Mary books

Friday, 30 December 2011

THE JOURNEY THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR

 Well, this Thursday post is late once more and the last one for 2011.

Twelve months ago, this past year was about to begin.How have you journeyed this year? How many hills and valleys have you had to navigate?

Did your world seem bright, an adventure waiting out there?



                                                                                                                                                             
And then did the journey seem daunting?


Not so much colour and you so small?





Each year as we prepare our Christmas letter, it never ceases to amaze me as we list some of our own hills and valleys just how much has happened in the past months. We are thankful this last year did not contain too many valley experiences. However, as we get older so do our friends and families.

My Uncle Reg and my son's father-in-law died this past year. Even today is the funeral of a friend from our Maitland days. Sylvia McGregor-Skiner was a beautiful woman within and without. For several years she was the Director of Nursing at our local state church's Nursing Home where Ray was the chaplain.

One thing we did not write about in our annual letter is the valley of these last days from just before Christmas when our five grandchildren were diagnosed with whooping cough. They are still not all out of the woods with that horrible disease and have more days on another antibiotic which we trust will work better for them all.

And those hill-top experiences? Thankfully there have been more of those than the valleys. After years of trying to convince my dear husband that his devotional meditation writings need to be published so other besides myself can be blessed and challenged by them, his first two books have been released and the response to them has been very good. His book for adults about God's take on children was short-listed in the CALEB award and he presented his first writer's workshop at the Word Writers Fair in Brisbane this year.

We have thought of ourselves as being a "team" during these forty-seven years of marriage and ministry together. I am just so thrilled that now Ray is also sharing the delights - and challenges - of being a published author! I so enjoyed having the book launch of my own last book, Justice at Baragula, shared with the launch of Ray's two devotional mediatations.

We also share book-signings together which have proved to be great fun times.

Now we are looking towards anothe new year journeying together. Where will it take us?
Will the valleys become deep chasms?
Will those hill-tops also be mingled with mountain-top experiences?

So many times we do need that help along the journey.

I simply cannot express it any better than Ray has in the following:





THE JOURNEY'S END

The journey we travel in this life
Brings its happiness and strife
We leave our faint histories
Of failures and victories
And to all but our Maker
The journey is a mystery
For He alone knows
The joys, fears and blows
Felt, yet unexpressed
In the heart suppressed.

The journey we travel in this life
Can bless or cut as a knife
And many a wound or scar
Has our spirit marred
Seen only by the Creator!
He has heard our silent cries
Counted the constant sighs
Seen doubt and faith wrestle
For our soul’s mastery
In time and for eternity!

The journey we travel in this life
Where spiritual darkness is rife
Is challenged by Christ’s light
To walk by faith not sight.
Here our choices there abide
From which we cannot hide
Before the throne of God!
But do we stand alone
Rejected, out of favour
Or accepted, with our Saviour?
                                                                                        © Raymond N. Hawkins July 2011

Monday, 26 December 2011

Ray on Monday - Christmas Secret


Haylee's first Christmas

And so, for those of us in this part of our world, we are now trying to recover from our Christmas Day. For those of you here as well as in the far reaches of our planet, Ray and I wish you every blessing you allow God to pour out on you at this special time of the year.





And Ray again shares with us some special thoughts to meditate about during this Season.



A Secret No Longer

We have turned the awesomeness of Heaven’s invasion of Earth by the Christ Child into a childish fun parlour for adults. In the child’s Christmas there’s a sense of mystical, magical mythology which evaporates as a mist through maturity.

On the surface, Christmas is so simple. It’s about a promised baby who has arrived and survived the almost endless complications of birth in ancient times. He grew into manhood, did wonderful things, was hated and loved - and was crucified. Simple!

Trouble is it is not simple. Wrapped up in the Bethlehem baby who became the Nazarene is a mystery. This in Biblical talk doesn’t refer to something hidden which must be searched for. The word “mystery” which means what was unknown, hidden and incomprehensible has actually been revealed, clarified and defined.

Writing to the folk at Colossae, the gospel dynamo, Paul, explained some of the motivation which made him a great missionary, pastor and teacher. “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:2,3.)

Do you want to know what Christmas is about? Does your heart long for more than the froth and bubble of life? Is there a hunger for a new and deeper dimension for faith, hope and service? Look no further than the person and work of Jesus the Christ. The more you get to know Him through reading His Word, obeying that which He requires and expressing your faith through worship, the more you discover treasure for the mind, spirit and relationships.

Christmas comes and goes yet life goes on. The Christ celebrated on that occasion wants to go with you into the highs, lows and the mundaneness of your life. He wants to share with you the riches of his grace, the treasures of His heart and the wisdom of His word. Jesus has made no secret of His willingness to do that for you and me.

Ray (a treasure hunter) Hawkins.

And a VERY happy Christmas to each and every one of you!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS – ALMOST


Haylee


Five grandchildren












For quite a few of us, Christmas each year is greeted with mixed emotions.

Certainly that has been my own personal experience since I was sixteen years old and my Dad’s funeral was on Christmas Eve that year.

This year has all the promise of a wonderful time together with all our children present.

Our son, daughter-in-law arrived yesterday morning from the Australian mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. They brought their two gorgeous german shepherd dogs with them. Our grandchildren are thrilled with the dogs and love their Uncle Lance and Auntie Kazza. Our daughter, Gaylene, is a school teacher and flies into Launceston at 8.25a.m tomorrow morning. Our son’s brother-in-law is due at the airport on Christmas Day. Both Mark and Gaylene always spoil their nephews and nieces each year and so extra excitement all around.

But then the phone call came a few minutes ago.

The Department of Health had just rung our son, Craig, to inform him the test results from his children reveals they have whooping cough. Our six grandchildren’s ages range between 9 years old and 9 weeks old. All are coughing except the baby.

And so, this blog has to be brief. I’ve rung my doctor to find out what grandparents who have had heaps of contact with them these last couple of weeks should be doing for our own health and those we come in contact with. The baby’s dedication was planned for Christmas Day and of course now has to be cancelled. The Hawkins house is in “lock down.” And there are folk we need to make sure are aware of the risk of a “cold” and “cough” being symptoms of this nasty disease, especially children at church. Summer school holidays commenced today but we know the Department of Health will still be going through all their protocols for this notifiable disease at the local school.

So, how did Ray & I just cope? Prayer first of all of course and we would appreciate yours also. Many years ago as a nurse, I nursed children with this horrible disease and have to confess am not really surprised by this diagnosis. After hearing that awful, breath taking cough, I’ve discovered even the decades since have not killed the memory.


So, Christmas is only another three days away. How glad I am that the Christ Child became the Christ of the Cross. In HIS loving hands those we love are safe – no matter what!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ray on Monday -The Christmas Gauntlet




   THE CHRISTMAS GAUNTLET!









In the so called Middle Ages a piece of the knights armour was the gauntlet. This was a leather glove studded with plates of metal. The term “to throw down the gauntlet” was a challenge to an opponent.
Christmas for the Christian is a throwing down of the gauntlet on behalf of the babe born at Bethlehem. Almost the whole of the New Testament, and most especially the Gospel of John, is the gauntlet of the disciple (knight?) of Christ! John 20:31: “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”(NRSV)

In that verse three groups are specifically challenged.
The first is the Jewish people. The Apostle John declares to them that the longed for Messiah of their Scriptures (and ours) is none other than the Babe of Bethlehem, the Man of Nazareth, the Crucified One! His name is Jesus. The glove thrown down calls upon the one challenged to check out the Scriptures and see whether or not the accounts of Jesus life fill out the shadows.

The second group are the followers of Islam. Their claim is that God has no son. The Christian’s response is “O yes He has and his name is Jesus!” When the Scriptures call Jesus the Son of God it refers to his unique birth (check out Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2). It highlights the unique relationship between the earthly Jesus and his heavenly Father. In John 10:30 Jesus declares that he and the Father are one, meaning they are of the same essence. Also in response to Philip’s question, Jesus said, “if you see me you see the Father too.” The term “Son of God” points to a description of His authority, His rule. As the Son of God, Jesus dealt with all the obstacles between us and being acceptable to His Heavenly Father. Read the 1st letter of John and stand in awe at what is encompassed by this description of Jesus being the Son of God.

The third group invited to take up the Christmas gauntlet actually includes everyone else. It is a calling upon all people to give a sustained, intelligent appraisal of the Christmas event in the light of Scripture. The thrown down glove asks, ‘Who is there more outstanding, more worthy, more gracious than Jesus who can make a claim to our allegiance?”

But you object by saying Jesus is in the past. You want a modern day, living person to call Lord and Saviour. That is Jesus! According to the Scriptures, three days after his crucifixion Jesus arose from the dead. In doing so he fulfilled what was written. He also put the guarantee of who He is by rising from the dead. Read Romans 1:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15.

So, every time Christmas comes around God’s gauntlet is thrown down. You can challenge it and accept the consequences, or you can yield and know what is wrapt up in the gift of life.

Ray (the yielded one) Hawkins.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Writers getting it “right.”


Not Qld but western New South Wales
paddocks of Paterson's Curse weeds.
Click on photo to see enlarged.

So, here I am, back trying to finish that half-finished manuscript I started a few years ago before I received a contract for Return to Baragula. I stopped writing this one to concentrate on writing the next two books in the Baragula series.

And have I been busy rewriting and editing that first draft, including trying to get the setting of fictitious Lomond Downs right!

When I wrote Outback from Baragula, I set Davidson Downs in a part of New South Wales I had actually never visited before. Thankfully I had a good friend who did know the general area, even had photos she shared with me.

This time I am setting most of the story of Her Outback Cowboy on a property south-west of Longreach in Central Queensland. This is another part of Australia I have never been able to visit. I have always understood this area is called the Channel Country where many small rivers and creeks are really nothing more than just that, channels rather than rivers. I mentioned to a couple of people this manuscript was set in the “Channel Country” only to be told they both individually thought the area called this was set in northern Queensland. So, back to doing research again in an effort “to get it right!”

I am wondering what other writers find about their unfinished manuscripts. Have I really changed myself so much that I now see unbelievable flaws and editing needed, including those weasel words? Yes, including that word “that”!

Oh, and both men were wrong about where the Channel country is.

Or are they? Would love to hear from anyone who has driven down the road from Longreach on the map called Thompson Developement Road! Do leave a comment here with your email so I can ask you heaps of questions. Or email me at mary@mary-hawkins.com

Monday, 12 December 2011

Ray on Monday: Different Christmas Candles

On Sunday I shared in a Church service where candles had a feature role. These were not so much referring to the Light of the world at Christmas. Rather, they were candles of remembrance for those who had died. People had an opportunity to light a candle and reflect upon a loved one and pray to the Lord, thank Him for the person’s life, faith and influence.

Christmas has so many emotional stirrings and not all of them good. The loss of a loved one especially around Christmas can turn a joyful event into one of grief. When I read the first Christmas story I find that the coming of Christ was into a world of sorrow, fear and anger. (Sounds similar to today doesn’t it!) He came as Saviour yet the forces of this World fought against Him, even in His childhood. In Luke’s account, a man named Simeon told Mary she would have an experience as though a sword had pierced her soul.

Christmas doesn’t cancel out the loss and sorrow of life. Its promise is that the Lord God has come to stand with us in it. To achieve such a relationship Jesus had to become our personal Saviour. Only then could the swords which cut, hurt and maim be blunted, resisted and their cuts healed. In effect, one of the features of celebrating Christmas is to take heart in the fact of our Lord sharing in our history.

Christmas in our History

Christmas time they tell me
Is for peace, joy and family.
All I can see is rampant misery
Across homes, hearts and countries.

Christmas faces the darkness
With its message of forgiveness
Christ’s unfading light
To guide us through life’s long night

Christmas time has its crosses
When again we taste our losses
With memories bitter sweet
Our minds determine to keep.

Christmas candles cause reflections
Calming sorrow’s hypertensions
The symbol of its flame?
Christ’s comfort in our pain.

Christmas the Bible tells me
Is God sharing our history
With love’s testimony
To hallow all our memories
©Raymond N. Hawkins 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Writer’s Interruptions

Just how does a busy person settle down to writing a novel?

Usually with great difficulty!
I’ve read many writer’s comments about this. It is certainly true that family members seem to be more helpful and thoughtful about interrupting a writer deep in “the throes” once that writer has been published. It seems that suddenly even the most sceptical family and friends then suddenly realise, “Hey, she is actually ‘working those times she refuses to be interrupted for trivial reasons.”

On the whole over the years, I have been very blessed by understanding friends and family–and also church members when their minister’s wife had to apologise for not being able to pop over anymore for a quick visit, even at times offer that cuppa to someone who arrived at her own door at the “wrong” time.

Okay, so what happens these days now I am trying to work on my nineteenth manuscript? To clarify: you may have noticed I have nineteen titles released but two of those, Australia and Australian Outback (both Barbour books and currently out of print) are collections of previously novels released individually. I also have one finished manuscript still not published that needs to be re-worked also. Groan!

This manuscript, tentatively titled Her Outback Cowboy, I commenced some years ago while I was trying to sell and rewrite Return to Baragula. After it was contracted I concentrated on writing the other two books in the Baragula series but now I’m back rewriting that manuscript which was only about one-third written.

And I have to confess there have been a few attempts to get back into that story, the heads and hearts of my characters. Why? Interruptions of course-and not often these days other people to blame, just myself.

These days I am on far too many writer’s email loops of writing organisations. These days there are blogs to write, internet networking, promotion to organise for my current books like some I have mentioned last week and in previous blogs.

But having told you all these, I have to confess the biggest cause of interrupting my writing time is basically one reason – my own lack of self-discipline. Long before I became “a writer” I was a book worm. That still hasn’t changed but it takes an effort to put down that “un-put-down-able-book” by another author! It takes real efforts of self-discipline to sort out my priorities and then stick to them!

This year has been rather horrific for getting any writing done. With a new book released last May there have been two book launches, four book-signings and all kinds of promotion through media and the internet to organise. These involved travelling time as well and now I am starting to realise perhaps I need another lap-top computer for those times. (Are you listening, Santa?)

And I am discovering more and more I seem to have less discipline about letting gorgeous grandchildren distract me than ever our own lovely children did! But they are a big priority because I know only too well how soon those precious little ones will grow and we will not have the same opportunities to be with them as they become more independent of parents and grandparents.

Last week I mentioned the time spent on the phone trying to sort out an insurance claim on damage to the hire car and that lost camera. Today the claim was granted and a few hours ago our camera was found! I sure have been praying about them and just so thankful tonight.

And so, I’ve also now spent writing time on photos from our trip to Queensland, The Word Writers Fair, Family and nostalgic memories.
Here are a few this week and I’ll try and include more in weeks to come. Just click on the photos and they should become larger.


 
Ray & Mary with CALEB certificates
Ray was short-listed in the Devotional category for
Children: God's Special Interest.

             

CALEB Fiction category finalists
Paula Vince wins for Best Forgotten

CALEB Unpublished manuscript finalists
and Jo Wanmer, my 2010 mentoree wins!


2011 Friday Intensive Workshop and Mary cracks the whip - or tries to with four more writers she attempts to mentor!

All the very best to all four of you!




And so The Word Writers Fair is over for another year. Another wonderful "Face to Face" time of fellowship with other writers. And no way can this event be called an "interruption."
It is more like a bull-dozer pushing me to settle down - AND SIMPLY WRITE MY NEXT BOOK!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Ray on Monday - The Battle Cry of Christmas


Northampton England 2002

Christmas isn’t for the faint hearted. It isn’t about presents or carols or hot roast dinners. Christmas is the moment Heaven invaded earth to reclaim what the powers of Darkness had usurped. The Bible is clear that the coming of Christ heralded the final phase in God’s plan of redemption for men, women and the whole of creation.

The following poem highlights what the Angels' message conveyed.


The Battle Cry of Christmas.

The clarion call of Heaven
Was the battle cry of angels
Piercing the darkness
Of the night
And the soul!
Demons cowered.
Shepherds, dismayed
Believers
In the promised One!

Glory to God in the Highest
Is the marshalling call
For all who honour Him
To enlist
In the task!
Planned by Grace
Enslaved sinners
Redeemed
In the promised One!

Peace on earth to men
And women of good will
Angels proclaim
With delight!
Messiah’s
Mercy offered
To fallen world
Wrapped
In the promised One!

The clarion call of Heaven
The angels' battle cry
Echoes across time
Shattering
Satan’s hold
Over people!
Salvation now
Possible
In the promised One!

His name is Jesus.
He is the promised one!

Ray (I enlisted) Hawkins
© Ray Hawkins 2011

Thursday, 1 December 2011

When Writers meet Face to Face

As well as online fellowship, writers do enjoy meeting with other writers. This photo was taken at a monthly meeting I try hard to go to each time of the Society Women Writers Tasmania. We have our next meeting this coming Monday - a special Christmas luncheon time!
My apologies for not posting here for so long. We arrived home from Queensland late last Thursday. Hard to believe a week has already slipped by. We “oldies” were certainly ready for a holdiay to get over our two week working holiday, but instead have found ourselves very busy catching up on mail, email, restocking the fridge and helping our family – not to mention the usual unpacking, laundry, sorting out notes and paperwork from the Writer events.

The last few days I’ve spent too much time trying to sort out insurance re-imbursement for a bit of damage to our hire car and trying very hard to find my camera. Sorry there are no photos this time of our trip. The above one was taken last year but a good reminder of writers meeting face to face! They are all still on that camera – somewhere not in aeroplanes. airports, hire car company and apparently at our family’s homes!

However, our trip away was a great time of meeting with readers at book-signings, my extended Qld family and then of course other writers. The Word Writer Fair was even bigger and better this year as it continues to attract more and more of those of us who are writers. I’ve already heard about some pre-planning to make our face to face time together with writers from all over Australia even more exciting next year. I so enjoyed putting faces to names of other writers I've only "met" online here as they have commented on our blogs posts and also on other blogs and writers email loops.

On the Friday I was privleged to mentor four fiction writers. It was a busy but very rewarding day and hopefully we will see those manuscripts they worked so hard on published in the future.

Saturday was very special for me again this year. Ray presented a workshop on writing devotionals and I talked to writers wanting to write fiction who attended my workshop on what writers need to know they should know before they start a novel. There have been so many things I’ve had to continue learning over the years and so many things I wish I had known before writing my own first novels. I sure pray it will help other writers not to have to learn the hard way I so often have by making mistakes with my manuscripts.

The CALEB Award dinner was another time of fellowship for us all. I was thrilled to be one of the three finalists in the fiction category and am thrilled for the winner, Paula Vince, for her novel Best Forgotten. Not only did she win our category but was the overall Grand winner! Fiction ruled!

An extra special moment for me was the delight of seeing one of the unpublished writers I mentored last year win the unpublished category, and know she has signed a contract for that manuscript we worked so hard on. Congratulations Jo Wanmer!

Another delight for me was the opportunity to meet and share dinner with members of the newly formed Toowoomba Romance Writers of Australia group. Perhaps I will be able to share more about the details of that and other experiences out west in future blog posts.

Already Ray and I are seeking to know what and where and how we may be involved with writers’ events next year. Already I am booked to share with writers at Fusion’s annual Faith and Art convention here in Tasmania in January. I missed the Romance Writers Australia National conference this year and in 2012 will be held at the Gold Coast in Qld. There is planning afoot for an RWA Roadshow for writers of romance here in Tasmania next May. Then there is another Word Writers Fair in Adelaide as well as another in Brisbane.

Choices, always choices. Our prayer is we will continue to listen to God, let Him choose for us. May He continue to make the journey HE wants to take us on very, very clear.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ray on Monday - Here's To The Star!

We're baaaack!
My apologies for neglecting you all for so long. Ray and I have had over a couple of weeks away. And no, not really a holiday, a working holiday at The Word Writers Fair in Qld, two book-signings, book display at a couple of churches, including one where Ray was the guest preacher. But more of that on my post later this week. Stay tuned!

It is only a few weeks now to Christmas and Ray's thoughts have turned towards that wonderful event even sooner than mine have -so far anyway!


               Here's to The Star!

This was no mere twinkling star. Nor was it a falling star to wish upon. It was a new star to capture the attention of the astrologers in Babylon. The Star we recall at Christmas time was described by the Magi as ‘His Star.’ Who was He to them? How did they know about Him and why were they watching the heavens for a star sign?

The account in Matthew Chapter Two about the wise men’s visit to Judea is expressive in its simplicity and mysterious in its brevity. They saw the star in the East, knew it was about the promised Jewish Messiah and took off for Jerusalem where all that nation’s kings resided. God is the God of the unexpected and yet is faithful to His promise. In this matter the one born to be king was in Bethlehem–as Micah 5 declared. When the Magi left Herod it was night for we are told the Star glowed over Bethlehem, a few miles south east.

Back to the questions: How did they know this was His star? I believe the answer is in the book of Daniel. This man was among the deportees from Jerusalem to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. At fourteen, he with some others was chosen to undergo training in the art of Babylonian astronomy/astrology. For the next 80 years Daniel lived in that scene under two different regimes.

Daniel was a faithful servant of God. He knew the Scriptures. It is conceivable that in his position of authority he was able to share the Biblical testimony that in the future God would send the Messiah. There are many references to this promised One but not a date. Being astronomers and astrologers, they would be seeking what the scripture talks about as signs in the Heavens. When it happened hundreds of years after Daniel their expectation was realised.

We hear a lot about “following your dream.” The better aspect is to follow the promise of Scripture as did the Magi. It was a long and challenging journey but at the end they found Jesus, the promised One. He is the Star’s fulfilment. He is the ‘Star’ of Scripture. He is the One who completes the meaning of Christmas.

Ray (the star gazer) Hawkins.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ray on Monday - Least Likely To.....


Coming towards the end of life’s journey should be a time for reflection, assessment and tying up loose ends. In fact that is something we should have done on a regular basis across the years. This came to mind when I looked over some previously jotted down thoughts such as the following. I wrote it, as I often do, like a conversation in my mind with the Lord.

Time…4:10pm.
Place…a Sydney (Australia) suburban train.
Funerals are interesting experiences, Lord. We learn things most of us were ignorant of. For me, Lord, I learnt things about myself.
It was a good funeral as funerals go. My friend belonged to You. This made it easier to say farewell. At the family gathering afterwards a group of us from the ‘yester-years’ gathered and shared our journeys. Some have done quite well. Others have struggled. Some have remained faithful to the Faith. Some haven’t. That’s sad.
As I grew up with these people, we had a great time in the church and community. Friendships are precious and years apart don’t distract from that. When we are growing up it seems to me we are not very conscious of how our mates see us. That is why one young lady’s comments floored me a bit. On reflection they were true. I just didn’t think how others saw me then. She said “ You hung in there with the church when most of us at the time thought you were the least likely to succeed.”
I’m not sure, Lord, what she meant by ‘succeed’. To me it means that in their eyes I changed from a shallow, self indulgent hypocrite to a maturing, caring minister sold out to you. However, Heavenly Father, I can’t kid myself. I don’t think I would have ‘succeeded’ in any sense of the word if You hadn’t stood me on my head, metaphorically speaking, and said “Shape up or ship out!” How thankful I am that You prevailed. Your perseverance over the years has been the sole factor in any so called ‘success’ people may see. You shaped me up! You’ve kept me! You’ve proven Yourself true through Your word.
As I am carried along by this train, I am thankful for the honesty of my friend in reminding me that I was ‘the least likely.’ It creates a shout of gratitude to You. In Your mercy You have made a ‘least likely to succeed’ a testimony of what Your power can do with raw material surrendered to You.
Oh, that more of my friends had done that!
Amen!
Ray (with room for improvement) Hawkins.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ray on Monday - The Dead Who Speak

By (our) faith) he (Abel) still speaks, even though he is dead. Hebrews 11:4.

I have never heard his voice. In fact there isn’t any record in Scripture as to anything he said. However the writer to the Hebrews says ‘he still speaks’. The record about him preserved in the Bible concerns his faith and obedience even unto death (Genesis 4). The record has some message for us to search out.

Picking up a book by C.S. Lewis brought the subject matter to my mind for this Blog. He has been dead for a number of years yet his life and words live on. Such is the power of the printed page. Of course there are numerous examples of those long gone to Glory who still speak to our heart and mind. They still challenge us from the record of their life. Somehow when we read even long neglected works devoted to Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit breathes life into dormant words.

This is possibly one reason I keep writing, especially about the person, work of the Lord and His faithfulness tasted in my life. One day there will be no more words flowing from my mind through fingers onto a computer for printing. However scattered through bookshops, magazines, correspondence, internet and post-cards are words, words of faith, hope and gratitude for love.

Thankful I am that our gracious God doesn’t limit Himself to the greats such as C.S. Lewis and C.H. Spurgeon. The Lord takes the simple, plain unknown person who writes something honouring to Him and speaks to all classes of people. Who can tell, if the Lord Jesus delays His return, someone will stumble across a dusty book or magazine, brush away any cobwebs and be captured by the Holy Spirit through some word, sentence, testimony I have, you have written.

There are many reasons to write, for me one compelling reason is wrapt up in the account of Abel. He never knew the result of the account of his life, no will be. I do pray however that there will be at least a brief note saying something similar too ‘he/she being dead still speaks today!’

Ray (still breathing) Hawkins.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ray on Monday - What a Night

Time…6:30am
Place…sitting in bed.
I’m so tired Lord I need to talk with you before I get out of bed.
It’s been a rough night and I’ve got important business to do today. The very thought of it makes me cringe, not because of the work, but because of how I feel. A rubber ball is sharper than me at the moment.
Why is it that nearly every time I’ve some important business to do, especially when it relates to your Kingdom’s purposes, things get difficult the night before? It can’t be simply nerves! Take last night for instance. That thunderstorm was a cracker. It rattled the roof and walls with its thunderclaps and the rain, wow. When my eyes open enough to look out the window I reckon it will look like a lake. I probably could have slept through it after a while but the children were frightened, restless and having nightmares. Terrible combination for a parent’s sleeping programme.
So, here I am. How I wish I could stay in bed, call in sick and give the day a miss. Can’t be done, so I’m really desperate for your mercy! Times such as these push me towards one of three corners in my mind. To be honest, the most natural one is marked, ‘frustration and anger’. I can visualise it. Plenty of kick marks and sore toes but no value. The other corner, so tempting in which to hide, is signed, ‘self-pity and resignation’. Been there too often and didn’t do any good. The other alternative is, I know the best, but it is so demanding on the will. It’s signed, ‘Trust!’
Perhaps this is the corner from which Paul declared to the Corinthians, “ My, (meaning Your) grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” I sure would appreciate the same realisation. How I wish you would simply zap me with your grace power and let me get on with things. I know. You don’t work that way. So, out of bed, feet on the ground, get moving body. As I go, so your grace flows, that’s your way and this evening I’ll realise it. Just at the moment however it’s taking all the obedience my faith can muster to start.
Ooohhh no!
What’s happened now? Another problem!
The power’s gone off. Lord, if it stays off, or recurs in the meeting, what’ll I do? My wonderful (well in my thinking) power point presentation will be ruined.
What’s that? Zechariah 4:6. Let me look it up. “’Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.’”
I apologise Lord. I was thinking it was all up to me. Thanks for your promise.
Amen.
Ray (Sustained by Grace) Hawkins

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Getting Ready - for several things!


Do you find yourself too often in the “Getting Ready” mode? I seem to be in that mode all the time lately!

We prepared for our new little grandchild – and gorgeous, thick black-haired and placid Haylee Mae arrived three weeks ago today.

Next we prepared for birthdays – both Haylee’s mother and her brother Adam’s second birthday just yesterday.


And while all those were waiting in the wings, we’ve been preparing to be away in Queensland for some time on a working holiday. This will be a very busy time to not only visit family but be involved in a writer’s conference, mentoring writers, two book-signing events, speaking appointments and inevitably other things we have not planned for.

This is one time I would like another lap-top computer. However I do prefer to work on this desk-top one so think the other would not be used enough to make the expense of keeping in updated worth while! And sometimes too, after all the hours on the computer, perhaps I need a holiday from it also?

The next major event of course is preparing for Christmas and having all our children here. How very special that will be this year again! There also appears to be a week looming in January of helping more writers at the Poatina Faith and Arts event here in Tasmania. Then there are hopes for a Romance Writers event... then...? I’m sure there will be others too as next year unwinds.

Blog followers, I’ve been able to schedule the Ray on Monday posts while we are away but am not sure about access to a computer to bring you this weekly Thursday (and too often Friday!) post or if I have time to schedule another each week while we are away. Do be patient with us! And we would love more followers of course, so if you just pop in occasionally we would still like you to join us as “Followers”.

And during all of this “busyness”, somehow my own writing on that manuscript tentatively called Her Outback Cowboy is sitting all forlorn waiting... and waiting...

Monday, 31 October 2011

Ray on Monday - A Note About A Bucket


Some time ago I was reflecting upon our experiences in an African village. I penned the following thoughts as a conversation between me and the Lord. It has been sitting on the computer for some time and now it is unleashed.



Dear Lord,
Could you get me a bucket?

It’s a little thing I know and if I was back home in Australia I guess I wouldn’t be asking. Being here in this village makes little things appear rather huge and beyond reach. I’m not really good at their language and they won’t let me do any of the manual work, I’m a visitor.

But Lord, I can use a bucket.

Everyday these people work in the stifling heat. They get hot and weary. Wouldn’t it be great if I could go out to them with a bucket and a cup and offer them some water? Sure, it would mean walking a distance to the stream but that’s no big deal.

I remember what you said about giving a cup of cold water to the little ones who are your disciples.
The trouble is, where can I get a bucket? I never thought such a simple thing would almost seem like a miracle, well, not seem like, but actually would be a miracle. Lord, may I have eyes to see where you are pointing and guiding to answer this prayer.

What’s that Lord?

I sense you are stirring something in my heart and mind. You want me to be more than a bucket carrier. I’m to be your bucket? Have I got that right? As I share the cup of water I’m also to offer the Living Water of your grace.
T
hat will be a real test. My language skills are extremely limited, still, your Spirit can use my faltering words and love for these people to taste the wonder of your Living Water.

O Lord, thank you for your Living Water.

This one thing I would ask as I close. Don’t let me leak.
Amen.
P.S.
I want to thank you, in faith, for the bucket.

Since that prayer time has passed. We have returned home. Did they ever get the bucket? I believe so as by God’s grace through interest raised and finance sent. More importantly, Mary and I did have the pleasure and privilege of being carriers of ‘Living Water’ to those villagers and others in Africa and many other places.

Ray (the bucket) Hawkins.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Writers also need loving Arms


Ray sees his books in a shop
for the first time.

Well, I'm later than ever this week but want to remind you not to miss out on a chance to win Ray's book, Children: God's Special Interest. Just leave a comment on his last Monday's post. Thank you to those who have already commented. We will draw a winner and announce it next Monday.

I had my first few hours since Haylee was born staying with the children last night as Ray and our son and daughter-in-law packed seahorses for an overseas order. This order was smaller than usual but if I stay with the children while the others work it means we all get more sleep. Yes, that's right! Ray dropped me off at 2a.m. before they all went down to Seahorse Australia. All was still and so I enjoyed the peace and quiet to read. Of course that is what writers do every spare moment they can! Then the baby snuffles gradually became more frequent. I had been told the next feed would hopefully not be until about 4a.m. but 3.30a.m was Haylee's reckoning! I picked her up and rocked her gently, hoping the cries would not become loud enough to wake up any other children, hoping Mum with the tucker would arrive - which she did. Dad arrived first though. Even as Mum strode into the room, he took his baby so gently and lovingly into his arms. I had to reluctantly leave them to scurry out to join Ray for the hours drive to reach the airport in time.

I have thought several times today about that look on our dear son's face as he looked down at his precious little one. How like that it must be when our Heavenly Father looks down on us when we are in need, when our burdens are heavy. Lovingly he wants us to relax in His arms even as eleven day old Haylee calmed when she heard her Dad's voice - which I found quite amazing in such a young baby.

No time to write that manuscript? Family, health problems, work commitments preventing you from doing so many things that need doing? Lately I've been so busy have spent very little time being quiet in meditation and reading the scriptures. Even last night I was reading a novel and not grasping the opportunity to spend time with my Heavenly Father. As Ray reminded me in his blog and by his own daily example, I do need to desire the real "milk", the nutrition for my spiritual life in Christ each day. With all the busy days-and nights!-we might have to journey through, let us always be quiet enough to recognise the loving arms, the comforting Words of our Father who loves us.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ray on Monday Book Giveaway - Now for the Milk!


Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation… 1 Peter 2:2.


Naturally if you read our blog you are aware of Haylee Mae’s arrival on Sat. 15th. Also you will realise the birth is a great opportunity for a preacher to make a devotional comment or two. So then I’ll not disappoint you – then again I might!

The opening text speaks of the need of the newborn babe. I’m fascinated by the way a baby knows it must suck the breast or the bottle to survive. Our Creator has linked the wonder of the baby’s need to the mother’s miracle of milk production. We understand it is so the baby can live, be healthy and grow.

One of the Bible’s features to me is how it uses such analogies to make us aware of the spiritual. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour we are spiritual babies. Outwardly we may be very wrinkly but inwardly we are newborn. Therefore we need spiritual milk so as to live, survive and grow in our Christian life. What has the Lord supplied? The pure milk of His Word. There is a craving within our spirit only God’s Scripture can satisfy. To neglect it is fatal. Contaminate it with unbiblical notions is to cause spiritual malnutrition. The regular drinking from the Bible will cause growth, health and faith.

Watching children grow is to see them being weaned from milk and onto baby food then more substantial meals. Failure to make such a transition is detrimental to every aspect of a person’s being. The same is said about the spiritual requirements.

Parents and others have an important role in the feeding habits they pass onto their children. What applies in the human relationship applies in the spiritual. God has supplied the necessary ingredients and entrusted us with the responsibility of providing the proper spiritual diet for the appropriate stages of growth. That is one reason why we are told ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ And I can assure you after over 50 years on it, Heaven’s diet is delicious, nutritious and scrumptious.

Ray (the ever hungry but well fed) Hawkins.
 My dear husband doesn't know about this yet - he has taken two of our grandchildren to their gym this evening! To help celebrate the arrival of Haylee Mae I'd love to give away his thought and heart provoking devotional book to add to "The Spiritual Menu" of every grandparent, parent and anyone involved with children. We will have a draw of every one who leaves a comment here for a copy of Children:God's Special Interest. And please don't forget to include your email address!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

New Babies – The cuddly kind and...?


Four day old Haylee Mae
and brother Adam

We forget so quickly how tiny a very new baby is. A beautiful addition to our family arrived five days ago. Haylee’s little brother here getting “up close and personal” was about the same size less than two years ago. His little “almost two” personality is becoming more and more evident every day. His latest sentence? Unfortunately it is “Don’t want to!” (And with the exclamation mark.) Mmm...wonder how old Haylee will be when she says similar things as an alternative to “No!”

And so our babies continue to grow until they become more and more independent and we have to release them at last into their own big world “out there.” Haylee reminded both my husband and I so vividly what her father looked like all those years ago - about the same size with that thick mop of very black hair that these days shows tinges of gray. And when he moved out of home to start university a long way from home, it wasn’t always easy to let him go. I am sure he will find it also hard when Haylee and our five other wonderful grandchildren want to spread their wings.

Besides my own birth-pangs with our three children, I’ve had other very different, but still “birth-pangs”, with each manuscript I’ve written. Certainly most of them have taken longer than 9 months before they have developed enough to say they are “full term” and “The End” at last written. However, then comes more waiting time as we had with our own three children and now our grandchildren. The manuscript still has to “grow” through that careful read through. (Watching for any gaps in plot, characters acting “out of character”, dialogue. correct Point of View.) No head-hopping allowed? And as each new baby teaches the parent more, so this writer continues to learn with every one of her written “babies”.

And after each manuscript has been sighed over and I have at last had to resist trying to change anything, it has to be sent out into the wide world of editors, publishers. Hopefully, one day it will be out there on bookshelves for readers to enjoy, judge it too – first by that cover and then those inner contents.

No matter how attractive (or not) the outward appearances of our precious babies become, I pray they will have that true and lasting inner beauty that only the indwelling of Christ by His Holy Spirit can bestow upon them. We can try to teach and nurture by example and words, but it is still those babies growing to maturity who ultimately have to find their own destinies. My greatest “tool” as a grandmother is to maintain my own relationship with Christ and pray and pray and “be there” for them when needed.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ray on Monday - God, the Master Weaver

Our son Craig and his Baby
Adam who is now turning
 two years old  in November.

From almost the time of conception through to the child’s birth we saw our little grandchild’s progress. That modern technology ultrasound afforded us the privilege of seeing this young life grow within the mother’s womb. How awesome! How beautiful! How wonderful! Words are incapable of describing the miracle of birth.

Psalm 139 is the classic description of God’s sovereign interest in the unborn child. In verse 15 it says “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”

There is a lovely idea undergirding the Hebrew word translated ‘woven’in the above verse. It means to embroider. It’s as though God embroiders the make-up of the child from the material supplied by his or her mum and dad. In fact, probably at least four generations have ‘genetic yarn’ woven by God into the body, personality and soul of the child. Is it any wonder God calls people to holiness if for no other reason than the well-being of a future child.

With only the power of outward sight, how did the Psalmist understand the wonder of a baby in the womb? God in His mercy made it known to David so that people even before ultrasound images would appreciate the uniqueness of the unborn and the priceless worth of a child.

Why am I so caught up with this today? Simply because last Saturday at 6pm Haylee Mae Hawkins, our 6th grandchild and 2nd grand-daughter, came into the world.

Some of you would know I’ve written a devotional of 31 days about God’s special interest. It is children! Ps 139 is featured in it. As I cast my eyes across the community and see the neglect, abuse and exploitation of children I not only grieve, I tremble. For God states in the Bible His sternest judgements upon such perpetrators.

In whatever capacity we relate to children, our Heavenly Father instructs us to safeguard the life and worth of a child. We are to be His stepping stones for them to get to know of His love and grace. Let us not be stumbling stones.

Ray (a proud grand-father once again) Hawkins.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Expectancy

Our darling daughter-in-law is expecting. Yes, that’s right, a baby! And actually due today.

Ray and I are still expecting the phone call to stay with our other five gorgeous grandchildren while she and our son make the dash about 50 minutes to the hospital.

It seems so long ago since I was expecting the arrival of that son of ours. He actually surprised us by arriving four weeks early. But today has made me think about all the things we end up “expecting” over a lifetime – and perhaps some things that happen we do not “expect.” One of those of course is the delight of being able to expect this sixth beautiful grand-baby.

Life is full of expectancy and life isn’t always smooth travelling. We plant seeds in the ground and expect seedlings to peep up through the soil. Afraid that is something this gardener knows now she can never take for granted cause she doesn’t always look after that patch of ground well enough! We expect, perhaps take for granted many things that may not eventuate - whether that be because it is our fault or despite all we may do.

Writers live with expectancy. We write our manuscripts, we rewrite them – sometimes many times. We edit them. We submit them to editors with great expectancy. Sadly that is dashed if the rejections start arriving. I experienced this thirteen times with that first book of mine. I have to confess after the first few my “expectancy” level became lower and lower as reality told me this was even much tougher than I had thought it would be.

We are told there are only two certainties in life. We are born and then we die. There is one other certainty I must always remember. God loves me. Through all the times in our journey when hopes may be dashed, when the things we “expect” do not happen as we may want them to, we have the proof of His love for all time: God’s great plan to defeat death, to bring life eternal to those who respond positively to His love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

This life’s journey may be rough, filled with failed hopes, sorrow. Then I look at the cross, the triumph of the empty tomb. I see the history down through the ages how God, because of His very nature, has kept His promises. He never changes and I know I can trust Him to give life everlasting to those who believe, who accept His gift of forgiveness, who become His children – all because of what Jesus has done for us.

And now I have writers at The Word Writers Fair expecting to be encouraged and helped on the Friday Intensive and my Saturday workshop in (gulp) four weeks time! Time to do more preparation - the watering, the praying, the fight against time (instead of slugs and snails in my seedling box?)

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Swing’s False Impression

Every time our young grandchildren visit they head for the swing set in our yard. Each child enjoys the sensation of being pushed, or being self propelled. There is something relaxing, mesmerising even in going backwards and forwards on a clear sunny day. When grandad wears out or they think of doing something else the swing stops. They get off and the swing becomes still. It hasn’t moved. After all the energy exerted, all the time spent, enjoyable or exhausting though it be, nothing has advanced.

I thought how much of a parable the swing is of so much we do. Whether it is in our personal life, business scene or church work we exert so much energy, maybe enjoy the movement and the moment, but end up getting nowhere. The swing gives the impression to those on it that something is being done, possibly achieved. In reality the person or committee is simply filling in time for no real movement or gain.

I’m glad Jesus didn’t say “come join me on my swing!” Although I have to admit that is the impression often presented by some! The Lord speaks to the heart and says “Come follow me…!” He is on a journey. He has a mission to complete. He has a destination in mind. He has work to achieve and He calls us to join Him in His walk.

To be honest there are times when I would have liked to exchange the stepping out for the swing. It would have been less demanding, costly, or emotionally draining. But then I would never have discovered the grace of our Lord or the depth of His word’s wisdom or the joy of accomplishing the task set before me.

The swing is a great temptation for its false impression of activity. It is an illusion for achieving something. It becomes an even great worry when those on the swing want God to do the pushing. Sorry. He is on the outback track or the city pathway or the suburban side street.

There are many swings set up along the roads of life. They tempt us to stop and have a go. The trouble is too many of us once settled rarely want to get off. Fortunately the Lord doesn’t abandon us to the futile motion of the swing. He calls, warns or even pulls down the swing we are on. Why? So that we might get back on track to follow Him in the task He has set for us.

Anyway, walking is much more beneficial to physical and spiritual health!

Ray(with his walking shoes on) Hawkins

Ray is presenting a workshop on writing devotions at The Word Writers Fair in Queensland on November 12th. There is still time to register for this great weekend for writers. http://www.thewordwriters.com/

As well as other great workshop electives to choose on the Saturday, Mary is also presenting a workshop for anyone who is seriously considering writing a novel. See details of the weekend on the website. She  is also one of the mentors for the Friday programme. Of course, the CALEB Award dinner on the Friday evening will be a nail-biting time when the winners - especially for the fiction book award as Mary's Justice at Baragula is a finalist! - are announced.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Word Writers Fair Workshop and CALEB Award

I'm "cheating" a little this week.
Today I also am a contributor to the International Christian Fiction Writers blog and have just posted that to be released 12:05AM American Pacific Time. With several states in Eastern Australia now on Summer Daylight Saving, here my post should be up about 7pm tonight our time - the "penalty" for being so many hours ahead of the USA!

If you've read my other posts here you know I've had a bout of influenza and this means my energy levels are now almost back to normal - whatever that is! So, please forgive this short post and click here to read my other post.
I am still trying to catch up on preparing for The Word Writers Fair in Queensland on November 11th-13th. I am a mentor again this year and also presenting a workshop there for beginner novelists called:
Preparing To Write That Novel
Have you been like too many people I have met over the years who wistfully and often shyly admit they would like to write a novel too “some day.” Then they confess they don’t know if they ever should or could because they don’t know how to go about doing it or even where to start. This workshop would address the basics for you to consider and the skills that are needed to be developed so you too can not only dream about it but work hard towards one day becoming a published fiction author.

And with my mind full of preparing this workshop, I have written a little about it on the ICFW post.
This coming weekend is The Word Writers Fair in Adelaide and I know it will be a great time there as will the one near Brisbane in November. It is not too late to check out these events and register. Do click on the above links and check our the great programmes.

And why the photo (again!) of my latest release? I am thrilled and excited that Justice at Baragula is one of three finalists in the Fiction category of the CALEB Award sponsored by Omega Writers . The other two finalists though are Carol Preston's Mary's Guardian and Paula Vince's Best Forgotten - both great books and it will be three nervous authors at that Awards dinner Friday 11th November in Queensland when the winner will be announced.

Would love to see you there!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ray on Monday - God On-Line

God On-Line

Lord, I want to thank You for prayer. You have given us a wonderful privilege through this spiritual relationship of Faith. However, I have to admit there are times when I don’t understand how You use my feeble efforts to achieve Your purposes. It strikes me as strange also that You allow me to talk over with You things You knew all about even before I was born.

Prayer must be part of heaven’s spiritual equipment designed for the benefit of Your people. The thinking, often unexpressed, is that prayer gives You room to move in our scene. To me that seems to make You a captive to our whims and our limited grasp of the wider scene. Surely, Lord, prayer is to bring us intoYour presence and make us responsive to Your intentions.

Sometimes Lord, I have a feeling I’m inclined to make my quiet times a ritual rather than a response to a relationship. Going through the motions downgrades our rendezvous into a charade and You’re worthy of far better worship than that. No longer do I want to say prayers. Father, I want to live them!
An impression has been gaining ground in my heart and mind since reading the scriptures about Your presence in the Tabernacle. Outwardly, the structure wasn’t much to look at. Inwardly, it was beautiful. Overall it was a testimony to the coming Messiah, Your Son Jesus. Another thing that impressed me about the tabernacle was its mobility.

Father, that made things clearer to my mind about Your indwelling presence in Your people. We may not be much to look at outwardly but You make us a place of beauty and a testimony to Jesus.
Now I’m more conscious of my prayer responsibilities wherever I happen to be. Mobility and devotion need to be wedded together in my life. Seizing opportunities to pray with You anywhere, at anytime, about anything has an appealing sound to my heart. Would You mind if, for my own benefit, I thought of these mobile prayer moments as “God On-Line?” It’ll keep a clearer focus in my mind between the other facets of prayer You require from time to time.

Should an angel ever record my God On-Line notes, may what is written be the outcome of my relationship with You. Let them be aware that what stirred me to pray at any given moment was important for me to share with You. And, You with me.

Thank you, God, for what I can see will be some interesting communications.
Amen!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Some “good” and “bad” about having influenza

The American Christian Fiction Writers conference has just concluded for 2011. I couldn't resist showing this book-signing day photo again of our wonderful time at the 2009 event in Denver, Colorado, before getting onto what we were doing last weekend! Perhaps we may be able to share with friends there again another year. I am certainly glad we did not try to go this year - as you will see below.

Except for rather mild hay-fever attacks, I’ve been very blessed to have missed seasonal illnesses the last few years. Not this year. And as is the nature of the beast, illness doesn’t attack at the most convenient of times. Our special guests were arriving in a couple of days for the weekend. Dr Deane Woods is the Australian Director of Friends of Israel and he and his wife were staying with us while he spoke at a series of special meetings on the theme Israel in Prophecy.

I was becoming more hopeful the direction my new manuscript was taking might be okay. The preparation for my workshop at the Word Writers Fair in Brisbane in November and also for the intensive Friday mentoring sessions were my next projects. And then that fever started with all that goes with influenza and my programme thrown into turmoil.

I started to list the discomforts and difficulties of the last week and more but I’m sure you have your own lists for these times. However, sweat did saturate my night clothes a few times in a way I really don’t remember occurring for many years.

So, is there ever a “right” timing for illness? That was the first of the “bad” on my list. It was very “bad” timing.
We fervently prayed for Deane and Margaret not to catch this rotten virus. Immediately following the weeks in Tasmania, he had three weeks of booked meetings in New Zealand. But a “good” was the way dear Margaret was so willing to take over the kitchen on one of my worst days and thus helping me to isolate myself as best I good from them.

My first thoughts were that this whole past week and more has been simply “BAD”. By last night I was beginning to seriously consider a doctor’s appointment today was necessary. But I strongly believe antibiotics are only needed for secondary infections from a virus. Then wonder of wonders, I woke up this morning after a wonderful 6 hours uninterrupted sleep, the first in eight days! My, how thankful and encouraged I felt. It has sure helped me to appreciate God’s gift of sleep which we can take for granted too much.

Another “good” is losing several kilograms – about half a stone for our international friends. Fluids took the place of most of my meals – something I must remember for days when I need to lose more weight?

With the sinus problems, I found my head and eyes ached too much when I tried to use the computer. Besides, my brain has been far too dull and slow to try and work here. Well, that’s my excuse why I’ve been able to read so many books. My huge pile of “Books To Be Read” is no more!

Perhaps the greatest “good” of all is the loving support of my very special husband. The wind was freezing for infected sinuses and chest to be outside in it, but those sheets and night clothes needed changing and washing. Married nearly 47 years to this wonderful man is something I will never be able to thank God enough for.

There is more I could share but time for a rest again. Hoping you too can experience the blessings God still pours out when our bodies remind us we are frail human beings.