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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top ten reads of 2014

The end of the year is the perfect time for top ten lists and everyone knows that top ten lists attract attention, especially if you use hashtags. So as well as providing the fascinating revelation of the ten 5 star books that I read in 2014, I am also, as always trying to attract additional readers to this much underrated blog.

Without further ado.. Here they are in no particular order.

Till We Have FacesOut of Time  (Out of Time, #1)In God They Trust?1984When "I Do" Becomes "I Don't": Practical Steps for Healing During Separation & DivorceFor One More DayDebris (The Veiled Worlds, #1)Heart of DarknessThe Four LovesEl Magic


Click here My Year in Books for the full list of books I read in 2014. 29 in total.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Redeemed Part 2

Today is a rest day. I'm reflecting once more on a busy Christmas period during which my feelings of dread were destroyed. Here is the next five in my Top Ten Christmas moments for 2014 again in chronological order.

6. Scattergories is a fun game and one which I usually play well. On Christmas Day I played with my son and daughter, and managed to get stuck on the letter 'H', writing a second list of words starting with 'H' when we had changed the letter. The next go, I started with the correct letter, then for some reason reverted to 'H' again. When I finally sorted myself out, I managed to fill all ten slots for the letter 'M' and was very proud of myself until we started checking our answers and the nominated letter was actually 'N'. This caused my children to almost die of laughter.

7. The pleasure of giving gifts.

8. On the way to my girlfriend's friend's place for Christmas dinner we struck heavy struck on the southern outskirts of Sydney. I needed a pit stop so I pulled into a service station. There was a long queue for the ladies' toilet and another shorter one for the men's. To pass the time and to take my mind off the urgent call of nature, I wished everyone a Merry Christmas and began a conversation with the guy in front of me in the queue. When the bathroom was free, the man with whom I was chatting amiably allowed me to go before him. Merry Christmas.

9. My girlfriend has had a lot of bad luck at Christmas over the years. She even resisted putting up the Christmas tree, believing it was cursed. However, by the end of Boxing Day, I saw sparkle return to her eyes as she rediscovered a little of the Christmas magic.

10. A head measuring competition at my dad's place after Christmas lunch on Boxing Day. For the record my son won and I came equal second with my cousin.

Please share your Christmas highlights.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Redeemed

In the aftermath of Christmas, I want to reassure my readers that my Christmas was far better than I imagined it could be. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and at Christmas we celebrate his birth, the beginning of God's plan of redemption. By keeping my eyes on Him, my saviour, this Christmas has also been redeemed.

I want to share my top ten Christmas moments for 2014. As I don't generally like long blog posts, I am going to split them in two. Here are the first five, in chronological order.

1. My aunty and uncle hosted a Christmas lunch/dinner/breakfast for my mum's side of the family the Sunday before Christmas. She purchased a number of small items from a second hand shop, wrapped them and distributed them to us as we sat around the table. We were instructed to chose a gift from the basket, unwrap it and tell a story about it. We could then chose to keep it or give it to someone else, and explain why we were giving it to that particular person.

2. Images on television of babies and toddlers sleeping peacefully in the arms of their parents at the annual Carols in the Domain concert in Sydney.

3. My girlfriend and I drove around on Christmas Eve looking at
Christmas lights. The trouble that some people go to to produce such spectacular displays, and the way they welcome strangers to join together on their lawns and enjoy, still makes me smile.

4. Singing "You are the Light of the World" at church on Christmas morning. A pumping song with lots of energy, hand clapping, gestures and a simple, powerful message of hope.

5. I began a new Christmas tradition with my family many years
ago which involves a trip to the beach on Christmas Day. December is notorious in Australia for un summery weather, and Christmas Day itself is often rainy and cool. This year, we had warmth and sunshine and we swam in the ocean under the watchful eye of individual lifeguards. Yes, there were enough lifeguards on duty to rescue each and every swimmer should we have encountered any trouble in the surf.

While you wait for the next five, why not share some of your Christmas highlights.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Worst Christmas ever

I love Christmas. I think I love it more as an adult than I did when I was a  child but I can't really remember what I thought when I was a child. I love Christmas because it is a celebration of everything good. It represents the things we all want from life. Hope, peace and happiness. It is meaningful because of Christ. For me, nothing is meaningful without Jesus.

Sadly, Christmas like all things in this corrupt and fallen world has become, for many people, a sad time. For example, people who have had bad things happen at Christmas: loss of loved ones, relationship breakdowns etc. Someone told me recently that she did not want to put up a Christmas tree because it brought bad luck, and I scoffed even as I struggled, and am struggling to find joy this Christmas. I'm trying but it's really hard.

In 1991 I was alone in Thailand where they do not celebrate Christmas. That was my worst Christmas. I fear this year will surpass it. My personal life is a mess, and I am unhappy most of the time. The extreme emotional highs and lows I have experienced this year have left me jaded and anxious about the future. I have made some bad decisions this year and I am living with the consequences of those choices. I have to accept this, and try to find myself again. I have to remember who I am in Christ.

I pray that things will get better and I believe they will, but it's hard. Very hard. Peace, happiness and hope. God help me to have a Merry Christmas. Maybe I should stop thinking about myself so much.

Friday, December 12, 2014

W.A.S.

Lovesick is proving a difficult creature to handle. I finished chapter 15 this morning and chapter 16 is already complete, but it really isn't flowing. I'm attempting something different with this, my fifth novel, experimenting a little with structure, and while I have a strong overall sense of the narrative and a very strong main character (in my humble opinion), it has been tricky to assemble the pieces. I'm enjoying the challenge but it's taking longer than I anticipated. A Muddy Red River which will be available from Rogue Phoenix Press in 2015, was easy to write.

I'm excited to see how Lovesick will develop. I'm also excited to see how readers react. I don't know how much more I have to write. Despite having a chapter outline, my novel, like all novels, is a living thing so it grows and changes, and I go with it. In that way it resembles its author: a work in progress.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

You Only Live Twice

Here are some different perspectives on life and death for you to consider:

"So we only get one chance, can we take it?And we only got one life, can't exchange it." -Age of Innocence by Iron Maiden

"You only live twice: once when you are born and once when you  look death in the face." - Japanese proverb

"It is appointed unto to men to die once and then face the judgement." - Hebrews 9:27

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." - John 11:25,26

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death." - Jesus Christ (John 8:51)

The fact that I have included three quotes supporting the Christian world view tells you where I stand, but I think most people, including many professing Christians, live according to the Iron Maiden lyrics. It is said that what you believe about death determines the nature of your life. Interesting theory but I'm not sure there is much evidence for it in reality.

People sing songs about living life to the full because it's all there is but they don't live that way. People who have near death experiences receive a second chance: the second life as presented in the Japanese proverb which Ian Fleming quoted in his James Bond novel. However, many of them also lack a true eternal perspective on life.

I believe that although my body will die, my soul is immortal. Jesus will give me a new imperishable body in which I will live forever in Heaven where there are no tears, and no pain or suffering. This is the hope which both sustains me and inspires me.

What are your thoughts on the after life, or perhaps you agree with the late business tycoon, Kerry Packer who, after he was brought back to life after a massive heart attack, famously said, "I have been to the other side mate, and there's nothing there."

Photo source:
http://liferemixed.net/2011/10/20/what-is-eternal-life/

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment 5

I wonder if there would be less racists if more marriages were interracial.You may have a view on that. You may be one of those strange people who live in the global village of the 21st century yet still believe in the superiority of one race over another, or one of the moderately more understandable people who fear what they do not know or understand, and therefore avoid, denigrate and discriminate against those who are different.

What is the connection to my cousin's wedding? He and his new wife recently returned from their honeymoon in New York. Now there's a city which knows something of cultural diversity and yet within multicultural societies, like New York and Sydney, the seeds of xenophobia thrive. What can prevent the weed of racism from strangling the flowers of interracial love and harmony?

My cousin married an Indonesian lady so the wedding not only joined two people together, but also brought two cultures together. People had travelled from far and wide to attend the wedding: from Indonesia, the United States, the Northern Territory and Victoria. They came together for one purpose and differences meant nothing. What differences may have divided were forgotten, and those which were manifested like the Indonesian dancers who performed for the wedding guests, only served to enrich the experience for everyone.

Sensible people acknowledge that life is enhanced significantly by diversity. An appreciation of, and respect for other cultures makes life more interesting, and facilitates harmony. Generally people marry people from their own race, their own ethnic background and although perfectly understandable, this promulgates separateness, and strengthens the tribe mentality. Tribes by nature war against each other. 

Most people want peace but either ignore, eschew and resist those things which lead to peace. Are more interracial marriages the key to the destruction of racism? It can't hurt, can it?

Photo sources:
http://www.quickmeme.com/Support-Interracial-Marriage
https://truthpraiseandhelp.wordpress.com/tag/interracial-marriage/