Recommended books for you

Well, 2020 is fading but the sighs of relief are tinged with anxiety. What will 2021 bring? Well, on the bright side, just in case you find yourself isolated from the rest of the world for any amount of time, here are some book recommendations:

Spiritual Enrichment

The Next Right Thing: a Simple Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman is a book full of practical help on decision-making. Enjoy Freeman’s humorous and deep perspective, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Anxiety Interrupted: Invite God’s Peace into Your Questions, Doubts, and Fears by Rachael Dymski inspires readers to ponder who God created them to be, not just in spite of anxiety, but with anxiety problems woven into their story. This book gives a hopeful look at life with all its uncertainties. 

Gold by Moonlight: Sensitive Lessons from a Walk with Pain by Amy Carmichael is a beautiful book. At times, it can be poetic and hard to follow unless you’re engaged. Then suddenly, a thought punches you in the gut with stunning reflection of your own life. Best advice: DON’T SPEED READ THIS ONE. Why? Because it’s worth your time.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest, is a call to worship, even in the ordinary things of our everyday lives. The writing is poetic but practical, powerful but flavorful.

White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker is an outstanding look at white privilege and racism. It is the kind of look that leaves you with hope rather than the suffocating knowledge of an unchangeable world.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller is an excellent read. As usual, Keller does quite a bit of stomping on toes, but he never presents a sin issue without also presenting the Help for the solution.

Memoir / Non-Fiction

For the Glory: The Untold and Inspiring Story of Eric Liddell, Hero of Chariots of Fire by Duncan Hamilton is an awing and at times horrifying read of the life of Eric Liddell, a man we think of as a runner, an Olympic gold medalist, but who was so much more.

The Spy Wore Red by Aline Countess of Romanones is a story of a female spy during World War II. It’s set mostly in Spain, which, of course, makes it that much more interesting! Note that this is a read that transports the reader to another world. Also note the presence of some strong language.

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is for history lovers. It is a history of the Revolution that goes far beyond the Battle of Bunker Hill and Nathan Hale. That said, it’s not an overwhelming read, nor for all it’s factualness is it one bit boring.

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride is an excellent read and a beautiful tribute. The two stories of mother and son are woven into one hopeful journey. Be prepared to be moved.

Fiction

(Oops! Not a lot in this category this time!)

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is an engaging novel about a middle-aged professional woman facing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Warning: you will feel like you need a diagnosis by the time you’re done with this one!

Finally in Granada

“It’s just so close. I want to see some of the cities that are farther away now because I know I’ll see Granada some day.”

That’s what I said until someone told me that I was being so pokey that I probably would never see Granada after all.

He was right, I realized. And when I realized it, I organized a group of Granada-bound ladies. (“Organized,” as in, “sent out a message in a whatsapp group chat.”)

And we went! Granada is subject to higher temperature extremes than the coast. So we bundled up in scarves and gloves and inch-thick socks, printed off our Alhambra tickets, and started out far too early one Wednesday morning.

Below are photos from the Alhambra, the Cathedral of Granada, and on the streets of Granada.

(Disclaimer: I realize that my pictures look like every other tourist’s pictures of Granada… except maybe lesser quality. We were standing outside the Alhambra and I snapped a picture on my Canon, only to discover that my SD card was still stashed in my laptop’s card reader at home. So I hauled around a pointless camera all day and took sub-par pictures on my phone. Lesson learned, I hope.)

Oh, the people you meet

A short two-day trip to a land not so far away yielded a wealth of interactions and acquaintances that made it hard to leave. Oh, the people you meet!

  • A fellow passenger in a grand taxi, who spoke to me only a few minutes before inviting my roommate and me to her niece’s evening wedding.
  • A lady passing by on the street who helped us pound on the locked riad door and stuck with us until the owner and his maid came back from the market.
  • The riad owner with a surprisingly Western perspective and his maid who loved engaging in deep conversation about cross-cultural marriage and religion. But just when I thought I was making an excellent point, the owner leaned back in his chair, grinned, and said that if he had met me 24 years ago, he would have married me. The maid, an adorable but hopeless romantic, kept returning to the cross-cultural marriage part of the conversation.
  • A young lady who seemed to know everyone in town and was delighted to take us around to her favorite places…and even fish out a party invitation for us (which we turned down). But before we parted, she took us to a crumbling café for evening tea above the sea. There, she told us about her life. At the end of her story she shrugged away any traces of self-pity, smiled, and said, “Well, what are we going to do? Praise God.”
  • An old gentleman who led me to a store to buy water, waited for me, and led me back. He escaped before I could thank him.
  • A taxi driver who took us to an ancient ruins sight and then meekly offered his phone number in case we couldn’t find a taxi back into town.
  • Our guide at the ruins who led us through the layers of sights on the hillside. But he stayed far ahead of us to not disturb our sight-seeing. And he topped off his hospitality by calling the taxi driver to return for us (thus saving me a phone call in Arabic).
  • Our guide at the music conservatory who didn’t seem to mind that class was in session as he banged around on a piano in the courtyard… and then tried to get us to show off as well. He made my heart swell in hollow pride when he mistook me for a local.
  • The owner of a souvenir shop who seemed sincere in his beliefs, but wanting to listen as much as explain.
  • A family on the train who knew how to enjoy each other and the people around them. What fun to be a part of their lives for that ride. And before they got off at their stop, the father found us seats with other women so we wouldn’t have to travel alone in our cabin.

Refugee

Specially selected Friend,
Can you find a way to live?
To take advantage of every day
and be the first to make a home
inspired by your history?
To dare to dream of beauty?
To save your child- your perfect baby-
and to offer the gift of security?
Can you manage
to live better next year?
And is there a way to forget
this black adventure?

This is a work of appropriation (the art of intentionally altering or borrowing words from a pre-existing source). Pre-existing source: a department store’s Black Friday website page.


Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash