Tag Archives: Books

Its world book day! Rejoice! Celebrate! Books are the greatest!

A few months ago one of my faves tagged me in a book challenge – post one book a day every day for a week. I was SUPER KEEN because I love books and I love sharing what I'm reading. Obvs, I only managed one day because life. But now, here for your delight and edification (and beacause we all may end up at home more than we thought): THESE BOOKS CHANGED MY LIFE AND YOU SIMPLY MUST READ THEM.

First up, is Love Does by Bob Goff. Joy. Whimsy. Jesus. This book changed everything. I LOVE Bob. I don’t leave the country without this book.

I want to go barefoot because it's holy ground; I want to be running because time is short and none of us has as much runway as we think we do; and I want it to be a fight because that's where we can make a difference. That's what love does.”

I even ditched food so they’d be enough space in my bag for it to be carried up a mountain – and food is my very favourite thing. SUCH IS MY DEVOTION. I give this book to EVERYONE – birthday presents, wedding presents, new job presents, thank-you-for-being-a-good-friend presents, how-to-be-a-better-friend presents, sorry-I’m-leaving-the-country-but-let-this-book-distract-you-from-your-sorrow presents… any excuse really.

Next up, is the book that is saving my life right now: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. I LOVE Barbara. This book helped me to see the sacred in the unlikeliest of places.

Reverence for creation comes fairly easily for most people. Reverence for other people presents more of a challenge, especially if those people's lives happen to impinge upon your own... I have an easier time loving humankind than I do particluar human beings... Particular human beings rarey do things the way I think they should do them and when they prevent me from doing what I think I should be doing then I can run short on reverence for them."

Third is At Home in The World by Tsh Oxenreider. Tsh and her husband sold all their things and took their 3 kids travelling around the world a year. This book changed everything. Tsh let me know I wasn’t the only one who wants both adventure and routine at the same time.

Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven. When I stir soup at my stove I drift to a distant island. When I'm on the road with my backpack, my heart wanders back to my couch and my favourite cup of coffee.

My equal pull between both are fuelled by my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I'll never find it. "Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees it takes off his shoes, the rest just sit around and pluck blackberries" unless the flickering bushes compel me to remove my shoes, traveling the world will never satisfy. Neither will the liturgy of normal life back home."

Fourth is The Way of The Heart by Henri Nouwen. This book changed everything. I’ve pretty much highlighted and underlined the entire thing. I LOVE Henri. This book helped me to see how silence is more than just being quiet, solitude more than just being alone and prayer more than just words.

Solitude shows us the way to let our behaviour be shaped not by the compulsion of the world but by our new mind, the mind of Christ. Silence prevents us from being suffocated by our wordy world and teaches us to speak the Word of God. Finally, unceasing prayer gives solitude and silence their real meaning. In unceasing prayer we descend with the mind in to the heart. Thus, we enter through our heart into the heart of God, who embraces all of history with his eternally creative and recreative love.”

Fifth is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claibourne. This book changed everything. I LOVE Shane. I recently heard him speak and was reminded of how he has such a loving way of challenging what you think it could mean to follow Jesus. Another way is possible.

Our world is desperately in need of imagination, for we have spent so much creativity devising ways of destroying our enemies that some folks don’t think its even possible (much less practical) to love them. We have placed such idolatrous faith in our ability to protect ourselves that we call it more courageous to die killing than to die loving. The faith we have in the market and in the imagination we employ to acquire wealth has so far surpassed our ingenuity to share we cannot help but wonder if the contemporary gospel means good news to the poor whose bellies scream out to God.”

Last is Inspired by Rachel Held Evans. For when the river is no longer a river, the mountain no longer the mountain and all the old answers you had about the Bible and faith and God just don’t make sense any more. This is a recent addition to my must-reads. Disclaimer: may help/hinder/spark a crisis of faith.

God save me from the day when stories of violence, rape and ethnic cleansing inspire anything other than revulsion. i don't want to become a person who is unbothered by these texts... There are parts of the Bible than inspire, parts than perplex and parts that leave you with an open wound. I'm still wrestling, and like Jacob, I will wrestle until I am blessed. God hasn't let go of me yet.

The gospel means that every small story is part of a sweeping story, every ordinary life part of an extraordinary movement. God is busy making all things new, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it. The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things, the church is a group of people caught up in the sam story, with Jesus at the centre."img_20200316_0720434926429091325460047996.jpg

Got any recommendations for me?

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Hey y'all! It's been TIME! A new job will do that. How things?

Me? I'm good. The last few weeks have been crazy busy and despite being the woman who knows that rest is a choice I have found myself in the familiar pattern of running around super busy for three weeks so planning nothing for a week, getting bored and then planning another crazy three weeks, to get tired and so plan a week off, to then get bored and so plan another crazy three week, to get tired and so... you see where this is going? I thought Suburb Life would slow this down but all its done is add longer travelling times.

Speaking of which, in between fighting my fellow commuters for a seat on the train, perfecting in-carriage train surfing and managing to actually find a space to open my book when it's been super super busy, I’ve been reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens on my way to/from work. It is excellent, despite Dickens’ habit of explaining what happens next by telling you in the chapter title. Par exemple:

IMG_20140223_153807

At least give a spoiler alert or something. However, all has been redeemed by 'Chapter XXXV Containing the unsatisfactory result of Oliver’s adventure; and a conversation of some importance between Harry Maylie and Rose’ where I read this:

There were tears in the eyes of the gentle girl as these words were spoken; and when one fell upon the flower over which she bent, and glistened brightly in it's cup, making it more beautiful, it seemed as though the outpouring of her fresh young heart claimed kindred with the loveliest things in nature.

"The outpouring of her fresh young heart claimed kindred with the loveliest things in nature." It’s so beautiful I could cry – or lie in traffic (my go-to responses to anything of utmost beauty).

I have also discovered that Dickens wasn’t averse to a bit of a preach:

I have said that they were truly happy; and without strong affection, and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that being whose code is Mercy, and whose great attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, true happiness can never be attained.

I don’t know if he was a man of God or was pressured into it by his wife or publishers or whoever, but once you figure out what it means (I have already said that they were happy. Without love, compassion and gratitude to the One whose DNA is mercy and goodness, you can never truly be happy) it’s an unexpected surprise on page 360 of my edition – which happened to be another OxfamBooks win.

I have also finally finished reading The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. I have tried to read this book about five times over the past three years and each time had given up because I just didn't get it. But for some reason, this time round, it all made sense. So I'm reading it again so that I can scribble notes all over it – because the best books are well loved and marked. Here’s a few gems to delight your eyes and scramble your thoughts:

“What we understand about the Old Testament must somehow be connected with the realities of the church today.”

Amen brother.

“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”

Preach.

“The dominant culture, now and every time, is grossly uncritical, cannot tolerate serious and fundamental criticism, and will go to great lengths to stop it.”

Word.

“Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political reality is so radical and inexplicable that it has nothing less than a theological cause.”

As you can probs tell, there's been a lot of reading. I commute.

There’s also been a lot of listening to this:

Last Monday I played this non-stop for an hour (fortunately for my colleagues I had the office to myself). Another cry or lie in the traffic tune.

In other news I took a never-ending five-ish hour journey on the MegaBus to Leeds. Conclusion: people in Leeds have northern accents. 25 for 25 Task Nine is complete.

Speaking of which, in honour of Task 8 I have been trying to eat seasonal vegetables – it’s just ridiculous to fly spinach in from Argentina, and I resent the fact that my food has been to more exotic places than me. Also, eating seasonally is better for the environment (less airmiles and all that jazz) and better for you (seasonal produce contains all sorts of nutrients we need at that time of year). It's pretty easy to do - most supermarkets plaster the Union Jack all over the packaging, or you could get one of these (one of my most fave Christmas presents)...

seasonal veg

To round-off this round-up I leave you with a question I have been pondering of late:

What does a life lived right vs. a life of compromise mean?

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So, I haven’t had my life sorted enough lately to find enough time to write anything. So here is a brief insight into the past few weeks:
I have achieved one of my lifelong dreams of becoming a Pirate! Not one of those super scary ones that like to kidnap people off the coast of Somali (but as my Nan says, “What are they doing sailing in pirate water in the first place?”). But one of those old skool pirates with peg legs and eye-patches that liked to kidnap people, and I’m sure you’ll all agree that they’re much friendlier. Anyways, I am volunteering with the Hackney Pirates, an “innovative education project developing literacy and creativity in young people, by giving them one to one attention in an unconventional learning environment” (click here for more info). We spend the first half of the session helping the kids with their homework and the second half on a creative project which then gets sold to raise funds. The kids have recently finished writing and recording some spoken word poems and are now writing dramatic monologues. Being a pirate is fun.
I have also become a Climber - of sorts. Wilma (roommate) and I completed a three week climbing course at the local climbing centre. Despite almost falling off the wall (and consequently to my death) when stuck four meters up one of the climbing walls it was a lot of fun. You should climb too. 

You should also read Peter Pan. I read it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Genius. 

I also read Anne of Green Gables for the first time in years (I'm developing a slight habit of making regular trips to Oxfam Books – but surely a habit that benefits other people isn't really that bad). Most Romantic Gesture ever = Gilbert Blythe giving his job to Anne so that she can stay in Avonlea and look after Marilla. Next up on the Oxfam Books reading list is The School at the Chalet (that I now own two copies of - give me a shout if you want one). So I'll be spending the next few days dreaming of quitting my job and starting a boarding school in Austria. Speaking of work...
I have been to Salisbury, home of the Trussell Trust HQ, quite a lot lately. One of the trips was for a Trussell Trust Team Day, where all the staff from different departments came together to meet each other and talk about how things were going. In the last couple of years the Trussell Trust has grown so so much and they really are doing some amazing things (click here to find out more about the children's camps in Bulgaria). It was a great day but it made me sad that I’ll be leaving in September and will no longer be a part of such an inspirational team.*

One of the side-effects of my job has been that I've learned all the tube lines by colour. And now I've discovered another side effect - I can name and locate all the London boroughs, which you have to admit is quite a good life skill to have. You never know when you'll need to distinguish Havering from Hounslow, Bromley from Brent or  Camden from Croydon. You may laugh now but these places are at opposite ends of the city and I'll get the last laugh when you take the wrong turning and end up in Redbridge instead of Richmond. 
I have recently discovered that one of the side-effects of living in Shoreditch is that I am becoming fearless about what I wear. As one of my flatmates put it, “You live in Shoreditch, you can wear whatever you like!” Totally claiming that one! As part of this boldness I have decided to embrace my naturally out of control curly hair and stop straightening it. My beloved GHDs have been put away. Apologies in advance if you have to be seen with me and my hair looks like this:


However if I am wearing my amazingly beautiful new shoes you might not mind the state of my hair so much.  I bought new shoes yesterday. Black five and half inch platform court wedges. They are Beautiful and I LOVE them. I will probably break my neck, but  it's a small price to pay for such beautiful shoes (I am more of a girl than I care to admit). Paolo Nutini was so right.
And now that I own the most beautiful shoes ever, top of my wish list is this set of cake tins:


Combining two of my favourite things: London and Cake (just in case you’re feeling generous here's the link: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/43167/My-London-Cake-Tin-Duo, I can send you my address. I'll even bake you a cake). London really is the best city in the world. I love it. How often can you join city workers eating their lunch while watching some old folks take part in an open air tea dance with a brass band? (Spitalfield’s market y’all). However not all of London is so pretty or fun but I'll write about that later because I doubt anyone will read this far. Five points to you if you're still with me.

So there we go, a random collection of things.

*(don’t ask me what I’ll be doing yet because I simply don’t know – but it will probably involve living in East London because lets face it – outside of Croydon why would you want to live anywhere else?)