Monthly Musings: January

It’s a little late to be wishing you a Happy New Year, and yet this is my first post for 2016 so I’ll say it anyway. Happy New Year. I hope it’s been a good start for you, and that you’ve had opportunity to rest and relax over the summer break. I confess it feels a little odd to be reflecting when the year has only just begun and it seems that things are only just beginning to unfold and yet to fully emerge. Still, here are a few things to share from January. I hope to be posting more regularly over the coming months.

  • Christmas holidays were a wonderful time to catch up on sleep and a pile of books, but I also needed to get outside. I took a walk in one of my favourite places, the Mount Lofty Gardens, and reminded myself of the wonders of spending time in out in nature.

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens - walking trail-wmk


  • Thanks to a couple of handy YouTube tutorials I learnt how to crochet hearts, and spent an evening making a small pile of them. Once I got the hang of it they were quite simple and enjoyable to make.


  • I came across a wonderful quote on prayer from Richard Foster in his book Prayer: finding the heart’s true home. This is something I want to sit with and ponder for a while until it really sinks into my heart and not just my head.

Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love.

  • One of my favourite genres of fiction is historical mystery, and this month I finally read the first book in C. J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series. Dissolution is set in the context of the dissolution of Catholic monasteries in England during the reign of King Henry VIII. The history was every bit as fascinating (and frightening) as the mystery.


Distracted by … oh yes, Distractions

I have a confession. I get distracted. Easily. That may surprise some of you. I’ve never really noticed that about myself either until more recently, but it’s true.

At work there are emails, phone calls, requests for help or advice. I always seem to be switching from one thing to another. And I truly cannot focus on multiple things simultaneously (I hear you gasp – no, I am not one of those multi-tasking superwomen).  At home, I always seem to be hijacked by momentary distractions. One morning I emptied the kitchen bin, took the rubbish to the outside bin, came back inside, and some time later walked in to the kitchen to discover the cupboard door wide open, empty bin still sitting on the floor. Oops. As I write, there’s a load of clothes in the washing machine still waiting to be hung out.

Earlier, I took some folded clothes into the bedroom to put away. Oh look, what’s in that pile of books still waiting to be read? Oh wait, I’ve already read that one. And the next thing I know, I’m flipping through the pages again, checking out the sections I’ve underlined, remembering the things that spoke to me. Thinking that I’d really like to read it again, so the truths in its pages really sink in.


Speaking of books, I’ve lost count of the books I have that hold bookmarks, receipts and slips of paper to mark my place … before I got distracted. I even made a plan to read my Shelf of the Unread. I got part way through Dickens’ Little Dorrit … before I got distracted. Although if you’ve read it, or even just seen the book, I’m sure you understand how that could happen – it’s nearly 800 pages long. That was around March last year. I still haven’t finished it. Little Dorrit or the Shelf of the Unread. Now I have a whole new pile waiting for my attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I can also be very focused. When I’m engrossed in something, or am particularly intent on the outcome of an activity, I’m focused. And if I’m focused, if I’ve overcome the distractions that are just a subtle form of procrastination, I move towards the goal that’s in sight.

I wondered where this post was going, but then I’m reminded of Jesus. He had a goal in sight, and he didn’t allow himself to be distracted, to procrastinate over it, even though he knew what was coming. Knew the price he was to pay.

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)

Resolute. Jesus was determined. He moved with a fixed, firm purpose. No distractions. No deviation. And we are the beneficiaries of his sacrifice. We are the loved and the blessed.

Image: healingdream /

Shelf of the Unread

I have a shelf of unread books … actually if I lined up all the unread books I own I’m sure they’d need more than one shelf. Books I’ve bought over the years but have yet to open. Books that I’ve started but somehow never finished. (I’m sure you’ve finished every book you’ve ever started … mhmm.) Books that I’ve bought more recently; silently pleading for my attention.

This year I’ve decided that these books need an investment of my time, not just my money. I’m sure there’ll be other books I also read this year, but for each of the books I’ve selected from my Shelf of the Unread, I’ll post a review. I think this will be a challenging but achievable list. Let’s see how I do.

My selection of 12 books (one for each month) for 2012:

  • Lioness Arising: wake up and change your world by Lisa Bevere
    [Technically I’ve already read this book (over Christmas/New Year), but it had such an impact I’m about to read it again in conjunction with my journals (past and present).]
  • Men and Women in the Church: building consensus on Christian leadership by Sarah Sumner
  • Heart of Stone: my story by Hoa Van Stone
  • The Journey Home by Bill Bright
  • The Emotionally Healthy Church: a strategy for discipleship that actually changes lives by Peter Scazzero with Warren Bird
  • Winning with People by John C. Maxwell
  • Life with God by Richard Foster with Kathryn A. Helmers
  • The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds
    [This is the first book in a compilation volume of all E.M. Bounds’ works on prayer. I’m starting small, and if I get through any of the other books in the volume this year that will be a bonus. If not, there’s always 2013!]
  • A Call to Spiritual Reformation: priorities from Paul and his prayers by D. A. Carson
  • When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson

And for something a little different:

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

[I have War and Peace on the shelf too, but unless I find myself zooming through the list I think I’ll save that one for next year!]

I guess I’m committed now. It’s time to get reading.

What unread books do you have gathering dust? What books do you plan to read this year?

Image: healingdream /