Mary books

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!