Remember the summer? It seems so long ago that I had a life-giving fortnight in Spain, and yet this is the first chance I’ve had to report I’ve read over the summer. This time I’m reviewing: Home – Jo Swinney; Flee, Be Silent, Pray – Ed Cyzewski; Liturgy of the Ordinary -Tish Harrison Warren; and Tumbling Sky – Matt Searles.
Home – Jo Swinney
Half-memoir, half-exploration of the concept of home, this is a fantastic book on where we find our belonging. Swinney’s background is fascinating, as someone who grew up in England and Portugal, moved to Canada and met an American husband, and now lives back in England.
I have a fondness for cross-cultural mission, and was always drawn to the idea that it is a better way of being, because we belong to the world rather than just one nation. However, this book points out the downsides to this: that if you move a lot as a kid you lose your sense of belonging and home, and that can have emotional repercussions. Through her story, she builds a defence for our innate need for a home, linking it with David’s life in the Bible.
Her writing is so absorbing that I found myself turning the pages to get to the next part of her story, and the Bible exegesis was fresh and thoughtful. This is one I have talked about a lot all summer, a real conversation-starter – definitely check it out. Highly recommended.
Flee, Be Silent, Pray – Ed Cyzewski
Subtitled, ‘An anxious evangelical finds peace with God through contemplative prayer’ – it exactly describes its audience. This is a wonderful book on making contemplative prayer attractive, and I loved it. There are so many books on prayer that talk about prayer, yet don’t result in you actually praying. The best way I can commend this book to you is the fact I kept pausing to pray as I read it, because it made me want to pray right then and there.
There are two things that make this book stand out: the sense of God’s unconditional love that runs throughout the book, and how he distils wisdom from mystics like Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton to make them much more accessible for newcomers to contemplative prayer. There are some who just talk about God’s unconditional love, and then follow up with a load of rules. For me, the sense of God’s love came through in every word, and the experience of reading the book on spiritual disciplines was a restful and nourishing one. I love all of Cyzewski’s work, but this was probably his best so far. Highly recommended.
Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
This practical and highly-readable book is designed to create our own liturgy out of everyday rhythms. The idea is to be conscious of our everyday existence, introducing tiny practical changes to make room for God. She goes through the ordinary things of the day like choosing to make your bed instead of rushing into work, as a discipline of finding order and leaning on Go).
It’s really well-written, sharp and brief; full of interesting quotes and thought-provoking practical ideas. Best for those who are busy with family and work and looking for brief ways to refocus.
Tumbling Sky: Psalm Devotions for Weary Souls – Matt Searles
I was asked to endorse this book, so I read it and checked it out. It’s a little gem. The psalm devotions are brief enough for someone in distress to read, yet packed with content. Searles really articulates what it is like to go through hard times. You can tell when someone is writing things for suffering and they feel what it’s like to go through it, as opposed to just saying what they think they ought to say. This unites both empathy and good exegesis, all into bite-size pastoral devotions. I gave it my wholehearted endorsement:
“Gentle and wise, this outstanding devotional is balm for bruised souls. It will slake your thirst, comfort your despair, and enable you to see the love of God afresh.”
Tumbling Sky – Matt Searles. £6.49-£9.99 Preorder from 10ofThose.com
On my bedside table: Shawn Smucker – The Day the Angels Fell. Christian-themed fiction for older children and kids at heart – so far I’m loving it.
And… I’m excited to say that my first full-length book, Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay, will be available from 16 October 2017. Look out for it and keep in touch for updates here.
This post contains Amazon and Wordery affiliate links, which means if you click through to Amazon.co.uk Wordery.com or Amazon.com from this site and buy absolutely anything in the world, you help this site, at no extra cost to you. I received a free advanced copy of some of the books above in exchange for my honest review, which these all are.