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What I’m Into :: January 2015 edition

What I'm Into

books worth reading

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg. Oh, man, I needed this book. I laughed until I whooped over the text convo between Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights in particular. Mallory Ortberg is not only brilliant, she’s wickedly funny. For the book lover/English Lit nerd in your life, this is the book to cackle over.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. My sister is a reader of serious literature, particular Canadian lit. She is always my dealer for the good stuff: she’ll give me the lowdown on the Giller Prize nominees and the Canada Reads contenders. Plus we both have A Thing for books about the bond between sisters – those books just hurt so good. So she gave me this one for Christmas and I called her up after finishing it, sobbing, asking why she did this to me. It is a book of two sisters, beautifully written, devastating, and I BAWLED through the last quarter of it. Who gives books like this to their hormonal pregnant sisters anyway? It was the best kind of cry though. (And for what it’s worth, I think it should have won the Giller.)

Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Another Christmas novel, this one from my husband. I have a weakness for apocalyptic/dystopian literature and this didn’t disappoint. It’s dark and yet brilliant, beautiful and sad. It’s also strangely believable, a perfect read for a weekend.

A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson: Lisa Samson is almost the only novelist from the Christian market that I read anymore. (Only exception: Nicole Baart, too.) This is apparently her last novel as she’s quitting writing so I really wanted to love it. And I did like it – it was a good read with her signature quirky characters and love-without-sentimentality. It’s not my favourite though. I’ll miss her writing. (My favourite of hers? The Passion of Mary-Margaret)

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns. Fantastic, fantastic book. Can’t recommend enough.

television worth watching

All my shows (all three of them) are on their year-long hiatus now and so I have finally started watching Gilmore Girls. I have lost track of the long list of people who tell me that I will love this show so I figure I might as well get started while I work on baby sweaters in these last weeks of pregnancy. So far I’m about 7 episodes in and I quite like it – don’t love it yet, but I like it.

I watched the series finales for Miranda over Christmas. The Christmas special was a big old let down but the New Year’s special for the finale was vintage Miranda. I loved that show. It just made me so happy.

I still owe my few-and-proud Whovians the recaps for the season finale and the Christmas special. I have it on my Gigantic List of Things To Finish Before Baby Arrives so I’ll take one for the team and watch a lot of Doctor Who in a bit here. Better late than never.

movies worth seeing

We went to see Interstellar in the theatre recently. We couldn’t remember the last time we went to see a movie in a theatre so it was quite a treat to watch on the big screen. Otherwise, movies and I are barely passing in acquaintance these days. I can’t seem to muster the energy for a two-and-a-half-hour commitment in the evenings. When all the award nominees were announced this year, I realised I hadn’t watched a single one. And I’m just fine with that.

music worth hearing

I’m not a huge music person. I prefer silence or quiet to music – particularly since we have three loud tinies in our home already and silence is a rarity. So I rarely listen to music and pretty much exclusively listen to CBC Radio in the car. But I will say that I have been listening to John Mark McMillan’s most recent album Borderland sometimes and I LOVE it.

stuff worth reading on the Internet

Christian Women Were Made to Lead by Karen Swallow Prior – Propel Women launched this week! If you’re a woman who leads, check it out.

Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years of Living by Kristen Howerton

Since I’m just a few weeks from giving birth again, these photos obviously made me cry. So beautiful! 30 Canadian Birth Photos that Will Make You Want Another Baby.

They Say the Church is Too “Feminine” by Kate Wallace

6 Great Studies on Women in the Bible for Groups at The Junia Project (please tell me you follow this site? Amazing resource for the church)

In case you hadn’t heard, we are shutting down Deeper Story. This letter from our founder explains why. I’m both proud and sad about it.

Good news! Jonathan Martin is back online and his writing is better than ever. I stalk his preaching podcasts, I admit it. Dude can PREACH.

Tsh Oxenrider has launched a new e-course that I think looks fascinating, Upstream Field Guide. If you’re wanting to live your live more simply and with more intention, I can’t think of a better guide than Tsh.

Relevant Magazine listened my new book, Out of Sorts, as one of the twelve books they are most excited about this year which was very cool!

I am planning on finally talking about the book itself – what it’s about, why I wrote it, all of that fun stuff – in the next week or two here so make sure you sign up for my e-newsletter to get the scoop first.

And finally, this short video is pretty much the best thing ever.

pins worth re-pinning

This quote.

This Beatrix Potter alphabet print for a baby room

This is my fashion philosophy and no apologies for my black.

I’m completely obsessed with brussels sprouts lately and this is only enabling me.

These women in science that you probably don’t know about – and should.

Tina Fey’s and Amy Poehler’s Golden Globes opening dialogue is absolute perfection. Only they could make me laugh so hard at absurd truth. Best joke: George and Amal Clooney.

And finally, Mr. Afternoon T.

 

So, friends, what about you? What’s on your nightstand? What television show or movie or music has captured your imagination?

Linked up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into.

affiliate links used.

Continue Reading · book review, books, What I'm Into · 23

These women aren’t just heroines – they’re our sisters in the faith :: guest post by Michelle DeRusha + a giveaway

CONTEST IS CLOSED. Winner has been notified.

I was privileged to read an early copy of Michelle DeRusha’s new book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Beautifully written, accessible, inspiring, and relevant, this book is a welcome reminder and celebration of the every day women of valour who came before us. It is a gift to the whole Church.

But one of my favourite things about this book is this little story: do you remember the women of Joe’s Addiction? When I posted about their longing for books about women of faith, to build up their community of women who are rising up out of difficult circumstances, Baker Books contacted me and asked if they could donate 50 copies of this book to that community. What an amazing gift! 

And I’ll just go ahead and say it straight up: this book isn’t just for the women in your life. I’d love for more of our young men to hear the stories of their sisters and mothers in the faith, right along with their fathers and brothers. We all have something to learn from these women of valour.

I’m honoured to welcome Michelle here to share with us about why she did NOT want to write this book – and I have one copy to giveaway, too, so check out the end of the post for more info about that, too.

50WomenCover

The truth is, I didn’t want to write this book. I didn’t pitch the idea of 50 Women to a publisher. In fact, Baker Books came to me (or, more accurately, to my agent) looking for a writer to tackle this book, which they envisioned as a sequel of sorts to Warren Wiersbe’s 2009 release of 50 People Every Christian Should Know.

When my agent proposed this book to me, I was lukewarm. At best. I accepted the project mostly because I needed the work, but I assumed the research and writing would be mind-numbingly boring. I envisioned hours in the university library, slogging through biographies and facts about 50 women in Christian history. Snooze-o-rama.

I can also admit now that part of me was intimidated, too. Before I set out to write this book, I’d already set many of these women on a pedestal, in a place of highest honor and respect. After all, as the subtitle of the book states, the fifty women included are heroines of the Christian faith. I knew their names and many of their stories: Teresa of Avila, Florence Nightingale, Amy Carmichael, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa.

These women saved lives. They founded new movements. They advocated for the poor, the sick, the dying and the neglected. They were missionaries, teachers, preachers, writers, abolitionists, doctors and activists. Some even died for their faith.

I assumed I wouldn’t be able to relate to them. I figured they were “better Christians” than I, and that their stories, their lives, were far-removed from my own everyday, ordinary, twenty-first-century life.

Turns out, I was dead wrong about every one of my assumptions.

As I dug into the histories of each of these women, my preconceived assumptions were dismantled one by one. Not only were these women’s lives and stories fascinating, I discovered they were very much relevant to me.

I’d assumed these spiritual giants never struggled with the kind of spiritual doubts that plague me. But Lottie Moon, Mother Teresa, Madeleine L’Engle and several others assured me otherwise.

I’d assumed these women were never swayed by shallow, materialistic temptations like I am or wrestled with idols like I do. But Teresa of Avila and Elizabeth Fry set me straight.

I’d assumed these Christian heroines never questioned their God-given calling or felt confused by their path in life. But Hannah More, Ruth Bell Graham and Ida Scudder turned that notion on its head.

I’d assumed these leaders were all born and bred die-hard Christians from the start, but Edith Stein, Pandita Ramabai and Simone Weil demonstrated that age, history and environment are no match for God’s transformative power.

I’d assumed these courageous women never struggled with fear or feelings of inadequacy. But Corrie ten Boom, Catherine Booth and Jarena Lee illustrated that God works through, within and in spite of our fears.

I’d assumed each of these women was flawless and virtually sinless, yet every woman in this book turned out to be broken and fallible, just like me.

What I discovered in researching and writing this book is that the stories of these fifty women are our stories, too. True, many of them lived centuries ago, in places, times and circumstances far removed from our own. But their battles are our battles. Their grief is our grief. Their doubts and questions are our doubts and questions. We plunge into similar valleys, we scale similar mountains.

In the end I was surprised by how much these women’s stories resonated with me and how much I connected with them, despite the fact that our vocations and callings differ dramatically, despite the fact that we live decades or even centuries apart.

Behind their long list of accomplishments and contributions are real, relatable women with fears, challenges, distractions, sorrows and joys much like ours. In their stories I saw my own struggles, flaws, desires and delights. By the time I had finished writing this book, I understood something important:

These women are not only our heroines, they are also our sisters in faith.

: :

GIVEAWAY!

Leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your “heroine” of the faith – she could be someone you know in real life or even one of the women from this very book or just someone you’ve studied or read. I’ll draw a winner randomly on September 20 and notify you by email (so make sure you include an email address in your comment).

***

This post is an edited excerpt from the introduction to Michelle DeRusha’s recently released book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith (Baker Books).

DeRushaheadshotMichelle is also the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and two young boys. You can connect with Michelle on her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue Reading · book review, books · 106

In which I share what I’m into :: February 2014 edition

intofeb2014

read

Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey by Luci Shaw. Far and away, this was my favourite book of the past few months. Luci Shaw is underappreciated in popular Christian writing circles, I know, but this poet writes some of my favourite prose and memoir. I like to think I can write a sentence now and then but then I read Luci Shaw, who effortlessly drops phrases like “the wide straps of dark clouds” or “silky shawl of air” or “rags of snow” and I just want to bow down. This book chronicles a year of her life in her eighties as she contemplates dying, growing older, and her own faith in those days. Rich material for a rich mind. P.S. She was Madeleine L’Engle’s best friend (for my fellow devoteees).

Longbourn by Jo Baker - a mash-up of Upstairs, Downstairs sensibility using Pride & Prejudice? Take my money, madam! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I wouldn’t re-read and regret buying it instead of just grabbing it at the library.

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor – I go through swings with Flannery O’Connor’s work – I won’t read her for years and then all of a sudden, I can’t stop for a month. That’s how things are right now. This prayer journal is so intimate, so raw. Even seeing her ambitions laid out, right alongside her prayers and her struggles, made me feel less alone. A beautiful book.

Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier by David E. Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw. If you’ve grown a bit tired of the rhetoric and unending speculation, if you’re ready to actually begin to live into that new way forward for the community of God, this is a good place to start. It’s practical and accessible. The ten critical signposts in a missional way of life are: post-Christendom, missio Dei, incarnation, witness, scripture, gospel, church, sexuality, justice, pluralism.

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams. I know this is an unpopular opinion for me to confess, but I didn’t like this book. I found it ponderous and even inauthentic.

The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church by Os Guinness. This book is my first completion in our You’ve Got To Read This! challenge. I’ll have a separate post about that soon-ish but I’ll just say that I was underwhelmed and right out of the gate, I disagreed with the premise so that makes it hard to enjoy the whole book. But still – intelligent and worth reading, Brian, I’ll agree.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin. A good novel for the airplane which is exactly where I read it. Made the day go quickly, I couldn’t put it down, and it was an interesting story.

 

and reading

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. I know everyone knows – and bows down before – A Good Man is Hard to Find. Rightfully so. But I still have a soft spot for The Geranium. This woman’s genius knows no bounds and coming back to her work again and again only enriches it. Earthy, real, substantial, satisfying.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist by Craig M. Gay. (The next book in our challenge for me. Pray for me.)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food by Rachel Marie Stone.

Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz

New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

television worth watching

I just finished Series 3 of Sherlock. It wasn’t as good as Series 2 – could anything ever compare to Irene Adler and Moriarity? – but it was still Sherlock, still brilliant, still chilling, still funny, still wonderful. And then the twist in the series finale was just WHOA. Can’t wait to see Series 4. Mary Watson is just my favourite character on television in a while.

Anxiously awaiting Series 3 of Call the Midwife! It debuts on PBS on March 30, so set your VCR. (Wait a minute – what century is this. VCR. Honestly.)

For the first time in our lives, we’re watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We have been over late-night television for years now (even burning out on The Daily Show and Colbert Report, I’m afraid) but Jimmy Fallon’s new gig as host of this programme has us actually watching it again. It’s hilarious, smart, and earnest all at the same.

I’ve watched a fair few documentaries about food over the past months. I’ve been making a few changes in that area of my life lately due to some health stuff and so it’s been helpful.

Is anyone else missing the Olympics?

movies worth seeing

We went to see The Lego Movie on evening last week. It was funny and smart. Just a wonderful movie for the whole family. We’ll be watching it again. Joe and Anne (who are five and seven) were captivated. (“Everything is awesome! everything is cool!”)

Otherwise….yeah. I don’t really watch movies much these days, I’m afraid.

music worth hearing

Relevant is streaming John Mark McMillan’s new album Borderland here.

enjoying

How They Blog podcast. A quick 20 minute podcast with interviews and tips for bloggers.

David’s Tea – my current favourites are Cream of Earl Grey and Jessie’s Tea (a rooibos with coconut and lavender)

My elliptical machine and my juicer – I know. It’s like I don’t know who I am anymore. Drinking kale and working out. Honestly.

Benjamin Hole on Instagram. Photos of a working English farm just make me so happy.

Village Books in Fairhaven, Washington. I want to live there.

 

So, friends, what about you?

What’s on your nightstand? What television show or movie or music has captured your imagination? 

 

Continue Reading · book review, books, movie review, music, What I'm Into · 24

In which my husband and I made a deal – our “You Need To Read This!” Challenge

On New Year’s Eve, we found ourselves sitting in our living room, talking over our goals for 2014. And, of course this happened:

Brian: Let’s see…what else do I want to do this year… I think I need to read more.

Me: You do. You definitely need to read more.

Brian: Okay there, pseudo-hermit bookworm, calm down. Maybe I’ll set a goal like…. I could read one book a month. That’s do-able, right?

Me: Totally! You should TOTALLY do that.  (writes it down) Only….

Brian: What?

Me: I wish I could pick the books!

Brian: (laughing) Okay, right, Styles.

Me: I still can’t believe you managed to graduate high school in the United States without ever reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just so wrong. You really need to read it.

Brian: I’ll only let you pick my books if you let me pick the books YOU have to read every month!

Me:….wait a minute….that’s a BRILLIANT IDEA. Let’s do it! I get to pick a book a month that you read and you do the same thing for me! We can even blog about it! Together!

Brian: I’m game. Okay….first thing you’ll need is this handy-dandy Pocket Guide to Theological Terms….

Me: 

 

So here we are, starting off 2014 with our “You Need To Read This” Challenge. We have each carefully selected a stack of 12 books that we think the other one needs to read. Usually when we finish a book we love, we say “You need to read this!” and of course, we never read each other’s books.

My husband and I have pretty different taste when it comes to reading. I adore spiritual memoirs, fiction and literature, poetry, and narrative theology with a bit of old-fashioned fun reading like Harry Pottery or dystopian fantasty or British chick lit novels and my comfort reading of the L.M. Montgomery. Brian doesn’t read for fun (that’s what football is for, apparently) and so his reading tends towards leadership-based non-fiction or theology. In short, we never read or like the same books. Like, ever.

Every month, we’ll read a book from each other’s pre-selected stack and then blog our opposite responses together here about it. Once a month, when we post about a book, we’ll share why we picked it for each other and then what we think about it.

the besseys reading challenge

The books I picked for him to read are:

The books he picked for me to read are:

It’s clear to me that my husband has set me up to fail. I look at his list for me and, with a few exceptions, SNORE. WHERE ARE THE STORIES I NEED STORIES.

Let the game begin…

(I’m doomed.)

If you want to participate in your own, go for it. Just find a friend who has different reading tastes than you and swap a list.

If you could make everyone read just one book (other than the Bible), which one would you choose?

*affiliate links 

 

 

Continue Reading · book review, books, brian, You Need To Read This Challenge · 166