October Miscellany 2017

The Reformation

Exactly this month this year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation when Martin Luther posted the famous document on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. All my knowledge on this subject comes almost solely from one book, The Unquenchable Flame, which I talked about in a post before. It taught me the exciting period of history when common people were given access to God’s word once again and how the power of the Bible shook and transformed Europe. The book was short for such an important and complicated subject. But I got to know enough names and events to feel even more excited about the Reformation.

This month I received the second phase of my education in the Reformation. An absolute highlight of October was the Here We Stand podcast, made by Desiring God. It was a “31-day journey with heroes of the Reformation”, a short biography of a hero each day. As the introduction says, “Luther did not stand alone. The Reformation was not about one or two big names — Luther, Calvin, Zwingli — but about a massive movement of Christian conviction, boldness, and joy that cost many men and women their lives.” I thoroughly enjoyed each episode, especially the ones about England, William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Lady Jane Grey, only 17 – four of them martyred under the reign of Bloody Mary. The names from the Continent are less familiar and slightly harder to tell from one another. So if you ask me which one of the heroes is the most memorable, I have to say it’s the Bride of the Reformation… She was mentioned firstly in her own episode, then three more times in the episodes of her series of Reformation husbands…


This was the Big Question outreach month of JPC. As part of the events, I made chocolate and watched the first ever Comedy & Magic show and I was fortunate enough to get picked onto the stage…

My 1-2-1 Bible study partner of the year and I finished Discipleship Explored and started a new series of Bible overview. We are using the classic God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. My 1-2-1 of 2017 is a very teachable girl, full of curiosity and energy. May God continue equipping her in her last three months here and use her greatly wherever she goes!

Husband and I got invited for a meal with our old Home Group at the beginning of the month. It was a lovely privilege to be able to spend a couple of hours with them every two weeks and I miss that!

We said goodbye to a good friend this month – it’s that time of year again when many people leave Newcastle behind and move onto a new chapter of their life. All the best to Dorothy and see you at Word Alive next year!


You might remember from last month’s post that I started to follow a few photographers on YouTube and watched tons of photo editing, behind the scene videos. Greatly inspired, I started to take photos of colleagues and church friends with my iPhone and post them on Instagram with #PortraitsOffice and #PortraitsJesmond. I didn’t promise I’ll post one per day or I’ll post 365 days or anything like that because it’s depressing the day I fail. And I knew myself well, the project did not last long at all! The good thing is I didn’t say I’ve given up either so I can continue whenever I like… is my attitude too casual?


Popshot Magazine is a collection of short stories so the first reason why I love it is that I don’t feel burdened to finish a story! One specific story left a deep impression in my mind. A simple story told in simple language, but I kept thinking about it.

This magazine reminded me of a similar type of literary magazine I used to read every month in China when I was in high school. It was a collection of short novels and mangas by young and largely unknown authors. It was A5 in size, printed mainly black and white, very cheap. Thinking about it now, it was a pretty amazing publication. It’s a literary magazine for teenagers who loved Japanese manga and animation. It’s funny because, in teachers and parents’ eyes, mangas are totally a no-no for school kids but this magazine got adults to turn a blind eye because it was mainly text rather than pictures! The content was pretty edgy too. It was not about mainstream subjects, certainly not popular science or about “being a good kid”, not even science fiction. Interestingly, it didn’t include many cheesy love stories either which you’d thought would be a popular subject for teenagers. I remember it was more fantasy-like. I didn’t know the editors at all, but they were clearly passionate about what they were doing. They found a delicate balance between new and old, good and bad, dull and being closed down. It was a “second class” publication (only rebellious teenagers read it; everything we read, adults thought distasteful and dangerous), but the actual writing was serious, intelligent and elegant. I started to have a taste and discernment of good and bad stories without realising. I probably got more literature education from this humble magazine than many textbooks and classic literature found in libraries. It inspired me to write stories myself (many of which I still keep in folders!).

London Review of Books. British Journal of Photography.

STACK: Double Dagger. This cool newspaper, if I understand correctly, is printed page by page by hand in the traditional way. Look at the vivid colours and the precise printing of the cover page!


Read Fox’s Stories (my translation) by Morimi Tomihiko. Too grim. I didn’t like it as much as some previous ones. I also finished Makime Manabu’s The Fantastic Deer Man. Apparently, these two authors are good friends in real life and are mentioned by readers together regularly as equally brilliant. But I much prefer Morimi’s stories.The Fantastic Deer Man is one of Makime’s most well-known novels. However, it develops very slowly. The storyline is very cheesy. The magic elements are not very natural. I almost couldn’t have kept going if it was not for the Deer Man TV series actor whom I like very much.

A book I gave up this month: The Old Way. It’s a collection of the author’s travels on land and sea with a theme of “path” and a very romantic and poetic hue. Too “high” literature – I can barely understand half of the text. Too romantic –  there was never a complaint about bad weather or a bad view. I don’t mind the positive attitude although I do think it’s unrealistic. So I guess the main reason for giving this book up is the language barrier. I might try it again in future.

Mis of Mis

I started AND finished one Christmas party dress in three days! Record-breaking! Then I went on to finish another party skirt straight after. It’s completely not how I planned to use that piece of lace but I’m happy with the result. I can’t show you the result yet because it’s a surprise!

Clocks changed on Sunday 29 October and we’re back to GMT. The day after, Monday 30 October, I couldn’t cycle home after work the normal way because it suddenly got so unbelievably dark. My winter route is longer and more dangerous so I wasn’t looking forward to that. In addition, the route was highly likely to be shut down due to roadworks that started in the summer. If it was shut, I did not know how to go home that day. So Monday evening, I cycled away from work a bit worried only to find a completely deserted road – not shut down, but empty. A man and his dog casually crossing the road, usually flooded with headlights, without even looking left or right. A cyclist gliding past under the lonely orange streetlights. The road covered in piles and piles of leaves, making a nice crunchy sound as I flew past. What a surprise and a delight! Sorry to all the annoyed drivers whose commute is much longer, but I love this road closure!





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