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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Love God. Embrace Truth. Enjoy Life.

When Ginger Harrington and her family moved from North Carolina to California, she wasn’t worried about packing or adjusting to a new home base. Rather, she was worried about surviving! Medical testing had revealed that she had Graves’ disease, a hyperthyroid autoimmune disease and suddenly, all the roller coaster symptoms of anxiety and a body stuck in high gear began to make sense. Packing a supply of her new little pills along with her three young children and all their belongings into a moving van, she and her husband did what military families always do–except that this time, Ginger’s moving mojo was drowned in a flood of adrenaline. Sleepless by night and depleted by day, she was forced to reach deeply into the truth she knew but could not feel:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God. . .” Isaiah 43:2, 3

Ginger’s journal became a spiritual climbing wall, a record of hand holds by which she pulled forward into the next grueling day:

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Don’t fret or worry.” (Philippians 4:6)

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.”

Truth that Transforms the Hard Moments

Far from stale “religion,” holiness is both practical and relevant to the life of a believer, for it is rooted in relationship with a holy God and grows in direct proportion to our willingness to be transformed in mind, will, and emotion. God’s invitation into holiness is a path away from a “disorderly and unkempt life” and toward a “life that is as beautiful on the inside as the outside.” For Ginger (and for all of us whose feet are walking broken paths), these are life-saving words, and anchor our hearts in the truth that God loves us as we are–not as we wish we were.

A Habit of Prayer in the Moment

Whether dealing with anxiety over major life adjustments or simply bad habits that have produced a hurried soul, redirection begins with the good choice to rest in God and to adopt a moment-by-moment trust. Prayer becomes the affirmation of total dependence upon God, especially as it becomes instinctive to “pray now rather than later.” (Loc 928)

Praying in the moment looks like grace flowing into everyday life:

  • Write a prayer directly into a social media thread;
  • Record your prayer in an email or text message and then hit “send”;
  • Send private, emergency messages to the God who is always listening;
  • View the fleeting thought about a person or a situation as a call to prayer.

In his classic work Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence refers to this mindfulness and ongoing dialogue as “continual conversation” with God.

Trust, Lean, Acknowledge

Holy living in the moment translates the familiar wisdom of Proverbs 3:5,6 from theoretical to the intensely practical in three action-oriented steps:

  1. Trust God with all your heart:  Trust and love live in direct proportion to one another.
  2. Lean not on your own understanding: “Our own understanding steers crooked with the bias of self.” (Loc 1020) Resigning from our position as adviser to God and depending on His leading is a huge sign that we are depending on Him and not ourselves.
  3. In all your ways acknowledge Him: To acknowledge God is a form of prayer,” and all our ways would include thoughts, feelings, responses, and decisions.  As we embrace God’s way of doing and being, we discover that His promise of straight paths stands in direct contrast to our own broken and bent way of living.

Shimmering Glimpses of Wisdom

Oswald Chambers was known for teaching that prayer is all about relationship rather than answers:

“The purpose of prayer is to get a hold of God.”

As I progressed through Holy in the Moment, I 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.


This book was provided by the author 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 Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life 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.

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.

Every blessing,