God promises to complete the work He has begun in you. Philippians 1:6

Musings: May 2018

Every spring, property owners here in Maine cede our rights over to the blackfly population. With their serrated jaws and overwhelming numbers, they swarm by the hundreds, drawn by breath and body heat, and driving even the most determined souls back into the safety of our homes. When my four sons were all small and yearning for the great outdoors after a long winter, I would pile them into the car and drive to a playground in town, just to escape the bloody, itchy, swollen mess the black flies inflict, aided by their buggy-brand of saliva which is both an anticoagulent (so the blood flows freely!) and an anesthetic (so you don’t realize they’re feasting on you!).

Apparently, early settlers here in Maine welcomed spring in spite of the blackflies, because it meant an end to their diet of un-refrigerated bear meat. The first dandelion greens were perfect medicine for the bleeding gums and boredom that accompanied the winter menu. The local lore is that black flies disappear after the first thunderstorm of the season, and, while I’ve never verified that scientifically, I can attest that they are usually still in full swarm mode when we begin planting the garden at the end of May.

On the Hill

Graduation

Our number two son graduated from University of Southern Maine in May, and it was delightful to celebrate that rite of passage with him and his lovely wife.The college guy is home, but working 60-hour weeks at his summer job and taking an on-line class, so it’s a stretch to call this “summer vacation” for him. On the home front, the school year is winding down with year-end concerts and an end in sight for the homeschooling routine. Meanwhile, the lawn-mowing business is booming.

On the Blog

Caregiving, Sandwich generation, Elderly parentsOn the first anniversary of my mum’s passing, I was invited to share my caregiving story at The Perennial Gen. It was so encouraging to hear the experiences of many others as they offered insight and support in the comments there and also here at Living Our Days.

Taming Anxiety over the UnknownAs a Redbud Writer, I contributed an article to the May Redbud Post, and enjoyed interacting with that community around the topic of Taming Anxiety. The truth is that whenever the unexpected happens, I’m thrown against the framework of my theology. Will it hold? Does what I believe about the sovereignty of God accommodate a veering turn that was not anywhere on my road map? With anxiety over the unknown comes a greater need for and reliance upon a sinewy faith in God’s good intentions toward me in this following life.

Resolve: The power of God is at work within my will, but it does not take the place of it.

 

And then, I was grateful to contribute to the daily conversation over at (in)courage with this post about the partnership of obedience that characterizes this following life.

 

Book reviews continue to be a great gathering place in these parts, and it was a delight to feature four books in May:

Katherine Clark’s story began on a routine Friday, volunteering at her son’s school. However, when she rounded the playground equipment in a schoolyard game of tag, one of the children bounded into the air from above and crashed into her head. She landed on the ground, paralyzed from the neck down, and Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope is her memoir of that collision and of her faithful response in the re-telling of it.

The Clarks learned that grief is “the faithful response to loss.” (211) In excerpts from Care Page posts that were written during Katherine’s hospitalization, John Clark (Katherine’s husband) shared the family’s story of laughter and tears. Their grief over all that was lost with the accident was tempered by hope and gratitude, “the sense that God [was] not only near, but that He [was] doing something mighty and altogether lovely in [their] midst.”

 

It was a pleasure to review Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God (Theologians on the Christian Life). Author, Joe Rigney presses into Lewis’s expression of his theology and considers its outworking in life on this planet. While it is true that C.S. Lewis was careful to remind his readers at every opportunity that he was not a biblical scholar nor a theologian, nonetheless, his writing has had an almost unparalleled impact on the way we think and talk about the Christian life. It is at this intersection of theology and practice that Rigney engages with Lewis’s words.

One of my favorite characteristics of Lewis’s thinking and writing is his ability to turn ideas on their heads until they suddenly–and unexpectedly–become very clear. Rigney’s goal in writing is not to explain Lewis so we don’t need to read him, but instead to create an appetite for his work, which he has definitely done in my case by quoting from The Weight of Glory, reminding me of the brand new copy that’s waiting for me on my bookcase.

 

I had been waiting for the release of Leslie Leyland Fields’s new book, a collection of 40 essays written by and for women over 40, and since I’m doing my own personal research on that season, it was a joy to read and to review.

Leslie Leyland Fields has hung a glorious and fitting banner over these years past the mid-point: The Wonder Years! With gathered wisdom,The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength shares insight from warrior-women who have lived and loved past the mid-point, offering both a resource and a tribute to women over forty.

 

In Almost Entirely: Poems (Paraclete Poetry) the reader is treated to the process of a woman becoming. As one who is “predisposed by nature to question everything,” (17) poet Jennifer Wallace reconciles her doubts with the presence of a God who is well able to take in hand her persistent wondering. In the process, God shows up in both surprising and ordinary ways, and the reader wins and is blessed by reflections that excavate grief and plumb the depths of disappointment with God and the journey toward peace and hope.

On My Mind

Memorial Day weekend was a busy time here on the hill. Trumpets are in demand, so our youngest participated in two different events, and we all managed to gather for the traditional hamburgers on the grill followed by apple pie. In all the rush, it’s pretty easy to forget the main reason we celebrate patriotic holidays. Even so, I wonder if patriotic holidays might be a great excuse for a little “peace seeking,” a perfect opportunity to fly the flag, sing the songs, and practice a little “irrational optimism.”  G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy is still on my night stand, and I shared thoughts here from chapter five on patriotism and “irrational optimism.” When our love for country is formed around a deep belief that God is at work in our circumstances, we are better equipped to look for Him to be at work in our country and in our world.

Patriotism, Pessimism, Church, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton,

When the family gathered on Memorial Day weekend, we planted all the seeds and set the gardening process in motion for another year. It was an amazing gift to receive so much help this year! My garden is one way that God really demonstrates that He is at work, and I’m looking forward to participating once again in the glorious rhythms of seed time and harvest.

Thank you for the encouragement of your company and the gift of your time here,

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.

82 thoughts on “Musings: May 2018”

  1. Michele, you are busy! I get tired just reading about your month. I admire the many connections you have in the writing world. You are an excellent writer and thinker. I want to read the article you wrote about your mom. Even though it has been 10 years since my mom’s passing, I think about her often. I was her caretaker for her last 3 years after she had a stroke. I was blessed to be able to give back to the woman who gave so much to me.

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    1. So challenging to care for a stroke survivor! I was grateful that my mum’s decline was mainly in mobility and vision. She passed away very suddenly, and was only really sick for a few hours. That caregiving journey is a rough road and in my case, it really revealed a lot of my weaknesses. God knows just the right sandpaper to use, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All I can say is that you must be a wonderfully focused user of your time and a wise manager of your days, Michele. Amazing what you are able to pack into just a few short weeks.

    And I love your garden posts. Even thought it’s been decades since I tended one. I’m living vicariously …

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    1. I’m eager for the appearance of those little green shoots. The garden is always so beautiful when it’s new. My family was here over Memorial Day weekend and they helped in amazing quantities so I can just barely believe the planting is done already!

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  3. I also enjoy your month in review as I reflect on the things you’ve written even as you do. In these musings you invite us into your life to know you a bit better and I love that.

    Have a blessed weekend and I hope you can avoid the black flies 💕😊

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    1. Well, the mosquitoes have made their appearance now, so I guess I can be thankful that at least their annoying presence distracts me from the blackflies? We love New England!

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  4. Once my husband and his son took a 2-day canoeing trip (here in Minnesota). Several hours ahead of schedule I got a phone call asking me to pick them up further upstream than planned. The black flies had driven them mad and forced them to get off the river early. They really are terrible things! Bless your week.

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    1. Yes! I understand that one of the reasons moose get hit by automobiles in wooded areas is that they run into the road, blinded by the pesky things. Maine and Minnesota must be just about on the same latitude line, so it makes sense we’d have the same critters!

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  5. MM, lovely end of month post. Mum’s one-year anniversary in Glory. You okay? Black flies sound quite grizzly. Apple pie sounds quite sizzly. Mowing sounds taxing. And, my reading is laxing. Little poetry for you to make you smile. TOMORROW IS APPRAISAL. P.R.A.Y.

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    1. I feel honored to receive one of your poetic works! Writing the word “APPRAISAL” on a sticky note and plastering it on tomorrow’s planner square to remind me! W.A.T. -> Water test, Appraisal, Termite hunt

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  6. Congratulations to your son! The blackflies sound horrible. I don’t think we have them down south, at least not that I’ve heard. But we do have fire ants. No fun. People who move here from the north sometimes complain about all the bugs here, claiming there are not so many where they are from due to hard freezes killing them off. So I was surprised to hear of your blackflies and mosquitoes. But I guess there is a difference between “not as many” and “not any.” 🙂

    The last couple of years I have watched the Memorial Day concert on PBS, usually the Sunday evening before Memorial Day. It has helped me to remember what the holiday is for before the burger cookout the next day.

    Glad you had so much help with your planting!

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    1. Winter kill does take care of a lot of the critter issues up here, and the black flies are very temporary. Mosquitoes persevere through the summer, but we don’t get malaria.
      I’ve heard that the PBS concert is amazing.
      And that gift of help from my kids was incredible! Totally unexpected and very precious!

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  7. Sounds like a busy and full month up your way! My condolences on the blackflies. I grew up in central Florida and we had to put up with “lovebugs” (it feels like it happened twice a year.) The lovebugs did not hurt or bite but they mated everywhere and swarms of them grew so thick that they clogged up windshields and headlights on our vehicles. Heaven help you if they got on your clothes and you accidentally sat on them. The stains left by their remains were permanent.

    Happy gardening and mowing season to you!

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    1. I lived in Georgia long enough to know that we have nothing to complain about up here compared to our friends in the south. Of course, that does not stop us from complaining . . . 🙂

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  8. Hi Michele, I love reading musings such as this each month. I write a post and so do several of my blogging friends. It is a great way to get to know each other a little more. Congratulations to your son on his gradution. I’ve just become a grandmother again this week which has been my exciting news.

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  9. Lovely summary Michele, we have sand & march flies here in Australia that are bities! Nasty little insects but they only last a month so, we use natural bug protection sprays when we go out.

    Congratulations to your son on his graduation!
    Jennifer

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  10. I am also enjoy doing book reviews.
    Between trying to keep up with my Bible reading, Scripture writing and reviews I stay pretty busy, too.

    I have also switched from my blogger blog to WordPress.
    Taking lots of time to set it up. So far I am liking WordPress.

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. I love begin able to share what I’m reading with friends, and blogging has been great for that. I’m glad you are also enjoying reviews. And yes, my brain is pretty well-entertained–but that’s a good thing!
      Thanks for reading and encouraging!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Michele, I enjoyed this wonderful recap of all that’s been going on in your life and on your blog (and beyond). When you spoke about your anxiety post, your words really resonated with me: whatever I go through, whatever life throws my way, I must test it with God’s truth. I am grateful to say He’s proven time and again how faithful He is.
    Thank you for your inspiring words, dear friend.
    Marva | SunSparkleShine

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  12. Michele, what a treasure trove of rich wisdom you’ve stored up and shared here! I think I could read nothing but this post for the rest of the year and be “well fed.” Thank you so much! Pinning! #Grace&Truth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my goodness, Elizabeth! Thank you for that wonderful encouragement, and thanks for pinning! (I’m trying to fathom Pinterest these days, so I just went searching for you!)

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  13. Michele, your opening makes me think about the horseflies which have taken reign in my garage. Oh, how I wish a thunderstorm would drive them out! Searching for a solution this weekend. Also, thanks for the poetry book recommendation. I’ve added it to my wish list. Blessings to you!

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    1. Ugh! My son and daughter-in-law had a fly infestation last summer. I think they just had to get really good with a fly swatter.
      Reminders that we live on a fallen planet . . .
      I love it when friends enjoy poetry!

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    1. They’re pretty intense. The good news is that they are completely brainless. A mosquito inside your vehicle will drive you nuts and go on stealth missions to steal your blood. A black fly finds the nearest window and just climbs it endlessly, always starting over, and I guess, it just eventually dies. Outside, however, they swarm around your head like wild things. I feel sorry for horses and cows who live outside!

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  14. Michele,
    I don’t have much time to read, but had to make time for your delightful “Musings”!! So glad I did. As always a collection of what really stood out to you. Sharing your love of how Lewis completely turns thoughts on their heads 🙂
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Well, I think we may be past the peak season.
      You must be bit behind us, as I understand your winter lingered long.
      My mother was born and raised in NB, and I still have an aunt and uncle who live there, so there’s a small piece of my heart that belongs to the Maritimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I so relate to the anxiety. I am prone to panic attacks which began when I was in 6th grade (maybe not as severe as others but unpleasant the same). Anyway, I am entering into a situation with one of mine that I am praying about, and have decided all I can do is lean on God’s intentions for this outcome. But still, the anxiety is one to wrangle with. I will follow the link and read about your caregiving. We were blessed not to have to do that with my mom who passed 20+ years ago, but have a friend that has recently and will share the link with her. Thanks for all you share here. I too review books and enjoy reading your reviews. Thanks for sharing your scripture blessing over at Sunday Scripture Blessings. Always enjoy seeing your link there.

    Peabea

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    1. Thank you for these thoughts, particularly on trusting God’s good intentions toward you and your loved one. It’s so hard to pray when we don’t see evidence of change, and yet God travels through us in this challenge as well. Thanks for so much evidence of your trusting.
      Blessings to you, Peabea!

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  16. I so enjoyed catching up on your May and your family musings. I can certainly relate to the black flies. We also have them here in the Keweenaw. Such nasty little critters! Haven’t heard the thunderstorm theory. They usually hang around about a month – start to finish. They always get me good when I’m getting my flower pots ready for the summer – and we won’t even talk about being outdoors in June! On a side note, I accidentally deleted (forever) your blossom comment on my blog this morning. If you have time, please drop it to me again. Promise I won’t delete it this time. Blogger is still trying to fix the recent comment moderation bug.

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  17. After living without hope via a situation in my life, I found it again when reading Romans 5:3-5. Your sign, “hope against all hope” blessed me immensely. Thank you! So glad I found you at Peabea Scribles! 🙂

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    1. I’m always so grateful when readers let me know what has been helpful for them. I have also been blessed by Paul’s writing in Romans 5, particularly about the “hope that does not disappoint!” Trusting that this continues to be your experience!

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  18. I’ve always wanted to visit Maine. Apparently, I don’t want to visit it in the spring! Visiting from Sunday Thoughts.

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    1. Good thinking! August is a good month if you want to do outside activities. If you love crisp air and lovely scenery, go for late September or early October (depending on the turning of the foliage on any given year!).

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  19. Wow, this is an incredible list! Almost Entirely looks right up my alley (once upon a time I minored in poetry)…plus, it does have a bird on the cover. Told you I love feathers! 😉

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  20. Oh the black flies…My husband went to college in Unity, Maine, and he talks about these often! I enjoyed catching up on your month, Michele. This morning I pray for God’s goodness to pursue you – to chase you down – as you minister to so many and dive into the official start of summer! Thanks for doing what you do with grace and wisdom! You’re a blessing in so many ways.

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    1. Oh, yes! Unity is inland and wooded as I recall. (I went to a 10-day training event back in the 80’s that was held at Unity College! I still remember looking out the window of my dorm room and seeing cows!)
      Thank you for that prayer, because I love the notion of God chasing me down to do good!

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  21. The worst black flies I ever experienced were at Hay River on Great Slave Lake. We were on a flying camping trip in the Northwest Territories and landed to get fuel and some lunch. We got our gas okay but walking to a cafe we were beaten back by the hoards of flies. I don’t remember where we had lunch, but it wasn’t in Hay River for sure. – Margy

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  22. We get horrible little mayflies here and I am allergic to their bites to any little bite swells… so while I always long for spring I am quickly reminded that all mosquitoes and bugs just love me. Not fun.. Thanks for sharing your May with us at Love to Learn. Pinned.

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