Category Archives: faith

Top Ten Tuesday – My Spring TBR (March 14)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.’ I have so many books waiting to be read, that it might be hard to narrow it down to just 10, but I’ll try my best! I have started some of these, but I really need to get them read, nonetheless.

  1. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  4. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  5. Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
  6. Silence by Shusaku Endo
  7. Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe
  8. Grounded by Diana Butler Bass
  9. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  10. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

WWW Wednesday (March 8)

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I currently have the following five books on the go:

  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I have neglected this one lately, but I intend to get it finished soon.
  2. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This is the current book for the Renovaré Book Club and I will be reading it over the next couple of months or so.
  3. Lent With St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek. I haven’t read this one before, but it is the one I’m reading during Lent this year with my wife. It’s working out well so far.
  4. Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (various authors). This is one of my favourite books to read during the Season of Lent. It contains writing from many of my favourite authors and is one that I have enjoyed many times before.
  5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I have barely started this one, but I hope to read more of it next week during some time off we will be taking for March break.

Recently Finished:

brain campThe only book I finished this week was  Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks. It was a disappointing graphic novel that I borrowed from the library. It wasn’t awful, but I have read ones that I enjoyed a lot more. Fortunately, I was able to count it towards one of my reading challenges.

 

Up Next:

With all the books I currently have on the go, I haven’t really given much thought to what I’m going to read next. I have plenty to choose from, but I’ll see how the current reads go first.

WWW Wednesday (March 1)

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I have the following three books on the go at the moment:

  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I didn’t get any of this read during the last week, but I’m getting back to it now.
  2. Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (various authors). This is one of my favourite books to read during the Season of Lent. It contains writing from many of my favourite authors and is one that I have enjoyed many times before.
  3. Lent With St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek. I haven’t read this one before, but it is the one I’m reading during Lent this year with my wife.

Recently Finished:

I finished the following two books this week:

  1. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J.M. Nouwen. This was the second book for this year’s Renovaré Book Club. It was enjoyable being able to read it over an extended period of time, which gave the opportunity to reflect slowly over what was written.
  2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This book, along with nine others in the series, was sitting on my shelf unread for too long. It fit in well with one of the book challenges I have signed up for this year. I really enjoyed it and will hopefully get round to reading some of the other books in the series eventually.

Up Next:

I’ll be hopefully starting the following couple of books soon:

  1. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This is the next book for the Renovaré Book Club and I’m really looking forward to starting it soon.
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. My wife bought this for me at a book sale a few years ago, but it didn’t appeal to me at the time. She read it instead and then proceeded to read all the other books in the series. She’s told me for ages that I should give it a try, as I’d probably enjoy it. As it fits in with the theme for one of my book challenges, I now have a reason to try it.

Lent 2017

dscf0601With today being Ash Wednesday it means that we have now entered the Season of Lent. It is a period of 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Easter, and can be seen as a time of reflection and preparation. People observe Lent in may different ways and for a variety of reasons, but it is often seen as a time of giving up or self-denial, although it can also be seen as a time of taking things on. There are lots of resources available in print and online to help people on their journey through Lent. The above three books will be my companions on the journey this year.

The following quote (which I have shared on a number of occasions before) is something I read this morning and is from the introduction to Bread and Wine, one of the books pictured above:

First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)

Over the past week or so I have been reflecting on what I would do this year for my own personal observation of Lent. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with things. Previously I have given up things like coffee or meat, but neither of those are part my daily life anymore. After some prayer and consideration I came up with the following:

  • Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
  • Look for the positive in all situations and cultivate a better attitude of gratitude. I tend to be quite negative at times and I also am not always good at demonstrating my gratitude to people, especially in the daily small things that are done for me.
  • Get back to praying the Daily Office. This is something that I have been able to do our the years, but in a more sporadic fashion than I would have liked. I have plenty of resources to help me in this, so I really have little excuse for not being able to do this on a regular basis.

I’ll see how this all goes and, if I can, I may even post a few updates here.

How are you observing Lent this year? Feel free to leave a comment if you like.

Teaser Tuesday – Liturgy of the Ordinary (Feb 28)

tuesdayTeaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers for this week:

liturgy-of-the-ordinaryI’ve always loved food. I like to make it, to eat it, and to read and talk about it.

From page 62 of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren.

WWW Wednesday (Feb 22)

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I have the following three books on the go at the moment:

  1. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J.M. Nouwen. This is the second book for this year’s Renovaré Book Club. This is the final week for this book, so I should be finished it later in the week.
  2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This book, along with nine others in the series, has been sitting on my shelf unread for too long. It also fits in with the theme for one of my book challenges this month, so it’s a good opportunity to get it read. I’ve neglected it for a few days, so I should get back to it so that I can finish it and count it toward one of my challenges for February.
  3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I finally started this book and have really been enjoying it so far.

Recently Finished:

I finished the following two books this week:

  1. Han Solo (Star Wars Disney Canon Graphic Novel) by Marjorie M. Liu (Goodreads Author), Mark Brooks (Illustrations). This book, that I borrowed from the library, was a bit disappointing. The story just didn’t seem to live up to the character, Han Solo.
  2. The Marvels by Brian Selznick. This was a great book. It is a combination of pictures and words, and contains two separate stories that come together well in the end. If you’ve read any of his other books I highly recommend this one. Even if you haven’t then check out this one as well as his others!

Up Next:

liturgy-of-the-ordinaryLiturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This is the next book for the Renovaré Book Club and I’m really looking forward to starting it next week.

WWW Wednesday (Feb 15)

www-wednesdayI didn’t post a WWW last week as I had been sick for about a week and had barely done any reading, so it wouldn’t have been worth it. Now I’m well again and able to get back to this.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I have the following three books on the go at the moment:

  1. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J.M. Nouwen. This is the second book for this year’s Renovaré Book Club. I’m almost at the end of this one and I will be soon moving on to the next book the club has chosen.
  2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This book, along with nine others in the series, has been sitting on my shelf unread for too long. It also fits in with the theme for one of my book challenges this month, so it’s a good opportunity to get it read.
  3. Silence by Shūsaku Endō. This is another book that has been unread on my shelf for too long. With the movie out now, I need to read this before seeing it.

Recently Finished:

I finished the following three books (all which I borrowed from the library) since my last post:

  1. Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices by Kirstin Cronn-Mills. I read this towards one of my reading challenges. It was a fairly short read, but had plenty useful information on the subject, along with some personal stories.
  2. We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (artist). This was a fairly enjoyable graphic novel, set about 100 years into the future where the US has invaded Canada after an attack on the White House.
  3. The Last Message Received by Emily Trunko. This book was inspired by the Tumbl of the same name and is a collection of last messages received by people who contributed to the Tumblr. It was a moving and thoughtful book to read, leaving one to wonder about how life can be cut short at any moment and the things that we say (or fail to say) to those who are close to us.

Up Next:

stardustI’m still hoping to get to Neil Gaiman’s Stardust soon. It has been on my shelf for far too long a time, but other things keep getting in the way. Maybe I’ll read it during March break as we will be going away for a few days then.

Top Ten Tuesday – Unread (Jan 24)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘FREEBIE’, which means I can choose anything. I checked out the list of previous Top Tens and decided to go with ‘Top Ten Books on my Shelves tat Remain Unread.’ I buy a lot of books with good intention, but unfortunately there are some really good ones on my shelves that for some reason or another I haven’t got around to reading yet. By listing these ones here it may give me the inspiration to actually crack them open and get them read. We’ll see! In addition to this, one of the challenges I signed up for this year is The 2017 Mount TBR Challenge, which I’m also hoping will inspire to get some of these unread books read.

dscf0589

  1. Magnus – George Mackay Brown
  2. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
  3. A New Kind of Christianity – Brian McLaren
  4. The Living – Annie Dillard
  5. The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
  6. A Life of Jesus – Shusaku Endo
  7. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. In The First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  9. The Last Crossing – Guy Vanderhaeghe
  10. Heretics/Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton (I guess that this is technically two books, but it is still a volume that sits unread on my shelf)

Quite a few of these have bookmarks in them, which means that I did start them once upon a time, but for some reason I never got back to them. I’ll have to start them from the beginning again, as I can’t remember much about any of them. The Solzhenitsyn one seems the most daunting, whereas the Gaiman one looks like the easiest of the pile. I should choose one of them soon and get started. Check my Reading Challenges page for my progress, of which I hope there will be some at least.

The Year Ahead

tolkien-realityI’m not that big on resolutions, but I like to sit down at the start of the year and set a few personal goals for the year ahead. This is the first time for a few years that I’ve written a post about it, but in doing this it might help me to be more accountable and to actually follow through on them.

2016 was a roller-coaster of a year personally. There were some really great moments, but there were also some times I’d like to forget about. It’s all in the past now, so there’s no point in dwelling on any of it.

So, on to 2017. Here are some of the things I want to work towards:

My health – I had my 50th birthday last year, which hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Most of the time I don’t feel like 50, but there are some things that remind me, although quite often it is those around me who remind me. I have found it harder to keep off the weight in the past year, so one of my health goals is to make sure that I exercise regularly. To do this I’d like to go for a 20-30 minute walk each day. If this is not possible then at least 20-30 minutes on the Wii Fit, either in the morning or the evening. Some days I’d like to even do a combination of both, but I’ll settle for one or the other. The other part of my health I’d like to work more on is my food intake. Being a vegetarian you’d be tempted to think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am probably about 20lbs heavier than I need to be. So, I’m working on my food intake and looking at changing some of my eating habits. If I could cut out my evening snacking that would probably be half the battle. At some point I’d like to explore going vegan, but I’m still working through all that this would mean for me.

My family – I moved to Canada almost 23 years ago and in five years time I will have spent half of my life here. It’s not a move that I have ever regretted and life here has been pretty good for the most part. In many ways, I now see myself more as being Canadian than Scottish and would find it hard to ever move back again. One of the downsides of the move has been feeling gradually distanced over time from my family (and friends) on the other side of the Atlantic. I have to admit that I’m not always the best at keeping in touch, so some of the distancing has been my fault as well. I always enjoy my visits back ‘home’, although quite a few of them have been for funerals, which can be kind of bittersweet visits. My goal this year is to make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends overseas. When I first moved over here it was harder to keep in touch, but now with many different means of communication available it should be easier to do so. As well as family over there, I always need to remember that I have my family here as well, so I need to continue to find ways of spending as much quality time with them as well. Our oldest child will probably be heading to University after the summer this year, so we need to make the most of her time at home in the next few moths as well.

My spiritual life – this is an area I’m constantly working on, but I made some personal breakthroughs in 2016 that have helped me move forward in a number of ways. It’s a little personal to share here, but I have shared some of it with those who need to know. For some reason I have started to waken up at no later than 6am each morning, with no need for an alarm. I have started to use extra early time in the morning more wisely and most days I manage to spend 15-30 minutes then developing my spiritual life. Some of what were my core beliefs have been really challenged over the last year or so and this has been a good thing. I’m not as dogmatic in my beliefs as I used to be and I’m finding that my spiritual priorities continue to change for the good. One of the things I really want to try and fit into my schedule this year is a silent retreat of at least 3 days. I’m working on finding something like this that will work for me. Another thing I’d like to work on is a personal rule of life and I have gathered together some tools that will help me develop this.

My working life – for the last few years this has been quite frustrating for me. Most of the time I’m fine with what I do and where I am, but there are times when I’d prefer to be anywhere else doing whatever. Most people probably find this happening to them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do something about it. Conversations have taken place and I’ve put in writing some of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and so on, to those who need to know how I feel. I really can’t share here what this means, but am hoping that things become clearer in the year ahead.

My reading life – it would probably be an understatement for me to say that I really like books and reading. Last year, however, I really struggled with my reading and fell quite short of the goals I had set for myself. As I enter 2017 I’m feeling better about my reading. As I write this I’m still working on my reading goals for this year and am working out which reading challenges I want to sign up for. I’ve found a few that really interest me. Once I’ve worked this out I’ll add a tab at the top of this blog with links to the challenges I end up joining. I have a lot of books that I really want to finally get to this year, so I’m looking at challenges that can help me accomplish this. One thing I’d really like to do is to write more reviews of the books I read, even if some are only a paragraph or two.

Blogging – I started my first blog (Once Upon A Time In The North) in 2005 and have kept up some form of blogging ever since, although there have been time when I have posted very little. It’s something I enjoy doing, so I’d like to continue doing this in some form or other. My goal is to post more often, not for the sake of posting, but to try and make it more meaningful in some way or other. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes, but I hope I can keep it up.

Photography – I enjoy taking pictures, even if at times the results aren’t the best. Over the last few years I’ve tried to maintain a photography blog with varying results. I did manage to complete a 365 type blog for one year, but it became more of a chore than it was worth. I still like the idea of having some kind of photography blog, but I’ll never attempt a 365 again. Instead I’m working on something else that I have referred to one friend as a 365ish blog. Once I’ve worked it out I’ll add a link to it somewhere on this blog. Making sure I have a camera with me wherever I go would be a good start as I work all of this out.

So, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment. I have a lot of optimism as I move forward into 2017. If you got this far, then congratulations! I hadn’t intended for the post to be this long. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can accomplish any of my goals then feel free to make a comment here or drop me an email. I appreciate the input of others, so any input would be more than welcome.

Happy New Year and may 2017 be a good year for us all.

Top Ten Tuesday – 2016 Favourites (Dec 27)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Best Books Of 2016 (you choose — best books overall of what you read regardless of pub date, of a particular genre, 2016 debuts, 2016 releases, etc)’ I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped to this year, but the following 10 were the ones I enjoyed the most:

  1. Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship – Trevor Hudson. I have almost finished this one, so it qualifies as one of the best I read this year. I read it as part of the 2016/17 Renovaré Book Club.
  2. Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt. Very funny and different. It’s just a shame that deWitt doesn’t bring out books more often, but I guess it makes it worth the wait for his next one.
  3. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All – Jonas Jonasson. Another hilarious read from Jonasson. I love his characters and the way he weaves their stories together.
  4. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair – Anne Lamott. I always enjoy reading her books and this one was no exception.
  5. Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    – Rob Bell. This was a re-read, but it was worth it once more. It is probably my favourite book of his.
  6. A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro. Being a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I have to admit I had my doubts about reading this one, being that the main character, Charlotte Holmes, was purported to be the great-great-great granddaughter of the famous fictional detective. However, my doubts were dispelled and it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable read after all.
  7. The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro. It took me a while to get into this one, but I persevered and the effort was worth it.
  8. The Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire. This was probably the best of the graphic novels that I read this year.
  9. Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life – Henri J.M. Nouwen. This was the best meditative book I read this year and I found it very helpful at the time I read it.
  10. My Very Best Friend – Cathy Lamb. I read this one out of curiosity, as it was from a genre I don’t normally read. I was pleasantly surprised by it and it was a very funny and, at times, moving read. Sometimes it is good to try something different.

I’m hoping to get through more books in 2017 than I did in 2016 and am contemplating a reading challenge that might help me achieve this. Whatever happens, I know I’ll have fun trying.

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