Musings: March 2018

In this month of serial snow storms, it’s been challenging to get into an Easter frame of mind. So often, resurrection is paired with images of new birth and sprouting things, but then, I was reminded amidst all the shoveling, blizzard warnings, and cancellations that resurrection springs forth out of death and THE resurrection was a complete surprise to Jesus’ friends and followers. Be encouraged, then, that God comes to us today in surprising ways:  in the midst of the hopeless mess or the routine of laundry folding or the deep disappointment that feels like a small death.

Hope in God is a confident expectation — not a cross-your-fingers aspiration.

Run! Let's live in power going forward in that sacred knowing.

On the Blog

It’s been a pleasure this month to focus on resurrection with one post of suggested Easter reading followed by another featuring a collection of poems I’ve written for celebrations of the past.

"When you choose anything, you reject everything else." G.K. Chesterton

 

In March, I continued in my conquest of Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton with a post on the consequentiality of our choosing and its impact on our parenting and every area of life.

“Every act of the will is an act of self-limitation” –even if you happen to be the Son of God.

 

 

The reading in March has been varied with two memoirs, a biography, and a work of fiction.

In How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Correcting the Soundtrack in Your HeadRelationships, and Learning to Be Myself, Amena Brown looks back over her shoulder with humility and gratitude to honor the resiliency and courage of the women who have contributed to her story’s formation:

“My great-grandmother picked cotton
and worked in a tobacco factory
so my grandmother could work at a hospital
so my mom could become a nurse
so I could become a poet.”

As I progressed through Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your LifeI found myself pausing and pondering over shimmering glimpses of wisdom that stand alone in their gracious beckoning toward truth:

“Aim for consistency but walk in grace.”

“You can choose the thoughts you will receive and the ones you will reject.”

“The faith way is to think,”I know my work is taxing, but Christ is my strength.”

“Far more than a doctrine to follow, holiness is a life to enjoy.”

“It’s important to understand that joy is not the absence of pain in circumstances, but rather the presence of God in the midst of them.”

Everyday choices build a life. Mundane moments of loving our kids, cherishing our husbands, and supporting our friends in ten thousand different ways over the course of a lifetime well-lived change us from the inside out. “Loving God whole-heartedly is choosing the life we were made for,” and one day, we discover that God is doing His work through us, and we shine with a glory that is not our own

In Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals, Mark Galli has The Life and Theology of Karl Barthextended a gift to the community of readers in the form of an accessible and balanced look at a well-known and yet inscrutable theologian. Whether we choose to argue that Karl Barth’s theology supported him in poor moral choices or that his theology was terrific and truthful, but he simply failed to live up to its ideals, he is arguably one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the 20th century. His story becomes a cautionary tale for any of us who teach and study Scripture, for we will never live up to all that we know, but may we find grace to live consistently with the remarkable message of the gospel with all its provision for forgiveness.

Can You See Anything Now?In her review of Can You See Anything Now?: A Novel, Jen Pollock Michel reminded her readers that they’re not picking up a work of Amish fiction when they read Katherine James’s debut novel. While it received Christianity Today’s 2018 award for fiction, it is a complicated read that requires believers to assess their willingness to read R-rated language in order to fully enter into a clear picture of the fractured human heart.

In the Snow

Yes, the snow gets its own category this month because it has played a major role in disrupting life on this country hill. Nonetheless, we’ve had some great moments for walking, enjoying the sunshine when it appears, and visiting with family.

Weekly, I have met in the church library with a group of women who take their Bible very seriously, and we are persevering in our study of Cynthia Heald’s Becoming a Woman of Grace.

The patient husband and I are continuing in our read through of the Bible out loud, and we even had the opportunity to do some teaching together at a Christian Education conference here in Maine.

Thank you for your encouragement that comes in the form of comments and dialogue. So many of you have become on-line friends and I look forward to your insights whenever they come. May your days be filled with meaning because of the gushing “river of resurrection” that flows just beneath the surface–sometimes washing over us when we least expect it!

He is risen indeed!

 

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 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 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.

And since this is the end of March, I’m joining the party over at Leigh Kramer’s place where bloggers gather for What I’m Into. Come on over for lots of book, podcast, and viewing recommendations.

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Photo by Bryan Rodriguez on Unsplash

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Correcting the Soundtrack in Your Head

After graduating from college, I moved to the biggest city in Maine for my first “real job,” bringing with me a wardrobe fashioned around college life south of the Mason-Dixon. Clearly, my flimsy sandals would not fit my new life as a ministry professional. However, it soon became apparent that my feet were not going to fit into any of the smooth and snappy dress shoes I admired at the Maine Mall. Navigating life with big feet has been part of my journey of self-acceptance, and a huge aspect of my mental soundtrack that I’m still rewriting.

In How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships, and Learning to Be Myself, Amena Brown shares her own trail of super-sized footsteps from sneakers and flats to styling elegance in her Beyoncé stilettos. With footwear as a metaphor for self-acceptance, the spoken-word poet and inspirational author also remembers the freedom of learning to love her own natural hair after years of fighting it. Looking back over her shoulder with humility and gratitude, Amena honors the resiliency and courage of the women who have contributed to her story’s formation:

“My great-grandmother picked cotton
and worked in a tobacco factory
so my grandmother could work at a hospitalCorrecting the Soundtrack in Your Head
so my mom could become a nurse
so I could become a poet.”

A product of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye generation, Amena was astonished to find herself still single at age 30. Now, happily married, she writes with transparency about the disappointment of infertility and her puzzlement with the ways of God, who moves slowly and in ways that are, at times, inscrutable. Her collection of stories documents her progress in working on the broken messages that have colored her thinking (and which are prevalent in Christian circles):

“I am learning the painful truth that even when you pray and ask God, even when you quote back to God the applicable Scriptures, even when you walk around the object you are praying for six times and play your trumpet on the seventh, God doesn’t always answer the way you want him to.” (158)

Remind Your Soul that God is Bigger than You

Solid roots in the Body of Christ and in one’s identity as a daughter of God are indispensable in embracing the hard realities that come with a complicated family tree. Amena began laying down healthy grooves in her record by honoring her roots following a DNA test, some hard disclosures, and a commitment to the challenge of painful wondering.

Like a vinyl record, the grooves in the human heart catch and preserve all manner of voices. We spend our lives layering message upon message, and in the process we come to define ourselves by what’s been caught in the grooves. It is startling, then, when words and feelings long forgotten (we thought) rise to the surface as a reminder that the healing process must continue. The God who makes all things new can also make broken things whole.

Be Humble and Kind and Say “No”

As an artist and an entrepreneur, Amena Brown lives in the tension between staying true to her calling and building a business.  Taking responsibility for her own choices, she has learned to say “no, even if it means less money, less popularity, fewer likes.” She has concluded that there is much wisdom in realizing she “must constantly lay down the weight of opinion, the chokehold of pride, the race of comparison. It is saying no to my own selfishness, no to trying my best to be god instead of walking with and learning from God how to be who he created me to be.” (119)

Brown urges women to surround themselves with a squad of warriors who will lament, pray, rejoice, and speak truth into our lives. Book-mentors and on line friends lend us courage if we read well and choose our influencers carefully.

There’s Healing in the Stillness

It takes discipline to pull away from the continual pressure to “do” when your soul requires time simply to “be.”  The healing power of sleep, the perspective that comes from pulling away, the peace of a slow listen to the voice of God: this is a humble stance and a product of wisdom.

Amena Brown invites her readers into a thoughtful parsing of our motives behind our lists and all the busy-ness that keeps us spinning. Intent on “making something of ourselves,” we forget that God is the primary Maker, and it is only He who can fix our broken records. We are made for the music of truth and hope. Healing and a healthy future are found in the groove of grace that God longs to write into your story.


This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookLook Bloggers Program in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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 How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships, and Learning to Be Myself simply click on the title here, 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.


Every blessing,

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

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