Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Spine Poetry

I was tagged by Jean to do a book spine poem.

I have decided to do one of the stages of a woman's life (or at least mine to this point!) 

for women only
Girl stuff
The single issue
Loves me, loves me not
Of marriageable age
The first years of forever
Sheet music
10,000 baby names
And then I had kids
Naked motherhood
The memory keeper's daughter
Getting real

This was fun.

I want to do another one, but most of the Christian books that I want to use are in my husband's office.  Must make a visit in...

Lots of fellow bloggers have already had a go, but if you want to - go ahead and let me know.  Or, if you are not a blogger, send me a photo of yours if you like!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Yes Prime Minister

Yes Prime Minister

I have delved recently back into some books from the 1980s, into the wonderful dry wit that is the series of of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.

In Yes Minister, we are introduced to the Right Hon. James Hacker, member of Parliament for Britain. He is Minister for the Department of Administrative Affairs and as such is responsible for the Civil Service and the man he must work with closely is the Permanent Secretary of the Civil Service, Sir Humphrey Appleby.  Appleby is a civil servant through and through, believing that parliamentarians only get in the way of the Civil Service actually running the country and therefore his job is to obfuscate and confuse Hacker so that he can continue to manage Britain the way it always has been done. Hacker’s own secretary is Bernard Woolley, a man of great wit and dry humour, never to let the opportunity for a pun to go by.

In Yes Prime Minister, by a remarkable turn of events, Hacker has managed to secure the plum job of Prime Minister. As Sir Humphrey is now the Cabinet Secretary and Bernard remains Hacker’s secretary at 10 Downing Street, the cast remains the same.

You will quite possibly have seen old re-runs of this on TV over the years. It is a very clever British TV show which manages to poke fun at British government, other nations, the bureaucracy of the civil service and most things it talks about. The books match the TV episodes.

It is great fun. I do enjoy intelligent fiction, some humour, wit, the ability to laugh at the ridiculous around us and Yes Prime Minister does it all in spades. What is surprising is that they haven’t really aged over the years. Government deals with the same perennial issues – education, budgets, international relations and defence, and so these episodes/books are almost as applicable today as they were then.

We have both re-read the books in the last few months, because last night we headed out to Her Majesty’s Theatre to see the new play. It was very good. Written by the same authors/playwrights and dated for 2011, it was very well done. The characters were the same as ever, yet the issues were more 21st century. It was an insightful look at relativism and morality in modern times.

A note: I suspect this series will be understood and appreciated most by those who have English as their first language. Following the logic, wit and roundabout sentences is tricky enough as it is and it would also help to have a general understanding of the British-type system of government.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Miss Potter

This lovely movie is a delightful, gentle, whimsical telling of the life of Beatrix Potter, beloved children’s author.

Starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, it is set in London in 1906, when Beatrix is 32 and still unmarried, to the despair of her parents. She seeks to publish her books, which begins a wonderful friendship with the man assigned to be her publisher.

For anyone who enjoyed the stories of Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, etc) it will give an added dimension to her loved childhood stories, as you discover more about her own life. And, as it is rated G, I suspect older girls and teenagers who also loved the books would enjoy it.

Not sure many men would love it, but for a girls’ night it’s lovely.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Prodigal God

The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller

Some books become popular quickly and all of a sudden it seems that everyone has read them.  This was one of them a few years ago.

Using the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, Keller challenges us to see the parable afresh.  In it we meet 2 brothers – one (usually referred to as the prodigal) is the one we are most familiar with, the spendthrift, licentious younger brother.  However, Keller wants us to see also the older brother, the rule-keeper, yet joyless one who keeps his fathers commands but with no desire to serve.  Keller shows that both of these types of ‘brothers’ exist in the world today, and both need God as badly as the other.  One needs to repent of his sinful lifestyle and see the forgiveness that God offers, and the other needs to repent of his moral conformity as a way to control God and see the costliness of God’s grace towards him.
Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviours can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life. (p43)

There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord. One is by breaking all the moral laws and setting your own course, and one is by keeping all the moral laws and being very, very good. (p44)
Keller then shows the free and yet costly grace the Father gives us in forgiving us, and that the true elder brother we really have is Jesus.

This is an easy to read, short and very helpful book, which will help you to see which way you tend, perhaps towards the younger brother with his journey of self-discovery or the other way, towards the older brother with his moral conformity.  It would also be a great book for unbelievers, especially those with a church background, who know of the parable of the prodigal son, yet have moved away from churches, put off by the more ‘older brother’ nature of its members.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A wonderful gift

I have just been the recipient of the most wonderful gift.  Time. 

Time to rest, read, meditate & be refreshed.

Time to listen to sermons, embroider, watch DVDs, take photos & sleep.

Time without noise, errands or tasks.

I have just been away for 3 days.  A gift generously given by my family, although given at most cost by my husband.  A gift generously supported by the congregation members who supplied a wonderful holiday home and a car in which to get there.

We planned this months ago, when life was busier and I was more stressed.  However, in God’s good timing, it turned into a continued recuperation from the operation and a quieter time than originally planned.

I caught up on sermon listening, read the bible and some Christian books and have generally been surprised by how much I wanted to spend time in God’s word and thinking about it.

A break from home routines has not been a break from God as well.  Instead it’s been a chance to stop, refresh, revitalise and be thankful again for His many abundant blessings.

God is indeed good, friends.  His mercies are new every morning.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Girl in Times Square

The Girl in Times Square, Paullina Simons

I have read this book 3 times over the last 7 years - I keep coming back to it. I love it.

24 year old Lily is living in New York City, trying to figure out what life holds for her. That life turns upside down when her best friend and roommate Amy goes missing. Detective Spencer O’Malley is put on the case and as their lives become intertwined, it seems nothing is as Lily thought. Her family, her friends, her health and her money are all thrown apart.

It’s not really a detective story, for while Amy’s disappearance is the thread that brings it all together, it is not the main focus of the novel. It’s about Lily – and it’s a great tale. Full of great highs and deep lows, and how you live when you find life is nowhere near as simple as you though it might be. And at 600 pages you can be lost in this story for a while!

(Interestingly I just read another of her novels A Song in The Daylight and I thought it was dreadful.  The story was of a married woman with 3 children who embarks on an affair with a 20-year old man, and betrays them in the most awful calculated way.  Perhaps well-written, but such an dreadful story with an irredeemable heroine - not recommended!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Life interrupted

Life often just goes along doesn’t it? Day to day, week to week, term to term. For ages my prayer point in various groups has been that we just keep keeping on in the regular things of life, for not much was happening.

Then you get a little spun off course. Not too much mind you in the scheme of things, but enough to throw it all off kilter.

On Sunday I had my appendix out. A few days of unexplained abdominal pain and a few tests suggested investigations were necessary, so some investigative surgery and an appendectomy followed. Not fun generally.

Again I am reminded of how fragile we are.

How much recovery from even relatively minor surgery can hurt.

How much you generally fit into a week.

How much you do at home.

How much of what you do you never explain to anyone.

How competent and caring my husband is.

How wonderfully servant-hearted the Christian community is.

How much I take my normally excellent health for granted.

How much I am going to miss running.

How alarming the words ‘we took a biopsy’ sound (seems OK at this stage).

How thankful I am to live in a time and place with excellent, fast, intelligent health care.

How much I am willing to pay for such healthcare.

How many people do not have such a privilege and how uncomfortable I am about that.

Further thoughts may follow in time, but that is all I am up for at the moment.