November Musings — 2016

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:

Ariel Tohme

Congratulations, Ariel!

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:

  1.  The pace will be leisurely at three chapters per week (about 30-ish pages), which will take us into the beginning of March.
  2. 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.

48 thoughts on “November Musings — 2016”

  1. Yes, Ann’s book is on my nightstand, too … I’m paging my way slowly but surely, jotting down many quotes in my journal to muse over later. This is one of those times that a library book doesn’t cut it!

    And I love those red berries at the tippy-top of your page. Those are my favorites … right now I’ve got a big ol’ zinc watering can filled with them by the front door.

    Advent blessings to you, friend …


  2. Thinking of you this morning, sweet friend, and praying for you and your family. May your Christmas season bring many new and unexpected blessings and a renewed hope and excitement as you once again remember the birth of our dear Lord. Sending you much love!


  3. I always enjoy your musings, Michele! They help me catch up on any posts I happened to miss during the month. I haven’t read that particular CS Lewis book, but it sounds fascinating. I’ll be watching for more info and hope to join you in January!


  4. Michele, How fitting that you would record your 5000 entry in your gratitude journal right around Thanksgiving. My daughter was just saying how she wants to start a gratitude journal again. She was reflecting how during one of the hardest times in her life, when she looks back at that journal, she sees the underlying joy of recording God’s goodness in the midst of sorrow.

    I love the living Christmas Tree!! How awesome is that!

    Thank you for all that you shared here. Your posts are always so thoughtful and rich.



  5. I definitely agree that there’s more music around this time of year – and I love it! “My” Christian radio station always plays Christmas music only (with a few typical songs thrown in here and there) after Thanksgiving. It’s such a great idea, because people tune in to listen who normally wouldn’t and you know it ends up being such a blessing in their lives!


  6. It always takes me a minute when I see my image big on someone’s blog!!! Mercy. I’m reading Ann right now…s l o w l y. Re-membering. Thanks, Michele – Ariel’s book should be arriving in her mailbox any day now!


    1. I know the feeling about seeing your own face on someone else’s blog.
      I did warn you, though. 🙂
      I just got a copy of Ann’s book to give to a friend for her birthday.
      And I really want to do the study with the ladies in my church. We’ll see . . .
      I’m so happy for Ariel! She’s got a blessing coming her way!


  7. I’m not really familiar with Lucy Shaw, but you have gotten me interested. I’ll have to see if my local library has any of her work. How fun to be part of a “living” Christmas tree! I love it that there is more music around during holiday time, and it’s a great time to share with others the true meaning of Christmas.

    Blessings to you, Michele!


  8. Michele, I look forward to your discussion of “Till We Have Faces.” I listened to the audio of it a while back without a lot of reflection. I was struck by how we tell ourselves we’re doing something for someone else’s good when we’re really manipulating them for our needs.


  9. Michele,
    I always live your musings. An Advent banner for your son…what joy to see him shepherding his family!! God is God and I am not…Amen. May 2017 keep me seeking His will not my own. As always I enjoy your insights.
    Blessings to you this Advent season,


  10. What a great month, Michele! I’m still awed through the Eve poem : ) Your book study sounds great- will pray about the timing of it in hopes of committing!! Enjoy the start of December!


  11. Michele, my week wouldn’t be right without Linking up beside you. This week it’s through #GraceMoments I love your monthly reviews because I get to know you better! Praying you have a blessed December celebrating HIM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lovely! And I haven’t read Luci Shaw in years (nor known anyone else that did – is this an old or new book?) – And can I see a pic of your Advent Banner?


  13. You’ve reached 5,000, that is is wonderful, Michele! I remember one Christmas (in the 70’s) our church had a singing Christmas tree. I was a little surprised at what a singing Christmas tree was when the choir lights came on. You’ve had a wonderful November, thanks for sharing it with me and Thankful Thursdays.


  14. Yes, many sweet things to be grateful for no matter what is going on around us or anywhere else even. God’s gifts are everywhere. Just to have our eyes open and ears too (more music, you mention). I, too am rereading “The Broken Way” as there is much to absorb and live. I underlined so very much on my first round through and now adding more. I will need a new clean book for future readings unless I can see through my lines!! I love it! Precious words found here today, Michele, in each area of this post. So glad I came by.


  15. I always enjoy your monthly musings. The book discussion group sounds very interesting. I’m in! I’ll look forward to more info.

    Thanks for linking on Mondays @ Soul Survival. Have a blessed week!


    1. Ha! I’m in that untechy boat along with you, but there is apparently a box near the top of my posts where you can put your email address. I also noticed on my iPod that since it does not recognize me as “me,” it gives me the option to “follow” at the bottom of the screen whenever I view the blog.

      If any other readers have input to this question, fire away!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a great recap of your month! Somehow I missed your prayer for Nov 9th, yet I’m certain it is still relevant for today and likely much of the foreseeable future… Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. As always a great review of the month. I like the idea of a “living Christmas tree” and it definitely seems like there’s more music around at Christmas! I’ve heard great things about Ann Voskamp’s book and hope to read it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Living Christmas trees are so cool! I’ve always wanted to be a part of one. I’m a little jealous right now. 🙂

    I enjoyed Till We Have Faces. It’s a very thought-provoking story. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week!

    Liked by 1 person

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