Musings: December 2017

Chopping up the last of my garden carrots and sweeping them into a snowy-day soup, I marveled at their color and texture, so much brighter and more tender than any store-bought veggie, even though they were yanked out of the ground by my exuberant grandson back in October. It’s clear that these orange roots were once a living thing, and in these days of rest and family vacation following a tumultuous year, a busy semester, and a vibrant celebration of Christmas, I feel grateful to be among the “living things” who are able to enjoy the vivid blue of a winter sky, the sound of “single-digit snow” squeaking under my snowshoes, and the warm presence of a tiny person beside me on the couch as we turn pages and share stories together.

On My Mind

In the spring, I began a slow slog through the book of Jeremiah. The challenge has been to dwell in the encouragement of Jeremiah’s faithfulness while he carried out an overwhelming (and discouraging) assignment from God, particularly when he was required, time after time, to deliver the somber message of judgment and exile.

Even so, like daylight shining through the cracks around a slammed-shut door, the promises of God shine through Jeremiah’s prophetic words. Reading Jeremiah 21:8, I understood that God’s reprise of Deuteronomy 30 was a renewal of His vows. Then, flipping pages back to its first mention and reading onward, I found a warning against the subtle slippage that erodes faithfulness one grain at a time.

“But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,  I announce to you today that you shall surely perish …” Deuteronomy 30:17

Year end is a fitting time for assessment and reflection, so I’m taking the temperature of my own following heart these days and using Moses’ cautionary words as a wake up call:

  • What is my heart turned toward, what is it beholding, that may deafen me to the voice of God?
  • Am I spreading my worship thin, deifying substitute gods who draw me away from a faithful following, and a single-eyed service?

On the Blog

If you haven’t already filled your heart with enough Christmas cheer to last until December 2018, here’s a list of my Christmas offerings from December:

On December 1, The Redbud Post shared a collection of my Christmas book reviews for their theme of The Sacred Amidst the Secular.

My Sunday School teaching on the well-loved carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, found its way into a blog post that has enhanced my singing and my worship throughout this Season of Listening.

And . . .

. . . turning the corner into the New Testament as my patient husband and I finish up our 2017 read-through landed my thinking with the Acts-One Faithful who were given a command to wait in Wait for the Spirit of Christmas. Wait for the promise to be fulfilled. Wait for power from on high. Because Christmas is a celebration of waiting fulfilled, I spent some time pondering the path of the impatient in what Tozer has described as these days of “the interim time.”

I reviewed four books in December, and am happy to be maintaining this one-book-per-week pace. My Goodreads goal for 2017 was 52 books, and I read 57, so I’ll likely stick with a 52 book goal for 2018.

Love Big, Be Well by Winn Collier is an epistolary novel based on the sweet correspondence between a fictional pastor and his flock. It’s guaranteed to make the reader fall in love all over again with ministry and with the church.

Sing! by Keith and Kristyn Getty emphasizes the importance of congregational singing — it’s not just something we do to fill up the time before the sermon. Martin Luther said it well:  “Let God speak directly to His people through the Scriptures, and let His people respond with grateful songs of praise.”

Karen Wright Marsh wrote a book that gathers in one place her reflections on the lives of historical figures in church history, delivered in talks at the Bonhoeffer House on the campus of the University of Virginia. Each chapter of Vintage Saints and Sinners stands alone, but together, they’ll remind you that even the most celebrated of the “saints” were sinners too, and modern day believers can also travel a pilgrimage of faith that is both gritty and joyful.

Alexandra Kuykendall wanted to make some changes that would bring joy back into her celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She conducted an experiment that she hoped would help her to capture the essence of the season, and Loving My Actual Christmas is her lab report. She longed to set her family up for success by lowering expectations, lightening their load, and limiting their activity level. If you’re doing a post-mortem on Christmas 2017 and vowing to do better next year, here’s a great place to begin. The Perennial Gen very kindly shared my review over at their place because I was writing from the perspective of Loving My Mid-Life Christmas.

On My Nightstand

It’s time for me to take another stab at G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and I’m planning to do a monthly pondering post about my reading here. More details to come in January!



On My Heart . . .

. . . is a load of thanksgiving for each one of you who reads, for you who faithfully comment, share posts, and encourage me along the way. I’m convinced that I’d be writing something somewhere whether anyone was reading it or not, but it’s so much more fun to know that others are with me in this faith journey, and that we are Living Our Days in community.

A Blessed Beginning of 2018 to You!


Join me over at Leigh Kramer’s place to read what others are sharing about their reading, writing, watching, thinking, and eating lives. The December musings are always the best!

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

34 thoughts on “Musings: December 2017”

  1. I wonder how you keep carrots fresh for two and a half months…?

    I love that three times in Jeremiah, God promises to heal their backslidings. How wonderful … not cure, not forgive, not overlook them, but heal them, which must mean that backslidenness is a spiritual sickness which God wants to heal. Does’t that just give you heart for people you love who’ve forgotten how much Jesus loves them…

    I pray that this new year will be wonderful to you … that you will find the depths and heights of the joy of the Lord to be your great strength and that His beautiful presence will be a gift to you every single day of 2018.

    Bless you, Michele, and thank you so much for being such a friend to me. xx



    1. Store them with the dirt still on them. Yup. I know that’s yucky, and I shouldn’t even admit that I do it. (They were in a tightly sealed zip loc bag, so they were pretty isolated from the rest of the fridge contents.) I’ve got a few squash still sitting in a basket in my basement, and they are doing fine, too. Of course this always makes me wonder what happens to the veggies I buy at the store that spoil in no time in the fridge. What “violence” was done to them in shipping, or exactly how long have they been out of the ground, really?
      And those thoughts on Jeremiah need to be copied into my journal. Such good insights. Did you preach your way through Jeremiah at some point in the past?
      And I’ll be praying similar things for you, Bev, in the midst of all the challenges and adjustments of 2018. You’re a light to me.


  2. May our Father continue to bless you and your family in 2018. Thank you for the effort you put into your writings. I look forward to seeing your emails. 😊


  3. I wish you were here. We would make soup together and listen to the radio and talk books well into the night. That would be a lovely way to ring in a new year. I will stir my black eyed peas and think of you : )


    1. I think I cooked black eyed peas one year. My family was not thrilled (not much for legumes, they aren’t), but I thought they were wonderful.
      I’m re-reading Hannah Coulter during Christmas vacation and marveling at how relevant her musings on an emptying nest have become.
      2018 is going to be full and exciting for you! News about your book soon?


  4. What a blessing it is to read your blog, Michele. I’ve gotten behind in the last couple of weeks and like the recap. So many wonderful books and messages to ponder as the year comes to an end. I look forward to your words in 2018!


    1. Molly, you are such an encouragement to me. Thanks for visiting – I wish I had followed your example and taken more of a break in December. I’ve already scheduled time off for December 2018, which may actually prove that I’m teachable. 🙂
      Blessed New Year to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t do an end-of-December post since I did an end-of-year post. I enjoyed “discovering” you this year! Like you, I’d probably be writing in some format, but it’s such a joy to have people come alongside and share in the journey.

    I’ve just started Isaiah, and one thing that strikes me about the prophets is that although their messages are often harsh and hard to hear, there are such tender pleadings and promises in their midst.


  6. I also have a copy of Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” that I’ve not finished. I’ll be pondering along with you!

    Looking forward to your writings in 2018. Your posts always stretch me!


    1. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that, Jerralea. I’m doing a slow read through chapters 1 and 2 right now. Pretty deep, and really hard (for me, anyway) to find his outline sometimes. Phew. What have I taken on?


  7. I often say I write for me too and I’m sure I’d write even if I didn’t have many readers or comments but it sure does make it more fun doesn’t it? Happy New Year!


  8. I love that you said Christmas is the fulfillment of waiting. I never quite looked at it that way! I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas season and so appreciate your heart and encouragement throughout the whole blogging community.


    1. Thanks, Char. Yes, we have had a lovely Christmas season. Epiphany is my oldest son’s birthday, so I still have Christmas in my thoughts and our wisemen are still traveling around the house until the reach the manger scene on Jan. 6.


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