Monday, 1 September 2014

The Value of Read Alouds

I found these books at a local op-shop and I was thrilled to see them, like you would be an old friend that you hadn't seen for many years, because that's exactly how I felt about them, and do you know why?
Well, these books were ones that were read-alouds when I was in primary school.  I can't remember which homeschool curriculum they were part of, perhaps LEM, but I do remember them being read aloud to us, and they are certainly ones that I will read to Erin and any future children I have. 
They were faith building, old fashioned and intriguing, and I still remember many, many books that Mum read aloud to us.  In fact most of the history that I actually *remember* is not from the history books, though Mystery of History was a brilliant curriculum and I have kept the timelines that I made whilst using that, but from the many historical fiction books Mum read to us. 
Would you mind homeschooling Mamas if I suggested something to you?
Please read aloud to your children, in the car, at home, around lunch, before bed, whatever, but if you are going to do it in a sit down session like we did (start the morning with Scripture memory, Bible reading, perhaps a game, History reading and then a read aloud on the loungeroom floor) please let your kids do stuff while they listen.  Like fiddle with lego, colour in, illustrate a journal, bead, knit, glue, sew, or even the ironing or folding.  It's so much easier to listen when you're hands are engaged.  Contrary to what you might think it helps keeps the brain engaged on the book.  I'm so glad Mum let us fiddle.  I was still fiddling when I was 16 and these are some of the pages in a journal I illustrated while she read to us:

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How to Pray for Your Church


How to Pray for Your Pastor

I have been thinking for a while about how important it is to pray for our pastors.  We have good intentions towards doing it but I find I get a bit stuck on what and how, other than God bless them, keep them safe, tell them how much You love them.    All of which is good and well, but I’ve been wondering what are the real prayer needs? 

For the past two years I’ve been on staff at The Range Christian Fellowship in Toowoomba as a youth/children’s pastor, and so I’ve sat through a number of prayer and leadership meetings and also sat in countless sessions at the Healing Rooms.    I’ve heard a number of needs for prayer in churches, and recently on facebook there was some statistic of how many pastors burn out, get divorced, get depressed etc. 

I wanted to provide a resource that we could all use to pray for our pastors and I’ve listed a number of things that we could pray, and I’ve shown a number of pastors all of whom have been excited by this drawing, and now I’m ready to show you. 

I want you to own it though.  Print it out and write in your Pastor’s names, maybe their children’s names.  Write your pastor a letter and ask what they want prayer for and encourage them in how much of a blessing they have been to you.  Sometimes we don’t realise how much we have actually helped a person until they tell us because the change can be so gradual that we don’t notice.  Don’t tell them what they are doing wrong, bless them.  If you’ve got a point of contention with them I suggest you start praying this prayer that God showed me:  God if it’s my problem show me, if it’s their problem show them.  That prayer has helped me navigate so many tricky situations because we’re giving God a chance to work on both of us and it’s prayed from a place of humility.  (If you want to print it out, I’ve got a free printable here)

What are your churches needs?  Find out and write them in.  I’ve left blanks for this very reason.  Where is your church going in the future?  Has your church been built on any particular Scriptures?  Has it received any prophetic words for the future? 

We need honour, unity, strong marriages, hearts of worship, forgiveness to flow, hunger for God’s Word, to love one another and SOULS.    If this helps you to pray for your pastor just a little more often, imagine the difference that it can make.   They will be so blessed and so will you!
(Although it seems to have a grey background on the blog, it seems to translate to white when you save it and print it.)

Cornerstone Confessions  

Friday, 22 August 2014

Spirit of the Coconut- Understanding the Body, Soul, Spirit Connection

“As a human being, we are made up of three parts,” Poss began, pausing to allow the first statement of the teaching to be translated from English to Tok Pisin, or as it was otherwise known, Pidgin English.  

 I had listened to this teaching done by various members of the team fourteen times during my two trips to Papua New Guinea, and about four times at various training and teaching days in Australia.  Yet, every time it was given, I received a fresh revelation.  Now, I was preparing to go back to Papua New Guinea to listen to the teaching again, and perhaps even give it myself.


It was a very valid teaching, and as Poss continued, she likened our body, soul and spirit to the layers of a coconut.  If you took a bush-knife to the coconut to cut it open for some refreshment, you would first cut through the shell, our physical body, and then the meat our, soul, until the milk, our spirit, spilled out.  


This was likened to the instance of a man leaping out from the tall kundai grass with his bushknife and slashing you.   Not only was your body affected, where you felt the physical pain, your soul, which consists of emotions, mind and will were affected.  Anger circulated immediately, resentment built up and you planned to get even.  These emotions began would begin to poison your spirit if it was not controlled by the Holy Spirit, and every part of you was affected.


This might seem like somewhat of an obvious truth but what if you applied the principal that you were made up of three parts to your health?


The Bible clearly states that our physical health is connected to that of our spiritual and emotional well being.

“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 (NKJV)

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart, the spirit is broken.”  Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)


Victorious Ministry ThroughChrist, the group I ministered with in Papua New Guinea, was founded by an Anglican woman by the name of Anne S. White, not to be confused with Ellen White.   Anne’s son suffered severely from asthma and the doctors had tried everything to heal him but to no avail. 


In the midst of one of his coughing fits, Anne was seeking the Lord and He revealed to her that she must forgive her mother-in-law for various offences committed against her, in order for her son to be healed.  Although these offences were relatively minor, she confessed and repented of holding unforgiveness in her heart, and as she did so, her son gave one last cough and never suffered from asthma again.


This started Anne on what she called her, “Healing Adventure,” also the title of a book she wrote on the topic.  After making the connection between physical sickness and spiritual health, she began thoroughly researching the scriptures to find out more about healing. 


Soon she had taken the revelation to her minister who blessed it, and Anne went out to share it among the churches.  People were prayed for and set free from unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, abuse, generational curses and addictions. Often there were physical as well as spiritual and emotional healings.  The ministry spread across the world and VMTC is now an international, interdenominational, Holy Spirit led, prayer ministry run to benefit Christians and see us set free from all past and present issues that can hold us back from being all we were supposed to be.


Now you may think as a Christian, that you would not benefit from this ministry.  Think again. At age 14, having been brought up in a Christian home and sheltered from much worldly influence by home schooling, I was of a similar school of thought. However, once I lowered my barrier of pride, which in itself is a sin, I began to benefit greatly from the teaching and prayer given by VMTC.

Today at age 18, I have had numerous emotional, spiritual and physical healings by a man and a woman praying for me and applying God’s Word to my life and particular issue we are dealing with. I have seen such amazing freedom come to people through this ministry that I am now training to pray for others and looking forward to my third mission trip to Papua New Guinea in three weeks time.
(I wrote this, as you can see, about 4 years ago, but I still love this teaching and have had many more spiritual and physical victories using these principles, and I explore some of these in my book, Dad and Me in PNG.)

 Linking up at:
Cornerstone Confessions

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bearing Fruit When You Have a Baby

It’s a year to bear fruit and I’m sitting here staring at that great visual.  The top of my bookshelf, the FAITH, the us, our kiss, the LOVE, the woman under the tree nursing her baby, and it’s not such a small one.  It’s about the size of mine, nearly one and needing the nurture more now than ever.   
They told me life would change when I had a baby and I knew it would, but for four months it didn’t really.  She was too small to move, and I could do nearly everything I could before.  The meetings, the ministry, the prayer rooms for hours, the Sunday School, the youth group for the teenage girls that I had taught in the highschools and who had stared at my rounding belly growing fuller each week.  Those girls who had promised and begged for baby-sitting rights.
Slowly it all started to change, and I struggled to keep up.  I knew I had to lay stuff down, but I struggled against the pruning.  I was surely bearing fruit, but all my opportunities started getting snipped away, because now she could move and talk and crawl away and wouldn’t keep quietly sleeping through each meeting. 
My sister had made me the wire tree for Christmas.  She said it was a prophetic gift and this was the year for bearing fruit.    I had asked Stephen only days before Christmas to make me a wire tree, but he didn’t have time, but my sister did, and she who didn’t know my request, had it whispered in her ear by God.  I tried so hard for the first half of the year to keep up.  Keep up with meetings and the friends who could be so busy without a baby.    I tried to grow fruit and grew frustration. 
I set goals that I met and then couldn’t and got frustrated and wondered why my baby couldn’t just be ‘normal’ and settle into a routine. Not while her Mummy was busy dashing here there and everywhere. 
This week my mother and father in law came visiting after a family funeral.  It was his birthday so they bought us a vacuum cleaner, and they cleaned my house and called it a holiday.   My windows, my floor, my sink all sparkling clean and at the round table we sat to talk, and I asked him what it meant to bear fruit, and he, who has struggled with burn out and not doing enough for God,  said that it meant first there had to be a pruning of the activities that were no longer bearing fruit so that I could focus on the areas that were.
Thank you father in law; that one sentence has freed me to do what I need to do.  To spend time in the Word, to journal and hear God’s heart, and to write down the revelation for everyone.  To not try anymore to bear fruit but to water my soul so that it can and to grow my baby into a girl who is in love with her Heavenly Daddy because her mummy is, and little girls copy their mummies. 
It’s my year of Hope and Growth, of understanding that life is a journey and I’m learning I can’t make all my dreams and desires happen instantly.   
Linking up at: Thriving Thursday


Monday, 18 August 2014

Dealing With the Utter Clutter of Having a Baby (Including the cards)

About this time last year I was having my baby girl.  Actually, I was being prepped for a C-section after being in labour for about 13 hours and trying to push out a big stuck bubba.  Can’t believe she’s turning 1. 

So this month I’m just going to share with you some things I’ve learned in the last year, and this first post is rather fun.  It’s about dealing with the utter clutter of having a baby.    People bring you stuff;  presents, food, blankets, clothes etc, and it can all just pile up.  You’ve got cards, envelopes (if you’re like me you save them for another occasion) gift bags, plates that belong to someone else, clothes that you do want, clothes that you don’t want, and your house can get cluttered very quickly.   

We were living in a one bedroom flat that we had just moved into when my baby was born and I didn’t have a place for everything yet, so my suggestion is, to avoid the clutter, know in advance exactly where you are going to put all these things, and when friends and family come and ask what they can do, show them a pile and then show them where to put it.    Instead of them unknowingly adding to the mess, let them help clear it.  I’m sure they’d love to.    I don’t think my kitchen table got cleared for weeks after Erin was born.  I had veges, medication, food and general mess everywhere. 

And all those cards of congratulations, what do you do with them after you’ve displayed them for 3 months and they are showing more dust than anything?    I saved them in a drawer for a while along with any other momentos I wanted from the birth, like Erin’s hospital tag, Christmas present tags, etc and then I either used them in scrapbooks or, I made a little card book from the bigger cards by punching holes in them and stringing them up with a ribbon and with the smaller ones that would fit, cutitng them up and sticking them in a photo album, both of which she loves looking at already. 


Linking up at:

Friday, 15 August 2014

Random 5 on Fridays & Houses

I quite like telling you random stuff about me that you wouldn't find in a professional interview. 
It's fun and you get to know me a bit better.

1.  I love houses!  I’ve always loved designing them and working out layouts.  My latest dream and drooling session is over shipping container houses because Stephen actually has all the skills to make one.  When we were searching for a rental, we looked through about 15 houses and so I now have a fair idea of what I do and don’t like in a house.

2.  I also love dolls houses, I have about 20 that I’ve been collecting since I was 5.  One day I would like to set them all up on the patio and take a photo of them.     Maybe my love of houses is also why I love Aunty Robyn’s beautiful house quilt hanging she made for us when we got married.  I’ve been looking around my house all week trying to figure out where to hang it.  (We have to ask the landlord if we want to put more hooks in so I was trying to avoid that, even though they are lovely.)

3.  I really enjoy Robyn’s Quilt Chats and last week we went to a nursing home while Robyn gave one on the life story of her dad, which was hilarious, but I must confess, Erin rather stole the show with her smiling, waving and clapping, toddling around all the oldies.

4. We started our new cleaning routine on Monday.  We are doing the deep cleaning jobs like the bins, microwave, floors, etc on Mondays and if we get it all done, we reward ourselves with a trip to Lifeline, and while we were there Erin took two steps by herself and had a ball crawling around the book shelves playing hide and seek and I found some great bargains which I reviewed in my Lizzy’s Library Link-Up.

5. Now I’m going to go clean our room, because after an awful nights sleep last night, I’ve decided to pull the cot in there and start sleeping Erin in it at night, hopefully and get her out of our bed.  My goal was to always have her in her own bed by age 1
Linking up at Random 5 on Friday

Friday, 8 August 2014

Finding Anna & Interview with Christine Schaub

Finding Anna is a beautiful book, exploring the life behind the hymn, not just the events that inspired the hymn, 'It is Well With My Soul'. The author has gone to great lengths to research this book and the emotions of the characters are so realistic. She portrays how a beautiful marriage can become dull and hard through neglect, because we are so busy serving others and paints incredible word pictures of how depression slowly takes hold, yet offers hope that the soul can be restored after loss whether through fire, service or tragedy. This was a book that I struggled to put down and I yearned for more. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for any more books from this author, who I was recently privileged to interview.  I was so inspired by her answers and I hope that you find it remarkably encouraging!
Could you just start by telling us a little bit about yourself and where you live?
I'm a reformed Yankee (northerner), living in Nashville, Tennessee (south). I grew up on a cash-crop farm in Michigan and loved every minute of it! I graduated from a small Christian college in Anderson, Indiana with a major in Mass Communications/Journalism and minor in Literature. I had a double-major of Piano Performance until my senior year--the hours of practicing were just too much!
What books have you written?
I finished two novels of historical fiction (what I call fauxography)--"Finding Anna" and "The Longing Season"--and published them through Bethany House Publishers. I'm been working on an action/adventure series for years while I edit other writers' books, write devotionals, and ghost-write autobiographies/memoirs.
 I think you mention in Finding Anna that you are the co-author of three feature length screenplays.    What are these about?
I paired up with a creative college buddy and wrote a slew of screenplays--several hymn stories, some romantic comedies and one science fiction. They are great writing exercises for shaping plot, voice and action. 
How did you get started writing these?
When the hymn-story dramas became such a hit, I had a dream to turn them into historical dramas for either television or theatre. My college buddy joined me, and we went to screenwriting conferences and did tremendous research to get the facts right. The writing process was great fun. It was while pitching the stories as movies that I got an offer to turn them into novels.

You perform your hymn stories as dramas for churches, what does that look like?  Do you get dressed up in the period costumes or is it more narration type drama?
Yes--I dressed up as the narrator of each story (so it's in third-person). I started with "It Is Well" after a music minister asked me to research the hymn, then write/perform a monologue about how/why it was written. I dressed up in a nautical theme and told the story while a pianist set the mood with "movie music" behind me. At the end, a lonely saxophone played the chorus, "It is well...with my soul..." into the silence. It was seriously dramatic!

We got all kinds of comments on it, so I researched another one, then another, then another. I performed the "Doxology" story in a Cardinal's robes that I rented from a costume shop! When I performed the story behind "The Star-Spangled Banner," I dressed in modern red, white and blue clothing. Not all hymns have dramatic origin stories, but they might have interesting stories related to how people responded when they heard them. The story behind "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" involves a train wreck in the 1800s, so I tried to be period-conscious with a long skirt and hair in a bun. "Come Thou Fount" was based in a stagecoach and required telling from two different perspectives in first person. That was a little trickier. I just moved stage right or left, depending on who was speaking. "Jesus Loves Me" comes from a children's book. There are some great stories behind these old hymns.

I know that you were interested in turning Finding Anna into a screenplay/movie, did that ever happen?
We wrote the screenplay and there was some interest, but no production company has picked it up...yet. Since it's historical and involves a shipwreck, the production costs would be in the tens of millions of dollars. It's still my hope that someday, someone will make this happen.

The Amazing Grace story is possibly a more well-known story than that of It is Well, did your book come out before or after the Amazing Grace movie and did the movie at all impact the writing of your book?
The "Amazing Grace" movie was really about William Wilberforce and his fight against the British transatlantic slave trade, not John Newton--although Newton makes a cameo appearance. My book, "The Longing Season" is specifically about Newton's life and how he came to write this now-famous hymn. My novel came out the same year the movie was released, but the connection was too light to have any influence.

What's interesting is that we've been telling John Newton's story completely wrong for hundreds of years! I was just as surprised as I'm sure my readers were to discover the truth. I met with a Newton biographer to confirm my research and wrote the real story in "The Longing Season." I've had many readers "alert" me that my facts are wrong, and I just direct them to Newton's autobiography and subsequent biographies. I make up dialogue and descriptions, but I don't make up the facts.

You also write for corporations and real estate productions, that’s quite a wide range of writing, what different skill sets do you find you use over the range of historical fiction through to corporate writing?
Corporate writing is a wonderful set-up for any other kind of writing. Corporate writers learn to be efficient, getting information across to the reader in 100 words or less. Creative/novel writing is all about expanding core information. It's always easier to expand the text than to reduce!

Writing for performance made me consider emotions and word choice, and I had to have a certain rhythm in telling a story. I always read my book chapters aloud to see if I have the right rhythm. Writing dialogue for screenplays was excellent practice for beefing up the dialogue in my books.

What's wonderful about corporate writing is that it's not personal--I get a topic, do some interviewing and research, and communicate the facts. It's quick and succinct, and it fades into history very quickly. And then I get paid. :)

How did you first get involved with Bethany House and what was your publishing journey like?
My agent and I met with another writer for Bethany House, mainly to discuss the TV movie option. He took the idea to the publisher and they liked it, but wanted me to turn the stories into books first. I'd never written a novel before in my life, and wasn't sure it was for me. But I bought a how-to book, followed the directions...and found out I was good at it!

I thoroughly enjoyed the editing process--it was very instructional and instrumental to the projects I'm now working on. However, the publishing aspect was frustrating, irritating, disappointing and, ultimately, a deal-breaker for me. The publisher takes an enormous bite out of a writer's already-meager income and does less and less work to promote the books now. I recommend that new writers go the self-publishing route, if possible, and hire editors, publicists, book cover artists, etc. You'll make far more money and have more control.

Did you ever start on a third book in the series and how is that going?
I did start a third book on the story behind "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go." In the midst of heavy research in Scotland, I realized there wasn't enough plot to make a full novel. It's a beautiful story, and I may combine it with other shorter hymn stories in a book someday.

Your characters in Finding Anna were so real and true to life, with their emotions and even Anna’s gradual decline into depression, excuse me if I’m wrong, but that is an incredible feat for a first time author.  How did you find your character’s voices and develop them?
I did a LOT of research, and I had the benefit of in-depth conversations with women who I knew struggled in their marriages. It's a very deep and personal thing, and I'm so thankful these women were willing to share their feelings with me so I could write a believable Anna.

So much anecdotal information is available about D.L. Moody. At one point, his character was at risk of taking over the story! He was an easy character to write. Everybody knows a "Tommy"--that young guy who puts up such a fight against being a good man. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Gates and the doctor. Strong male friendships are sadly lacking in literature, so I wanted this one to be as powerful as my research told me it was.

The children were, perhaps, the hardest to write. I don't have children, but I've worked with them in various careers. I find the child's "voice" hardest to create.

What does your life, and writing look like at the moment?
I just finished editing a book for a singer/speaker that was inspirational and fun. Currently, I'm working on helping a singer writing his memoirs--which I've always wanted to do! It's alway easier to tell someone else's story.

What is your best writing tip for us? 
I know a lot of writer advice is to just write anything, write nonsense, write bad stuff, throw it out, start again. I totally disagree with that. Everything you write--a Facebook post, an email, a dating website profile--should be clever, informational, entertaining, and scream "I'm a writer!"

If you want to be a novelist, read a book on how to write a novel. I did! There's a process for that. Learn it. Then do some practice writing by telling fascinating stories about family members or friends. Interview them. Get details. Record it, transcribe it, print it, cut it into sections, and start arranging the story. Working off that, start writing a story ANYONE would want to read. Enter contests. Follow the rules. Submit stories to your local newspaper. Start small and, if you enjoy the attention, do something bigger. Start somewhere with something. If it's even a small success, it will inspire you to write something bigger.

Thank you so much for your time!