Showing posts from March, 2015

Book Review: Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today's post is by Wendy H. Jones

I appreciate this is a writers blog, but as the name of the blog suggests we are More Than Writers. In today's blog we are also readers. A writer who does not read would be very difficult to find. I am a voracious reader and I would pretty much read the back of a cornflakes packet if it was all that was available. However, I've been saved from cornflake hell by this excellent book by Charles Marsh.

This book is not a quick read. It is 528 pages long and has fairly small writing. However, every single page is fascinating. This is a detailed and in depth look at the life of Dietrich Bonhoefer. However, this book is so interesting it kept me reading, and reading until I and finished it. The way it is written makes it easy to read and the prose flows well. Marsh has obviously done his research as this book is packed with fascinating insight and detail about Bonhoeffer's life

The book works on multiple levels as it is so much more than a …

Speak the truth in love – but speak the truth by Andrew Chamberlain

Guest Post by ACW Member Andrew Chamberlain

It is usually the case that, when two or three are gathered together in the Lord’s name, there is politeness, there is civility, and there is good behaviour. I am not saying Christians are perfect, but generally when you put a group of us together, we behave ourselves, especially when we don’t know each other.

Of course, this is a very good thing. We are called to love one another, and that should manifest in our behaviour and our relationships with each other. Most Christians understand this, and what is true for Christians generally is also true for Christian writers. When we gather together, whether for local events, training conferences, or retreats, we treat each other with civility and politeness; and rightly so.

The problem is, we often extend that same politeness and civility to our writing, and that’s where it can all go wrong. This is because our calling as writers is not to be polite, it’s to entertain, to inform, to challenge. …

Why being a martyr doesn’t glorify God by Ruth Tong

Guest Post by ACW Member Ruth Tong

In the story of Mary and Martha, one sister wanted to sit at the feet of Christ and listen to him, while the other wanted to receive recognition for bustin her hump! I’m so glad the short account (in Luke 10-38:42) was actually documented because it’s one of those universal human dilemma’s we can all relate to. I guess depending on where we find ourselves we can feel empathy for either side. It’s hard when it feels like the buck stops with you isn’t it? But stop and think for a moment does it, really? Our fallen nature can dictate the amount of control or surrender we feel we hold on to or yield. When I look at Jesus I see a person who gets what’s going on around Him… and it matters to Him for we matter to Him. In this story, He wasn’t unaware of Martha’s experience. I wonder if she had handled her heart and her tongue differently would Jesus have sat her down and quietened her with His love and got everyone else to cook dinner?

Beloved child, stre…

So what’ll it be? Fountain Pen or Laptop? by Michele Morrison

Scattered round my laptop are tell-tale signs of my age. A foolscap notebook is at my right hand, beautiful Swiss pen at the ready. Three Christmas cards from last year sit on my left, sent by friends who aren’t on email. I’ll write a note to each one, telling them we prayed for them during this last week when we pulled their cards out of the basket.

On the other side of the laptop screen, more foolscap and reporter’s notebooks spill round, revealing the painstaking efforts of my husband Don and me as we struggle to learn Russian.

Next to them is a diary for registering the names of guests who book in to our B&B. Google Calendar? No thanks.

I’ve just read an article about the decline in teaching handwriting. Some schools in the USA, it said, have given up on teaching this beautiful art form. Pupils are on Ipads. The next generation may not be able to put pen to paper.

Certainly I’ve noticed recently that as I grab an old envelope to scribble down a recipe or address, others ta…

Lyric Writing for the Resurrection by David Pennant

Guest post by ACW member David Pennant on the process of writing lyrics
It was while I was singing tenor in a rehearsal of Stainer's Crucifixion at Southwell in 2014 that the conductor Nick Thorpe said, "the piece ends with the crucifixion, not unnaturally."

Over the next few days, I found myself thinking, someone should write a sequel, called The Resurrection. Then I thought, why not me? Why not have a go? After all, Stainer was my great grandfather. Also, the Crucifixon only lasts fifty minutes, so a thirty-five minute sequel after an interval would make a well-rounded programme.

The format of the work would be the one Stainer used. As he wrote for amateur choirs, I would have to reign in my accustomed polytonality and keep it tonal, otherwise the piece would never get sung.

The first challenge was to create the text. The resurrection appearances in the gospels were clearly all in, but I found other ideas came to mind. For example, the weeping Mary finds herself bein…

A Simple All Age Evening Prayer by Victoria Ireland

As the regular blogger for this day isn't able to start until April, we welcome Victoria Ireland to the blog today. She is guest posting with a very thoughtful look at all family prayer. I love the photo which companies this. So without further ado I hand you over to Victoria.

I have longed to establish a habit for bedtime prayers with and for our children. I have spent many hours wondering how best to do this; asking God, and questioning friends about what works for them. Some methods I've tried have felt too much like saying prayers by rote. On the other hand, leading our children, who share a bedroom, in individual prayers feels a little too public. They may not want to share deep feelings in earshot of their siblings and when one child says that they have nothing to say sorry for, others will be all too willing to remind them! Even I am tempted sometimes, when a child states that there is nothing that they need to say sorry for, to (not so gently) jog their memory!

The E…

Furniture Removals for Dummies by Fiona Lloyd

We know how to have a good time in our house. Lured by the temptation of getting a “bargain” in the post-Christmas sales, we decided to invest in a new bed. The woman who served us was a cheerless soul who obviously thought it was unreasonable for customers to come and invade her privacy on a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon. Undeterred, we did that thing where you go round the shop and try them all in turn, as if lying on a mattress in a brightly-lit showroom for two minutes can really tell you whether it’s going to still be comfortable after you’ve been sleeping on it for eight hours.

The problem with having a new bed is that you have to get rid of the old one.
“Can I have it?” asked our youngest. No problem – except that we’d now have to move the bunk beds out of her room. These ended up in our lodger’s room, while her former bed is now in bits waiting to go to the charity shop. It felt like we lost a week of our lives dismantling and reconstructing beds (followed by dusting, hoove…

Juggling Hats by Adrianne Fitzpatrick

Some days I feel a lot like Bartholomew Cubbins with his 500 hats: I take one hat off and find another one in its place. We all have many hats: mother, father, employee, employer, writer, editor, taxi driver, friend … the list goes on. Juggling all those hats can feel overwhelming at times. My professional hats include writer, editor, photographer, student, publisher, proofreader, website designer and manager, teacher, ACW Events Organiser, and probably others that will come to me as soon as I hit publish on this blog post. No wonder I feel exhausted so much of the time! (Well, that and ME/CFS …) So what’s the secret to juggling so many hats? I wish I knew! But here are some of the things I’ve learned. What works for me may not work for you, so feel free to offer your own juggling tips in the comments below.
1. Organisation. I have all of my different projects listed on a To-do List – though I confess I don’t always look at it! Nevertheless, once something’s on the List, I can genera…

Where the words come from - by Helen Murray

I grew up in a house full of books and ours is just the same. My husband once calculated the shelf-space to keep up with the rate our library grew each year and I think that it won't be long before we no longer need wallpaper.  We have a Kindle as well, and they are useful, but (there had to be a ‘but’) I love books. Books are for sharing, lending, giving away - and you need shelves of books in order to run your finger along the spines, searching for the right book for the right time. You need the cover art, the smell of the pages, the way it nestles in your hand or on your lap. You can feel the weight and the width and know how much you have left to read; books are for tucking gently away on the shelf between two friends until next time.   
I thank God for the words in the books; every last one of them; the sweet and elegant and also the staccato and ugly. They work together, and every word has its place; each has meaning and value and all should be handled with care. In the righ…

Water Walking for Beginners by Marion Stroud

The Indalo Man

I've always been fascinated by the thought of God calling us to 'do life' differently, so I have a soft spot for Peter, and his attempts to walk on water. That's why, when I came across the Indalo man, emblem of the Almeria region of Spain, pictured as walking on water and holding a rainbow in his hands, I had to buy one. He sits on my desk  to remind me that, in the words of John Ortberg  'If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat."

 One of my ongoing water walking adventures began in the early 1990's when an unknown caller left a message on my Answerphone. “I’m a missionary in Bulgaria “she said “and I’ve been asked to start bible study groups for women. Someone told me that you might be able to suggest suitable material.”
Valerie was working with a group called Mission Possible. “Many women have come to faith recently” she said “In fact the congregations are 75% women in many churches. But this is a very patriarchal socie…

'I have the pen of a ready writer' by Ruth Johnson

'My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.'  Ps.45
Last year, through the worship song entitled “10,000 reasons for my heart to find (to bless the Lord)” I was inspired to count my blessings and on my blog wrote 10 blessings a day for 100 days = first 1,000!
In January I was reminded of the 1973 musical by Jamie Owens and Pat Boone entitled “Come Together” (in Jesus’ name) through which I met my husband.Choirs were formed throughout the UK to sing to local congregations with a sell out finale at Royal Albert Hall when all the singers came together.
The Doxology from that keeps stirring in me to sing: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below;Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost” On two occasions I burst forth in secular situations and the people around me clapped! It was equally astonishing, two weeks later when not having heard it sun…

Remember by Sue Russell

People sometimes tell me how lucky I am to have a good memory (so far.) It's not all luck: for example, at the age of 16 I decided to memorise my National Insurance number, and since then I have also committed to memory my bank account number and sort code. It saves rifling through your cluttered handbag or age-old files, only to emerge red-faced when you can't find the scrap of paper you know you wrote it on. Memorising things, such as chunks of Shakespeare, was something we did at school, especially if we are of a certain age. 'The quality of mercy...'
In the Old Testament the Israelites were repeatedly exhorted to remember, in particular God's mighty acts of deliverance. 'Make certain that you do not forget, as long as you live, what you have seen with your own eyes,' they are told in Deuteronomy 4. 'Search the past...the Lord has shown you this, to prove that he alone is God and that there is no other.' The psalms are also full of warnings not …

They also serve who only sit and write, by Veronica Zundel

One of the 'uses' of the Bible Paul lists in his second letter to Timothy is 'reproof'. And there are few better books for that than Amos. We're studying it at the moment in our home group, focusing  on the prophet's message both for his time, and for today. So inevitably, we are talking about the pressing social issues of our world, nation and community, which are remarkably similar to those of Amos' day. The unholy trinity of money, sex and power still do their usual work of corruption and oppression.

Being a church with a strong emphasis on peace and justice, we have several members who work in deprived areas, or for campaigning charities. However I suggested the other night that Amos was not actually an  activist: he didn't personally go out and  change  the abuses in his society.  Instead his job was to identify and proclaim what was wrong. His powerful words shamed others' behaviour, predicted what would come of it, and offered hope to those a…

Anticipation, birthing and creativity by Joy Lenton

Watching roses unfurl, I ponder on their fragile beauty.

A bloom which fades too soon. A tiny glimpse of glory.
A feast for the eyes coming at just the right time.
Winter-weary souls are made thirsty for colour, for life, for change.

Dark days and slow pace don't suit us all.
Word-weary writers have to sit out seasons where the flow is slow.
Seeking a deluge but only receiving a slight shower, a few drops and dribbles like tears on the page.
Pitter, pitter patter go our words Poured out fast or slow to the Universe Tentative chatter we can bring Heart offering A flow of creation against loneliness ©JoyLenton2015
No matter how they flow:haltering, faltering or poured out fast, our God-given words matter. 
Our heart offerings, given in love, by Holy Spirit inspiration and in expectant faith are waiting to be received ~ yes, imperfect as they may feel and be.
They impact the lives of others because they speak of our shared humanity, of pain and pleasure, of struggle and success, of fail…

Don't compare by Claire Musters

I have to be honest and say that comparing myself to others is something that I've done throughout my life. I find it hard to accept the gifts that God has placed within me without looking at others enviously.
As a writer, editor and musician the artistic temperament is definitely alive and well within me! I am grateful for how God has used me in the area of worship, but I am also very aware of my limitations – as well as those who are more talented. I have had to work hard to step out.
The same is true for my writing. I never set out to be a writer. I wanted to be a composer and, once I started my degree, that evolved into becoming an editor.
During my journey as an editor opportunities arose for writing and my first book came about when the publisher decided the manuscript they had been sent (which I was due to edit) was not what they had hoped for. I now regularly write magazine and online articles, Bible study notes and have four books under my writerly belt. 
But those ugly siste…