It is such a treat to introduce another featured writer to you. Michele Morin and I have “known” each other for at least three years. We share the fact that we are “boy moms” and have become friends across the inter webs.
Michele is not only a beautiful writer, but her wisdom laced with grace has blessed me over and over. If you don’t already know Michele or even if you do, hop over HERE to learn all about her.
Here is Michele’s offering today:
When C.S. Lewis wrote Surprised by Joy, he was clear that it was a “spiritual autobiography” designed to track his pilgrimage from atheist to deist and, finally, at long last to “the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England.” In Christian circles, we’re fond of talking about finding God, until we realize that He has been there all along—and like C.S. Lewis, we are surprised by the joy of a love that came to us before we ever reciprocated, an unconditional love.
Growing up in a home in which mental illness and addiction seemed to be setting the agenda, it was a surprise (and a joy!) to discover that God was actually mightily involved in every detail of my life. In the midst of the chaos, He was NOT standing idly by, but was deeply involved in bringing me to Himself. He was longing to be gracious and to show me compassion! He had His own agenda in mind for me that He would be faithful to fulfill!
In my small hometown in Northern Maine, God bent over backwards to connect me with godly mentors and opportunities to test His faithfulness. When I bought a one-way ticket to California for my first semester of college, I pictured myself taking flight and pulling up my roots in Maine. I had learned a love for teaching the Bible, so I majored in Christian Education, transferred to a small college in northeast Georgia, crammed a bachelor’s degree into three years, and began wondering where in the world my next adventure would take me.
God is full of surprises! I landed right back here in Maine serving with a children’s ministry. This was a season of ups and downs, more education, and growth in a career that I came to enjoy, but the deepest and best gleanings from those years between college and marriage were the lessons in trust that came from belief in a sovereign God who has my best interest at heart.
Fast forward 29 years, and my husband and I live on a country hill where we are in the process of raising four young men. God reserves the right to work in different ways in every life, but for me, the parenting years have been the most formative and have yielded the most growth in grace. Building relationships with my kids has been the sandpaper that God has used to wear off my many rough edges—and He’s not done yet!
One surprise and source of joy during this season of the empty-ing nest has been more time to read, study, and write. I think it’s true that most of us end up writing and teaching the same series of lessons, over and over again until we learn the truth ourselves, so my “thinking out loud” continues to revolve around these themes:
- Slow Down–I’ve observed (and complained) that it is the nature of God to do many things very slowly. He takes all the long leisure of eternity to accomplish His purposes, so who am I to act as if time were something to be hoarded?
- Live a Cultivated Life—Tending a big garden means showing up to do the repetitive tasks of planting, weeding, and watering. This is the necessary pre-requisite to harvest. Grace comes to us as we faithfully do the next thing God has assigned.
- Be Surprised—A teacher and reader of the Word of God, I am continually surprised by the text. Instead of imposing my own ideas on a passage, I am learning to let the Bible speak for itself and to let the Truth transform my heart.
- Live in Hope—In Romans 5:5, the Apostle Paul speaks of a “hope that does not disappoint.” It’s tricky, however, to live in hope without allowing it to morph into presumption or entitlement, especially when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would. Hope and gratitude together train my eyes to look for the gifts God bestows every day.
- Practice “Life Together”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer acknowledged the challenges of church life, but wrote deeply wise words about the necessity of the body of Christ in the development and maturity of a believer:
“The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself . . .”
As believers, we speak God’s Truth to each other, but we also rub each other the wrong way and sparks fly. If it were not for our family and friends, we would never discover some of the deepest cracks in our character–or learn how deeply we need a Savior.Join our featured writer @MicheleDMorin as she shares about hope, grace, and gratitude. #TellHisStory #linkup Click To Tweet
I invite you to test God’s faithfulness for yourself.
Enter into the hope that He offers.
Turn toward Him and meet His level gaze with your own look of trust.
Let yourself be surprised by the joy that comes with knowing a God who has been waiting all along for you to receive His gift of mercy and love.
Thank you for this community and for the words of friends who inspire, teach, and lead us closer to you. May you bless everyone who visits here and show them a little more of you through these words. Amen.
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Michele and Mary, I intended to comment on this post last week but life took precedence over all things blog-related, so I never got around to it! I did love reading your words and learning more of your story, Michele, so I here I am today … better late than never, right? You wrote about your “belief in a sovereign God who has my best interest at heart” and I nearly cheered as I read those words. It all starts there, doesn’t it? Blessings to you both!
Hi, Lois! Any time we connect is a good time to connect!
Thanks for making the effort to read and absorb print in such a full season of your life–one in which, as I recall, it’s rough trying to keep front and center the truth that God DOES indeed have our best interest at heart. Trusting His sovereignty and His motives can be a challenge when we can’t see the logic of it with our finite vision.
Blessings to you, Lois!
I understand how life can get in the way. Thank you for making the time to hang out here and encourage, Michele!
I love how you liken it to cultivating a garden and how you have to show up over and over to tend it, and I agree that we can indeed be surprised with joy when we open up our heart. #DreamTeam
Thank you for stopping by and encouraging, Michele!
Hi, Mackenzie! It’s so great to connect with you here!
The surprises never stop, do they?!!
Michele, Love your quote about C.S. Lewis, “we are surprised by the joy of a love that came to us before we ever reciprocated, an unconditional love.” This bullet point hit home with me too–“Be Surprised—A teacher and reader of the Word of God, I am continually surprised by the text. Instead of imposing my own ideas on a passage, I am learning to let the Bible speak for itself and to let the Truth transform my heart.” Amen! thank you so much for sharing your open, honest, and transparent heart! Many blessings, friend!
I’m so glad you stopped by, Beth! Michele is wise and the truth of letting the Bible speak to us is a beautiful reminder. Blessings and hugs!
Thank YOU, Beth, for your continual encouragement. Your voice is so welcome, and I appreciate your friendship.
Mary – It was so nice to Michele here as a guest. I always love her wise words. Maree
Michele – I loved hearing more of your story. God is good. He never ceases to amaze me how he put the pieces together. Your story reminds me of this fact. Blessings, Maree
I love reading the stories of how God comes through for us in surprising ways–somehow our own stories come to seem small and common, so I haven’t done much with my own “big picture” story until this post. It was a great exercise in gratitude for me to write it all down and to remember all the little details that would have taken the story beyond the word count (and the patience of readers!).
Thanks for all the ways you bless readers with your story, Maree.
I love opening up this space for writers to share their stories. And I love having you here!
loved your history and story and writing, of course. how funny that you bought a one way ticket to CA and now you are back. I love it that God was drawing you all that time when perhaps you didn’t see. I too continue to be discipled most through parenting (I thought we were done??) I am not slow expect when accepting God’s will and pace. I think your book should be called The Cultivated Life: Doing the Next Thing in Faith and Trust and I will be on your launch team. I am encouraged by our online friendship. Come visit. I just pulled two banana cakes out of the oven.
I thought I smelled banana cake in the air!
You are such an idea person! I’ll tuck that title idea away . . . I sort of think I need to have a book to go with it first, but truly, the title is always the hardest part of any project, so now I have no excuse because you’ve done the heavy lifting for me!
Parenting is the best way to grow and learn and it doesn’t matter how old your kids are. Such a great title for Michele’s book. I hope she writes one. Thanks for being here, Sue.
I loved reading a little piece of Michele’s spiritual autobiography! laurensparks.net
Thanks, Lauren, for being here!
Thank you for being such an invested member of the Tell His Story community.
“I think it’s true that most of us end up writing and teaching the same series of lessons, over and over again until we learn the truth ourselves.” I’ve found this to be true, also, Michelle. It seems we have to learn the same ones over and over again. I’ve enjoyed learning more about you and enjoyed your post.
I’m glad it’s not just me!
Writing does seem to circle around to whatever God is working on in us–even if we don’t set out to write THAT post. This has been one of the gifts of writing for me, and I’m not sure who said this first, but don’t you find that sometimes you don’t know what you think until you write it down?
God is nothing but patient and persistent, right? He continues to teach me time and time again even when it sounds like the same lesson on repeat. I guess I am a slow learner. Thank you for being here, Ann.
Always blessed and encouraged by you, Michele! Thank you for sharing in wisdom and in truth! And thank you so much for hosting, Mary! Blessings to you both! 🙂
Hi, Tai! So good to hear from you!
Glad to have you here, Tai and I love sharing others’ words.
Michele, this is such a good reminder. “If it were not for our family and friends, we would never discover some of the deepest cracks in our character–or learn how deeply we need a Savior. ” We need each other to learn from and to encourage and to point us back to Christ. Blessings to you, dear sister! xo
I expect we’re both learning lots of lessons about our “cracks” from our growing families. You have a special place in the conversation here, Gayl, because whenever I hear from a blogging friend in some way, one of the boys is sure to ask me, “Is THAT the friend who came to Maine and met you at Cole Farms?”
We are better together and even more so when we allow God to remain at the center of our lives.
Surprised with joy this morning to find your words here today, Michele. I’ve noticed those key themes in your writing, and, though I pay attention to your words, never tire of reading about these lessons over and over again! What a blessing God takes His sweet time. I think we learn more than we realize we are by returning to the same things over and over again! Thanks for these things to think on today!
I feel as if we have a long history of reading and writing together, Bethany, so it’s a relief to me to hear that the cyclical nature of the lessons and the “discoveries” haven’t worn on you. I recently heard Bob Goff say that he’s always putting things in the microwave and God takes them out and puts them in the crockpot. That’s me, for sure, in the lessons about patience and waiting for God’s good time.
Hi Bethany! I’m so glad you followed Michele here today. It’s a joy to have you here joining in the conversation.
I love your story, Michelle. Especially the emphasis on how much we need one another in order to be able to live this life fully and to become who God intended us to be. It is a lifetime of learning and we too often want to cut short that time to make it easier. But easy doesn’t always get us where we need to be. I love it that God has our best interest at heart. Thank you for sharing.
When I think about how insufferable I would be without the life on life sandpaper that keeps me aware of my faults and deeply dependent upon God for forgiveness, I realize just how much I need my family and my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thanks, Diane, for your words of encouragement that always come at just the right time.
I’m so glad to be able to encourage you. God bless.
Thank you for being here, Diane. I hope you will continue to join us at #TellHisStory.
Thank you, Mary. I think I subscribed, so I should get your notifications ad be popping in once in a while.
Awesome. I look forward to seeing you.
It’s a joy and a blessing to hear from you, Michele, and to savour the wisdom you have gleaned along life’s highway. I especially love your thinking out loud nuggets. They all speak to me, but this one most of all today: “Hope and gratitude together train my eyes to look for the gifts God bestows every day.” Yes, they do, I totally agree! Hope is harder to hold onto when we forget to exercise gratitude. May you continue to bless and encourage your readers with your spiritual insights, as well as your great book reviews.
Oh, thank you, Joy, and it’s good to know which parts of the post resonated for readers. Honestly, I think we all struggle at various times with staying in a mindset of gratitude. God is so patient with us.
I agree, Joy. Hope is harder to maintain when we lose sight of gratitude. Thank you for joining us today. It is always a treat to have you here.
Thanks for hosting, Mary, and for sharing Michele’s words. And thank you, Michele, for sharing part of your story! It is amazing when we can look back and see that God was at work in our lives even when it was hard to see at the time. And I agree about writing so often being to remind ourselves of the truth. Just today I was challenged again by something I had written myself!
Yes! We should treat our blogs like spiritual journals, taking time every so often to go back and relearn the lessons we’ve written our way into by grace.
I am agreeing with you and Michele that even though similar themes occur throughout our writing it is all because God has more to teach us in that area. Thank you for being here and encouraging so many in the Tell His Story community.
Congratulations Mary on the new Grandbaby! And thank you for sharing Michele’s words here today. And, Michele, thank you so much for guest posting here! I am seeing more and more how God really is in “the next thing” as every moment of our lives is so interwoven with the next and the next. And, seeing as how we both have reaped so much from the words of Elisabeth Elliot, I had to share with you that the sample only whet my appetite so that I just “had” to purchase “Devotedly.” Oh, what “rough edges” in me are being exposed as I savor the words from their journals. Thank you, Michele, for the ways that you spur us on to follow after the Lord and His Words to us! Blessings to you both this week!
It makes me smile just thinking about you savoring the experience that Devotedly gives. Isn’t it just the most beautiful book, both inside and out? I hope you will share your thoughts on it when you are done . . . you’ll be sad when it’s over, I think.
I was. I’m planning a re-read very soon! (And Elisabeth’s “new” book on suffering is at the top of my pile, so I’m starting it tonight!)
Thank you, Bettie! He is a beautiful blessing. And Michele’s words have spurred me on in my own journey. Thank you, friend, for your encouragement and presence.
Ah, friend, I so agree with what the Lord does with the “empty nest” season and how He uses our stories to reach us with uncommon grace and then use them as we write. I too grew up in a home with mental illness and the impact on my life was one that took me a bit to work through and heal from. My mother experienced depression and anxiety throughout my time growing up at home and my only living sibling was developmentally handicapped and added mental illness to the mix as he got older. I faced my worst fear when I became his guardian following the deaths of both of my parents in 1995 just three months apart.
I remember that about your story, Pam. Like you, it has taken me some time to sort through the flotsam and jetsam. And so often the lessons we learn are observed from the rear view mirror. “Oh! That’s what was going on there!”
So much to be grateful for!
I am so glad to know that we walk this journey together, Pam. I feel like I am on very good company with you and Michele by my side. Thank you God for wise women like both of you.
It’s lovely to get to learn a bit more about your past and where God has brought you, Michele! And I am so grateful for your constant presence as a cheerleader here among your blogging community. You have been a blessing to so many and I’m grateful that Mary has allowed you to encourage us in her space today. Hugs to both you and Mary! I’ll be pinning and tweeting!
Beth, you have your own set of pom poms, and I so often am the beneficiary of your kind words and encouragement as a blogging cheerleader!
Thanks for all you do!
Hugs to you, Beth! I love having you as part of this community.
Thank you for sharing Michelle’s words. Such wisdom she shares. Yes, He always has our best at heart. It’s taken a long journey for me to now truly see and believe that. Thankful for Christ’s tender mercies. This is so good: ” If it were not for our family and friends, we would never discover some of the deepest cracks in our character–or learn how deeply we need a Savior.” My husband, an unbeliever but made holy in my faith, has taught me and continues to teach me the most about who our God is and to trust Him at His Word. He is transforming me in truth and grace as my deepest cracks are exposed and in the process drawing my husband to Himself.
Isn’t it wonderful that He is not a “gotcha” God, setting snares for our feet and traps for our hearts. We can totally trust his motives.
And it’s a sure and certain thing that God will use the relationships that vex us most to show us what is in our hearts. I have a long way to go in this, but am grateful to be a work in progress.
You’re welcome and I am so glad you spent some time here today. Thank you for sharing part of your own story, Anna. Blessings to you.
Michele, this is so good. It’s so encouraging like a charge to stake your flag and press on. It really gave me this sense of yes, I need to keep on keeping on. I see you as a wise lady that has given some beautiful advice. Especially the part about making sure to be connected in a body of believers, that is so important and I need to remember in my situation that I’m not alone.
Michele is a wise teacher. I am so glad you stopped by to read her words.
Oh, April, I love the idea of a flag, driven hard into the ground–by faith!
And we really do need each other in the body of Christ. Every single one of us needs to know that we are not alone.
I love the idea of bringing hope and gratitude together. It gives us that sense of contentment that brings peace to our everyday moments. It’s also being confident in God’s promises to us. Thanks for your teachings here, Michelle, and for Mary for hosting your words.
Over the years, gratitude has been such an anchor for me. When I sense myself slipping toward despair or frustration, it’s time for a gratitude check.
Yes to everything Michele said and your comment here. Thank you as always for being here.
Michele, I enjoyed learning more about you, and I was encouraged by the insights you shared in doing life with Jesus.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank YOU for reading!
Thanks for sharing some of your story. I love learning about fellow bloggers! I found something you wrote above to be so true about me… As writers we often tend to write about the same things – thinking out loud – until we learn the lesson ourselves. Maybe it is also because God is really trying to get through to us! LOL I used to write at The Beauty in His Grip, but two years ago I put the blog on pause because I felt like I was sounding like a broken record. (Maybe I didn’t sound that way, but I felt it at the time). Anyway, I’m actually facing the same dilemma at my new blog and get stumped when the same thoughts for posts come to my mind. But, after reading your words, I’m thinking that thinking those “same thoughts” is not necessarily a bad thing. I know there are readers out there who go face the same things I do, over and over, while trying to make sense of things in life. I need to remember that as I continue to write and share. Thank you for the encouragement to keep thinking out loud!
Hi, Jo, and yes I remember The Beauty in His Grip. It’s good to know that your voice is still out there, and I honor your faithful commitment to sharing God’s glory and beauty with readers.
Another boy mom here! Funny, before I had children I could picture myself with half a dozen daughters. Evidently God knew I could not handle all that estrogen under one roof. 🙂 Though I miss girl stuff, God has taught me so much through my boys.
I enjoyed so much reading more of your story, Michele. And I resonated with much that you shared from your journey. I love that thought, that we think we find God when He has been there all along, pursuing us. Your mention of living a cultivated life is spurring all sorts of connected thoughts in my mind this morning. And I love that distinction between hope vs. presumption or entitlement.
So glad to visit with you here today! Thanks, Mary, for hosting Michele this morning.
I’d love to know what all those “connected thoughts” are, Barbara. We’re coming into the season (soon I hope!) when we can begin to actually cultivate in the great outdoors, and that should lead to some more thoughts along those lines.
And it’s frightening, really, how easily we slip into presumption or entitlement when we lose sight of our anchor in hope.
Always so good to hear from you!
I so agree – Michele’s words are wise, gracious, and encouraging. “Hope and gratitude together train my eyes to look for the gifts God bestows every day.” So true and I am grateful He is training my eyes to be on the lookout every day. Blessings to you both as you both bless so many time and time again!
This is such a great gathering of friends here, Joanne!
Thanks for your good thoughts on training your eyes. There are blessings everywhere.
Your encouraging comments keep this community going. Thank you for being here and cheering us on.
Michele, I loved learning more about your story. You’ve shared so much good theology in this post. I am going to be pondering it as I go through my day. Like you, my boys have been the biggest sand paper in my life. I believe they are helping me become more who God envisioned me to be, if that makes sense. And one of the saving graces during the hard seasons of mothering them has been being part of a group of friends who pray for each other. I loved each of your points here, my friend.
Well, Jeanne, we are a community of boy mums here today: You, Mary, and I!
It’s really a sub-culture isn’t it? And I’m also grateful for the many ways in which God has used parenting to knock off some of the rough edges of this work in progress. Best of all, He’s still at work!
Kids have a way of shaping us and initiating us into motherhood. I agree that who we are is only made better by the people in our lives and especially our family. Love having you as part of the Tell His Story community.
How amazing is our God when he fulfills His plan for our lives & we get to live it out!
You’re most welcome to join me in a cuppa,
Mary, it’s such a gift to receive this welcome from you today. Thank you for all the ways you demonstrate grace and hospitality through your writing.
Now . . . we’re all waiting for your inaugural grandmother-ing post! Congratulations to you and your family! So much joy!
You are such a blessing to me and I am honored to share your words here today. I love your brave faith in sharing your story. You have touched so many who needed to read your words.
As for grandmother-ing- I have so much overflow of love and I know the words will come. You are valued and loved, sweet Michele.
Oh, Michele, God has shown me a bit more of himself through your words, as you’ve prayed. I, too, thank him for this community of writers I’ve gotten to know. And you are certainly one of them.
Your words are a treat. A gift from God. They do not disappoint and I love to consume them. I didn’t know you were a mom of boys whose nest is emptying. I love all the tidbits you’ve shared about yourself here.
Chief among them is when you said, “God was actually mightily involved in every detail of my life…He was NOT standing idly by, but was deeply involved in bringing me to Himself.” Oh how true is that! What a beautiful God we serve. He is the absolute best.😊
What more can I say? I have lots to say because there was so much more that really touched me about the character of God and your observations about the Christian life, but I’ll stop here. What a blessing this was. Thank you! Sharing and tweeting with love. 💖
It’s always a gift when God uses my words or my story to speak truth into another life. We all have so much to offer and can help one another along in this following life.
It still amazes me when I realize how God was at work in my life long before I ever recognized it–and certainly before I knew enough to be grateful!
Thank you, Tiffiney, for your encouragement!
Thank you for being part of this community. It is such a beautiful place of encouragement. And I also love the words you highlighted in your comment.
Love you words, Michele! Your wisdom always encourages me. “Live a cultivated life.” Yes!!! That’s what I long for. Thank you for sharing!
This is a great gathering of shared stories.
I always appreciate your insights as well.
Thank you for being here to support Michele. She never fails to share such wonderful wisdom.
Oh Mary. I’m so glad you featured Michele here today. She is one of my favorites! Michele, I love your list of themes, especially these two: “slow down” and “be surprised.” I’m also finding much joy in a bit more time to study and meditate on the Word in my-ahem!- “middle aged” years. It is a joy to always find surprises there.
I found plenty of help and wisdom in your book for the “slow down” part of my life, which (I fear) is going to be a life long project for me!
Blessings to you in these days of fighting distraction and leaning into #MoreofGod!
Michele is one of my favorites too. Her words bless me over and over. And I loved her call to allow God to surprise us with joy in every season. I want to encourage you, Betsy, that I think the middle aged years are the best! 🙂
I like learning more about Michel and her story. Growing up with mental illness and addiction in the family is a tough way to start, but can throw you into the arms of God, too, which is a blessing. What struck me in Michele’s list of themes was to ‘slow down’ and notice that God takes his time to accomplish his purposes. I’m learning that more and more since I retired and it is giving me great joy!
Thanks for sharing your story, Michelle. I so resonate when you say we write to remind and teach ourself. And the part about community and people rubbing us the wrong way and showing our cracks, so true. Especially those we live closest to. I keep thinking if I was a monk and lived in isolation, I would be full of patience and free of envy and full up on the fruits of the spirit, but only because I would be rubbing elbows with myself. There is no growth when we isolate ourself. Keep writing and sharing with us, you have such wisdom.
Ha! If I lived a monk-ish style existence, I would be absolutely unbearable because I’d think I was sinless and perfect! All the important lessons I’ve learned in my days have come from the hard places. I wish that were not true, but it does seem to be the way God works. We seem to learn better under pressure!
Molly, one of these days we’re going to gobble up the miles here in Maine and meet in real life!
I am also retired and have realized recently that I am missing out on the slowing down piece by adding more to my life instead of just being present. I am praying that we both take this message and allow God to work it in and through us.
Thanks Mary for inviting Michele to share her story. Thanks Michele for sharing what God put on your heart. I like your points at the end of this, particularly “Live a Cultivated Life”. Lots to ponder as I reflect on my own life.
You’re welcome and thank you for joining in the conversation. Michele’s words have challenged me as well.
I’m looking forward to getting out in my garden again because God does use that quiet time to put his finger on areas of m life that need cultivating. In the meantime, while the snow and ice melt . . .
Thanks, Abby, for all the ways in which you encourage and bless.