"Everything in the Word of God is relevant."

Musings: February 2019

Cold February is no context for thoughts of spring. Like the daffodils, our hopes are asleep under a crust of dirty snow. Nonetheless, retailers rush to display Easter candy and sleeveless, frilly dresses for us to admire in our winter coats and boots. Thoughts of resurrection seem out of place somehow when bare trees can’t quite stop shivering, but then, the weeks leading up to Easter, if we use them wisely, can raise the temperature of our hearts to match the truth that our whole following life is spent in the practice of resurrection, day after day, trying to get it right and to live our way into the freedom Christ won for us.

I’m following that path with my reading in these days leading up to a come-when-it’s-ready spring. As a Lenten observance, a slow read through the four gospels adds depth to my understanding of Jesus’s road to the cross:  the daily mundane obedience on dusty Palestinian roads, shared meals with a big side order of Kingdom clarification, and always, always, always, the will of God like a straight arrow, cutting through every competing or conflicting thought that came His way.

40 Days of Lent

Plugging into the details of Jesus’s poured out life always heightens my celebration on Resurrection Day, and this year, Susan Chamberlain Shipe has provided the road map I’ve been using on the journey. 40 Days of Lent: The people, places, and events surrounding the Passion weaves the Jesus story together with insights gleaned from Shipe’s following life. Because Scripture has been embedded within each day’s reading, it’s easy to follow the dots between action and application, and because Susan is a student of the Word, she has done a lot of the leg work for her readers, including both historical and geographical details to fill in the gap where the text is terse.

One story, one main idea, and then words of application followed by probing questions take the faithful reader through the people, places, and events on Jesus’ road to the cross. Like life itself, the “Lenten road is hard” (19), but it is also an opportunity for redemptive self-evaluation and a gentle push toward considering the next good choices we need to make in our lives.

 And Hey! There’s a Give Away!

To receive a free, autographed copy of 40 Days of Lent, simply leave a comment below. I will have my adorable grandson draw a name on Sunday, March 3, and Susan will send a book your way to guide you on your own Lenten journey.

February Gratitude

Whenever our family gets together under one roof, I’m thankful. Brotherly friendship and loud laughter are great gifts. The privilege of getting covered in flour with my grandson, and then teaching my small granddaughter that glue sticks are not edible stand at one end of the family bandwidth–while on the other end, our youngest son is doing the very grown-up research that goes into buying his first car. Really? How has this happened?

Small gifts, given with great love warm the heart. A cranberry candle, a book, a cup of hot tea with milk. I’m blessed on this country hill.

Our family said goodbye to a dear friend this month. We have spent the last 20 years worshiping in the pew behind Buzzy and Eleanor, so we will miss her seed-planting ways and her blue-eyed smile. “Little people, little problems,” was one seed of wisdom she planted with me long ago when I was getting whipped up over some small boy’s minor infraction on a Sunday morning. Her passing makes me very aware of my responsibility to be planting seeds of truth now. It’s my turn to step up.

February Reading and Writing

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53The Amazing Gift of Volunteer Love — Reviewing fiction always feels like a huge risk. What if I give away the punchline? Or worse–what if I completely miss the point?  Lights on the Mountain: A Novel was well worth the risk. With a pen like a paint brush, author Cheryl Anne Tuggle has fashioned a cast of unique players, and her writing is enriched by subtle characterization and delightful similes that underscore the close connection between the words simile and smile. 

Spiritual friendship involves caring, accepting, serving, encouraging, and practicing hospitality.How to Do the Hard and Holy Work of Faithful FriendshipCertainly not by any design of mine, two books on friendship have come in the mail, and I was delighted to share them both here on the blog. First, Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith in which Janice Peterson  remembers lemonade on the porch and shares her deep conviction that friendships can be life-altering in all the best ways.

In a lonely world where isolation is the norm and competition is the default, the deep connection of friendship is a rare gift.

 

Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World — Then, Sally Clarkson has teamed up with her daughters to inspire and instruct readers in the art and science of cultivating deep and lasting friendships  with  her  latest  book, Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World.Are you looking for "the perfect church?" Finding community can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the wait.

It’s always a joy to share writing with warm and welcoming communities! During February vacation friends at (in)courage opened the door of hospitality to my story about our search for a church home. (Yes, we may possibly have been in search of the perfect church . . . and we may have had teensy commitment issues.)

Finding community can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards are worth the wait.

Then, I was thankful that The Perennial Gen shared my review of Kate James’s Can You See Anything Now? Be sure to visit some of these welcoming communities for encouragement and a kind of virtual fellowship in the gospel!

Coming up in March

That moment when you realize that you and your hairspray have a lot in common . . .

Does anyone else recall the days when we could take our hairspray and a normal sized toothpaste anywhere in the world?

Lord willing, I will be traveling to Mountain Lake Park, Maryland to teach the Bible at Faith Evangelical Free Church’s Women’s Conference on March 23rd. I’m always thankful for opportunities to open the Word of God with a roomful of women, and I would appreciate your prayers that I would serve this gathering well, and that God will bring together the words I’m preparing and the needs that are present.

And while I’m studying, I’m wondering:  What are you struggling with these days? I may not have an answer–and we may be struggling over the same things! However, I promise to read every response, as your thoughts will definitely shape my reading and my writing in the coming weeks. If the comments section here seems too public, here’s my email address:  morin6.mm@gmail.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!

May you know the love of Christ (which passes knowledge),

Michele Morin

Don’t forget:  You can enter to win a copy of Susan Chamberlain Shipe’s 40 Days of Lent by leaving a comment below!

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 Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase 40 Days of Lent: The people, places, and events surrounding the Passion or any of the other books mentioned within this post, simply click on the title  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.

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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.

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80 thoughts on “Musings: February 2019”

    1. Thank you Michele for sharing your gift of beautifully written words through this blog. My tired but grateful mama heart is encouraged. (Our 4th was born in December!) God is so gracious to always allow spring to come when it feels like winter will never end! May God give me the grace to leave a Godly example as women like Eleanor have done!

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      1. We’re praying alike today, Karen! And every blessing to you as you mother that new little life. I remember how long it took me to recover after our fourth . . . phew! There just isn’t enough of you to go around, so lean hard on Him, and give yourself huge helpings of grace every day.

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  1. What a good idea to read all four gospels leading up to Lent and Easter. Susan’s book sounds like an excellent accompaniment to this journey towards resurrection. How sweet that there is a giveaway, with the name drawn by your grandson. What? Glue sticks are not edible? I love what I learn from you, Michele! I am struggling with where I am going with my writing. Since I retired, I’ve been floundering a bit. Some days it doesn’t bother me – I just accept the fact that I don’t have a clear vision right now. Other days I’m impatient for clarity. So I pray and wait. And I’m grateful that this is the worst problem I have.

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    1. You’ll just have to find a different snack, Molly. I hear mozzarella cheese sticks are good, and the texture might be similar.
      Give your self lots of grace as you adjust to your new routines. The writing you ARE doing is funny and brilliant, so just keep putting your rear end in the chair, and I do believe clarity will come with faithfulness and prayer. After all, how many times have you sat down to write, started a piece, and had it end up somewhere completely different than you thought it would? Life is sure like that, and retirement is a huge adjustment that I can imagine would take some time–especially because you loved your work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, praying for your ladies event in March. I have a blog/facebook page Little Birdie Blessings (as you know) and find one of the greatest needs I can attempt to meet is the gift of encouragement. Everyone is hurting in one form or another, the Hope God offers us keeps me pressing on. I love the humor you weave into your stories. It’s delightful and you have a knack for it, don’t stop please. ~ Abby

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  3. I am so sorry for the loss of your wise friend, Michele. I used to get good advice like “little people, little problems” from my mom and I miss that (and her) more than I can express.

    Thank you for telling us about Susan’s new book. A 40-day devotional is a wonderful way to celebrate Lent!

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    1. We are all going to miss that Great Generation. And I have misgivings about the future when I look at my own comparative “wimpyness.” They won their wisdom in the trenches of life–some of them, quite literally.

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  4. Michele,
    So true that the road to Lent is not easy. I really try to prepare my heart during Advent, but would love a copy of Susan’s book to prepare my heart during Lent. I would ask for prayers for my friend, Claire, who lost her daughter to an overdose and that I will be a good friend to her. Prayers for me, for redemptive and restorative health would be welcomed as well. Always enjoy your musings!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. You know, Lord, the taste of grief, and so I pray that you would pour your heart of comfort into Bev on behalf of her friend who is walking through such a hard trials right now. Unbearable. Thank you, too, for the ways in which you are growing Bev through her own health challenges, and I pray that she would see restoration and renewal soon.

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  5. Sorry for the loss of your friend. It is hard to lose the older ones in our congregation!

    I have truly enjoyed Susan’s books so this is such a wonderful giveaway!

    And I will be praying for you as you go to speak. May God fill your mind and mouth with His Words chosen for those who will hear! xo

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  6. I’d really like to thoughtfully observe Lent this year by reading this book. Pick me, pick me! 🙂 Thanks for telling me about it.

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  7. The past few years I have enjoyed reading something leading up to Easter to prepare my heart and thoughts for more than just a special day. Susan’s book sounds perfect for that. I have not read any of her books but I’ve enjoyed posts from her blog.

    I know what you mean about travel. In January we flew across the country for my m-i-l’s funeral – the first time I had flown in nearly ten years. I knew I could only carry liquids in 3-ounce increments: I hadn’t known they had to be contained in a quart-sized bag. Thankfully my husband knew that an informed me.

    I pray God will give you just the right verses, thoughts, and words for the women at the conference.

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    1. Thank you, Barbara! I really appreciate your prayers. (And yes, I looked up the stuff on line about 3 oz. and quart bags. Oddly, the video I watched showed the stuff going into a gallon sized bag. I guess Delta Airlines doesn’t do much canning.)

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  8. You have had another busy month! I appreciated your (in)courage post and the books you have been reading sound interesting too, but my highlight from this post has to be the caption on your hairspray photo!
    I hope it warms up for you soon. I was writing yesterday about how much I’ve been enjoying an early taste of spring this year so hope it comes your way soon!
    You don’t need to enter me in the giveaway as I have already read Susan’s book and postage to the UK will be expensive!

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  9. The women in Maryland will be blessed by your words, Michele … I’ll be praying for you as you prepare. I love seeing your writing pop up in other places I visit. And I can just imagine the story behind the glue stick lesson … learning what not to eat is an important part of growing up, isn’t it? 🙂

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  10. I’m blessed by your monthly musings. You have a beautiful way of reflecting on the comings and goings of your life while giving us nuggets of truth at the same time.

    I’ve never formally observed Lent, but your review of Shipe’s book interests me. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I am really behind on reading blog posts, but I’m trying to get back to a routine. I enjoy reading your posts, Michelle. Keep up the good work in spreading the Gospel and encouraging your readers. God bless.

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  12. What a wonderful post. I’ve never really followed Lent, nor learned about it. I’m very curious now.

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  13. Sorry if I haven’t visited the last few weeks, but your linked comment at my blog sends me to your Google+ and then I couldn’t find the link. But, I did see some blogs you’ve linked to on there and some new ones to read. 🙂 Anyway, glad I found your link. Heading into Easter and Spring break for the kids seems to be coming fast as the months fly by. I’ve been reading Jesus’ words only and the four gospels seems like a good lead up to the Easter season. Prayers for traveling mercies as you venture to teach. Have a great Sunday and week ahead.

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  14. My husband and I watched Drive Thru History – The Gospels on DVDs last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. We just decided last night that we’d watch it again in preparation for Easter. It’s such a good way to put our focus on the Lord and His redemptive work on the cross.

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  15. I hope I didn’t miss the opportunity to be entered into this giveaway, Michele! I know today’s the deadline, but don’t know exactly when today you’re choosing the winner. I’d love to win this book! Thanks for sharing about Susan’s great resource as well as the others!

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  16. Hi Michele, Thanks for sharing about this lenten devotional. Whether it is advent or lent, I always find it so Christ-centering to do some type of disciplined devotional leading up to Christmas and Easter.

    I LOVE family gatherings too! Grandchildren are the icing on the cake!

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend.

    I always enjoy my visits to your blog. 🙂

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  17. Always glad to see what you’re up to and into, Michele. You’re busy as always. I didn’t know about that Lent resource. I downloaded an app just yesterday from our church with daily readings. I’m excited to slow down for Lent, Lord willing!

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  18. I love the selection of books you gave, definitely some good reads worth looking into. I may have missed the give away, will still have to look at possible purchasing, it sounds great. I also am glad that you added a fiction, I am always looking for a good fiction to break up all the non-fiction I read and I find it difficult to find good fiction that is not too secular. Many Thanks 8)

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    1. Thanks, Debra Jean. I hope you find some really good reading to accompany you on your Lenten journey. I’m honored that you enjoyed the selection of books from my February reading!
      Blessings to you!

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  19. Agree with you that the commercialisation of Easter isn’t great, but the same goes for Halloween or Christmas. I think it’s natural to celebrate the end of winter and has been done by each civilisation depending on harvesting cycles. If this involves chocolates, that’s fine too 🙂 #dreamteam

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  20. Oh, so much good information here. I definitely want to check out Susan’s book. I want to purposefully study the gospels during these weeks before Easter – what a profitable exercise. And I repeatedly see mention of the book “Becoming Gertrude” – I will have to check that one! Praying that you have a wonderful trip…that you will be a blessing and will be blessed! What am I struggling with: finding “my place” in our new church. I know we are exactly where we should be….just wanting to be involved and serving (without stepping on toes, etc.) Patience seems to be eluding me:)

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  21. Beautiful words, as always. I’m so drawn to that phrase – little people, little problems. I may not be reading it in the right context, but it somehow reminds me that whilst in the moment something might feel like a huge problem and truly awful. Actually, if you consider it in balance, it might not be half as bad really. Thank you for joining us for the #dreamteam linky xx

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    1. I think both views are accurate, Annette.
      And my friend was coming from further down the mothering road where kids start to have problems that are much bigger than running in the sanctuary or needing their shirt tucked in. 🙂

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  22. I’m a little late here but love reading about what’s happening in your part of the world. I will be praying for you as you head to Maryland in another week or so to teach God’s Word. Blessings!

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    1. I enjoy your monthly recaps as well, Mary. They’re fun because we get to write about all the little things that have caught our interest throughout the month!
      And thank you for your prayers. I’m trusting for grace to serve them well.

      Liked by 1 person

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