The Soldier's Cross

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I enjoy reading good reviews for books, because it helps give me an idea of any book that I may be interested in, but unsure of its content, or it might introduce me to some great read that I never would have found otherwise. My parents have always encouraged me in my love of reading, especially my dad from whom my sister Sarah and I most probably got our avid love of reading, books and anything bookish or literary! My parents particularly encourage my sisters and me in reading spiritual and devotional Christian books for our spiritual growth and edification, and here at home, there is never a lack of such inspirational books. These have been a great spiritual blessing to our lives as a family. Also, biographies of Christians who lived in the past are a family favourite of ours. When we were younger, Dad used to read to us every night from the lives of godly men and women of God throughout history, and oh! How these accounts inspired my life and faith.  However, when it comes to fiction, our family often found it a lot harder to find inspirational literature that would be enjoyable and captivating and yet wholesome and edifying. Of course that can be somewhat of an annoyance, because reading is an important source of learning and developing writing skills. There are some really great Christian novels out there though, and if you dig deep and carefully, you can find some amazing literature. That's why, I was so happy to come across this book, The Soldier's Cross. Here is my review:

Title: the Soldier's Cross
Author: Abigail J. Hartman
Published: October 29, 2010 by Ambassador International.
Available from: Amazon, your local bookstore, or on Miss Hartman's blog, Scribbles and Ink Stains.

Back cover synopsis: A.D. 1415 Fiona's world is a carefully built castle in the air, made up of the fancies, wishes, and memories of her childhood. It begins to crumble as she watches her brother march away to join in the English invasion of France. It falls to pieces when he is brought home dead.

Robbed of the one dearest to her and left alone in the world, Fiona turns to her brother's silver cross in search of the peace he said it would bring. But when she finds it missing, she swears she will have it and sets out on a journey across the Channel and war-ravaged France to regain it and find the peace it carries. 

My thoughts: I just finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago during the holidays, and I really enjoyed it. It is a beautifully crafted novel in every way, inspirational, with captivating, rounded characters, an adventurous and at times sad quest, and a simple, sweet ending that will leave you loving this delightful story, and the characters in it. Leah, Pierre, Fiona, and Fiona's brother were such heart-warming characters, and personally my favourites. One of the things I truly enjoyed about this book, beside the captivating story and the historical times it was set in, was the Christian theme prevailing in the story, being one truly relevant not only to Fiona's life but our own as well, that there can be no 'peace' in life without Christ. When I first read the synopsis of this historical novel on Amazon, I was immediately intrigued and knew I wanted to read it. I think one of the things that caught my interest in this book as well was in the author, Abigail J. Hartman, herself. She is a sweet home-educated Christian young lady living in America, with a love for writing historical and fantasy fiction (my personal favourite genres), who got her first novel, The Soldier's Cross, published when she was only 14 years old. That was enough to get me really interested =D, and I ordered the book, even though I had misgivings on how well-developed her writing would be, preparing myself for glitches common with beginning writers (like me!). But as soon as I started reading, I was well and truly captivated, and forgot all my earlier misgivings. This book is amazingly well-written, and I was quite soon swallowed up into Fiona's world of grief, loneliness and danger, and her desperate (and sometimes foolish) quest to find her brother's cross, and 'the peace it carries'. At times, I got upset at Fiona's foolish choices, but as I read more, I felt compassion for this girl, as she journeyed and struggled for that peace and faith that eluded her. There were places with some tense scenes, but they were matched by more peaceful scenes as well. So, I'd really recommend you read this book, especially if you have a love for historical fiction. I have a feeling you'll love it =D.

Pros: Uhm, the whole book was great. I loved the way Abigail depicted grief and the internal struggles of her characters powerfully and with emotion without making it cliche. Though I haven't done much research into this historical time period, I felt that the dialogue and scenes were really in time with the historical context of the 1400s England and France. Another thing that I truly enjoyed was the kind of romance in the book. I had earlier been worried when I ordered the Soldier's Cross that the whole story would, despite the genre, end up being the typical romance novels you see in bookstores (both Christian and secular), displaying romance as being 'butterflies in your stomach' 'fall in love at first sight' kind of thing, leaving you feeling quite uncomfortable by the end of the story. Well, with The Soldier's Cross, happily it turned to be quite different.  The romance in it was refreshing and felt like real-life situations, beautiful, heart-warming and funny at times, and in accord with the cultural times the story is set in. Abigail did a great job at this I think.

Cons: there were a couple of irksome scenes when Fiona was being stalked and apprehended by an evil character with evil intentions because she was a woman, which while reading made me a little worried of any inappropriate scenes that might come up, but it was okay, and nothing bad actually happened; Abigail wrote those scenes with a great deal of discretion. But still, I wouldn't recommend this book for readers under the age of 12 or 13. Besides that, I can't think of any major cons... =D.

So my overall rating, would be...

Rating: five out of five stars
Age: 13 yrs and up
Book Quotes:
"But He is where you will find the rest and peace you want, my dear. Those things you will only find in Perfection, and that is what He is."
~pg. 234 the Soldier's Cross

"God has arranged strange ways for some of us to find Him. Sometimes He brings us on long physical journeys; sometimes He leaves us at home and makes the journey internal. Yours has been both."
~pg. 286 the Soldier's Cross

P.S. Abigail J. Hartman blogs on "Scribbles and Ink Stains", a lovely writing blog I have enjoyed reading from for some time now, where she shares thoughts on writing, faith and anything literary in general =D. 

Music To Inspire!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
~Martin Luther

Throughout the holidays and now going back to school, I had almost forgotten all about "Music To Inspire" posts, but lately I've remembered some really inspiring music to share with you all and I'm going to try and make "Music To Inspire" more regular from now on Lord willing. Music To Inspire will be taking on a few minor changes. Earlier on, I had confined "Music To Inspire" only to movie soundtracks, but now, as much as a I simply LOVE epic movie soundtracks, I've decided to also share classical music and hymns (with lyrics if they have any). I hope you enjoy that, and are truly blessed. For today's Music To Inspire, I want to share a few violin adaptions to movie soundtracks, done by a lady on YouTube called Taylor. She plays the violin really beautifully, here are some of the videos.

A violin version of May It Be by Enya from 
the Lord of the Rings movie. It is one of my favourite movie songs ever, 
and Taylor's adaption is really beautiful...

A violin adaption of the Braveheart movie music theme
 (Disclaimer: I have not watched the film, 
though my sister has read the book which this film is based on, Scottish Chiefs)
... beautifully done!

This is from the Titanic film, a very sad piece and played on the violin so movingly.
(Disclaimer: I haven't watched this film,
and have heard that it has some themes)

League of Legends theme song violin adaption. 
This is truly amazing,  Taylor recorded each different part of that piece 
and then blended them so beautifully together. 
(Disclaimer: I have not watched this film,
nor do I know anything of it or recommend it)

Well, that is it for now. To view more of Taylor's violin music, go to ViolinTay, her YouTube channel. I hope you enjoyed this collection for today's Music To Inspire!
God bless.

Tuesday Thoughts

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

"Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you." ~ George Muller

This will be really hard to compress the number of things I intend to write about, all into one post, so bear with me if this post is rather 'rambly' in its content. Well, for most Queensland kids, yesterday was the day that they went back to school, but for all those who are home-educated (like me), it was back to homeschooling! Is anyone looking forward to this new term? (I am!) I have enjoyed these holidays very much, it has been a time of refreshing, relaxation and blessing in many ways. Time to spend with family, friends and with God. It has been also a stressful one, with some trials in it as well, but the Lord has given peace and joy in our hearts, and that gives us comfort and strength, and with the Lord Jesus, holding our hands, and walking beside us, we can feel assured that He will never fail us, and there is hope and a promise for tomorrow. Just like this quote above says. Through the trials too, we grow stronger, the things that are not important in our lives fall aside into nothingness, and the things that are eternal, they only grow stronger and firmer in our hearts. If we realize that Jesus is Victor, and has overcome the enemy, that there is triumph in Christ, we need not be dismayed by what's happening around us. He is faithful, and we must lay every fear and doubt, every sin and burden, at our heavenly Father's feet. In the last few days, the verse in Psalm 55 has been a great encouragement to me.

"Cast your burden on the LORD,
         And He shall sustain you; 
         He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."
Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)

Of course, I wasn't able to do everything I had hoped to do earlier on in the holidays, i.e. finish sewing that winter skirt I started, start the German CD course, cook/bake a special family dinner, practice exam pieces on the violin frequently :p, write chapter 10 and 11 in The Crown of Life,  and finish reading two books I started earlier in 2011. But then, I did some other things, some important, some not so important...
Christmas Dinner Setting

I enjoyed taking dozens of photo shots with our Sony Cyber-shot camera (it is super amazing. really!)

photos like these, capturing the simple beauties of life...
or the rain drops on a car window (we've been having a LOT of rain lately.
 It is quite misty and cool for this time of summer, but the rain isn't anything unusual. It just came a little late. So, I'm trying to thank God for the rain, too :)

Here are some random things that occupied my time during the holidays...
For one thing, I got my blog beautifully redesigned by Beauty Designs Studio, and renamed my blog from "Joy's Arbour of Reflection" to "Fullness of Joy", made my blog public and learnt so many life lessons along the way in that new part of my blogging journey. I thank the Lord so much for leading me, and guiding me, because without Him, I know I can never write anything worth to be read by anyone. Also I am grateful for my parent's advice and wisdom as well as my sisters' in this journey, as I would have made many more blunders without their help! P.S. I apologize for how unorganized I've been with posting serial posts (like Music To Inspire, Cup-A-Tea Poetry Corner etc...). I've procrastinated terribly with those posts, but especially with 'part 2' to the Lady Jane Grey post I had posted some months back and failed to write the rest yet. I'll try to get to writing that soon, but it can be hard to find the time to gather and write all the facts and stuff, so please forgive me if it takes some time. Thanks! 

Holidays were a great time to spend with family, having fun and enjoyable times together, as well as times of prayer and meditating on God's Word together. Christmas and my birthday were one of those special times, that I'll always fondly treasure and thank the Lord for. These times with our families... spending time with our parents and siblings while we're still in our parent's home, dear sisters, are so precious. They will not come so easily again. So I'd encourage you to enjoy these times, thank God for the peace and joy He gives you in your family, and take time to create precious memories, and cultivate relationships with those closest to you. The holidays have been a great time to catch-up on old friends and to make new ones as well. True, I wasn't able to sea lot of you face to face, but at least we talked on the phone together, e-mailed each other, blogged and commented, or chatted via Gmail. It was truly a blessing and I thank the Lord for all of you from the bottom of my heart. Godly friends are a true blessing!

I don't think there is a time when our family plays/sings music together more than during Christmas (beside exams of course!), and this Christmas we did a lot of that. It was wonderful to sing praises to the Lord, and it was also great fun... we had frustrations when things didn't blend so well but also hilarious moments, when we just were goofy and laughed at our own mistakes.

During the holidays... I edited a few chapters from The Crown of Life, doing some changes (both drastic and minor) to plots, scenes and conversations. Something I had unanticipated and would have rather liked to avoid, I also bumped into problems with the name of my protagonist. His current name is Marcellus Gallus and I used to be really happy with that for a long time.  Well, until I realized the pitfall in my main character bearing that name. You see, one of the books that really inspired me in writing The Crown of Life was The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. It is a great literary novel to say the least, and the way the author described places, scenes and characters made me feel like I was living in ancient Rome with the other characters*. It inspired my imagination of Rome, and from then on I knew I wanted to write a literary novel with a setting in Ancient Rome. Now, even though I was greatly inspired by the Robe and maybe there a few similarities, the two stories are hopefully very different. At the same time, the main character's name in The Robe is Marcellus Gallio, and the main character's name in my novel, The Crown of Life, is Marcellus Gallus. Similar, no? I asked a dear friend of mine about it, but she was averse to the idea of changing the name, her two main reasons being that it was a great name, and second it would be very hard to change names now, when I've so deeply ingrained the name "Marcellus" in my mind and story. I couldn't agree more, as my protagonist has had the name "Marcellus" for at least two years both in my writing and imagination. I asked my sisters, they leaned to changing the name however, because they thought it could be too noticeably close to The Robe in a reader's mind. I felt that it made sense, especially as I have always had that fear that the protagonist's character was too close to The Robe's protagonist. Maybe a name change would also help me create a more original, unique character for him. Both my sisters and my friend suggested that I ask Abigail J. Hartman from Scribbles and Ink Stains, the published author of The Soldier's Cross her what she thought. She was so nice in her e-mail to me, and helped me a lot with my questions =D. Her response to that question was a mixture of both my friend's and my sister's response. She didn't think it was plagiarism like I had feared, and agreed that it is VERY difficult to change a main character's name so far down the track, but she thought it might be good idea to try altering his name slightly to 'Marcus' or something that would sound close, but would be different so that it wouldn't upset fans of Lloyd C. Douglas' book, and make it more 'original'. 

Hmm, that gets me to my viewers. What do you think? As potential readers of my novel, what would you like the main character's name to be? I've selected a few name choices in no particular order below and if you have a favourite that you think will suite my main character, just comment and tell me! I'd really appreciate to know what you think... it will help a lot. Thank you! P.S. he will have a second name which will most probably be either "Marcus", "Octavius" or "Gaius". If you have a Roman name outside the list you think might be good, I'd love to hear that too

Name List:
#1 Marcellus Gallus (his current name)
#2 Marcus Gallus 
#3 Marius Gallus (the name I originally started with at the beginning)
#4 Julian Gallus
#5 Justin Gallus
#6 Octavius Gallus
#7 Quintus Gallus
#8 Ammianus Gallus
#9 Justus Gallus
#10 Ianus Gallus
#11 Julius Gallus
#12 Sergius Gallus
#13 Valerian Gallus
#14 Valerius Gallus

Oh dear! I could write lots more, but I better close now, and leave the rest for later (a book review coming soon!). I pray you have a blessed night/day and may the Lord Jesus richly bless you, dear sisters, and be with you.
 ~Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 
(Psalm 124:8 NKJV)~

A Beautiful Gift

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

For my birthday late last year Sarah made me this beautiful gift, a framed calligraphy picture* of Psalm 16: 11, knowing how much this Psalm is one of my many favourites =D. It blessed me very much, as you can imagine, and I have it sitting on my desk, to remind me that it is in the Lord's Presence, in abiding in His love, that true joy comes. May we abide in our Lord and Saviour always, and look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith!

 Here are some pictures... Thanks, Sue, I love you so, and you're such a wonderful big sister :).

Sarah does beautiful calligraphy...

 To view more of her beautiful artwork, go to Beautiful Picture Gallery
Besides calligraphy, she also shares lovely classical paintings of the past that you'll love.

an up-close view of the verse...
"Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.
 O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
Psalm 16 (KJV)

The Lord is our portion forever. May we always cling to Him. May Jesus richly bless you all today, dear sisters.

Postscript: Sarah wanted me to tell you that she only filled in (coloured) the text and image, which was a ready-made template. Also the gold lettering is imitation gold-leaf not real gold. However with many of her other artwork she draws the texts and images herself and uses real gold-leaf. She just wanted you to know =D.

Italy... Pinerest... Word Pictures, etc

Monday, 16 January 2012

When writing stories (especially period, historical or fantasy stories, of by gone days), do you ever find it hard to imagine how things, people and settings look like? The problem is, if you find it hard, your readers will even find it harder! Well, I often fall into that struggle. Having heard often that using pictures while writing helps you create an idea of how things ought to look like, and then it becomes easier to translate that into words on paper made me want to try it out. The only thing was, I couldn't find any proper images of the Ancient Roman period, both for people, buildings and landscapes on the Internet so it got quite frustrating. Well, yesterday I discovered Pinerest, and some amazing images of Italy, that just stir my imagination for my book, The Crown of Life. They were truly beautiful! (p.s. a character list of The Crown of Life, with image profiles will be coming soon as well Lord willing). Enjoy!

I love the earthy and archaic feel of this scene. Don't you?

WOW! I don't know how I'd like living up there.... 

I love this balcony scene, the flowers are so lovely

This isn't 'Ancient' but I love it all the same <3

This must be the room where the Romans had their dinner or something, or it could have been a bedroom :).

Romantic, eh? Positively Italian! (don't ask me why, it just is)


Hope you enjoyed those images of Italy. They certainly have given pictures to floating, random words in my head. I can imagine Marcellus and Claudia fleeing the Praetorian Guards on horseback near those jagged cliffs by the sea above, or the peace and serenity of those quiet country villages up in the Italian countryside as a perfect setting for the Claudia to meet... Oops! I mustn't say anymore, or I will ruin the story for you :)...

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share that. And I know I should be definitely doing something beside blogging right now... I have at least two or three e-mails to reply to, plus I want to write a little in The Crown of Life before the day is over. So, bye for now!

"I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." Psalm 18: 1, 2 KJV

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Sunday, 15 January 2012

image via pinerest
"What A Friend We have in Jesus"
What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Joseph M. Scriven

Here is a lovely version of the hymn. Enjoy!

My sisters and I spent sometime yesterday, praising the Lord in song together, and it was truly wonderful. Mary played the piano and I played a bit of violin, and Sarah and Grace and all of us sang for a while, and the Lord really blessed the time, and gave us joy in Him. The first hymn we sang was "What A Friend We Have in Jesus", and it truly encouraged my heart. The words are beautiful, and ring so true. Thank you Lord Jesus, for your love and faithfulness. That truly, there is no friend like You, no comforter beside You! I love you, Lord...

P.S. I know a lot of my favourite blogs have wonderful, inspiring new posts on (i.e. Maddy, April, Carra Rachel), I'm sorry I haven't commented till now. The last week's been really hectic and busy and since it is the last week of the holidays, there are many things that have to be done before schooling starts in earnest again, but I promise to get to comment soon, Lord willing! Also, my sister Sarah has a really lovely History Serial on her blog, that I'm sure many of you will enjoy, called "Halls of Faith". Check it out here.Have a blessed day in the Lord, dear sisters!

What Happened a Year Ago

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

During these exact days, a year ago...

this is what happened to our  beloved, sunshine State...

January 2011 was the worst Queensland Flood
 the state had experienced since the 1970s...

It was really bad... 
I mean, look at the this ^ picture. 
A town about two hours from us was flooded by an inland tsunami...
It killed many lives.

people stranded on their roof, waving for help
It destroyed many homes...
And traumatized families...
It started in December 2010, up in northern Queensland with many outlying areas getting sever flooding. But then it moved...
To Toowoomba... 

A few hours later that same day,
The City of Brisbane was basically evacuated hours before the river overflowed...
 and flooded the whole inner city...

The City Centre... beautiful and historic,
 that my family and I had driven through only a few weeks before, 
was flooded.

A home basically flooded to the roof...

a bird's view of the city of Brisbane, QLD during the floods

eerie beauty midst the storm

Streets washed over, and looking more like a lake!

The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200, 000 people were affected. And an estimated 35 lives were lost, most probably more...

Brisbane River, overflowing its banks

Suncorp Stadium flooded
images via Couriermail and Google Images

Though we weren't directly affected (other than preparing evacuation bags, and finding a lack of water and basic supplies at the nearby Shopping Centre, nervously watching the news every moment for the list of suburbs in danger etc, and spending lots of time on our knees in prayer!!!!), we were greatly grieved by the tragedy around us, the loss of homes and businesses, but most of all the precious loss of life. An example of the tragedy that really shook the nation was 13 year old Jordan Lucas Rice who died after insisting that his 10 year old brother Blake be saved from the flood waters before him. He drowned along with his mother and has been dubbed by the public as an Australian hero...

But sadly, people forget...
I know the Lord was bringing Queensland to its knees...
There was a purpose for all this,
And yet we cannot forget, or pass it by.
That's why I just wanted to post about this today.
So that we will remember and seek the Lord more for our nation, for a revival and a turning to Him.
...If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7: 14

Personally during that time, I learnt a lot. Especially about fear. It was one of those rare times in my life (especially in as I grew older) that a real danger was not too far from home and was liable to directly affect us. I clearly remember that though of course we felt worried and 'fearful' about what would happen, the Lord truly gave us unspeakable peace. I struggled a while thinking, Lord, please, please don't let the flood waters affect us! But slowly I felt His peace flood my soul, that peace that the world does not know. I realized that no matter what happened... we were safe in His arms. And all I needed do was to trust in my Abba Father.

The Lord comforted me with two special versus from the Bible during this time and I'd like to share them here. I know that no matter what happens in the future, these versus we can take with us into the 2012 as well.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 

      And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. 

      When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, 

      Nor shall the flame scorch you."
Isaiah 43: 2

"For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
         In a time when You may be found; 
         Surely in a flood of great waters 
         They shall not come near him.
 You are my hiding place;
         You shall preserve me from trouble; 
         You shall surround me with songs of deliverance."
Psalm 32: 6-8

"They shall not overflow you" what a promise of the Lord to us, both in the trials of life, and in our spiritual journey! Even when we walk through darkness, water and fire... they shall not overflow us! Psalm 32 also really encouraged me to trust the Lord for protection and deliverance. He is our hiding place, our great Fortress. Let us trust in Him and thank Him for His faithfulness even in the midst of suffering and trial. Because Jesus is Victor!

Blogger Makes Changes I don't like

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Grrhh! Don't you get annoyed when the internet suddenly goes funny and there are BIG changes to how things look and work?!!*

Well, this is what's happening around here. For some reason, blogger has been doing funny things or it has just been personally mucking around. Anyway, my blogger url has an added "au" at the end for no apparent reason, the tool link to one's own blog has disappeared along with the edit pencil at the end of each post, and worst of all, the "follow" gadget isn't working! (P.S. the same thing goes with Sarah's blog and it seems it is a thing happening with other blogs too). And I personally don't like it! I hope this will soon be resolved, but until then, to any of my newer viewers who happen to want to follow my blog, I apologize for the problem.... but there is still a way to follow my blog, just go to the top of this page at the header, you'll notice on the left side corner of the navbar (a transparent label that pops-up)  a hyperlink to follow my blog. It isn't any harder, so I hope that won't deter you from following if you want to! And that's about it for now... I really hope blogger fixes this thing up, but until then, let us not get too annoyed =D.

P.S. since writing this post, everything has come back to normal! Still, if you do encounter any problems... don't hesitate to follow the advice of this post *smiling happily in relief*. And now, I'm off to my violin practice! 

"To Believe"

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Here is a lovely song sung by a really talented young girl, that touched me today. It is quite simple really, and I don't know that I would have felt that touched but for the things I've been reflecting on lately that this song speaks about.... I hope you enjoy this song, and are blessed as well.

"To Believe"
Before I lay me down to rest
I ask the Lord one small request
I know I have all I could need
But this prayer is not for me
Too many people on this day
Don't have a peaceful place to stay
Let all fighting cease that your children may see peace
Wipe their tears of sorrow away

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow's counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer

Let me try always to believe
That we can hear the hearts that grieve
Please help us not ignore
The anguished cries of the poor
Or their pain will never leave

(chorus )
To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow's counted
That you hear their cries and listen to each prayer

(spoken prayer)
Father, as you see, I'm just a child
And there's so much to understand
But if Your Grace should surround me
Then I'll do the best I can
I promise, I'll do the very best I can

(chorus plus)
To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow's counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each
Prayer {Hear each cry and listen to each prayer}
Help us do Your will oh Father
In the name of all that's true
And we'll see in one another
The loving image of You
(sung by Jackie Evancho)

Light In the midst of darkness

Monday, 2 January 2012

At the beginning of this new year, I feel the Lord wants me to share this post with you... I don't feel eloquent enough at all to write it, but I know that the Lord will help me. Throughout the year of 2011 my family and I have felt a great burden for our brothers and sisters in Christ in persecuted countries (especially Egypt) who have suffered throughout the year. That's why I post today. 

Exactly a year ago, on New Year's Eve a terrorist bomb exploded outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt during a midnight church service as Christians were coming out from the midnight mass. It was horrific and unbelievable. At least 25 Coptic Christians were killed that day and many more were wounded. This event shook the Christians in Egypt and the whole nation to its core. Less than a month later, the Revolution was born and the dictator President Mubarak stepped down. And yet, none of the criminals who did this horrible act were punished in any way or arrested. An interim government took power (the Military) and the Extremest Muslim groups grew really strong, quickly. Daily throughout the year after this event my family and I heard of the destruction of homes and businesses of the Christians, the abducting of Christian girls, and the murder of Christians especially in the smaller country villages. Many Christians started to peacefully protest against the injustice done to them. The Military, the police, and the Muslim extremists all attacked them on many occasions. The worst was on October 9. The army and Muslim thugs attacked the Christians. The peaceful protesters were crushed over by huge military vehicles and shot down with live fire guns. At least 50 people were killed, a lot more were injured. To read more about it, visit my sister Sarah's blog: Gems of Faith In History

But this isn't narrowly confined to Egypt! In Nigeria this Christmas something like what happened in Alexandria last New Year happened in a church there. Two bombs exploded and over 40 Christians were killed, and 73 others wounded. The nation is in mourning and the Christians are in deep traumatic shock and suffering. To read the full story, go to: Open Doors USA There is so much suffering and pain now all over the world where Christians (the body of Christ) still suffers.  It broke my heart then and still does now... and I wondered... "O God, why?" "Why so much suffering?" As the year went on, the Lord has been showing me...a little bit perhaps of the purpose for all the suffering. Later in this post I want to share what God is doing in the midst of the suffering. Also I've begun to reflect a lot on my own faith and wonder what I'd do if I were in the place of my brothers and sisters. They can deny their faith and all their suffering would cease. But they love the Lord Jesus! They wouldn't deny Him even if it means suffering and death. They are so hungry for God... they seek Him and cry out to Him day and night in blood and tears. 

I want to first share with you a powerful video describing the state of the Copts in Egypt throughout the last year or so. Especially concentrating on the suffering of the Christians during the bombing of the Saints Church in Alexandria, and the more recent event of the attack in Maspero TV building. Here is the video, but it is in Arabic though it has some translation at the beginning. I'd very much advice you to see the English translation on YouTube: here.

WARNING: this film has some graphic footage for younger audiences. Sadly the truth can be painful!

The last little bit is without a translation I'm sorry but in many ways the scene tells it all... the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda weeps while preaching after one of the horrific events that shook the Christians in 2011. Loosely translated in English what he says is, "For your sake [the Christians] I am here, you are on my heart and thoughts...your sufferings and trials... I bring to God and I bring it to those responsible... those who are innocent in prison... I have sorrow for their sake and I bring them in my prayers that they may be freed. And what things people can't solve God can solve! God has promised to be with us at all times and we trust in this and believe in His work and we wait for the Lord. The Lord is present [in control] and all is for good. "The Lord is present" means that the Lord sees, the Lord hears, the Lord knows all that is happening. The Lord is acting. The Lord is present everywhere and is with everyone and is there in all circumstances... the Lord is present." 
P.S. "the Lord is present" when translated from Arabic can also mean "The Lord is in control".

I said earlier on I said that I wondered at why God allows His children to go through such persecution and I still do. I am sure we all do. But I know that God is faithful and through this year of suffering God has visited His people... His light still shines in a dark world. Sarah (my dear sister) posted about this on her blog and she allowed me to 'link it up' here on my blog. To view her full post go to: Gems of Faith in History

"At this moment, let us also remember our brothers and sisters  in the Lord around the world who are suffering and are persecuted. I have in mind the sad bombings of Churches in Nigeria this past Christmas. May the Lord strengthen them and comfort them. 

The following video clip has gone viral on the Internet. Though you will most probably never see it on the normal media. It happened a few weeks ago in Cairo, Egypt in the Moukatam Cave Church, during a long 'Night of Prayer and Return to God' meeting in which at least 70,000 people attended. Earlier this year, some members of this Church experienced martyrdom during one of the many attacks on Christians this year. See what the Lord is doing.
'And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' (Acts 2:21) 
'The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.' (Proverbs 18:10)

Thousands in Egypt shout JESUS for 10 consecutive minutes. It was also totally spontaneous!

The song "Hail, Jesus, Your my King!' in Arabic while the congregation shouts JESUS!

Amen! May the Lord give us more of this worldwide in this coming new year!"

The Lord has not forsaken His people... He is doing mighty things, and holy is His name! Yes, it is painful, the way is hard and full of sorrow. But Jesus is present with us. He will be our guide even to death. This New Year, as Sarah said, I know the Lord will do something wonderful in our lives, in His Church and across the world. May we not forgot the part of the Body of Christ that still suffers. Let us be a voice to the voiceless and pray for them and let us look forward eagerly to this New Year for what the Lord will do!