Is It Time to Declutter Your Soul?

My friend Joanne was continually clearing off her kitchen table–with little success to show for her valiant efforts. Whenever we talked on the phone, I could hear her moving about, tethered by a 1970’s era phone cord, and I knew what she was doing. She was clearing off the kitchen table. Again. Even so, whenever I visited, the piles had returned, and books, mail, groceries, and newspapers would need to be swept to one side, a vivid, visual image of her hospitable heart making room for me in her full and busy life.

In the decades that have passed since my last visit with Joanne, there have been seasons in which my soul felt like her kitchen table, weighted down with untidy piles that I shuffled and moved around, but never really tended to. The clutter never failed to get in the way of what I was trying to accomplish.

Emily P. Freeman has just such a table in her own backstory, and when she set out to produce a podcast and, eventually to write a book called The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions, her goal was to share her own space-making practices. As we learn to clear our cluttered tables and souls, we make room for life-giving activities and create space for listening to the voice of God.

Decisions are Hard

According to Freeman’s research, American adults are privileged to make over 35,000 decisions every day, and over two hundred of these are about food. (14) With that in mind, as we clear away the chaos, priorities and categories become clearer, and we find, among all the daily decisions that there really is “space for our souls to breathe.”

Decisions are hard, and we want to make good ones. I, personally, want divine guidance on the level of sky writing:  “Buy the Silver Honda” in puffy, white lettering against a blue sky of clarity. Since this has never been my experience, I’m in the market for quiet wisdom that will heighten my listening skills for the guidance God does choose to provide, and so I found myself pausing and paying attention to Emily’s gentle suggestions for discovering my Next Right Thing.

“Do the next thing” as a mantra and as marching orders came into its own through the ministry of Elisabeth Elliot, but it actually has its roots in an anonymous poem, assuring believers that “Many a questioning, many a fear, Many a doubt, hath its quieting here. Moment by moment, let down from Heaven, Time, opportunity, and guidance are given. Fear not tomorrow, child of the King, Trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.  Certainly Jesus held to a “next right thing” mindset in his ministry among people. Whenever he told someone to hold out a hand, pick up a bed, wash in a pool, or go home, he was offering an object lesson in the importance of small acts of faithfulness.

Thoughts on Decluttering

Simple, soulful practices offered in The Next Right Thing bring grace to the reader’s cluttered table. For example, pro/con charts have been toxic for me in the past because I’m intent on (obsessed with) a successful outcome.

These thoughts felt like someone opened a window to the light and the fresh air:

  • “You can only make decisions based on what you know at the time. We live in an outcomes-based culture where the correctness of our choice seems based on the success of the result… Successful outcomes might look great on paper, but we want to build our lives on love, faith, connectedness, redemption, laughter, wholeheartedness, joy, and peace.”
  • “We make our list alongside Jesus and bring these things to him, asking him in every situation what he wants us to do. And then we trust that our desire can be trusted because he isn’t just with us; he lives within us and he’ll let us know what we need to know.”

Doing the next thing in love lightens the decision-making load by fine-tuning our focus. Following Jesus certainly involves multiple and complex choices over the course of a lifetime, but this is accomplished by following Jesus for the next ten minutes. And then the next. He has promised us light for our path, but most of the time my eyes are darting off the path, worried about eventualities that never materialize. By faith, we can clear away the clutter of indecision and walk with confidence and joy in the light that’s given as we do the next right thing.

Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Trusting Jesus for today’s next right thing,

Michele (1)

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate  If you should decide to purchase The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions, 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.

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

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Self-Discipline: A Wholehearted Yes to the Call of God

Child #1:  “But I don’t want to do my spelling lesson.”

Child #2:  “I really don’t feel like cleaning my room.”

Parent:  “I’m not asking you to want to. I don’t expect you to feel like it. I’m asking you to do it anyway.”

There was a season in which conversations like this were standard practice in our home. With a focus on quotidian matters of chores and school work, they seem, at first glance anyway, to be inconsequential. However, the performance of small needful duties without procrastination or complaint is a sign post which, if followed to its destination, carries the promise of a more disciplined life in the future. St. John of the Cross expressed it well:

“Do not wait for desire before performing a virtuous deed, since reason and understanding are sufficient.” (134)

Elisabeth Elliot was uniquely qualified to write on the topic of self-discipline, for she brought to it her unique brand of no-nonsense wisdom, a product of having already “set her face like a flint” in this following life. A right understanding of discipline requires a right understanding of the God we follow, for training in self-discipline requires a “wholehearted yes to the call of God.” (16)

In her recently re-released Joyful Surrender, Elliot creates a linguistic mosaic featuring the words dependence, responsibility, and obedience to fine tune her readers’ thinking. Her strong gospel underpinnings keep her thoughts from a purely bootstraps mentality, for she understood that “discipline is not my claim on Christ, but the evidence of His claim on me.” (28)

7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life

We embody self-discipline here on the ground by the miracle of grace, according to the guidelines of Scripture, and through the inspiration and enabling of the Spirit of God. What we bring to this equation is our own will–as an offering to God. (37) Our cooperation with God in a life of self-discipline shows up on seven fronts, and Elisabeth has devoted one chapter to each in a devastatingly convicting and yet hopeful celebration of joyful surrender.

  • First, discipline of the body is basic and essential, and it’s amazing how Christians fall into Gnosticism when we’re confronted with the need to wrestle our habits into submission to the will of God.
  • Rhythms of fasting and resting impact on the body as well as the mindand the Christian life is a continual journey of being “re-minded”–corrected  and pulled away from error by the Spirit who aids us in “thinking Christ.” (64)
  • In her discussion of the disciplines of place and time, Elliot’s focus is on the authority of God in our lives to call the shots, while the main question in the discipline of possessions is:  Are we willing to accept what God gives and to relinquish our grip on what he chooses to withhold?
  • The discipline of work views every task as a gift to be offered back to God, no matter how big or small, and our feelings, likewise, are to be recognized, named, and then laid open before the Lord for his training. (145)

Discipline is fundamental in the life of a disciple, and it finds its expression in our lives as we give up our “right” to my-way-my-time-my-stuff-my-preferences. Living in Joyful Surrender, we find that our obedience to Christ is met with gifts that far surpass the value of anything we will ever relinquish to Him.


Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Trusting for grace in the glad surrender,

Michele (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 linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Joyful Surrender, 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.

Photo by krystina rogers on Unsplash

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Self-Discipline: A Matter of Grit and Grace

With an empty house, a clean kitchen, laundry on the line (and even a sleeping dog!), it was a perfect afternoon to study or write. Deadlines were looming. However . . . the sun was shining, bath towels flapped and danced on the clothesline outside, and suddenly, while there was plenty that needed doing, the will to do it was lacking.

“Maybe I’ll call a friend,” I mused. “Or this would be a great day to wash windows!”

When I’m pondering the possibility of veering off course in some small way, I remember the faithful example of Elisabeth Elliot, who readily admitted that she was also subject to all the usual distractions and reluctance when it was time to sit down and write. She spoke of “taking herself by the scruff of the neck” and sitting herself down before the task at hand.

Elisabeth Elliot blended grit and grace so consistently that it is impossible to tell—and pointless to wonder—where one ends and the other begins. For this reason and many others, she has had a profound influence on the way I read Scripture, parent, and go about my work. I’m not alone in this, and because of her pervasive impact, Amanda Farmer and Michele Brusvoort are featuring Elisabeth Elliot in their Legacy Builders series.

I’d love it if you’d join me over there, and while you’re at it, be sure to take a moment to share in the comments about your memories of Elisabeth Elliot and how her books and her teaching have impacted on your following life.

By the way . . .

This is a good time to be pondering Elisabeth’s contribution to Christian thinking and living because several of her books are being re-released for a new generation of readers:

Made for the Journey, a new look and title for These Strange Ashes.

You can read my review here.

Joyful Surrender, an update of Discipline: The Glad Surrender (and a great follow up to this post!).

I’ll be reviewing this book soon.
Stay tuned!

Her audio series on suffering has been distilled down into print as Suffering is Never for Nothing which I have reviewed here.

Also, this year Valerie Elliot Shepard, daughter of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, wrote Devotedly, sharing content from her parents’ correspondence and journals. I was very thankful to share that book with readers and you can find the review here.

Because we “are loved with an everlasting love and underneath
are the everlasting arms,”

michele signature[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 books mentioned in this post, 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 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.

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.

Knowing God in the Midst of Our Pain

Elisabeth Elliot offers the most durable definition for suffering I’ve ever heard:

Suffering is Having What You Don’t Want —

This covers everything from cancer to a flat tire.

Or Wanting What You Don’t Have —

A spouse, a child, a new job.

Life on a fallen planet includes suffering of all types and intensities, and it’s one thing to have a snappy definition for it, but what about a theology of suffering?

  • What does God have to do with our pain?
  • Are there lessons to be learned or is suffering just a thing to be gotten through so we can continue with the business of life?
  • And what about suffering in the life of the believer? It’s clear we’re not offered immunity or exemption from the world’s woes, but search the internet for five minutes and you’ll find teachers who would say otherwise and support their claims with Scripture.

In her long career as an author and speaker, Elisabeth Elliot lingered long on the topic of suffering. Widowed as a young mother, committed to a missionary calling, widowed again in middle age, and then, finally, subjected to the indignity and disappointment of dementia at the end of her life, Elisabeth spoke from experience, but more than that, she spoke from a sinewy faith that God does not abandon us in the midst of our pain.

Published nearly four years after her 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 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)

“In Acceptance Lieth Peace”

Beginning with lessons drawn from the life of Job, Elisabeth Elliot challenged 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 with us in our misery–the answer we need more than any other we might have sought.

Then, taking her cues from her lifelong mentor, Amy Carmichael who said, “In acceptance lieth peace,” Elisabeth shared that leaning into what she knew about the character of God released her from the notion that when we suffer, we are “adrift in chaos.” (44) By doing the next thing, giving up our notions that we deserve a happy ending, and then saying “yes” to God, we are empowered to take the cup of suffering that God offers, in faith that He knows the end of the story.

While it seems ironic (or even masochistic) to thank God for suffering, that is exactly the advice Elisabeth offers. We do this, trusting the wisdom of the Giver who knows and attends to what we need; and we give thanks because it honors God.  During her second husband’s battle with cancer, God gave Elisabeth a testing ground for putting all her theories into practice, challenging her in regard to their shared suffering to:

  1. Recognize it;
  2. Accept it;
  3. Offer it to God as a sacrifice;
  4. Offer yourself with it.

Deliverance in Suffering

While it makes for a much better story line for someone to be delivered or rescued out of their suffering, the truth is that often God chooses to save His people in or through their trials. The psalmist outlines this miracle:

“He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23 RSV)

Suffering sets the table for salvation.

Receiving the gift of suffering is the first step. Offering it back to God is the next step, and it’s an act of total obedience–the highest form of worship. Loneliness, sorrow, loss, or weakness of any kind can be offered back to God like a bouquet of smashed dandelions in the clenched fist of a tiny two year old. “It means everything in the world because love transforms it.” (83)

The paradox of suffering linked to glory is a theme that runs through Elisabeth’s writing and teaching because it runs through Scripture. “The wilderness into pasture. Deserts into springs. Perishable into imperishable. Weakness into power. Humiliation into glory. Poverty into riches. Mortality into immortality.” (104)

A biblical theology of suffering finds God there in the midst of the pain, always present, always active, as He makes beauty from ashes, because our suffering is never for nothing.


Many thanks to B&H Books for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Thankful for a God who meets us in the midst of our pain,

michele signature[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 Suffering Is Never for Nothing, 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 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.

Why It’s Great to Be a Woman

According to popular wisdom, ten thousand hours of deliberate practice are required for excellence in any field. After 20 years of homeschooling, 25 years of mothering, and 30 years of gardening and canning, I’m doing the math and wondering if mastery is even a possibility in any of these life compartments. Maybe a more realistic goal is gratitude for the way in which the hats I’ve worn and the dailiness of my duties have mastered me. Still, when you don’t know MLB batting averages or the Great Books or how to arrange living room furniture for delightful ambiance, it is reassuring to hear that the things you have given your hours to really matter.

Abigail Dodds has performed this service in the message of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ where her stated purpose is to encourage women to “be at peace as women, to be grateful for being made women, and to see it all as an essential part of Christ’s mission and work.” (13) She laments the compartmentalization of Christian womanhood in which we are encouraged to “make femininity our entire life,” or, conversely, to try to “rise above womanhood as important humans, not silly women.” (13) In Christ, we are women in identity; women in action; and women in a free and fearless following, and this embrace of gender identity and the biblical role of women serves as the backbone of Dodds’s argument for a life of loving Truth and serving others.

Atypical Women

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.” With her outspoken manner and her laser-like logic, Elliot brought her own panache to the definition of what it means to be a “Christian woman,” and it turns out there’s room for everyone here. It is far better for a woman to focus on becoming Christlike than to become subject to purely cultural interpretations of how a true Christian woman looks or behaves.

“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)

Too, more important than carrying a pink Bible or adhering to the visible signs and signals of the submissive woman is the need to embrace our role as image bearers of the God from whom both masculinity and femininity emanate and originate. We are first and foremost His. We are fallen, redeemed, and deeply dependent upon a righteousness that comes to us only through the cross. Any idea that womanhood is small and confining likely arises from confusion over what the Bible really says about being made a woman in God’s image, for it’s clear that both men and women are subject to limitations–and blessed by fullness of opportunity!

Women in All We Do

Dodds is straightforward in addressing current and controversial topics around gender and even takes on some of the more sensitive topics, exploding stereotypes around singleness, probing the tendency toward media obsession and distractedness in mothering, and looking squarely at the elephant in the room–submission. Her clear and concise definition of submission (“willingly placing yourself under the authority of another”) draws a straight line directly back to the submission of Christ to the Father, reminding both men and women that all Christians live and work under authority and we all submit to Christ first.

A highlight of Dodd’s good writing is her employment of creative metaphor in making a point. This summer when I look at my tall, majestic sunflowers, I will be remembering that the sunflower “gladly sways this way and that, turning its face wherever the sun shines. In so doing it assures its own growth.” By contrast, if a sunflower is not following the sun, any attempt to force it to change direction would snap it off at the stem. Submission forced upon someone from outside “is not submission; it is coercion.” (83)

Women, Free in Christ

As a wife, a mum to five, and a leader in her home church, Dodds brings her own experience as well as her conversations with other women into her offering of wisdom, and she encourages women to live our actual life and to do it with hope. We are all workers, we are all in the process of being transformed, and we are all disciples who are also called to be disciplers.

We are strong enough to bear children — and “weak” enough to cry when they leave home for the first time. We are wise and gifted, but we are also humble and receptive. Like Job, we are full of questions and even complaints, but we trust for grace to lay our hand over our mouth in humility as we lean into the hope of resurrection life. Most importantly, we are finite women, rooted in geography and circumstances, but we are indwelt by an infinite Christ, and it is this alone that makes us free to lean into our identity as Christian women and to hear and fulfill His unique calling to us with contentment and gratitude.


Many thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grateful to be free, whole, and called in Christ,

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 linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ 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.

Photo by Alexandra Seinet on Unsplash

Subscribe to Living Our Days 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

 

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