Remember April? I know, now that you can taste June, you barely remember April, but May was so crazy I completely neglected a ‘What I’m Into’ for April, so let me take you back in time – indulge in some April nostalgia with me.
Easter Sunday church
This Easter, my boy stood at the front of church next to his vicar-father, and said into the microphone like a total pro:
“A very warm welcome to you all. It’s nice to see so many new people here today. Can anyone here – who is NEW – tell me what exciting day it is today?”
Then he ran straight up to me and pointed the microphone in my face until I said ‘Easter Sunday.’
My M.E. is so severe that I need to be in bed for most of the day, and trips out of the house, while enjoyable, are such a strain on my body that they take days to recover from, so I can only leave the house once or twice a month for an hour or two at a time. If you have ever felt tired by a church service, and wondered why, I can now tell you with authority: church services are exhausting. Noise and bustle + concentration on sermon and Bible reading + small talk with a large number of people in quick succession + singing + negotiating with the boy to only do breakdancing during worship songs reminded me why I hadn’t been able to go to church at all for the last 3.5 years, and hadn’t been to a morning service since 2010. The payback afterwards also reminded me why church-going is an unusually high-level activity for me – I was wiped for a few weeks afterwards.
But although I won’t be able to repeat the expedition in a hurry, it was so worth it. To be in church on a crisp Spring morning, with the sun rising above the gravestones on Easter day, gave me goosebumps: then seeing my boy dance with a little girl at the front of church during the worship, chewing the communion bread, smiling at all the familiar and beloved faces was altogether wonderful.
The best churches are those that, while they may be a little messy or ragged at the edges, are known for their love, and that struck me afresh at that service – the feeling of being amongst family. It is a privilege to call this church our home, and even though my attendance can be described as ‘sporadic’ at best, I am so grateful to belong to such a great church family.
Magic Man the movie
What was meant to be an Easter holidays project for Jon and the boy turned into a four-week filming marathon, and a fifteen-minute-long film extravaganza. If you recall, the boy was inspired by my book-publishing antics to publish his own book about a superhero he had invented, called Magic Man. He kept on referring to the future Magic Man movies so much (apparently, in the thirteenth movie Magic Man dies) that Jon decided to make it a reality. They made costumes with chicken wire and papier maché; they storyboarded; they went to the moor to film the dinosaur scene. Then Jon did his magic on design and special effects. Even accounting for my bias, the end result was awesome.
My son had his first movie premiere at the church with about ten of his classmates, who were kind enough to come on a Saturday morning and were fed popcorn and ice cream for their efforts. Alas, there will be no sequel, however – even before the boy said his emphatic ‘No’, you could have guessed from looking at the director’s bloodshot eyes that this would not be repeated. (Magic Man got bored of wearing the helmet about one day into filming.)
Three days after the premiere, the boy started talking about his new superhero: Sea Mask, who is infinitely superior to Magic Man and who may well need a future film of his own. Jon looked a little wild when the boy mentioned this.
I met Alice Buckley!
Alice Buckley is one of my best friends in the whole wide world, and this month we met for the first time. I am so thankful for the Blogosphere, Twitter, and Skype for connecting me with wonderful people like Alice. We hugged, and ate lunch together. It was both surreal and utterly normal not to have a screen between us.
Relevant magazine – this month I was privileged to be featured in Emily Miller’s article for Relevant Magazine on healing miracles. Favourite quote?
“I don’t know what God is doing. I don’t know why He heals me and then doesn’t heal me. I don’t know why He heals some and not others. I don’t know what governs His actions. That is what makes Him God.
“So I guess I’d say, yeah, my God is big. It’s a Sunday school lesson, and I’m still learning it.”
Read the whole piece here.
Recovering from Easter Sunday meant more trashy TV, fewer books, but those I read were excellent.
- Searching for Sunday – Rachel Held Evans. On doubt, leaving church and finding it again – I loved this book. Check out my review here. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- A Wilderness of Mirrors – Mark Meynell. An academic and pastoral analysis of how the gospel gives fresh hope to today’s weary and wary generation – I enjoyed this book so much I gave it an endorsement:
“Uniting threads from culture, literature and history, Mark Meynell weaves a rich and fascinating tapestry of our society today. Anyone who wants to write about the interaction between church and culture needs to listen well to both – and Meynell has an extremely good ear. As someone weary of empty political rhetoric and power- hungry leaders, this book gave me a fresh vision of the beautiful uniqueness of Jesus and fresh hope that a humble church can reach a disillusioned society. Insightful, gentle, and intelligent, this book is a must-read for leaders, pastors, evangelists, culture-watchers and culture-shapers – in short, any thoughtful Christian wanting to reach this weary and wary generation. “
You can read my endorsement together with lots of learned men on this page, and find out more about this thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
On my nightstand:
- Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh. This was longer and slower than I thought it would be (I read it on Kindle), but it is the vivid storytelling and beautiful writing that is reeling me in. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- Michael Card – Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. I’m using this as a devotional at the moment. The style is commentary-lite – he gives you the interesting background and is great at identifying themes in the text, but it’s much shorter and less academic than a commentary, but not applied or illustrated as a devotional would be. He is a worship leader, and so I was hoping that this would have a more artistic spin than most normal commentaries. While not being as artistic as I would have hoped, I enjoy its simplicity, and the short passages mean its easy to do one or two as a devotional. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- Chloe Reynolds – Unresolved and Through Her Eyes. One of the people I ‘met’ through the Be course was the talented Chloe “CurlyRay” Reynolds, who is a singer-songwriter. Her voice is so beautiful and pure, and her songs have authenticity and passion. Through her music she supports Hagar International, helping restore women and children after abuse. I loved her EPs – do check them out. Hear her music and buy from her website here.
- Meghan Trainor – Title. If you’re wondering if the rest of the album containing ‘All about that bass” stacks up, I believe it does. The 1950s vibe is so cheery and summery – just don’t listen too closely to the disappointingly banal lyrics. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- Sia – 1000 forms of fear. After singing along to ‘Chandelier’ on repeat, I took the plunge and listened to the whole album. It’s angsty and dark but full-on-beautiful. This album is genius. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
In Lent I did two e-courses, and both were brilliant.
- Be – the Lent course run by Brandy Walker. She always has such a talented group of people on the roster to teach the course, and it was a real joy to hear Nicole Romero talking about loving your body, and Zohary Ross talking about how vulnerability is a strength. Look out for this course next year – I love Brandy and her team.
- Book of hours – Jamie Wright Bagley. This was a shorter, quieter, course, but so full of content and wisdom. Jamie is a wise and thoughtful teacher, and her written guidance on how to write your own ‘book of hours’ is invaluable. Check out her free book, and do take the course if she offers it again.
- Arthur and George – Jon had read the book by Julian Barnes, and this program made me want to read the book – gripping stuff. It’s about the true story of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes getting involved in a real-life mystery and miscarriage of justice. Well-acted and paced, and Julian Barnes is one of my favourite authors, so I reckon the book would be worth a punt, too. Get the BBC series from Amazon.co.uk. Get the book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- American Idol – my favourites were Clark Beckham and Joey Cook. Who were yours? I did NOT get the appeal about Nick Fradiani. I noticed that this year’s season seemed to be more low key (only one show per week, only five going on tour). Could this be the beginning of the end for the franchise?
- Election coverage – this year I really enjoyed the leaders’ debates, and couldn’t help but wish that parliamentary debates were governed in a similar way, with everyone given time to speak and explain their position, and answer objections, rather than being heckled and insulted like a ridiculous pantomime, which seems to be de rigeur for Commons’ debates.
- No Country for Old Men – beautiful film, Javier Bardem is a terrifying villain, brilliant acting by all. Abrupt ending. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.(£3.19)
- 27 Dresses – trashy watching, but comfortingly formulaic rom com. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (£2.98).
- Downfall – best film of the year so far – a German take on Hitler’s last days. Inherently bleak, but superbly acted and so thought-provoking. I hope to blog on it at some point. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (£4.69).
- Sabrina – I love Audrey Hepburn, and the way that old films force me to slow down. Somehow her charm makes the love story work. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (£4.00).
- The Matrix – We had a retro Matrix-watching night, skipping over all the ‘red pill/blue pill’ boring bits, just all the kung-fu and blowing up bits. We said things like, ‘this was so ground-breaking – this was the first time anyone had done something like this’ and felt old. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
- Sing! karaoke by Smule – Discovering a new app where you can sing karaoke (with friends, if you’re both members) was both exciting and depressing. Depressing, because my once-opera-standard voice is now weak and unreliable, and no one sounds that great when they are singing whilst lying down, and depressing, because I am incapable of singing pop (I annunciate like a choir girl), but exciting, because SO MUCH FUN! My favourite karaoke songs of the moment – ‘These boots are made for walking’, ‘Royals’, and ‘Don’t rain on my parade’.
I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for her magnificent What I’m Into Linkup.
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Over to you:
- How was your Easter?