Showing posts from November, 2015

Starting Young by Jean Gibson

My eldest grandson is eight years old.  Having been read to from his earliest days, he has always loved books and over the past year has begun to read for himself.  He still likes to be read to, but realises he can devour many more books on his own than if he has to wait for someone else’s availability.  At family gatherings he can often be found stretched out on the floor, chin on hands,  a book in front of him.  He is in another world, oblivious to what is going on around. His six year old brother is reading beginner books and his two year old sister thinks she can read everything.

Haven't we Been Here Before by Theresa Grant

Haven’t we been here before?
In Ecclesiastes the Teacher says that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (Ecc 1:9 NIV).
As we approach Christmas this year I have a sense of deja-vu about the furore over the cinemas saying that they will not screen The Lord’s Prayer advert. This has happened before when radio stations refused to play Sir Cliff Richard’s Millennium Prayer. It went to the top of the UK chart for 3 weeks and just missed it for Christmas.
The refusal of the cinemas to show this advert of the Lord’s Prayer is already having a similar effect, it is piquing people’s curiosity, whether or not they would have gone to see the Star Wars film they will now look at it on-line. Just out of curiosity.
The thing is that whenever anyone tries to cage the Word of God, it will break free. In the UK we have seen this prayer for too long as being very British and a very nice, safe and easy prayer to pray. So why then does it repeatedly warrant this treatment in modern day Britain? People in the…

Being Given Research on a Plate by Rosemary Johnson

When I retired from teaching this September, I had grand ideas, of writing The Novel and having stories published in women’s magazines. Also wanting to use my more abundant time to serve God and to support my local church, I enrolled on the Course in Christian Studies (CCS) offered by Chelmsford Diocese.

Although recommended for those considering lay ministry or ordination, most people join CCS for the personal satisfaction of understanding their Christian faith better. Many just have a gut feeling that it’s the right thing to do. A two year long course, CCS covers the Bible, church history, Christian ethics and how to apply your Christian faith in the world. Although run from Chelmsford (Anglican) Diocese, it is open to Christians of all denominations. Similar theological foundation courses are available in several other dioceses, although CCS itself is only available in Essex.

Our group is more than twenty strong, with few drop-outs, even after nine weeks. I admit that, being a…

A Way with Words, by Lucy Mills

I don't know about you, but it feels like the year is accelerating.  November hurtles by and I'm trying to hold lots of different things inside my head.

As I feel a bit 'brainless' at the moment - trying to do NaNoWriMo may have something to do with it - I hope you'll forgive me if I share something I wrote a few years a go (2009).  I've probably used it on my blog at some stage so again, I'm sorry for any repetition. I would probably do some stringent editing these days, but I'll let it be itself, for now, to be the churned up piece of 'feeling' it was at the time. Please don't count the adverbs; it's not at all fashionable in that regard.
It charts well my writing journey at a certain point in life.  2010 was the year when I started getting published, when I started to work on my book in earnest.  It was the year I started to call myself a writer.  
I'm glad that I did not let go of writing - or rather, that it did not let go of me...

Small is Beautiful by Fiona Lloyd

At the beginning of November I was full of good intentions. In my last blog post I wrote about the benefits – and challenges – of NaNoWriMo. While I never expected to reach 50,000 words in a month, I had high hopes of equalling my 2014 score of 20,000.

I’m full of admiration for my NaNo buddies who are on course to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month, but it’s at this point that I need to make good choices about how I view my own likely total of around 17,000. In any other month, I’d be dancing for joy at having achieved so much … so why, when it’s November, am I tempted to berate myself for having done so little?
A couple of days ago, Helen Murray wrote about how often we can be oblivious to the things that pose the greatest threat. I think one of the ways the Enemy likes to trip us up is by telling us our achievements are too small to count in God’s eyes. Nobody’s going to read what you write, he whispers. You might as well give up now.
And if we’re not vigilant, we get sucked in …

More on ‘New Learning and New Ignorance’

C. S. Lewis is the great debunker of shallow modern thinking. It’s amazing how much the myth of progress, which reigned in his days, is still with us. So it’s refreshing to read what he writes (in English Literature in the Sixteenth Century) about Renaissance thought.

Two things, he tells us, that were ‘reborn’ in the Renaissance are things that modern thinking consigns to a ‘medieval’ dustbin: astrology and magic. It might surprise some people to learn that these two practices underwent a new and more ‘scientific’ development in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Even more surprising: these two systems, which you might expect, as ‘superstitions’, to be arm-in-arm, were actually at daggers drawn. How come? Lewis explains: the magician asserts human omnipotence; he believes that, if he can find the key, he can control Nature. The astrologer asserts human impotence; he is a determinist, believing that everything humans do is controlled by natural powers far beyond their control.

Keeping my eyes on Jesus

'Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.'
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV 1984) There was a bird in the garden.

A blackbird. I like blackbirds. He was on the bird table, pecking at crumbs from the stale ginger cake that I put out earlier that the jackdaws had in minutes. He bimbled around for a little bit and then jumped down and started examining the floor around the base of the tree. I thought he was after more crumbs but it turned out he was fancying a bit of protein. 
It was a dank, damp sort of day today and the ground was wet. Blackbird stood very still with his head on one side. Then he started pecking the ground with his little orange beak. Success! It wasn't about to give up easily - even from my vantage point in the house I could see how stretchy this worm was. The worm didn't want to be someone's lunch. He was holding on with his bottom half; he wasn't coming out of the floor without a figh…

Lost for Words

So, here's the thing. Sometimes, I just can't do it. Writing, I mean. Today, I just can't write. There are no words to join together, which makes the sentences pretty impossible to produce, and without the sentences there is no blog post. This is a big issue on the 21st of the month, when my allotted ACW day is the 22nd.
One of the reasons it's a big issue is because writing is what I do. There are very few occasions when I can't find something to write about - normally I can expound on anything from the war on terrorism to a carrier bag I see in the street. Not even being able to find a topic induces a sense of panic in me that is hard to keep a lid on.
In a lot of ways, I’ve found that I can’t write the way I used to. Gone is the crazy haze of my twenties where all that mattered was the next perfect word on the page. As I’ve got older and taken more care of my own health, I’ve found that I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I can’t pull all-nighters any more, a…

Thoughts from the Potting Shed by Ruth Johnson

“…You meant evil against me, 
but God meant it for good…”  
Gen 50:20 NASB

What a positive remark from Joseph when twenty-three years previously he’d naively shared with his brothers that he'd dreamt of them bowing down to him.  Their reaction at the time was to throw him into a pit and then sell him into slavery.  

Joseph seemed to have the capacity to make the best of any situation. His administrative gift so benefited Potiphar he recognized God’s favour on this young man.  Was it Joseph’s naivety that stopped him anticipating Potiphar’s wife crying rape when he refused her attentions?  Or did he bury his head in the sand hoping the problem would go away? 

Next came the prison, where in making himself useful, the warder recognised God’s favour on Joseph's life and trusted him with the free run of the prison.  It was thirteen years before he interpreted the King’s dream about seven years of plenty and seven of famine.  And another nine before his brothers came to buy food from Jo…

Rain or rainbow...or maybe both

Not for the first time, I found myself trudging round a field early with my dog, praying for a ray of inspiration for this blog post. In general I have plenty to say on a variety of subjects, and can even at times be opinionated (allegedly.) Once in a while I also post on my own blog. So why do I find it so hard to think of something to say here that might enlighten, interest, inspire, amuse? Some kind of crisis of confidence is involved, I suspect: along the lines of 'What can I possibly have to say that anyone will want to read?'

The same applies to my works of fiction, perhaps not all the time, but on a depressingly regular basis. It's not that I think they are bad (though I'm sure they could be better) or that I've had no plaudits at all. It's more a sense of being out of joint with the times, in some way disconnected. Can anyone relate to this feeling?

This morning the grass was dry, the breeze brisk, with ragged vari-coloured clouds being bowled along a …

ACW Book Party

As this is the blog for the Association of Christian Writers we have produced a lot of books between us. As Christmas is coming several blogs will be dedicated to the books which members have written. This should help with the book buying this Christmas. There is something for everyone in here. To make it easier I have broken them down into categories. The photograph above is just a few of those I already have at home. 

Children and YA
The Village by Eleanor Watkins -  An evocative book looking at the effects of the plague, as seen through the eyes of three children. 
Buy from: Amazon 

Losing Face by Annie Try - A teenager comes to terms with disfigurement through talking to her friend via email. A story of hope and overcoming tragedy. 
Buy from: Amazon

Tales from the Jesse Tree by Amy Robinson - 25 Bible stories for Advent. Includes downloadable videos.
Buy from: Kevin Mayhew

David and The Never-Ending Kingdom by Fiona Veitch Smith - The young David goes forward in time to witness the ne…

How I wrangle with words by Joy Lenton

Confession time: hello, I'm Joy and I wrangle with words.

It's one of my favourite occupations, a regular, if not daily pursuit.

Sometimes they allow me to have my way.

Sometimes there's a degree of resistance involved.

A wrestling match of sorts as I aim to pin them to the page.

If I'm not writing out poetry or prose, I'm scribbling ideas down.

They might make their way into a blog post, future book or anthology.

On good days words slip through my fingers with liquid precision.

So when the poem below slid into my mind and slithered onto paper, I decided to share it as it came.

With a brief spell-check, yes, but otherwise left free of mangling and wrangling.

It's quite freeing sometimes to take our foot off the 'edit' pedal.

To become confident to let words fly free just as they are.

A liberating lesson I've been learning when following writing prompts.

It's also useful when writing commitments have grown, yet energy is low.

Received wisdom suggests that firs…