Monday, 14 July 2014

Commonplace Palace

I thought I would share the other poem I entered in the writing eisteddfod.  I have already put up "Strength During Loss" which you can read here.  I was told recently by a poet that rhyming poetry is a bit of a lost art and very few people can do it (personally, I think it depends on how you have learned poetry and what you practice) but not sure what the adjudicator would be looking fr, I thought I would enter a free verse poem as well, which I don't really consider to be a poem - more like prose with funny paragraphing.  :P  Hope you like it all the same.  Thankyou to +Alice Farrelly for helping me out with my formatting, too.  :D

Commonplace Palace

Sitting, I listen to the sounds around me.
Sisters, singing and chattering happily
Oblivious as yet of life’s hardships and woes.
Bless their sweet hearts – they come over and kiss me
And off they go again!
Mozart playing through the stereo, creating a ballroom atmosphere
In this commonplace lounge,
Yet not so commonplace either…
Wherever love and laughter abound, is it so common?
No!  Kisses and hugs from one’s family
Create a fairy tale setting for a princess to live in.
For Mother and Father are the king and the queen
With one young prince and seven princesses to rule alongside.
How rich we are to live in our commonplace palace –
Laughter hangs from the ceiling and lights up the room.
Love surrounds us on all sides
Warmer than the fire in the hearth.
Homemade scarves –  birthday gifts, mainly – are more prized
Than a purple Tyrian cloak.
Patchwork quilts are hugged as stories shared
From books and from life.
Yes our commonplace palace is warmer,
Than Buckingham itself
For within these walls resides our family:
Mother Father, Sisters, Brother

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Joy's Blog Birthday Party Day Four - Modern Fiction and Ink Stains

1.      Who are your most-well-loved authors of the mid to late twentieth century (. . . 1930s-1980s)?
I can’t say I read heaps from this era as I am quite wary about content, and it can be hard to find gems in the rubble sometimes.  I really like Corrie Ten Boom books.  Oh!  My favourite author of all time is Janette Oke.  If you have not read her books you really need to find some and get into them.  They are beautiful!

2.      Your favourite authors of the twenty-first century?
My family has recently discovered the Barn Chronicles by Rosie Boom, which is the story about Rosie’s family (her husband and their six children) and about how they lived in a barn in New Zealand while they built their family home.  The books are really funny and “real life”, if you know what I mean.

3.      Which genres do you tend to read the most and enjoy from more modern fiction?
Biographies I think but I am also especially fond of any books set in WWII.  Most of Janette Oke books are set in the pioneering days of America and are Christian romances.  In a good way.  ;)  :P

4.      Are you more willing to invest yourself in a fictional trilogy/or series or prefer the stand-alone novel better?
It depends on the series.  :)  If I don’t enjoy the first book, then I won’t bother with the follow up books, but then if I enjoy the first one, I’ll keep going.  :)

5.      While it is generally agreed that nothing beats classic fiction, there is much gold in the new too! What are the positive qualities and styles of modern works that you appreciate?
That is a really hard question, Joy!  Ummm… :)  It’s not that I don’t appreciate modern books but as a whole, modern novels just don’t portray the same family values, fidelity, clean-ness that older books tend to have.

6.      What is your greatest hope for modern fiction?
What do you mean by that?  I’m going to assume you mean, what do I hope to find when I open a modern fiction book… :)  I hope to read about people of courage, who aren’t afraid to stand up for right and who defend the truth.  Also love that lasts would be a nice bonus feature thrown in now days.  :)

7.      List 5 books by modern authors you have read which you either hope or predict will become "classics" in years to come.
I really have no idea… :)

8.      In reading modern books, do you predominantly read from the secular or Christian market?
Christian, because have I mentioned that Janette Oke is my favourite author???  ;)  In saying that however the war stories I rad would almost equal her books, I think.

9.      List three of your favourite novels written in this century.

10. Of various as yet-unpublished books that you know something about, what are 5 that you most wish to read one day?
I don’t really keep up with what is coming out, but there is a book by a certain Joy that I wouldn’t mind reading one day… :)

* * * * * *

"The Ink Stains" Questions. . . 
(the writing tag)
1.      For how long have you been seriously novel-writing? What sparked you to move from simply writing in a "dabbling" fashion for fun to pursuing your writing to a higher-level?
I confess I am still dabbling.  I am not a serious writer in the least and unless it is something casual like this or a story I think up by myself, I don’t particularly enjoy it much.

2.      Do you wish, ultimately, to entertain your readers and make them smile, or rather to inspire, challenge them and move them to tears?
Just to get them hooked would be my fist goal – if they feel anything after that, I’m happy.  :P

3.      What are two of your favourite genres to write in?
Historical Fiction.  I think I have dabbled in about half a dozen eras, but I can’t say what would be my favourite.

4.      Will you please tell us a little about your current writing project (novel-in-progress, short story, novella, etc. . . )?
I can’t say I am actually actively working on anything at the moment, but the last story I started was a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast in a WWII setting.   You can read the first two installments here.  Part One   Part Two

5.      How long have you been working on it? What is the backstory of how you started this novel?
I came up with the idea when I read about the competition of Five Enchanted Roses on Joy’s blog.  The challenge was to tell a unique version of Beauty and the Beast, while staying true to the original plot.  
6.      Have you written other stories/books (or currently writing others)? Do tell us a little about them please!
I have started many more stories than I have completed.  In fact, I can’t think of many stories that I finished – at all.  I am not particularly fond of my own writing style, strange as it may sound.  I tend to write about my own passions, namely family, weddings and babies.  If it is not written properly or harnessed and dealt out in moderate amounts, such writing is rather unpalatable and super sloppy.  :P   Janette Oke is about the only author I have come across who has mastered this art.

7.      Out of all the characters you've ever written, who is your favourite?
I was pretty happy with the old woman at the start of my Beauty and the Beast story.

8.      When you complete this novel, do you plan on preparing it for publication or rather leave it to "marinate" and start a new work with the hopes of improving your writing first?
I don’t plan to ever publish something, and as a general rule, I don’t edit.  The way it comes out is the way it is.  :P

9.      Isaac Newton was known to have said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Who do you see as having been the literary giants or "Greats" that have inspired and influenced your writing thus far?

10. Can you picture any of your novels being adapted into movies? In the stuff of your dreams, who would you cast for your main characters?
I am always doing this, whether it is my own writing or someone else’s!  As I said, though, my writing is generally not finished or developed enough to put it even into dreams yet!

11. As you write, how often do you find yourself learning any of the lessons or going through any of the journeys/struggles of your characters?
I can’t say I learn new lessons, but I am encouraged sometimes by the gentleness and meekness that I may try to put into a girl, or the courage and manliness that I put into a lad (not that manliness applies much to me!  LOL!)

12. As a Christian, how does your faith affect your writing generally? Is your current novel overtly Christian or more subtly under-girded with your faith and worldview?
Depends what I’m aiming for.  It my goal is a Christian novel, then I will highlight that more than what I would in a general fiction writing.  In such books, I may not mention religion at all, but my writing reflects the standards that I up hold as a Christian.

13. In one word each, how would you describe each of the main characters of your novel?
Dame Kansvier  : spooky
Rosalind: brave
Jacob: gentle
Ruth: sweet

14. Are there any aspects of your novel that have taken you by surprise?
Not yet!  :D

15. How do you think the main characters of your novel would react if he or she were introduced to you?
“You look so innocent!”  :P  Just kidding.  ;)  I seriously have no idea.

15. Do you plan, Lord-willing, on pursuing the traditional mainstream route of finding an agent, etc, and waiting it out, or do you consider indi publishing (self-publishing) a healthy alternative?
No, I don’t ever plan to publish.

16. Out of the many themes and messages, what would be the one closest to your heart that you should like to share through your writing?

There is hope, there is love, and we can find it if we look in the right place.  It isn’t inaccessible – Jesus holds it all out to us: all we have to do is reach out hand take it.

Friday, 4 July 2014

God is Still God (even though I'm being pounded!)

"God!  Where are you?!  I need you, and this is the only way I know how to reach you, but I can't feel you and I don't know what to do!"  We've all prayed that prayer.  Sometimes it feels like everything is happening all at once and we can't find our way out.  God is there, but is He still watching me?  Is He really holding me and loving me?  You answer yourself: "Don't be ridiculous!  Of course He is!  He said I will never leave nor forsake me - are you completely faithless yet?!"  But even thoughts are overwhelmed as head wars with heart, and you end up in desperate tears, your heart screaming out: Oh God!  Please give me some assurance of your presence and your peace!

I've been there - we all have at some point, I think. It is a wretched condition that leaves you feeling completely wrenched in two, weary and utterly alone.  Circumstances close in closer, and again I cried and pleaded for relief and assurance.  But words fail to describe the anguish of soul in these seasons of the Walk.  If you have lived it, you know what I mean.

Why do I feel so wretchedly overwhelmed and distanced from God?  Sometimes, life goes through seasons of plenty and blessings.  Then the seasons change and drought comes.  Sometimes it is longer than other times, but the comfort is that seasons always march on.  Australia is in the second month of winter now, and the days are chilly, but this year winter took a long time to come.  By the middle of June, the days were still in the mid twenties Centigrade.  It felt like the cold days were never going to come, but they did according to the promise of God in Genesis 8:22

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

What a beautiful promise from God! Here in lies the assurance we need in the times of drought and hardship: God is God.  He is always in control.  When my world seems to be spinning out of check and everything is chaotic and quickly going from bad to worse, God is the God who created me and my world - I know He ultimately in charge and will bring me through.

Lately, our family has been reading through the book of Daniel as a study.  The theme of Daniel is that God is God and He is in control.  If you think about it, Daniel had many times throughout his life when he needed to remember that.  The seasons of his life occurred in quick succession from highs to lows and back again.  Here is a brief outline of what Daniel's life consisted of:

  • Son of a noble in Israel
  • Captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken as a slave to Babylon
  • Was wise and became ministers of the king's service
  • Predicted and watched as the king lost his mind
  • Triumphed as the king turned to God as the High King
  • Was demoted when Belshazzar became king and stole the gold goblets from God's temple
  • Interpreted the writing on the wall and was lifted to third position in the kingdom
  • Lost position that night when Babylon was overrun by Medes and Persians
  • Became a favourite of King Darius and was raised to second in kingdom
  • Betrayed by fellow princes and thrown in Lions den
  • Saw the miracle of God in the lion's den and came back to work for the king.

We don't know what ended up happening to Daniel, but seeing as he was probably a teenager when taken to Babylon, and the exile lasted for seventy years, he probably died there.  (Chapter one records that he remained in Babylon until the first year of Cyrus, but then we read in chapter 10 of a prophecy he received in the third year of Cyrus.  Either 'remained' refers to his time in office, or, even though he would have been approaching ninety years old, he made the trip back to Israel that was sponsored by Cyrus.)    As you can see from the outline above, you can see that Daniel had many times in his life when he must have been overwhelmed by fear and grief.  But he always - always - remained faithful to his God and King, and he knew without a doubt that until his time was up, God would protect him from anything that this world (or Satan) could thrown at him.  And because of this faithfulness and his wisdom, Daniel has a few references to be proud of: he is the recommendation of the queen (Daniel 5:11), the jealousy of the other nobles (chapter 6) and - most wonderful of all - he is the beloved of God.  (Daniel 9:23)  And that, my dear friends, is all we need to remember when under trial and hardship.  I am the beloved of God.  He is in control and He will bring me through when I continue to wait on him.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40: 30-31)

To conclude, I encourage you to watch this music video - it is one of my favourite songs from Colin Buchanan and reminds us of the encouragement of comfort that comes from trusting in God in the hard times.  God bless you and hold you always!  :)

Ps.  I am terribly sorry about the formatting of this post - I could not figure out how to make it all match and it insisted of jumping to different formats from paragraph to paragraph.  Hopefully you can all still read it fine.  :)  - E.K.D