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30 must-read books – #7

Today’s my birthday. I’m 42. And I’m finishing these first seven ‘literary’ books with these two I discovered in the Garden City public library, three decades ago. I fell head over heels in love with the writing; with the story; with the characters. To me, the exquisite expression of the ideas in these novels, was perfection!

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Then they were returned, and life got busy. But the stories remained with me.

Fast forward a couple of decades. An older-me wants to read the stories again. But the passage of time has rendered me ignorant of the titles and author. And typing ‘dragon story’ into a google search would be fruitless. I give up.

Fast forward again, to mid-2015. Even-older-me has finished writing JUSTINE BROWNING #1 and is preparing to query agents, and reading similar novels to perhaps use as comparison titles. A PLAGUE OF UNICORNS by Jane Yolen strikes me as exquisite writing – so much so that when I see a copy of her novel A SENDING OF DRAGONS for sale, I purchase it to enjoy more of her writing.

I only make it through two and half pages before recognition hits.

This is Book Three in the series I read and fell in love with as a child! I hadn’t read it at the time, as it wasn’t published back then, but I’d found what I was seeking – the author, and the titles of the first two books!

And you know the best part of this story? My Miss11 has just bought me these two books as her birthday present to me. I’m so blessed!

Have a fantastic day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

 

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Reflections on #blogJune

So what *is* this #blogJune thing? It’s a blogging challenge, started by @flexnib back in 2010, and basically you publish a daily blogpost, every day in June. Most bloggers hail from Australia and New Zealand, and many work in the Library sphere, but we’re not exclusive. Case in point: me 🙂 If you’d like to join us, the signup info is here.

So anyway, #blogJune starts in just a couple of days. This will be my sixth year participating!

In 2011, when my blog was just a shade over 6 months old, I was exceedingly proud of myself for publishing 30 blogposts in the 30 day period. No, not all got done on their respective days, and yes, I used quite a few ‘memes’ in there to get me through the 30, but all in all, it was a very satisfactory start to the whole ‘blogging’ thang. In spite of my cherubs deciding that the first week of June would be a perfect time to have vomiting bugs…

#blogJune 2012 was hugely emotional. My Mr3 had just been diagnosed with autism, and boy oh boy, that was a HUGE rollercoaster ride! Reading back on those posts now? Wow. Just wow.

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In 2013, I battled (more) vomiting bugs and assignments, work and really AWFUL movies and made it to the 30 post mark

2014 saw me only blog 5 posts due to illness and Uni assignments 🙁

And last year, renovating and parenting blogposts were the main topics featured – but there were a couple of Krav Maga ones in there too!

Just last month I blogged daily too, as a first-time participant of the #AtoZchallenge which occurs every April. I had planned on publishing a 26-part story, however it ended up being far too dark and intense to publish on my blog, so I’m keeping that one for a different audience. I wrote a series of ’26 lessons from God’s metaphors’ instead. Which still ended up being FAR more words than I had originally envisioned!

So I’ve decided that my #blogJune entries for 2016 will be photo-based. My thirty favourite books (or book series / collection). I wonder if any will surprise? How many you have read? What you thought of them, if you did?

Anyway, that will all start June 1. Stay tuned, dear reader!

And until then, keep well!

— KRidwyn

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Writing up a storm…

Well, a sequel, actually. And that heading’s a little misleading, because there’s no storm in the book. So far, anyway.

But this blogpost is late (read, 11 hours later than I’d wanted) and that’s solely due to Mother’s Day. As in, the day last year when I finished JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. So half way through last month’s #AtoZchallenge, I decided I was going to finish JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE FAERIE DILEMMA  by Mother’s Day 2016.

Considering I had just 4 chapters done, because I’d inadvertently deleted 6 others, this was probably pushing it.

And Mother’s Day 2016 came and went, with nary a ‘The End’ in sight. It was close though, and getting closer.

But I was a little disappointed, because I was *really* hoping to get it finished within the year anniversary.

Enter a google search, just completed, prior to starting this blog post. Mother’s Day, 2015, was celebrated on May 10th here in Australia.

Today, the day after Mother’s Day 2016, is the 9th!!!

So I have just under 28 hours to complete this thing, and still ‘make it’ within the year. WOOT!!!!!

I’m heading off to type some more now. Wish me luck!!!

And have a great day, dear reader!
— KRidwyn

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And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Wow! What a month it’s been, huh?

FullSizeRenderTwenty-six posts, for the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Originally, I’d planned a 26-instalment story. But the draft version ended up far too violent to publish here, so at the last minute, I changed to ’26 metaphors for God’, inspired by a cross-stitch Mum made for me. Praise God for Mums, and for friends who make suggestions like “why don’t you use your Mum’s cross-stitch?”

But that being said, it was a huge month. And although I participated, I’m glad it’s over. It took a lot of time away from my ‘normal’ writing, so I’m quite a bit further behind than I wanted to be. And as for my Goodreads challenge, that’s looking like a TKO at this point. Because although I *have* been reading, it’s been on blogs, not books!

My favourite blogs this past month have been:

https://kdjames.com/ (A fascinating story over the month of April)

https://johndavisfrain.com/blog/ (26 stories, each 6 sentences long. Chilling stories.)

http://julieweathers.com/blog/ (American history? READ THIS!)

http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/ (100 word stories inspired by the songs of Paul McCartney. So clever!)

http://denapawling.blogspot.com.au/ (Military definitions from A to Z; enlightening to say the least)

https://alleysiande.com/ (stories, and beer. And dragons…)

https://wordwacker.me/ (clues in haiku for the word of the day)

http://katelarkindale.blogspot.com.au/ (New Zealand movies from A to Z with gorgeously written reviews)

and

http://romancespinners.blogspot.com.au/ (on writing, and writer’s life)

I thoroughly recommend, if you have the time, drop by and have a read.

And for any A to Z challenge participants stopping by, THANK YOU for your encouragement and support, and YAY!!! We did it!!!

(Heading off for a well-earned nap now…)

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #21

I’m an insomniac. Not chronically, but fairly regularly. It doesn’t particularly bother me, most of the time, because I know I’m able to cope with whatever comes my way… but ever so often, the sleepless nights will build up to such an extent that it starts worrying me, and I’ll wonder if I’m ever getting to get a proper night’s sleep again. The sense of relief when that night’s sleep *does* come is just beautiful!

That’s what happened last night.

For over a week now, it’s been Mr7 who’s the main reason for my wakefulness  – he’d have a nightmare, I’d get up to him, and then I’d be unable to fall asleep again for hours and hours.

And yes, last night he also got me up at just gone 11.30pm. But I got back to bed again before midnight.

And at 5.48am this morning, I woke up. I LOVE this feeling of having slept!!!

Now in my opinion, sleep isn’t such a big deal. Not in the grander scheme of things. I know that if I’d had yet another sleepless night, that this morning would still have come, and I’d still have coped with whatever today has in store for me… but it’s lovely that I can face it with a larger reserve of patience under my belt! [Right now I’m reminded of the Robert Ludlum JASON BOURNE series. “Rest is a weapon,” Jason Bourne said regularly :)]

But I also know that God cares about it. Because in the book of Matthew, chapter 10, verses 29 to 31, Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

He knows how many hairs are on my head? He cares about things THAT minutely?

That’s pretty mind-boggling.

Today’s letter in the #AtoZchallenge is ‘U’. And my mum’s cross-stitch shows the Earth being held in two upraised hands, with the words ‘Upholder of all things.”
The verse is Hebrews chapter 1 verse 3. And we’re back to the King James version for this wording:

U“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”.

Modern translations of this verse use the word ‘sustaining’ instead of ‘upholding’: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

He upholds (sustains) ALL things. My sleep included, if I wanted it! A colleague once shared with me, decades ago now, the events surrounding his new-born child’s health. The child had been born VERY sickly (I can’t remember the exact condition) but the doctors were very worried. So my colleague, in great distress, prayed about it. And felt led to pray for very specific things. Instead of ‘please heal my child’, it was ‘ask for her heart rate to slow down’ (the first thing that was needed for her recovery) – so he prayed for her heart rate to slow, and it did. Then the second specific thing that was needed, he prayed for, and her body responded. Then the third thing (I wish I could remember, but it *was* many years ago) and the same thing happened. Several times over, until his new-born child was completely out of danger. The doctors were amazed – as was I, when he told me the story. But that’s God for you: upholder (sustainer) of ALL things. If he numbers even the hairs on our heads, then of COURSE he can work to sustain that new-born’s life.

He could also work in my insomniac issues – if I asked Him to.

Maybe I need to do just that, hey?

God is the ‘Upholder of all things’ – so everything that bothers me, I can bring to Him to deal with. My takeaway lesson for day 21.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #16

I tried reading WAR AND PEACE once. Emphasis on the word ‘tried’ – because I didn’t finish it. In my defence, I had young children at the time, was running my own business, and studying. So I probably didn’t give it the concentration I needed to. I’ll try again one day… I don’t like to be beaten 😛

But the title has always intrigued me. Are they opposites? Or just two different places on a continuum? (Jane Austen’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY comes to mind.) Because I, for one, don’t think that the opposite of peace is war.

In my humble opinion, for what it’s worth, I think that the opposite of peace is tension.

And for me, ANY type of tension – even the merest hint of it – is enough to negate peace.

Maybe I’m not a good judge. I *am* a highly-strung person, I think. It’s on the rare occasion that I ‘relax’. Seriously. The last time I really “relaxed” was the 2nd of April, at about 10.30am. And I stayed relaxed for about 7 hours, which is rather a record in recent years. The time before that? I can’t actually remember.

[A Bible verse that always challenges me is the one they made a song out of: “Be still and know that I am God.” I get the ‘I am God’ bit – it’s the ‘being still’ bit that I have problems with!!! (And yes, my tongue’s in my cheek there. Because if I ‘knew’ – enough to trust, like in the ‘B for Bread of Life post’ – then I’d be *able* to ‘be still’!)]

But back to peace:

PIsaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Yes, this is the same verse that we saw in post #5, ‘E’ is for ‘Everlasting Father’, the post about my Dad.

The last title for Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’.

I love thinking that Peace is like the name of a country – like Australia, or America, say – which has a King… and Jesus is the Prince of that country. (Although if there was a King, then it wouldn’t actually be a country, it’d be a kingdom, yeh?)

And if this kingdom called Peace, were here on Earth, then it’d have a geographical location, and people could live there. I’d like that, I think. To live in a place of Peace. To not have to worry – or be tense even! To just ‘be still’ 🙂

And that’s my lesson today. If Jesus is what God says He is, the ‘Prince of Peace’, then as one who follows Him (as in, who dwells in His kingdom) then I can be free from tension, too. ‘Be still.’ A challenge for me! But here goes…

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #10

I have three children: Miss11, Miss8 and Mr7. I love them more than I could possibly imagine, and want to protect them from the evils I know exist in the world. I’m sure all parents feel the same. Before becoming a parent, I never felt this way. I didn’t know it was possible to feel the overwhelming love that would sacrifice everything for this child who relies on you so utterly.

As a teenager in High School, I once heard the story of a man who controlled the switch at a train track. He was about to switch the track for a passenger train to pass safely by, when he realised that his four-year-old son was playing on it. Now that’s a dilemma! Choose who dies – a train full of passengers, or your own child?

That story has remained vivid enough that I could remember it this last week, and use it for an illustration today. Snopes though, tells the background to the story, as ‘story’ it appears to be.

JNonetheless, it is a relatable illustration of God and His choice – to send His son to Earth, knowing He would be killed the most excruciating way possible. For us. Because it was the only way that He could save us from the consequences of our sin. And Jesus – who knew, and obeyed.

Now I’m a parent, God’s choice confounds me and humbles me. There’s no way I would voluntarily sacrifice my one of my own children for strangers. Not even for friends. And yet – that’s what God did. And Jesus – who knew, and obeyed? The mind reels.

God loves us, did you know?

I’m humbled by that.

And that’s my takeaway lesson for today. J, for Jesus. Who obeyed.

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #8

In each post in this #AtoZchallenge, I’m highlighting one facet that God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. Most are metaphors (I am the Bread of Life; I am the Good Shepherd etc.) but they aren’t always.

This one isn’t.

FullSizeRender (4)In the book of Psalms, Chapter 103 verse 3, the Bible says, “[the LORD] forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…”

God is a healer. The cross-stitch sampler to the left shows a man leaping for joy, no longer needing a walking stick; he’s been healed of his physical illness. Stories abound throughout the Bible wherein people are healed physically; and also emotionally and spiritually, when their sins were forgiven.

It’s taken me a while to decide what ‘life example’ *I* could give here, to illustrate my point. I mean, I’ve never really suffered any physical aliment from which I needed healing. Nor, to my knowledge, have any close friends or family, so I can’t relate their story here either.

Emotional healing I’ve had a little more experience with though, and long-time readers of this blog might remember the roller-coaster ride that was the time when my youngest was diagnosed with autism.

But the biggie was probably when God healed my marriage.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.10.01 amI posted this photo on Facebook earlier in the week. Hubby and I were out, and I managed to snap a selfie of the two of us – where he was SMILING! This would be the first ever smiling selfie, in over 20 years of marriage.

And I’m sharing that piece of information so you can see how completely He healed us.

You see, we broke up after just 18 months of marriage.

It was pretty bad. And I was the cause… well, to be specific, it was my experiences with a cult a few years prior, which had screwed me up BIGTIME, that had driven us apart.

Anyway, SUPERlong story short, we patched things up and got back together again.

This was only possible because of God. No, really.

The story is too long to tell here – you’ll need to read the longer post here instead – but suffice it to say, God healed us. And look, twenty years later, we’re still together. And I’m proud of that.

That’s not to say we haven’t fought in the meantime. I’m a stubborn thing, and a control freak, neither of which do me any favours. We’ve had some doozies of arguments. But we’re in this for the long haul, and are both committed to that. No matter what. God healed us, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

So that’s my lesson for Day 8. God Heals. He’s healed others, and He’s healed Hubby and I. I can take comfort in the fact that He’ll heal again, whenever and wherever is needed.

That’s pretty awesome 🙂

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

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What I learned, going bald

This time last year, I did it. I shaved my head.

I’d always said I would, you know. I’d wondered what being bald might feel like, since I hit double digits. I’d always imagined a sense of freedom; the chance to ‘reinvent myself’ as it were; the ability to start afresh; be a new me; be who I wanted to be; and so on and so forth, with all the gush which comes from being young and living life intensely.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.40.01 pmAs the years went by, I still wondered about it. Then all of a sudden, I realised I was getting older. (Took a while. Dumb, I know.) Which meant, if I wanted to shave my head and NOT have people think I actually *did* have cancer, the years were running out for me to get around to doing it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.39.42 pmSo last year, at 40, I did it. I shaved my head.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing!” I insisted to my extremely unimpressed Hubby. It didn’t reassure him.

“It’ll grow back!” I told my children; my own three cherubs, and the 400 plus primary school students I teach on a weekly basis. They weren’t sure they believed me. Neither was I, to tell the truth.

I did it anyway.

It grew back. Slowly.

This is Shave plus One Year.

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So – was it all I hoped for? Alas, no. Is anything?

In hindsight, I spent too long allaying the fears of others to relish the moment. And that’s okay – I’m not sure if I really did enjoy the experience as much as I hoped I would. There wasn’t too much re-inventing of myself happening, that’s for sure…

The attention was enjoyable, sure. I mean, who doesn’t like that? And it certainly was novel; I’d never in a million years realised I’d need to unstick my head from the car headrest, where my spiky regrowth had attached me like Velcro!

Just the other day, staff at my school shaved their heads again. I watched, remembering.

I won’t do it again. I was happy with the funds I raised, and pray for a cure, and am satisfied with my contributions to the cause thus far. But I shan’t shave my head again. And my family are happy about that.

How about you – have you ever shaved your head? Would you?

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#blogjune Life Review

Over for another year..

Hello again, dear reader.

This marks the final post for my 2015 #blogjune journey. It’s been different to what I had expected. I had *hoped* that I’d be able to post every day. But, just as in the last five years, that never happened. I still managed 30 posts – but because several days had two or more posts in them. And this post marks the 112th post in the #blogjune category – and that sounds pretty impressive to me 🙂

So, to recap for 2015:

1. On the relationship between libraries, teaching and vocal nodules I lamented my not-going-to-Library-volunteering-due-to-laryngitis day

2. Keeping it at bay – the laryngitis, that is – related my happiness at getting so much editing done the day before, and also re-discovering the five (count them! 5!) folders of research that I’d done for a historical novel ten years ago, before Miss10 came along

3. Looking backwards, looking forwards referred to my experiences with #blogjune (cherubs traditionally picking up vomiting bugs during the first week of June) and my excitement about the #WritingRace I attend every Wednesday evening.

4. So I succumbed – Laryngitis got me, finally. It was the choir rehearsals that did it, I tell you!

5. Ask me why I’m happy – Hubby finished his CPA studies!

6. So it happened again – I was *so* hoping to get away with a vomit-free first week of #blogjune. But Miss7 changed that. Sigh.

7. Smiling – while sick : my 41st birthday!

8. Grateful was a post thanking my peeps for all the birthday love – and I finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing 🙂

9 – 14. The next few posts were a series on how I parent. I regularly get comments on the good behaviour of my kids, so I thought I’d blog about why. Things like Rewards First, Stuff Costs Money (understanding the value of things), Set Expectations, Consistency is Key, Make Milestones Memorable and finished it with a post on Mummy: my kids’ perspective

15. This Saturday looked ahead to the Krav Maga grading I was to sit that weekend

16. whoops – where I realised that I’d missed a day of blogging. My first for the month. So I’d made it through to day 15 before misisng a day! Happy with that 🙂

17. Predicting the game – the State of Origin rugby league match, that’s pretty big on the east coast of Australia during June. And I got it right 🙂

18. Training – Miss10 had been giving me back massages all week, possibly in response to the hard training I was doing preparing for my grading. Which was absolutely beautiful!

19. On dreams – I wonder what “being suffocated by render” means?

20. I passed!!! (Still shaking my head in disbelief, actually…)

21. Sabriel – my thoughts on the Garth Nix novel of the same name, which I’d read that afternoon. Being unable to do much else but lie prone, of course!

22. Conversations with my younger children – in which both Miss7 and Mr6 surprised me.

23. Hat-less: a selfie. These are rare. But I felt that my first day without-a-hat since shaving my head for #WorldsGreatestShave back in March was reason enough to grin and bear that rear-facing camera…

24. four days behind  because I was! And my reason why…

25. On socks and sewing – in which I recounted hopeful improvements in my ‘school socks’ system, and also my woeful sewing skills

26. sore – Some furniture was moved in preparation for the laying of tiles which had been delivered – which we had just discovered were the wrong tiles! (Am still seething over this one…)

27. Feedback from beta-readers – my take on the feedback I’ve received on my book to date

28. Tiles – part 2 : situation resolved (we can but hope) where the correct tiles will apparently be delivered next week…

29. Reading time – where I got to the bottom of why Mr6 refuses to read certain words

30. Over for another year – this one that’s you’re reading right now, the recap post where I’ve reminisced on the events of the past month.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing you a lovely day, as always!

— KRidwyn