The fading flower …

Shortly after my last post where I asked “Who wants to live forever?” my mother passed away.  For most of her life she grappled with the highs and lows of bipolar disease.  She’s free of her demons at last. 

My memories of her when she was bipolar aren’t good, but in between times she had a happy, sunny nature.  And that’s how I want to remember her.

I’ve made a youtube video of the powerpoint I prepared for the funeral, showing scenes from her life, which I and my family feature in.

It’s here if you want to see it.  The music is “Who am I?” by Casting Crowns.

It brings to mind the scripture that God has compassion on us mortals – who are here today and gone tomorrow, just like the grass and flowers.  That’s why Jesus wept at the grief of Lazarus’s sisters.

As a father has compassion on his children
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.”  Psalm 103:13-19

I wasn’t sure of how things were with her and God.  He gave me a story to tell her on the last occasion she had a serious heart attack, which I wrote here.

superscript_seven_u2077_icon_256x256God gave us a sign that she’d gone to be with him.  Seven is the number of rest, and she’d entered his rest, dying at 7pm on the 7th day of the 7th month, aged 77.

He explains about that rest in Hebrews 4;

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest … Hebrews 4:9

I recommend reading the whole passage from Hebrews 4:1-11.

SeriousFaith_ImagesREST

Hebrews 4:1-10 The Promise of Rest

So now I know what can go on my mother’s headstone; “At rest.”  Two simple words that say so much.

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Who wants to live forever?

Here’s an interesting post from another blog which gives three ways to avoid life’s greatest certainty, death.
Click on the picture on the right and it will take you there.

I don’t think it’s wise to rely on the Tech giants solutions (especially after reading about Microsoft’s latest mishap with ‘Tay,’ their embarrassing AI chatbot.)

No one wants to die, because we were made for eternity.  It’s been set in our hearts.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) we read “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

But forget about Eternime, where you go virtual, or Cryogenics where you have your head frozen.

Only one man came guaranteeing us immortality.  Jesus said Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”  John 8:51 (NKJ)

So if you want to live forever, believe in the Lord and the one who sent Him (God).  Keeping His word means reading it and storing it up in the heart, where eternity has been set.

I’ve read and stored His word by weaving it into a story, but do whatever works best for you.

Finally, we can’t cheat death here – but we can get a rough idea of how long we’ll live.  Just take this test.  Apparently I’ll make it to 91!

http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan

psalm90_12

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.      Psalm 90:12

My eBook has been published

Amazon book coverHi fellow bloggers, you haven’t heard from me lately because I’ve been working on my book.  I’ve finally got the EPUB, PDF versions and Kindle versions published.

You’ll see I’ve put a Facebook widget on the blog.  It will take you to the book page.  You can like me there, but I can’t return the compliment.  I’ve built an ordinary Facebook page to link to it, where I can interact with you.

There are also links to Amazon if you want to buy the eBook.

I’ve made a video of the story, based on the book synopsis, which I’ve been told is awesome.

If you haven’t seen it on the book Facebook page, here it is.

The Kingdom – Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams

Thanks for following me, and I look forward to hearing from you.


KThe Kingdom is an inspiring story about a journey along the narrow path.  The story is in a unique genre all of it’s own, somewhere between an epic fantasy quest, supernatural adventure and memoir.  It’s a tale about good versus evil. 

If you are interested in how God can reveal Himself and speak to an ordinary person, this story is for you.

To begin with I wrote my story “The Kingdom” as a journal and map of the journey.  It kept a record of the Lord’s rhema words and revelation he gave me.  When the things he told me in the Kingdom worked out in real life I realised I was receiving the Lord’s guidance and counsel for real.
If you do not know the King, or the Bible, here’s a brief explanation of some concepts the story deals with.

spiritual-warfareRevelation

    A revelation is defined as;

  • An enlightening or astonishing disclosure,
  • The communication of knowledge to man by a divine or supernatural agency.

Revelation comes from the Holy Spirit.  Do you believe that God will speak to us in the last days?  “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:18.

DragonsSword of Spirit

We all have dragons to slay.  It is written in Revelation that they (the believers) defeated the dragon by the word of their testimony.  (Paraphrased from Revelation 12:11)

The Kingdom is my personal testimony.  The words of the King to me as Joanna are true.  It’s about how God guided me along the path, and helped me deal with my dragons.  If you are interested in spiritual warfare the story may appeal to you.

Dreams

Are you interested in dream interpretation?  In my story, I was given dreams.  The story served as a context for the dreams.  Knowing that revelation comes from the Holy Spirit, I would ask the King to explain them.    When I was writing, the King would give me a verse from the Bible that went with the dream.  The prophet Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar after he was asked to interpret his dream that there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. (Daniel 2:28).

Life can be a mystery.  Think about coincidences for instance.  Do you notice signs that appear at just the right time?  That’s God.  He wants us to seek Him out, and find the things He has for us.

Some things in life are hidden, but God can bring the concealed things to light through the great words of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.   Proverbs 25:2

The Lord will bring revelation if you seek him.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.

JesusThe King, the Holy Spirit

The King in my story is the Holy Spirit, who works as one with God and Jesus.  He is the comforter, teacher and guide of Joanna.  He is the one Jesus promised He would send after He went back to God.  Jesus explains how He was sent to us in John 14;

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  John 14:15-17

The final scene in my story

batonI ended “The Kingdom” with a scene where Joanna is handed a baton from Anna, her ancestor.  There is a race to be run. Sometimes we run alone, sometimes in a group.  At times the path is hard to see but there are signs.  The signs Joanna found along the path are recorded in the story.

The Kingdom story is my testimony.  It shows what I did with the words the Lord spoke to me as personal revelation.  God will speak to us all personally if we seek him through Jesus, the King.  I hope my story will inspire you to seek the King yourself.

If you would like to know more, please ask me questions.

I’ve taken a photo of one of the places where I walk.  The beach is at the bottom of my street.  The island off the beach is called “Kawau Island”.  It’s an island with no roads, where the residents get around by boat.  I’ve made a photo gallery so you can see other scenes from my story.

Habbakuk 2:2

Snells Beach and Kawau Bay

The book journey

I’m getting ready to publish my manuscript about ‘The Kingdom Within’ as an eBook.  I haven’t settled on the title yet.  My plan is to self-publish as I don’t think traditional publishers will be interested.  This book is in a unique genre all by itself.

I’ve been told in my book appraisal that the manuscript is so different that it may struggle to find a market. The blend of memoir/fantasy fiction/devotional theology is extremely unusual. Despite what has been said about publishers looking for fresh vibrant voices, they don’t actually want too unusual a book, since it is too great a risk for them in a marginal market. 

I understand that and look forward to the self publishing adventure.

Cath Dunsford, my publishing consultant, really helped me kick the ball off.  I gave her the first three chapters on paper whilst working on her computer.  Then she asked for the rest, saying “First impressions are always important when considering a text for assessment for publication as well as subsequent readings of the full manuscript. 

I have read the text you left me already – so gripped I could not put it down.  Many have written memoirs and about abuse but none, in all my 40 years of work, have ever related the close guidance of the Bible to finding a way forward in quite the way you have.  The writing is utterly beautiful and very moving. It is compact and powerful.”

Her feedback got the book going as I really respect her.  She is a published author and literary associate of Witi Ihimera, the author of “The Whale Rider.”

I’ve had the manuscript edited.  There’s a bit of a back-story finding Marie Anticich, my editor.   She’s a journalist and editor for some Christian magazines.  I got led to her through learning the sound desk at church!

The back-story:  Why, oh why did I put my hand up for a job best left for the boys?  That’s what I asked myself when I started doing the sound.  I’m a computer technician, so buttons and knobs don’t frighten me. I thought the sound desk would be easy enough to learn.  I also thought the Lord wanted me to volunteer for it!  Well you know what ‘thought thought.’  Sound practise was okay – but I made all sorts of mistakes during the church service the first few times.  Anyway it’s all good because the church has survived my efforts on the sound desk, I’ve learned a new skill, and it led me to the book editor.

Marie is a bit of a sergeant major, but I really appreciate her and the manuscript needed her criticism.  Marie told me about the Caleb award, a book competition that Omega Writers were running in 2013.  The competition fee included a book appraisal.  That was the next piece of the puzzle.

The book appraisal said “the constant reference to ‘the Princess’ actually detaches the readers slightly from the story, instead of allowing them to walk in her shoes.  Instead of the massive emotional punch certain scenes should carry, the real conflict is muted because of this detachment.”

So I’ve changed ‘the Princess’ to ‘Joanna’, keeping the viewpoint in the third person.

I was advised to tell the reader more of who I am and aim for reader sympathy.  Taking Marie’s advice, I changed the first chapters with that in mind.  Then she said I was too sad and no one likes a victim!  So it’s been back to the drawing board; and now (hopefully) I’ve got the mix right.

Here’s the overall comments so far:

Omega Writers: “This is a really awesome story with a fabulous blend of unusual elements. It has the potential to wield a strong and powerful impact if the issues of ‘show don’t tell’ are addressed.”  (I hope I’ve addressed those issues.)

Dunsford Publishing: “The quality and beauty of the writing in the preface really draws the reader in and it issues a warm invitation to come ad share this amazing journey. You have really achieved a stunning work of writing, here, Jo.”

 

Holidaying on the smell of an oily rag

Camping at Te Aroha

Camping at Te Aroha

Have you ever gone on a holiday with no money?  We have!  We were forced to some years back, through having to vacate our student flat on campus over the December-January holiday period.  As far as our finances went, we were running on the smell of an oily rag.

We prayed about what to do and where to go before leaving, and God didn’t disappoint us.  “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” He said.  It seemed a great idea.  Off we went with $80, a $1000 overdraft, a tent and a 16 year old car.

In the end, we spent only 3 days camping.  We got houses to sit in big city Auckland and in Waipawa, a friendly little town in Hawkes Bay.

We went camping at a place called “Te Aroha” which means “the mountain of love” or “the loved one”.  The river its next to is the Waihou river, meaning “new water”.   One of the walks we did took us along the banks of the Waihou river.  It’s a river of crystal clear water, which I’ve covered in earlier posts:

Come to the river and Salus per Aquam, Healing through waters.

New Zealand is a country of outstanding natural beauty, so we went exploring.  We spent several days in the Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mining area of bush clad gorges, waterfalls and sparkling rivers.

If you are ever in the North Island of New Zealand, I recommend these places for hiking.

From there, we eventually made our way to Hawkes Bay, where we were going to house-sit for my sister and brother-in-law.  The road we travelled was the Napier-Taupo road.  The road isn’t as bad as when I was a kid, but I was a bit worried because there were some big hills for the old car to get over.  The Australians call our hills “mountains”.  My worst fears were realised after we scaled the Gentle Annie, a hill that was over 2300 feet high. The car engine overheated and converted all the water to steam at the summit.  It still went after that, but it was flaky and never the same for the rest of the holiday.  We had to spend some of the overdraft money on products to try and fix the subsequent overheating and leaking problems.  I think the hill lead to the engine’s demise.  Six months later, my husband replaced the engine as soon as we were able to afford it.

I felt the presence of God on that holiday, especially in Hawkes Bay.  He spoke to me a lot out of the book of Isaiah, even though I was reading Proverbs at the time.  That holiday has to be one of my all time best holidays, even though we had no money and a car with overheating problems.  I believe it is better to be time-rich and money-poor rather than the other way around.  Experiences don’t have to cost money, but you need to have the time to enjoy them.  Joy is part of the word ‘enjoy’.  That holiday, I learned what joy was.  The joy of catching up with family and friends.  The joy of going back to childhood places.  The joy of hiking through beautiful places.  The joy of being free and not having to be anywhere.  The joy of discovering things that had been hidden for years.

My next chapter “Chapter 77 Treasures of darkness” tells the story.

Leaving town, for God’s sake

You have a dream job, a great family, and you are happy in the town you are living in.  Would you give it all up, and uproot your family to go and do what the Lord wanted?

choice

I did.  Ten years ago.  It wasn’t easy.  My best friend thought it was a risky move.  Has it been worth it?  Yes.  Was I comfortable doing it?  No, but I have flown higher and gone further than I would have if left in my comfort zone.

Years before, the Lord told me there were two ways I could go. I could choose a hard yet interesting path, where everything I was given would be tested.   Or I could settle down under His protection and still have His blessing.

Why did I do it?  In the Lords prayer, we pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”  This was something that was God’s will, and I wanted to do it for Him.  And I’d chosen the harder, higher road.

If you have been following my story, the next chapter is the close of my old life.  I had been asked by the Lord to go to a college in a different part of the country to live as an adult student.

At the start of my journey with the Lord I would have lacked the faith to move north and go to College in mid life.  By the time I met and married Isaac, I had learned that God is faithful, and He always has our highest best at heart.  He is worth it.   And there’s a promise in the Bible that God will reward the people He asks to do it;

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  Matthew 19:29

I hated the town I left for most of the time I lived there.  I hadn’t been born there, my father had moved us into the area when I was twelve.  I’ve had some horrible jobs and relationships in that town, jobs and relationships I put up with because I believed I had no other choice.  It would have been easier to leave if I was still in that situation.  I wasn’t, I had a dream job, good friends and a husband I loved.  It made all the difference to how I saw the place.  The town was no longer a prison, and I was no longer a victim.

There’s a line that Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee”, that goes “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”  That’s not the kind of freedom that Christ gives us.  We are free to choose.  God knows its not a choice when there is nothing to miss or leave behind.

Perhaps you are only free to leave when you are truly happy.

Jesus said “For those the son sets free, are free indeed.  John 8:36″  That’s true.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Galations 5:1. 

Before we go, here are some photos of the town I left, the place where I finally found happiness.

 

My house

My house from the Durie Hill Tower

Durie Hill Lift and Tower

The Durie Hill Elevator and Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanganui panorama

Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!

I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.

The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.

As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

You’ll see the butterfly emerge in Chapter 5 of my book ‘The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.’.  It flutters into the story again in Chapter 8, ‘Shelter in the Storm.’  This time, it’s not alone.

Here are a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1