January Musings — 2017

Having never chosen a #OneWord365, I was surprised when Standing chose me!  What a delight to be reminded of God’s wide open door, and of the truth that an ongoing relationship with God is more than enough reason to rejoice!

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.    ~Romans 5:1,2 MSG

Here at Home


It has occurred to me that I’ve never shared much in these recap posts about what’s going on around the dining room table here on this country hill in Maine.  With two high school boys still homeschooling, we get up from the breakfast table five days a week and dive into all kinds of learning.  My senior and I are squinching up our faces with the effort of unraveling all the formulas needed for two-dimensional vectors, and my freshman and I have regular arguments about the relevance of all the grammar lessons I inflict  assign.  Having said that, I’m thankful for those hours around the table, and very aware that next year I’ll be down to only one student!

That youngest son and I share an obsession with recorded books, and right now, we’re listening our way through anything we can find by Gary Schmidt, a two-time Newbery Honor-winning author whose delightful protagonists seem to hover around the age of fourteen and who “think out loud” in ways that make Gary’s writing both entertaining and instructive — especially for those who are interested in the business of living amidst all the tangled angst of those early teen years.  I can recommend Trouble, O.K. for Now,  First Boy, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.  We’re hoping to listen to more soon!

On the Nightstand


Choosing my first “before I go to sleep” book of 2017 was, of course, nearly a ceremonial affair in which I looked at everything that I have by Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, and a few others and then tried to decide.  Since I’m still finishing up Luci Shaw’s Breath for the Bones (thoughts on creativity and faith), I went with Be Still My Soul for a blast of Elisabeth Elliot’s no nonsense commentary on various Scriptures.

On the Blog

I’m finally past the white knuckle stage of leading a book discussion group focusing on Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.  We’ve “met” four times so far, and the comments have been as diverse as the participants:

“Well, I had to sit down and read the book cover to cover (couldn’t put it down!) first. Now as I am reading it again I see things I didn’t see the first time.”
“I am not a great fan of mythology but I did love the Narnia stories and their powerful analogies so I am hanging in here to try to understand how such a ghastly fearful character as Ungit can have about her the smell of holiness! I’ll admit to being repelled and very unsure where this analogy is heading”
“Even though I feel that I may be “out of my element” by joining in with an Online Book Discussion Group while being such a Newbie to this world of Blogging, my Stilling Heart is longing to hear the poetic sharing about such a great storyteller as C.S. Lewis.”

If you haven’t joined us yet, you can grab the reading schedule here, and our most installment in the discussion is here.

The most widely read post for January was my review of Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren.  The folks over at The Englewood Review of Books were kind enough to share my review on their site, and I heartily recommend their weekly publication which presents and analyzes books that “point toward a new world that is characterized by the justice and shalom of God.”

Just for Joy

Having made peace with the demise of the cassette tape, I am thrilled to have discovered podcasts in the past few months.  You may already have an overwhelming list of regular “shows” that you listen to, but just in case you’re interested in hearing about some new ones that challenge your thinking, here are my five favorites:

  1.  All the CT Podcasts:  I always look forward to Quick to Listen, Theology for Life, and The Calling for their interesting interviews and sharp thinking and reporting on issues that affect the church.
  2. Listening In is an interview podcast produced by World News Group.  They interviewed author Les Sillars about his book Intended for Evil at the exact time in which I was in the process of reading and reviewing it!  What great insight that provided!  They have also introduced me to a new (to me) musician:  Chad Lawson‘s piano work is a glorious melding of jazz/classical that is perfect — just perfect.
  3. Nancy Guthrie hosts Help Me Teach the Bible, and she and her guests have fascinating and helpful discussions about faithfully presenting Truth in a teaching ministry.  This month, I reviewed her bookWhat Grieving People Wish You Knew, and her story gives weight and depth to her astute grasp of theological truth.
  4. I think I’m all caught up on the programs of The Road Back to You.  Authors Suzanne Stabile and Ian Morgan Cron talk about life through the lens of the Enneagram by talking to people who represent various types on the Enneagram.  I started listening to the podcast as preparation for my review of their book, but  I keep listening because it’s so fascinating!
  5. Living a Redeemed Life by Holly S. Barrett is another of my favorites because Holly interviews writers, bloggers, and friends, chatting in a casual way about their lives and where they see redemption at work in their every day living.  She invited me to chat with her back in December, and after I got over my initial horror at the thought of branching into another post-cassette tape medium, it was a wonderful experience. The visit is scheduled to air on Friday, February 3.

Thank you, friends, for your warm encouragement during these cold January days.  The wind is howling outside my window right now, but the sun is pouring through the windows, and I’m thankful for the gift of a wood stove and a well-stocked wood pile, hot tea in my favorite mug, and the love of family and friends.



As usual, I’m sharing this post with the What I’m In To community over at Leigh Kramer’s place.  Be sure to swing by for great recommendations of books, podcasts, and, well . . . see for yourself!

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.

54 thoughts on “January Musings — 2017”

  1. I read your blog and come away with a comforted heart assured that in this madding world there survives a remnant of normalcy. Apparently on a country hill in Maine.


  2. I always enjoy these posts, Michele. I saw those faces of your family and wondered what it must be like to be the only female in that group 🙂 It gave me a deeper appreciation for the strength and godliness that you possess. Grateful our paths have crossed!


  3. I always enjoy the things you share. Invariably I learn something new and your insight refreshes me. Love the pic of your guys as well! Fascinated by whatever you are reading. I have not checked in on the discussion, but have just about caught up with the reading of Till We Have Faces. Finished 2 book review for Tyndale and am enjoying a leisurely trip with Francine Rivers in Bridge to Haven. (She is my favorite fiction writer and I love tucking something of hers or something like it into my reading mix.) Have a blessed weekend!


    1. I’m thankful for Tyndale’s books — I’ve enjoyed some good ones lately as well. And I am going to make an appointment with Wendell Berry before too long, because it’s been a while since I’ve read some relaxing fiction.


  4. What a good visit, Michele, I feel as if I really did visit you on that hill in Maine!

    Love your photo of your guys!

    You know, podcasts are something I’ve never got into, but now you have me curious.

    I’m a big fan of Elisabeth Elliott. You made a good choice.


    1. Yes, I need to return to her wisdom to keep it fresh in my brain — and I miss her voice. Podcasts are great when you’re washing the dishes — or making breakfast. I just can’t have them playing when someone is practicing the piano (or the trumpet) — and I”m careful not to let them take the place of conversation if there’s a living soul somewhere nearby.


  5. Michele,
    I always love your musings. Keep “inflicting” those grammar lessons. Good grammar is truly a lost art! I will have to listen to Chad Lawson – he sounds like he’s right up my alley as well. I will have to tune in to you and Holly on the 3rd. She is SO much fun and makes it so easy. Time flew because it was like chatting with an old friend. As always – so glad I stopped by.


  6. How fun to finally “meet” your family, Michele! As usual, after reading one of your posts, I’ve added a new book title to my “shopping list” (Eilsabeth Elliot). I’m enjoying the book club discussions on Till We Have Faces. You’re doing a great job! I chuckled over your comment about the demise of the cassette tape. My mother is still in denial, lol 🙂 I see you’re one of the new sailors over at God-Sized Dreams – congratulations!


    1. Ha! I threw out a whole pile of cassette tapes in 2016. I’m such a slow learner. Good to know that you’re also a fan of EE — and that you’re enjoying the discussion of Lewis’s book. I’m loving the comments and observations!


  7. I love how sometimes words find us rather than us finding them. My two words for the year are Open Doors, and ever since they found me I’ve been asking God to show me the doors that He wants me to open.
    It was fun to see the handsome men of your family. They grow and go from home far to quickly.
    Congrats on your new writing assignment Michele. I’m so happy for the opportunity for you!
    Blessings friend,


    1. So wonderful to hear from you here! Can’t wait to see how God uses those powerful words in 2017 — and you really need to read Romans 5:1,2 in The Message — that’s where my word came from and I think you’ll notice a connection to YOUR wonderful words as well.


  8. Your monthly musings are some of my favorites, Michele! The MSG translation of Romans 5 is glorious. I love it. Thanks for making me smile and sharing these insights and resources. Still bummed I haven’t been able to participate in the book reading/discussion- but next time!


  9. You always serve up some great resources for us to check out and inspire me, personally, to be a more avid and intentional reader, Michele. Also, is your “one word” – “standing”? I didn’t see you mention it again except for the passage you shared above. Sometimes you have to spell things out for me! ha! But if that’s your one word, it sounds like a great focus for 2017! And prayers for you as a homeschooler and a mom of four sons! I thought raising three was hard! Oh my! But they all look happy and handsome, so you’ve done a great job, I’m sure!


  10. I love your monthly recap. Thank you for sharing more of your family. I love podcasts and of course Holly’s is my favorite go to. I cannot wait to hear your episode! Yay for friends and podcasts!


  11. Michele, the musings are all wonderful! Great recommendations of books and suggestions and thoughts. I love Nancy Guthrie and will look for the book. She used to write a column in a Christian magazine (can’t recall the name right now)…that is where I got to know her writings.
    Now I am singing “Standing, standing, standing on the promise of God….” : )


  12. Wow, I love this! I’ve never thought of “standing” like that before. Thank you so much for sharing! Happy Wednesday, from the Messes to Messages link up.


  13. I am a HUGE podcast listener and can’t imagine life without them. I’m glad you’ve finally discovered them! I listen to over 40 shows on a regular basis, but our only overlap is The Road Back to You. It’s a fun one! I haven’t read their book yet but it’s high on my TBR list.


  14. I loved getting to meet your family. Sounds like you’re very busy, with all that teaching 🙂 I’m impressed, because I always had to get tutors for advanced math. Math is like another language that I’ll never understand. Thanks so much for sharing these great books at Together on Tuesdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love seeing these little insights into your life “behind the blog.”
    I shudder at the thought of having to teach high school-level math to my little ones. I’m glad we have years of simpler things before we reach that point. 🙂


  16. Michele, what a beautiful family you have. 🙂 — We’re only down to one student this year too, and this is the first year in 13 years we haven’t homeschooled. We’ve already graduated his brothers. He’s in a small private school for boys. This is his first year outside of homeschool, but he’s adjusting well. (The homework has been an adjustment!) Thank you for the update — from your “stand/ing” word twin. 🙂


    1. So many changes in your house, too! I’m wondering what it will be like to have just one boy home next year, and he will also be gone half the day for classes at the vocational school in nearby city. Wow. I guess I will be much more productive here at home?? Maybe?


  17. I enjoyed reading your reflections and seeing the picture of your family. Standing is a great focus for the year. Thanks for the podcast recommendations too- look forward to listening to your interview!


  18. I loved reading your anecdotal stories of homeschooling your boys.

    And you reminded me that I actually have that book by Elizabeth Elliot, but I forgot I had it and haven’t read it yet! Since I have that verse over my desk in my office, I need to get the book out and read it! 🙂

    I’m so glad I stopped by today! Thanks for sharing!


    1. How wonderful that you have that book! It’s been a real encouragement to me already this year, and her writing is always helpful to me in my teaching/writing. So glad that you will be reading it too!


  19. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com! I especially enjoyed the part about your family life, and now I’ll be on the lookout for Gary Schmidt books!


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