Elisabeth Elliot "You can never lose what you have offered to Christ."

Musings — July 2017

The corn’s not as “high as an elephant’s eye” here on this country hill in Maine, but it’s shoulder-high, and I’m sure the raccoons are already planning a picnic. The tomatoes are in blossom and I picked two big bags of green beans today, so canning season has officially begun.

And . . . the wedding pictures from last month are starting to roll in, so I hope you’ll indulge me for just a few:

On the Nightstand

When we choose our heroes of the faith, it’s easy to forget how they got where they are.  In the case of Elisabeth Elliot, I’ve long admired her no-nonsense observations on life and godliness, and I’ve taken to heart her tell-it-straight interpretations of Scriptural commands.  This month, I re-read her first book, Through Gates of Splendor, written after the spearing death of her husband and his four colleagues in ministry.  It chronicles their efforts to impact an isolated Ecuadorian people group with the claims of the gospel.

The story is old enough to have acquired its own patina of glory, but there wasn’t much romantic about being left as a widow in the jungle — a single mum whose only source of income was missionary support.  It takes grit to stay on the field and continue the work you began with your husband — but it takes something more than that to pick up where your husband left off and to travel deep into the jungle so that you can live with and minister to your husband’s killers.  And so, if you do that when you are twenty-something years old, I think a seed is planted which, if watered with obedience and tended by grace, grows into a voice of wisdom that can get away with saying hard truth because her listeners know that she has lived it herself:

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

“There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.”

“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

“The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.”

“You can never lose what you have offered to Christ.”

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’”

I’ve read Through Gates of Splendor countless times in the past, but picked it up this summer for two reasons:

  1.  Emily Whitten has recommended it as July’s Classic Book of the Month. If you’re curious about that, click here for information about how you can get a complimentary three month risk-free trial of World Magazine which gives you access to all their print and online content.
  2. It’s time to start planning for the new school year, and as reading material for my fifteen year old, I had been planning to pull out Elisabeth’s Shadow of the Almighty and The Journals of Jim Elliot.  I’ll add this one to the list (and enjoy re-reading the other two myself while I’m at it!)

In some ways, maybe Elisabeth Elliot never stopped being a missionary, for even in the days leading up to her death, she was showing us the Way, the Truth and the Life by the way she followed Him and graciously accepted all that came from His good hand.

Also on the nightstand:  

If you participated in the Book Discussion group last year around C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, (or even if you didn’t!) you may be interested to know that there is another one in the works!  Keep your eyes open for more details in upcoming posts in which I will be sharing details, quotes from the book (to tempt you to join us!), and eventually a reading and discussion schedule.

On the Blog

I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of a number of blogging friends this month:

Shannon Coleman who blogs at Of the Hearth invited me to be part of a series to encourage mums that it really IS possible to grow spiritually during the intense years of mothering.  I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, recalling how it feels to read the Bible with one eye and to watch an exploring toddler with the other, to endure the interruptions and then return to the task at hand. Most of all, it was encouraging to share the more current experiences of learning to roll with the changes and adjustments because of a commitment to make spiritual formation a priority.  Part One of the series gives some background and makes a case for the prudent use of little minutes while Part Two gets into details around accountability and flexibility.  If you know of a young mum who is in the process of setting priorities (or who is feeling frustrated), I hope you’ll share the links with her!

Declaration of Dependence

Debbie Kitterman shared my story of God’s faithfulness to our family during a time of crisis.  Just as King David, in times of distress, remembered what he had learned about God from past experiences of His faithfulness, the memory of being carried by God in the past can change the way we respond in the moment.  I hope you’ll join me over at Debbie’s place to be encouraged by the Old Testament story in which David took courage from the Lord.


The July theme at SheLoves Magazine has been “Open.”  Writing to a prompt is such a great way to examine the happenings of life through a different lens, and for me, in these days of in-between, with weddings and funerals and graduations all piling up on the calendar, it was a challenge for me to look at my days and ask God, “Are there words for this season?  Even for this?  Can you really meet me here?”  And of course He could, so I hope you’ll take a moment to hop over to SheLoves where I’m sharing about Life in the Wide Open Spaces on a lawn mower as part of our family business.

As a result of all this gadding about in cyber space, I’ve reviewed only three books at Living Our Days this month.

The top-notch journalism that characterizes NPR’s Marketplace was behind Rob Schmitz’s Street of Eternal Happiness.  Knitting together tales of his neighbors’ lives on a busy Shangai street in modern-day China, the clash of new and old is suddenly more than just a series of statistics about left-behind children and the lasting effects of Maoism in a budding capitalistic economy.  The stories left me wondering about the characters long after I had turned the last page.  If you think you don’t like non-fiction, but want to challenge that notion this summer, here’s a good place to begin.


I am acquainted with Sue Detweiler’s ministry through her blog, so, naturally, I was curious about her book, and the timing was excellent, because I’ve been challenging myself this year to be more intentional in my prayer life.  Women Who Move Mountains is an invitation to pray with confidence, boldness, and grace because it is not my own puny faith, but, rather, God who moves the mountains.  While the following life is not a promise of “smooth sailing forever and ever,” Sue provides examples from her own life and from women of the Bible who reveal the rich truth that prayer is essentially a relationship in which we are being trained in righteousness.

I found Thirty Thousand Days because Catherine L. Morgan found me through a mutual blogging friend, and I was thrilled to be able to review her book, partly because the math geek in me was fascinated at this numerical component:  the average human spends 30,000 Days in this journey home to God.  (As you read this, I will be living number 20,027.)  But even more than that was the beautifully crafted reminder that there is abundance to be found the midst of the mundane, that our hearts were designed to be poured out for the glory of God, and that I am here, not on vacation, but on mission.  Let this quote about the role of the church in the life of the believer light a fire under your lawn chair:

“I am an alien and stranger here in the thick of a great battle.  If I am engaged in this battle, I will need the refuge of the church.  Love will sustain me.  If I do not perceive this need, maybe I am not really engaging the fight.”

Be encouraged, my friends, as you engage in the fight wherever you are.  This has been a disturbing month in many ways, with lots in the news that is upsetting or downright discouraging.  It’s been good practice for me to focus on “controlling the controllable and leaving the uncontrollable to God.”   

Blessings and love to you!


Beautiful wedding images were captured by Carrie Mae Photography!

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.

Once again, you’ll find me over at Leigh Kramer’s place for What I’m Into .  She throws the doors of hospitality wide open for bloggers to share their end-of-month recap posts.  If you ‘re looking for your next summer read or wondering about recommendations for podcasts, you’ll want to make a visit there.

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.




31 thoughts on “Musings — July 2017”

  1. Michele,
    I always love your “Musings”….I love this “control the controllable and leave the uncontrollable to God!” I especially enjoyed the quotes from Elisabeth Elliot. I believe, like you, she will always be a missionary and her legacy will be passed down for generations. Oh how I hope my life will leave a legacy. Loved the wedding pics…and I’m glad you took some time away from reviewing books to be present in the good things taking place in your family….
    Bev xx


    1. I’ve got to go back in and attribute that quote to Kay Warren — so I’m glad you mentioned it. And we certainly have the examples of wise and wonderful women to help us as we look toward our own legacy and impact on the world.


  2. Such beautiful pictures and reflections, Michele! I’ll be keeping an eye out for info about this book group as I was bummed to miss the last one : )


  3. Thanks for this glimpse into your world, heart, and thoughts! Thanks so much for including the great photos….please indulge yourself and us any time!!😊 I am curious about the discussion book you have in mind and eager to hear more about it. I am currently reading a book that provokes a lot of thought that I think you might enjoy munching on at some point. The title is Learning to Know and it is written by Esther Meek, a philosophy professor at Geneva College in PA. The theme is about how observing patterns help us to know and know the Lord more.


  4. Oh, what a lovely wedding!! So beautiful! You must be so proud and happy! I also loved the book “Through Gates of Splendor”. Our son had to read it for a literature assignment, and our whole family enjoyed reading it aloud together. The story is so amazing and sad and such a challenge to us all. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. God bless you and your lovely family!


  5. Those wedding photos look great, Michele. What a precious family you have!
    I am so, so honored that you took part in the posts about moms finding time to spend with God. Your insights were encouraging! Moms in the early stages of our mothering journeys (like me) benefit so much from wisdom from moms like you.


  6. Through Gates of Splendor is my favorite missionary book. It’s a great book to give as a present because it leaves you feeling like someone handed you a precious gift.


    1. Thank you for thinking that I have a distinctive style. Now you’ve got my mind busy thinking about what that might be. And yes . . . harvest has begun. 12 quarts and 3 pints of green beans picked AND canned yesterday. Woo Hoo!


  7. Elisabeth Elliott is a favorite, though I haven’t read this account and really should. Love your musings each month, Michele. The wedding pictures are delightful! So fun to find you haunting so many other blogs this last month, good for you! Have a blessed weekend!


  8. Speaking of Elisabeth Elliott. Have you read The Savage, My Kinsman?
    It takes you into the Auca village with Elizabeth and her then three-year old. Incredible to try to imagine what she lived through there. Thinking with her about how God could possibly reach this tribe who were so very different—well, the daunting reality of it as she pens her thoughts really stuck in my head! It is an anthropological reading gem for your homeschooling objectives…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I loved it, but my favorite of all her books is These Strange Ashes. It’s set in her single days and chronicles three major losses that occurred in her career as a missionary. And amazingly, she does not put a ribbon on it and end the story with a “happily ever after.”

      Because God has a way with ashes, too.


  9. I’ve also read Elisabeth Elliot’s Through Gates of Splendor and it’s one of my favorite books! I’ll have to read The Journals of Jim Elliot sometime–that sounds really good too!


    1. I enjoy her biographical work as well as her devotional and “teaching” work. She had so much depth and knew her Bible so well. So glad that we share a love of her writing.


  10. I love the wedding photos and the Elisabeth Elliot quotes! I’ve found so many of her quotes that I love and I have heard the basics of her story but never actually read it. Your post encourages me to that soon!


  11. Love these wrap-up’s. I was a small child when Jim Elliot was killed by the Auca Indians – I believe they were sent by the Brethren Church and that is the church I grew up in so the story was very up close and personal to us. Miss Elisabeth’s address was in my mom’s address book as they corresponded through the years! I dropped her a note when my mom passed away. Thanks for stirring that memory for me this morning, Michele. xoxo


  12. Beautiful wedding photos! I always love your book reviews. I wish I could stay awake longer to absorb some great books. It’s taken me weeks just to get half way through one.


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