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Forgetful Heart
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2014
I took this book with me when I went on a retreat recently – and was so pleased I had done so, as I found it incredibly helpful. Lucy looks at the importance of remembering God in a world where there are so many other things clamouring for our attention. She is a gifted wordsmith, and the book is easy to read. The four sections look at different aspects of remembering, and the many helpful scriptural references are balanced by contemporary anecdotes – Lucy is honest about her own struggles, and full of encouragements [she says she doesn’t want to leave the reader ‘awash with guilt’!] Each chapter ends with an optional ‘reflection exercise’ – I opted to do those ‘properly’ with a pen, Bible and notebook. They did not take too long, and I felt they really enabled me to assimilate the lessons I was learning. Mind you, I think my husband was concerned, when he phoned to see how I was getting on, and I told him I had just written my obituary!
In an age where so much is on screen, information is conveyed in txt spk, with emoticons, and where relationships are often trivial facebook comments, this book reminds us that in the beginning was The Word, Logos. Lucy brings us back to the awesome creator God who made us and loves us. She shows how He always remembers us – and gives many ways to help us truly remember Him. Her ideas are manageable, workable ones, born out of her own experience, and worth trying out. I was fortunate to have space to read this right through in three days – but most people won’t have that. Please don’t say “I am too busy” – read a chapter [or half] each day and you will soon find that you want to be making more space for remembering Him. This book made me smile, pray, weep and laugh out loud – but best of all, it deepened my relationship with God. Go buy it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2014
When I picked up this book, several themes resonated with me as I recognised that in the midst of busy family life and caught up in the digital age, so many distractions and responsibilities vie for my attention. The author writes several punchy points early on, after which I then wondered if every relevant point had already been made and how on earth this book could continue for another 16 chapters! But then Lucy delves into the Psalms and the Old Testament, exploring Israel's journey and highlighting so many instances of forgetfulness, memory and remembrance. She thoughtfully leads the reader to consider biblical calls to remember, demonstrating how we, too, can easily forget God in our hurried lives. She also introduces a personal element, illustrating various experiences and insights throughout.

The author continues to examine how remembering affects so many aspects of our faith. Themes such as grace, justice, worship, thankfulness and relationships are woven into the pages, making this book a thoroughly challenging and thought-provoking read that will stir up your faith and cause you to assess your spiritual walk with God. 'Forgetful Heart' is full of so many nuggets of truth as well as pointers to help us remember, that I'd recommend more than one reading.

With the inclusion of thought-provoking questions in 'For Reflection' sections at the end of each chapter, this makes this book ideal for group study and discussion. I also valued the short, inspirational poems after each chapter. Don't let the pastel hearts on the front cover mislead you; this is a meaty stuff that you'll want to chew over for a long time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Richard Foster was perhaps the first to name the curse of our age as distraction. Here Lucy Mill offers us much biblical insight, self-disclosure and poetic provocation along the pathway to healing.

Written in a pithy and engaging way. This packs a punch in a disarmingly gracious way. I particularly appreciated the threads of memory, identity and the purity of need. In Lucy's own words:- "Our culture doesn’t place value on waiting. At least, not a healthy kind of waiting. Often we think we’ll be successful if only we did this, or had that. It’s true in our lives of faith, too. Somehow we manage to box our ideas of God into what we feel we need in order to progress in faith and maturity."

This repeatedly reads as a soul detox. And so for that I am thankful, and many others will be blessed. There is a unique quality to the pastoral distinctiveness of how Mills engages with such important themes. The amount of scriptural text work is refreshing, the engagement with Matthew's gospel is strong as well as the cultural analysis of faithfulness in an internet-frazzled age. The closing chapters offer much in rooting this all in routine, and the beauty of grace, thankfulness and life in the Spirit.

Lucy Mills in partnership with DLT has offered us a really significant, attractively designed and beautifully written title. The tone and spirit of this title really is very special. This deserves to do very well, for it is a really important book. Here's to reading more of your work Lucy. And congratulations on this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
‘It’s not just an age thing. Not for everyone. From my teens I’ve been climbing the stairs and then wondering why I went up in the first place.’ This first sentence of Lucy Mills captures, as she goes on to say, the consequences of a creative albeit cluttered mind. Forgetfulness additionally has moral and spiritual elements and the writer weaves her book skilfully around these.

Like the seedlings in Jesus’ parable that got choked by thorny ground the distractions we encounter crowd in, entangle and ‘choke out our abilities to grow in our faith and remember what we have learned about God’. Worry, stress and fear link to this spiritual forgetfulness. So does our need to seek approval from any other than the Lord. Mills chronicles the things that are energy-draining in life such as a chronic tiredness built from refusal to see rest as something constructive.

This analysis moves to a scriptural exposition of the forgetfulness of God’s people concerning his loving provision for them, and its consequences. The story of Josiah, who followed such forgetful Kings and brought the people to remember God, and the psalms of the exile provide us with a wakeup call. ‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.’ Psalm 137:5

The God who remembers is the good news pervading this book, the God who comes to us in Jesus. In the book’s latter part there is a fruitful playing upon images of forgetfulness and remembrance. Jesus ‘points out the things the people had forgotten; he would tell them of a God who did not forget. He hung out with those forgotten...and dismissed.’ Scripture, Eucharist, the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of believers all help our recall of what is meant to be primary to us as Christians. They help us engage with God’s grace which overcomes ‘the memory makers of worry and fear’.

Memory is selective. Lucy Mills ends each chapter with questions along the lines ‘are you selecting the right things to remember?’ Her chapter on compassion fatigue ends by asking ‘what things have we chosen to ignore because they’re just too hard to face? What would you like to be remembered for? What do you wish your obituary will say?’ The book is enriched by the questioning of its reader at regular intervals, challenges that build from the personal testimony and biblical reflection of the author.

‘Forgetful Heart’ ends by inviting the reader to ‘remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead’ (2 Timothy 2:8a) whose Spirit ‘helps us remember who we are...transforms and reshapes us, illuminating the false memories we accumulate in this broken world’. This inspiring book includes a free postcard prompting the daily remembrance of God.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2014
I don't know what I expected from this book, all I know is it was more relevant to my complicated, busy life than I ever thought any book could be. It is written with such a relevant understanding of today's malformed agendas.

Lucy opens the bible up in an incredible way to find the answers to very modern issues. I found nowhere to hide from her polite - but straight to the point - insights into where I make excuses for my own failings.

Lucy writes with a style that combines humility, grace, sound biblical knowledge and an ability to get to the very heart of the subject of distractions. This is not a book I can stop at reading once.
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on 29 August 2015
Lucy draws on a mix of prose, poetry and Biblical reasoning to question how fully we throw ourselves into our Christian lives, or how often we forget God! We are reminded that God wants all of our hearts, minds and soul! Lucy doesn’t preach, but speaks from her own experience (as with all the best writing, offering up vulnerability) … with some strong challenges accompanying many tongue-in-cheek moments … and lots of encouragement to keep stepping forward. Lucy weaves in a range of thinking about memory – how it creates our identity – both as individuals and as a group. The Biblical cultural context adds insight around the themes of memory.

In our world – western culture has told us we can only rely on ourselves, we place too many hopes in frail humans, we spend too much time working to society’s definition of success, rather than God’s – not understanding that our greatest times of growth are often in our times of waiting. We spend so much time waiting to be noticed, that we fail to notice others. We question what our hopes are in … because that is what we will become subject to – whether that is the world, or God’s way of being. Tiredness and fear are two of our biggest enemies – skewing things out of shape and messing up our priorities. We have grown used to the idea that we are all ‘tired’ – how do we challenge that and stop living in cycles of energy boom and bust? Fear often swamps our mind with trivial, mundane things that don’t allow us to face up to the bigger issues fighting around inside of us – forgetting that God is our refuge and strength. Encouragingly Lucy says “There is nothing flimsy about our faith, even if we’re clinging to it by a single thread.”

Lucy tackles the dark times with compassion – reminding us of the Psalmists who doggedly stuck with it despite difficulties – we have become so used to things being easy that we forget how to cope in the more difficult times – forget to listen out for God’s voice, and forgetting that he’s bigger than we are. In times of darkness we are left with “the honesty of who we are now and how we feel now.” New memories are formed – which can be difficult – but profound. On p47 the topic of anger is raised … something that we are often discouraged from acknowledging, but expressing it in the wrong way – or stuffing it down – can both be unhealthy!

The first section of the book had focused upon us and our culture, whilst the second section ‘An Ancient Dilemma’ draws our attention to the life of Biblical communities, especially the Israelites – who required a collective memory/identity to remind them that they were a rescued/special people. As I noted with the British and wartime propaganda posters, the Israelites were given “ownership of old memories, even though they had not experienced the original event themselves.” Lucy doesn’t shy away from the difficult bits – including dealing with cultural clashes – which reminds me of contemporary debates about immigration, assimilation and globalised culture! We hear of the Woman at the Well, and of course the ultimate act of remembrance – the bread and the wine. We are asked how much of God’s message we are sharing – and how much that reflects our preoccupations, rather than those of God!

The third section considers the ‘ripples of forgetfulness’ – what do our actions demonstrate about our beliefs? The importance is not that we succeed, but that we try, right? If we no longer care about our ‘fruitfulness’, is that when to worry… we just need to ‘plug back in’. Rather than seeing ‘fruitfulness’ as a tick-list of things to achieve – for ourselves – are we seeking the values and fruits of the Kingdom/Spirit – reflecting the character of Christ – even in our limitations? Lucy tackles the question of compassion fatigue – the need for memory to shut down because it’s necessary for our sanity – but to ensure that this doesn’t mean that we become hard-hearted and un-compassionate – it may all seem a little overwhelming – but start with something – it’s not about the numbers – it’s about the attitude of heart behind it… and I would say that social media can make at least raising awareness key – don’t sniff at clicktivism says Simon Willis of Change.org! Love the end of this poem:

remind me.
that on a painting
composed
entirely of black
one tiny streak
of brilliant white
can change the whole
picture.

By the way – I tend to look at the fruits as kind of individual forms of ‘fruitfulness’ – Lucy reminds us that the flavours are designed to complement each other, rather than to be seen individually! Just before I read this book I had seen Disney’s Inside Out, in which the importance of memories, especially key memories, and the place of sad memories are so important (as I scribbled on p117). We are asked – what does our worship look like – and how do our memories inspire this?

The fourth section looks at ‘the art of remembering’. I found chapter 17 on Faith and Familiarity particularly helpful – lots of nodding, yes and underlining going on there (sorry if you hate people who write in books!)! We are not all knowing (that is God), we live in a time-poor society in which we worship ‘busy’, where faith seems to be something ‘extra’ that we try and squeeze in – rather than central to our lives. Lucy, in suffering from CFS/ME, has had to learn to manage her time and energy in different ways. There’s lots of helpful advice for things to experiment with (as I have learnt to do with Beyond Chocolate – try something (small), if it works, try it again, if it doesn’t, try something different) – acknowledging that we’re all unique. As Lucy says on p.141

Habits are hard to break. We need to start small, find the most manageable thing and not be tempted to overdo it. This tiny moment of space may feel like a huge challenge, yet even when being climbed on by a toddler, pausing between tasks in the office, or sitting in a busy waiting room, we can try and allow our thoughts to focus on God. This will be in a way that we, as individuals, find helpful – be it through running a phrase through our heads, looking at an object or picture, or simply becoming aware of our breathing. It’s not easy. We may not succeed, but we are beginning to try. How can it be worst to try than never to try at all?
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