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.