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I think you’re all *probably* aware that last year I wrote a book. Over Christmas a couple more reviews appeared online – Mark Cresswell posted on his blog and E D Farr posted on Amazon

And my publisher, IVP, have a special offer on e-books which expires today. Books are priced from 99p, and The Ministry of a Messy House is going for £2.50. The e-books work on Kindles and other specialist readers, and on tablet apps, but you could also read it on your PC or laptop if you don’t have those gadgets. If you like, of course.

I’m now waiting with a little trepidation to see what unexpected things the Lord has in store for me in 2014. I already seem to be committed to a speaking engagement in March (and one in 2015 – nothing like planning ahead, eh?!). And now I have something new in January too. I will be travelling up to the UCB studios in Stoke on Trent to talk about mess and the Christian with Paul Hammond for his Life Issues programme. Not until the end of the month, so I have time to clear my head from the Christmas fuzziness that seems to have set in. I’m not sure when the programme will be broadcast, but I’ll let you know…

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For my devotions recently I’ve been reading the bible on my tablet, using the YouBible app and the Book of Common Prayer reading plan. The reading plan often includes 4 or 5 psalms, which I have been finding very helpful. Yesterday the set readings included Psalm 94, which spoke right into a busy week filled with sadnesses for people I love:

When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 94:19

Reading the Bible and meditating on it are one of the consolations that God provides. And since Advent is coming I’ve been thinking of finding a devotional to take me towards Christmas. We’ll have our family Jesse Tree of course. But I see that the e-book Good News of Great Joy is available again this year. I very much enjoyed following John Piper’s rather eclectic thoughts which often take you in unexpected and stimulating directions, so I think I’ll be returning to that again. I’ve also just been reminded of David Murray’s Children’s Bible Reading Plan which looks very easy to use and has been designed for his 8 and 7 year old children. I might wave it at the Vicarage kids and see if any of them are up for giving it a go over Advent. Or even starting this week.

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Jackie and Hannah’s were the names picked out by the Queen from the scrunched up pieces of paper I held in my hand this evening. Last two names in the competition were the first two chosen. I shall email you a code for you to collect your free e-book of The Ministry of a Messy House! Thanks to everyone for the excellent descriptions of messy areas in their houses.

The messiest part of the Vicarage is currently the space around and underneath the table in the hall passage leading to the Baltic downstairs loo. It’s a dumping ground for craft stuff we’re not sure what to do with and beneath it is a basket which contains stuff that previous MTs have not known what to do with when they moved out. I really must get round to sorting it out. Just as soon as I’ve finished the washing up. And the laundry. And writing this blogpost…

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If you follow my tweets or Facebook page, you’ll know that the Vicarage has been without phones or internet since Sunday. I was told by BT (eventually, after I badgered them for about three days on Twitter) that ‘2000 pairs in a cabinet in the local exchange’ have broken. No, I have no idea what that means either. I do know that some (but not all) of my neighbours, including vulnerable elderly housebound people and shopekeepers who rely on a phoneline to offer card payment options for customers, have also been without telephone or broadband since then too.

offlineI can still access my emails, Twitter and Facebook on my mobile phone, but it’s quite a pain to use so I’ve not been very active online. Thankfully, the church office still has phones and internet, so the Vicar has been able to work and I’ve been able to sneak in a couple of times to use them, although today I’m writing this in Tesco’s caff in the tow-un. It has upset my mode of writing, which is very bitsy – I tend to write a bit, do a spot of washing up, pick up some mess, prep some soup and then come back to finish a blog post. So hence my general disconnectedness. The washing up and soup prep need to be done more than blogging and social media so I’ve stayed home and been offline.

It also means I’ve not yet closed the competition for the e-book. But I will do that next week, when the kids are off school and everything is a bit less all over the place. Shall we say last thing Sunday evening for entries?

And don’t forget I’m going to be at CLC Birmingham tomorrow with a big stash of copies of The Ministry of a Messy House. I’d love to meet any blog readers who are in the city. Come and say ‘Hi’!

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MMH IVP marketing tweetThe Ministry of a Messy House is officially published today. And some people have even started reading it. A few have said they have enjoyed it, which is lovely. I have been praying that the book will be a blessing to readers. But I also want to say that’s it’s okay if you don’t love it with your whole heart.

It’s a bit weird writing a book and realising that it might not be for everyone. And that some people might even hate it or think it heretical or boring. But since I wrote about God’s grace and providence in the book, I can remind myself that his grace is sufficient for me and although I’d love everyone to think my book is the greatest thing evah, it’s okay if they don’t. So don’t be embarrassed if you read it and find it’s not for you. We can still be friends.

You can buy it in lots of places – including here on this blog. And today I’m linking to my special magic author discounts at my publisher’s: 40% off the print copy and 50% off the e-book.

I have been given a few author copies too. I’m afraid that I’ve already allocated the print ones, but I have a couple of e-books to give away. Tell me about the messiest part of your house in the comments and I’ll pick two at random to send you the link to the book. Sadly this isn’t available if you’re in North America – although IVP will be providing an alternative in the near future for anyone in the US or Canada who would like to read it.

I am also doing a proper author-type book signing on Saturday 26th October. I shall be at CLC Bookshop in Birmingham from 11am-2pm, under the Pallisades, just next to the entrance to New Street Station. I shall bring some Can Do Cookies (the recipe is in the book) and my best pen. Do come and say hello if you’re in the city.

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Good News of Great JoySo it’s actually Advent, and I only got my act together this morning to download this lovely free e-book from John Piper onto my cheap and cheerful table that I use for daily bible reading. Thankfully, the readings began today, so there’s even time for you to download it too and not be too far behind. This morning’s reflection called me to meditate on my need for a Saviour. And events during the day reminded me of that too – tired children and busy parents do not make for a godly Vicarage.

Thankfully, a large nap and answered prayer made our afternoon happier than our morning. A big Sunday lunch with parish friends was followed by a chilly walk with Dreamer and Freddie the dog. Then we decorated our Jesse Tree – only having to cover two days in one go, lit our Advent candle and thought about Jesus our Saviour, opened our chocolate Advent calendar (with extra sweeties for the non-opening children) and gave thanks for a new audio bible in Ethiopia, prompted by a lovely Bible Society calendar that came in the post.

So far so good. But it’s honestly fine if we miss a few days in the chaos. The Saviour came to forgive both messiness and missingness – our sins of commission and  those  of omission.

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