So excited! I have a shiny new camera - it is ruby red and is a real upgrade on my old one. I just want to get outside and practice, practice, practice until I know how to use all the features and how to take really good photographs.
I love the zoom on it and how I can focus in on the tiniest details. I'm afraid you will all probably have to put up with a few more photographs here!
This week I have read chapter one of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The description of her sister's death was quite upsetting. Ann uses a lot of emotive language which draws you in. This first chapter is mostly an introduction to Ann, her life and what the purpose of the book is.
Questions from the study guide.
1, Ann means “full of grace”; Aimee means “loved one.” Do you know the meaning of your name? If so, what significance does it have for you? If you don’t know your name’s meaning, what do you know about why your name was chosen for you?
My name means white wave or fair one. It is, I think, Gaelic in origin and is a variant of the name Guinevere. I quite like my name, I like that it can be shortened and I think that I will grow in to the "full" version! My name was chosen for me by my mother before I was born. She read a few baby name books and liked the meaning of Jennifer.
2. “If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no” (p.16). What do you think Ann means by this? has this ever been true for you? If you feel comfortable doing so, describe the experience.
I think Ann means that it is easy to say that you are a Christian and to appear to be a Christian on the surface but it is much harder to accept the changes that must be made and to make a true commitment live by the guidelines set by Jesus.
There was a time when this was true for me. It was early on when I first became a Christian. I hadn't really accepted that I would have to change or how hard it would be to try to live up to such Godly standards. I went through a phase of saying the right things but not being totally committed in my heart. To be honest, change scared me. I could have carried on living my life as I was, which wasn't a bad way but there were some grey areas, or I could take that step and accept that changes were needed. This was scary to me as if I stayed the same there wasn't really much risk but if I chose to accept the challenge there was a chance that I could fail.
3. During their forty years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites survived on a daily diet of manna (exodus 16). It is a baffling substance whose name literally means, “What is it?” — but they eat it, are nourished by it, and even seem to like the taste (p. 22). the author makes a connection between manna and the troubling mysteries of our own lives. how do you respond to the idea that our questions and the things we don’t yet understand may actually be sources of spiritual nourishment? What do you think it might mean, in practical terms, to “eat the mystery”?
When I was younger I liked to know all the answers and to have everything in a set box - neat, tidy and organised! As I have grown up I have learnt that I don't always have to know everything. In fact, that obsession with always knowing the whys and wherefores was just a form of controlling behaviour. Giving up on that control was actually quite refreshing! Now, I can be contented without knowing everything and sometimes the mysteries make life more interesting. It is a reminder that I don't control the world. A reminder to trust in God and His plan for me rather than trying to force life to speed up or slow down to suit me. I think that "eating the mystery" is more of an acceptance of God's plans and knowing that you don't always know why something happens but trusting that it is for the best.
4. Ann describes how the death of her sister “tears a hole in the canvas of the world” (p. 16) and later writes, “I wonder ... if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop ... might actually become places to see. to see through to God” (p. 22). Is this a metaphor you find intriguing, comforting, or disturbing? how do you understand it in light of your own experiences of loss?
I find the metaphor intriguing. It isn't something that I have ever really thought about before but it is interesting. It is almost like we need something to tear us away from the every day happenings that I certainly get wrapped up in. Something to stop us and make us think and truly look to God.
I think it is easy to become wrapped up in grief to the point where you don't see the people and the world around you and it feels like God has abandoned you. That ache in your heart and soul becomes all encompassing and it takes a lot of work to get past that.
5. the author’s narrative is rich with vivid phrasing and evocative imagery. What lines or descriptions stand out for you? Why do you find them to be powerful?
I found that the writing style took a bit of getting used to. The combination of a lot of description and some very short sentences isn't really common in books that I have read and the way the writing is set out makes it almost look like a poem.
The section about grief affecting how one perceives God was the part that stood out the most to me. There is a choice whether to open up more to God and to accept the risk of trying to like life fully and to experience all the emotions completely or to stay safe and closed off from both the negative and the positive parts of life.
Overall, this first chapter was interesting and did make me think. I am looking forward to the rest of the book.
Trees are so fascinating to me, especially when I am stood beneath one looking up through the branches.
I love the colours of the leaves which ranged from the bright, fresh green of the leaf buds and new growth, though copper and red to scarlet. It would be amazing to see this tree in Autumn as the leaves change colour and start to fall.
I think the tree would look majestic in Winter too, both with snowy branches and with leafless boughs standing out against the blue sky behind.
Looking up and seeing the leaf canopy lit by the sun! The sunlight streams through the leaves to give an almost stained glass effect and the branches are dark in contrast.
I love the twisting, turning branches in this one. The bark was quite smooth and cool to touch and so much shade was provided on a warm and sunny day. The tree was big enough to almost give a forest feel all by itself.
I am linking up with Amber over at homemaker by choice to read a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. So excited! It sounds so interesting and it is just the perfect time for me to do this book study. The cover of the book says "a dare to live fully right where you are" which is something I need to learn rather than focusing on the future or dwelling in the past. Living in the present!
There is also a study guide with questions to make you think deeper about the book. The plan is to read one chapter per week and to blog about what you have learnt and the questions from the study guide and then link up on a Friday on Amber's blog.
I do love book studies! I will be taking part in this one along side the ongoing Facebook based study of Beautiful in God's Eyes by Elizabeth George. Hopefully the two books will complement each other! Beautiful in God's Eyes is amazing and we are only up to chapter five!
You are all welcome to join. I have a feeling that this will be a life changing book. Just pop over to the homemaker by choice blog and follow along with the programme.
I love old buildings! I have always enjoyed wandering around looking at the architecture and just enjoying the atmosphere. It is even more enjoyable now that I have a camera! Here are a few photographs from a recent visit to a church.
Looking up at the church. Playing with angles while trying not to fall backwards off the steps! I love that the church is so imposingly built and yet is welcoming. I really wanted to go inside and wasn't intimidated as the structure isn't cold or clinical.
I wonder what the old stones know and what prayers they have heard over the years. All those whispered and fervent prayers over hundreds of years! Faith, hope, sorrow and joy will all have been expressed in the church and somehow you can feel it. Even with other people walking around there is a feeling of calmness and peace.
Another angle shot! This time taken from the road while trying to dodge cars as there was quite a high wall around the church grounds.
I love that even the ceiling is decorated! This one is blue with stars and others are carved stone and one section even has painted faces on it.
Looking down the centre of the church. What a lovely focal point the window makes! The carved stone walls and columns really lead your eye.
I love stained glass windows and tried to get a few photographs of them. A couple came out but it was a very sunny day so most had too much light and the detail and colour was lost.
I could spend hours in and around churches. In this church I felt that I could sit for as long as I wanted and not feel rushed. It was a lovely calm time in the middle of quite a busy and stressful week. The peaceful and settled feeling carried with me all through the day!
Thank you to everyone that entered! It has been so exciting for me and I am so grateful that you have all helped my first giveaway go so well. 50 comments - wow! More than I expected and a nice even number too.
I used the random number generator to pick the winning comment. With my eyes shut! It is almost more exciting to host a giveaway than to enter one!
The winner is .....
comment 23 - Kathleen!
Please contact me to arrange delivery.
The books just need to be parcelled up and then they are ready to go! I hope you love them and find them useful.
Thank you so much to everyone that entered - I just wish I had a book for each of you!
I had such a lovely birthday! It was warm and sunny all day and it was so nice to have a day to just relax.
I love how well my family and friends know me! I adore all my presents - I am such a lucky girl and feel so blessed, not just by the gifts but also, by the sweet messages in my birthday cards. Some were so touching that I got quite emotional reading them. It seems like you can see someone every day and really appreciate them but never mention it so I made sure that I thanked everyone who had made an effort to make my birthday that bit more special.
I was excited to open a present containing the household organiser and recipe book - so cute!! Yankee Candles are my absolute favourites and the 4 baby ones shown are all floral and garden type scents which is fab as most of those that I already have are sugary and food scents. Plus Tangled - loved that film when I saw it at the cinema.
Shockingly, I was also given a lot of books! Reading is such a pleasure to me and it has been for as long as I can remember. I have books everywhere - I even usually have one in my handbag. I go through phases with my book choices. Recently I read lots of the classics again but now it is mostly Amish fiction. Generally when I read a book I like to read about the background so when I read Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer I also read books on society, fashion and even foods from that era. I am doing the same while reading Amish fiction too as I have read a couple of fact based books on Amish culture. Love Ellis too! Such a gorgeous teddy bear! He is a Charlie Bear so he has soft fur and is fully jointed - so sweet and huggable!
I adore the foxgloves in my garden! They are beautiful especially up close with their almost leopard print interiors. They are striking from a distance too, rising above the other flowers in the garden. They look so elegant while shifting and swaying in the breeze. They are what I consider a traditional English country garden flower.
I have pink foxgloves in the garden but there is also a white variety which is stunning with snowy white petals and deep purple speckles. I love the contrast in both! It amazes me to see just how much beauty there is in the world even in the tiniest details.
Can you tell that I have figured out how to do close ups on my camera? I love the dappled centre of the flowers and am so excited that the photograph shows this clearly as well as the touch of fur on the very edge of the petals. Some how, since I have started taking photographs, I seem to notice little details more than ever.
With the flowers of the foxglove being quite spaced out along the stem they don't block the view of the flowers behind them. They look quite fragile, like the flowers are just balanced there, but they can cope with quite strong winds and bend with the breeze rather than snapping. I think there is a lesson in there somewhere!
There is actually a bee in one of the flowers in the photograph above but it was too fast for me! By the time I managed to take a photograph the bee was either too deep in the flower to be seen or had flown away. I think I need a smaller flower or a bigger bee!