Is It All Just Too Difficult?

The following post was written just over a year ago.

At the time I didn’t have a clear enough vision for my book baby. After many drafts and redrafts, I finally got that ‘vision’ … how would Charlie have wanted me to tell this story? Does that matter? Yes, I think it does! That flashing lightbulb went off for me just prior to National Novel Writing Month this year. During the first half of November, I wrote a fresh 11,000 words of “Charlie Dreams”.  Due to some family and health complications, I had to resign from ‘NaNoWriMo’ half-way through. However, I have those precious words safely tucked away on my flash drive. Twenty-seventeen is going to be a fabulous year. I cannot wait!

riverSeptember 3rd, 2015  A few weeks ago when I was kindly invited to write this blog post for Christian Writers Downunder, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I wanted to communicate something, which is usually why I write. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in keeping one’s thoughts too private; no one would ever really know me, be able to advise me or just have a quiet read and a chuckle to themselves and say “That’s Just Jo’Anne”.  

In an earlier post, I talked about why I found it necessary to blog when I could just jot down my thoughts into a journal and be done with it. Today I wish to deviate a little from my intended topic. I wanted to cover the ‘pros and cons of Life Writing’ but that may or may not eventuate down the track. You see, after doing lots of research (as I haven’t yet done a course on Life Writing); I began to realise what an extensive topic it was.

I then realised that some very important questions would need to be answered. 

  • Will the contents of this story hurt any family or friends of my main character, and sub-characters who are  still living and compos mentis?
  • What sort of an impact would my story have upon people whether or not they know me or my family?
  • Is my story relevant to the focus of my blog/genre?
  • Does it matter?
  • Can my story hurt my own reputation in any way?
  • Would I ever regret writing this book?

These are just a few of many questions which should be considered when writing about the life or lives of others; and indeed even if I was merely writing an autobiography, shouldn’t I consider how my thoughts and feelings would affect others.  hold-the-penTrue, partially true or complete fabrications, we as writers must take responsibility for the hearts and minds of our readers as well as our own.

So today instead of the ‘pros and cons’, let’s just look into ‘Why’?  I have already been down the path of ‘What If’?  There were so many questions building up in my mind that I had to give it a rest.  You see I have never done life writing before!  I cannot believe I just completely admitted that to you all; but it is the plain, honest truth.  Life writing can be somewhat scary and confronting at the best of times, but in my case, my very first piece of what is supposed to be biographical is going to look and read like a novel of fiction. 

I struggled with what name or label to give the genre for this book. Would it be a memoir?  Perhaps not.  How about a fictional memoir?  Maybe narrative non-fiction?  No that can’t be it, even ‘narrative’ non-fiction must have more factual content than not.  Perhaps this life story doesn’t fit within the mould of any known genre.  The real problem is that my main character, although very much a real person, didn’t live what we would consider a real life …. at least not a realistic life by most worldly standards.

Here follows a short synopsis of my work.

“Charlie Dreams” 

Charlie was an odd wee fellow, always with his head in the clouds. He would be day-dreaming or telling tall tales, which often lead him into all sorts of trouble. Charlie had a vivid imagination and because we spent so much time together, he nurtured my imagination with ease. You see Charlie was not only my brother, he was my best friend, my soul-mate.

After a short, often sad but sometimes happy life, Charlie passed away at the tender age of thirty-nine. I was just thirty-six year’s old, way too young to lose my best friend. Charlie’s parents who are still living at the time of writing this played a huge role in shaping both our lives and the passages which will appear in my book. Our grandfather, also named Charles plays an important role in piecing together our story.

Charlie suffered from Bipolar disorder, but sadly we weren’t aware of this until after his tragic death. He played his cards very close to his chest so that the people closest to him couldn’t see in. I am also Bipolar, however, my family is more than aware of the fact. I have fabulous support from family and dear friends, and it is these wonderful people who encourage and inspire me to tell our story. My only regret is that we were not able to see through Charlie’s dreams and look more closely at the true heart and soul of the matter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

quoteSo why do I feel compelled to write this book?  My answer – why not?

Charlie really did have an interesting if sad life. There were many moments of happiness, whether they were real or imagined doesn’t matter too much. His life was a good life. He was a kind soul with an extremely gentle heart. Everything Charlie told you was exactly as he believed it to be himself.

While life writing of any kind can be extremely challenging, I have made my mind up to continue with this challenge, with its risks and plethora of things that could go wrong. I want to honour someone with compassion, praise, respect, unfathomable love, honesty (as far as possible) and great big dollops of humour along the way.

straw-hatThis person is my best buddy, Charlie.

What do you think? Should fiction be a part of a life story? Does it really have any place there?  What if the person we are writing about was unable to decipher fact from fiction, believed everything he said; but beyond all of that was satisfied that he was living the life he had always wanted (dreamt about).

I would love to hear your opinions and kind advice. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Originally published in Christian Writers Downunder Blog

Promises, Anticipation, Enjoyment

pooh-1“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best –” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

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Ah, don’t you just love the anticipation? pooh-2Isn’t it just the best thing? Oh, but the enjoyment of actually doing it! Then, alas it is over …. Oh, but the memory is worth its weight in gold …. err honey. 

When we take a look at those three words, promises, anticipation and enjoyment, we would think that they mean very different and separate things. If we limit ourselves to the dictionary meaning for each of those words, we would be correct.

promise is an assurance, a guarantee, a pledge or a vow, that something will be so; or something will happen, either immediately or eventually.

To anticipate something is to be expectant of that thing, person, occasion, gift etc. Also to have hope that something wonderful is going to happen, based upon past experiences.

pooh-3Enjoyment is the actual pleasure, delight, satisfaction or gratification that we derive from whatever it is that we have obtained.

If we look more closely at each of these words, we would realise that they are intimately conjoined. 

Even Winnie-the-Pooh knew from past experience that there was something more to eating that honey, than just the sheer enjoyment of it all …. And of course he was a bear of very little brain. Sometimes I think that maybe we aren’t much more ‘cleverer’ than dear old Winnie. We probably know the word to match the feeling, but we don’t always appreciate that feeling for how wonderful it is. I know I often forget to stop, listen and feel – how about you?

cruise-shipBack in 2008, I went on a cruise. HoneyBun and I flew to Bangkok, stayed a week, and then took a 21-night cruise back to Sydney via South East Asia. We spent months planning and talking about our upcoming holiday, imagining what it would be like (I had never been on a cruise before). We had both travelled before, HoneyBun more than me, however, each experience is different. We were so excited!  I remember being about one week out of Australia on our return trip home. I became impatient to be back home, not because I wasn’t having a good time, but because once more I was anticipating something. This time my anticipation was backed up by a promise that something good would happen – I loved going back home. ‘There is no place quite like home’.  HoneyBun and I had thoroughly enjoyed our trip; the feelings of satisfaction and gratification were immeasurable. Yes, when we arrived back home there was also the feeling of “oh, it is all over now”; but those precious memories would remain forever.

1474151094I have done some travelling in my life; seeing places such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Great Barrier Reef, Islands of the South Pacific – the list goes on. Then there was Bali, Los Angeles and Egypt.  I really do feel blessed; however if I had not anticipated each journey before going, I don’t believe the experience would have been quite the same. As human beings, we rely on our memories of past events to know whether or not something might be good or worthwhile. That pot of honey was pretty good judging by the amount of golden joy that was running down Winnie’s paws, and the remnants smeared all over his cute, furry face; but the day-dreamy look on his sweet face when he anticipated the enjoyment he would derive from that golden pot of heaven, is almost indescribable.  I feel that same way about a piece of lemon-cakelemon cheesecake, or maybe a slice of chocolate/raspberry torte, chocky-cakewith loads of cream. Oh, the expectation, the sheer delight and the afterglow of basking in the memory – mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

We need promises, anticipation and enjoyment to be so closely related to fully appreciate the beauty of everything that is around us, provided for us, and even those things and events that we indeed work so hard for. I have always said that half of the fun is looking forward to something. Now as I approach more senior years, I believe that looking forward to something and then cherishing the memories, are usually most of the fun.

You can probably see where this is heading by now. I hope so because when I first started preparing this post I didn’t think it would lead to exactly where it has. The message I wanted to remind myself of and pass on was basically the same, perhaps with a little bit less cake.

Our lives here on earth are for us to enjoy, to make others happy, to work hard and provide the best we can. We won’t always be happy with everything that happens in life, but we need to make the best of everything. Our lives are filled with sadness and joy, pain and delight; life is one big rollercoaster. We are not meant to stay here on earth forever, we are actually citizens of heaven. We don’t know what that really entails, but we have been made a promise by God so that we can anticipate with joy and delight, the world that is yet to come. Our total enjoyment of our eternity is based on faith – faith that God is true to His Word, and of course, we know He is.

 dreamy-clouds“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16

Patiently we must wait; but with joyful anticipation, that God’s promises to us will come to pass, and our joy will be everlasting, surpassing any form of human enjoyment that we could ever imagine.

hands-on-clock “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”       ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Photo courtesy of LivingWithGod.org

 

Never my dear friends, take any moment or memory for granted – yes we know that there is something more beautiful coming and we must joyously anticipate; but every moment and every memory that we make here on earth will contribute to and richly embroider our everlasting lives in paradise. I wish us all a beautiful and glorious life of hopeful anticipation, laced with excitement for the enjoyment that has been promised to us. 
pooh-4Oh yes, and honey, cake, and whatever else our little human hearts desire.

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne website/blog in August 2015

BLOG AWARD TOUR – Whats and Whys of My Words.

ritaAustralian, Inspirational,Historical Romance author, Rita Stella Galieh has tagged me for the Blog Award Tour. Rita’s heritage is an interesting one, being of English, Scottish and Jewish decent. Her love of storytelling began during childhood, inventing tales of adventure with her Grandmother, while her mother worked. Rita’s mother encouraged her to write poems after school was finished for the day. These poems which were published in the children’s section of the Sunday papersin instilled into Rita a thirsty craving for writing. In addition to being an accomplished author, she is also an extremely talented artist, specialising in ceramics.

Rita has an absolute passion for the 19th Century Victorian Era, which is evident in her stories. She writes to entertain and inspire her readers while remaining faithful to the honour and glory of Our Lord.

Rita is currently editing her next book “A Parcel of Promises” which is book number three in her Victoriana series. The other two in the series which come highly recommended, are “The Tie That Binds” and “Signed Sealed Delivered”. She is also working on “Miss Kate’s Great Expectations” which was runner-up in the Caleb Awards. You can find Rita and her wonderful works at www.ritastellagalieh.com

 

As part of the Blog Award Tour, Rita has asked me to provide answers to four questions. So, here’s a little about me and what I am working on.

  1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

Good question. What am I not working on? I have recently finished another 10,000 words towards my first draft of my very first book “Charlie Dreams”.  I had previously written another 20,000 precious words during NaNoWriMo last November, and this 10k was dragged out of me in this year’s (July Camp NaNoWriMo). I did manage just over eleven thousand, but ten was my goal. charlie-dreamsI refer to ‘Charlie Dreams’ as a book for now, as whether it becomes a novella or a novel really depends upon how far my memory and imagination takes me. The picture to the right of the screen is one of many cover ideas (this being my favourite at the moment). It is a fictional memoir (or realistic fiction, depending on how each reader may view it).  July Camp NaNoWriMo was really exciting as I got to be Cabin Mum (or Mumma Bear). What a wonderful experience it was getting to know other Christian writers, sharing virtual coffees and cakes, snuggling around an imaginary campfire, singing and strumming, and realising that I am not alone.

I am also studying a certificate of Editing and Proofreading, and wading through the sixth edition of the Style Manual. Hopefully, I will be finished by Christmas and able to focus more on my writing. I am currently developing my website/blog which I’m aiming to fill with poems or short stories. My blog is meant to touch upon various aspects of life and how God’s word influences them. I hope to be inspired with the right words to capture you. Next year after my course is out of the way, I shall begin work on the first draft of my next book. It will be a work of narrative non-fiction of which I am extremely excited about.

  1. HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN YOUR GENRE?

As a novice writer, that is a difficult question to answer. I don’t believe at this stage that my writing is that different other than the fact that it has my own personal stamp on it. I write from my heart as most writers do, however, my heart is unique.

  1. WHY DO YOU WRITE OR CREATE WHAT YOU DO?

I have always had a passion for reading good stories. I love to read them, tell them and now I have this burning desire to put those little gems down on paper (or on screen for those with an e-reader or tablet). I have actually been writing in one form or another since I was quite young, but now it would be nice to share some stories with the rest of the world. I daydream a lot. dreamy-cloudsSo many story ideas sprout from these daydreams. I’ve been in trouble throughout most of my life for this delightful habit of constantly drifting off with the fairies. I was born on February 24, so what can I say? Dreaming is good.

I have always held fast to a strong faith, but in recent years circumstances made me question a lot of details about my life, and have consequently brought me closer to Our Lord. These days my faith has changed, for the better, I believe. I now have a relationship with Jesus; He is my best friend, my comforter and protector – my absolute world. So why do I write and create what I do?  It is simple really, my pen is guided by God’s love and grace, illuminated by the light of His Holy Spirit; and I allow Him to show me what He wants me to share with others. Reading, but especially writing completes me. It is all I have ever wanted to do.

  1. HOW DOES YOUR WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?

Hmmm, process – do I have one? Yes of course I do, but I wish I could tell you that I am super organised, plotting out each scene, developing my characters before sitting in front of my laptop – sigh. Most writers would tell you that they are a combination of organised planners (plotters) and running by the seat of their pants (pantsers) writers. Balance is good. Often I go mad, pick up my notebook and do some planning, but mostly I am a pantser – guilty as charged. I am also known as “last minute Jo’Anne” or “eleventh hour Jo”.  I am even writing this the night before it is due to be published. So in a nutshell, I am a crazy, passionate pantser who thrives on stress. Yes, the last minute or moments can be extremely motivating. My very best ideas and thoughts usually come in the wee small hours of the morning (notepad is on my bedside table); also inconveniently loads of ideas and stories come to me while in the bathroom. I really must invest in a waterproof writing pad. Seriously though, I am my most creative when writing with a pen on notepaper; I don’t know why, but the words just seem to flow better. Of course, they get changed around again when I am feeding them into the computer. One thing is for certain, when I have my writer’s hat on, I am not present, not available for anyone or anything – just my story, poem, blog or book baby.

The next writer to take part in this awesome blog tour is Robyn Harbour.

robyn-harbourRobyn, along with her husband Russell, served as a full-time missionary in Vanuatu for three years. Based in Inverloch, Victoria, Australia, both continued to minister throughout the islands of the South Pacific, speaking at conferences, Pastor’s Retreats, and Sunday School conferences for another four years. They have both been happily retired since February 2015.

Beyond the Palm Trees” is Robyn’s first published book, published by Ark House Press.

Robyn continues to maintain many beautiful and valuable friendships with local indigenous people, who have shared their stories and experiences with her.

To find out more about Robyn, her writing and her fabulous ministries, please look out for her post on this blog tour next Monday, August 24th, 2015.

You’ll find Robyn at www.robynharbour.com

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne blog, August 2015

Camp NaNo Adventure

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

Gone are the days when I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) meant. Last November I decided for the first time to take part in the big one. Yes, you got it 50,000 words, one month and me.
It was an awful lot of words, especially as I had never attempted anything that massive before.
50,000 words – what was I thinking? 1,667 words needed to be written on average per day, to stay on target. Well, that lasted a good couple of daysNovember 2014 came to a close and I had created 20,000 beautiful words – actually truth be told, I had in fact written a jumbled mess of heart-wrenching emotions, which just happened to add up to 20,000 words. Hmmm, so why would I go ahead and do it all over again?
I think the thing that got to me the most during November was the loneliness. “No man is an island,” they say – and how true that is. Yes, writing is an extremely lonely existence, but why would one choose to work alone when you had the option to be part of a team? Having signed up at the last minute as my impulsive self usually does, I didn’t really understand how it all worked. My attitude was a fervent, I don’t have time to have buddies; I must write, write, write!
Sometime in June this year I noticed that there was a Camp NaNoWriMo.  Once again it would be for a month’s duration, however, this time you were free to set your own word count goal. No matter how large or small, you would be in control. Yippee! I also noticed that members of Christian Writers’ Downunder were joining up and forming a virtual cabin. Well, cabins could hold just twelve campers, eagerly itching to write their story, poem or draft novel. I procrastinated like you just wouldn’t believe, not due to the anticipated pressure of having to write each day. No, I pretty much had that under control; even if I only write 200 words, I do write something every day. No, the problem is that I do have a reputation for biting off much more than I can chew when it comes down to just about anything. The word impulsive comes to mind once again.  Anyway, after much dithering the cabin was completely full, but upon the suggestion of the cabin’s ‘Den Mother’ Jeanette O’Hagan, I opened a second cabin and consequently became its ‘Den Mother’ …. ‘Mummy Bear’ or whatever takes your fancy.
Oh dear Jo’Anne, now what have you got yourself into?
June 30th arrived and we had two cabins ready and rearing to go.  Cabin 1 was christened “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores” and after some discussion, my cabin was named “Pensive Plotters and Pantsers Fuelled on chocolate”. With twelve campers in cabin 1 and eight in cabin 2, one of our campers, Naomi suggested forming a Facebook group to enable better communication between the two cabins, and of course double the fun and virtual mischief. So viola! “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores for Pensive Plotters and Panters”  was born; and as Brian Maunder said “lol… I love the name of this little group … A more original name there ne’er was.” 
Twenty Christian writers snuggled into our virtual cabins for the thirty-one days of July. Each cabin load set their space up with equally appealing home comforts. Well, I am certain the S’mores, Snores and Word Scores would have made themselves at home; as us Pensive Plotters and Pantsers had all the comforts a serious writer could possibly want. Our list wasn’t too long but did include indoor fires, cosy quilts, numerous soft cushions and bean bags, an endless supply of Tim Tams, chocolate coated shortbread, macaroons, chocolate, marshmallows etc.,  not to mention bottomless cups of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
During the evenings the camp fire was stoked and roaring. With Brian plucking and strumming on his guitar, I managed to sing a couple of songs, with our fellow campers wishing that I wouldn’t. Most nights after the campfire had done its best, we would retreat to our own cabins to curl up in front of the indoor fires which were awaiting us. Tim Tam runs were made between cabins, as well as chocolate and marshmallows depending upon who had treats to spare. All kinds of shenanigans erupted until the wee small hours of most mornings; it really is a wonder that so many words were written. Amazing isn’t it, just how much fun can be had in a virtual cabin with like-minded people.
 Of course, it wasn’t all play and no work. Twenty passionate writers wrote just over 470,000 words during July. What an achievement! Most campers either achieved or exceeded their word count goals, with those who didn’t, coming close. There were difficult circumstances for many, writing around family, full-time jobs, sickness, unexpected emotions, writer’s block etc. I think the most daunting moment for me personally, was when the flash drive that my work was carefully saved upon was misplaced. It was eventually found at the bottom of a large and well-stuffed handbag. What a relief – around nine and a half thousand, precious words were at stake.
More so than word count and goals, the most valuable thing that I will take from this whole experience is the camaraderie, strengthening of confidence, and the sheer joy of achievement. I am sure each and every one of the campers would feel the same. Three of our campers, Naomi, Mary and Cate, who live near each other managed to have a couple of writers’ get-togethers. I heard that they had an awesome time, talking, writing, making new friendships etc. I won’t steal their thunder, as I am sure they will have much to tell about their experience.
NaNoWriMo July Camp, 2015 was a blast, and yes, I would do it all again. 
S’mores, Snores and Word Scores – Jeanette O’Hagan (Den Mother), Nola Passmore, Adele Jones, Jo Wanmer, David, Charis Joy Jackson, Christina Aitken, Adam Collings, Cathie Sercombe, Sue Jeffrey, Kirsten Hart and T Pariss.
Pensive Plotter and Pantsers, Fuelled on Chocolate – Cate McKeown, Naomi Edwards, Iola Goulton, Brian Maunder, Jacqueline Tasik, Melissa Khalinsky, Mary Jones and Josephine-Anne Griffiths (aka Mummy Bear).
Please do comment and add your experiences to our story.
What do you think? Fun or not?  Maybe some more keen writers will join in next year – we might even need a third cabin!
Previously published on Just Jo’Anne on August 6th, 2015

 

Running on Empty

“Lord, I’ve done it again. I’ve taken on too much.

 Promising the world to everyone, without regard for myself.

My tank has run dry Lord, but I haven’t fulfilled all of my promises.”

Can you imagine driving your car with an empty fuel tank?  Hmmm, neither can I.

It just wouldn’t budge an inch, would it? For many of us, myself included, we are constantly trying to ‘run on empty’. We take on an amazing workload and make sincere promises to lots of people, without considering whether or not it is humanly possible to deliver on everything. We become stressed, short-tempered and anxious, mixed up with a bunch of other emotions, not limited to sad, guilty, ashamed and overwhelmed.

Why do we do it?

Personally, I know because of my Bipolar disorder, that I can be up there with the birds, singing my own tune one moment, and down in the depths of despair the next.

However, I believe that we all can suffer from overload and mood swings; we don’t necessarily need to suffer from a disorder to over-commit ourselves. Often when we are happy it is so easy to take on the world, promise the world; but when we are feeling down or just a little unwell, we are likely to question our promises.

The other day I woke up later than usual. My head was pounding out a tribal dance and I just felt so tired. There was washing to do, beds to make, dinner to prepare, study to do with assignments due, writing commitments and errands to run. As well as friends I had promised to call up, coffee dates that were stockpiling because I never had a moment to spare, a garden in desperate need of weeding, books I wanted to read – and the list goes on.

You see with me, it is all or nothing; I don’t like to be still. Also, I like everything to be perfectly done – clean house, clean clothes, everything in its place. I like everyone around me to be happy, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen. So on this particular day, I sat down in my armchair with a nice hot cup of tea which HoneyBun had prepared for me, with two little headache tablets alongside the rest of my daily medication. As I sat there I began thinking about all the things I really ought to be doing that day, then all of a sudden I heard this little voice inside my head – why are you worrying so much? Does it matter if you don’t get anything done today? Will the world come to an end? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow morning? 

As I sat there relaxing in my comfortable chair, I realised that nothing really mattered if I wasn’t happy. I was truly running on empty, and that emptiness meant that I didn’t have enough energy to help anyone anyway. With that emptiness, I felt so weak that I was barely able to help myself. Why was I so exhausted?

Do you ever feel so tired that you just couldn’t be bothered to even get dressed?  Is that friend still waiting at the bookshop café for you to arrive because you were so worn out you completely forgot about the appointment? – or maybe you don’t even know what day it is. I know I’ve had moments like this – frequently actually.

Sitting in my chair I could now feel the stillness. The tablets and warm cuppa had begun to melt through my pain. Part of me was rationalising and saying, come on get up, there are chores to be done. Then once more I heard that little voice of reason – be still. At that moment it occurred to me that if I didn’t look after myself, then I wouldn’t be of any good use to anyone else.

Have you ever heard of the saying that ‘you must be empty to be full’?  I heard it once before and thought – how silly, how can you be full when you are empty?

The point is that when we are so full of thoughts, ideas, plans, goals, and a plethora of things that must be done, we are actually running on empty.

We must take that time each day to be still, even if we only have ten minutes available to us. That quiet, still time is God’s time. He wants to have that precious time with us, as much as we need that time with Him. During the quiet times, Jesus tops up our tanks and gives us wonderous energy to continue on with the other less important things. I say less important because what could be more important than making sure that we are properly equipped for our journey?

We simply do not need to be perfect and pleasing to everyone all of the time – we can’t be anyway because we are human. We need to prioritise everything, and top of the list must always be God our Heavenly Father, followed a close second by ourselves. Yes, ourselves – we cannot look after others and love others unless we love and care for ourselves first, after Jesus of course …..

…… and sitting quietly with the Lord is the best way to care for ourselves, to recharge and top up our spiritual tanks. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by life, empty your mind, be still, listen to the whispers of God’s Holy Spirit, let Jesus fill up your heart with love, rest your body and mind, and feel your soul being filled with spiritual strength.

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not,

~ Isaiah 30:15

   images-19

“The Lord will fight for you, 

and you have only to be silent.”                       

 ~ Exodus 14:14

  

Originally posted on Just Jo’Anne on August 5th 2015

           

Procrastination

While reading another writer friend’s blog today, where she mentions how untidy her working table is, I got to thinking “Hmmm if Helen thinks her table is untidy, boy oh boy she should just take a gander at mine.”
download-1

As  I lost the original photo of my messy workspace, I have substituted this one. Pretty close actually!

I have junk mail that should have gone straight into the bin, study notes that should have been filed, books that I have recently received, want to read but should be sitting neatly on our bookshelves, medications that should be put away, but before I can do that, I should clean out the medicine cupboard.

Can anyone see a theme here, or is it just me?

I was looking at the amount of ‘shoulds’ in the above paragraph. Five!  Five times when I rapped myself over the knuckles and admitted that this procrastination was not getting me anywhere, except possibly making me feel more anxious. Now due to my mental health issues, I have problems with depression, anxiety, repercussions of trauma, and of procrastination. It’s a ‘catch 22’ really because the more depressed I feel, the less likely I am to remedy the situation, so I procrastinate about all sorts of things. Then, the more I procrastinate, the more anxious I become. This anxiety usually leads to more depression.

Now I know I am not the only person with an untidy table (hmmm, maybe I am the only one with a table this horrendous). However, it doesn’t stop at the table. As I mentioned earlier, my medicine cupboard needs to be cleaned; emptied completely, taking anything with an expired date to the chemist, and then of course, putting things back in an orderly fashion, after wiping off the shelves. Often the things we neglect to do or keep putting off, are that way because they are actually just part of an accumulation of undone things, chores etc.

No one wants to live like this. Truly. I know I don’t, not really. A very wise person once said, “The Lord helps those who help themselves”.  How true is this? Yes God always has my back, but He also gave me free will. It is up to me to take that first step. Imagine how wonderful it will feel and how happy I’ll be when all of this ‘stuff’ is put in its correct place, whether it be the rubbish bin, cupboard or bookshelf. Imagine how lovely it would be to have a beautiful vase of flowers to look at while I work.

 In Proverbs 13:4 we are told:

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

This isn’t just about an untidy table or a cupboard that is overdue for cleaning and organising. No, it’s about our whole lives. Everything we do each and every day should be done for the glory of Our Lord. He probably won’t mind too much if my table is cluttered. However, He would be upset to see me unhappy; and He would be so sad when I can’t share and bless others by inviting them into my life because my life is too busy – ahem – messy.

People don’t stay away because of an untidy table, room or house. No, we block people out because we are ashamed. Did you ever hear of that saying “an untidy workspace usually mirrors the state of that individual’s mind”?  I think there is an awful lot of truth to that. You really wouldn’t want to see the inside of my mind.

I love Proverbs; sometimes I feel that they were written especially for me (winking profusely).

Proverbs 12:24

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labour.

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard does not plough in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”

My mind is my soul and therefore I must keep it in good shape. Our bodies do not belong to us. They are already claimed by the Lord Jesus and infused with the light of His Holy Spirit. We don’t want to invite friends to an untidy home, so why would we invite Jesus into our untidy minds and our unclean hearts?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

As children of God we are commanded to honour and glorify Him in everything we do, think or say; within our day to day tasks, as well as within our hearts and minds every waking moment.

By the end of this weekend, I pledge to clear off and organise the things on this table and leave a vase of fresh flowers out, so that others can see my happiness and contentment.

Oh and about all of those ‘shoulds‘ – there are no ‘shoulds‘ in life, only ‘coulds’.

Originally posted on Just Jo’Anne June 20th 2015

BE PREPARED

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

~ Anne Frank

Proverbs 6:6-8  “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

About two years ago now, I clearly remember coming home after finishing some shopping, driving up onto our driveway and immediately sensing that something was wrong. Apart from the fact that there were lots of people just standing around talking and watching on, I really did get a sense of dread. You see we had rather unpredictable neighbours (bless their little hearts).  Of particular concern were the two boys living next door. They were always up to something and it was rarely ever good.

I didn’t have to wait long, no sooner had I emerged from our car than one very helpful neighbour (name withheld) ran across my front lawn to give me the news. Incidentally, my husband has a pet name for most of the people in our street; this lady is affectionately known as 2GB.

Puffing and panting, quite out of breath 2GB informed me that there had been an explosion. Yes … the Fire Brigade and the Police had been called, arrived and left.

“Really Jo, you’ve just missed all of the excitement” yelled 2GB. One of those boys from next door dug a hole underneath the power box, put a homemade fire bomb inside, then ran like the dogs were chasing him, before stopping to wait and see what would happen.”

Well, it seems that a lot had happened. Fortunately no one was hurt, however the bomb blew up the power box, plunging the whole area into darkness. As if that wasn’t enough the fire ran underground, underneath and across the road and “boom!” up went the telegraph pole. Needless to say, everyone was very shaken and angry as it was now time to start preparing the family meals. Once inside our house, I began searching for candles. I searched high and low, but those candles were just not going to materialise.

“Didn’t we use the last of them the last time there was a blackout?” enquired Leon. And I am going to assume that you remembered to buy those torch batteries when I asked you.”

Suddenly I remembered, yes we had used all of the candles, and no I hadn’t remembered to buy those darn batteries!   “Arrrgh!”  After much rummaging around in cupboards and draws, I managed to find one small candle. One. Very. Small. Candle. In truth it was a mere stump.

All night long we shared that candle. Consequently we did go to bed very early that night.

I hadn’t been prepared. I didn’t mean to be disorganised. At least the inconvenience would be gone by morning. In daylight I would go back to the shops and buy batteries and candles ….lots of candles.

Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Proverbs 22:3 “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

When Jesus returns for us, there will be no reprieve. We won’t be able to say “I’m sorry Lord but I’m not prepared. I’m just not ready. Would you give me please, a few more hours, days or weeks?”

2 Peter 3:10 KJV
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

So I must be ready. We must be prepared. Just as I must properly organise my home and be ready for an emergency, I must also prepare myself for what is to come. By obeying God’s law, loving everyone in Christ’s name as I would also want to be loved. I must walk through this life with Jesus within my heart, and the Grace of His Holy Spirit to light my way.

Needless to say, I now have batteries inside all three torches and candles …lots of candles, just in case. bunch-of-candles

Originally posted on http://www.Just-JoAnne.com

June 17th 2015