Category Archives: Writing

Wishes

I’ve bought a new day bed to put in my study. It has been in the back of my mind for some years to be able to provide a bed for at least one visitor and the plan would be to use it as a sort of couch when it is not needed as a bed. This required some re-organisation of my study and the need to get rid of some clutter.

When my husband asked whether I ever read my old journals, I told him, not really. Perhaps I might look back to earlier entries for the current years, but I don’t really go back. I decided that it was time to get rid of them. Dump them. After all, the rule for decluttering is, ‘if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably won’t.’

So I got out the box and started sorting. I found I couldn’t get rid of them. There is so much of me and God in them. I started to cry. It was like deciding to throw out old love letters. Not only are the books themselves pretty, sometimes I have drawn pictures and coloured them, one year I got given a journal which included verses to colour. I couldn’t do it.

I got to reading a very old journal. The resource I had been using as my guide presumably asked me to write down my wishes. I was shocked to read two of my wishes. One was to write a best-selling book or TV show and one was that my son would play cricket for South Africa. He was in primary school at the time. How worldly I was! Fame seemed to have been my main ambition.

Our sermon this morning was based on Mark 10 from verse 35. James and John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

“And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left, in your glory.”

They were looking for worldly glory.

Not much later, blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. Jesus stopped. He deviated from His path to Jerusalem for a blind beggar.

And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 51 ESV)

Same question, different answer. Bartimaeus wanted to see. He wanted to move from darkness to light. It makes the answer of James and John look pathetic.

I believe Jesus asks us the same question. “What do you want me to do for you?” When we answer, I believe He asks us another question. “Are you really serious about this?”

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, sometimes I don’t even know what I want. Through Your Holy Spirit please search my heart that I might know the desires of my heart. Please refine those desires to be in tune with the beat of Your heart.

Put it in Writing

JusJoJan 25 January

I am somewhat socially inept. I don’t pick up the unspoken cues that other people notice, or perhaps I was never actively taught the art of conversation and what is and is not appropriate. (My Mother did teach me never to ask anybody how much money they earn though.)

My timing is out and whenever I ask a question at the dinner table, the person is stuck with a mouthful of food. I try to be caring and show an interest in other people’s concerns but somehow I don’t get it right. Appropriate words fail me just when I gather up enough courage to open my mouth. If I’m having a deep conversation about something that affects me emotionally, I normally cry which interferes with the message I’m trying to convey.

I have on occasion resorted to writing letters. Somehow the written word seems more weighty than the spoken. People can always deny having said something, but once you’ve written it, there is no turning back.

In my dealings with God I rely heavily on the written word. I’m so glad that nowadays we have the Bible in print form (and the electronic equivalent) and it’s not just word of mouth traditions handed down from generation to generation.

I keep a journal. In it I write verses that impact me and thoughts about what I am reading or studying at the moment. I find writing things down helps keep my mind from wandering. When I write my prayers I feel like I am serious about them. That doesn’t stop me from whispering SMS prayers during the day, however. It just feels more like a basic contract that I can build on. Another advantage of a journal is that I can keep a record of specific prayers for specific people so that when they are answered, I can note it and my faith grows because I might not otherwise even remember that I had prayed.

To cater for journal-writing-people like me, they now manufacture beautiful journals with appropriate scripture verses or beautiful scenes. That just makes it seem more special but there is actually nothing wrong with a plain school book. In fact, my earlier journals are just that, perhaps with the page of an old calendar or something pretty to cover them.

This is my journal for 2022

Not everybody is helped by journaling their journey with God but it works for me.

My Prayer

Thank You, Father God for the Bible. You have committed Your promises to writing and I can stand on them. Please help me in my everyday communication with people. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Amen.

Spiritual Mediocrity

One of the benefits of lockdown is, it makes church easier. No more rushing on a Sunday morning, misjudging the time available and grabbing a banana as we rush out the door in a hectic attempt not to be late.

Now, even if we only wake at 9.30, which is an extreme case, we can still participate in church in our pyjamas. We can drink coffee during church and even eat breakfast! Rosebank Union Church has organised their platform in such a way that we can interact with other members of the church or even request prayer during the live broadcast.

We are in Hibberdene at the moment, escaping from the cold of Randburg with a doctor’s note stating it will be better for my husband’s circulation problem in his hands in a warmer climate. When we’ve been on holiday here, or, for that matter in any other location away from home, it is always a mission to attend church on a Sunday. First you have to spend a long time on the computer finding out what churches are nearby, what their times are and how to get there. Then you go to a totally strange place among total strangers and join their service. There have been times, of course when this has been a great blessing, but it’s always a bit stressful. Lockdown has changed all that.

Yesterday’s live service from our own church was a blessing, if somewhat uncomfortable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG9KVvymidI

We are working through Ezra. After seventy years in exile, God worked in the heart of Cyrus, the Babylonian king, as well as in the hearts of some of the exiles, which resulted in a large group of them returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They started with enthusiasm, built the altar and foundations, dedicated the altar and celebrated. Then opposition came, they got discouraged and the work stopped for 15 years.

Then two prophets gave them a word from God. The reason they were not flourishing, (you earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it, (Hag1:7)) was that they were concentrating on building their own lives and dwellings and businesses and not on what God had called them to do.

Perhaps we, too, are stuck in spiritual mediocrity, putting aside what God has called us to and instead focusing on our own lives, families, needs and wants. I am sure I was not the only member of the congregation to be challenged and determine immediately to change my ways.

However, I am in a quandary. It is all very well for the Israelites. They were called specifically to build the temple – and not all of the exiles were called either. Only some. I am not sure what my main calling is. Certainly I feel called to write. Then I know that God gave me my husband in answer to a prayer. I am called to love him, honour him and cherish him. One of my top three priorities in life, which I formulated for myself long ago at a Christian camp after I recommitted myself to the Lord, was to make one person extremely happy. That I still regard as a priority. Then, at some stages I’ve felt called to get involved in the Gideon ministry, the Alpha ministry and other short time callings.

All I can do is pray and look for God’s guidance.

Dear Father, Please forgive me for living my life as if I were in charge rather than You. You made me, You bought me with a price and I have freely given You access to my life for Your control. You know me inside and out. You understand my personality, my strengths and weaknesses. Please show me where You want me to focus my attention for Your kingdom building. Thank you. Amen.

From Slush Pile to Mulch.

I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. One year, as a new year’s resolution, I decided to write a science fiction book. I didn’t quite finish it in a year but it was close. It was bad. Even the friends I asked to read it were not encouraging.

Then, at a Writers retreat/workshop in 2015, I felt God calling me to write. https://jennyyoung27.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/how-it-all-began-2/

This was very exciting. I didn’t know what God wanted me to write so my natural instincts turned to fiction. I joined the South African Writers Circle, signed up for how to write articles articles and read everything I could.

Then, after a lot of practice and a little inspiration, I wrote a South African novel, They Call Me Nothing.

I thought it was good, my friends thought it was good, even my writers club gave me second place for the first chapter in one of their competitions.

However, I submitted it to the only two South African publishers that accept that genre (coming of age, English fiction) and recently I was again rejected by the second one. They had asked for a hard copy manuscript and stipulated that manuscripts cannot be returned so I can picture what happens to the product of two years of my life. It will go into the recycling bin for paper, end up becoming a slurry of paper mulch, be pressed, rolled and dried and possibly be turned into cardboard for toothpaste packaging.

It was not good enough. It wouldn’t sell.

I read Psalm 84 today. Verse 11 at first dismayed me. For the Lord is a sun and a shield. The Lord bestows favour and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (NIV)

There is no way my walk is blameless. Why, I’m not even keeping the first and greatest commandment to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. What chance do I have of receiving the Lord’s blessing and favour?

Then I remembered grace. This year I’ve been hearing a lot about grace. Christianity is different from all other religions. Other religions teach that man must live a good life, according to a set of rules, to earn God’s approval. Christianity teaches that God gives His approval freely to us as we are. We are imputed with Christ’s righteousness because He took on our sins and died for them. “Salvation is not a reward for the righteous but a gift for the guilty.” (Steve Lawson)

I am so glad God is not like a publisher, carefully evaluating stories and consigning all but the most excellent to the recycling bin. God is our Father. Each of our life stories is very important to Him, whether or not they make the slightest impact on other people or the world.

Love Sonnet

This month’s challenge for my writers’ circle is to write a love sonnet after the style of Shakespeare. This is my attempt.

SONNET 1. The Rising Sun

The rising sun in all its radi’nt light

Is but a shadow set besides thy face.

The panoply of stars, all blazing bright,

Is merely trim thy glorious robe to grace.

 

When all the birds on earth with song rejoice

And waters roar and thunders clap with glee,

Combin’d they’re just the echo of thy voice,

My ear is dull ‘till thou addresseth me.

 

Thy touch upon my skin is dearer, far,

Than first sweet sunbeams after days of rain.

In thy embrace my heart glows like a star,

And gathers strength to conquer every pain.

 

When hearts forget to pump, or eyes to see,

This truth remains. Thou died for love of me.

Soapy Exit

 

When I poured shampoo into the kitchen sink, the squid blew bubbles. By the time the foam cleared, he was gone. I never saw him again.

squid

I am trying to do two challenges with this post. The first is Grammar Ghoul Press’ Shapefitting challenge where we are challenged to write a story in 26 words including the words “kitchen”,”squid” and “shampoo.”

The next is Linda G Hill’s One liner Wednesday. I hope neither of the challenge hosts objects to my trying to kill two birds with one stone (or two squids with one wash).

#1linerWeds badge by nearlywes.com

Just when I thought I was off the hook!

I have been taking it easy lately. I haven’t blogged for ages, I haven’t written anything for the writers circle and my book is sitting at chapter four where it has been since June.

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I felt called to write after a Christian writers’ retreat. A couple of months ago I contacted Valerie who is involved in  a project called “Books in Homes Africa” Their mission is to produce affordable books so every home can buy them thus bringing literacy to South Africa.  Val was excited about some of my children’s books, including “The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World.” The upshot is I have donated my children’s stories to the project.

I thought that was it. I thought that was what the call was about. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to look after my blog, not having to try to find time in my busy day to write. I deleted without reading all the e mails from writers’ blogs I had subscribed to.

I might need to rethink! An interesting set of co-incidences happened this last weekend.

  • First I got an e mail advising me that there was a pingback on one of my blog posts. When I went to check it out, I saw it was the one about the writers retreat and how I had felt called to write, “Waking the Dragon”
  • Then I also got an e mail from Val after months. I hadn’t worried or followed up at all because I had released my books to the wider world and what happened to them was none of my concern. However her e mail encouraged me and I thought maybe I could write more stories for beginner readers.
  • We were on a motorhome rally at a lovely resort in Vereniging over the weekend and I had brought my Kindle to do some reading. My cheaper version shows adverts for books from Amazon as the sleep screen and as I took up my Kindle on Saturday to continue reading “The Girl on the Train”, this is what I sawSo now I am going to have to get more disciplined again and go back to my novel. I’ll have to read the first three chapters again just o see what’s happening. I am just going to have to believe that whom God calls, he equips (Hebrews 13:21) because I certainly don’t have the  perseverance to do it on my own. I can’t even stick to a diet for a week!

It’s a Circus Out There

 

“Mayday! Mayday! This is Medijig 100. Can anybody hear me?”

“Come in Medijig 100”

“I am running out of fuel. Where can I land?”

“We see you on our radar. You are in the middle of Letnin City. There is no open space for 10km.”

“What about a building with a flat roof?”

“Not in Letnin. After the terrorist attack last year all the buildings have had spike barriers added to their roofs.”

“Wait. I see something. It’s a flat topped vehicle. I’m going down.”

The clown in the circus van looked up. “Hey Dora, A helicopter ambulance is going to land on our roof. They’ll have oxygen for sure. Our little asthmatic chimp is going to be all right!”

120 words

 

This story is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers and is based on the following photo prompt.

 

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Iain Kelly. Thank you Iain!

Maybe you’d like to join in the fun.

Guide for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

1. A prompt photo will be provided each Tuesday to be used as a base to your story. Please include photo prompt with your story.

2. Linking for this challenge begins on Tuesday and runs to the following Monday evening.

3. Please credit photo to photographer.

4. The story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words). Please try and stay within this limit.

5. Pingback to the challenge post in your story’s post.

6. This is a flash fiction challenge (stories in 100-175 words or less) and each story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, no serial (continuation) stories. They become too complicated for our readers.

7. Add your story to the InLinkz Link-up (Blue Froggy button). If you need link-up instructions, please email me at mepricelessjoy@gmail.com.

8. Please keep stories below R rating.

9. Please respect the diversity of our readers and writers in regard to race, religion, and life style choice when writing your stories.

10. Remember, half the fun is reading and commenting on each other’s stories.

Nightmare

“Pleeeease Granny, it’s only five Rand.” How can I resist such a pleading four year old face.

“OK then. Here you are.”

I go to the ladies bathroom while she’s on the horse.

I return. No horse. No granddaughter.

This is part of the shapeshifting flash fiction challenge. This week the story must be exactly 39 words based on the following photo prompt.

 

IMG_0935

Badge: Shapeshifting 13 #59