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

 

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Parenting Lessons from the Ashes

Strict practitioners would not have approved of my methods, but on one long ago mid-winter Wednesday, I smeared ashes on the foreheads of my two preschoolers and myself. An offering of the hardwood that had heated our home the day before, these ashes were not “ceremonially correct” in any way, but at the time, I did not know that traditional Ash Wednesday ashes come from the remains of Palm Sunday palms. I did not even know about the forty-day season of Lent that follows Ash Wednesday.

However, I did know about sin—my own and my children’s. We were in “time out” season with one of our sons. At our wits’ end, we had exhausted Dr. Dobson, Elisabeth Elliot, and every parenting resource available in the 90’s. “Why is it so hard to be good?” our little Dobson-buster would ask, and his younger brother’s eyes would fill with tears whenever they were caught in collaborative naughtiness.

In this parenting pressure cooker, maternal apologies had become a daily occurrence. I was hoping to model repentance—while at the same time atoning for sharp words and a short fuse. “I was wrong; please forgive me,” were the words through which my sons were learning that their mother had not outgrown the struggle against sin. Ash Wednesday gives Christians an opportunity to grow in our understanding of where to take that struggle.

Maybe, like me, you come from a tradition that has not emphasized the liturgical calendar, and Ash Wednesday is just a misty concept for you. I invite you to click on over to Desiring God with me today for some thoughts on filling up that concept with some history, some spiritual practices, and some story telling from my parenting life here on this country hill.

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.

Wooden Cross Photo by James L.W on Unsplash

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.

How to Be a “True Christian” Mother-in-Law

Over time, a family with four sons develops a unique tone, a guy-culture with a certain decibel level and a distinct way of doing life. As a mother of some now-married sons, it has been a joy to welcome other women into this circle, women who love my sons well and have also opened their hearts to me.

Of course, the messy flip side of this blessing is the requirement that I acknowledge and appreciate another woman’s way of doing things—important things like parenting my grandchildren, feeding a family, and managing a home. Just as I have prayed for twenty-five years for grace to be a good mother, I am now trusting for grace to be a good mother-in-law. Wisdom for this challenge flows in abundance from one of Paul’s lists in the book of Romans.  Some translators have labeled Romans 12:9-21 “Marks of the True Christian.” I can’t think of any better advice for women striving to be good Christian mothers-in-law.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

In the same spirit as Paul’s command to “let love be genuine,” Amy Carmichael prayed:

“Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As though it were not there.


I’m teaming up with Desiring God today to share more of Paul’s admonitions from Romans 12 and how they have applied to my life as a mother-in-law-in-training. I hope you’ll join me there to continue reading!

Rejoicing in hope,

Michele Morin

Photo by Khongor Ganbold on Unsplash

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.

Praying the Words of Jesus for Your Teen

For one short season of our parenting journey, my husband and I felt as if we were hanging onto the reins of a runaway horse. Daily battles over curfews and negotiations around boundary lines had taken the place of warm conversation and laughter around the table, and we mourned the loss as we searched for words to pray over family life in what felt like a war zone.

We were desperately trying to hold the line against hormonally-fueled pressure to relax biblical standards of holiness in the home, while also negotiating the pressure of imminent college and career decisions, and it drove us to our knees. However, at a time when prayer should have been a crucial lifeline, I found that I did not trust my own words in prayer for my teen children.

Could I even know what to ask God for when I was feeling unsure about my own motives?
How does a mother ask God for help in dealing with the daily arguments without lapsing into imprecatory psalms?  

Prayer in the Pressure Cooker

Because I am of a practical frame of mind, my prayers for the people I love are mostly bound by everyday concerns. Even so, I am learning to embrace the prayers that God gives us in His Word — prayers of much more lasting import than I’m usually inclined to pray.

Jesus’s prayer for his disciples in John 17 comes from the pressure cooker of His final earthly hours. In a dark and dismaying context of betrayal and mental anguish, He managed to put words around his deepest longings for His beloved friends. Following three years of intensive ministry, of loving and leading an unruly band of disciples (who most likely were teens!), Jesus poured out words of hope for their future. His prayer extended beyond their immediate impact to touch a world that still desperately needs to behold His glory.

Praying Jesus’ words for my teens lifts my eyes beyond every immediate need to the greater and more pressing concerns that Jesus voiced for His followers of all time, those who were with Him at the Last Supper and those who sit around our dining-room tables today.

It’s a joy to be writing about prayer at Desiring God, and I invite you to join me there to continue reading this post based on the prayer of Jesus for His disciples (and for us!) in John 17.

I look forward to meeting you there!


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 Ben White on Unsplash