4988 — Warm zucchini bread smelling like a cinnamon candle
4989 — Church supper to celebrate our new pastor and our family connection
4990 — Clanging of wind chime in the chill autumn breeze
On the Monday before Thanksgiving Day, I recorded gift number 5,000 in my gratitude journal — confirmed evidence of God’s goodness to me every single day of the past year. November always seems to mark a collision of holidays, but it’s especially true this year since I spent quite a few hours of the past month working on a new Advent banner (just like ours, of course!) for my oldest son’s family. I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am that he wants to lead his family in remembering the Greatest Gift Who entered this world in an ordinary moment, in the fullness of time. We’ll be doing the same thing at our house in December, just as we have for the past twenty plus years . . . such good memories and such promise for the future.
On the Nightstand
I can’t get enough Christmas poetry this time of year, and Luci Shaw’s Accompanied by Angels is a faithful friend. Poems of the incarnation, these have been collected from Luci’s other books AND from her annual tradition of sending a Christmas poem to family and friends. (What a great idea!)
And even though I’ve finished reading Ann Voskamp’s new book, I keep going back to The Broken Way because of the breaking and the giving away, the timely exhortation to “live given.”
On the Blog
I have been overwhelmed this month by encouraging comments from friends who have read A Legacy of Striving, my reflections on our Sister, Eve. As usual, I am grateful for the hospitality of the SheLoves community where I was able to share the truth that Eve’s story drives home:
Only God is equipped to be God,
and when I trust Him for the unknown quantities that furrow my brow,
when I say the words, “Your will be done,”
I join hands with Eve in remembering
And in waiting for the plan of God to be fulfilled,
For He will stop at nothing to restore and to reconcile.
Do we need any further evidence of this than the story of Christmas?
The most viewed post in November came out of our collective frustration and angst surrounding the election here in the United States. As I was bracing myself for the difficult task of going behind the curtain, it occurred to me that my choice of words, attitudes, and responses on the day after the election was over would be even more important than the choices I made in the voting booth. In the aftermath of the political hurricane, maybe this Prayer for November 9th is still relevant? Certainly, the Scripture that inspired it will carry us a long way into grace:
“Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You,” (Psalm 33:22).
Just for Joy
Is it just my imagination, or is there more music in the world the closer we get to Christmas? Since September, our family has been practicing to sing in the Living Christmas Tree, so the carols and the beauty of the Word made flesh have been singing their way through these autumn days. (Yep, that’s me on the right in the next-to-the-top row!)
And thanks to my friend, Susan Shipe, here’s a first for Living Our Days! We held a drawing for the giveaway of her lovely book, 31 Days in the Gospel of John, to one reader on Thanksgiving Day. My adorable grandson reached his tiny hand into a blaze orange hunting hat (we are pretty high tech here on this country hill!) and selected . . . drum roll, please:
I hope many of you will visit Ariel’s writing home, His Grace Goes Deeper, for a blessing in words.
Thank you, Susan, for stirring things up around here, but even more for compiling your reflections on the life of Jesus just in time for Advent, a reminder to 21st-century readers of the Gospels that Jesus is not a two-dimensional Savior, trapped on the page or in the past. He is alive and active in our day, and a commitment to read about him for 31 days is only the beginning. God has given us an eternity of days to savor the beauty of Jesus, to turn the Truth over in our minds, and to let it sink deep into our prone-to-wander hearts.
An Announcement for January
Most of us have a favorite C.S. Lewis book, whether it’s the incisive practical theology of Mere Christianity or the glorious story-telling found in The Chronicles of Narnia. It turns out that C.S. Lewis’s favorite of all his books was Till We Have Faces. One Lewis scholar calls it his “most subtle treatment of the relation between good and evil.” It’s a novel, based on the mythical tale of Cupid and Psyche, and in it, Lewis explores themes such as the selfishness of human love, the limits of reason, the corrupting effects of self-will, and in Lewis’s own words, “the havoc a vocation or even a faith works on human life.” I’m planning to lead a discussion group about the book starting in January, and am hoping that many of you will join me, so here’s a quick overview of the plan:
- The pace will be leisurely at three chapters per week (about 30-ish pages), which will take us into the beginning of March.
- I will be posting weekly starting January 5 (Thursdays) with introductory material and a detailed reading schedule. My hope is that the comments section here at Living Our Days will become a comfy living room where we can discuss our thoughts on the book. If you blog, PLEASE plan to include a link to your post about the week’s reading so that we can all benefit from one another’s impressions with more detail than is possible in the comments. If you don’t blog, no worries. Just share your thoughts in connection with the weekly reading here, and be sure to visit and respond to others.
More details to follow! Please weigh in below with your thoughts on the discussion group. Have you read Till We Have Faces?
Thank you once again, friends, for another month of encouragement through our conversations about books and about Truth. As we begin our celebration of the mercy, the forgiveness, the promise, and the welcome that flow from the birth of our Savior, may our hearts rejoice together in this spectacular evidence of God’s “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”*
Photo credit for Living Christmas Tree: Beth Birmingham at Village Soup
* Quote from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ amazing words in The Jesus Bible Storybook.
Be sure to hop on over to Leigh Kramer’s place to check out what she and others have been into and up to during the month of November! I’m also sharing this post at Emily P. Freeman’s Let’s Share What We Learned Fall 2016.
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 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.