Books to re-read

I was that child in school who read the encyclopaedia, cover to cover, Aardvark to Zulu. I got six books a week from Ipswich Library every Saturday while my parents did the grocery shopping, I read my way through the children’s library and branched out to adult science fiction before I left for university. This site has over a decade of reading logs and there’s been a definite shift towards management and leadership books in the last two years that coincides with a job title change to director. I am always studying.

There are some books that have earned the status of "books I want to re-read regularly." It’s a short list.

Colin Urquhart "My Dear Child"

This book is by an English author, I found it when I was first dealing with clinical depression, and it is a reassuring read. When I can’t see how God could exist, this book tells me that he does, and he cares.

Chris Baty "No Plot? No Problem!"

I love this book. It’s encouraging and funny and everything I love about National Novel Writing Month in book form.

James Martin, SJ "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life"

I’m not a Catholic, but this book feels like it was written for me. It is comforting and challenging at the same time, but not condescending or guilt-inducing. A friend at work recommended it and I’m thankful she did.

Todd Henry "The Accidental Creative"

I never thought of my job as a traditionally creative one, but I make my living by thinking and solving problems. I spend a lot of time in my head at work, and this book has lots of practical suggestions for using my mind and my time in better, more productive ways.

Marcus Aurelius "Meditations"

Reading this book feels like I am reading the source material for several other books I’ve read. This translation feels like a collection of sentence fragments in places, but there’s a lot of good advice in here.

Stephen M. R. Covey "The Speed of Trust"

Trust is important to me, I want to be trusted and I want my trust to not be broken by others. This book explains a lot about why trust is important, and how to build trust.

Robert Sutton "The No Asshole Rule"

I’ve loaned my copy out to someone, but this is a fantastic "how not to be an asshole" manual. The comments from readers of this book became Sutton’s "Good Boss, Bad Boss," another good read.

Stash and simplicity (part two)

Moving country changes your perspective on accumulated stuff somewhat. Everything we owned was evaluated. Can we easily replace this? Do we really want to keep this? Do we want this enough to ship it given that we can only ship so much? If we want to ship it and we’ll be without it for 3 months, do we really need it anyway? We spent several days sleeping on the floor in an empty apartment after we sold the bed and shipped the good duvet. Most of our belongings were either given away or sold. We kept things that were irreplaceable, like the wedding pictures, and the computer, and the three volume complete Shakespeare dated 1926 in the front covers. And now we’ve been in our own house for five years, and the stuff does pile up… Books mostly, though there’s a lot of CDs and DVDs. Moving and shipping stuff is a trial even when it’s only essentials, so I want to keep the stuff limited. We’re not moving yet, but it will happen.

In Richard Foster’s book "Celebration of Discipline" one of the disciplines is simplicity. I’ve blogged about this before and he has a lot of good things to say. These are some of his suggestions from that chapter of the book:

Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.

Like that coveted skein of Wollmeise for instance? There’s been a feeding frenzy each time this yarn went up on the Loopy Ewe site, and for days before. Sure it’s colourful, probably nice to knit with and wear, but is it worth staying up all night hitting F5 to refresh the browser in the hopes of getting some? There is other yarn.

Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.

Spending the grocery money on yarn is a problem, and most people don’t get that far, but addictive behaviour is easy to fall into. Compulsively checking email, buying yarn just because it’s there and not because you want it or need it, it’s not good.

Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.

"Do I really need this?" Sometimes the answer is "No." Sometimes it’s "No, but if you really want it, it’s OK." Anything that comes with a label saying "This yarn will change your life!" is probably exaggerating.

Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

Knitting, spinning, your job, or any other time consuming activity, shouldn’t eat your life whole. Everyone needs some downtime.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a stash of yarn or fibre or whatever else. The bad thing would be addictive behaviour, and hoarding stuff just because you can. Who is in control, and why do you do what you do? Just a thought.

Amazing Grace

Saw Amazing Grace on Friday night. Not your usual kind of film but very good. I knew vaguely about William Wilberforce, but I didn’t realise he was connected with Pitt the Younger, or how the slave trade and the sugar trade were connected, or that privateers were still sailing in that era.

Wilberforce became a Christian in 1785, and made his first speech against slavery on 12 May 1789. His first bill for abolition was put before Parliament in April 1791, and again during every session until it as passed in March 1807, nearly twenty years after his first speech. That wasn’t the end of his work, he also worked to free the existing slaves. In August 1833, all slaves in the British Empire were freed, one month after Wilberforce died.

Definitely a film worth watching.


Someone gave me this reference last week. It’s here to remind me.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 (English Standard Version)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Church has been doing a series about Sabbath rest, stopping and relaxing for a while. Good to hear.

Uncertain faith

BBC News: God. Who knows?

With religion increasingly polarised, is there any benefit in not knowing if there is a higher power? Mark Vernon – an ex-vicar – explains why agnosticism is his creed.

"We are in a period of intense debate about religion. It seems there are believers, secularists and atheists – in their manifold varieties – arguing over their various concerns. Veils. Intelligent design v evolution. Ordaining gays and women. Contraception and Aids. But there is one voice that is squeezed out, partly because it can equivocate, partly because it tires of the tit-for-tat that the debate is so often reduced to. That is the agnostic. It is a position that interests me because I used to be a priest in the Church of England. Then, to cut a long story short, I left – and I left a confirmed atheist. After a while, I found unbelief as dissatisfying as full-blown Christianity. It seems to entail a kind of puritanism, as if certain areas of human experience must be put off-limits, for fear that they smack of religion. So I became an agnostic."

Interesting article and good comments, even though I disagree with the guy. His main argument is certainty vs. the unknown. Any belief system has to contend with some amount of unknown, as does science (wave, particle, or both?) and philosophy. I don’t think it invalidates Christianity that we don’t have all the answers, I don’t think it’s possible to have absolute certainty.


(Title stolen shamelessly from Plaid Dragon)

Finished the heel on the first Owl sock and tried starting the Column of Leaves scarf. Messed up row 1 twice, and row 2 once before I ripped it out. Maybe I need something simpler. The yarn is a good sized worsted weight, looks gorgeous knitted up, but… Maybe lace isn’t right for it, it might end up as a cabled scarf instead.

Went geocaching on Monday and found all four caches we went after, it was a blast! Visited three parks I’ve never been to. One of the caches had a Jeep travel bug in, the first one we’ve seen in the wild! We have to take a picture of it on the theme of Freedom to enter the contest, and drop it in a cache as soon as possible.

Started reading part one of John for everyone by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham. The book goes through the gospel of John giving Wright’s own translation, followed by some commentary. The intention is to translate the entire New Testament, and it’s very well done.

Post conference

Arrived back from the Vineyard Midwest Conference late last night, thanks to various roadworks. Most people stayed on the Wheaton College campus where the conference was held. It was so nice to be able to walk to the cafeteria, eat with friends, and walk to the workshops and main sessions. OK, the rooms weren’t hotel quality, sharing a segregated bathroom was a little odd so many years after university, but it worked. The campus staff were nice, cafeteria food was good, and the bookstore was excellent.

Went to workshops by Dan Paxton of Heartland Vineyard (developing an effective leadership team), John and Sue Marsden of River Heights Vineyard (couples in ministry), and Jeff Heidkamp of Mercy Vineyard (communicating the gospel with clarity). I loved Jeff’s workshop, we’re getting the CD to use with homegroup.

Came away with a potential challenge, lots to think about, and a new friend who lives in St Louis.

Bullet points

Spun, plied, and washed my mini-skein on Tuesday, it’s dry now. George was not as easy to spin as the Coopworth, but the dyed fibre was nice. It’s a lot less even than my wheel-spun, but it’s not as thick as my last spindle effort. The Coopworth skein is dry though the yarn is still wavy in places. I’m wondering how it will knit up. Next spinning project is to ply the rest of the wheel-spun Coopworth and figure out what to make with it. And teach Rox how to spin on a spindle.

Transferred the Christian Depression Pages website off Gospelcom last week. If you have linked to the old Gospelcom URL ( please change your links to use the domain instead ( The site remains one of the oldest mental health sites for Christians (founded 1996), and the only one with an Icelandic translation.

Finished the toe on Hubby’s second sock and started up the foot. I have a long way to go. Next project after this is the Matthew lace seaman’s scarf from Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves in Desert Sand hempathy yarn, and something with my handspun Coopworth (scarf probably). Then another pair of socks. I don’t like my sock needle to stay empty too long, it gets lonely.

This is as political as I’ll ever get on this blog. I’m tired of hearing about concessions for illegal immigrants. Immigration can be done legally. Rewarding someone for breaking the law is insulting to everyone who kept the law. I don’t have a solution, but can people please consider us legal immigrants too?

Bible study

Martha and I got drafted to do the study for 1 Corinthians 3 tonight. The text breaks into three sections, v1-9, v10-17, v18-22. This is what we came up with as study questions. What do you think?

(v4) For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

Whom do you follow today? Why are we tempted to put these people in those positions?

(v1-3) Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

What are other signs of spiritual infancy and how may we grow past it?

(v10-15) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

What does building with gold and silver look like? What does building with hay and straw look like?

(v18) Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise.

How do I become a fool in order to become wise?

(v21-22) So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

How would you rephrase these verses?

Spiritual Disciplines: Study 2 and Simplicity

This week’s study exercise was to summarise Ephesians 1:15-23 in one sentance:

I thank God for you and pray you will know his glory, shown in Christ who rules all things.

The meditations for this week are looking at the discipline of simplicity. Richard Foster’s book has ten sugestions:

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by custodians of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Devlop a deeper appreciation for creation.
  7. Look with healthy skepticism at "buy now, pay later" schemes.
  8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
  9. Reject anything that breeds oppression in others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

That’s a hard set of suggestions. I’m not there yet.