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 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.

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Every blessing,




Till We Have Faces (5): Why Should Our Hearts Not Dance?

Welcome to Week 5 of our discussion group around C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces.  I haven’t taken time to figure out how many of us are reading through the book together, but I have become aware that as many of us are reading and sharing our insights, there are also many who are following along with the discussion with the plan of reading the book in the future.  Having said that, thank you for your great thoughts, and let’s get started with the . . . 

. . . Plot Summary (Chapters 10-12)

It truly was Psyche, standing alive and in good health on the far side of the river!

Leaving Bardia behind, Orual forded the river with plans of rescue and reunion, but was confronted instead with a riddle to be solved:  Should she trust her eyes — which showed her nothing but rags and wilderness — or should she believe Psyche’s account of an invisible palace and an unseen god who is now her husband?  Unable to sway Psyche from her resolve, Orual re-crosses the river for the night, but,  in the early twilight wanders back to the river and glimpses Psyche’s palace through the mist — but only for a moment.  Was this a lifting of the cloud from her mortal eyes — or a trick of the gods?  Bardia reluctantly weighs in with with a truth statement that Orual  was unwilling to reach on her own, but which strengthens her resolve that the time has come to confront the gods.


If ever we doubted that these two sisters see the world through differing lenses, Orual and Psyche’s meeting Beyond the Tree draws the difference large!  Big-Sister remains in her adversarial position against the gods and has framed her account of all the happenings as a “charge against the gods” (117).  With multiple metaphors (“two bits of a broken bone”; “a rasping together of two worlds”) (120) Orual makes it clear that she feels that the gods have stolen her sister away from her and her world, and that the land beyond The Tree is a dreadful place.  In the midst of their stand off, she admits that she hates “all these cruel, dark things,” (124) that she wants no part of it, and she begs Psyche to come back to “the real world” (125) with her.

Bearing witness to Psyche’s tale of life among the gods brought to mind C.S. Lewis’s real-life indicator for one’s having been in the presence of God:

“The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object.”

According to Psyche’s experience, what Orual insisted on calling the “real world” grew pale beside her sighting of the West-wind.  Humans appear as pale as lepers beside deity, and her only awareness of her self (as a mortal) was that we are  “small” and “dirty” by comparison (111).   Psyche described her husband coming to her in “holy darkness” (137), which amounted to an appalling condition of secrecy and horror to Orual.

Once again, Lewis puts words in Bardia’s mouth that are truer than Bardia knows.  Did anyone else catch his shadowy allusion to the Professor’s assessment of Lucy’s sanity in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? As it was with young Lucy, so it is with Psyche:

“One has only to look at her and talk to her to see that she is not mad.”  (LWW 48)

Some Issues to Ponder

Orual saw no palace, tasted no wine, witnessed no banquet, and ultimately dismissed the only vision she was granted of her sister’s new world.  Looking back to Chapter 9 and Orual’s journey on horseback up The Mountain where “the whole colored world with all its hills was heaped up and up to the sky,” I’m wondering about the glimpse of happiness she had then and the voice that came to her “like frolic” saying “Why should your heart not dance?” Was this another invitation — rejected out of pride and self pity?  Psyche repeats the invitation almost verbatim a few pages later, including herself in the merriment:  “Why should our hearts not dance?”

A glimmer of a New Testament story popped into my head as Orual was trying to decide if her vision of the palace was “real” or merely the mockery of the gods.  For a few blissful minutes (or seconds?) Peter discovered that he could walk with Jesus on water, and he found that his feet were dancing on the swells of that stormy sea — until doubt put an end to the dance.  Years later, near the end of his life, I wonder if Peter was thinking of that evening as he wrote words of encouragement about believing without seeing to scattered believers being tested by fire.  Was he recalling the momentary, inexpressible, and glorious joy of walking on waves, of joining Jesus in a watery dance of faith?

Orual is willing to “dance” only on her own terms.
She has defined happiness as a return to the way things were.
She has seen that Psyche is happy in her new life, but this new happiness is unacceptable to her.
Orual has given a name to her resolve to end this happiness . . . and she is calling it “love.”

Your Turn

Orual could not sleep during her night on The Mountain.  She listed physical discomfort (the cold and the lay of the land), “the Riddle” that was plaguing her mind,  and then she mentioned “Another Thing” that kept her awake.  Any thoughts on what that other thing was?

Psyche’s face was painted on her journey up The Mountain:  “It made my face stiff till it didn’t seem to be my own face.”  The god who comes to Psyche under the cover of darkness refuses to let his face be seen.  Orual has been limited and defined for her entire life by the appearance of her face.  C.S. Lewis is dropping hints about the odd title for this story, but we don’t have all the pieces yet.  Any thoughts on this puzzle?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of Orual’s brand of love?  Do you ever find yourself re-defining love to justify something you think needs to be done?

Next Time

Since there are only two chairs in every room — the chair of faith and the chair of unbelief — I am challenged by this tale of two sisters to be very careful before making the decision to sit anywhere else but in the chair of faith.

Next Thursday (February 9th), I’ll be here having read Chapters 13-15 and will look forward to meeting with you again.


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Till We Have Faces (4): Work, Weakness, and Sweat

I have invited the readers who visit Living Our Days to join me in reading C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, and to return here each Thursday for a discussion.  This is week four, and the insights offered by readers have been both encouraging and insightful.  It’s not too late to join us — click here for last week’s post to get you started.   

There is nothing on this planet that can bear the weight of all one’s hopes and dreams.
No relationship.
No set of circumstances.
No profession or vocation.
No political outcome.
They were never meant to bear that weight, and the laser focus of our longings will crush any earthly object, forcing us to admit that all our loves are pale adumbrations of a love for God. They are like the “the cords of infinite desire” that drew Ransom into the stillness on Lewis’s Perelandra.

In Chapters 7-9, with her mind cleared of pain, Orual learns to muffle the longings of her heart with hard work, but has not taken into account the plans of the god of the Grey Mountain who, in our world, has a reputation for loving His way past our defenses.

Plot Summary

Orual and Psyche’s final visit before Psyche’s sacrificial death is marred (for Orual) by Psyche’s calm acceptance of her fate, her willingness to be food for — or to be wed to — the god of the Grey Mountain.  Devastated and incapacitated by her loss, Orual loses days and weeks of time and then returns to consciousness to learn that (either by chance or by the efficacy of Psyche’s death) the threat of war, the scourge of plague, and the heaviness of drought have all been “scattered” (84) from Glome.  The birds have returned and the King is the darling of all the land.

Turning herself to the task of retrieving Psyche’s bones for a proper burial, Orual receives from Bardia the unexpected gift of a new skill and the offer of his assistance with her mission.  The balm of work, weakness, and sweat carries her through the days of healing and preparation for her pilgrimage to the Grey Mountain.  After the emotional roller coaster of the journey, Orual finds no sign of Psyche’s body and is plunged into hopelessness.  Capping C.S. Lewis’s glorious description of the lush beauty of the land beyond The Tree, chapter nine ends with the “quivering shock” and “terror” (101) of Psyche standing — very much alive — on the far side of the river.


Glome has followed the pattern of all human civilizations:  create a religion; work to keep the gods happy; designate a religious class so that the average citizen can “out source” his religious duties; and perpetuate rituals that keep the gods happy — or at least at arm’s length.

An amazing repudiation of this human tendency came blasting onto the scene with words like these, spoken by the God of the universe:

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
 Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
 Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
 Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”  Psalm 50: 12-15

Or these:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

And of course:

“For by grace you are saved, through faith — not of works lest anyone should boast.”   Ephesians 2:8,9

The gospel looks all the more glorious when viewed against a system like Glome’s in which the whole point of life is to get the gods to like humans more than they do.

Orual wastes not a thimble-full of love on the gods, blaming them for her loss of Psyche (71), and even viewing the return of her strength (90) as a curse from them that increases her mental anguish.

One thing is certain:  After the cliff-hanger ending of Psyche’s appearance at the end of chapter nine, we’re all poised for just about anything to happen and to hear just about any explanation of Psyche’s survival and well-being.  And that’s not a bad place to be, for whenever Divine influence comes to bear upon a scene, the outcome is unpredictable.  And that’s not true only in Glome . . .

Some Issues to Ponder

For all Orual’s loyalty and love for her sister, do you see any disturbing tendencies surfacing during their visit in Psyche’s prison cell?

Orual may not have much truck with the gods, but she certainly has formulated a position on the theodicy question.  While Psyche’s view of the deity in the Grey Mountain is all of a piece with Lewis’s Last Battle (“Further up and further in!”), how would you characterize Orual’s view of suffering as it relates to the gods?

What do you make of Lewis’s inclusion of Iphigenia and Antigone’s stories in the conversation between The Fox and Orual?  Is this a device to set the story in time with Greek culture or is there something else afoot?

Are you noticing Lewis’s incredible descriptions of landscape and scenery?  Whenever I read his words about the outdoors, I picture him on one of his walking tours, swinging his walking stick, and mentally stringing together combinations of adjectives to describe the beauty — which will show up later in his writing!

Your Turn

I would like to know what you gained from these chapters. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you need to say anything shocking or profound. Just share what stirred your heart or what gave you pause or what confused you. I’m thrilled that we have been reading this book together.

Next Time

On Thursday, February 2nd, I’ll be here having read chapters 10-12.


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Till We Have Faces (3): Holiness and Horror

I have invited the readers who visit Living Our Days to join me in reading C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, and to return here each Thursday for a discussion.  If you’re just joining us, you can find the reading schedule here and last week’s discussion here.

Living on this country hill in Maine, it’s easy to feel as if I’m a throw back to an earlier time.  My clothesline and my garden; the rows of canning jars full of colorful vegetables and homemade spaghetti sauce in the furnace room; the daily task of sweeping the bark and wood chips off the floor around the wood stove all tend to keep me well-grounded in the past.

However, a quick reading of the first seven verses of Hebrews 9 lets me know that I am not as comfortable in the past as I might imagine.  The author describes the Tabernacle, it’s furnishings and fittings, the sacred relics in the Ark of the Covenant, and the priestly activities that were part and parcel of relating to God under the Old Covenant.  The words that come to my mind when I picture the scene have nothing to do with worship: foreign, distant, and even frightening seem more descriptive.

I can just barely imagine the priest entering the Most Holy Place, cringing over his own sinful condition, his hands carrying the blood of an animal.  It gives the words “forgive my hidden faults” a whole new urgency, doesn’t it?

When C.S. Lewis created the land of Glome, he gave it a Priest and a religious system whose currency was the blood of bulls and goats.  His main protagonist, Orual, had a good many things out of whack theologically, but her radar was tuned in to holiness, and since the narrative of Till We Have Faces is from her point of view, Ungit’s Priest comes across as both frightening and holy.  His actions in Chapters 4-6 reveal an authenticity that neither The Fox nor the King possessed, and which remained solid even with the King’s dagger pressing against his rib cage.

Plot Summary

After a mere four pages of pure sisterly bliss, Orual and Pyche’s bond seems doomed to destruction.  Famine, pestilence, drought, “certain expectation of war” in Glome, starving lions foraging nearby for food, and the King’s inability to secure a male heir to the throne have made for desperate times and restless subjects.  Rumor has it that Ungit’s son, The Beast, is on the move and must be appeased with the blood of a perfect sacrifice.  The priestly lot has fallen upon Psyche who was immediately imprisoned.  We are introduced to Bardia, captain of the palace guard (and a practical materialist), who is set to secure the prison from all visitors, but who relents and opens the door out of pity for Psyche and respect for Orual, allowing the sisters to have what they believe to be their final visit.


While C.S. Lewis’s views on inerrancy were not completely orthodox, it is clear from his writing that he held Holy Scripture as an authority and guide for his life.  A favorite illustration of this comes in The Silver Chair in which Jill Pole is given the four signs that she is to repeat faithfully every single day so that when she needs to know them, she will have them at hand.  It shouldn’t have surprised me, then, to find with this reading of Till We Have Faces that Biblical allusions were jumping off the page at every turn.  I will share the quotes and their corresponding Scripture references below as an invitation for your reflection:

“‘Bulls and rams and goats will not win Ungit’s favour while the land is impure,’ said the Priest.” (45)

Isaiah 1:11 –  “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.”
Hebrews 10:4 – “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”

“The Brute is, in a mystery, Ungit herself or Ungit’s son, the god of the Mountain; or both.” (47)

Colossians 2:9 – “In Him (Jesus, God the Son) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

“Our real enemy was not a mortal.  The room was full of spirits . . .” (54)

Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

“It’s only sense that one should die for many.” (61)

John 18:14 – Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Of course there are more.  Did I miss your favorite?

Some Issues to Ponder

Shame is a theme that was rooted in Chapters 1-3, but carries forward full blown into this section.  Orual is continually berated and shamed by the King for her ugliness.  He called her  “curd face,” (18) and “goblin daughter,” (26) , but, sadly, she was hearing words of shame about her appearance before she was even old enough to understand what it all meant, (“See if you can make her wise; it’s about all she’ll ever be good for”). (7)

The tables are turned when the King reveals his true cowardly colors in his relief that Ungit is requiring the death of his daughter Psyche — and not himself.

“(And this is the greatest shame I have to tell of in my whole life.”) His [the King’s] face cleared.  I had thought that he had seen the arrow pointed at Psyche all along, had been afraid for her, fighting for her.  He had not thought of her at all, nor of any of us.” (54)

And later . . .

“King,” said I, “the blood of the gods is in us.  Can such a house as ours bear the shame?  How will it sound if men say when you are dead that you took shelter behind a girl to save your own life?” (60)

Bardia’s fine act of courage at the end of chapter six foreshadows the larger role he will play later in the book, but if that is not enough, what do you make of this heart-stopping line from his warrior’s heart:

“Do the gods know what it feels like to be a man?” (66)

This is yet another example of Lewis’s incredible ability to tranfer foundational Christian verities into strange contexts that make them live in new ways.  When I read Philippians 2 and commentary on Jesus’ coming “in the likeness of man” that we celebrate in the incarnation, I appreciate the truth of the God Man, but when I read Bardia’s wrenching question, soft-hearted mercy from a hard-handed man who leaves matters of the gods to the “great ones,” I can feel the answering “YES” in my very bones.

For me, C.S. Lewis’s writing is an invitation to look along the shaft of light that his metaphors provide, and to see the truth with greater clarity.

Your Turn

I’ve shared what I noticed this week, and now I hope that you will share your thoughts on chapters four through six in the comments below.  Again, feel free to share links to any blog posts that you have written in response, and to pose questions that have come to you in your reading.

Next Time

Next Thursday, I’ll be here having read Chapters 7-9 and will look forward to meeting with you again.


If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box 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.