The Virtue of the Ordinary

Monday, 23 April 2012

(Here is the post I recently wrote for,"Not An Average Girl" blog which I thought to share here. I pray you're blessed.)

What do you want to be when you're grown up? 
The Sunday school teacher posed the well-known question asked of all kids, looking down at our eager little faces in front of her with a smile of her own. I was no more than six or seven years old, and my family and I, one Sunday, were attending a new church. I glanced at my sister, Mary, who was sitting down next to me, a bit upset because we both wanted to join the grown ups in the Church Service, but we both listened as the teacher told us what we were all going to do. She told us to write out on a paper what we'd like to be and do when we grew up as well as draw a picture showing us in our grown-up occupation.  All of the little kids started to talk, write and draw about what they wanted to be...  a Doctor, Teacher, Artist, Writer, Dancer, Fireman, Musician, Nurse, Policeman, Secretary, Pilot, Superman... everything and anything that would come across the minds of little kids really :). 
I believe the teacher turned to me and asked, What do you want to be, Joy?

I want to be a Mama!, I blurted without hesitation, fondly thinking how wonderful it would be to be just like my dear mother one day and have so many, many babies who would of course need to have their nappies changed and be fed, be taught their ABC's, and cook dinner for "Daddy and children", sew and knit, and dress up like a real lady :). Quite naive about life and being a mother, but sweet. Yes?

I can not remember the teacher's reaction, but looking back on it now, I just smile... and realize, that, despite the nine or ten years since the day I said this, my response would not be different. I'd say, "I really want to be a published author, I'd like to get better in my music, and I'd enjoy teaching. I long to do and be what God wants me to be... and do what He has in plan for my life, glorying Him (whatever it will be). And, if it is the Lord's will, I really, really hope that I can be a wife and mother one day!" Does that sound contradictory or wrong? Is being a wife and mother (one day if it be the Lord's will) a secondary calling or mission for us girls, or do we realize that maybe it IS the calling that God is planning for many of us in the future? And if so, do we underestimate this calling? Are we preparing for it?

Some years ago (not too far back),  I used to think that I'd become a missionary like Amy Carmichael or Jim Elliot and bring many people to Christ in far-off distant lands in the Amazon Jungles, or go  to places like Iraq or India and help the poor there, teaching the illiterate children about Jesus. I wanted to follow God's call in my life, and wondered if that was the best way. I really admired (and still do!) the sacrifical life and calling of those godly men and woman who gave up their all to spread the Gospel. In the last couple of years or so however, I've realized that you don't have to be a missionary, and you don't have to have special gifts of ministry to follow and do the mission and purpose that the Lord has for your life. It can simply mean being a wife, a mother or a daughter at home. Now, I realize that there are many women who are called to missionary life and/or singleness and you and I may be one of them. Despite the sacrifices for those called to a life of singleness and service, there is a true freedom in serving the Lord foremost, and not have to serve/be a help-meet to your husband, and care for a family.

But, I think, from what we see in God's Word, the majority of women, are called to be wives, mothers and/or homemakers (i.e. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Ruth, Esther, Abigail, Hannah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Elizabeth...). Not to mention, many godly Christian woman of later History (i.e. Sarah Edwards). So with such a weighty list of great women of faith, I do not think we can lightly say that their roles as help-meets to their husbands, or mothers of men and women of God, was insignificant or not "God's Call" in their lives. In the beginning, God created male and female, each unique and equal of worth, but distinctly different. I came across a paragraph from a post Rachel wrote on her blog, Covenant Maiden that says, "From the beginning of the world, woman's place was clear: she was to be man's helper.  Every woman is the help meet to her husband.  That is the definition of a wife. One flesh.  A husband and wife are to be joined together for life, both fulfilling their purpose in that life.  Man is the provider and bread-winner of the home (1 Timothy 5:8); woman is the keeper of the home (1 Timothy 5:14).  Each has their own individual responsibility and purpose ordained by God. (By the way, on this subject, Rachel Brown has a whole heap of thought-provoking posts which you may love to read!)

There is a verse that Sarah pointed out to me some time ago, while we were discussing this issue, in Titus 2:3-5, that really shows the Biblical plan and life mission God has for us women and girls, as daughters of the King, "...the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." Titus 2: 3-5 NKJV . 

Dear sisters, this is a wonderful call that has been given to women! Let us not despise it! The life of a Christian, no matter how small, is an extraordinary life. If we serve our Lord Jesus and glorify Him with our hearts and lives, it doesn't matter if it is simply raising a family (with all its struggles, sorrows and joys), it is a precious thing in the Lord's eyes. I am reminded of a scene in the Lord of the Rings film (I think this may be in the extended edition, but I cannot be certain), where Eyown tells Aragorn that she's been assigned to take care of the women and children in the siege of Helms Deep, and he tells her, "That is an honourable charge". Eowyn indigently says, "To mind the children, to find food and bedding when the men return. What renown is there in that?" Aragorn replies, "My Lady, there may come a time for valor without renown." How true this is! If you are called to be a wife, mother, a homemaker, you have a high calling.

The world has so wrongly made us believe that the family is not as important as a woman's career and interests. And sadly, a lot of us have bought that message. We consider ministry more important than family, when often, the ministry God has given us, is our families! We mustn't belittle a woman's calling to raise a godly family and be a help-meet to her husband as a small, insignificant role to be despised and to be considered un-spiritual. It is often the little, mundane, ordinary things of life that are big in the eyes of God, and if we are faithful in those little things, we will be faithful in the big things. If we succeed in BIG things (ministry, and reaching the world with the Gospel), but fail at home, in being a wife, or mother or godly daughter then we have failed. Being a help-meet to your (future) husband, helping him in his life's goals and calling is such an important thing. If you get married, your husband, and eventually your children will be your greatest earthly responsibility (above ministry, career, or personal interests). Your ministry will not necessarily be to preach the gospel to nations, but to minister the Gospel to your children, and train them in the fear of the Lord, and raise up a family for the kingdom. Your mission will be your husband's mission, in helping and supporting him the calling that God would have in his life. Such a mission will include dreary things as well as simple joys... washing/drying dishes, preparing meals, doing the laundry, running a home... but these things are not to be despised. Isn't there a verse that says, "For who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zachariah 4:10). And Christ said this: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." (Luke 16:10)

Often Dad would tell me, "What is wrong with just being a wife or a mother, Joy?", when I tell him (half-dejectedly) of some of my friends' plans to do big and great things one day. God made us capable as women, mentally, physically and emotionally, to be the help-meets for our husbands, the homemakers of a home, and mothers to children; and this isn't something bad. No, it is a lovely thing! In another post by Rachel, she says this about femininity and womanhood, "In a society where women are men and men are women, we don't see motherly and wifely zeal.  Wives and mothers are no longer wives and mothers.  Instead, they are smokers, drunk drivers, and workmen all rolled into one.  They aren't submissive unto man, and especially not unto God.  Most women don't even know what femininity is." (Rachel Brown in The Importance of Womanhood). 

Here is a little video clip, from the film called "A Man Called Peter", where Catherine Marshall shares with a group of university students about femininity. It is quite a poignant little message in the movie about the theme of femininity and the equality/worth of a woman. 

So, I soon realized that really, being a homemaker, a mother, a wife, or a daughter at home and serving God in what I am doing as it is His will (whatever it may be!), is as important as any great mission! Here are the beautiful words of a part of a hymn by Kittie J. Suffield, "Little is Much When God is in It".

"Does the place you're called to labour
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He'll not forget His own.

"When the conflict here is ended,
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
"Welcome home, My child--well done.'

"Little is much, when God is in it!
Labour not for wealth or fame
There's a crown--and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name."

But you might say, "I am not a wife yet, or a mother! What is my call now?" Your mission is to serve and live for the Lord, wherever He has put you in this time. Your call now is to be loving, submitting to your parents, and help them in the mission of their lives. Not only are your parents the ones who help you on your journey of growth, but you also are there to help them. You are called to be a godly example to your siblings and help them in their growing and learning. The way you treat and live with your father and mother, you will affect your future life and relationship with your husband and family. You can start from now, by preparing for the time when you become a help-meet to your husband and mother of your children. There are so many things to learn about how to care for a home and raise a family! I have to be honest, that I often fail to give enough time to nurture all these necessary things. We all fail and struggle in those things, but the Lord gives us His grace and teaches us both the small and the great. Now is a time, not to be wasted in idle dreaming and impatient waiting for "Prince Charming", but to be really well-used, for God's glory. It is a time to hone your skills. But most of all, it is a time to grow in your Christian life, to really grow in devotion to the Lord Jesus, as our Heavenly Bridegroom. This is also a time to develop intellectual and practical skills that you might not be able to hone when you've got a family of your own and are really busy. Personally, going off to college is not an option for me, and neither is having a job or career outside of home. But there are ways of studying university from home, learning and getting the higher education that will help you in the future, in your married life, helping your husband in his work and teaching your children. It can be a great help to your family later on, so I really think it is quite important. When you get married and have a family of your own, you simply won't have that time. 

But, the most important thing of all is be faithful with the gifts and callings God has placed in your life, be they great and challenging or simple and homely. He has a great plan for all His children, and for many of us girls, it will most probably involve one day being a wife, a mother and a homemaker. These may seem like very ordinary callings, but when we really look at it, there is great virtue in the ordinary when God is in it. It is indeed an "honourable charge".

If you are interested in reading more on this subject, you can read Rachel Brown's full two posts that I've quoted here: The Duty of Daughters and here: The Importance of Womanhood

All images are via Pinterest

Snippets of Story - April

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Image via Pinterest
For the first time ever, I am joining in Snippets of Story - April, hosted by Katie, to share a few snippets from, The Crown of Life and even a few snippets from my long-forgotten story, Escape From Vanity! It was an enjoyable challenge to sift through many different sentences in my story, and find the ones suitable to share (and do a bit of editing to them along the way!). Also, I got to looking at the word document of Escape from Vanity which I haven't opened in ages. I did get to blushing at seeing how atrocious my first story was :), but it was fun all the same. I hope you enjoy!

        Flavius’ face loomed dark and fearful. She dared looking into his eyes, but she only saw eyes caved in with defeat and fear, hopelessness. She tried to let out a breath through her tightly clenched teeth, but she all of a sudden felt sick. In a flash she remembered the day when things had been different... so very different.
 -The Crown of Life 

          Really! You just want to get rid of me," Anthea wrinkled her nose, huffed at Valerius and stormed out of the peristyle, her face burning scarlet. An amused expression flickered on Flavius' face. "I had forgotten her tempers," he chuckled, "Just imagine living my whole life with that." Valerius smiled thinly, "She's always going to be a pretty child when it comes to life." 
- The Crown of Life

       It was a beautiful stallion. Silky brown, its muscles rippled with every movement, its lustrous black mane flowed down richly and thickly. Flavius stroked its silky neck, and lifted an eye up to his friend over the horse’s head. “Beautiful. Have you given him a name yet?” 
"He is Pollux," Valerius said.
-The Crown of Life

And she was fair and beautiful to behold, as liken to the jewels of silver glass by the shores of Asilda, a royal fragrance of the her mother's people. 
 -Escape from Vanity

The next day dawned gold, and joy filled the hearts of the company. The sun glowed through the leafage of the oak trees and sparrows chirped round and about them in a never ending chorus of joyful song.  - Escape from Vanity

“Worry not my sister. Why should they do that to us?’ asked Gwylin, “We are loyal maidens of the Lady. And I am only telling them that they need to keep their guard, or they will loose the Shield-maiden of Valdor from their grasp.”
  - Escape from Vanity

“Maybe you should consider a way you  know, a way of ease, a way of  strength," he said.
"But in weakness is there yet strength, " whispered Itheilda, and pressed the well-loved words to her heart. "Yet not in me," she added in a quivering voice.
"Then in who?" -Escape from Vanity

“Anthea,” Valerius broke in softly, “Do you ever wish there was something else to life?”
                  “What a silly question,” Anthea giggled, brushing a loose curl of her hair away from her laughing eyes, “There isn’t anything else. I thought you knew that. Perhaps you have studied too much study the philosophies of the Greeks and their atrocious ideas. They eventually weaken the body"; at least that is what Flavius told me yesterday when I quoted a verse from one of the ancient. Eat up your breakfast. It will get cold.”
                  Valerius sighed. “I am not hungry.”
- The Crown of Life

Cassia placed her hand under her son’s chin and gazed at him with a pride, mingled with an old grief. “Life sometimes demands that we don’t know all of its answers, son. Men have wasted their lives searching for unanswerable questions and answers. Perhaps it is better just to let things be. Let us live what there is in life with content and die at peace, having lived an honourable life. That’s what defines a well-lived life—honour, glory. The gods may deem such a life worthy and be merciful at the last.”
 - The Crown of Life

When she reached the atrium, Claudia found her father standing patiently by the statue at the pool, a smile gracing his tanned face. Her heart fluttered inside her chest as her eyes fell on Valerius standing by the older man, looking as though he would be pleased if the ground beneath him were to open up and swallow him away.
 - The Crown of Life

If she was not with Rosa learning the womanly arts, about the habits of good society, or working to fill her carved wooden chest with linens and tapestries for her future home, she was with Anthea. She was almost as inseparable as a twin, even though they were as different as the warm glow of summer is from the ice of winter. 
-The Crown of Life

Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14: 6 (NKJV)

And the "Unsinkable" Sank

100 years ago...
via Pinterest

You can view my sister, Sarah's post about the sinking of the Titanic, here.

The Miscellaneous of Life // School Break Randomness

Thursday, 12 April 2012

As much as I really don't like writing random, general posts like these, sometimes I find I just don't have all the time to post great, thought-provoking, in-depth posts too frequently (much as I'd like too!). I am currently writing a couple that are more serious and hopefully more interesting to be posted within the coming day(s), but I thought until I do, I might update you on the random events of life of late :).

I am writing some blog posts for today :), a couple of e-mails and I hope to have a wee bit of time for The Crown of Life this evening.... hopefully :).
(P.S. if you hadn't guessed this already, I am on school holidays right now... that's why I've been blogging regularly!)

Beside my Bible, I have been reading:
God Knows My Size! (Silvia Tarniceriu) by Harvey Yodor -a great biography!
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray
Christ is All! by Ruth Bryan
And lastly, some blog posts from some dear sisters in Christ around the blogsphere. Have a look at this post which I found so encouraging and convicting this morning when I read it written by Melanie!
Quite a handful of stuff to read... huh?

Mary (my older sister) training Gracie (my little sister) on the piano to play a song called "German Dance"... she is playing it beautifully too... and it is quite a challenging little melody, but she loves it!
I've just listened to a knew song: "Jesus, draw me ever nearer" for the first time. You can hear it here: Beloved Star
Lastly, I'd like to hear in the very near future tense some soundtracks from my mixpod on my blog, while I change the bed-sheets on Grace and my beds :).

Want me to give a week long account of what I've watched?
Well, yesterday I watched an episode from "Yes, Minister, Yes, Prime Minister" series, and this one was quite humorous, called "One of us"... Sir. Humphrey was thought that he might be a Soviet spy, and the Prime Minister was aghast :). 
Last Friday I watched with my sisters "Miracle Worker", a movie about Hellen Keller and Anne Sulliven (her teacher). It was such a touching movie, I hope to make a review on the film one day :).
Lastly, I am hoping tomorrow Lord willing, we can watch "The Two Towers" for movie night... but it being the extended edition and a 4 hour long movie, I am not sure everybody will feel like staying up till late at night to watch it!

{the weather is...}
is quite cold (17-20 Centigrade) with an overcast sky, and it just switched suddenly, considering that last Monday was as hot as a midsummer's day, with blue, blue sky and bright sunshine! So yes, it is a quick transition and we are rushing to find our warmer clothes, jackets etc... :)

I want to keep looking to the Lord Jesus. 
And looking ahead to what He has in store for my life.

I am learning to abide in His love, rest in His bosom and trust, even when Satan throws fiery darts of lies and doubts. To abide in His Presence, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11), and not dwell in the earthly mire of the things that glamour in the world, but flee from it into His wide open arms. The Lord Jesus has been showing me these last few days how I've waned in my first bridal love for my Bridegroom. I really long to have that closeness of communion with Him again, to weep at His feet in repentance and give my all to Him again. He's been calling me to Himself more and more... I just long to follow and not hesitate... I want to run into His arms and cling to Him, and tell Him I love Him! I long to trust, and know that He is with me in the darkness of the night, that He is holding my hand and telling me to look to Him, even when everything tells me otherwise...  I want to seek the One I love, and not let Him go!
By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. "I will rise now," I said, "And go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love." I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchman who go about the city found me; I said, "Have you seen the one I love?" Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go..." (Song of Solomon 3: 1-4 NKJV)

Physical feeling: I have been sleeping rather late throughout the school holidays, and it is making me feel awfully  tired throughout the day... I look forward to getting into the normal rythme of sleeping around 9:00-9:30 again :). Besides that, I have not done any writing whatsoever in The Crown of Life during these holidays so it is getting frustrating! Lastly, I am feeling quite relaxed and really enjoying the last few days of the holidays (as long as I don't think too keenly on the stack of e-mails I positively MUST answer either today/tomorrow or Saturday, Lord willing, and the absolute mess my Gracie and my bedroom is in. Ugh!)
Emotional feeling: feeling torn between feeling anxiety and worry for the future and circumstances around me, and simply resting in my Heavenly Father.... feeling at times as though nothing is moving. stuck and weary. But at the same time rejoicing and peaceful in what the Lord has been doing and is continuing to do, especially in my life. 

Life is full of anticipation... disappointments... 
Here are some things I am randomly looking forward to in the near future:
1. starting a new grade in violin (but I am not anticipating my coming exam!!!!)
2. finish a certain course in Maths
3. get my own copy of The Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit books from the local bookstore...
4. I am really anticipating the coming out of The Hobbit film :).
5. finishing The Crown of Life (I am doubtful on how "near in the future this is)
6. the coming days... just because every day is an adventure, filled with blessings, trials, changes, triumphs and joys!

Here is one random wish:
I wish I could stop procrastinating!

I love life in the Lord Jesus, every moment is precious, amazing and wonderful. I am loving my dear parents and sisters so much, it is so special to spend time extra special time (when I am not studying) with family. I am loving the fact that the Lord is in control of my life. He has filled my life with good things, but the greatest good thing, is giving me Himself! 

The Discussion of Dialogue [Guest Post]

Monday, 9 April 2012

Abigail was so sweet in agreeing to guest post (for the first time for both of us!) on Fullness of Joy about "writing good dialogue". You can view my introductory post here. I hope you all enjoy.
Thank you so much, Abigail! 
Over the past few weeks Joy and I have been conversing over email about writing, in general, and dialogue, in particular. The topic dovetailed nicely with the post I did a little while ago on "voices" in a novel; in fact, I had been toying with the idea of doing a follow-up post on dialogue before she and I started chatting about it. Hopefully that is what this will be.

I am not much of one for dissecting story structure. I never enjoyed Literature classes for that reason; it seems too bad to pick apart an author's writing until it is hardly recognizable for the story it once was. I don't deny that there is some help to be gained from such dissection; as in the biological world, it is crucial for knowing the interworkings of those living words. But I was never fond of dissections in biology, and I think that has carried over into my reading style as well.

Despite that, however, I do tend to look at stories in two great parts: dialogue and narration. Dialogue is anything inside quotation marks (I lump the protagonist's thoughts into this category, too, since they tend to be in monologue form); narration is, well, everything outside. Both can be hard to write, but the area of dialogue is the one in which writers tend to have the most difficulty. How closely should characters' speech resemble "real life" dialogues? How casual is too casual, how formal too formal? How do we get to the point of a conversation without it sounding abrupt? How do we differentiate between characters' ways of speaking? There are a dozen questions that come up and conflicting answers to meet them.

in general...

Critics debate whether written dialogue should mirror real life conversations, but the answer is neither a clear yes nor a clear no. There's a fine line between having characters who speak exactly as people in the real world do, and writing dialogue that is so unrealistic as to be stilted. Day-to-day conversations tend to be mundane and, too, they are not always very articulate; in one email, Joy commented on the fact that when we speak, we don't always think through what we are about to say or have a reason for the conversation at all. This cannot be the case in writing. In a story, every scene has a purpose and is driving toward some goal; not every conversation has to have the same degree of purpose, but they cannot be rambling simply because the author doesn't know what to say. Written dialogue is an ideal; it is, in some degree, how we wish we talked in real life.

On the other hand, being idealistic does not mean that written dialogue can be divorced from the way in which people do speak. For instance, unless there is a particular reason intrinsic to the story and the characters, dialogue should not be contraction-free. Neither should characters "over-address" one another, using names more than is appropriate. These points, frequently brought up, are part of the balance that must be found in each author's writing and make up the broad brushstrokes of dialogue. The finer details are much more individualistic and depend a great deal on the characters themselves.

in particular...

Whenever I sit down and try to bend my mind to any one element of writing - description, dialogue, action, what have you - I always seem to come round to the characters in the end. A plot may be the backbone of any story, but it seems to me that characters are what provide color and life, and I can't think of any portion of writing that can be divorced from them. Dialogue is no different: the character speaking has to be connected with his words for them to have dimension. Practically, this means knowing one's cast so that each character's style of speech comes naturally to the page. Who a person is affects the words they say and how they say them. To quote Scripture slightly out of context, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

Two important caveats are needed here. First, it is rare that a writer knows even their main character very well before beginning a story, and so it may take time for the protagonist - and the minor players as well - to develop. If you think the character is flat, don't despair; the process of writing will be helpful in fleshing him out, and then there is always the editing process in which to fix deficiencies at the beginning. Second, knowing your character does not mean that his words will always flow beautifully onto the page. There are just some days when writing anything is like pulling teeth and everything that does come is very ugly. But again - editing process!

 in summation...

Dialogue is not easy to dissect, nor is it easy to grasp and to write well. There are a number of things that are critical to doing so, however. The first, all-important one is to read books in which the dialogue is done skilfully, to immerse yourself in the wit of others who are the acknowledged (and perhaps the unacknowledged) Greats in writing. Some say that writers should study how people talk in daily life, but going simply from what I hear people around me saying, I don't think there's much wit to be gained in this area. However, this method does allow you to pick up more gossip.

The second necessity, already mentioned, is to know one's characters and to let their dialogue flow from that knowledge. Jane Austen's characters are a good example of this, I find. Miss Bates, Jane Fairfax's aunt from Emma, is a very good-humored, silly woman and she positively prattles. Emma Woodhouse herself, often witty at the expense of others, nearly always has something lively and pointed to say. The irritating Mrs. Elton "fusses," running on in a manner different from Miss Bates' because it is totally self-centered. Austen's novels provide dozens of other examples, but this is a good sampling of how the dialogue is derived naturally from the characters themselves.

Third, in the process of writing it can be helpful to stop and plan what is to be the focus of any scene of dialogue. Having some knowledge of where the conversation should go, rather than launching the characters willy-nilly into their speeches, will go a long way toward avoiding totally pointless rambles. I have often been miffed to discover far into a conversation that, though there are a good deal of words going around, nothing is actually being said. Then I have to go back, take out the rubbish, and begin again. So planning ahead, if only so that you establish to yourself what point you are driving toward, is extremely beneficial.

and, you know, there is always the editing.

Abigail Hartman is the author of The Soldier's Cross, a historical novel set during the Hundred Years' War. Her debut work, it was published in 2010 by Ambassador Intl. and is newly available in Dutch through De Banier Publishing. Abigail writes both historical fiction and fantasy and also keeps a blog, Scribbles and Ink Stains, where she posts on the topics of writing, reading, and matters in between.

"When Men Run Out Of Words"

Sunday, 8 April 2012

"When men run out of words, they reach for their swords. Let's hope we can keep them talking." ~Oliver Cromwell (Cromwell movie)

Dialogue in real life is a love-hate relationship for me. Thought and Dialogue are definitely distinct yet interlinked in many ways, and the one can affect the other.
I think incessantly... really. Non-stop. When I'm cutting up a piece of cucumber into the salad bowl, mopping the kitchen floor, or  when I'm working on a Mathematics problem, I'm always subconsciously thinking of something. Maybe the only times I do not think are when I am asleep, but even then, my thoughts and the night time play on my dreams so that I think I am still thinking subconsciously. It is quite bizarre, but I love it. Because thinking is invigorating, especially if the topic I am thinking about makes me think

And yet, if I am not thinking too deeply upon a singular subject that's ruffling me, I must talk about it. I enjoy talking- perhaps a bit too much for my own good at times- but it is good to communicate with others those thoughts. There are times though, that, like everybody sometimes does, I find myself relying on instinct and what comes to my mind first to lead my dialogue and words in the direction I'd like it to go. As much as I'm trying hard not to, phrases such as "you see(s)" "like" "know what I mean?" pop into in my vocabulary oft' too often when I am at a loss of how to tell others what I am thinking.  Sometimes when I'm speaking to one of my sisters and trying to get my point across to them on a certain topic that I feel strongly about, I'd impulsively blurt, "Do you know what I mean?" And I would inevitably get a blank look from the other person, "N-o, I don't know what you mean." 

I love talking, but when that happens, I find it really hard not to get discouraged and how to bring my words across to those listening to me. If I start talking before I've thought properly, I find myself using useless prepositions and adjectives, leaving out most of the nouns and verbs! That of course makes me start sounding quite absurd and so I'd blush, feel shy and inevitably shut up into myself, too embarrassed to communicate the thoughts that I so badly want to speak to others. It is all a matter of communication... of thinking things through in your head and then speaking them logically and coherently, without taking for granted that the ones you are talking to can read the thoughts in your head and make sense of what you're trying to say. I think that is why there are numerous passages in God's Word that speak of being slow to speak, guarding our tongues, and yet being just as quick to hear :). 

I still forget to "think before speaking" sometimes, but slowly I am getting better at it. A bit of it I guess is self-consciousnesses and shyness that gradually lessens as I grow older :), which I am definitely grateful for. In real life, I love dialogues. If you are visiting at a friends' home, you'd feel very awkward if no one spoke anything to the other, and there wasn't a refreshing dialogue or conversation going on. People would just stare at each other, and offer piecemeal words only when prompted. The atmosphere would be icy, and anything but warm and friendly. Dialogue and conversation with your friends, family, and with everyone is an important part of usual life... There is a scene from the Cromwell movie, where Cromwell when asked by his son if England could come to a civil war, said, "Well, Oliver, when men run out of words, they reach for their swords. Let's hope we can keep them talking!"  How true is that?

In fiction and biography, I also love dialogues. Imagine a whole novel without any dialogue! It would be like a book without pictures, only a lot, lot worse. But I don't like reading a book that has stilted conversations that feel made up and fake. Forced. Neither do I like dialogue that leads no where. Dialogue that feels like the author didn't think before hand what the whole point of the characters' conversation was, and wasn't sure where it was heading. I never realized until recently though that I sometimes carry the "annoying habit of dialogue" of talking before thinking into my writing as well. Into the dialogue of my characters. 

 How can that be? I think, how we speak in real life, and how we observe conversations and dialogues of others influence the way we write dialogue in fiction, as well as the kind of books we read, which will affect our dialogue writing one way or the other. I would not say I am an authority on this subject since I'm struggling with it myself. But I know many of us writers (the ones at least who struggle with writing dialogue) would like help on this issue. So, I've got a little surprise for you all! I've asked Abigail J. Hartman who blogs on, Scribbles and Ink Stains and is the author of her debut novel, The Soldier's Cross, to write a first ever guest post on Fullness of Joy to address this issue of writing good dialogue in fiction. So stay tuned!

He is Alive!

"Jesus Christ is Risen; He is risen indeed! The Lord Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary for our sins, but He rose again from the dead on the third day, because death could not hold Him! He is alive, and with us until the end of the age. In remembrances of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, I'd like to share with you a wonderful, older song by Don Francisco which beautifully recounts the story of Resurrection Morning from Peter's perspective called simply, He is Alive! I love songs that tell a story like this. Through reading the Gospels, (especially John) the story of Peter's denial and returning to the Lord is especially beautiful and always touches and challenges me whenever I read or hear it.  I pray you may be blessed by this song today, on Easter Sunday.

He is Alive!
by Don Francisco

The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down,
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound.
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away.

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall.
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call.
I hurried to the window,
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldiers' feet.

There was no one there but Mary,
So I went down to let her in,
And John stood there beside me
As she told us where she'd been.
She said, "They've moved Him in the night
And none of us knows where.
The stone's been rolled away
And now His body isn't there."

We both ran toward the garden,
Then John ran on ahead.
We found the stone and the empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said.
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they'd taken Him
Was more than I could tell.

Well something strange had happened there,
Just what I did not know....
John believed a miracle, but
I just turned to go.
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn't life me very high,
'Cause I'd seen them crucify Him...
Then I saw Him die.

And back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came.
Everything I'd promised Him
Just added to my shame.
When at last it came to choices,
I'd denied I know His name.
And even if He was alive
It wouldn't be the same.

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume.
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room.
Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide.
And I fell down on my knees,
And just clung to Him and cried.

He raised me to my feet,
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies.
My guilt and my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release.
And every fear I'd ever had
Just melted into peace.


He's alive! He's Alive!
He's alive and I'm forgiven
Heaven's gates are open wide!


He's alive! He's alive! He's alive!


Easter Reflection

Saturday, 7 April 2012

I just want to wish you all a Happy Easter, in Jesus! Easter is so special in that we remember the love of God at Calvary, His sacrifice for us, His love. And our sin, and how much it cost Him to save us from it. I was just reading today with my sister Grace, in the Bible, the Crucifixion story in the Gospel of Mark and it really was wonderful, remembering again Jesus who was the Sacrifice for our sins, and the Father's eternal love to us, sinners deserving of judgement. His justice and wrath, His mercy and love, they all met at the Cross! How wonderful it is to know that, though we were dead in trespasses and sins, through His death, we live in Him now.  His love is so amazing! I love Him so much and thank Him for His love. "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me."

"And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshiped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God." 

Mark 15: 16-39 (KJV)

These are a few versus from the beautiful classic hymn, "O Sacred Head, now wounded", that are really suited for this time. I pray it blesses you.

O Sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory,
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain;
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!
'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh, make me Thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee!

-Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1153
Tr. Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1976
English tr., James Waddell Alexander, 1859-1904

Images via Pinterest except the first one, 
which is from Google Images.

"A Crucified Man" by Graham Kendrick

Cup-A-Tea Poetry Corner

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Image via Pinterest
I Fell on my Knees...
by - April Lyons

I fell on my knees on the hard concrete floor,
My heart was pounding, my lungs were tight,
"Dear Lord!" I cried, "Why is this my lot in life?"
"What have I done so awful in Thy sight!"

It had been a hard day, as many days were,
My spirit was spent, and my heart ached so sore,
I felt like no death could be as bitter as mine,
The death I lived slowly as the days rolled by.

Suddenly I heard in some mist rising low,
The voices of ones I had known long ago,
They rose to such a pitch that I covered my ears,
I buckled under the memories, but I swallowed my tears.

Those ones I had known in years gone by,
Their voices, they rang now as then,
With lie upon lie,
And sin upon sin.

I held my throbbing head,
I couldn't take this anymore!
"Oh! what had I done to deserve this!"
"Lord, what are You killing me for!"

"My child!" a Voice overcame all the rest,
"My child! how could you not pass this test?"
"My child, can't you see what I have brought you out of?"
"Can't you see what you have, now you know My love?"

"Dare you complain of the life I have given?"
"When for ruin, and death before you had striven?"
"When you sat so alone, so hungry, so cold,"
"So lost in your self - but your self had been sold!"

"You were sold to do evil, you were sold to live a lie,"
"You didn't know it, but you were even sold to die,"
"My child, dare you hurt Me, dare you cut Me so sore?"
"Can't you see the beauty in this violence and war?"

"Can't you see that I do everything for your good?"
"Can't you see that I'd give you the world if I could?"
"But what good would it do you, if your heart was so full,"
"And you lost all I had in store?"

"Can't you see that My plan is for you to know Me?"
"I want you to come and abide, can't you see?"
"Try Me and prove Me, but don't e're go astray,"
"The life you now lead, I have not given away!"

"The Life you now lead is My own, can't you see?"
"I died so you might be free - in Me."
"You live because I live within you,"
"These sorrows you suffer, I suffer too!"

"My child, dare you doubt Me?"
"My child, dare you fear?"
"I love you, My child, can't you see?"
"Come to Me - I will wipe away your tears...."

I usually find it a bit of a challenge to pick a poem out the mountain of beautiful gems there are in good, uplifting poetry, and share one for my "Cup-A-Tea Poetry Corner" posts with you all. Up to now, all of the poems I've shared have been from relatively classic authors, and beautiful and rich they were indeed! But the other day, I came upon this poem on the blog, My Life in Him, written by a lovely sister in Christ, April Lyons. It blessed my heart so much while reading it, not only because it felt like the beautiful poetry of by-gone days, but because the words are really true! April was really kind and said I could share her poem on my poetry serial, so I am sharing it with you all today, in the hope it blesses your heart.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." -John 15: 4-5 NKJV