Flogging :(

Flogging – my own term for ‘failing to blog’.

For the second year in a row, I failed to complete the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It frustrates me that I didn’t finish the challenge. I have always loved the challenge but I don’t think I will try it again next year, unless my life is less hectic.

It has made me think about blogging in general. I wonder should I give it up. There’s lots of talk about ‘the end of blogging.’ How anything longer than a Facebook post is pointless, because no one reads online. So I’m wondering… do I continue blogging, or do I throw in the towel? I’m not looking for you to answer that question. I’m just pondering the value of what I do online.

So… I may disappear for while… to work on editing 3 different projects I have on the go.

If you’re a blogger and or a reader of blogs, I’d love you to hear your thoughts on the whole blogging thing. Is it done? Or am I just done with it?

If you want to catch up on Facebook or Twitter, come find me by searching for amowriting 🙂

J is for Jumping Around

Greetings all. I’m away at the mo, so catching up on my posts using the app on my tablet. Apologies if the post looks a bit wonky.

I’m using this #AtoZ  to share about being a ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’ for the last 3 years. As well as changing my eating habits in that time, I’ve also changed my activity level. I joined a running club for a few months and then took out a 6 month gym membership. I learned a lot from both of those groups, I gained confidence and strength, but I never stopped feeling self-conscious working out in a group setting.

These days I walk regularly in good weather, often with a friend, but I also do other exercise when I’m on my own at home. This I call jumping around 🙂 It’s a combination of aerobics, step aerobics, a bit of work with my 3kg dumbbells, a bit of work with my kettlebell, and a whole lot of dancing. I put my favourite lively music on, earphones in, and I go for it. Because I’m alone, there is no self-consciousness.

I can only really dance like there’s no one watching, if there’s no one watching. 🙂

I don’t count the exercise (or any steps my Fitbit counts) against calories. Exercise is purely for health and strength. It’s not for an extra eating allowance. So if MyFitnessPal picks it up and rewards me with calories, I delete them.

Jumping around is one of my favourite things to do. It makes me feel great and I get to shake off the day and reset my mind. The beloved is used to me saying, “I’m just going upstairs to jump around.” He knows to leave me to it and that I’ll probably be in a better mood by the end of it.

I highly recommend it. What do you do for exercise? Continue reading “J is for Jumping Around”

B is for Belated…

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately and so the start of AtoZ kinda snuck up on me. My A post from yesterday was off topic from my ‘theme.’ Hope you can forgive. I felt I had to get that one off my chest 🙂

My ACTUAL theme is inspired by an article I read about Christian fiction. The article was written by Nick Park, the Executive Director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland.  He asked the question, “Whatever happened to Christian fiction?” and talked about the heritage of people of faith, writing epic tales.

The post really challenged me as I write a lot of fiction but hardly ever write anything you could call Christian. In the intro to my first collection of short stories  I wrote, “To God, though you are not explicitly mentioned in this book, every redemptive moment, every opportunity for forgiveness and every glimpse of home are inspired by your Good News!” It’s the nearest I get to Christian fiction. After reading Nick’s article, I decided to challenge myself to try my hand at it.

Spoiler alert – I don’t think I’m any good at it.

In my posts, I’ll be looking at some writers who’ve made better strides than I ever will. So I won’t pain you with too many of my novice efforts.

Nick finished the article with a prayer that Christian writers will be brave. “The church needs writers who will refuse to play safe, who will not be cowed by those who are suspicious of imagination and creativity, and who will dare to dream of producing great Christian literature that can reach and inspire the world around us.”

No pressure then! 🙂

If you’d like to read Nick Park’s original article you’ll find it on the VOX website, click here.

Tomorrow we’ll start properly, right at the top with C.S Lewis.

R is for Rampart

15488800365_a96b029ab1_nThis is a word that is easy to pass by in the Bible. It’s only mentioned a few times. Rampart.
Definition of Rampart on dictionary.com says this:
1. Fortification.
a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet. 2. anything serving as a bulwark or defense.

One of the few uses of this word in the NIV is found in the Book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk, one of the ‘minor’ prophets, has complained to God and received God’s response. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s first complaint is not a pleasant one. He declares the people of Israel will be defeated in battle and taken into captivity by the Babylonians, ‘that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.’ Habakkuk goes on to make a second complaint and says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”

Ramparts were used as a watch tower, a place to see what enemy might be coming. Habakkuk declares he will wait for God’s second answer on the very place that would stop, or at least warn of, an invasion. Here the rampart may or may not be a construction, where Habakkuk intends to actually stand and wait. Whether there is a tangible rampart or not, there is definitely a figurative significance.

The rebel in me wonders if Habakkuk was getting all ‘whateverrrrr’ with God. Was he off to the ramparts to stand there all, “Eh like hello? look where I’m standing, a rampart! DUH!”  OK, so maybe the ‘whatever’ thing hadn’t arrived in Israel at that stage, but it’s clear that Habakkuk is not happy with God’s first answer and, with a bit of attitude, demands a second one.

The problems experienced by God’s people came from the fact that they constantly disobeyed God. In chapter 1 v 4, Habakkuk says ‘the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.’

Despite Habakkuk’s complaining, the invasion did come; no rampart could stop God’s plan from coming to pass.

I suppose it’s a lesson in making sure that we don’t rely on our old faithful defences. I’m alright cos I pray, I’m alright cos I read my Bible, I’m alright cos I go to church, I’m alright cos I give. These are things we should be doing – but they are a response to the relationship we have with God – not things we do to earn his favour. Using our prayer life or church attendance as a rampart just won’t do. Our only rampart is Jesus.

You want to stop the wrath of God from coming crashing down on your life – then stand on the Rampart, the Rock, that is Jesus Christ.

photo credit: Wall @ Qila Rohtas (Rohtas Fort) via photopin (license)

Q is for Quickening

My dad was a big fan of westerns. He was an avid watcher of The High Chaparral and Bonanza. He talked about Little Joe and Hoss, like they were mates he drank with in his local. He’d watch all the films too, from The Dirty Dozen and The Outlaw Josey Wales to more fun musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Calamity Jane.

I spotted a ‘modern’ western in the TV Guide one time and suggested he watch it. “The Quick and the Dead, Da” I said. “Not sure what that means, but it’s supposed to be a good one.”

“It means you’re either dead or alive,” he replied, without even looking up from his newspaper.

“So to be quick means to be alive? How’s that?”

“Well, when them fellas point their guns at you, you better move quick or you’ll be dead!” 15672703048_23e89a5a14_n

That conversation is the only reason I understood that line from the epic hymn ‘And Can it Be’

I love those old hymns, with big tunes and deep theology. The language is not always accessible and lines like – ‘Thine eye diffused a quickening ray…’ can, at first, mean little to the hearer. I knew what it meant tho, cos my da told me that to be quick is to be alive. 🙂

Even though the meaning is the same, the context is a bit different from the movie to the hymn. To be quick is to live, but to me quickened, is to be made alive. pastorhistorian.com has a whole blog post devoted to the hymn and says, ‘The language of quickening or “making alive” is present in the Authorized Version of Ephesians 2:1 and 4. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; . . . Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”  The quickening of the sinner resulted in a dungeon now inflamed with light, chains being broken, and a free heart.”

Being quickened is not just living – it’s living free, living full, living fast – but not loose! 😉

photo credit: Stetson On The Rocks via photopin (license)

P is for Perfection

girl 2Ah yes, now here is a subject I know a LOT about. Only because I’ve been searching for it for a long long time – no sign yet. (Although the little one to the left there thinks I’m doing ok…)

During the sermon last Sunday morning, in Colossians 3, the preacher said that Paul’s teaching was encouraging the readers to let the peace, love and purity of Christ permeate the world around them, rather than what was happening in Colossi; the pluralistic culture permeating the church.

In the course of the sermon, when talking about the characteristics and behaviour of “the new self”, he said something along the lines of, ‘if you are in Christ, you have the Spirit of the Lord; by grace, you can do these things…’ These things being, patience, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and love, and the context is within the church – Christian to Christian.

So why don’t we do it all the time? Why aren’t we perfect? If we have the Spirit of Christ to do these things, why aren’t we doing them?

The IVP New Dictionary of Theology, when describing perfection, says – “At all times Christians have been faced with the tension between this calling to reflect in their lives and conduct the perfect holiness of God, and the fact, all too evident to experience, of the continuing presence within the personality of the sinful tendencies of their former lives.”

Now if you’re like me, you had to read that a few times, then read it again, stopping at every comma – and eventually are quizzically looking at your own right eye, getting the gist of it.

I think what it means is – we’re supposed to be perfect, or at least WANT to be perfect, but we are incapable of being so. Or maybe the Apostle Paul, puts it better in Romans 7… “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

This is the dilemma we are living with, the tension of the now and not yet. We have this ‘new self’, the old person we used to be is gone.  Yet we still don’t have it sussed. No more or less than the Colossian Christians, to whom Paul had to write to teach them how they should treat each other.

So if you’re like them (and me), struggling to get it right, mostly getting it wrong; tripping up a lot of the time – often over the same stumbling blocks – well, be don’t despair…
nobody’s perfect*

photo credit: Good Job! via photopin (license)

* except Jesus 🙂

N is for Nephilim

NNow these guys  are interesting. I’ve read quite a bit about the Nephilim – and not everyone agrees who they are…

They first appear in Genesis 6…
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The discussion usually centres around ‘the sons of God and the daughters of men.’ Some sources say that the sons of God were fallen angels. Others say that they were lapsed followers of God who were attracted to women who were not followers of God, hence God’s frustration with their choice of wives.

It makes more sense that they were human. Jesus mentions angels in the NT and says that they don’t marry. (Matt 22:29) Also the beginning of the above section is talking specifically about the increase of human beings. The Nephilim are only mentioned briefly and are not talked about again until their descendants are mentioned in the book of Numbers, when the 12 spies went to check out the land (Another great story!). “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”” (Num 13:33 ESV) It’s important to note that this was after the flood, so these Nephilim were descendants of one of Noah’s sons. So… were Nephilim people of a particular stature, rather than of a particular tribe? Not sure, but they were obviously big guys! Later on we hear that Goliath, the Philistine, was another human of gargantuan proportions. So it wasn’t unheard of, or an ‘angelic’ quality to be big!

I freely admit that this a 2 minute thought on a well documented discussion about who these Nephilim were – and don’t get me started on the Rock Monsters in the Noah movie.

I believe that the more important point is the story that surrounds them. God continually calling His people back to Him, and all but Noah responded. The Ark was built and the rains came. No one, not even the ‘sons of God’ saw what was coming, or realised God’s judgement was about to fall.

The Nephilim were ‘heroes of old, men of renown’ – but they weren’t on the ark!
There’s another lifeboat coming, I intend to be on it – how about you?

K is for Koinonia

KWelcome to the half-way mark of the A to Z Challenge  – or just beyond it. This is the start of week three and today’s letter ‘K’ is for another word I love – Koinonia.

GotQuestions.org explains the word like this: Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.

Yesterday evening our pastor preached on 1 Samuel 20, about the covenant that David and Jonathan made with each other. He was speaking about the particular nature of their friendship and the covenant promises they made to one another. After making the agreement (it’s a great story btw, you should go read it), Jonathan says, “remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.” Their friendship and promises were in the context of their common relationship with God. During yesterday’s sermon, the pastor noted that this can be a lonely world, and surely all friendships are valuable. It’s not that we should disregard friendships with with those who don’t share our faith – it’s just acknowledging that friendships with other believers are different.

There is ‘koinonia’ 🙂

Have you ever looked around your church on a Sunday and wondered how you managed to end up part of such a motley crew? Oh… so just me then! Nah… I doubt that.

I’ve been in a few different churches over the years, having moved a few times. I’m always amazed at the mixed bunch I end up in. Quite often there are folk who I’d never hang out with in any other context. There’s nothing wrong with them; it’s just that because of different backgrounds, age, personality, likes/dislikes etc our paths would most likely never cross.

In our natural born family it’s a blood tie that keeps us together. Even if a family is not ‘together’ as such, a blood relative will always be one – even if you never see them. In the family of God, the fellowship, the ‘koinonia’ of the followers of Christ has that same sticking power!

If you’re a Christian then I’m your sister in Christ. If I drive you nuts that’s just hard cheese – we’re stuck with each other 🙂 Kinda nice tho’ eh?

J is for Just when you think you know what’s about to happen, something else happens!

JOK so strictly speaking, the title of today’s blog post is not a theological term. But then I’ve been trying to take some of these complicated sounding words, and make them more understandable. With this post I’m just doing it the other way around…

You see, today I wasn’t going to write a post at all. I was going to write it tomorrow, or cram two in on Monday. That’s because TODAY I’m supposed to be moving house. We’ve been staying with family since we moved to the UK and a few weeks ago we sorted out an apartment, and TODAY is, correction ‘was’, our moving day. After lunch yesterdat I got a call to say there was a problem, and to make a long story boring, there were numerous phone calls and emails all culminating in us NOT moving into our apt.

So as I type, almost everything I possess is packed away, my bed is stripped of all but a mattress cover (I suppose I should be grateful it hasn’t been taken apart and put in a van). All the stuff that was upstairs is now downstairs filling the hall and the music room of this lovely house we’ve been staying in. And I’ve no idea when we’re moving.

What’s the term for that then? Disaster? Frustration? Pain in the armpit?  It certainly feels like it. I’m trusting and hoping that it’s actually providence and God’s will. Just a bit confusing and seemingly pointless. This is one of those times when I apply the verse that says – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
It’s definitely not the way I’d have done this!

My fave verse from the old hymn, God Works in a Mysterious Way, by William Cowper.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

I’m ‘J’ust ‘J’olly as long as He’s still smiling at me 🙂

We take tomorrow off from AtoZ – am hoping to catch up on my reading of other blogs.
See you Monday x

I is for Immanence

II found today’s word on a blog called Rebecca Writes. I’ve spotted some of the terms I’ve done so far on her list.

She quotes from Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology (IMO a great book). Immanence means “remaining in” creation.” Grudem says that, ‘the God of the Bible is no abstract deity removed from, and uninterested in his creation. The Bible is the story of God’s involvement with his creation, and particularly the people in it.’

Many believe that if there is a grand deity in the sky, he is far removed. He wound us up, set us off and then went off to do something else. I find that most of the reasoning for that belief is to do with suffering and natural disasters. If a loving God exists, how come there are tsunamis and terrible diseases?

It’s a fair question and to this day no one I’ve spoken to about it has ever been satisfied with my answer. My answer is probably a poor one – it’s basically built on a trust in God for the things I don’t understand, based on what I do know of him and is character as revealed in the Bible.

You see now why no one likes my answer. 🙂

I heard a better answer recently. We had a guest preacher in our church on Easter Sunday night. He spoke about Stephen Fry’s interview on Irish TV about God, particularly what he would say to God if he turned out to be real. SF responded with a passionate, angry list of things he would say to God. and questions he would ask him about sickness and tragedy.

Our speaker said (important to note that I’m paraphrasing here), atheism’s answer to that stuff is silence. We came from nothing more than slime, we’ll go to nothing. There is no great deity, there is no afterlife, there is only now. There’s no reckoning, no cosmic justice, no great day to come – there’s just nothing.

The Resurrection however, answers those questions. It explains why we have a sense of justice within us that cries ‘How dare you?’ when something terrible happens. It explains why things seem so unfair, why the world is falling apart and why there is sickness and death. The resurrection also says, there IS  a day of reckoning, a day when all accounts will be be settled, when all injustices will be made right, when all pain will be gone, and all tears will stop.

The resurrection is a picture of how everything can look so bleak, cruel, unfair and hopeless – yet something amazing can come from it. And the story’s not over yet – because He, the Risen One, is coming back.

I’m not sure how much justice I’ve done to a brilliant sermon, but I hope you get the gist 🙂

Rebecca Writes also uses these two quotes from the Bible. I’ll leave you with these and see you tomorrow with the ‘J’ post.

Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:23-24, ESV)


…one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6, ESV)