Since the Lord in his infinite wisdom has ordained that, here in Mid-Coast Maine, snow and cold should always be followed immediately by rain and warm temperatures, it’s unusual for the ground to be covered with white for weeks at a time.
Here’s what snow sounds like underfoot at zero degrees Fahrenheit, and my opinion is that if it’s going to be winter anyway, then let it be cold. Let the ground stay hard, and let the sky send a fresh, clean blanket of white every few days to relieve the monotony of all that has expired. Better to walk on frozen ground or across the crunch of snow than to sink into the mud of late winter acedia. Better to bring my mittens, my shovel, and my small resiliency to a beautiful frosty world than to mourn the slow and uncertain advent of spring.
Better to walk on frozen ground or across the crunch of snow than to sink into the mud of early spring acedia. Better to bring my mittens, my shovel, and my small resiliency to a beautiful frosty world than to mourn the slow and uncertain advent of spring.Tweet
February is the perfect time to curl up with a good book, so come in from the cold and share what you’ve been reading! And if you’ve written a blog post about your reading life, the welcome mat is down in the comments below!
February Book Reviews
I’ve broken out of my genre rut this year! You’ll see a couple of memoir-ish reads and a work of legal fiction alongside my usual faith-oriented non-fiction books.
What are you reading this winter? Be sure to share highlights from your own reading life in the comments below.
When I find myself sliding into the mid-winter doldrums, it’s time for a shift in my perspective. After all, it may be gray and cold outside, but there are paths for walking through the woods. There’s still the blessing of bird song and beautiful sunsets. There’s a candle on my dining room table, plenty of food in my refrigerator, and a posse of people who love me well.
Of course, it’s not always the season of the year that gets us down, and Abby McDonald has lived through this reality. In Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, she shares her season of discontent, caught between a home that wouldn’t sell and the need to live in her in-laws’ basement. She shares her season of anxiety after discovering her son’s severe food allergy, and opens her heart about the every-woman struggles of negative self-talk and people pleasing.
When it’s time for a shift in perspective, it feels seismic to go from a legalistic heart to a grace-filled lens, from a short-term view to a long-term hope, from hoping in your own plan to hoping in God’s. McDonald comes alongside readers with the good news that God walks with us in our battles, ever-present and ever-powerful–and then shares strategies and biblical insights that have changed the way she sees the world.
And there’s a Give Away!
Leafwood Publishers has graciously given me one copy to share with a Living Our Days reader! To enter, simply leave a comment below. Let’s have a conversation about the life-changing truth that when we adjust our lens to focus our eyes on God rather than what we wish were were seeing in our lives, he reveals himself to us and to those around us.
I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday, March 2 to give everyone a chance to enter and spread the word.
A Severe Mercy
In keeping with my intention to read more “old” books to offset all the “new” books I read, I pulled this book off my shelf, a gift from an almost stranger, and a real game changer for me as a senior in high school. A Severe Mercy includes correspondence between Sheldon van Auken (the author) and C.S. Lewis, but most of all, it’s the story of God’s love invading the lives of two very self-centered people and turning them upside down. I rediscovered some Lewis quotes I’d forgotten, and enjoyed the story of a blossoming romance from the perspective of my thirty-year marriage.
Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it.”C.S. Lewis
All Things Are Possible
I started a new journal for 2021, and to be honest, I began looking forward to opening its pages weeks in advance. There’s just something special about a pretty new place to store my thoughts and observations!
Melanie Redd has put careful thought into designing just the right space for YOUR words, and if you’re thinking right now, “I never know what to write,” Mel has already taken care of that, too!
All Things Are Possible focuses on ten specific areas of spiritual growth, and each day’s entry includes scripture and then a prompt for reflection to move both your pen and your soul in the right direction. Beautifully illustrated by Enya Todd, this guided journal will inspire readers to turn the thin, crisp pages of their Bibles long after their ninety journal pages have been filled. Research shows that habits are formed with repetition, and it’s my hope that many women will form the habits of reading, study, contemplation, prayer, and journaling as a result of Melanie’s good work.
Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.
What if you had a friend whose vulnerability paved the way for you to be fully yourself whenever you were together? If you are tired of surface level coffee dates and image management as a way of life, Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. will land on your heart like a breath of fresh air. Laura Tremaine shares ten questions guaranteed to take your friendships to the next level, but she does it in the context of her own messy story.
One unexpected benefit of this reading experience is that I couldn’t help but swivel the beam of those ten penetrating questions onto myself, and the beginning of a new year isn’t a bad time to be reviewing my pivotal decisions, pondering the people who have “taught me to be,” or what still scares me, even at age 58. I reached the final page wanting to be a better listener, to be the kind of friend who encourages others to be themselves and to know that they have been heard. Whether you implement Laura’s list of ten questions or come up with some doozies of your own, I hope you will lean into relationships in 2021, reaching across the space that separates mask from mask by posing a question, going first, and then really listening as your friend shares her heart.
It’s Never Too Late
I am embarrassed to admit that I almost missed this book because of my snobbery. I’ve never been a fan of daytime TV, and I had pigeon-holed Kathy Lee Gifford as a beautiful and entertaining intellectual light weight. And I have been wrong. As Gifford shares her fascinating story, she is also teaching her readers how to lament what is truly sad and to celebrate what is truly a blessing, because it all comes to us through God’s sovereign plan.
A woman who has experienced both heady success and gut-wrenching tragedy, Gifford bears witness to a surprisingly even-keeled life and invites her readers to take a second look (or even a first look!) at the faith that has served as her own life-long ballast. Even if her gift for writing song lyrics had not sparkled its way into her prose (which it did), the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter felt like little word-bonuses. If you were a faithful viewer of Regis and Kathy Lee in your youth, It’s Never Too Late will be a treat, but even if not, you will be inspired by her challenge to “make the next act of your life the best act of your life.”
Trial and Error
A child’s tragic disappearance sizzles alongside the slow burn of a generational secret as Buddy Smith, small town lawyer, works to end a mother’s grief–and to resolve his own. I don’t read nearly as much fiction as I’d like, and Robert Whitlow’s deftly drawn characters and skillful pacing made Trial and Error a true delight. His roots in the legal field help him to write with real credibility, and there’s plenty of local color and southern cooking!
As a mum to four sons of my own, I especially enjoyed Buddy’s relationship with his mother and found myself wishing I could zip down to Milton County for a coffee date with Beatrice Smith!
Come in from the Cold!
It’s been a beautiful month of reading, and I look forward to talking books with you!
Praying for you in 2021,
I’m breaking out of my genre rut this winter! Come in from the cold for the February Book Talk!Tweet
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Many thanks to Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Net Galley, Callisto, and Leafwood Press for providing these books in order to facilitate my reviews which, of course, are offered freely and with honesty.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books I’ve shared, simply click on the image, 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.