Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Musings: January 2019

I’m no physicist, but it would appear that a cannon ball, shot due north from Bangor, Maine on a snowy-cold Saturday morning, could travel unobstructed all the way to the Canadian border. We left home in the dark for a quick visit with much-loved relatives, eight hours round trip, but worth every minute and every mile. We snickered at the green and white signs alerting us that we were nearing T2-R8, and noticed that the wind-sculpted snow alongside Maine’s interstate highway was so undisturbed that we could detect the presence of rodent life, tunneling underneath.

Northern Maine is no longer home to me, but my years there were formative to my understanding of home, as “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Because I have been “taken in” so faithfully in so many places, those words from a Robert Frost poem guide my thinking about the swinging door on this country hill and the bright red door on the church where I worship.

Since Scripture is “a home story,” home figures prominently in the biblical narrative, and God’s work on our behalf becomes an example of welcome and provision–or homemaking! Stability is a spiritual discipline, an opposite to rootlessness,  and it signifies a commitment to make a difference in a specific place and time.  The paradox of the Christian life is this need for full investment, wherever we are, whatever our calling — in stark contrast to the need to also hold it all loosely.

On My Mind

The Adjacent Possible is a principle from biology, but it describes the way we make real progress forward. For example, the invention of the iPhone could not have happened in 1997. However, by 2007, technology was in place for Apple to roll out its new, world-changing invention. It became possible because of the innovations that preceded it.

The concept of The Adjacent Possible has changed the way I approach adding spiritual disciplines and healthful practices to my life. Adjacent means in close proximity. If I am looking for The Adjacent Possible, I stop scanning the horizon for a “eureka” moment and begin looking close by for a small positive step in the right direction.

I didn’t choose a word or make a long list of resolutions for 2019. I want to persevere and be faithful in doing the next right thing. At this point in the year, that includes teaching the preschool Sunday School class. When you are the Sunday School Superintendent in a small church, recruitment is always a challenge, and it sometimes means that you are your own best substitute teacher. Painting murals of “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters,” and imagining Samuel’s anointing of David with a drop of scented oil on our fingers is a pretty terrific way to spend a Sunday morning!

On My Nightstand

Over Christmas vacation, I spotted a couple of Kindle deals on Wendell Berry’s A Place on Earth and A Place in Time, and it’s been a pleasure to re-visit Port William, Kentucky and the World War II-era backdrop that showcases Berry’s exquisite description, character development, and dialogue.

Add to this Paraclete Press’s new fiction release Lights on the Mountain  by Cheryl Anne Tuggle (look for a review of this one in February!) and it’s been a delightful winter of reading a bit of fiction alongside the rest.

On the Screen!

Have I ever recommended a movie or a show here before?
I don’t think so, but with an empty-ing nest, it is occasionally possible to watch a movie that has absolutely no light saber duels, car chases, or endless quests to dispose of a certain piece of jewelry. Recently, the patient husband and I settled down to watch Howard’s End on Amazon Prime Video. The mini-series is based on a novel by E.M. Forster with a quiet and meandering plot, period settings, and delightful British accents. Margaret, the female protagonist, is a force to be reckoned with and models forgiveness, an admirable anchoring in solid values, and an astute understanding of marriage.

Definitely worth a date night or two.
Ice cream optional, but very nice.

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On the Blog

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The Gift of God in Exchange for Ashes

If you are at all familiar with Elisabeth Elliot’s no-nonsense style of teaching and writing the Truth,  Made for the Journey: One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador will reveal a part of her story that may surprise you!

Adoption and the Journey Toward a Surrendered Heart

Surrendered Hearts: An Adoption Story of Love, Loss, and Learning to Trust is Lori Schumaker’s triumphal and grateful anthem of praise for God’s infinite wisdom in bringing her family together. It is also a story of her family’s yielding to this process even when it involved the dissonance of unmet expectations and grinding disappointment.

An Invitation to the Generative Life

Working from insights gained in his calling as an artist, Makoto Fujimura invites his readers into the generative life, which is “fruitful, originat[es] new life, [and] . . . draws on creativity to bring into being something fresh and life giving.” The Perennial Gen graciously shared my review of Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Speak Up

Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up by Kathy Khang is challenging me to look carefully at the way I use my words, lending the realization that even my choice to be silent communicates something. Apathy, insecurity, or laziness are not traits I want to “give voice” to, so I’m trusting for courage to lean into a gracious and yet more vocal role in the communities I inhabit.

Standing on the Edge of Inside

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I make no secret of the fact that I am an unabashed fan girl of Luci Shaw’s, and her latest collection of poems, Eye of the Beholder (Paraclete Poetry) has only served to heighten my respect for her work.

How to Keep the Main Thing as the Main Thing

Truth from Paul’s letter to the Philippians is an anchor to The Main Thing. Basics for Believers: The Core of Christian Faith and Life is Carson’s exposition of a well-loved epistle. Although Paul’s words have become the source for many a swoon-worthy Instagram post, they are a gritty call to fellowship in the gospel, where the focus is obedience, self-denial and a muscular commitment to the well-being of others.


What was a highlight in your January? Are you making plans for 2019? Please share in the comments, and may you know the stillness and peace that come with knowing God,

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79 thoughts on “Musings: January 2019”

  1. Though I grew up in Colorado, I’ve lived here in TX so long that I think cold of that sort would do me in!
    I like the concept of The Adjacent Possible. In this season where I have three young kids, sometimes life is all about simply making it through today. Sometimes all I can manage is “doing the next right thing.”


    1. I sure do remember those days of “simply making it through,” and I still have them occasionally. I’m thankful for my good husband who gives me perspective on those days, pointing out the things I DID get done, and at the end of the day, we are human beings, not human doings.


  2. I’m always thankful to catch up on what you’re reading, thinking about, and how you’re wading through the snow drifts up in Maine, Michele! My husband went to college at Unity College, and we have family on Peaks Island, off of Portland, where I used to visit every summer as a child. At any rate, thanks for sharing your heart! And we made it through January…spring will be here before we know it!


  3. I’m with you, Michele … no new year’s resolutions or goals, just doing the next right thing. There’s something very calming and focused about doing life in that fashion.

    One step at a time. One day at a time. Trying to discern what God is doing.

    Meanwhile, I love the picture you’ve painted of northern Maine mid-winter. I feel like I’m there.


    1. Some years, I get a clear focus handed to me, but this year, the message is clear: persevere and pay attention. It feels as if I would be presumptuous to go beyond that for now. It’s great that you are with me in this!


  4. Michele, love you description of the undisturbed snow and your opening sentences. Shooting canon ball from Maine into Canada sounds plausible to me. Can so relate to trying to do the next right thing, and not having aing list of goals.


    1. I don’t go north very often, but when I do, every mile is full of memories.
      I’m trusting that 2019 will be much more peaceful given this focus on listening and doing the next right thing.


  5. I always enjoy reading your “musings”, Michele. I have the quote from the Robert Frost framed and hung by my front door. It is one of my favorites and a message I want to give to my 3 adult sons.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The highlight of my January was spending time with my daughter and visiting a dear friend in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m just glad it was last week and not this week as they are expecting snow! As a native Floridian, I’m wimpy when it comes to weather. It’s 54 and I’m cold!


  7. We haven’t had much snow here yet this year and I’m pretty OK with that. We’ve had a very rainy winter instead. I’ll have to check out that Amazon show; we’re always looking for new things to watch.


    1. Another one that has been good is Poldark. I’ve only seen a few episodes, so I hope it doesn’t go over the edge and ruin everything, but if you are a fan of period sets and costumes and the historical background of a gritty hardscrabble life, I think you’ll like it.


  8. Hi, well we still struggle sometimes to watch any film, my kids are 5 and 7.. its lovely when they are asleep in the evening and stay asleep. as for January we are living through it a day at at a time and hoping that it does not snow to much!


    1. Snow does make it hard to plan–we have more in the forecast for this week, but actually had to cancel attending an event on Sunday night because of icy roads when there was NOTHING in the forecast to warn us of it, so I guess we really are dependent upon God and good sense for our winter planning!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post, Michele. You’ve shared some wonderful encouragement, as well as great ideas and books. January has passed in what seems like a blur and I haven’t really made a lot of progress on my goals. However I have had a lot of fun, and it has been a nice start to the year, so I’m very grateful! Thank you for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Wishing you a blessed week!


    1. The monthly blur is why I love doing a recap post. It forces me to slow down and to ask myself,”What have I been doing? What has been important to me this month?” And then it comes to readers, and I’m grateful for input like yours!


  10. Such lovely musings! I want to know how you did the video of your blogs for the month. Tell me all the things!

    I’m always thrilled to here about new TV suggestions. Howard’s End is on my list now. I saw in the comments that you mentioned, Poldark. One of my favorites. And I love your mention of seeking the next step rather than your Eureka moment. I believe you referenced that on my blog when I described my one word for the year.

    Such a treat to be here and join you in your look back at January.


    1. I can’t take much credit for the video. When I create a gallery in WordPress, there are several options and one of them is a slide show.
      I do appreciate all your input here. When you said you enjoyed Poldark and were planning to watch Howard’s End, I had an image of a bunch of us blogging friends all having a movie night together: jammies, popcorn, and fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I would be nothing but a popsicle right now if I were in Maine. You’re made of tougher stuff than I am! 😉

    I love the concept of the Adjacent Possible. What a great tool to practice doing the next right thing. I always learn new things from you, Michele!


  12. Having left Alaska a couple of years ago I have some idea of the snow and cold you must have there. Happily ensconced in Seattle weather now. . .


      1. We did too. Unless you live at the very top of Alaska, you still have some daylight during the winter. In Anchorage it’s light from about 10am to 4pm at the dead of winter.


  13. I caught those home thoughts. I too see God as making our home with Him. In Spirit now but wonder how it works when this world is no longer our home.


    1. I think God’s homemaking has been going on since Eden, and when Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you,” I have no idea what that will look like, but it makes me think of what I do when I know one of our guys is coming home and I get out my biggest mixing bowl!


  14. From “the swinging door” to the “bright red door” of your church to “an example of welcome and provision–or homemaking!” – and the call to live fully where we are but not hold it too loosely – soul beautiful!!!! Straight to my heart!


  15. Michele, I so enjoyed your January recap. And my first thought when I read your segment about movies was that we both watch the same movies . . . out of love for the younger guys in our families. 😉

    Let’s see . . . a highlight in January for me was watching my oldest perform in the one act plays his school put on earlier this month. He was a background character, but he was on the stage, which is where he loves to be.

    And I’m getting back into longer quiet times, and my soul is remembering how to breathe deep.


  16. I don’t usually do words for the year or resolutions, either. God’s word is a lamp for our feet – enough for the next step, so I try to be watchful and faithful step by step. Our January has been shaped by my mother-in-law’s passing – not unexpected, but still a time for tears as well as joyful remembrance. We just got back from a trip to ID for her funeral. Almost a family reunion in some ways.


  17. “The adjacent possible”… I am not familiar with this and I am delighted to have read your post today. Honestly, this principle sheds a lot of light on why God works in his time rather than ours. When he seems “slow” perhaps he is exercising the principle of “the adjacent possible.” I am always blessed to sit and soak in your wisdom Michelle!


  18. Seems it has been an awfully long time since I’ve visited you here, Michele! Always a pleasure! I constantly tell my kids to just do the next right thing. Thinking about all the things can paralyze even the most stalwart among us. But anybody can take one step in the right direction! Blessings!


  19. Hi Michele,

    I like the idea of The Adjacent Possible (close proximity) and applying it to spiritual disciplines and healthful practices. I believe it was Elizabeth Elliott who first impressed upon me to “do the next thing.” Just the next thing, then the next and the next. Instead, we often have a tendency to do many things and we become overwhelmed.


  20. I often look back at the 50’s and 60’s and think of my grandmother who would not understand this world now at all. And I also tend to think at my age all that will be missed by me in my children and grandchildren’s years ahead.
    Weather wise, we are coming out of our deep freeze for the next few days and loving the temps in the 30’s. We don’t go way below zero, but just a bit is too much.


  21. I had no idea they’ve made Howard’s End into a series but I have long loved the movie with Anthony Hopkins. Thanks for the heads up!


  22. I’m so glad you enjoyed your date night with “Howard’s End”. I remember watching it some years back – very enjoyable. The books you’re reading sound wonderful – I’ll have to check them out. Stay warm !


  23. The adjacent possible – what a great thought. Thanks for all the good topics that you write on to encourage us forward.
    Blogger’s Pit Stop


  24. Your words about the adjacent possible really resonated with me today. I’ve never heard that term before, but what you said was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!


    1. Oh, good!
      It’s one of those concepts that I heard in passing on a podcast and it stuck with me like a pebble in the shoe. I’m still thinking I want to write about it and explore it more fully.


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