Jo Acharya | January 19, 2022
If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram you’ll know that my book Refresh was released at last on January 5th! You can buy it from all the usual places, including Amazon, Eden and Waterstones. And of course you can still buy signed copies directly from us in our store, which will come with a free Valley of Springs bookmark.
To celebrate the release of ‘Refresh’ I’ve been touring the blogs of some other authors and bloggers, so here is a quick roundup if you missed it.
Interview with Penelope Swithinbank
Penelope is a spiritual director and author, whose latest book Scent of Water is a collection of comforting devotions for times of grief. Her interview with me covers the story behind Refresh and what helps me with my own spiritual wellness. Read it here.
Guest Post for Liz Carter: ‘Despair to Hope’
Liz Carter is the author of Catching Contentment, an exploration of what it means to be content in times of suffering, and more recently Treasure in Dark Places, a book of poetry written during lockdown. Like me, Liz lives with a chronic lung disease and was kind enough to endorse Refresh. My guest post for her tells about my own experience of bringing painful feelings to God, one of the subjects we explore in Refresh. Here is the beginning:
“Lord, you’ve let me down,” I said out loud through my tears.
I was standing in my bedroom at the end of a long day. My lungs were struggling once again, and two courses of antibiotics had failed to shift the latest infection. I knew that a hospital admission was just around the corner. Yet again I would be ripped out of my normal life and all my plans for the next few weeks would go up in smoke. Yet again I’d prayed and prayed, and it had done no good.
I have cystic fibrosis. Lung infections and hospital stays are par for the course. But I’ve never really managed to get used to it. It knocks me off balance every time.
As I stood sobbing in my bedroom, I immediately thought: That was too far. I shouldn’t have said that. I’d been a Christian long enough to know that God hadn’t let me down at all. He had given me so many blessings that I didn’t deserve. And he had never promised that life would be easy. I was here to serve him, not the other way round. I had no right to be angry.
We often tread this path, don’t we? We who know our Bibles well, who hold on tight to God and his goodness. In times of trial we so quickly turn on ourselves like Job’s friends. We chastise ourselves for the theological inaccuracies in our cries to God. We trample over our emotions with corrective statements about the truth. We chide ourselves that he is sovereign, and we are dust.
Interview with Rev. David Faulkner
David Faulkner is a Methodist minister in the Wey Valley. His interview covered everything from my decision to use Dan’s photos in the book, to its possible benefits for people struggling with their mental health. Read it here.
Review by Fay Rowland
Fay is the author of several books, including devotionals, books of drama sketches and her latest, So You’ve Finished Writing. Now What?, a guide to editing and publishing for first-time authors. Fay titled her review ‘Spa Days for the Soul’ and said that Refresh ‘would make an attractive gift book (or a treat for yourself) and gives you permission to curl up in God’s loving care. Read it here.
Guest Post for Claire Musters: Jesus’s Humanness
Claire is an author, editor and speaker who gave me valuable advice on publishing options for Refresh. Of her many books, the most recent is ‘Grace-Filled Marriage’, written with her husband Steve, which is a helpful and honest look at what a godly marriage can look like through the ups and downs of life. My guest post for her focuses on how the amazing down to earth humanity of Jesus gives dignity to our own – another topic we discuss in Refresh. Here is the beginning:
She moves lightly around the small room. The baby she holds against her shoulder is whimpering, and she talks to him in a lyrical voice as she pats his back. Eventually the child lets out a small burp, and she brings him round to face her. She smiles, cradling his head in one hand while she wipes the milky mixture from his tiny mouth with the other. And then she kisses his forehead and begins to sing, a version of the song that first flowed from her lips in the early days of her pregnancy: “My soul magnifies the Lord…”
We could imagine many more vignettes like this. Perhaps Jesus’ legs repeatedly giving way when he first tries to stand as a toddler, or mispronouncing difficult letters in his early words. Perhaps Joseph teaching him to cut straight pieces of wood with a saw or Mary showing him how to knead bread. We might picture Jesus diligently memorising passages of scripture as a boy, or laughing and eating with his friends as an adult.
In a way these scenes are easy to imagine because we’ve seen them a hundred times. This is the everyday stuff of human life. But thinking of Jesus this way can be mind-blowing. That God himself chose to enter fully into this human life, even confining himself to a physical human body, is one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith. That he came to us as a helpless newborn baby, totally reliant on an inexperienced young woman to keep him alive and clean and well-fed, is even more remarkable.
The blog tour may be over, but life goes on! Next Wednesday (26th Jan) I’ll be interviewed by another writer and poet, Sabinah Adewole, for her New Author series on Instagram Live. Tune in at instagram.com/sabinah_a at 7.30pm to watch our discussion.
And I also have another guest post coming up in February, this time for Amy Boucher Pye. Watch this space! And join our email list below to stay up to date with all our latest news.