Monday, 14 April 2014

Five Minute Friday: Paint

Five Minute Friday
I’m running late again for Five Minute Friday.  Moving house will do that to you, and then finding out that you’re actually not, though your boxes are up to your ears and everything is packed but the computer and the printer.   

Today’s word is Paint, and I’m going to type crazy for you and for our challenge, and then I’m going to issue one of my own.  It’s one for writers to respond to and help us grow; to enlarge the boundaries of our imaginations and paint descriptions that go beyond the norm.

Ready Go (4:14pm)

I can’t paint for nuts, not unless you just want a big square block of the same colour, and even then I struggle, because I’m allergic to spray paint and house paint.  It just makes my throat burn, nose run and then I start wheezing with asthma.  I would much prefer textas, thanks. 

I paint with my words, they come out of my soul, sometimes stroking big and bold across the page and sometimes they tiptope and dance delicately, trying to portray a message that has been gently sheltered in the heart and can’t just be tipped out onto the page.  

While the colours and the images in my head can’t flow out of a paintbrush, they find their form in the marching little letters typed across a page.   How do you paint and why?



Saturday, 5 April 2014

Five Minute Friday: Writer

Yay time to write for 5 minutes, just whatever comes out, no editing, link up at and then encourage the person before us.
I'm a writer from when I was little.  I started stories by illustrating just a picture I'd coloured in.  But I made mum cry one day when she was trying to teach me.  Yes, sit under the desk and cry,  I wouldn't write but somehow she must have convinced me, because then I wouldn't stop.  Stories, poems, newsletters, articles and I still don't stop even now, though I sit typing one handed with a baby nestled in my arms.  I write in scrap moments on scrap paper, but once I start it just won't stop coming and it's good and fun.  I write from my life, my journals and the view from my kitchen sink.
9:26 Five Minute Friday

Interview with Author Candy Chand - No Greater Love

Recently I posted a book review on a beautiful book I read, 'No Greater Love', and then I had the bright idea, to e-mail the co-author Candy Chand, and ask her for an interview.  She said yes!

Thank you Candy for your time, I read Levi’s book and I was inspired by his story, but obviously there are two names on the book, and yours is one of them, so as much as it’s his story, you had a part to play.  So I was wondering . . .

How did you get involved in this project?
I read a short article, in the local paper, about Levi selling everything and moving his family to Ethiopia to rescue children. I contacted him, via email, to tell him I admired his compassion. We stayed in touch off and on for several months.

What was the most challenging part of this project for you?

Actually, it wasn't challenging at all. I know I should  probably say something was difficult,  but the truth is:  writing this manuscript with Levi was an incredibly smooth process. He's a gifted writer, with an amazing story to share, and our personalities meshed well together. 
Were you and Levi in contact a lot during this project, and how did you find working with another author?
Yes, we emailed back and forth , chapter by chapter. Now and then, he'd call me by Skype.  This was my second book (out of 7) that I've coauthored. Both were positive co-authoring experiences. It can be tricky, but I've been fortunate.  We worked well together. 
Did you ever get to travel to Africa and see the places and meet the people in this story?
I did not travel to Africa. However, Levi and I (along with his family) have met when he visited California. I also met another key person in the story, Stephanie, (now a good friend) who adopted the first rescued child, Bale. 

Before writing this book, did you have a particular interest in Africa?
Honestly, I didn't . But there's no way to work on a book like this one, or read it for that matter, and not get sucked into Levi's passion. It's an amazing story and adventure.
I believe you have written a number of other books, and I’d love you to tell us about them, have you ever co-authored before?
Yes, my second book, Ashley's Garden, was coauthored many years ago. It was also a memoir. 
What is the biggest difference in authoring on your own and co-authoring?
Well, there's a huge difference. When writing my own books, I only need to please myself and my editor. Of course, I need to please readers too, but that's months or years down the line. When coauthoring a book with another writer, cooperation is huge--especially when, as in this case, it's a memoir. It's vital to remember, it's the other author's personal story. It's about his life. When differences occurred, I was well aware, he needed to make the final call. Always.  
How did your writing career begin, and also how did you first get published?
I began writing in 1995. I sold my first book about 2 years later. (although it was not my first manuscript) . It came out in 2000. So, although it seemed like forever, that is relatively fast by writing/publishing standards. 
How do you write?  Do you have a routine, an office, or just on the loungeroom floor?
When I'm working on a project, I try to devote about 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. However, when I'm in the final countdown to submission, I work around 6 days per week , 5 hours a day--give or take. 
 I work on a laptop on the dining room table. Nothing fancy, really.
Are you currently working on any projects?
Yes, a holiday pay-it forward novella and a memoir.
Do you have a favourite author, and is there any particular book that has really inspired you lately?
I prefer nonfiction, so for that my favorite author is Anne Lamott. For fiction, J.D. Salinger.  Both are brilliant in their own way.
What is the best tip in life that you have ever been given, and what is your best tip for a young writer like me?
The best writing tip I've been given is  to persevere.
And for aspiring writers, I'd advise the same thing: Yes, it's about talent. Yes it's about discipline. But honestly, a writer has to be able to handle rejection (trust me, it will come. A lot) If writing is your natural gift, (if not, find out what your gift is and develop that instead. The world doesn't need more bad manuscripts) then work hard and never give up.   It will happen!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Surprised by Motherhood


I honestly didn’t think I would be particularly Surprised by Motherhood, but you know what?  I was.  I was one of those girls who always wanted 100 kids, in fact my first essay was about that, even though as a teenager I didn’t really like kids.    Then one day I was looking for a job, and I got offered one as a governess to 9 kids.  Well, that threw me in the deep end, but Mum had just had a baby, so it wasn’t too hard.  Then the two mamas I was working for both had babies, and another boss had a baby, and I was surrounded by babies. 

People would ask me how I was feeling, when I was pregnant, and I would assure them that I had plenty of experience with babies, and I was even doing a Pregnancy Consultancy Course, so I wasn’t real worried about the whole having the baby and being a mummy. 
I was first Surprised by Motherhood when I had been in labour for about 4 hours, and the nurse decided to come in and see how far dialated I was exactly, with that glass speculum.  Up till then, it didn’t hurt, I was rolling with the punches, but then it hurt and I wondered how the heck I was ever going to push out a baby when pushing that glass tubing in hurt that much.  (Stephen later reminded me that we were designed to push things out, not in, so it wouldn’t have been too bad.)  Maybe, but he was about to faint from just watching me, so it was a good thing I had a doula, who has since become a very good friend.

I was Surprised by Motherhood when after that speculum,  it all became a bit ‘heculum’, and I turned into a screamer.  Honestly, I’d watched Mum in the throes of intense labour, while I was in my first six weeks of pregnancy and she didn’t, and I thought I wouldn’t; but I did.

I was Surprised by Motherhood when I just couldn’t push the big buffy daughter of mine into the world and the knife cut quick and sharp, and she rose over the curtain screaming crazy, and then sucked like mad for nourishment even though she was the biggest bubba born into the family. 

I was Surprised by Motherhood when the milk came rushing in, and when I just loved her to bits, and we snuggled together in bed until the midwife came and shuffled her into her own.

I took her home and it all blurred by in a whirl of cuddles, kisses and colic, that we commanded to leave in Jesus’ Name and take its nasty little hands off my bubba and it did to people’s surprise. 
I remember declaring to Stephen in surprise and wonder that from this point on til she was 18, I would have to make wise decisions for her and begging God for the wisdom to do so. 

I'm Surprised by Motherhood again, though at 7 months, when I would have thought by now that she’d be sleeping through, in a routine and not quite so determined about chewing on electrical cords.  I never thought that I would feed her icecream; I thought I would be one of those healthy mums, but I just wanted to share some creamy happiness with her little tongue. Some days it would be nice if mobile phone calls long distance didn’t cost so much and Mummy lived closer to say how and why and what on earth I should be doing with this tiny little person who has such a big character and personality. 

Others have been Surprised by Motherhood, especially Lisa-Jo Baker.   She even wrote a book about it, and along with many others, I enjoyed the three sample chapters I got to read.  It reads easy, inspires instantly and brings it all into perspective just a little bit more.    I love her quotes, which I’ve sprinkled around this post, and the trailer just inspires you to keep going. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Five Minute Friday: JOY

Five Minute Friday, and I actually got in on Friday, not Tuesday.   Ready?  It’s joy we’re discovering today, and I’ve scribbled this one down the last few days on Ann Voskamp’s little booklet.


It’s a joy that I find when I spoon the mashy, mushy veges and rice and all things baby food into her cavernous hole, and when she spots us eating and she’s not, it’s an indignant cry for more.  It’s joy because I’m so thankful I can feed her.  There’s mummy in Africa and Syria and their hearts are breaking, aching in one deep sob because they can’t feed their babies.  I can’t imagine what that’s like and the why of it all.  

It’s a joy that I have milk for her little self and cuddle together in bed, falling asleep all milky and drenched.  I know some mummys even here that just can’t, and they say with a sigh they just aren’t a jersey cow.  If you look at it that way.

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, 20 March 2014

No Greater Love - Levi Benkert

I read a book last week.  Nothing astounding I know, it was just one that I picked up at the Healing Rooms where we were hanging around between prayer sessions.  It was called ‘No Greater Love’, a nice title, one that realistically a lot of books could be titled, because many people every day sacrifice much for the sake of others. 
It was the story of a man, Levi Benkert, who was headed down one path, and because of the GFC, was dramatically re-routed onto his true path of destiny; saving orphans in Africa.
Whenever I hear the word destiny, Africa is where I think of, because sometimes it’s hard to equate my stay-at-home Mummyness and Sunday School teaching with destiny.  But that’s my journey now, my journey and destiny. 
Levi’s was in Africa.  This story along with many others shows how God guides lives even when we aren’t necessarily walking close to Him, because Levi was almost ‘randomly’ asked by a friend to go to Africa to help set up an orphanage.  His desperation to escape the reality of the crashing global market and pending bankruptcy pushed him to gasp yes.  His breather trip to Africa to save ‘Mingi’ children, children who because they were born out of wedlock, without the intent to conceive them being announced to the chief, or because their top teeth came through before the bottom, were considered cursed, and consequently killed, suddenly became his life calling. 
He returned to America, packed up his children and wife and moved, to a town terribly remote where the language was foreign, the culture strange and the love in their hearts was the ‘no greater Love’ that the kids needed.  Amidst dust, flies, sticky mango pulp and not much water, their hearts softened to God and the ‘no greater Love’ that He carried for them. 
Amazingly, this one family, who were later joined by other relatives and former colleagues, were able to totally stop the Mingi practice.    This family learnt about ‘no greater love’ when they welcomed orphaned ones into their own home, space, hours and spent dark hours of the night rocking them to sleep.  They learnt ‘no greater love’ when they travelled days to take a landrover of screaming children not their own for medical help, and they learnt more, when God scooped them up and held them gently when tragedy and trials saw them screaming through the night.  This story of ‘no greater Love’ is not just another autobiography from Africa, it will minister deeply to your own heart, right where you are now.   
Please read . . . it’s beautiful, and so is your story, where ever you are in your destiny now.    
You can see more of what Levi and his friends are up to here 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Five Minute Friday: Crowd

Are you ready for my 5 minutes of intense blah on our topic of the day?  And I know it's not Friday, it's Tuesday but that's how it goes sometimes. 
You know those days when you’re just longing to sit down quietly and spend some time soaking in God’s presence, worship music playing softly in the background and a Bible on your lap.  You also know those days when it seems everything is trying to crowd that picture out and there is washing leaping off the couch into your lap, a baby trying to stuff those crinkly, easy-to-rip Bible pages in her mouth, and you just need to get a meal on the table before it gets too late?

I’ve had a few of those lately.  Perhaps I should say it the other way round, I’ve had a few days this year where I could sit down with my Bible and read and plenty of the other days.  Those crowded days where you wonder what you achieved in the here and now and what, if anything, got achieved for eternity?

I feel like some days, I was more ‘spiritual’ in other seasons of life, than here now when I’m a youth pastor and trying to organise the Sunday School into more than just an hours entertainment on a Sunday morning so the parents can try and absorb the sermon. 

Sometimes it can feel selfish to push in hard for more of God when everything around us crowds on in, and yet we know, sometimes distantly, sometimes desperately, that if we don’t, it’s all lost anyway because that’s the central pin on this mad merry-go-round, that we’re riding.    Maybe just open up your Bible right now and start reading aloud to anyone and everyone.  Go to bed a little earlier and lie there, and soak in the worship music.  A song becomes our theology more than a sermon because it plays over and over in the airwaves and the brainwaves.  The more we soak in God's presence, the easier it is wash off the scum, or if you're a drumstick, the more you marinate, the more you take on the flavour.
And, that's that, because my 5 minutes are up. 

Five Minute Friday