Just Jo’Anne

The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards

My Review

the-peppercorn-project-by-nicki-edwardsFor a few desperate moments, this sad but beautiful story began in Torquay, Victoria. As sad as it was that Isabelle’s husband had just died from a sudden heart attack while surfing, I knew as I cried and grasped hold of the box of tissues, that I was going to truly love this book. Nicki Edwards had done it again – she had roped me in from the very first page. Until reading Nicki’s book “The Peppercorn Project”, I didn’t have any idea about Torquay, or even where it was. So I ‘Googled’ it, as you do, and I read …
“The official start point of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is Victoria’s surfing and beach worship capital.”
Wow! How enchanting. Obviously, Isabelle and her family had been very happy living in Torquay, and with Dan being such a keen surfer, and their son Fletcher following in his footsteps, where else would anyone want to live? The remainder of the story takes place in the farming community of the southern Flinders Ranges, yet another place I have never ventured to. However, while reading through the book I was simply drawn in. It is a kind of magic that Nicki Edwards performs time and again with her choice of words, deep characterisation and descriptions of the gorgeous countryside.
Nicki handles the subject of grief and the painful process of moving on very sensitively, not just Isabelle’s grief but that of her two children as well. Once the handsome country police sergeant, Matt Robertson arrived on the scene, I just knew sparks would fly … and they did, in many different ways. Both Isabelle and Matt were broken souls who just needed the chance to trust and believe in each other. I love a good romance, but I like my romances to be sweet and clean, and once again Nicki Edwards didn’t let me down. The intimacy that flowed throughout was so delicately woven, but so beautiful. When Isabelle and Matt finally declared their love in intimate embrace, the scene was set perfectly. “He rained kisses from her chin to her collarbone and she shivered in pleasure as the warmth of his breath tickled her skin.” Also, the setting up of the relationships between Isabelle’s two children and Matt was done perfectly. The issue of blending people together and making a new family is a very sensitive one and full of possible pitfalls.
I felt that I got to know all of the other characters within the story extremely well. I loved their exchanges and gossiping sessions, just how I would imagine life in a country town to be. I quite liked the subplots throughout, especially having someone in a trusted position dealing in drugs – wonderful scandal. I had a fairly good idea who it was quite early on, however, that didn’t take away anything from the story, because most of the other characters had surprises up their sleeves, and kept me guessing. I was hoping and praying throughout the book that Isabelle, Matt, and the children would achieve their happily ever after, and I wasn’t disappointed.
A beautiful, sensitive and intensely intimate romance – I just couldn’t put the book down. I loved the way it ended, leaving the way for a sequel if the author should so desire.

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.”
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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

Broken Umbrellas by Emma Broch Stuart

broken-umbrellas

My Review

 

“Nothing you have endured – or inflicted – can keep you from being healed. Your umbrella may be broken, but God is the Glue that fixes the most hopeless of broken things.” ~ Emma Broch Stuart.

It didn’t take me a whole month to read this wonderful book; there were interruptions along the way. However, one could easily devour this book in one sitting. It was beautifully written and Emma tells her story of trauma, pain, and healing with crisp, clear and refreshing honesty. Emma’s love for the Lord’s Word as well as her own human warmth shone through on every page. I am certain that many fellow sisters in Christ would relate to Emma’s story in some way. I’m equally certain that those of you who are still searching will find solace between these pages. We are all on a journey down a pathway that is littered with imperfection – our imperfection. We realise throughout Emma’s book that it is because of these imperfections that our Heavenly Father loves us so much. I loved this book; I cried most of the way through. I cried as my heart leapt for Emma, but I sobbed when I saw my own life before my eyes. Whether you know Jesus or not; whether you feel you want to or not – you must read this book. I know I will, over and over again. 

 

Beautiful! Refreshing! Inspiring!
“Go knowing ….”

Intensive Care by Nicki Edwards

My Review

intensive-careEscaping to the country was meant to be easy …

Superficially it looks like busy intensive care nurse, Kate Kennedy has it all: a long-term relationship, a career she adores and an elegant inner city apartment that many would envy her for. But appearances can be deceiving. In a moment of spontaneity, Kate leaves her city life and takes a new role as Nurse Unit Manager at Birrangulla Base Hospital, but her dream move proves harder than expected.

Local café owner Joel O’Connor finds himself increasingly drawn to the gorgeous new nurse, but like Kate, he’s been scarred by love and isn’t looking to jump into anything. Yet their chemistry is hard to deny and after a near fatal incident, Joel and Kate find themselves opening up to one another.

Just when Kate thinks she’s found love again, their fragile relationship is thwarted by their pasts. Can they both let go of their guilt and grief to move on to a bright new future?

****************************************************************

I’ll just bet you have so many questions, but there will be no answers until you read this fabulous book.

Nicki Edwards captures the whole rural romance genre in her own unique way. The visionary within this story is just awesome. I picture myself right there, in the moment; with the rolling hills, mountains covered in snow and the general serenity of the countryside. The romantic theme was exquisitely expressed, provoking one’s emotions. A good clean read, suitable for all ages.

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

Why Blog?

So why blog? Why not simply keep a private journal?

You may have discovered a little of me on my “About Me” page, or you might have been curious and thought “I’ll get straight over to that blog.” Either way, that’s okay, because there is so much more to tell. I am passionate about many people and things, but on top of my list would be God, family (including church family), other friends, reading, writing, music, the occasional coffee with a piece of chocolate, and last but by no means least, my beautiful tea box, containing more than adequate variety and supply of my favourites.

Now you might say “Wow, that’s a big ‘top of the list’ list!” Certainly it is, but if I told you about everything on my list, trust me we would be here all day. I want to write on my blog about all things important to me and my life. I wish to share my journey with you; and if along the way I am able to inspire and motivate just a wee bit, then my blog will be a success.

I also have an ulterior motive for creating this blog, and that is to hopefully make some landmark posts which I could turn into a book at a later stage. I am still figuring out how that may all eventually fit together, but I’m up for the challenge (I hope).

Although my birth name is Josephine Anne, my family, and closest friends know me as Jo’Anne (I think you can probably see why). This explains why I connect my two names with a hyphen; the two names have always been as one.

Now you may ask “Why did you choose to call the blog ‘Just Jo’Anne’?”

Simply put, this blog is to be about being myself, being the person God created me to be. At present, I am passionate about being one of God’s children. Now if that worries you at all, then probably you are on the wrong blog site. If not, join with me as we travel this path called life, and hopefully we would learn more about each other and become life-long friends.

I do have a naughty (but clean) sense of humour, and so I like to reflect on some funny things at times. I like to tackle everyday life in my own crazy way, but with God’s arms always encircling me. Without Him, my life would be meaningless. It hasn’t always been that way for me. Oh yes, He’s always been there, but I haven’t always paid attention. I have been so busy trying to ‘make life work’ that I forgot that He is in control. I had to go through some hardships and wrestle with my own mental health before I could see what He was showing me. I also had to learn to ‘be quiet and still’ because while I was running around trying to figure things out for myself, I couldn’t hear God whispering to me. That’s right, He never shouts; He is a kind, loving and gentle God, and so we must be the same way otherwise we will miss out on all of His grace.

Cheerio until next time.

Jo’Anne

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

May 28th 2015