I’d like to express my thanks to those who have followed me recently and in the past few months (both at this blog and at Women of Warfare!).
I normally like to visit and thank people personally but of late have not always found the time to do so.
I hate ingratitude and rudeness and would hate to think that any of my new followers and visitors considered me in that way. Sometimes, I’ve been surprised to learn about several new followers from my stats page because as far as I’m aware, this was not indicated to me via notifications. I happened to discover this by accident and wonder if there have been other new followers I’ve missed.
Anyway, in case I don’t get around to visiting you all, I’ve written this post, as a way of thanking and celebrating every single one of my visitors. I want you to be in no doubt whatsoever. I appreciate you and thank you for visits, for your kind, encouraging and supportive comments that have both amazed and brought me joy.
I hope the following goes some way to expressing my appreciation.
‘Thank you’ dear readers and followers
For granting your precious time
To read, to like, or to comment,
In response to my prose, or my rhyme.
‘Thank you’ dear precious visitors
For choosing my place to stop by
For making my moments as inspirational blogger
A wonderful joy-induced high.
My sincere thanks to those who linger,
Over posts shared from a heart of love
‘Thank you’ to those who consume, digest and ponder
Who support me with words which affirm and cause wonder,
If you’d like to join me and take part in her challenge, this is what you need to do:
Write a whole story in six words (or less) inspired by the prompt. It doesn’t have to include the prompt word unless you want it to. Post your entry in a comment box at Nicola’s blog site. Only one entry per person is allowed.
Note: Links to a blog post will not be counted as an entry.
I know there are quite a few writers out there, so if you’d like to join me and take part in her challenge, this is what you need to do:
Write a whole story in six words inspired by the prompt. It doesn’t have to include the prompt word unless you want it to. Post your entry in a comment box of the challenge post at Nicola’s blog site. Only one entry per person is allowed.
Note: A link to a blog post will not be counted as an entry.
If you require further information or want to read the full challenge rules please visit Nicola’s site (see link above).
The challenge winner will be the story with the most votes. Again, visit Nicola’s site for details of the separate poll and to cast your vote.
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Challenge open Saturday 15th April 2017 – Thursday 20th April 2017
(see above link for details on how to participate)
How was life for you 5 years ago? What were your interests from 5 years ago? What was your most memorable time from 5 years ago?
5 years ago?
Wow! I can hardly remember what I was doing 5 days ago.
After checking various records (online for news events, my pocket diary and devotional journal), I was able to piece together certain aspects of my life from that time.
2011 was not a particularly productive year in terms of my writing. There’s evidence I’d worked on a long-term project from May to July. There’s absolutely no evidence in my Practice Journal that I’d written consistently, even spasmodically that year.
I did however, discover an attempt at a poetry exercise, where you were required to write a prose sentence and then rework it into a poem. The result was as follows:
Find myself in the
Sorry state of
And historical regret,
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
If this year,
I actually accomplished
One of my goals,
One of my dreams,
A long-treasured aspiration?
2011 was also the year when I discovered the delights of gardening. Having gained most of my knowledge through research from that ever flowing fount of knowledge—the world-wide web—I planned both the front and back borders and was pleased with my efforts. Believe me, for someone who did not know their weeds from their herbs—this was a considerable achievement!
In the back garden, I planted tulips and daffodils in pots, pink, white and mauve trailing Fuchsias in two hanging baskets. Another pot held white lilies with thin black edging called Eyeliner.
In the earth, I put orange crocosmias, ferns and shrubs (a deep red rose bush, a pretty pink camelia, an evergreen with creamy-white margins, two yuccas, a pink and white hebe and another evergreen shrub with glossy foliage, called fatsia japonica).
I recall a decorative wooden plaque which hung on a wall in our family home. It said: You are nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth. Certainly, whenever I sat out in my newly-created garden, I’d bask in its air of tranquility. I’d sit, survey and take pleasure in the fruit of my handiwork and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
On a miniscule scale, I could relate to how God might have felt after creating each aspect of his magnificent creation. The Bible reports how God looked and saw that it was good. I can relate because I’ve been made in His image and likeness. We share the same spiritual DNA. And so, when I looked around my little garden, I too felt a sense of personal satisfaction and I too saw that my efforts were good.
When I started writing about this post, I thought 2011 had been neither productive nor memorable. Thanks to my foresight in keeping garden records, I was able to recall a positive period and rejoice in that memory.
Purpose-driven believers and dream-achievers, if you don’t already do so, may I encourage you to keep some sort of journal? Apart from it being a great record which you can consult later, journaling is generally deemed to provide positive mental and emotional benefits.
Hello faithful followers and lovely visiting readers!
I’m thinking it’s time I posted another one of my responses to the Daily Word prompts. This is so I can showcase my writing ability in another format and perhaps gain the interest of any prospective commissioning editor that might be roaming around my corner of cyberspace! Anyway, I’m posting the following for fun and trust you will enjoy reading.
Please do let me have your feedback in the comment box below.
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Daily Word Prompt: Tree
The horse chestnut tree stood tall and erect, strong and silent, robed in its green summer finery.
How I hated that tree! Hated the way its leaf-covered branches hogged all the light and sunshine from my adjacent garden, starving my shrubs of light and life.
I hated the way it spread its greedy grasping roots past its fenced boundary—daring to encroach upon my property, spreading its life-sucking roots with quiet determination, caring not one iota that it robbed light and life and nourishment from plants that had a legitimate right to be there.
Its leaves, although green, are severely afflicted with rust splotches – incontrovertible evidence that although it would have you overawed by its might and height, although it would have you believe it is invincible, some blighting affliction had struck it.
Just deserts, I say, for stealing accommodation for its roots, for stifling and strangling the life of my own plants which have a legitimate right to be here!
I didn’t care that it offered a home, a sanctuary to those green parrot-like birds, year after year and I could not care less about the grey squirrels that use it as an escape route from the next door neighbour’s cat that regularly lies in wait, hoping to pounce upon the pesky rodent.
I did care about the huge amount of life and light this arboreal nightmare absorbed whilst denying my own garden the same privilege. And I did care that it dared to add insult to injury by shedding its rotten leaves in my garden, expecting me to pick them up whilst it looks on in haughty disdain, without even so much as a “thank you”!
So, next door neighbour, now you know exactly how I feel, perhaps you will kindly do something about it. And, if you won’t, then don’t be surprised if you, I and your tiresome tree are featured in the next reality series, Neighbours from Hell! Don’t say you weren’t warned.
O yes, we both have the same father. We both belong to God’s Holy Order of kings and priests. But that my friend is where the similarity ends. He is far, far superior! He has to be, for he has made me and he is self-existent—i.e. nobody made him! He existed along with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the very beginning. His name is Jesus.
Now he is in Heaven whilst I am down here on Earth. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time that he was here on this Earth and within 3 years he brought much light and love, healing and miraculous exploits to the world around him. Whereas, I have been on this earth for over 50 years and I cannot say that I’ve impacted the world about me, or the people within the circle of my influence in such a marvellous way. Nope! Much as I wish that were true, I cannot say that.
Jesus was self-assured. He was not fooled easily. He did not strike back in anger, or resentment, or any other negative attitude when he encountered opposition or violence. Imagine being the one who made man, yet allowing the creature you created to mock and jeer, choosing to stand silent, dumb as a sheep, allowing yourself to be sheared so to speak. Sheared of respect. Sheared of self-esteem.
He could have summoned a legion of angels to rescue him. He could have opened his mouth and burned his detractors to a crisp. But he didn’t. He humbled himself. He remained silent. He succumbed. Succumbed to the malicious will of those sanctimonious bigots (fellow Jews) and soldiers of the Roman Empire—who breathed lies spawned from envy… who uttered false accusations… who mocked and ridiculed and humiliated him (stripping him not only of his clothes but also of his dignity).
How meek but strong was that to not react, to not use his power and might to blast them to hell? How meek but strong was that to not retaliate? Oh no—instead, he said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Now, if the power had been in my hand, I would perhaps have cursed them with my words. I would have stopped them in their tracks. Or I would levitate myself from out of my predicament. Or I would play games with them and put the ‘fear of God’ into them – disappearing and reappearing, taking on that aura of blazing fiery light so they could not look upon me but would either fall down in terror, or freeze to the spot in fear—and then I’d freeze them permanently!
But that is the difference between me and Jesus, the difference between me and the Holy Son of God. Jesus loved me and loved the entire world. He wanted to obey his Father at all costs, so that the world would have a way of escape out of spiritual darkness, and could be redeemed from the hateful hand of his arch Enemy, who also became our ultimate enemy. I speak of Satan (whom I also dub Mr Diablo)!
He is the Christ, the Messiah.
Me? I was just a doomed, rebellious sinner.
Okay, so now I’ve been saved by God’s grace, through his unmerited kindness. Now I’ve been elevated to the position of a saint (according to God’s reckoning). Yet, as his beloved child, his sanctified saint, I am nowhere near the calibre of this awesome man, who loved and sacrificed himself for me, who lived in order to die for me. And as I read his biography and compare his noble achievements with my base life’s record, I cannot deny the fact, yeah, I cannot disguise the truth that between me and Him—there’s a stark contrast!
And, for your further reading pleasure, if you have not already done so, you may wish to read my post on a contrasting character – the aforementioned Mr Diablo (another Daily Post Word prompt). If so, please go to: Satan’s Suicidal Mission
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! (Isaiah 14:12a)
The Daily Post – Daily Word Prompt: MISTAKE
Okay Mr Diablo (aka Satan), so you made a mistake.
You had the audacity to think you could overthrow the Lord God Almighty. You not only had the audacity to consider such a move but you also had the temerity to try and act upon your foolish idea. BIG MISTAKE!
And, to compound your catastrophic error, you convinced one third of Heaven’s angels to abandon their allegiance to the God of Heaven and Earth… to the great I AM, and assist you with executing your devilish desire by mounting an unholy insurrection! BIG, BIG MISTAKE!
You failed! Utterly!
Why, oh why you ever believed such a plot would succeed, I’ll never know. Even I could see this could, and would never work!
Now I realise I’ve not been around as long as you have. I don’t have your twisted wit and cunning. But did you really think that a CREATED being could outwit his CREATOR—particularly when that Creator is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent? I suppose that’s what comes of arrogance, deception and overweening pride. Wow! You are a real textbook example of the term delusions of grandeur, don’t you think? Hush now Mr Diablo, it was a rhetorical question—I was not really wanting an answer.
Was it worth the price Mr Diablo?
Was your evil covetous desire for supremacy worth being booted out unceremoniously from heaven? Was it worth exchanging your prestigious position, as the most beautiful angel in heaven with a highly significant responsibility, for the infernal regions of a dark spiritual underworld?
Granted, your heinous activity and warped influence is fully evident around the world. But for an egomaniac such as yourself, surely it must gall to find yourself confined to exerting influence anonymously, through manipulation and subliminal subterfuge. Surely, it must irk knowing that at the end of it all, you and your cohorts (whom you inveigled), are destined for eternal damnation in God’s Lake of Fire.
Do you ever consider your end Mr Diablo? Have you ever rued the day you decided to usurp my Father God’s throne?
Mark my words Mr Diablo—the time will come when you will have plenty of time to consider your error. Yeah, the time draws near when you will have to face the consequences of your monumental mistake.
(“Dead demon walking…”)
Until then Mr Diablo, let me bid you farewell. Oops delete that—let me say: good riddance!
(For biblical evidence of events alluded to above, please read Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12b-17; Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6).
I wrote the following article some years ago, to encourage myself and other wannabe writers. I think the fundamental message of this post can also be applied to newbie bloggers, or to anyone pursuing their dream (whatever that might be), or to those who perhaps feel discouraged during their journey towards achievement.
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Very often we view success in much the same manner as a gorgeous gem within a jeweller’s window display. We’re attracted by the lustre of those diamonds, the flashing brilliance of those stones and the fine quality of gold.
We forget these beautiful jewels have been specially crafted. We forget those precious stones and polished metals had a beginning and that if we were to retrace the journey of those glittering jewels back to their origin, we’d see those finished products from a very different perspective.
We’d discover that the item nesting alluringly against a rich velvet backdrop and shining so brilliantly with the help of strategically arranged lighting, started out in a place of complete contrast. It started out in the bowels of the earth.
Once extracted, if you didn’t know what you were looking at you’d maybe throw it away as a valueless lump of rock. You wouldn’t realise it had the potential to be a thing of beauty, something that evokes admiration, even desire of ownership. You wouldn’t appreciate its capacity to bring pleasure.
The journey of an unpublished writer is very much like the above scenario. We ooh and ahh over the creative brilliance of polished writers. We appreciate their carefully crafted words set against the backdrop of an artfully arranged world. Attracted by another author’s style or success, we long to ‘own’ similar achievements.
However, in our approbation of these works, we often leave a relevant factor out of the equation. Much like our appreciation of a beautiful diamond or sapphire, we forget that this artistic work, these authorial presentations had a fairly insignificant genesis.
Perhaps if we didn’t forget this, we wouldn’t feel despondent, frustrated, or threatened about our own endeavours. Perhaps we’d give ourselves a break, stop mentally flagellating ourselves because we haven’t crafted the ‘perfect’ article, short story or novel.
Perhaps we’d stop dismissing the raw materials mined from the bowels of our creative imagination and instead realise: “Hey! This may not look like much now but given time and patience, it can actually become something of value”.
And perhaps, instead of constantly comparing the finely crafted pieces of other writers with our freshly mined lumps of untreated ore, we’d start to appreciate, even enjoy our modest beginnings. We’d begin to see our pursuits, not as a path of frustration and defeat, but of learning and adventure.
Fellow writers (I speak to myself as much as to you), let us view our beginnings and efforts with less negativity and more realistic expectations. Let us put our goals, dreams, aspirations and the different paths we take in order to achieve these, into the right context.
Let us not fixate on publishing prowess as the ‘be all and end all’ of authorial accomplishment. Let us not be in such a hurry to arrive at ‘Success Street’ that we forget to enjoy the novelty and nature of our quest.
As aspiring writers, bloggers, purpose-driven believers and dream-achievers, let us find encouragement in, and take the following words of Ben Sweetland seriously to heart—Success is a journey, not a destination!
“To be, or not to be. That is the question!” So asked Hamlet (the eponymous character of a Shakespearean play).
Well, my words are not enshrined within a well-renowned playwright’s script but I will utter them anyway. And my query is this: Sink or Swim? That is my question. That is my dilemma. That is the choice I must make.
Sink or Swim?
The choice is not a pleasant one. It’s not like selecting a champagne truffle from a box of Thornton’s chocolates. The choice is, do I allow myself to sink into despair, or do I swim through my troubles looking for the place where hope and resolution meet? Of course, I don’t know how long I’d have to swim before I reach this point. I could get tired. I could drown in my efforts, or I could reach the shore. I have no way of knowing.
Sink? Or Swim?
Do I sink beneath the weight of other people’s expectations and unjust opinions? Can I continue to tread water, or will the constant weight of increasing and unceasing requests—come here/go there, do this/do that, can you/will you?—engulf me within the tempestuous waters of other people’s demands? Do I swim through the morass of moral turpitude that constantly seeks to swamp my soul… that seeks to deaden my godly conscience?
Do I sink, or do I swim? Do I resolve within myself not to let troublesome circumstances overwhelm me, not let them cause me to sink beneath the flood waters of adversity? Do I choose to swim? It is a choice. A daily choice.
But what choice will I make today? Normally it depends upon how I’m feeling. Usually it depends upon whether I have spent time in the presence of my Father God to receive that injection of strength, faith and firm resolve. Will I sink today, or will I swim?
And that is the problem with choices – there’s no one else to blame. You make your choice and you suffer the consequences!
Will consequences be too dire if I were to allow myself to sink within the mire of other people’s opinions—that I’m not good enough, intelligent enough, or successful enough? Does anybody even care that I’m being pulled ever downwards towards the murky depths of low self-esteem?
Surely, to swim is a better choice than to sink? To sink is to give up. To sink is to perhaps invite waiting predators to take a bite out of me, worse still – even swallow me! To sink is to maybe reach rock bottom and never find my way back up again to the surface of possibilities. I suspect there are people who would prefer I sank into oblivion, into obscurity but I shall not give them that satisfaction. Yes, I am weary, but I’m making the choice to swim today. I’m making the choice to swim away, swim forward, swim tirelessly, until I reach that shore.
Many of you will be familiar with the Daily Post prompts. I do not choose to participate every day, or even within the same time-frame that the prompt was posted.
This is a new feature to my blog simply because as a purpose-driven achiever, I would like to improve my creative writing ability and this WordPress feature allows me to do so without feeling the pressure to produce something every day.
I hope you will all enjoy and would appreciate your feedback on these posts.
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The Daily Post – Daily Word Prompt: LONGING
It’s a word that has the very sense of yearning and earnest desire about it—don’t you think? I have lots of longings. I’ve had longings that have been fulfilled and I have longings yet to come to pass.
Take the time I was walking on Finchley Road in London with my friends. There was a posh travel agents that we passed and in the display window I could see an open brochure or poster, showing what looked to be the most beautiful place on earth. I learned that it was the Seychelles.
I did not know that it was a place that people considered to be a dream holiday destination. I just knew that as I looked at this seemingly idyllic place, the blue, blue sky and turquoise waters, the palm trees and powder-white sandy beach, I wanted to go there. No. I longed to go there.
I decided there and then that if I ever got married that was where I wanted to go for my honeymoon. Well afterwards when I checked into the costs of going to such a place and saw that it would cost about a million times more than a holiday to say Spain, I held onto the dream in my heart but felt it was unrealistic. I believed it was a longing that would not be fulfilled.
Years later, when my fiancé asked me where I wanted to go for our honeymoon, I mentioned my longstanding dream but quickly added: “I know it’s impossible, it’s very expensive.” Well dear reader, I could not have been more surprised by his generous response! He agreed, we planned and we went. And it was beautiful and even better than I had imagined.
Long held dreams.
The Seychelles was a longing that became fulfilled. And later, when I think about my other ‘impossible’ dreams, I thank God. Because I know he is in the business of making dreams come true. Particularly, if he has placed those dreams in our heart in the first place.
And so it encourages me when I think about my other dreams, which requires a miracle for them to happen. Although I might not be able to see how that dream, how that longing could come to pass, I need not worry. I just need to leave it in the hands of my loving Father God and leave the logistics, leave the actualisation of those dreams, leave my longings in his most capable hands—the hands upon which I am inscribed (so my Bible tells me – see Isaiah 49:16)—inscribed so that he never forgets me and because he celebrates me!
It can be a beautiful thing but it can also be a destructive thing. Like longing for something unfeasible. I think of the protagonist in Toni Morrison’s book: The Bluest Eye. This child is a poor, black girl who has noticed she is not favoured by her school teacher and class peers. She observes however, that a white girl with blond hair and blue eyes is popular and very much the favourite.
And because she is not loved at home (she is verbally and physically abused), and because she is not accepted or celebrated at school, she longs to have blue eyes. She believes if she has blue eyes, she will be favoured. She will be loved. She will be acceptable. She will be a person. She will no longer suffer the pain and shame of ill-treatment, or mockery, or rejection, or ridicule.
And so this girl prays to God whom she believes is able to do anything. She prays and whilst she waits for her miracle, she longs and longs and longs until it becomes an obsession. But her prayer is not answered, frustrating her longing and disappointing her desire.
To the reader, her longing is foolish and sad and painful. And we feel for her and feel her longing and feel the pain she undergoes, as she obsesses over this unrealistic desire.
LONGING. It can be a thing of joy, or a source of deep pain.
Purpose-driven believers and dream achievers, what are your longings? Have you had a long-held desire fulfilled? Please share with the PDA community in the comment box below – you never know who needs that encouragement!
Exercise 3 – Follow 5 new tags and 5 new blogs in the Reader.
Easy-peasy I thought when I saw this exercise. This should take me next to no time. Well was I wrong!
I’ve spent several hours looking for suitable tags and blogs with content I wanted to browse or read regularly. Through comments from others on the course who’d completed this exercise, I was aware that some people are following so many blogs it seemed practically impossible (and certainly unlikely) that they were actually reading them all. But, if I’m wrong and they are, then I wonder how they find the time to write for their own blogs. Oh well, that’s a matter for Mystic Meg and her crystal ball to figure out, so I won’t worry my little grey cells about this any more.
I could have taken the fast and easy option by selecting tags indiscriminately plus the first 5 sites that presented themselves in the Reader. However, I also didn’t want to follow merely for the sake of saying I’ve completed the exercise. I saw this as an opportunity to check out the contours of this exciting blogging world that I’m now a part of. I saw it as an opportunity to explore this alien terrain, check out unfamiliar voices and venture into new avenues, in the hopes that my views will be expanded, clarified, even challenged. After all, it is only when your own convictions are questioned that you are able to test whether you stand firm in your self-confessed beliefs, or whether the contrary opinion of others has the power to push you away from your standpoint and over the cliffs of uncertainty.
This veritable expanse of the blogging universe sat unexplored, compliant and waiting – its delights ready for the taking. It promised fresh (even jaundiced) perspectives. It hinted at colour, spice, va va voom! I imagined pleasurable forays into unknown worlds of aesthetic culture, creative endeavours, exotic travel, gourmet delights and literary opinion. And so I sought erudite voices, vicarious experiences. I relished the idea of undetected and unashamed voyeurism into the lives and souls of others.
The first thing that came to my notice was that the Reader has been taken over by a bunch of people referring to themselves as “Blogging 101”. Honestly! The Reader was completely hi-jacked by authors of posts framing cries for help on technical issues; bloggers making outright pleas or subtle overtures for site visits. Both self-assured calls and tentative requests were being made to other course participants, asking for feedback on completed assignments. There were tales of frustration or woe over technical issues encountered, or whoops of delight as people provided updates on their attempts to fulfil assignments.
All this made interesting reading but don’t they know I’ve got work to do? An assignment to get on with? I cannot allow myself to be distracted. With firm resolve I begin exploring potential tags and posts with gusto. Despite my highfalutin ideas, I was drawn to what I know… to what sits comfortably within the confines of my personal interests and passions. I’ll leave exploratory trips of the Brave New World to someone else.
Meanwhile, in case you’re interested in which new tags and blogs I’ve decided to follow, details of these are listed below. And if the fancy takes you, feel free to hop on board.
Christian Book Reviews
Daily (W)rite – damyantiwrites.wordpress.com (popular blogger and fiction writer who shares both blogging advice and insights into her daily ritual of writing)
Live to Write, Write to Live – https://nhwn.wordpress.com/(group of professional writers share their experiences and tips regarding the writing life/career)