Tag Archives: Christian

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!
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God’s fingerprints

Sometimes the Lord orchestrates events so that looking back you can see His fingerprints. We are in the middle of such events.

Our adult children don’t go to the same church as we do. My husband is the son of a Methodist minister so for a long time we were all Methodists. My older son and daughter left first when they were late teenagers as the youth in the church dwindled. My husband and I joined a larger, non-denominational, missionary -orientated church more recently and our youngest son has linked up with the same young, relevant church as his sister.

I have been a helper at the recent Alpha course run by our church, Rosebank Union. I missed one Tuesday night when we went away during the school holidays to the warmer South Coast. The Monday evening we got back, my son’s car wouldn’t start. The battery was flat. He jump-started it to go to train a client and then had to have it jump-started on the way back again. On the Tuesday he decided it needed a good run so I suggested he take and fetch me from the Alpha course as it was a reasonable distance away.

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While he was waiting to fetch me again, our group was chatting too much and going over time so we finished 15 minutes later than I had told him to fetch me. To pass the time, he read all the pamphlets in our church’s information stand. One of them was about upcoming missions, including one that caught his eye to a closed country to be involved with running winter sports and generally helping out the missionary couple that the church has recently sent there.

The upshot of it all, is that he is going on the mission. The organiser said he was an answer to prayer. He is the only male in a team of four and he is passionate about sport in general and is a sport scientist. The mission is in November which means that passports have to be quickly checked and applied for or renewed. My son had got his passport in 2002 to go on a cricket trip that year with his sports club and then used it again in 2004 for a school cricket tour to England. Theoretically it would have expired in 2012. However, when he checked, it turned out to be valid until 2019.

passport

Then he remembered. We were robbed at gunpoint in 2009 when three men gained entrance to our property when we arrived home. They forced us to go into the house, disarm the alarm and open the safe. Among all the jewelry they stole were our three passports. We had to get replacements. That is why my son’s passport is still valid.   God can use even armed robbery for His purposes… and flat batteries.

This is not the end of the story. There are a number of obstacles to overcome. One is the fact that my son will probably have to take unpaid leave which means losing a third of his monthly salary. The other is the finance. He needs to find sponsors for the R20 000 that it will cost.. However, the God who left his fingerprints all over the previous events is not stopped by obstacles like these. We only have to look at the nativity story to realise that.

Think of the star. How many millions of years does it take to create a new star? Yet it appeared in the sky to people whose culture included interpretation of the heavens at exactly the right time.

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Isn’t it interesting that Caesar Augustus chose exactly the right time to decree a census so that Mary would be sufficiently pregnant so the baby could be born in Bethlehem according to the prophecies? I could go on and on. Simeon was at the temple at the right time to see the new baby being dedicated. So many events had dovetailed according to Gods wonderful purpose.

Yet not all the events were good from a human point of view. Many baby boys were slaughtered. Because of Herod’s command, the young child, Jesus, had to flee to Egypt, again to fulfill prophesy. Sometimes things happen to us that are bad or even tragic.

God’s ways are often a mystery to us. Mostly we can’s see any good in the bad things that happen to us at the time. Often we can only look back in awe at what He has organised. Sometimes we might never see the purpose in our lifetime but I firmly believe “ that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28 (KJV)

Maximilian Kolbe

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Photo by http://clairefuller.co.uk/

I am trying our a new challenge. In response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields  Friday Fictioneers challenge for this week, I would like to submit the following story. It is based on a true  story that I first found out about when I was doing the Alpha Course.

Maximilian Kolbe

I am the only one left. Ten men were chosen. I was not one of them. Three prisoners had escaped Auschwitz so ten had to die by starvation in the underground bunker. Two weeks without food, without water.  My last companion succumbed this morning. I am a priest. I held his hand. I gave him the last rights.

Why am I the last? Is it because I alone had a choice? When he was selected, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife! My children!”

I chose. I asked to die in his place as my Saviour did for me.

Henna tattoo

Recently we went to the South Coast on a family holiday. One morning we visited Hibberdene beach. It is a cosy beach with an area of grass leading up to it. During the holidays a number of beach vendors set up stalls, pancakes, beach wear, hats, fishing nets for children and the like. The most popular was the tattoo cubicle.

I grew up in the era where only sailors and ducktails had tattoos. It was certainly not the sort of thing that respectable people even considered. However, buoyed up by the holiday spirit, I decided to get a henna tattoo on my ankle. My son, daughter and grandchildren got one too – the girls on the ankle, the boys on their upper arm. I felt so daring. It was fun choosing our pictures. I went for a seahorse. The results were very encouraging. They looked just like real tattoos. I felt like a rebellious teenager. For a short time I had joined a culture that was outside my normal life. For all that, nothing would persuade me to get a real tattoo. I am not that committed. It is not me.

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It got me to thinking. It is possible to be a henna tattoo Christian. You can’t tell by looking. You can hang out with the Christian crowd, learn the right phrases, even sing in the worship team but if the commitment is not there it will fade off after time.

We have been following the life of Joseph at our church. Yesterday we learned what characterised his life. He learned about God and his dealings with his father and grandfather at an early age. Then at 17 he was transported into another country where there was not one other believer. He was on his own. Yet his faith in the God of his fathers was enough to enable him to resist temptation when it was offered to him on a platter. Later when his brothers reappeared, he was able to forgive them from the heart. On his deathbed he asked that his bones be carried away because he believed God’s promise that He would deliver His people from Egypt. He was the real thing.

I am not sure how I would respond to the same challenges. Would I still be a Christian if I was the only one in a strange country, where there were no churches? Is my faith strong enough to enable me to resist strong temptations and to be able to forgive those who have wronged me?

Or am I just a henna tattoo Christian?

Impossible Woman

 
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Photo from http://harben-pictures.deviantart.com/art/Supergirl-311730139

I don’t know if anybody else out there has been intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman but I try to avoid  reading that chapter. I fall so far short. She is constantly busy, getting up before sunrise to cook- or maybe she just never goes to bed. because her lamp does not go out at night. She runs a fashion business, is rich enough to buy real estate from her profits but still has time to make home-made bed linen and clothes for her family. She also has time to do gardening, planting a vineyard with her own hands and she is probably planning to start a wine business on the side. She  does charity work and has time to give wise advice and teach others. She is a mother and presumably still has time for her husband too.

I started thinking about this impossible woman again today when I read Evelyn’s post Everlasting Love. As a single woman, instead of looking for the one, she strives to make herself the one.  Of course she can no more be perfect than any one of us but I admire where her heart and her passion are. It is a noble goal.

I remembered the opening verse of Proverbs 31. “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.” My aha! moment. His mother taught him all this.I am a mother of an unattached son in his twenties. If I were to make a list of characteristics of his future wife she would also not be real.

She would have to be a Christian, of course, preferably involved in some ministry that they can do together. I would like her to have a career of her own but be prepared to put it aside or do it from home when the children come. She would need to be intelligent with a good general knowledge to fit in with my son. She would have to think my son is wonderful and do everything to please him but still keep her own individuality and have some interests of her own. I would like her to be scientifically minded, like me, but also good at crafts and homemaking. Moreover she would have to be thrifty at running a home, good with people, able to do her own housework if necessary, be a wonderful mother. If she happened to be or have been a Girl Guide or Girl Scout, so much the better. Being a good cook is quite important but so is a being a good washer of dishes. She would need to be interested in sport as my son is a Sport Scientist, as well as interested in competitive Ball Room and Latin dancing so she could partner my son. If in addition to all these things she was beautiful and free from any potential life threatening illnesses, bonus! I agree with King Lemuel’s mother. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life.”  In other words she is totally trustworthy and faithful and brings out the best in my son.

I am pretty sure that when my son does come home with the woman he wants to marry, she won’t fulfill all the criteria. The woman I had in mind is nothing more than a mother’s day dream. I believe my son has sense enough to choose a Christian girl who fears the Lord but for the rest, if she makes him happy and does him good, I am sure we will love her and thank God for her every day.

So I no longer feel I have to live up to the Proverbs 31 Impossible Woman. God will continue to work in my life growing me closer to His image.

May you, too, be free of this standard of perfection.

Plant your dreams

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These words come from a Girl Guide/Girl Scout campfire song and is included in many campfire songs collections. I love the imagery of it. Of course, to have dreams bloom, they first need to be planted. It is three weeks to Spring here in South Africa and my first sweet-pea flower is about to bloom. However, If I hadn’t planted seeds three or four months ago, I would have no flowers for Spring.

I believe God gives us dreams, just like he made our unique personality and set our borders. However, just having a dream is not enough. although God does the growing, we have to do the planting. Dreams no more materialize overnight than flowers appear the day after we plant the seed. It takes time.

I would like to suggest the following as an aid to identifying your dreams and keeping them in God’s hands. Out of a piece of colored card or paper cut three seed shapes. On each write a dream that you secretly harbor. You don’t need to tell anybody about it except the Lord who knows anyway. Keep them in a safe place for at least a year. You could put them in your bible or in an envelope in a drawer. After a year check whether it is still your dream and whether anything has happened.

Of course it is possible to plant dream seeds that are not of God.  In Ezekiel 14 certain elders of Israel came to consult the prophet but God revealed to him that “these men have taken idols into their hearts” and that he would answer them according to the multitude of their idols. Some dreams are not of God. After a year you might know yourself which dreams are not of God if you have been keeping close to Him. If not, a simple test is “Will it glorify God or glorify me?”

Planting seeds is not the end of the gardening. It is true that only God can cause the growth and the flowering, but there are things we have to do. We need to water the seeds or plant them in a place where they will be watered naturally. We can do this by immersing ourselves in the Word of God, noting His promises and trusting Him.  Seeds also need sunshine and we can ensure this by walking in the light that God has revealed to us and making sure that our lives reflect His glory and are not riddled with sin. If we are led by the Spirit we will be in the light.

After a year, how about writing a comment about what has happened or writing your own post?

May all of your dreams bloom like Daisies in the sun!

Why I wrote “The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World”

Isn’t it amazing that God makes us each individually handcrafted as a non-repeatable, original masterpiece then we do our best to make ourselves into copies!

When my children were still at the age of picture books, about 25 years ago, I came across a series of Serendipity books. They were expensive but like all mothers, I wanted the absolute  best for my children. The  one I remember best was called “Leo the Lop” by Stephen Cosgrove  and illustrated by Robin James. Leo the Lop

It was a charming book about a bunny who had abnormal ears. He tried hard to be like the other bunnies but finally had to realize that whatever you are is normal. I loved the concept of teaching children to accept themselves no matter what.

Later when I entered a competition run by the Eastern Province Writers Club for children between 3 and 6 years, I decided to write a story specifically for young children who felt they were somehow different. I also wanted to include counting and colour recognition. I introduce the concept of God as the Maker but in a suitably obscure way that it would not prevent non-Christian parents from buying the book. I consider it my best work to date. My daughter, Mandy, painted the pictures for me.

Sugar Bowl Cover

Since then I have come across a number of children who feel different. I have unofficially dedicated the book to Isabelle de Groot. She is the daughter of my ex boss and she got to have the first copy printed on the computer and arranged in a pocket file. She was three at the time and took it to her nursery school.  The children enjoyed it. That was when I decided to self publish. Five  or more years later, Isabelle  got her wish, a baby sister – only Charlotte was born with Downs Syndrome and only lived for seven months. Isabelle now has a signed copy for her and Charlotte. Many other children I have come across feel different. There are others with Downs Syndrome, some with thick glasses, one is a dwarf. I would like all these children to know that God has a plan for their life. They have a purpose and can enrich the world and be part of God’s master plan which we don’t understand.

Getting the book published has been very up and down. Originally the Writers club told us that the top three entries would be published by a local South African publishing company but after two years I gave up hope of that prospect.

Later, after a lot of searching on the internet and trying to find an agent and nearly getting involved in a scam scheme. I did find an agent in South Africa. She was very excited about my book and was going to take it to book fairs here and abroad. After six months she decided to emigrate to Australia and start a new career.

I felt demotivated but still believed in my book. At my son’s advice, I decided to self-publish on Lulu.com where my book can still be ordered and printed. However, even with author discount, it was too expensive in foreign currency to enable me to buy a batch and sell them here.

Finally I found a publisher who would do small runs and a reasonable price and I had 50 printed. I have managed to get rid of most of them and I am trying to decide whether to have more printed. However I am by nature introverted and I am no salesman. None of the book shops I have approached have been interested in selling my book. Maybe I just don’t have the right contacts.

If you would like  a free e copy, you can click on the sugar bowl image in the side bar and you will be taken to the Lulu.com site. The book is free but you need to add it to your cart.

I have written other books- more children’s books usually with a moral and i am hoping to find an illustrator who is prepared to come into partnership with me and we will share (any) profits.