Tag Archives: acceptance

Book Review: The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman

The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman was reccommended to me by someone else who suffers from chronic illness.  It is unusual to find a book that comes at ‘living with’ from a faith perspective, so I thought I would give it a go.

This post will review it, at some point I may write reflecting on what it says to me where I am.

Emily writes this book from her own perspective and experience of being a doctor before illness put an end to her professional career, so she writes with true understanding.  It is based, if you hadn’t guessed from the title (and I hadn’t – that’s how much brain fog I have!) around the story of Joseph – he of the Technicolour Dreamcoat fame, and the losses he had to face in his life.

There are chapters about a wide range of issues involved in facing life-changing issues.  Chapters range from working out how to get the rest that you need, family issues, work, church and faith, and a final one on facing terminal illness.  At all points practical, emotional and spiritual challenges are tackled.  The sub-title is ‘And Other Ways to Fight Back Against Life-Changing Illness’ and that is essentially what it is, a book to face the reality of where you are and perhaps find a (better) way to live with that.

The book is written with a very jaunty appearance.  An easy to read font, nice arty squiggles and some cartoons – which are very funny!  Each chapter is broken down into manageable chunks if that is all you can manage.  It is interspersed with helpful bible passages and at the end of each chapter there is a ‘For Reflection’ section, with questions to help you do just that.  Each chapter then concludes with some witty and poignant quotes.

But for all it’s jolly appearance, The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy is not an ‘easy read’.  Much of what it says is profound, and I had to keep stopping, sometimes for days, to let it sink in and work out what that meant for me.  The Reflective questions were particularly helpful with this.  This is not a book to jolly you along, or I didn’t find it so, but a book to make you really stop and think at where you are with your illness and it’s effect on your life.

Much of this book was very helpful.  However, I did find some of it a bit simplistic, for example regular comment is made on ‘choosing’ to think or behave differently.  If only it were that simple, I wouldn’t need to be reading this book!  Perhaps that’s something I need to work on… Or the comment that, “every believer will be useful in heaven” (p186), the kind of comment that I find really unhelpful, but it may be just what someone else needs to know.

I was also slightly disturbed by Chapter 11 on Healing, where I read a suggestion that sin can be the cause of our illness, or illness used as a discipline.  This is certainly not my theology.

However, it is always good for a book to have parts that bring you up short and think, ‘do I believe that?’ ‘What do I believe?’  And I was delighted to discover someone with the same analogy as mine of Sweeping Things Under the Carpet!

So, all in all, if you are looking for something to help you learn to ‘live with’ and even live well with this a useful book.  It will offer you practical advice as well as challenge attitudes.  It is going to keep me thinking for a while…

Thank you Emily for writing it.

All Family Here

wanting to reject
what is said,
control what is done,

working together
following God’s way.

I know which is your way Lord,
yet so often,
we your people fail.

Forgive me
when I choose disunity
over love and care,
give me your strength
and will
to do it
your way.
That we may be part of your family

Mark 3:20-35 (CEV)

Jesus and the Ruler of Demons

20 Jesus went back home, and once again such a large crowd gathered that there was no chance even to eat. 21 When Jesus’ family heard what he was doing, they thought he was crazy and went to get him under control.

22 Some teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem and said, “This man is under the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons! He is even forcing out demons with the help of Beelzebul.”

23 Jesus told the people to gather around him. Then he spoke to them in riddles and said:

How can Satan force himself out? 24 A nation whose people fight each other won’t last very long. 25 And a family that fights won’t last long either. 26 So if Satan fights against himself, that will be the end of him.

27 How can anyone break into the house of a strong man and steal his things, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can take everything.

28 I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. 29 But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.

30 Jesus said this because the people were saying that he had an evil spirit in him.

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31 Jesus’ mother and brothers came and stood outside. Then they sent someone with a message for him to come out to them. 32 The crowd that was sitting around Jesus told him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside and want to see you.”

33 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at the people sitting around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 Anyone who obeys God is my brother or sister or mother.”

Let there be Love

Book Review: Dancing With God by Irene Alexander from @SPCKPublishing

Ringelreihen by Franz Stuck

For some reason, people find it hard to believe that I had dancing lessons as a young girl 🙂 But I did – both ballet and tap, and though I can dance no more, the love stays with me.

So, I like both the idea conjured up by dancing with God and the description of Dancing With God on the SPCK Website.

Dancing with God is a book that made me think ‘Why didn’t someone tell me this years ago’?  (Well, maybe they did and I wasn’t hearing it!)

The book focusses on finding true freedom, that we can dance with God – “learning grace, accepting brokenness and self-forgiveness”.  Whilst “becoming aware of what hinders our progress: Judgement, self-criticism, shame and seeking others approval” (from the blurb).  It does indeed do what it says on the tin.

The message is interspersed with creative retellings of bible stories.  These stand out and give a way into the insights of the book.  For me, they achieve the authors aim of getting to and opening up feelings and emotions.

Initially I thought all Irene Alexander has to say is good theory, but where are the practical ways to attain this?   But as the book went on, they unfolded – they are not so much practical ways, but ways we could encounter God more deeply – and meet the depths of his love.  It’s between you and God.

The other question that was being raised in my mind, especially in the first half of the book was, ‘What if you’re living this broken and exposed spirituality, but others aren’t?’  Does it matter that they have the potential to break you more?  But I came to the point that actually, I guess not, if that’s where you are, but it can be difficult to live amongst people you don’t trust.  It is a challenge to be the only/first one living this way.  But vulnerability is the point!

I was not so sure about some of the comments on depression, that seem to suggest it can be solved by “getting the anger out”.  They made me feel quite uncomfortable that was a simplistic understanding and solution.  Maybe others who have lived with depression may have a view on that?

For me, the main message of this book, and the difference with lots of books, is it’s not necessarily about changing ourselves; it is much more about learning to live with ourselves – shadow side and all. “embracing shadow is only way to become whole”  (p112).  Learning to live with the authentic me, not living with paradigm of evaluation.  Then we can also accept and respect others as they are.

This is a message that needs to be heard…  We don’t need to be “keeping up with the Jones” or even living up to some projected image of perfection, self-imposed or otherwise – Jesus has done away with that kind of measuring stick.  It’s no longer about what we have and haven’t done, just that we are.

The reality is: learning the steps may be easy – perfecting the dance may take a lifetime.

All in all this is an interesting and very helpful book.  Now to live it out and learn to dance with God in a way that I can’t dance in physical reality.

I’m aware I’ve very much read this through my own personal lens – but then I picked the book because I thought it might have something to say to where I’m at…