Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year! My year in music..

I was going to write a huge summary of everything I've done, everywhere I've been and all that I've learnt in 2010. However I realise this would take far longer than the amount of time I have left this year to write it all down. I could make a few glib statements about how I've been to new places, made mnew friends and had new experiences, but the words seem empty. In short I'm not really sure what to say.

I'm not a humongous media head, and I haven't seen enough films or read enough fiction books this year to arrange any into a list of my top 10 of the year. But I'm not immune to what I hear on the radio, so let's do this differently..Hold your is my year in music.

Top 10 Tracks of 2010.
(New Releases/personal discoveries)

10. Ego – Saturdays
Here because of the Groby girls, who have somehow made me love it. Memories of going on holiday, prancing around ‘hotel’ rooms in Ibiza and ‘washing up’ in Torville la Chapelle’s loudest and trendiest little kitchen.

9. Parachute - Cheryl Cole
I'm not going to lie. I love Cheryl Cole and the whole package she’s got going on. She's trendy and although I haven't yet bought any of her music, really enjoyed hearing this on the radio.

8. Dynamite - Taio Cruz
Not to my usual taste, but I have enjoyed dancing to this.

7. You've Got The Dirtee Love ('Live' At The Brit Awards 2010) – Florence and Dizzee Rascal.
I dig this.

6. I will wait for you there - Phil Wickham
‘Beautiful’ is cited as one of his best but this is the one I love the most.

5. Come people of the risen king - Stuart Townsend et al

Older than 2010, but a masterful work of musical art with rousing lyrics for a church united in mission, which I have discovered and used absolutely loads this year.

4. Radio Protector – 65daysofstatic
Released in 2005 but here because I missed the boat then but couldn’t love this more now. This is the one I want to sit down and learn to play.

3. One - Sweedish House Mafia
I do recall being obsessed with this song for a considerable proportion of the summer holidays and for good reason.

2. Stereo Love - Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina
Soundtrack to the beginning of summer, screaming procrastination running and grooving with the south park sisters, kitchen window wide open, friendlies' finest wine and the buzzing of Eaton Park’s motorized model boats in the background.

1. Love the way you lie - Eminem and Rihanna
Not much to say here, except, what a tune. Genius.

Thus concludes my year in music (how does yours look?) and the last blog post of 2010. All that's left to say is Happy New Year!

and for those who love Jesus

'Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the prescence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen'! (Jude vs 24-25)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A favourite song

'Come thou fount of every blessing'.A hymn I'm learning and loving at the minute, particularly for it's last 6 lines, and having heard Christina Sonnemann's version via Spotify. Check it out.

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

My latest freedom 'list'

Top 10 activities (costing no money) to simultaneously avoid boredom and stress during the Christmas holidays, in no particular order:

1) Finally read CS Lewis' 'The Last Battle'
2) Make use of accordian for christmas carol singing
3) Provide a gift wrapping service for family members too busy to do it themselves :-)
4) Practice medication history taking/medicines use reviews on elderly relatives
5) Learn to play awesome hymn 'Come thou fount of Every Blessing' on the harp
6) Knit something (something easy, such as a scarf)
7) Walk to Groby Pool
8) Visit Bradgate Park
9) Play 65dos' 'Radio Protector' on the piano
10)Drink tea, read and discuss the bible with some friends who aren't Christians.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Nativitiy. Who do you say I am?

Whether you count yourself a christian, hindu, muslim, jew, any, all or none of the above, and whether you call it fact or fiction, a story remains.
It claims to be actual, life changing fact and so demands our full attention, if only for a minute or two of consideration.

I really like this video which we'll use at this evening's carol service. Like the BBC's 'Nativity' series running over the last four evenings, it gives a slightly more 'edgy' retelling of the birth of Jesus than the sweet primary school plays and pictures on christmas cards we might be used to. And rightly so, I think we are quick to forget what an unusual episode the story of Jesus' birth as told in the bible really is.

First off, if I were Mary off of Mary and Joseph and still a virgin I would most certainly be freaked out by this holy mysterious immaculate conception, and much more were I Joseph! Someone said this situation would get laughed off Jermery Kyle. I think I would be much slower to trust the word of the angels (yeah, angels! that's mental in itself, let's not go there..) appearing and God's sovreignty over the situation. Presumably the 90km walk to Joseph's home town Bethlehem to take part in the census didn't make a comfortable journey for Mary, 9 months pregnant. On arrival in the town of Joseph's birth, with no room at the inn, no midwife or hotel room waiting, the baby was born into markedly lowly surroundings, especially for a baby heralded to be a new king, wonderful leader, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. Whilst Jesus undoubtably did cry as a baby, my least favourite christmas carol ever ('Away in a Manger') is correct to say that the new born baby described to be 'God with us', God in human form, was placed into an animals' feeding trough for a bed.

Meanwhile, shepherds in fields nearby encounter a host of heavenly angels in the sky proclaiming 'Do not be afraid! We bring you good news of great joy. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born, he is Christ the Lord!' they come to visit and worship the baby, telling everyone they meet about this new born saviour.

Wise men from the east will soon come to visit the baby, following a star in the sky leading them exactly to the place where Jesus is On seeing Jesus, they will worship him, presenting gifts of Gold, Frankinsence and Myrrh.

King Herod is fearful of usurption by this new baby, so orders all male children under the age of two in the land to be killed, since the wise men had been warned in a dream not to pass on to him information regarding Jesus' wherabous. (Yeah..they don't put that bit in school plays.)

So Why all the fuss aboout one baby? Why such differing attitutes of worship, fear and hatred? Perhaps more than any living person, there has been ongoing discussion about the identity of this baby born in Bethlehem.

About 30 years later Jesus asks his followers the big question, found in Matthew 16vs15 ; 'Who Do you Say I am?'.

All of the people involved in this story had some level of understanding, based on Jewish scriptures and/or their own experience, about who this new baby was, and the significance of his birth.

The bible makes some bold claims about who Jesus is. If you were around at the time having read jewish scriptures, this was not a baby born out of the blue, but a baby born to fulfill hundreds of years of divine prophecy written down regarding a coming King and Messiah. The more I read and study the old testament the more I marvel at the sheer number of direct unquestionable references to God's direct intervetion into the world by way of sending Jesus Christ, 'a bridge between heaven and earth' as described by BBC1's Magi this week.

For example, Isaiah chapter 7vs14(written ~700BC?) in reference to a coming Saviour says 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and will give birth to a son and his name shall be called Immanuel- which means God with us'. This prophecy brings a whole new meaning to the nativity story. If the happenings described above and documented in the book of Matthew are true, then this baby is not just a baby but God in human form, with us on earth.

Just a couple of chapters on, (Isaiah 9:6-7) talks about the birth of a child, a son from the lineage of David as the saving hope of the world to come. So come Luke 2vs11, when the angels appear and at first terrify shepherds in the fields, proclaiming good news of great joy that 'Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born unto you- He is Christ the Lord!' (Luke 2.11)

The bible is full of exciting little gems like this. In my quest to read the whole bible cover to cover I have reached Genesis chapter 26, and despite my slow reading, I am astounded already to find so many moments pointing to the coming and crucifixion of Christ as the centrepoint of our faith.

It impossible to read the bible without recognising it's overarching claim that Jesus was indeed born to be this bridge between heaven and earth. This was God himself coming into the world, leaving the majesty of heaven to be born into the lowest section of society. Not a distant God watching his world from afar, but a God intimately involved with creation.

In accordance with many more instances of OT prophecy, the son of God, God himself in human form, was born into the world to bear our sin, to be oppressed, and silently afflicted and led like a lamb being slaughtered (Isaiah 53.4-7), to death as substitutionary sacrifice for the world's sin. He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped but became obedient, even to death on a cross (Phillipians 2) In summary, with thanks to John Stott, 'God through Christ substituted himself for us. Divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice. The cross was an act simultaneously of punishment and amnesty, severity and grace, justice and mercy.'

The bible's claim about Jesus in the manger can not be separated from it's claim about Jesus on the cross. In response to Jesus' big question (in Matthew 16vs15-16), Simon Peter, one of his followers answers 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God'.

Einstein said 'no man can deny the existance of Jesus', leaving us to decide for ourselves the true identity of Jesus Christ. Man or Myth? A good moral teacher and nothing more? Mad, bad, or God?

Happy Christmas! I hope it is wonderful, but I cordially invite you to consider for a minute or two, Jesus' question to us today..
'Who do you say I am?'

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The trauma of Boots. part 2

So thanks to what many are calling 'UEA Techpocalypse', Christmas genuinely came early for myself and fellow third year pharmacy students. Our epic last day of term poster presentation research skills exam marathon become a day off, since every computer on campus, the whole university's internet connection/intranet/email system has been well and truly broken for the last few days, scuppering all printing plans and statistics joy. Some blame Nick Clegg's education cuts but mostly this can't be helped. An inconvenient fact of life turning us all amish in the run up to christmas as presumably loads of people scrabbled around in the library unable to complete and print coursework. So, an unexpected day off today meant an early train home and now means extra night with the fam.

Immeadiately ahead is an enevitably busy weekend bringing an annual christmas party with friends, carol singing,a couple of church services, a family meal in honour of Dad's birthday, catching up with close friends and apparently The Apprentice final! Stella to win this year's series of my absolute favourite tv programme.

My third year at university started somehow more quietly and serenely than my first and second. A quieter household, missing mental christian union committee meetings and a substantially less manic timetable in terms of my course have certainly been contributing factors. In the first few weeks of term, I had loads of half days in which Jeremy Kyle, 60 minute makeover and homes under the hammer became a great backdrop for wonderful activities previously weeded out of my schedule due to lack of time (predominantly cleaning, pharmacy and painting my nails.) Perhaps my age is showing in the decreased frequency of wild night outs. Although there have been a few fancy dress occasions and some Saturday nights, including a PJ party, Cave Rave (genuinely took the sheet off of my bed and wore it) and a magnificent effort on the part of Amy my housemate and I in the fashioning of some quality (if I say so myself) Hogwarts robes (see below for Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione, easily identifiable).

There have been a few whirlweekends away from the fine city of Norwich too, beginning with a special evening in Birmingham with the Groby gang. After a perfect chilli courtesy of Alison and Mike at their flat, we headed out (for a change!) to Broadway Casino. Having mastered and enjoyed the art of winning at Roulette I spent the night at Mawbs' house with the girls, and consumed a very large fry up before heading back home.

A couple of weeks later, it was time for UEA Christian Union's Houseparty weekend away (see them all below!). In all senses it was an amazing weekend! I boldly went where I had never been before..into the catering department, helping to serve food for 50 the whole weekend! Perhaps an initially intimidating task but one which gave me the opportunity to really get to know the other girls and sing along in the kitchen, so I genuinely loved it! The weekend was full of so much teaching about God's character; I particularly loved hearing again about how our relationship with God as christians does not rest on what we resolve to do, but on who God is. I can not earn God's love by being a good christian, neither can I loose it by being a bad one! I don't earn my salvation by works, but I recognise my salvation as Jesus' righteousness accreditted to me and seek to live a life pleasing to God in response to this knowledge.

I spent another few days at home in the middle of November, seeing my immeadiate family, old friends from School (a night out in trashy leicester nightclub life) visiting my Nanny in Luton and dropping quickly in for the rememerance Sunday church service. I had a quick drink at local The Stamford Arms with Deb Goodhead, bumping into a familiar face or two, and managed to fit in some r&r plus report writing before heading back to Norwich.

It's been a relatively musical term, with one thing and many others. I've had the pleasure of hearing folk legend Michael mcGoldrick and friends, Seth Lakeman (is he married?), and 65daysofstatic (which was incredible!) who all put on stunning live shows. It's been great to meet up a couple of times over the term with old friend Dave Blane (now living and working in Norfolk where are the cool people end up..) who introduced me to The Kings Chamber Orchestra. Their concert was awesome comprising a very enjoyable accessible combination of classical tunes and top notch contemporary christian improvisations. For good measure and hilarity they also included a carrott solo and some glowing balloons overhead...what more could you want of an orchestra? The same weekend one of my dearest friends Beccy came to visit, we made a weekend of it including some shopping, a trip to Norwich Castle, the LCR and some pie from old Local The Farmhouse following church on Sunday morning. Here we are, in Eaton Park in the snow..

This year, I decided to finally pay up, attend and throw myself into involvement with UEA Music Society, to the extent of relatively faithful attendance to rehersals and even the purchase of a society hoody! I absolutely loved singing as part of the choir in last week's Christmas Concert, held in St John the Baptist church on Timberhill in the city centre. Here we are, my housemate Amy leading the merriment clarinet in hand.

Along with a flurry of christmas shopping, a lovely afternoon watching Glee with Fran Chorlton, Carols in the Square, a couple of epic meetings, some piano playing, and yet more christmas carolling at an old folk's home in Cringleford, the last couple of weeks at uni also brought the Christian Union Carol service, a jovial occasion (as usual) designed entirely to share the good news of the christian message with those who don't know it, over singing, some preaching and excitingly mulled wine and mince pies. Although not involved in leading the Christian Union I am so committed to the work of the CU on campus and really excited about what's going on this year.

I'm very encouraged to see so many first years getting involved and tapping into the aim of the society. The CU at UEA exists not just to bring christian students together but to make God's glorious gospel known to the whole campus. I feel quite challenged. The danger is to forget that our entire reason for existance (when I say our, I mean us as a society but also us as individuals!) is to give God all of the glory. Perhaps the time I can give practically to Christian Union is limited, but how much more could I commit this cause of making Jesus known on campus to ceaseless prayer! Ditto this realisation for every area of my life, which I find exciting even in my general state of aged apathy.

I've decided to begin reading the bible through completely and in some detail from cover to cover. I don't know if this is the most practical way, and I am a slow reader prone to give up easily, so I have no set readings ahead for each day and no expectation of how many days, months or years I may take. Neither is this a promise of a daily blog to write about what i've been reading or learning. If I feel like it along the way, perhaps i'll write about some of my coolest discoveries, favourite bits and the bits which throw up questions. So far, I'm just getting up to the bit where Issac is born.. aka at pretty much the beginning..but I am already so amazed at how much there is to learn in just the first 18 chapters of Genesis!

So to finish off, some party pics!

pyjama party

dinner party


coctail party

birthday party (Me and Mr Bua at his 22nd!)

HPLC research party (not sure this counts as a party but nevertheless an integral part of this semester)

light party (alternative face + larry's face + kids with face paint)


p.s My previous blog 'The Trauma of Boots part 1' was titled so as I quite rightly anticipated today's enevitability in the form of reserving the title of 'part 2'. Boots (the chemist) somehow predicatably have declined my summer placement application for the second (or possibly third..i can't remember) year running! I don't mind at all, since the likelihood of me having to turn down the placement had they offered it was strong anyway, since I have already booked a holiday for next summer with my family. Despite feeling a little hurt re: repeated rejection, I may consider applying to work at some hospitals (preferable anyways) whilst nonchalantly naming this blog after my epic failings as a community pharmacist.