Mary books

Monday, 20 December 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

Tonight the news showed the devastating snow storms in the northern hemisphere: Heathrow closed. European cities affected. More falls of snow predicted means a white Christmas but certainly an unhappy one for many people.

And here in Australia? After years of drought and water storage supplies drying up, the great Murray-Darling River system basin in dire need, the rain has come again with a vengeance.  Throughout large parts of mainland Australia we have devastating floods and even unusual snow in our summer on the high mountains in New South Wales and Victoria. Thankfully, Tasmania has missed out - this time! 

During the first week of November when Ray and I were driving up through almost the centre of New South Wales on that trip I've shared in my last two blocks, we stopped for a cuppa and a break at several places that have since been under water. At one place we had delicious scones with jam and cream out in the open at an information centre right next to a river.

There had already been a lot of rain back in the mountains even in early November.  Perhaps it is my writer curiosity and the habit of taking note of things I might one day be able to use in a story, but felt compelled to take this photo of those sandbags and that rising river.
The sandbags went for quite a long way up and around the buildings and the locals told us there was more water on the way. This is one town we know has since been inundated with flood water, and we are left wondering if more sandbags had been rushed in to try and protect some very valuable historical items in their small museum.

While for most of us most of the time, Christmas is an exciting, wonderful time of contacting family, old friends as well as new ones, of receiving and giving gifts, of enjoying a huge party, there are also many for whom Christmas is one of the saddest times of the year.  Many, many homes have been inundated, all Christmas preparations under water, people evacuated and of course several drownings. Then of course there is the horrible accidents on our roads that claim so many lives over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Our family had one savage reminder way back when I was in my mid-teens that tragedies can strike at any time. My dear Dad's funeral was held on Christmas Eve and it was a very surreal Christmas Day the day after for my mother, older brother, younger sister and another brother only just ten years old. Christmas had always been such a wonderful time for our close family but everything changed after that year. For over fifty years now, it is a reminder to me that for some it is indeed not a time of joy and the peace we love to sing about. This year there are those who mourn loved ones, those who have no Christmas "cheer" and those who are homeless, not only after these kinds of disasters but week after weary week during the year.

So, while we are busy decorating our own safe homes, wrapping up those gifts and cooking that Christmas cake, don't let's forget to pray for others less fortunate than ourselves, to be prepared to go out of our way to care for those for whom Christmas is a time of sadness. May it be that we will grasp every opportunity to point folk we meet to the Christ of the cradle who also became the Christ of the cross. He longs for us to know Him as our only safety, our only true souce of peace, hope and joy - if we will only go to Him in faith and love.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

CATCHING UP - Part Two

Well, I did promise to write about more on those days and 4,500 kilometres we travelled in November. Now I do really doubt if I ever will “catch up” and that simply leaves me to stop and then try and start again!  Before I do “stop” here are a few more thoughts about our time in Queensland, travelling through New South Wales back to Melbourne.

After church on Sunday in Brisbane we enjoyed seeing family we have not seen since my mother’s funeral two years ago. 


Then it was time to head off to the Sunshine Coast to be a tutor at a live-in mentorship programme organised by the Omega Writers and sponsored by Rochelle Manners, the publisher of Wombat Books and even Before Publishing. This was also a learning experience for myself.

 









During the weeks before leaving for our trip, I had been very busy reading through the Christian fiction manuscripts the three unpublished writers had sent me. It was a very busy time trying to spend equal time as much as each writer needed during those five days, so I was very glad I had spent those many, many hours editing and writing comments throughout their manuscripts for them to consider. I believe it was a very worthwhile time for all concerned and the writers themselves thought it blissful to have those days free to write and write.
Ray also managed to get some writing done, minded Rochelle’s couple of delightful little children as well as talking to her about his two devotional books she is publishing next year. Hopefully it wont be long before we will be able to show you the beautiful covers she was working on – in between her own writing and preparing our meals!

Ray and I enjoyed the drive from Noosaville through beautiful scenery to Toowoomba ready for our next appointments. We were so privileged to be able to stay with old friends Gillian and David for three nights.















Speaking at the Toowoomba library was another new experience and learning curve for me.  Here chatting with a reader and two Toowoomba Librarians who helped organise this with Friends of the Library.
As Ray and I have experienced so many times over the years, God sure does organise our diary for us! this time it just “happened” that I discovered through a fellow ex-nurse that the Toowoomba Base Hospital nurses’ reunion luncheon was that same Saturday in Toowoomba.












There were only a few there from the graduation class of 1961 as well as an old school friend, Margaret, who also graduated that year.

I had a special chat with our tutor sister, Joan Bell (nee Neale) who had also been a member of our Australian Nurses Christian Fellowship in Toowoomba in those days.  A very special person





And so, after fellowship with more old friends at my home church, now Humeridge Church of Christ, we headed south down the New England highway this time through New South Wales and to Melbourne to stay with our daughter.

We enjoyed spending far too brief a time there with her and other writers, Amanda Deed (CALEB fiction winner), her mother and also Dorothy Adamek not long returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers great conference in Indianapolis.

And now we are home and with Christmas looming ever closer, the Christmas tree is out but not decorated yet...so, more next time.