Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lizzy's Library Linkup: Books By my Bedside

As a child my family wrote a newsletter that we would send out to our friends quarterly, which would feature artwork, school work and articles by my younger sisters and I.  This led to me starting my very own newsletter as a young teenager called Lizzy’s Library, which eventually had 50 subscribers, and which I would save up my pocket money to send out every quarter.   
I did most of the writing myself, with the occasional article by a friend, and it was full of book reviews, poems and more book reviews.   I look back now and I am actually still quite proud of myself for the way I put it together and wrote.  Of course my writing skills have improved, and I don’t give away the whole secret of the book now when I review one, but for a 13 year old, I think I did a great job.   
I loved the tv show called Lizzy’s Library when I was little and at 8 years old started my very own library, complete with filecards of who was borrowing what, and my newsletter used to keep track of how many books I had with reviews of new ones. 
All right, enough waffle about my younger achievements, but I was thinking that I would love to have a Lizzy’s Library Link Up right here on my blog where we can share what we are reading. 
Some weeks these will be themed and other days they won’t.   I know when one of Stephen’s cousins and I get together, one of the things we almost always discuss is the book that is currently by our bedsides and as a result get inspired to read it when the other one is done.  Another bonus to book reviews is that when you review a book and someone goes looking for it on google, your blog and book review are possibly going to come up in the search results.  Score!
So I’m kicking off the link up with Books by my Bedside.  What are the books lying around on your bedside table currently?  Why are you reading them and what are they about?  These aren’t always the books that we gobble down in one sitting like a bowl of icecream, they are often more thought provoking and get read over weeks and months as we chew on them like gum, and they aren’t necessarily books that we would normally review due to their challenging content, or because we have forgotten what the start said by the time we get to the end.
So these are the books on my bedside table:

Heavy Rain by Kris Vallotton
(newly released as How Heaven Invades Earth)
I found this one at a Lifeline bookstore of which we have two in Toowoomba, purely dedicated to books, plus all the other Lifelines that have a bookshelf in them. 
Two of the subtitles read: How you can transform the world around you & The Kingdom is Coming Like a Flood and discusses questions like Is our world eroding or evolving, Is global warming the beginning of the end?  Will evil triumph over good and are we hurtling toward obliteration. 
In our age of fear controlled media where every 2nd country seems to be getting blown up, this book has helped me to concentrate on the tasks that God has set before me and not be afraid to pursue the things He has put in my heart for the future.  If He has put them there, than He intends for them to be done and will create the environment for me to do them.     If you’re going to be leaving this earth soon for heaven, than God will probably show you that too, but that’s not what He’s shown me.
It explores how the way we do church has shaped our minds and how God is breaking out of every box we could possibly put Him in to see more and more people saved.
Heavy Rain is a heavy read and appropriately titled but very powerful. 
2. Fasting, is a very good read by Jentzen Franklin that has just brought home to me afresh, why we fast.  It also talks about the health, as well as spiritual aspects of this spiritual discipline and I will be further exploring this topic on my blog at a later date.   It is written in a very easy to read manner, and I’m afraid I gobbled it down too quickly to digest all the spiritual nutrition within, so I’m going to do a reread on this one.
3. Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, 2 sisters who have written about their health journey of raw diets, veganism and various other fads to their more balanced and Biblical view of eating.  Not only is this book about eating healthy, it includes numerous recipes and chats about the different new foods we are seeing in our stores like quinoa, chia seeds, coconut oil etc and how and why to use them.   Another bonus at the back are chapters on exercise, hormones, marriage, and vitamins.  I will doing a very in depth study on Trim Healthy Mama soon as I have been asked to share about healthy eating at our ladies group at church in a couple of weeks, and do a demo cooking lesson.
I’m looking forward to hearing about what is on your bedside table, and perhaps being inspired to read a few new books.  J
If you would, please link back here so others can find out, thanks so much!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Why Authors Need to Create Blog Content

Have you ever checked out the website for a new author that you’ve just read a book by, and been bitterly disappointed to find that the last time they updated their site was months or gasp, even over a year ago?  That’s happened to me a couple of times, and sadly I’ve let my site lie dormant a couple of times too, but lately I’ve been planning and writing to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

So, the question could be asked, why does the reader care about your website?  Why are they there?  My thought is that they loved your story and they want to find out more of the person behind the book, or if it was more a devotional or autobiography, they want to find out more of the story, and sometimes as writers we can be guilty of wordlessness online.  It seems hard to come up with content for our blogs and websites, or we simply forget. 

Another idea that I’ve seen recently, is when a writer who knows they are going to publish a book, uses their blog as leverage to advertise that book and they have posts and photos and extras included on the blog that they don’t have in the book.   It’s a great way to get the word out about your book. 

Either way, I have a couple of simple ideas and resources that will help us to write our way forward. 

1.  Blogging is different than just writing an article.  If our blogs are short but regular, it’s far better than a bout of word constipation for a month and then a diarrhoea article that never ends.  So outline your idea, and then ask readers what they think.  You are far more likely to hear comments back if you end with a question, after all, I was taught it’s rude not to answer someone when you’re being asked something.    If you have something long and waffly you want to say, maybe you could break it up into several shorter posts and schedule them so that you don’t need to think about writing again for a little while.

2. Readers love pictures, and I think it just makes it more interesting to look through the blog.  I don’t hang around long on blogs that don’t have pictures.   I always start my blog post with one picture, and possibly put another further down the page.   With the first picture, it is great to overlay it with the title of the article, in this manner it becomes more pinnable, and with research suggesting that Pinterest is a driving source of website traffic these days, this is really important. 

So where do you get your pictures from if you’re not camera talented like me?  I asked my sister if I could use hers but she has her own blog and told me to take my own.  I noticed that my friends were regularly posting beautiful photos on Facebook and so I compliment how lovely they are and ask if I might use them on my blog, giving credit to them, and if applicable, linking to their site.  Everyone has been absolutely flattered and willingly agreed, usually within minutes of me asking. Just remember who took what! 
Thanks Vanessa

3. Use words you’ve already written, we probably all have many an article piled up in our archives, maybe notes from a sermon, or a book review, because then people searching for that book are possibly going to bump into your site, and lastly, participate in link-ups.  This is where you write a blog post, and post a link to it on another persons blog.   Link ups are incredibly popular and it is a great way of gaining new traffic and finding other interesting websites. 

One of my favourites is over at lisajobaker.com where every Friday she gives a word prompt, similar to the Faithwriters challenges and we all write for Five Minutes, whatever comes out, and then we stop, and post and then encourage another writer in the link up.   (This link up regularly has 150-200 participants)
Or what about Random 5 on Friday over @ http://www.thepebblepond.com/ where you type up five random things you’ve done through the week and then link up.  While this one only has a couple of participants, I love it because it gives other people a snapshot into my life that they may not otherwise see.
Another great list of link ups, is over at Serving Joyfully

I also have two link ups over at my other blog, http://glimspingglory.blogspot.com, on consecutive Wednesdays.  Heartfelt Homeschooling and Sunday School Secrets are both places to share learning inspiration, and launching this week, also on Wednesdays, will be Lizzy's Library link-up, right here at Lizzy Ainsworth Books. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Escape to the Country on our Sunday afternoon

This afternoon we made our 'escape to the country'. 
Stephen and his cousin went shooting pigeons and
our host provided us with a scrumptious afternoon tea. 
Can you spot what's out of place here?
Clothes flapping in the breeze
My cup of tea
Erin stuffing her face with carrot cake
Finally, a family photo
I think this shed is on a slight lean . . .
A beautiful country kitchen
I would love a kitchen and table like this
With a parsley patch outside
The clear paned window
Pots and pans and charm
And a bucket of wood for the fire to make pancakes

Friday, 18 July 2014

Random Five on Friday

1. I am surrounded by toys, as I often am, but these toys are all little people toys, the very same ones that I played with as a little person.  The school house with the slipperydip and little swing, the fliptop desk and clock.  School room sets and books about schools always fascinated me who was homeschooled.   I never wanted to go to school, just imagine it.   These are the toys that I borrowed from the toy library when I was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and then bought from them at 16 when they were getting more modern ones and wrote stories about them.

2. Stephen has been sick this week and at home a bit so our house is spectacularly tidy compared to it’s normal state.   We also have guests and I woke up this morning to find her sweeping my entire house.  Wow. 

3. I discovered that Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals are on tv at 8am in the mornings of weekdays quite by accident on Thursday morning and so I have been watching them while Erin and I eat breakfast and getting inspired, especially by his amazing healthy drinks!  

4.  I have also been watching Jon and Kate Plus 8, a fun tv show (well I had the first season on dvd lent to me by a friend) that follows the lives of an American couple who at the time of shooting had two 6 year olds and six 2 year olds due to IBF.  I read the book ‘Multiple Blessings’ when I was pregnant and was so glad that I wasn’t that huge!    The scary things is Jon and Kate sound a little bit like me and Stephen when we are teaching Sunday School.  Eeek

5. Today I was teaching a tambourine dance class, and we were working on rhythm with songs that change beat randomly.  My favourite cd for this the IHOP Joy cd. 
(All those ribbons are ones that I made to dance with and took them up to PNG in 2010 to give away)

The Pebble Pond

Monday, 14 July 2014

Give Thanks for What?

The slugs are eating my garden.  I left my phone at home. The dishes are piled up in both sinks.   They are facts in my life.   They discourage me.    I just look at life and it all says pain, struggle, work.     I do not look at my tasks, my mistakes, my mess with joy, just discontentment and I realise my attitude is wrong. 


Some people voice these complaints; a groan, a growl, a scream at someone else for not sharing the weight, a long list of expletives.   The yoke rubs the wrong way.  Do we not realise that we wear it wrong?


Usually they are just in my head, not voiced, just causing a frustrated simmer of resentment at my life.  They are still in my heart, piercing holes of discontent, the sharp of the nail tearing at any who come near, usually those I love most.  Puss leaks out, staining my day. 


How do I enjoy life?  Christ surely did not die for me to have this.   I search for a joy in places that are barren and in my searching miss each moment that ticks on.  


I have not learnt from the Words of the Book on my desk.   It lays open and I feel spiritual but have the words hammered out the nail and healed the sores?


‘Praise the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits.’


I am saved, redeemed, child of God.

Thanks, but sometimes those things are far away in a misty sky in the early morn before life screams with interruptions of pain in an imperfect world.  


What is in our heart will come out of our mouth, a stream of pure water or a stream of murky confusion and complaint.   How does it change from one to another?


The Words are sinking in and I realise what I must do to change the stream, to wear the yoke right, to hammer out the nails of discontent.  I must encourage my soul, and so along with many others in I begin my list of ‘One Thousand Gifts’.   It is a dare to live fully right where I am. 


1.      Thank you that the slugs are only eating the bok choy.

2.      That I have a phone to lose

3.      That I have plenty of food to dirty dishes with

4.      For the beauty of an unfurling rose bud

As we start can our view help but change?  We can encourage ourselves and the water slowly purifies and as it flows a clear stream, it will encourage those around us.

This is a piece I wrote shortly after we were married in 2011, but it seems my soul needs to learn the exact same lesson again. 

References:   Psalm 103:2

‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Voskamp.  This dare to live fully right where you are has quickly become a New York bestseller as God transforms a pig farmers wife from depressed to gladly blessed.  www.aholyexperience.com




Friday, 11 July 2014

Belonging Like a Booger and a Tissue

Five Minute Friday is when we write random stuff and funny stuff, and stuff that just wouldn't come out otherwise.  We have a prompt, today it's belong and we write for five minute and all link up and then have fun encouraging one another.  Would you love to join us?


What does it look like to belong?  It looks like my little baby snuggled up into me just because, because she’s hungry or tired or wants me.  It looks like a baby sitting on her Aunty’s lap playing the piano and singing her doodle diddle doo song because she knows that a song belongs to music, or needing to read a book before bed because that belongs. 

There are just things in life that belong to each other, salt and pepper, & a tissue and a boogy, and wiping that boogy just cost me a whole minute.  

Belonging looks like a friend ringing you up for help with her assignment because she knows you’ll come and you ringing your Mum because you just need help with the baby, because she belongs to you and those four other sisters and there’s nothing quite like belonging to your child, like a booger stuck to a tissue.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Asset or Liability?


Once upon a time, there lived a daughter who blushed easily.   Only the mention of a kiss from her beloved would bring the temperature of her skin to a higher degree.   Her eyes would lower, covered by lashes, a tiny smile would toy with the corners of her lips and her tanned skin would turn a rosy sort of red. 

Perhaps it could be called a liability, this somewhat embarrassing colour change at a mere suggestion of desire, or was it an asset?

Could this rise in temperature display an innocence lost by the world?   Was it a sign that somewhere in the world innocence still reigned, the mere suggestion of a kiss was held precious, and that purity was an asset?

Perhaps some could accuse this blushing to be a liability, not innocence, but rather an unnatural fear; she was not used to living in the real world, had been too protected, would never cope with marriage.

No that was different. Fear caused one to flee, not to value something more deeply.  Fear was the liability.   It was a dangerous, destroying force, but innocence, God’s worldview, caused perfect love which cast out fear. 

Was there ever a more beautiful asset?