Musings: May 2019

May has been a month for gathering and for celebrating milestones. Our third son graduated from Eastern Maine Community College on a Friday afternoon, and then the family landed here on the hill that Sunday for Mother’s Day.

On Monday of that same weekend, the Ladies’ Missionary Fellowship came for a turkey dinner and our final meeting before summer break. I’m grateful whenever I can fling open the door of welcome, either physically or metaphorically, and this spring, there has been a steady stream of comings and goings.

 

We were grateful for the opportunity to hear our youngest son play his trumpet in the orchestra at Maine’s All State Music Festival. And of course it was just icing on the cake that our grandson came to spend the night with us that weekend, snoozing in his dad’s old sleeping bag and chowing down on blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

May Reading and Writing

May was also a month of joyful gallivanting around to other people’s sites to write and interact with readers there:

Self-Discipline:  A Matter of Grit and Grace What a treat to be invited to writeSelf-discipline is a matter of grit and grace. about the legacy of Elisabeth Elliot! I chose to focus on her incredible self-discipline and her humble admission that she didn’t always have it all together herself. And I loved her wry humor. When asked about self-discipline and weight loss, she noted that no one is actually qualified to address self-discipline around eating habits because if you don’t struggle with your weight, you don’t know how hard it is, and if you do struggle, you’ve got no room to talk!  Click here to read the tribute to Elisabeth’s impact for Jesus Christ.

Make it your practice to begin working on your spiritual goals by addressing today’s adjacent possible.Reaching Out for the Adjacent Possible— If you’re feeling overwhelmed in trying to reach your goals, maybe the problem is that you’re reaching too far all at once. Over at Living by Design Ministries with Sarah Koontz, I’m sharing thoughts on a concept called The Adjacent Possible. Adjacent means ‘in close proximity’. If I am looking for The Adjacent Possible, I stop scanning the horizon for a “eureka” moment and begin looking close by for a small positive step in the right direction. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s working for you in accomplishing your spiritual growth goals. Head on over to read more about following hard after Jesus one glorious step at a time.

When Meghan Weyerbacher said I could write about whatever was interesting toIt turns out that as we reframe our inner monologue, we actually change the way our brain works. me at the moment, I knew my guest post would have to be about the science behind renewing our minds (as the Apostle Paul has urged us to do!) Over at Meg’s place, you can read more about neuroplasticity, transformation, and God’s delight in coming alongside us when we expand our boundaries for His glory. And while you are there, be sure to read about the two books she has launched into the world!

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We managed to fit in a few reviews this month, and they covered books I’ve been waiting for with great anticipation. I’ll share a link to my reviews, and a quick sentence or two here just to whet your appetite. And while we’re on the subject, what have you been reading this spring?

Mended by Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh— God is in the business of mending broken hearts and broken relationships, so Blythe and Helen invite readers into His neutral territory in hope that sharing individual thoughts and desires will lead to standing on common ground together.

Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel–Jen Pollock Michel asserts that biblical faith “abides complexity rather than resists it.” (4) She wonders aloud about doubt and certainty, humility and hope, and then settles into the examination of four themes in Scripture in which paradox abounds: Incarnation, Kingdom, Grace, and Lament.

The Color of Life by Cara Meredith–Cara Meredith is one of the voices I have listened for as she navigates her own way toward seeing color and blazes trail with her words. A white woman married to a black man, Cara is raising two mixed-race sons, and she shares this emergence from her own white bubble with one eye on the future for her two children and the other cast back into history which has been shaped toward justice by the influence of her father-in-law, James Meredith, the first black man to graduate from the University of Mississippi in the early 60’s.

The Power of Christian Contentment by Andrew M. Davis–In 1643, Jeremiah Burroughs unearthed Paul’s secret in great detail in The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment. Pastor and author Andrew M. Davis revisits the classic work, providing updated illustrations and a fresh look at Burrough’s wise counsel:

“To be well schooled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.” (40)

The Power of Christian Contentment begins by documenting Paul’s credentials for his claim, reminding readers that, while Paul tested the limits of extreme discipleship, contentment was not something he was born with or that came to him on the Damascus Road.

On the Radio

On a cold day in March when spring was still just “a promise in the closed fist of a long winter,” Susan B. Mead and I connected via Skype for a conversation across the miles. I appreciated the time we spent together and was challenged by her heart for ministry and her enthusiastic pursuit of an advanced degree happening alongside a brave adventure into radio ministry. Her program on Grace and Truth Radio airs every Friday at 4:30 Eastern Time. Click here to listen in on our conversation.

Another Book Discussion Group?

This summer here in real-life Maine, I’ll be meeting with a group of women at the home of a good friend throughout the months of July and August to learn from each other as we discussSensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown. The story centers around four women whose lives are woven together by their time at a retreat center. As they learn life lessons about how to deal with sin, how to talk to God, and how a relationship with God impacts on all their other relationships, the reader is swept up in the learning process as well.

I’m hoping to take this discussion over onto a Facebook group, so even though most of you are geographically far removed from our weekly face-to-face meetings over coffee, you will be able to read along, ask and answer questions, and take part in the learning process. More details will follow as the time approaches!

Thanks for your input here, for all the ways you enter in and encourage throughout the month. Some of the best thoughts at Living Our Days happen in the comments section, and that’s because of you!

 


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 books mentioned in this post, simply click on the title within the text of my review, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a very small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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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Musings: April 2019

A worn banister sits at the center of a colonial-era farmhouse in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There, the winter of 1777-78 brought deep suffering, privation, and grueling labor in freezing cold with the goal of building adequate housing for the Colonial Army–two thousand small cabins. Once his men were settled, George Washington took up residence–along with twenty-five of his aides, servants, and slaves–in a nearby farmhouse that became his home and his headquarters for the duration of that six-month stint of military maneuvers.

As the docent shared the historic details, I wondered about all the hands that had touched that banister on their way up and down the stairs. Hands, black and white, slave and free, male and female, would have grazed or gripped that sturdy piece of wood in the run of their day, completely oblivious to the historic significance of their presence in that home or of that period. Like them, we have no idea how significant our actions may be when seen in the rear view mirror of history.

A break from the routine is one of the greatest gifts of vacation time, and it was encouraging to drive south toward daffodils, green grass, and trees in full blossom.  We laughed together and listened to The Chronicles of Narnia as we traveled, and Tucker was a good dog. We enjoyed catching up with friends and quiet evenings with books in our laps.

And then it was good to come home for a celebration of Good Friday and Easter Sunday with our church family.

Parenting and Poetry

In May, I will celebrate 29 years with my unreasonably patient husband. If I do the math, factoring in the ages of our children, the years before kids, the gardens planted, and the gray hair in the mirror, I know this makes perfect sense. And all this goodness has come to someone who had neither the good sense nor the optimism to pray for it.

The rhythms of married life have come quite easily to us, and we’re grateful. There was very little seismic adjustment at the outset, and even though I am not the easiest person in the world to live with, apparently my faults are commensurate with my husband’s capacity for forbearance.

Parenting, however, has been a different story.
Not that God didn’t give us four great kids.
He did.
But there’s nothing like pouring yourself out in four different directions 24/7/365 to show up all your selfishness and theological inconsistencies.

It’s easy to feel isolated in this inadequacy, to feel as if you are the worst mother in the country and in the top ten for worst in the world. If you feel that way and you enjoy reading poetry, you’ll find a friend in Rachel Donahue, because she wrote Real Poems for Real Moms: from a Mother in the Trenches to Another in the small spaces between the real challenges of her own mothering life.

Who else but a mother in the trenches could come up with a seven-part haiku series on the rigors of diaper changing? With feverish relevance, Rachel writes about the multitude of topics that trigger mum guilt, and, fortunately, she also knows about grace, the only known solvent for stubbornness and fear.

Dyed-in-the-wool poetry geeks will recognize overtones of Browning, Frost, Hopkins, and others tucked into tongue in cheek renderings and more somber reflections because the truth is that motherhood is a fleeting season. We rejoice and lament by turns, and somehow, in the days of mundane faithfulness we are amazed to find ourselves growing in grace and being transformed from the inside out by the miracle of our love for our children.

April Reading and Writing

A Melody Above the Noise of Your Grief–
A counselor challenged Aubrey Sampson and her husband to lean into the invitation suffering offers, to stop trying to “handle it,” fix it, understand it, or explain it away and, in the presence of the deep loss, to allow, “the unanswerable to remain unanswered while still declaring that suffering will not have the final say.” (11) I had been eagerly awaiting Aubrey’s thoughts on lament, and I was not disappointed!

Why It’s Great to Be a Woman–
Elisabeth Elliot famously said, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” Now, Abigail Dodds has added her own calm voice of reason to the conversation about just exactly what it means to be a Christian AND to be a woman. “How we feel about being a woman doesn’t have any bearing on what we are. We may feel like we don’t fit the mold, but God calls us to live in a way that shatters the world’s expectations.” (61)

Knowing God in the Midst of Our Pain

Published nearly four years after Elisabeth Elliot’s death, Suffering Is Never for Nothing has been adapted from a six-part series Elisabeth taught and which was recorded on CD at a small conference. Readers familiar with Elliot’s message will recognize her voice in the printed page as she asserts that it has been through “the deepest suffering that God has taught [her] the deepest lessons.” (1) “And let’s never forget,” she continues, “that if we don’t ever want to suffer, we must be very careful never to love anything or anybody.” (9) Beginning with lessons drawn from the life of Job, Elisabeth Elliot challenges believers to rejoice in the possibility of presenting our “whys?” to God, and to be ready to receive God’s answer in the form of His presence there with us in our misery–the answer we need more than any other we might have sought.

What if Christians Became the Best Advertisement for Jesus? Scott Sauls invites readers to mind the gap between the life of faith described in the Bible and the one that gets practiced here on the ground in the 21st century. With so much at stake, and so much good that could be done, Sauls describes what it means to abide in an “irresistible Christ” (1) and to live in such a way that we do not contradict his teachings at every turn. I was captivated by this description of an irresistible faith that comes from drawing close to Christ, taking His righteousness, and thinking His thoughts after Him by immersing our brains in Scripture and allowing this to shape our affections and our understanding of suffering and success.

April snow

 

April snow makes the longing for spring more poignant. Finally, the snow is gone and the crocuses and daffodils have made their appearance! Hope for spring is on the move!
What a great gift when our celebration of Easter reminds us of all the ways Christ’s resurrection exceeds our hopes and our hopelessness.

Rejoicing with you in hope,

Michele Morin

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliateadvertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees  linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the books mentioned 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.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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.

Musings: March 2019

One thing so often leads to another, and, in retrospect, it takes a conscious effort to trace the trail of God’s active participation in our lives. Here’s a fresh example:

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In August of last year, I wrote a piece about praying for our teens because that’s something I do. (A lot.) When Desiring God picked it up, a reader in Maryland wondered if I might be available to speak at a women’s conference she organizes every spring. Following a series of delightful surprises, I boarded an airplane in Portland, Maine one Friday morning in March and spent a glorious Saturday teaching the women of Faith Evangelical Free Church of Mountain Lake Park, Maryland.

My photography doesn’t begin to do justice to their good work of making the entire church portray their nautical theme. It was an absolute privilege and joy to share truth from the Word of God about our need for hope in Christ as an anchor for the soul. 

On the Blog

March Book Reviews

Your Invitation to Embrace a New, True Life — When Michelle DeRusha and her family visited the Portland Japanese Garden in the Pacific Northwest, they observed the masterful application of open center pruning, a process that yields, over time, a tree with uniquely healthy and beautiful form. For DeRusha, the image of branch-by-branch relinquishment became a metaphor for the stripping away that happens on the way to one’s “true, essential self,” (19) and the outcome of her pondering is the gift of her latest book:  True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created

A Deep and Delighted LoveValerie Elliot Shepard has combed through her parents’ letters and journals and the resulting treasure is Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. While the story of their courtship has been told in Elisabeth’s classic Passion and Purity, it is now possible for readers to trace the unfolding romance from love’s first stirring at Wheaton College in the late 1940’s all the way through the birth of their daughter Valerie.

When You Expect Nothing and Get the Gift of Everything –Singer, songwriter, and author Michael Card describes words as “clumsy bricks” we attempt to employ in defining concepts. While they enable us to have thoughts and conversations about God and about intangibles such as hope and love, ultimately, meaning cannot always be contained within syllables. In his biblical study, Card has found this to be particularly evident with the Hebrew word hesed, and his latest book (Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness) is founded on the mystery of this unique word.

The Life and Legacy of Susannah SpurgeonWhen Ray Rhodes, Jr. was investigating topics for his dissertation, he followed his life long interest in Charles Spurgeon and began to research Spurgeon’s marriage and the spiritual element of his relationship with his wife of thirty-six years, Susannah Spurgeon. Surprisingly, his interest led him away from “the prince of preachers” and toward a more focused attention to the life and legacy of the woman behind the great man. Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon describes an unlikely pairing from the beginning. This is is a story about a life that took place just inches from the spotlight, and yet, likely, changed the course of church history by serving and loving one of God’s key players in the building up of His church. 

 

Guest posts

A partner in prayer, another set of eyes, a companion in trouble:  these are the benefits of spiritual friendship.I was so pleased when April Yamasaki invited me to guest post on her blog. Since I enjoyed her book, Four Gifts: Seeking Self-care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, I wanted to write about self-care . . . and since I had just finished reading Janice Peterson’s Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith, it was great fun to write about spiritual friendships as a self-care strategy. The conversation over at April’s place was terrific, so I invite you to come on over if you haven’t already. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ash Wednesday is a day to grow in our understanding of where to take our struggle with sin.

Parenting Lessons from the Ashes — Teaming up with Desiring God is always a great experience, and this time, I’m sharing memories of Ash Wednesday, filling up that concept with some history, some spiritual practices, and some story telling from my parenting life here on this country hill.

In Christian circles, we’re fond of talking about finding God, until we realize that He has been there all along.

Surprise! God Has Your Best Interest at Heart!  Mary Geisen is a long-time friend in the blogging community. She is well known for her hospitality, and, I have a feeling it will soon be a well known fact that she is a newly minted grandmother! It was a joy to share my own story with the friends who gathered for #TellHisStory in March. Click here to join the gathering . . .

Random Ponderings

What if the font we’re reading makes a difference in how easily we recall what we read? As someone whose eyes take in at least four books a month, I really want my brain to take in the content as well. Sans Forgetica: A font scientifically designed to help you remember your study notes. Sans Forgetica is a font that has been scientifically designed to aid memory retention. Apparently the missing parts of letters and the comparative difficulty in reading it forces the brain to press in to the reading process, making the content “more sticky” to the brain.

I typed the sample above on their site,  because I’ve been working on Philippians 1 this winter with the crew at Do Not Depart. I’m wondering how long it will be before someone publishes a San Forgetica Bible! After all, Scripture memorization is hard work, and we need all the help we can get.

It’s true! I do thank the Lord upon every remembrance of you–and I won’t forget that! Thanks for reading and for the continual encouragement of your reading, sharing your thoughts, and introducing your friends to Living Our Days,

Michele Morin

 

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliateadvertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees  linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the books mentioned 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.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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.

Musings: February 2019

Cold February is no context for thoughts of spring. Like the daffodils, our hopes are asleep under a crust of dirty snow. Nonetheless, retailers rush to display Easter candy and sleeveless, frilly dresses for us to admire in our winter coats and boots. Thoughts of resurrection seem out of place somehow when bare trees can’t quite stop shivering, but then, the weeks leading up to Easter, if we use them wisely, can raise the temperature of our hearts to match the truth that our whole following life is spent in the practice of resurrection, day after day, trying to get it right and to live our way into the freedom Christ won for us.

I’m following that path with my reading in these days leading up to a come-when-it’s-ready spring. As a Lenten observance, a slow read through the four gospels adds depth to my understanding of Jesus’s road to the cross:  the daily mundane obedience on dusty Palestinian roads, shared meals with a big side order of Kingdom clarification, and always, always, always, the will of God like a straight arrow, cutting through every competing or conflicting thought that came His way.

40 Days of Lent

Plugging into the details of Jesus’s poured out life always heightens my celebration on Resurrection Day, and this year, Susan Chamberlain Shipe has provided the road map I’ve been using on the journey. 40 Days of Lent: The people, places, and events surrounding the Passion weaves the Jesus story together with insights gleaned from Shipe’s following life. Because Scripture has been embedded within each day’s reading, it’s easy to follow the dots between action and application, and because Susan is a student of the Word, she has done a lot of the leg work for her readers, including both historical and geographical details to fill in the gap where the text is terse.

One story, one main idea, and then words of application followed by probing questions take the faithful reader through the people, places, and events on Jesus’ road to the cross. Like life itself, the “Lenten road is hard” (19), but it is also an opportunity for redemptive self-evaluation and a gentle push toward considering the next good choices we need to make in our lives.

 And Hey! There’s a Give Away!

To receive a free, autographed copy of 40 Days of Lent, simply leave a comment below. I will have my adorable grandson draw a name on Sunday, March 3, and Susan will send a book your way to guide you on your own Lenten journey.

February Gratitude

Whenever our family gets together under one roof, I’m thankful. Brotherly friendship and loud laughter are great gifts. The privilege of getting covered in flour with my grandson, and then teaching my small granddaughter that glue sticks are not edible stand at one end of the family bandwidth–while on the other end, our youngest son is doing the very grown-up research that goes into buying his first car. Really? How has this happened?

Small gifts, given with great love warm the heart. A cranberry candle, a book, a cup of hot tea with milk. I’m blessed on this country hill.

Our family said goodbye to a dear friend this month. We have spent the last 20 years worshiping in the pew behind Buzzy and Eleanor, so we will miss her seed-planting ways and her blue-eyed smile. “Little people, little problems,” was one seed of wisdom she planted with me long ago when I was getting whipped up over some small boy’s minor infraction on a Sunday morning. Her passing makes me very aware of my responsibility to be planting seeds of truth now. It’s my turn to step up.

February Reading and Writing

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53The Amazing Gift of Volunteer Love — Reviewing fiction always feels like a huge risk. What if I give away the punchline? Or worse–what if I completely miss the point?  Lights on the Mountain: A Novel was well worth the risk. With a pen like a paint brush, author Cheryl Anne Tuggle has fashioned a cast of unique players, and her writing is enriched by subtle characterization and delightful similes that underscore the close connection between the words simile and smile. 

Spiritual friendship involves caring, accepting, serving, encouraging, and practicing hospitality.How to Do the Hard and Holy Work of Faithful FriendshipCertainly not by any design of mine, two books on friendship have come in the mail, and I was delighted to share them both here on the blog. First, Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith in which Janice Peterson  remembers lemonade on the porch and shares her deep conviction that friendships can be life-altering in all the best ways.

In a lonely world where isolation is the norm and competition is the default, the deep connection of friendship is a rare gift.

 

Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World — Then, Sally Clarkson has teamed up with her daughters to inspire and instruct readers in the art and science of cultivating deep and lasting friendships  with  her  latest  book, Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World.Are you looking for "the perfect church?" Finding community can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the wait.

It’s always a joy to share writing with warm and welcoming communities! During February vacation friends at (in)courage opened the door of hospitality to my story about our search for a church home. (Yes, we may possibly have been in search of the perfect church . . . and we may have had teensy commitment issues.)

Finding community can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards are worth the wait.

Then, I was thankful that The Perennial Gen shared my review of Kate James’s Can You See Anything Now? Be sure to visit some of these welcoming communities for encouragement and a kind of virtual fellowship in the gospel!

Coming up in March

That moment when you realize that you and your hairspray have a lot in common . . .

Does anyone else recall the days when we could take our hairspray and a normal sized toothpaste anywhere in the world?

Lord willing, I will be traveling to Mountain Lake Park, Maryland to teach the Bible at Faith Evangelical Free Church’s Women’s Conference on March 23rd. I’m always thankful for opportunities to open the Word of God with a roomful of women, and I would appreciate your prayers that I would serve this gathering well, and that God will bring together the words I’m preparing and the needs that are present.

And while I’m studying, I’m wondering:  What are you struggling with these days? I may not have an answer–and we may be struggling over the same things! However, I promise to read every response, as your thoughts will definitely shape my reading and my writing in the coming weeks. If the comments section here seems too public, here’s my email address:  morin6.mm@gmail.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!

May you know the love of Christ (which passes knowledge),

Michele Morin

Don’t forget:  You can enter to win a copy of Susan Chamberlain Shipe’s 40 Days of Lent by leaving a comment below!

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 40 Days of Lent: The people, places, and events surrounding the Passion or any of the other books mentioned within this post, simply click on the title  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.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Musings: January 2019

I’m no physicist, but it would appear that a cannon ball, shot due north from Bangor, Maine on a snowy-cold Saturday morning, could travel unobstructed all the way to the Canadian border. We left home in the dark for a quick visit with much-loved relatives, eight hours round trip, but worth every minute and every mile. We snickered at the green and white signs alerting us that we were nearing T2-R8, and noticed that the wind-sculpted snow alongside Maine’s interstate highway was so undisturbed that we could detect the presence of rodent life, tunneling underneath.

Northern Maine is no longer home to me, but my years there were formative to my understanding of home, as “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Because I have been “taken in” so faithfully in so many places, those words from a Robert Frost poem guide my thinking about the swinging door on this country hill and the bright red door on the church where I worship.

Since Scripture is “a home story,” home figures prominently in the biblical narrative, and God’s work on our behalf becomes an example of welcome and provision–or homemaking! Stability is a spiritual discipline, an opposite to rootlessness,  and it signifies a commitment to make a difference in a specific place and time.  The paradox of the Christian life is this need for full investment, wherever we are, whatever our calling — in stark contrast to the need to also hold it all loosely.

On My Mind

The Adjacent Possible is a principle from biology, but it describes the way we make real progress forward. For example, the invention of the iPhone could not have happened in 1997. However, by 2007, technology was in place for Apple to roll out its new, world-changing invention. It became possible because of the innovations that preceded it.

The concept of The Adjacent Possible has changed the way I approach adding spiritual disciplines and healthful practices to my life. Adjacent means in close proximity. If I am looking for The Adjacent Possible, I stop scanning the horizon for a “eureka” moment and begin looking close by for a small positive step in the right direction.

I didn’t choose a word or make a long list of resolutions for 2019. I want to persevere and be faithful in doing the next right thing. At this point in the year, that includes teaching the preschool Sunday School class. When you are the Sunday School Superintendent in a small church, recruitment is always a challenge, and it sometimes means that you are your own best substitute teacher. Painting murals of “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters,” and imagining Samuel’s anointing of David with a drop of scented oil on our fingers is a pretty terrific way to spend a Sunday morning!

On My Nightstand

Over Christmas vacation, I spotted a couple of Kindle deals on Wendell Berry’s A Place on Earth and A Place in Time, and it’s been a pleasure to re-visit Port William, Kentucky and the World War II-era backdrop that showcases Berry’s exquisite description, character development, and dialogue.

Add to this Paraclete Press’s new fiction release Lights on the Mountain  by Cheryl Anne Tuggle (look for a review of this one in February!) and it’s been a delightful winter of reading a bit of fiction alongside the rest.

On the Screen!

Have I ever recommended a movie or a show here before?
I don’t think so, but with an empty-ing nest, it is occasionally possible to watch a movie that has absolutely no light saber duels, car chases, or endless quests to dispose of a certain piece of jewelry. Recently, the patient husband and I settled down to watch Howard’s End on Amazon Prime Video. The mini-series is based on a novel by E.M. Forster with a quiet and meandering plot, period settings, and delightful British accents. Margaret, the female protagonist, is a force to be reckoned with and models forgiveness, an admirable anchoring in solid values, and an astute understanding of marriage.

Definitely worth a date night or two.
Ice cream optional, but very nice.

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On the Blog

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The Gift of God in Exchange for Ashes

If you are at all familiar with Elisabeth Elliot’s no-nonsense style of teaching and writing the Truth,  Made for the Journey: One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador will reveal a part of her story that may surprise you!

Adoption and the Journey Toward a Surrendered Heart

Surrendered Hearts: An Adoption Story of Love, Loss, and Learning to Trust is Lori Schumaker’s triumphal and grateful anthem of praise for God’s infinite wisdom in bringing her family together. It is also a story of her family’s yielding to this process even when it involved the dissonance of unmet expectations and grinding disappointment.

An Invitation to the Generative Life

Working from insights gained in his calling as an artist, Makoto Fujimura invites his readers into the generative life, which is “fruitful, originat[es] new life, [and] . . . draws on creativity to bring into being something fresh and life giving.” The Perennial Gen graciously shared my review of Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Speak Up

Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up by Kathy Khang is challenging me to look carefully at the way I use my words, lending the realization that even my choice to be silent communicates something. Apathy, insecurity, or laziness are not traits I want to “give voice” to, so I’m trusting for courage to lean into a gracious and yet more vocal role in the communities I inhabit.

Standing on the Edge of Inside

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I make no secret of the fact that I am an unabashed fan girl of Luci Shaw’s, and her latest collection of poems, Eye of the Beholder (Paraclete Poetry) has only served to heighten my respect for her work.

How to Keep the Main Thing as the Main Thing

Truth from Paul’s letter to the Philippians is an anchor to The Main Thing. Basics for Believers: The Core of Christian Faith and Life is Carson’s exposition of a well-loved epistle. Although Paul’s words have become the source for many a swoon-worthy Instagram post, they are a gritty call to fellowship in the gospel, where the focus is obedience, self-denial and a muscular commitment to the well-being of others.

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What was a highlight in your January? Are you making plans for 2019? Please share in the comments, and may you know the stillness and peace that come with knowing God,

michele signature rose[1]

 

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 sharing products and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the titles listed above simply click on the title here or 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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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.

Musings: Hello, 2019!

At the beginning of a new year and the winding down of the old, I love to look back on where I’ve been. With a brand new coating of frosty white on the surface of my garden, it’s hard to imagine that just three months ago I was harvesting cucumbers and green beans by the basket full and treating my grandson to brim full cups of tiny orange tomatoes that went “squirt” between his teeth. Nevertheless, here we are. A few of the things I thought I’d accomplish are completely untouched, but this is no surprise to God, and there have been plenty of surprises this year, unforeseen at the outset.

For instance, a box arrived in the mail just days before Christmas containing five beautiful (to me!) cookbooks that include family pictures and every recipe I could think of that our family has enjoyed together.  Here’s a line from the dedication page:

This book is dedicated to the Morin family, past, present, and future:
To the original six who sat around a dining room table and loved food and each other; to the much-loved Morins who have married into the chaos; and to Morins who will gather around future tables in places and times we can only imagine.

The time spent in 2018 typing recipes, driving a lawn mower, vacuuming up dog fur, canning green beans, and sweeping up the grandgirl’s cheerios from the dining room floor may just have been the most important things I accomplished in 2018.

2018 By the Numbers

In the Garden

Growing vegetables in the garden and then canning the overflow has been a constant in my life for nearly thirty years.  Even with an empty-ing nest, there are still plenty of reasons to keep preserving the harvest and remembering to be thankful for the work and for the gift of it all. My basement shelves are full of glistening jars to enjoy and to share:

Green Beans . . . 41 quarts
Salsa . . . 15 pints
Pickles . . . 15 quarts
Relish . . . 14 pints
Spaghetti Sauce . . . 36 quarts
Tomatoes . . . 21 quarts

On the Blog

This is the first time I’ve ever looked at “Top Posts” at year end, but having finally figured out how to do that in 2018, I am surprised by what I see. The most-read blog posts here in these parts weren’t the ones I shared with big sites for the eyes of another more skilled editor. They were all book reviews.  Furthermore, each one was based on the story of a woman and her calling, an unexpected and sometimes gritty story of God’s grace and a woman’s availability. Here’s the list in reverse order:

 Number 5 — Birthing Hope by Rachel Marie StoneBirthing Hope, Motherhood, Incarnation

Motherhood has been the single most influential event in my own story, and Rachel Marie Stone suggests a physiological reason for the alterations that come with motherhood. Apparently, a woman’s body acquires cells from every pregnancy. Each baby she carries leaves behind a few cells that join with hers, so when we take the plunge into motherhood, we do not surface unchanged. Birth is the metaphor that runs throughout Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light as it binds memoir to meditation and bears witness to the journey that has left its mark on the author. When Stone and her husband packed up baggage and boys and relocated to Malawi, they had not an inkling of what it would cost them to serve university students in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Number 4–Holy in the Moment by Ginger Harrington

Love God. Embrace Truth. Enjoy Life.Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life, part memoir and part manifesto, is Ginger’s record of God’s faithfulness and a gift to readers in search of homely wisdom for living in sync with the promises of God. Fear and weakness forced Ginger to open her heart to the strength that comes only through prayer and to make one holy choice:

 

“Not every moment is good, but [she would] believe God is good in every moment.”

Number 3–Mrs Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule

Biddy Chambers: A Sacramental Life

Published in 1927, My Utmost for His Highest has sold more than 13 million copies and has never been out of print. Over the course of its 90+ year history, it has been translated into 40 different languages, and Oswald Chambers’s unique and timeless wisdom is quoted far and wide.

However, until recently, little thought has been given to the fact that My Utmost was not published until ten years after Chambers’s death, and that it was his wife, Gertrude “Biddy” Hobbs Chambers who took on the mammoth task of compiling and editing nearly twenty years’ worth of sermons and lessons. Michelle Ule has traced this process in telling the story of the woman behind the great man:  Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional

Number 2–Blessed Are the Unsatisfied by Amy Simpson

8 Blessings of the Unsatisfied LifeAmy 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. 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.”

Number 1–A Leopard Tamed by Eleanor Vandevoort

A Leopard Tamed, Eleanor Vandevort, Missionary BiographyOver fifty years ago, Eleanor Vandevort came home from South Sudan in the wake of political unrest. Her thirteen years of language acquisition, Bible translation, literacy work, and relationship building were cut short with no certainty as to their effect or ultimate impact. When she set down the account of her struggle and her achievements in A Leopard Tamed, she was a woman ahead of her time, asking questions few in the golden age of U.S. missions were asking and even fewer wanted to entertain.

 

At this point, I want to draw all kinds of conclusions and ask all kinds of questions about this data:

  • What does it say about readers and about our world that two of my top blog posts featured women for whom we have only black and white photos?
  • What can we learn about ministry in general from this evidence that the stories of other women are such compelling reading?

At the very least, this is a call to share YOUR story whenever and wherever God give you the opportunity!
It’s a reminder to me that my most compelling words in 2019 will likely be centered around the record of what God is doing right now in my life to put His glory on display.

So, at the end of a year that has seen its share of great moments:  a fruitful garden, a new kitchen, a growing pair of grandkids that get cuter every day, I want to thank you for your interest in reading about the things the I’ve been reading about.

December at Living Our Days

December always seems to get short changed with all the year end musings, and with so many glorious things to write about in December, I managed to share only three book reviews.

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At the beginning of Advent, I can never resist opening my Bible to the page between the Testaments for a time of remembering the faithful men and women who waited for God to fulfill His promise of a Deliverer.

This year, that pondering time overflowed into a blog post devoted to Simeon’s story. Then, those few verses devoted to Herod’s jealous response to news of a newborn King have always bothered me, like a pebble in the shoe, so I spent some time giving them the attention they deserve and the results landed at Desiring God and Red Letter Christians.

What a unique opportunity Christmas gives us to minister to grieving parents in memory of those babies who fell prey to Herod’s sword. Too, the event reminds us that even Jesus’ entry into this world was tinged with blood, a foreshadowing of His divinely orchestrated purpose in coming to earth in the first place.

 

The new year will begin my fifth year blogging here at Living Our Days. This little writing home has been the gateway to some wonderful friendships and some exciting opportunities to teach and to write in places I would never have expected. Thank you for your faithfulness here in reading and sharing posts you’ve loved with your friends via word of mouth and social media.

And thanks be to God! Let’s join the psalmist in our thanksgiving as 2018 comes to a close:

“You crown the year with your bounty.”  Psalm 65:11

Blessings and Love to You,

Michele Morin


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 books mentioned within this post, simply click on the title 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.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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.

 

Musings: November 2018

In just a few days, we’ll begin the season of Advent. Even if you don’t observe much else on the liturgical calendar, it’s hard to avoid the on-ramp to Christmas. Instead of counting shopping days and check marks on my do-list, my practice has been to think of Advent as a time of preparation for the celebration of Jesus’s birth. There’s no magic formula for this. When my sons were all young and enthusiastic (and boisterous!), we did a daily project:  baking together, crafting an ornament, visiting a nursing home, or even bailing out of the homeschool schedule early and reading big stacks of Christmas books. We’ve looked at Old Testament prophecies and thought about the message of the angel, the response of the shepherds, and the visitation of the mysterious magi. Advent puts time on our side for more in depth teaching than can ever happen in a quick read through of Luke 2 on Christmas eve.

One component of Advent that seems to get lost in the tinsel is the recognition that Jesus had a very somber and serious reason for showing up all pink and newborn in that Bethlehem manger. He would grow up to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows, to be wounded and bruised so that we could know healing and peace.  From time to time all of us feel the dissonance of Christmas joy alongside regular old December stress, and to varying degrees our own experiences have confirmed that Simeon’s prophecy of a heart-piercing sword is not the only evidence that the Incarnation started out tinged with blood.

David Bannon is a grieving father who knows the bitter taste of disappointment–with life, and with himself. He was convicted of felony charges in 2006, and, then, in January of 2015 his twenty-six year old daughter died of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose.  He found his way back into a true and heartfelt celebration of Christmas by embracing the grief as well as the solace expressed in Christian art. The result is Wounded in Spirit: Advent Art and Meditations, a collection of twenty-five meditations based on paintings that become devotional in nature as they “convey truth rather than arguing for it.” (xi)

Leaning into the joy as well as the sorrow during Advent prepares the heart for a celebration of Christ’s birth that is rooted in hope. Since “grief can ruin or mature us,” (11) there is wisdom in bringing it out into the open to do its work, and Bannon employs a palette of Scripture references, quotations from great literature, and images of masterpieces from a collection of flawed, troubled, and wildly talented artists in his creation of twenty-five meditations to carry the pause of communion through the season of Advent.

Wounded in Spirit: Advent Art and Meditations, is a guide for those who, perhaps, would not appreciate a more traditional approach to Advent, but who would find companionship in the healing knowledge that they do not suffer alone.

November News

My feet are still firmly planted in the season of Thanksgiving. Ten Morins gathered around the table this year, and I was so caught up in the joy of it that I took nary a picture.

 

 

The kitchen renovation has been front and center here on the hill this month. We tore the old kitchen away down to the shiny insulation and even removed the wall adjoining the bathroom (Don’t ask!). We have installed new windows, new cabinets, and new flooring, and I’m still in shock, but am making a valiant attempt at returning to some semblance of normalcy before we add a Christmas tree to the chaos soup that has become our living space.

 

 

This is high school musical season here in mid-coast Maine, and my youngest son was bringing down the house as Donkey in Shrek the Musical. It’s a hectic season with seven performances, but coordinating concessions for sale during intermission has given this homeschooling mum a way to serve the community while getting to know other parents and also the students my own kids hang out with when they are involved in public school activities. We’ve got a faithful band of area businesses and parents who donate goodies and bottled water, and we do a booming business to raise money for the program.

November Reading and Writing

The women in my Sunday school class have finished reading Cynthia Heald’s Becoming a Woman of Grace (Bible Studies: Becoming a Woman)and we’re moving on to a study of, perhaps, the most misunderstood book of the Old Testament, the book of Judges. I can’t begin to say how much I’m looking forward to this!

 

 

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Here at Living Our Days, I’ve shared three books in the month of November, and you’re invited to check out my reviews, especially if you’re looking for gift ideas for the readers in your life:

All the Colors We Will See by Patrice Gopo
It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee
I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

 

 

It was very satisfying to team up with Desiring God again this month with a post I wrote from the ongoing experience of being a mother-in-law in training. Then, when Jeanne Takenaka invited me to write about gratitude for her blog, I felt right at home with the topic–not because I’ve mastered it by any means, but because it’s something I am committed to writing about until I begin to get a handle on it. Gratitude is a matter of obedience, and it is a choice we have to make, by faith.

I was especially thankful in November for the opportunity to take a blogging break so that I could be more fully present for family and for all the Thanksgiving activity. It was a good week, and well-timed.

I’m giving thanks for you, trusting that your season of Thanksgiving has filled you up with joy and an abiding gratitude for all that God has given — and for the Giver Himself as He presides over the many gatherings still to come in this season of celebrations.

 

Many thanks to Paraclete Press for providing a copy of Wounded in Spirit to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

For those who have been missing the What I’m Into community, you’ll be thrilled to learn that Shannan (of shannanenjoyslife.com) is carrying the torch forward! Click here for a link to the November gathering!

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 Wounded in Spirit: Advent Art and Meditations or any of the resources mentioned in this post, simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you make a purchase a tiny percentage helps support the work I do here at no extra cost to you.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content 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.