Sheltering Mercy

Short but sweet this week! I figured ya’ll are like me and up to your eyeballs in Easter Preparations, so another thought from me is just adding to your list… but I did want to share a little something that I have been dying to get my hands on since it arrived in my mailbox. Besides, it’s been a while since my last book review and I figured it was about time.

Let’s dive in. “Sheltering Mercy” by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt is described as “prayers inspired by the Psalms”… and it is exactly that! A little purse-sized hardcover containing a collection of poems or writings based on the first 75 Psalms. The writings are not exactly scripture, nor paraphrases, but, as the writers put it, “free-verse prayer renderings”. For me, they are perfect for quiet meditation, and I have been dying to do some journalling, artistic illustrations to go along with each collection! (If only there were more time in the day, right?). I think this little book would be perfect for that type of meditation as the paper is heavy and the margins spacious. There are a few black and white illustrations scattered through the book, but a splash of coloured pencils would be perfect!

If you’ve been reading mittonmusings for any length of time, you know that I have a love-hate relationship with David and the psalms, not to mention my own practical versus artsy personality. I’m just not sure where I fit in. This little collection hits home when I need to foster the creative side of my devotions. In case you didn’t pick it up, Ryan Whitaker Smith is the son of worship singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith. That collaboration is a lesson in itself for worship, reflection and artistry in the contemporary Christian world. Why wouldn’t these potential song lyrics be just right?

So, if you are itching for some traditional written prayer meditation for your Easter Season, or maybe you are looking to branch out with your artistic side, give “Sheltering Mercy” a gander. Published by Brazos Press and lovingly donated to mittonmusings by Nuts About Books, I’m looking forward to marking it all up over the holiday weekend!

Happy Easter, my beloveds, until next time!

That Sounds Fun

It’s now been over a year since we were introduced to the infamous Corona virus, the dreaded Covid-19. The global menace of 2020. We’ve had time to reflect, contest, converse and contemplate all that we hold dear and special. Toilet paper notwithstanding. Annie F. Downs is no exception to those things, either. In her latest book, That Sounds Fun, she, too, reflects on her past experiences in light of the mix of her new experiences. What then, does it all mean in God’s plan? It’s a delightful compilation of thoughts and experiences from Downs’ life. Although this thirty-some-thing-single-Tennessee-gal is “embarrassingly easy to find” on the internet, she’s new to me. She currently hosts a podcast called “That Sounds Fun” and her book is an extention of that work. Now that I have read this book, I am eager to get a hold of her “100 Days to Brave”…especially in light of my #wordoftheyear. Downs also has her first children’s book due out in fall 2021. But let’s get back to the current. Here’s her little promotional to wet your appetite:


Much like, Annie’s book is a collection of thoughts, gathered under three general premises: The Joys of Being an Amateur, The Power of Falling in Love, and Why you Need a Hobby. Her writing is witty, and well, “fun”, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Dotted throughout the book are lists of what her fans also think is “fun” and truly reflect what the world began to hold dear in this global pandemic: visits with friends, teaching and mentoring the younger generation, learning from the older, travel and family. These are the things that Downs calls our “return to Eden” moments. The pieces of our heart that are shaped by God’s perfect plan and what He originally intended for us as humans… connection and meaningful relationships, including bringing Glory to God through our actions and experiences.

Annie is openly personal in her conversations, and shares both her joys and sorrows. I was particularly touched by her story about Helen. If you know me, and read the book, you’ll see why. She shares her struggles about being single, her allergies, and I love how she has named the places she has lived. What would you name the place you are currently living in? Mine might just have to be the Castle of Chaos. She reminises about times spent on her grandma’s porch snapping beans… her little moment of childhood Eden. Country girl, indeed.

Originally, I picked this book for my bookshelf based on my thoughts about “fun”. My ideas of fun are vastly different from the thoughts my husband has, different from what my children find fun, and different from what many of my friends deem “fun”. I was looking to validate my own activities, and to trust that God made me special. In some ways, she does. God’s plans for Annie F. Downs are not the same for me. They are not the same for you, either. Does God want us to have some “fun” along the way? Of course. Maybe we could sum it up in this quote near the end of the book:

“So chase the fun, friend. Go after it. Find what sounds fun to you, and you will find what you are really looking for. Maybe you will find it in the places where you are an amateur (aren’t you glad to be an amateur!) maybe you will find it in love (I hope you are in love); or maybe you’ll find it that hobby you just found or returned to.”

Annie F. Downs in “That Sounds Fun” p.223-224

Have fun today, my friends.

From the Bookshelf

Do you remember back in high school when you dreamed about being someone else? That movie star with a perfect smile and all the right proportions? Or you flipped through teen magazines and wanted hair like that, or lip gloss that shined just like that? Fine, maybe I am dating myself reminiscing about Seventeen Magazine, but I think every girl dreams of “fixing” a flaw they see in themselves. I am happy to report that I have grown out of those superficial desires and have gradually learned to love myself… just the way I am. Am I perfect? Far from it. Am I still learning and growing and moving forward in the journey for joy? You betcha. Which brings me to this week’s muse: A couple of words on two books I’ve recently finished up.

The first is “The Powerful Purpose of Introverts” by Holley Gerth, (in)Courage member, best selling author and fellow introvert. When I first got my hands on this one, I was secretly excited, hoping that Gerth would impart great wisdom on how to upgrade my A game in a world of crazy extroverts (I’m married to one, too, so that throws a glitch in the system). The book does do this, to some extent, but is a much broader look at the idea of what an introvert is and how to function well as one.

Very similar to other personality type studies, Holley looks at brain function, responses to stimuli and coping mechanisms. Anecdotal stories are punctuated throughout the book, helping illustrate the power behind “introvert-ism”. Designed as a small group study (there are chapter questions at the back for discussion), I’m thinking this would be perfect for a young mom’s club. The author gently encourages (as all good introverts do- insert wink here- ) that no matter where you think you are, God’s plans and purposes for you are always perfect, and that all of us, introvert or extrovert, have roles to play in His plan!

I was thankful for some of the reminders Gerth highlights as “needs” for my half of the population: things like dedicated quiet (strategic solitude), special connections and silent empathy. These are strengths that we hold dear. The strengths that help us live out our purpose in God’s plan! Even if you write a weekly blog about your seemingly boring life and dream of going viral someday.

Which brings us around to the second book: “Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life” by Elizabeth Elliot. This pillar of the faith (she died in 2015) is known for a variety of writing, but most notably by her husband’s story. Jim Elliot was one of theĀ five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. She tells his story (and consequently her own) in her book “Through the Gates of Splendor”. She is one of those people you want to be like — Brave and able to trust fully in God’s plan, even in the midst of unspeakable grief.

Our church’s ladies group just completed this book as our winter study. Our crazy Zoom discussions were sparked by topics such as the discipline of the Body, of the Mind, our feelings and how we spend our time. We found Elliot to be a no-nonsense kind of woman who tells it like it is, and lays out her discussions of discipline with all the confidence of a well seasoned Christian. We appreciated her biblical insights and wisdom, obviously gained through her own daily walk with Jesus, and years of service. Interestingly, her choice of title (“joyful surrender”) is indication that even seasoned missionaries have to choose joy in the journey sometimes! Yes, grace is sufficient, but practical faith takes some work! I think I can speak for the rest of my “spiritual sisters” in saying that Elliot’s book was challenging and insightful.

So, there you have it, my friends, a couple of new books for you to sink your teeth into during lockdown. They won’t be like Seventeen magazine … but they just might encourage you to take a second glance at your own self… and go beyond lip-gloss and banana hair clips, and take a good, introspective look at who God made you to be… and how He made you to fit just perfectly for His plan for your future!