactory conglomeration of ideas and opinions can’t help but take multiple tries.

    I appreciate that distinction between an icon and an idol. Icons had always bothered me for being a little too close to idols, but L’Engle’s contrast makes sense.

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    1. Elisabeth Elliot (our hero!) always said that she would rather do house work than write because she knew how to clean a room and what results to expect. I think she also struggled with the writing life, but it sure was not apparent!
      Some of my writing is for a children’s organization as a volunteer, and it’s always VERY group process. I write a draft and it gets picked at and suggestions are made. Sometimes I get it back for revisions and sometimes they just like it and take it as is. Either way, there’s always LOTS of input, sometimes very helpful (sometimes not), but it’s really taught me to hold onto my ideas loosely when I’m working with a group.
      I’ve had so little exposure to “icons” that I really didn’t have a carefully formed opinion, but I know there are certainly things that help me to feel closer to God–and also things that get in the way. It’s good to be conscious of that!

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  11. As always, I enjoyed reading about all your goings on and your book reviews! I’m going to have to find that Madeline L’Engle book! Thanks for joining with us at the #LMMLinkup! Blessings to you! xo

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    1. I hope you will! This is never the Madeleine Book that gets quoted, and I think I’m reading a lot of thoughts in it that I’ve read elsewhere . . .? But she references her accident and some things about her life after the death of her husband (but so far nothing about the death of her son.)

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  12. How fun to take a day trip to D.C. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve walked around D.C, but would love to do it again. I loved your post on Kelly’s site about time management. I’m glad she called that out of you! 🙂

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  13. It is so important to heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives isn’t it & not be over influenced by expectations either of ourselves or others.
    Glad you had a rest & refreshed in the end!
    Jennifer

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  14. Sounds like April was busy, productive, and restful all at the same time. I am so glad you took a week off and enjoyed D.C. I haven’t been there since I was much younger. I bet the trip filled the inquisitive part of your personality well.

    I love that we have shared GSD as one of our common sites to write, share, learn, and dream. I am still wrapping my head around the pause but know that I have loved that community dearly. Let’s hope May brings many surprises, lots of writing, and time with community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we’re going to miss that regular interaction with a very special group of women. I’m looking at it right now, as grace — an unexpected pause and an open space for God to fill in the meantime. Will you be doing a recap post this month?

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  15. Glad you got a vacation and breather. We live about 30 miles south of D.C., and have taken so many trips up there that I’d rather stay home. 😉 But I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    Thanks for continuing to share your wisdom with us. You have a beautiful heart and are an inspiration more than you know! 🙂

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  16. Wow! I had to take a breath! That’s a lot of doing for one month. It sounds like I need to take a blogging break myself. How great to come back refreshed and have a month full of so many blessings. Enjoy your crocuses and daffodils. I know the tomatoes and sunflowers will be along soon enough. Have a great week!

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    1. Donna, I’m always pleased when I see your name and face pop up in my comments. Yes, it was a full month, but that week away from the internet really helped me to breathe more freely!

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  17. Ha! Writers (even those who enjoy editing) still need an editor… That’s for sure! I recently gave my sister-in-love a copy of what I thought was a pretty final draft I’m about to publish and was shocked (and appalled at myself) and ever so grateful for all the silly errors she discovered! We cannot work in a vacuum. All your recent endeavors are staggering! Blessings to you!

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  18. Love the reminder of our need for others and to hold our first drafts loosely, Michele. Sounds like a lovely and well-deserved vacation. Louis L’amour was my Mom’s favorite author growing up, probably still is. What fun to see his name here. : )

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    1. Your mum must be an adventurous soul! I sort of tease my husband about his undying affection for Louis’s larger than life protagonists, but I have to admit that it made for some entertaining listening as we ate up the miles.

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  19. You sure have a busy life. I just came over from #WOW. Blogging is very time consuming isn’t it, especially when you write such detailed posts like yours. I try to use lots of pictures and few words. Even then it takes a lot of time. – Margy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We must have different approaches to blogging, because for me, the words come much more quickly than the pictures. I’ve had some help in that department from a friend, but even so, I still find the words to be a labor of love, and the pictures . . . are just labor!

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  20. I had to share that opening post with my writing group today and they had the same reaction I did…wow! I’m finding myself gravitating to your blog often. Thanks for being a part of my regular doses of Godly truth.

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    1. Well, I feel as if I was honored to be part of your group for a few minutes! (Wow, a writing group. What a great gift you guys are giving each other!) That little tidbit of information at the Archives was probably my favorite thing from that very full day of history and beauty!
      Happy to have you gravitating!

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  21. Oh the image of Louis L’Amour book brought back so many memories of my oldest when young and home. He loved those stories. Would write excerpts in his journal. I always enjoy my visit to your blog…so full of life and information. My daughter’s family went to DC last year on vacation. Have never been, but sounds like a great experience. She had gone with her school years ago, but with this vacation so enjoyed sharing all our history better and with her family. Thanks for visiting and linking with Sunday Scripture Blessings. Have wonderful week ahead.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

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    1. It’s good to know that we’ve shared some reading experiences in the past. And my two oldest sons still really enjoy their “Louis Books.” When my husband wants to relax and read something just for fun, he revisits on of his old westerns.
      Thanks, Peabea, for your kind words!

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  22. There’s so much inspiration and encouragement in this post, Michele! I need to make a cup of tea and go click through on some of those links. I’m particularly interested to learn from your experience with ministry early on. How wonderful you were able to visit the National Archives as well! Thank you so much for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Sharing your post on Twitter. Have a lovely week!

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