Bare branches wait spring

Musings: February 2018

On a day when snow was sticky and ankle deep, I took kitchen shears and lopped branches off a bush that grows in disarray outside the dining room window. The rush of school and schedules had bowed to the will of February vacation, and suddenly there was time for hope. Three fourths of the way through a winter season feels like just the right time to remind myself that naked branches can sprout vivid yellow blossoms, internally luminescent and unlikely as warmth in winter.

Bare twigs await spring.
Where only memory gives hope,
Faith sees greening leaves.

February Reads

In February, I reviewed four books that run in four very different veins.

First, Carol Kent’s real life story is heartbreaking, but in He Holds My Hand: Experiencing God’s Presence and Protection, she shares the truth that carried her through her son’s arrest and imprisonment for murder.

For anyone who has struggled with fitting into Christian culture or embracing their role in a church family, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community offers an understanding ear coupled with a firm push to set aside our petty preferences and to remember that worship is about God and not about us.

Alan Jacobs challenges believers to a life of cognitive courage in How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. He’s a C.S. Lewis scholar and a skilled thinker himself, so I appreciated his words on what it means to think well in a world where the informational fire hose is on full blast.

The life of Walter Wangerin, Jr. has been populated by memorable characters, and he has skillfully woven together a collection of stories to demonstrate the truth that there is always grace shining behind our darkness.  Wounds Are Where Light Enters: Stories of God’s Intrusive Grace is a glance into the rear view mirror in which theology and biblical narrative lie just beneath the surface.

February Discussion of Orthodoxy

There were some great February conversations at Living Our Days, probably the liveliest centering around the monthly post on G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. 

Parenting After the FallChesterton is laugh-out-loud creative and stop-you-in-your-tracks sobering on the topic of original sin. He maintains that it’s “the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved,” and I’ve certainly done my part in providing evidence for humanity’s fallen condition. As a parent who is in the middle of preparing (with fear and trembling) to teach a parenting workshop here in Maine, I was thankful to spend some time pondering the plight of sinners parenting sinners.

February Hospitality

It’s always a stretch and a great grace to be invited into the writing space of on-line friends. This month, I offered a compilation of two book reviews on racial reconciliation to the readers of The Redbud Post. If you’re not already a subscriber to this monthly collection, I encourage you to take advantage of this regular infusion of good writing and thinking from The Redbud Writer’s Guild.

Diversity and the Church: A Culture with No Excuse

Decoding the Beauty in the Universe







The Perennial Gen is a gathering of readers and writers “of a certain age” so I wanted to introduce them to one of my “book mentors,” Luci Shaw through her wisdom found in  Thumbprint in the Clay: Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace. Well into her eighties, Luci is a poet who writes with skill about a life of decoding the rich presence of purpose, design, and beauty in the universe.

On Vacation!

Cinnamon rollsTo be honest, there’s nothing relaxing about vacation here on this country hill. This recap will be shorter than usual because this morning, the most important writing task is to scribble white glaze across the top of cinnamon rolls.

The week has been full and fun:

  • A day of tiny cars and thick tempera paint with the adorable grand boy;
  • A great visit with our second son and his wife, which included the bonus of a long listen, both coming and going, to the audio book To Kill a Mockingbird;
  • Extra time to soak in Jeremiah’s warnings against false messages from voices who claim to speak truth for God;
  • The great satisfaction of finishing the purging, cleaning, and organizing of bookcases!

Michele Morin Living Our Days

We’re still a month away from the calendar’s demarcation of the season of greening leaves. While the official beginning of spring is an empty promise here in the northeast U.S., it’s a reminder that the snow won’t last forever. Thank you for your eyes here and for the encouragement of your reading, commenting, sharing, and inspiring contributions to the discussion.

Blessings and love to you,

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you should decide to purchase any of the books mentioned in this post,simply click on the title here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you:

He Holds My Hand: Experiencing God’s Presence and Protection,

Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community,

 How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds

Wounds Are Where Light Enters: Stories of God’s Intrusive Grace 

Thumbprint in the Clay: Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace

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.

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.

66 thoughts on “Musings: February 2018”

  1. Michele,
    I read your title on “Musings” and my first thought is it really the end of February already? Here in the south the daffodils are blooming and the trees are blossoming. I guess Spring is upon us. I am always amazed at how much reading you get in?? I always enjoy your reviews and your comments on the books. Your place is like my favorite book-nook at the library – comfy, cozy, and always inviting.
    Bev xx


    1. My husband saw a picture this morning from North Carolina, and in the background forsythia was blooming. I think he was ready to call a moving van at that very moment. 🙂
      And your words about your “favorite book-nook” have made my day! What a sweet thing to say!


  2. I enjoyed your update! Sounds like it has been a busy month with lots of great books. I always appreciate your reviews and recommendations. Hope you enjoy your cinnamon rolls!


    1. Well, the boys (and my good husband) certainly enjoyed them. My youngest son’s best buddy was there for breakfast too, and that was good because we need lots of help eating up that big batch now that we’re a smaller table full.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Michele, I always enjoy your monthly musings as it feels like I’ve had a visit with you! How isit we are just about at the end of the month already? March is a bit longer and brings the hope of spring and new growth! Blessings friend!


    1. I truly feel as if I need to do higher level math in order to figure out the date. And, yes, maybe with a longer month, we’ll get more of a sense of where we are in time.
      Thanks for reading, Joanne.


  4. Cinnamon rolls….yum!! It made me want to cook breakfast, but I need to keep moving as I have a date on the calendar to visit my 92 year old friend in another hour and she will be eagerly waiting since it has been a few months since I have managed to get to see her. We have a hint of hope for spring here even though it is 34 degrees….the sun is brightly shining after a couple of weeks of rain and heavy clouds! In Ohio we sometimes get our heaviest snows in March that seem to come from nowhere so we’ll see! Have a grand day, my friend!


    1. What a treasure it is to have friends from “that” generation. Like you, I’m holding the promise of spring very loosely, because we’ve had blizzards and school cancellations as late as April before. But . . . at that point, at least the snow doesn’t stick around for long.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a treasure indeed! I know she will be home with the Lord at any time so when I visit, I savor the time. I have known this sweet woman for about 44 years. I always try to take her a few of her favorite things that I know she does not get in assisted living since her two daughters live hundreds of miles away and her two sons would likely not remember these favorites. I always try to find some pretty loose flowers so she can arrange them in a vase (something she loves), a small bag of chocolate (also a favorite), and today a small devotional and a bag of Clementine oranges. The treasure of today’s visit was having her spontaneously start to pray for me as I was hugging her and holding her in my arms before I left.💕

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Are you a speed reader, Michele? Or perhaps you don’t watch as much Netflix as I do in order to find your reading time. The four books all sound intriguing. If I was picking out a first one to read it would be “How to Think” since I am a C.S. Lewis fan. And after I finish this comment I’m going to open “Orthodoxy” to take in another chapter. Nice to get the recap of your week and yes, spring is a promise to us but is still a winter month in Maine. February flew by, I must say. Ready to welcome March and longer hours of daylight!


    1. Heavens, no, and right now I’m going very slowly through a bio of Karl Barth– very good and interesting, but all new material to me, so I’m going slowly.
      And a huge YES to more daylight! It’s gaining, but not fast enough for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess great minds think alike, Michele (and are orchestrated by God in His providence)! Your beautiful poem at the start of this post communicates exactly the same message that Amanda Dykes is sharing on the Fear Warrior Blog today! Instead of always looking to the future and fearing what may come, we need to look back to remember why we can have confident faith in the One who holds our future. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely poem!


  7. Your reviews are always a treat to read, Michele. But I love getting just a peek into your life with your grand boy! We just found out on Saturday that our oldest son and his wife are expecting, so I’m really excited about the joys that being a grandmother will hold.


  8. We’re starting to see leaves from bulbs sprout and even some daffodils popping up, and with temps in the 60s, it has been feeling very springy here. Our nights are back in the 30s this week. I am hoping no late freezes overwhelm the blooms.

    Those cinnamon rolls look good! Glad you’re having a nice winter break.

    I had a major reorganization and purge of books when we moved here, as we left two built-in bookcases behind in out old house. But every now and then it needs more tweaking. As I obtain new books I want to keep, I have to get rid of some old ones – no room for any more bookcases!


    1. The purging and reorganizing, I guess, is a life long task. I really got behind when my kids were all in school because homeschooling requires so many books, and of course, I wanted to keep everything until son #4 had used it. Now, when he’s done with a stack of books, I can pass most of them on to others. I’m feeling much lighter.


  9. Dear Michele, When I saw your title for your monthly musings, I had to make sure I saw it right! But, yes, it is the end of February already! We have sunshine, thankfully, and a brief warm-up, but Wisconsin doesn’t like to let go of winter either! Thank you for always keeping our hearts encouraged here. Your words are a blessing!


  10. Great update Michelle. Grands make happy days. Those cinnamon rolls look yummy. I still have never tried to make them as much as I love them.


  11. I love the eclectic mix you have served up in your monthly musings, Michele. My heart always leaps at poetry and your haiku spoke volumes to me. The books you have profiled sound intriguing. I have Luci Shaw’s on my wish list because I love her work, but might just have to buy it myself if no-one else does! Blessed to stop by from the #glimpsesofhisbeauty link up. 🙂


  12. It is hard to believe it is the end of February already. I always associate winter with February because typically we still are in the midst of it. This year spring is starting to appear in the way of some buds on the trees, some warmer temps and believe it or not a little sunshine. Thank you for sharing your musings with us. I love getting to know you better.


    1. The sun is shining again today, and yesterday the temps reached into the forties for my walk with the dog. That was just enough to encourage me. And thanks, Mary, for the visit and the kind words.


  13. You did a lot of reading and writing during the month of February, Michele. I can’t remember: do you work outside of your home? I wonder how you do all of this. Glad you had a vacation week, and I’ve enjoyed following some of this all month long on Instagram. 🙂


    1. Instagram is fun. I’m not much of a photographer or image maker, but am challenging myself to be more conscious of the visual element of communication.
      No, I don’t work outside the home, and I am also down to just one homeschooled son here at home. After having gone through four math lessons, etc. every single day, schooling boy #4 seems like a breeze. And I’ve always been a very fast reader which is great for blogging, but some books that I really enjoy just don’t last long enough!


  14. I can always be sure to find a great book to add to my to-read list when I visit you, Michele. It’s just that my to-read list is growing exponentially faster than my ‘books I’ve read’ list. 🙂 Thanks for all the great reviews. It’s always a pleasure visiting.


  15. I had the pleasure of hearing Carol Kent speak at a retreat in Connecticut last year and she was so inspiring. Not just for her heartbreak, but her whole story of faith in the process. It was lovely! Thanks for sharing your month!


  16. I got to cinnamon rolls and forgot everything else you said! Lol Always a pleasure to read your musings. They’re my favorite I think. I’ll be emailing you back later today. 🙂


    1. Looking forward to hearing from you! I keep thinking of all the people in this great wide blogging world with whom I’d love to share cinnamon rolls and a cup of good strong coffee or tea!


  17. I love anything by Carol Kent – but had not yet heard of this book. Thanks for the suggestion….will start reading this evening:) Cinnamon rolls look wonderful – perfect definition of vacation!!


  18. Michele, you are leagues ahead of me in scholarly arenas yet I like to read your book reviews about books I would never in a million years read. I’m glad I have smart friends – they make me think. xo Love you to the moon (and I’m sure you could tell me how many miles worth that is!)


    1. Not sure how this rumor got started about the housewife with four kids and garden dirt under fingernails being an intellectual, but it sure makes me smile. Anyway, I do love sharing books with friends. And I’m certainly grateful for your friendship.


  19. I’m just a tad jealous of all the reading you’re doing, Michele! I’m lucky to get 1-2 books in a month…Sounds like you’re learning and growing!
    I can’t wait for the warmer weather and the trees budding!


  20. Hi Michele – Blessed by your intriguing thoughts and thanks to you’ve I’ve just added two books to my library list! Much appreciate your musings!


    1. Those library lists are just a life saver! So glad to have added to yours! I’ve got an audio book by Barbara Brown Taylor on my list, and can hardly wait until it comes in!


    1. Gotta say that I agree with you about the snow. Right now we’re getting rain which leads to MUD. The world is so much more lovely with a layer of white that freezes the mud until we’re ready to deal with it.


  21. As always, Michele, I enjoyed reading your musings. I really must start doing that myself at the end of the month. It’s a good way to recap the month and remember the happenings. Thanks for sharing your book reviews and your thoughts! You are inspiring, and I love that haiku! 🙂 Blessings to you! xo Thanks also for sharing at #LMMLinkup!


  22. I love reading about your life and what you’ve been doing and learning. That Walter Wangerin book sounds interesting – he has always fascinated me as he writes with such a unique voice. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!


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