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This Month I’m reading …

Embracing the Body: Finding

God in Our Flesh and Bone Tara M Owens (IVP, ISBN 978-0830835935)

The clock read 3.15 am. I swallowed, tasting the tinny residue left from the antibiotics I was taking for a lingering chest infection. My stomach rumbled. My mind refused to switch off as I mulled over future events. After a half-hour of tossing, I moved to the guest room, not wanting to disturb my husband. As I picked up Embracing the Body with its exploration of God in our bodies, I thought: “This is an enacted parable. Here I am trying to sleep, knowing tomorrow will be hard as I’ll be tired and cranky, and yet I haven’t tuned into what my wakeful body is telling me. I’m reading about embracing our bodies and yet my body is keeping me awake.” Tara Owens has given us a lasting gift through her book, which was many

years in the percolating and making. Indeed, hers is a book I didn’t know we needed, and yet it should be required reading for the Body of Christ. For we are all blood and sinew; fat and muscle; synapses and fluid and flesh. But in the church, we so often gloss over our bodies, out of fear or complacency. We elevate the spiritual to our detriment, believing that because of the fall of humanity, now our bodies are irrevocably fallen too. In Embracing the Body, Tara gently says no, pointing to a healthier way. A

spiritual director, she calls us to discern “which bodily experiences lead us toward God and which lead us away” (p.89). Making a list of dos and don’ts might seem easier in the face of the power of our appetites and desires, but such rules can cut us off from grace and healing. Such as the exercise Tara led in which the participants communicated about their day only through their hands, and through touching the hands of the one with whom they were paired. One woman grew more and more angry and uncomfortable, memories of

the sexual abuse she’d suffered popping to the surface. She completed the exercise but burst out with rage against Tara. Only after a week of wrestling with God and praying with her husband did she understand that she had closed herself off to any and all touch outside of marriage, whether hugs of greeting or a friend’s hand on her shoulder. Though the exercise had been painful, she realised afterwards that God allowed it to break her rigid categories and to move into another stage of healing. Do read Embracing the Body, but take your time to read it slowly; even

better would be to read it with a group of friends, engaging with the fine body/spirit exercises at the end of each chapter. One to savour; one to be changed by.

48 October 2015 womanalive

Weaving Through The Years Linda Sawley, (Linric, 2012)

This novel cleverly weaves the story of two women, connected by blood, in different centuries. It’s set in the weaving mills of Lancashire during the Victorian era, yet starts with a 21st century young woman discovering a family Bible and deciding to trace her ancestors.

The novel makes compelling reading and paints an accurate picture of the social and economic history of the time. It’s a story of a family with Christian values and traditions, who experience problems associated with large families, wars and poverty, and the struggle of women to make their mark in society. Many of the difficulties are still apparent today and reflection of both the present and past will make the reader realise that prayer for the family is still just as important. Jean Worswick

Founder’s Tide CP Lewis (Legacy, 2011)

A novel with spiritual warfare as its theme. It is the story of a young American who comes to college in England. The story unfolds on both sides of the Atlantic, as dark spiritual forces gather to do battle. We see how angels protect us and fight on our behalf in ways we find it hard to imagine. As evil forces are at work within the church as well as in the world, we wonder how events will unfold and whether God’s will is going to prevail, or whether it will be thwarted by the demons as they make their plans to sabotage the life of the local church as well as the college. Anne Shakeshaft

Heaven is for Real Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (Tyndale, 2010)

Colton is a young boy, son of an American pastor. The pastor has gone through a number of trials and then, when he thinks things can’t get any worse, his son becomes increasingly ill. He has an operation for an erupted appendix. As the months pass after the operation, Colton’s conversation often reflects back to a time he had spent in heaven. The images that he used, the people he met, the things he saw are truly inspiring and totally biblical.

This book has helped me think more about heaven and have some of my questions answered. This is a very honest and heart-wrenching account. Well worth a read. Sarah Evans

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