Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hallo, it's me... General Life Update

Uh... it's been a while, hasn't it? Still, better late than never, right? (Fingers crossed this is not what I said on my last post!)  I have thought about blogging reasonably frequently in the last month or so since I've last posted but life is so crazily, stressfully, happily, depressingly FULL right now that blogging just slips further and further down the list of things to do.  Reading has as well so I'm afraid I did very badly on my March list and even worse for April - especially since I didn't even have a list.


So why is life so packed right now? The number one reason has to be that in less than 3 weeks, I fly from Australia to USA for 3 months and I've still plenty of preparation to do.  Why? I'm travelling for a month then working as a camp counsellor for two months.  It's going to be an amazingly fun and unforgettable experience I know - but (why does life always have to have buts?) when I signed up for it eight or nine months ago, my life was completely different from where it is now which is making things a little difficult! I now have a demanding full time job, my sister is getting married at the end of the year (and I'm maid of honour) plus the last 7-8 months have seen a massive upheaval of my personal life and various relationships. It's a LOT to handle all at once and honestly, I don't know how I could get by if I didn't have a God who makes all things possible or friends who listen to me rant and pour out my fears then pray for me, message me, and just care for me. It means the world.

 I'm going all Anne Shirley with the capitals and italics aren’t I?! Still, hopefully that gives a bit of an idea of why I haven't blogged lately. By the time I come home from work, I'm too tired to blog and I'm stressing about USA preparation and then I just lie on the couch cuddling my sister's kitten and do nothing πŸ˜“πŸ˜“ Speaking of kittens, here he is:

Isn't he a gorgeous boy? Aragorn (Ari) is temporarily living at our house and is one of the cutest, friendliest kittens I have known πŸ’“

Anyway, I won't have much time (or wifi) to blog over the next three months but I will (believe it or not) have time to read! Part of my travel in the USA includes several hour coach trips so I will pack reading material and try to smash out my monthly readings.

Here's my hit list:

May:
Old-  Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
New- The Magic World (E Nesbit)
Rhyme - Collected Poetry (AB 'Banjo' Paterson) - half
Renew- Book of John

June:
Old- The Abbey Girls (E J Oxenham)
New- Nineteen Eighty-four (George Orwell)
Rhyme- Collected Poetry (AB 'Banjo' Paterson) - other half
Renew- Book of Joshua

July:
Old- Miss Billy's Decision (E H Porter)
New- Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte)
Rhyme- Shakespeare's sonnets (William Shakespeare) - half
Renew- Book of Romans

August:
Old- Whatever I decide at that point
New- Three Men and a Maid (PG Wodehouse)
Rhyme- Shakespeare's sonnets (William Shakespeare) - other half
Renew- Book of Isaiah

You may notice that they all seem to be older books - well that's simply because the older books are available as free pdfs online so I can read them on my phone :)

Finally, I'm not sure when I'll be posting next, but in case you go through anything tough or just want to praise God, I'm going to leave what is currently my favourite worship song here. Have a listen - it's well worth it!


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast aka Cinematography and Controversy and why to watch it

Unless you live under a rock (and if you do, thanks so much for coming out to read this!), you should be aware that Disney is releasing their live action remake of Beauty and the Beast round about now. That's big news in itself, especially considering the enormous success of Cinderella back in 2015 but the last few weeks the buzz around this new release is that its being hyped as containing the first openly gay Disney character and according to the director, ""a nice, exclusively gay moment". Naturally, waves of outrage are surging through the Christian community and equally naturally, every film / book issue isn't REALLY an issue until all bloggers have fully expressed their opinion (whether wanted or not) so here I am.

Let's all take a deep breath. Yes, I was being rather sarcastic a sentence or two ago but to tell you the truth, this whole shindig is making me roll my eyes somewhat. Having said that, I realise there are people out there who are genuinely concerned and others who are probably unsure so I'm explaining why I definitely will be going to watch it.

So why is everyone so upset? From what I understand and hear, Christians especially, are unhappy with Disney's decision because it 1. ruins a family film, 2. Disney are pushing their gay "agenda" and 3. it's glorifying sin. If there's any I've missed, feel free to post in the comments and I can address them there.

1. It ruins a family film. As far as I know, there's only one scene which really displays homosexuality and its fairly minor so 95% of the film shouldn't be ruined! It's also a fantastic opportunity to explore this topic with kids and have that conversation around homosexuality and what the Bible teaches. It's better that they hear it from you than someone else and this really could be the moment.  Plus, it's a great way to show them a very clear example of a movie portraying something God says is wrong as right as they will inevitably come across other similar messages and perhaps be confused. Also, I really hope you're not boycotting Beauty and the Beast and letting your children watch Downton Abbey because that is slightly hypocritical πŸ˜‰ (Not having a go, just a reminder to everyone, including me, that as Christians we should be consistent.)


2. Disney are pushing their gay "agenda". I would be more surprised if they weren't at this stage but that still doesn't mean we shouldn't see it.  Yes, perhaps, Walt Disney would never have allowed it but he's long since gone.  Disney is not a Christian company and they are not run by Christians, so why do we expect them to hold Christian values? A whole lot of of different agendas are being constantly pushed upon us in films - euthanasia, open relationships, nudity and more are all being portrayed as normal in many modern films. We shouldn't be surprised at it but expect it.  Jesus calls us to go into the world and to missionally embrace culture (my pastor's coinage here not mine). This does not mean that we participate in or applaud sin but rather, engage with those around us rather than boycott everything that offends us and cut ourselves off from others outside our Christian bubble. I read an excellent article when Me Before You was released which I can't find now talking about how we need to watch it so we can have meaningful conversations with others about these issues. The same is true here.  Yes, "agendas" are always going to be pushed - whether right or wrong - but with the Bible and Holy Spirit, we know what is right and wrong and should not be adversely affected.


3. It's glorifying sin. Because bestiality is not? Ok, so maybe you're thinking that the beast bit is ok because it's so fantastic no one could possibly think of it as real. On the other hand, homosexuality is much more common in today's society so it's more dangerous to glorify it. Well, God makes it pretty clear that sin is sin whatever it is. Yes, something that is wrong is potentially being shown as a positive and good thing. Yes, sin may well be glorified in this movie but you know what? I think Jesus would go watch it because (see point above), He engaged with culture. He went to the places where the super religious righteous people would not go and associated with the people they would never acknowledge to win their hearts. I'm watching this movie not only because I think I'll enjoy it but because it's an opportunity to experience what those around me are interested in and to better understand and win their hearts.
Picture from Risen which is well worth a watch!
Finally, we're arguing over this scene before the movie has even been released. I've found from experience, that you can't judge very accurately if you don't know ALL the details so I'm keeping a very open mind for now. I love the trailer, I love the lead actors and I can't wait to watch it! Maybe I'm preaching to the converted here but my advice would be to consider the facts wisely and carefully rather than making an emotional and rushed response and make sure that whatever you do or don't do, it's ultimately for God and His glory.

As for me, I'm going with friends to a gorgeous old fashioned cinema with velvety seats and chandeliers to watch it on the big screen with a fancy dinner at a posh restaurant after. Bring it on!

Friday, 3 March 2017

March Reading List + Apology

How, HOW is it March already? The new year started just a week or two ago, surely? But no, time paces heedlessly on and in a couple of weeks, we'll be a quarter of the way through 2017. It's scary how fast time moves as you get older although this year it is exciting because every day brings me closer to my USA trip! (More to come on that front😊). First things first though, last post I promised a review of The Lizzy Bennet Diaries for Hamlette's "I Love Jane Austen" week and I'm afraid it never eventuated. I know I keep saying it, but real life is very full on at the moment and even though I started my review, I never got round to finishing it. If you're reading this Hamlette, I do apologise! One day....

The onset of March also means that my first month of attempting dedicated reading is over and I come to report on my progress and also set this month's goal.

New: The Hobbit
I tried it before and couldn't make it past the first few pages but this time I got through and I actually rather enjoyed it! I struggled a bit with the poetry throughout but right from the onset, loved the quality of writing. Talking about literature? The Hobbit is exactly that and the skill of word use interwoven with the darkness of life, passion of the brave and amusing touches of English humour enthralled me - and well, made me pretty jealous actually. I wish I could write like that! I probably will go back and watch all The Hobbit movies now. I've only gotten through the first one before, mainly because I've never really enjoyed Richard Armitage's acting. Sacrilegious, I know.

Old: Yes there were some of these including The Golden Road by LM Montgomery of which I finally bought my own copy! Browsing the book section in second hand shops is ALWAYS a good idea.

Rhyme: Um... reading poetry hasn't been my thing of late. I used to love writing poetry and reading it so I really should get back into it. This is my way of confessing that I did NOT read a book of poetry over February.  Most remiss of me. I'm trying to feel guilty.

Soul: Good and bad news on this front. The good is that I kept up better than I expected with the Bible readings but the bad is that of late, I've gotten out of my routine (not completely my fault) and they've fallen by the wayside a bit.


New month, new beginning, new hope. Here is March's reading list:

New: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Old: Jane of Lantern Hill by LM Montgomery (I read it recently but it's one of my very favourites of hers so why not get a double dose)
Rhyme: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Soul: Keep up with the weekly readings for March + finish Mark's gospel.

Any suggestions for April?

xx

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I Love Jane Austen Week Tag


Whoohoo! The awesome Hamlette is hosting a Jane Austen week where all things related to that mighty author and her works will be discussed and celebrated by us mere blogging mortals around the world. To begin with, Hamlette has come up with a delightfully fun tag so with no further rambling, let's get into it.

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?
Book! When I was about 13, my sister studied Pride and Prejudice for school and it was her first introduction to Jane Austen. She told me the whole story and although I admit I had a somewhat confused understanding of everything that went on, once some friends lent us the BBC mini series a few years later, I read Pride and Prejudice through first. It was definitely enjoyable and then, then, I saw The Rightful Adaptation and was hooked forever after on all things Jane Austen.

2.  What is your favorite Austen book?

Pride and Prejudice! Mostly because it's the one I'm most familiar with. I read the other ones in a row one after the other so they sometimes get a little jumbled in my mind.

3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best?

They all have their flaws - which is a good thing because then they're more relatable - but on the whole, I like Lizzy best because of her humour, spunk and ability to admit and correct her mistakes.

4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best?

Mr. Darcy is the kind of man you crush on but Mr. Knightly is the kind of guy you want to marry, right? Dear George is the perfect blend of gentlemanliness, fun, and dash of imperfection.

5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work?

A picture speaks a thousand words.

6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)

No not really.... sorry bit of a boring answer! I think I didn't really get into the book Emma but loved the BBC series of it, if that counts.

7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)
I do but I can't be bothered to get photos now... I have a cute little magnetic badge with "I love Jane Austen" on it plus a picture of Jane Austen, a little Jane Austen notebook and coolest of all, a beautiful set of Jane Austen commemoration postal stamps sent to me from England when they were released over there!

8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?
Deep deep down, do you really like Fanny Price?

9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?


Oooh, I love questions like this! Persuasion absolutely needs a BBC mini series makeover! Casting isn't my strong point but let's have a go.

Frederick Wentworth - Dan Stevens
Anne Elliot - Keira Knightley
Captain Benwick - Tom Hiddleston
Sir Walter Elliot - Ian McKellan
Lady Russell - Emma Thompson
(Captain Wentworth or Captain Dreamy? ;))

10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

In no particular order:

"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you," - Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice).

"You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”
She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued:
“You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” - Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” - Mr. Knightly (Emma)

That's all for this time but tune in tomorrow to see my review of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

Until then xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sunshine Blogger Award

G'day fair readers, I've been tagged by the lovely Miss March for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Now for those of you who have been blogging forever are probably very very tired of the few tags which keep floating around but I can't deny that for the newbie blogger here, it is rather fun to fill out.


So, here goes. My answers to the 10 questions set by Miss March! (PS Check out her blog if you haven't, will you?)

1. What was the last book you read?
 As per my last post, I am currently part way in The Hobbit and enjoying it more than I thought I would. There isn't enough elf content yet to satisfy me but you can't deny that Bilbo is rather sweet. (Edit: there's now been a bit more elf content but still not enough).
 
2. On a typical evening at home, what are you most often found doing -- reading a book, watching a movie, playing games with your siblings, twiddling your thumbs...what?
Oh dear, I'm far too often found surfing social media on my phone or watching YouTube but I'm hoping to gradually change that as my reading programme really gets going. (Again, see previous post).
 
3. You have the choice of being an only child or having twenty siblings.  Which do you choose?
This IS a hard question, being such an extreme but the conservative in me rears its quashed head and chooses the twenty - only because many only children regret they have no siblings and with twenty, you'd imagine that with all those age differences, you wouldn't have all twenty living in the house at once!
 
4. Do you prefer bike riding or walking?
I enjoy both but overall, if I am to generalise, I prefer walking. There's something to be said for it just being nature and you with no man made tools present.


 5.  If you had to create your own family made up of characters from literature (or film) who would you choose to have as your father?  As your mother?  Choose a brother and a sister, too, just for the fun of it.  :)
This is my favourite question of the ten you asked, Miss March!  It's tough but in such a delightfully fascinating way I can't help but love the challenge. I KNOW I will think of choices I much prefer right after I publish this post but off the top of my head, I would choose Elrond from Lord of the Rings as my father, Marmee from Little Women as my mother, Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey as a brother (yes brother only!) and Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice as my sister. That was h.a.r.d. Miss March, have some compassion on my poor nerves! Also, can you just imagine family dinners with that family?
 
6.  Did you ever receive money under your pillow after losing a tooth?
Oh no, no!  Father Christmas and the tooth fairy were for heathens, guys! ;)
 
7.  What's your favorite color?
Red or to be more precise, scarlet. When I was little, I used to ape my older sister in everything until she strongly objected. One night I was asked what my favourite colour was and I had no idea but really wanted to just copy sister and say "blue".  Since that was out of the question, I chose the opposite - red. Since then, it really has been my favourite colour! I love its vibrancy and daring and the passion it symbolises.

  8. Would you rather wash dishes or iron clothes?
Wash dishes. Ironing clothes is just too fiddly.
 
9. What is your opinion on zoos?  Interesting or boring?
Either boring because I can't cuddle the animals or sad when it's a horrible zoo which keeps animals cooped up :(

10. Growing up, did you have a favorite doll? What was her name?
It depends on which stage of life & growing up you're talking about, but one of my very first ever dolls who came on many adventures with me is Joy/Joyce but much more commonly known as "Bubby-doll". She's kinda cute :)

Now, normally I'm supposed to tag ten people to fill out ten questions I give, but I'm going to play by my own rules and do things a little differently. If you're a silent reader of this blog - i.e. you read here some of the time / all the time / a tiny bit but never / rarely comment (and I know there are some!), this challenge is for YOU.  Either fill out the tag in the comments or on your blog and leave a comment letting me know so I can come read your answers! Obviously I realise I could absolutely be setting myself up for dismal failure here but, dear silent reader, man up and take a challenge, OK? ;)

Questions:
1. Are you a dog or cat person?
2. What's your go-to song to listen to when writing a blog post?
3. Mr. Knightly or Matthew Crawley?
4. What was the first blog you ever started reading and do you still read it?
5. What is your honest opinion of my blog? (Don't hold back!)
6.  Brie or camembert?
7. Is Lala Land worth watching? I'm genuinely curious.
8. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? (Or neither?)
9. Which actor are you most excited to see in the new Beauty and the Beast?
10. If you were invited to a dress up party / dance where you had to go dressed as any fictional or fantasy character, as whom would you go? (Again, I'm intrigued to know because I have the same choice facing me!)

Monday, 23 January 2017

2017 Reading List


Quite a few years ago, from when I was about six to about 17 / 18, I read voraciously with an almost insatiable appetite for a new book. Nowdays, I don't do nearly as much reading - mostly because adult life holds a lot more responsibilities than my childhood did. I want to get back into reading though - and not just re-reading my favourites. This year, I want to expand my reading list and what better way than this:

Read one for the first time,
One that's old.
Read one that has to rhyme,
One for the soul.

Now if my rhyme made no sense, here's the explanation. I'm going to get through four books / readings every month. One must be a book I've never read before, one is a book I have, one is a book of poetry (or maybe a chapter since I struggle with poetry...) and the one that feeds the soul is the Bible of course! I've joined my church's challenge of reading the Bible through in a year and although I'm way behind, I'll try and catch up.


 January is too far gone for me to resurrect but here's February's list:

First time: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Old: I'll do plenty of that I'm sure so no particular one
Rhyme: Book of AB Paterson poems
Soul: Finish Genesis & Exodus, Mark, Galatians and whatever else is on the list.

End of February I'll post how I went and pop up March's list. Feel free to read along if you so desire or make your own reading list which is even cooler! What do you think? Is this something you'd try?


xx

Saturday, 31 December 2016

I'm Back, Happy New Year!

Well, hello! I'm a bit of a stranger now, aren't I? Sorry about all that, life's been rather hectic lately.  First things first, Happy New Year! (This blog insists I published this post on December 31st but it is most definitely January 1st 2017 where I live!)

 
For many people, 2016 seems to have been a very up and down year, myself included. Yet, it seems as though each coming year, the valleys get lower but the mountains are higher and life becomes richer, deeper, and more meaningful every time. This past year has been so very challenging, incredibly unique and unfathomably rewarding for me personally in many different ways and despite the loss, pain, and tears, I look back in awe at the way God has worked - the way He has pieced everything together little by little like a jigsaw puzzle. I know without a doubt that 2017 will bring its own unique challenges but I am so excited for where life will take me over the next 12 months, In fact, can I just put it on record right here and now, that I absolutely love life!

The main reason I haven't posted much lately is that around the same time I started this blog, I also started a new full time job. It's been a wild roller coaster of learning which has only intensified. Physically and mentally, I've been too exhausted to post much on here but hopefully that will change this year.
So, what have I been up to since I last posted?  I remember posting a couple of months or so ago about how I was so totally going to smash out NaNoWriMo this year even whilst working full time.  I can now proudly announce that I hit the required word count for two whole days in a row and then barely touched my manuscript for the rest of the month.... Top tip for any future Nano-ers, full time work and novel writing in a month don't mix.

For the first time in my life, I was sick Christmas day which was sad but not too devastating since I had no big plans for Christmas anyway. It was a strange feeling lying in 40 degree (celsius) or 104 degree for my USA readers heat outside and having a few chills....Thankfully, I'm almost back to full health - and work! Yep, I only get public holidays off :(

Last night (New Year's Eve) was a time of celebration and welcoming in the new year in my home city. There were fireworks and tons of people down by the beach (how Aussie can you get!) and for me, I found it a really great night as I was volunteering. My local church went out onto the streets (as part of a wider organisation) handing out water, sweets and sick bags (there was a lot of drinking) and making Jesus known. It's not about us or how good we were but honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend the last hours of a year and the beginning hours of a new year than serving other people and doing what I know Jesus would have been doing if He was there. I had the privilege of doing a similar outreach earlier this year amongst thousands of drunk, drugged out school leavers and both times I can say it was an incredibly rewarding experience and one I can't wait to do again. I've had Christian people look down their noses at the wild parties that happen at events like these and talk about "keeping out of the path of the ungodly" etc but you know what, Jesus plunged straight into making friends with the people all the righteous Jews avoided and He was there for them - not condoning their sin, but serving them, loving them, and making them feel valued.

Like I predicted before, 2017 will probably be as challenging or more so than 2016 but if I focus on doing the kinds of things Jesus would do, those mountain peaks will keep on a comin'

Happy New Year xx