Sunday, April 26, 2009

Doll's Houses and Bamboo Trees

During the week I came across a few neat little analogies to help us keep working faithfully toward our goals, even when we can't see much in the way of results.

The first was in an email from a friend. She wrote to tell us about the Chinese bamboo tree. For the first five years of its growth it puts out a tiny shoot that doesn't seem to change. Although it looks as if absolutely nothing is happening, it still needs regular water during this long stage. All of its development is underground where we can't see what is going on, but at the end of the five years it suddenly has a massive growth spurt. In the space of 5 weeks it grows to over 30 metres tall. She encouraged us to remember the bamboo tree and keep watering our dreams, even when it seems as if nothing is happening. They will surely grow with persistance but one thing is certain; they will wither if we give up watering.

The second was from some notes I'd taken at a conference a couple of years ago. It's about a pastor whose little girl asked him to build her a doll's house. He fobbed her off by promising to do it, but kept on working on his sermon notes. Then he noticed that his daughter was busy getting things ready to put in the doll's house. She was collecting all her furniture together and excitedly digging around in the toy box for her favourite dolls. The father's conscience began to prickle him. Although he'd intended to do nothing that day, her obvious faith and trust in his word motivated him to put aside his works, go out to his shed and begin work on the doll's house. The speaker encouraged us that it's a bit like this with us and God. We must start working toward our goals and visions even when it appears as if nothing's moving to all intents and purposes, and He'll be pleased by our faith in Him and move on our behalf. If we aren't prepared to do this much, we can't expect Him to take us seriously and work on our behalf.

These little stories work for me. I'm the sort of person who is naturally impatient for results, and the occupations I've chosen, writing and homeschooling, both require lots and lots of patience. Both have long periods when it looks as if nothing is happening. But I keep watering; I keep getting ready for that doll's house. Any good things are worth working and waiting for.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

17 Again

Last night Emma and I took a break from all the boys and went to see this movie. It got the thumbs up from both of us. I like the relaxing, heart-warming sort of movie that you can just enjoy without getting bogged down with heavy, depressing themes. And predictability is one of my favourite things sometimes. Of course we all know that by the end of his turning-back-time experience, our hero, Mike O'Donnell, will reconcile his differences with his wife. I found it very amusing to imagine that Matthew Perry ever looked like Zac Effron. We're big fans of both.

I'm highlighting this movie on my blog because I think it's a good choice for homeschoolers. It certainly cures me of any wild thoughts of ever sending my children to High School. One of Logan's archery friends who attends our local High School told him it's a 'hole from the pit of hell.' Whoa, the school in this movie, Hayden High I think it was, probably leaves Mount Barker High for dead. So in the first place, it reinforces our decision to keep our kids out of that pit!

There's a great scene when Mike (in his 17yo old body with his 37yo dad outlook) ticks off his Health class when the teacher distributes condoms to each member of the class. The bully grabs a handful, sneers at Mike and says, "I'll bet he doesn't even need one!" And Mike jumps out of his seat and declares, "You're right, I don't need one! Do you know why? I'm not in love!" And he goes on with his spiel to say that, in his opinion, they shouldn't even be used outside of marriage. It's a great, stirring speech that makes you want to cheer him on.

Without being a plot spoiler, I like how he comes to realise what is really important to him. A common theme but still a good one. I have to admit to a few smiles when he turns 37 again, declares his undying love for his wife and regrets his folly of not appreciating her more. Being a "Friends" fan, it seemed like a real Chandler Bing moment and seemed a bit weird not to see Monica walk in. But I won't hesitate to borrow that movie when it comes out on DVD and that's probably my highest recommendation.

It also made me imagine how I'd behave if I turned 17 again. It was 1987. I remember that year as one of the hardest of my life. I was doing my last year at High School, dreading the possibility of getting fat or not getting into university. Like Mike O'Donnell, I think if I had the chance I'd attempt to change my 17y0 experience by not being a perfectionistic, anorexic little stick insect. I'd know that even if I'd never busted myself to get into Uni, I'd no doubt be doing the exact same thing right now. I think this movie probably does show those of us who are parents and nudging 40 that during all those hectic years, we actually have gained a bit of wisdom. They were certainly not wasted years. And to walk out of the cinema with that knowledge is more than I'd expected.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Prophets and Writers

I was doing some Bible reading and 1Corinthians 14: 3 seemed to leap out at me for some reason. It said, "The person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement and consolation."

I'd probably read over it many times before without wanting to step back and zoom in on that verse specifically. The reason it stood out now is because I've been wondering how to answer the question, 'What's the point of writing romantic and/or fantasy fiction?' I'd decided the best answer is that it's just fun. I enjoy telling the stories and I like it when others enjoy reading them. I'd decided that must be enough. Then 1Cor 14: 3 popped up. I like that idea about speaking to people for edification and consolation but especially encouragement. I thought, "Prophets and writers might have something in common." And then I remembered something a good friend of mine wrote in an email a few weeks back. She'd been talking about that very thing.

"Our ability to put words together as a message for others is a prophetic gift. All creative/performing arts are. As prophets we speak forth or express God's message to audience or readership He calls us to move in. We need to be bold like prophets and not grow weary."

I love that. Although in the past I've sometimes been sad that writers aren't mentioned specifically in lists of spiritual gifts, it may be because writers and prophets share the same taproot. This is a thought that encourages me to push on and not lose heart, like Isaiah and Jeremiah of old who were certainly not always received favourably (in fact most often the very opposite.) Writers and prophets share the same purpose. We proclaim God's message. Even something as unlikely as romance and fantasy can do this.

The Good News version of 1Cor 14: 3 says "The one who proclaims God's message speaks to people and gives them help, encouragement and comfort." Even a good romance story can do that in its own way!

I loved the comments and feedback on my post about dual blogs. I'd been intending to diversify and begin another blog but have decided to stick with just one for the time being. It's new name, Faith, Family and Fiction reflects all of my passions. (Homeschooling will be including Family to stick with the alliteration). After this post I can clearly see how they can easily overlap anyway, so if I had two blogs, I'd find it tricky to work out where to put them. Hence my decision to stick with one for now.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A lesson in perspective (or rude awakening)

Here's a funny little episode just before Easter.

My 10yo daughter needed a new pair of shoes so we visited Spendless, our cheapest shoe store. And after trying several pairs, I decided on a nice little white leather pair with cute buttons on their buckles. But when we got to the car, Emma didn't seem completely happy. She grumbled, "I don't like those buttons. They look so old-ladyish to me." We all assured her that we didn't think so at all.

Then today we visited a friend of mine in her mid-30s who has little twin baby girls who Emma loves. This friend noticed Emma's new shoes and said, "I had a pair exactly the same but they've just broken and I was a bit sad." So on the way home I tried to comfort Emma. "See, April had exactly the same pair so they're not old-ladyish at all."

Emma gave me a sideways look that spoke volumes. She said, "Mum, you and April are old. I want to wear shoes that people aged 15 to 20 would wear." And she rattled off a list of young girls in the music or movie scene whose footwear she'd rather pattern. So there we have it. When we move into our 30s we have no idea that our fingers are no longer quite on the pulse until our daughters let us know. To me, old-ladyish shoes would be the slip-on type my mother, who is now in her 70s, would wear. A timely reminder that I've left the young, trendy generation some time ago. But when I think back to the angst I used to suffer then, I don't think I'd really want to be there.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Multiple Blogs

As you may have gathered from my extended absence, the editing continues. But this is not about that saga.

I've been thinking of beginning another blog after reading an article about the benefit of multiple blogs. The man who wrote it believes that every blogger should keep one blog for each of his passions. He says this inspires us to keep up to date with each of our passions. It pushes us to keep learning because we can only post something on our blogs if we do. The responsibility to update our blogs gives us the necessary pressure to keep learning.

I found this interesting because I'd been thinking this blog is a bit of a mongrel, so to speak. Even before I came across this article, I knew there was no theme to it. I talk about homeschooling issues, about writing and about my faith and family. If I really want to take his idea to the extreme, I could have four blogs, one for each of the above. But that makes me baulk straight away. Sometimes it's enough to upkeep one blog, let alone four!

But I was toying with the idea of beginning a brand new blog specifically about creative writing to encourage all writers, because I believe we are a forgotten, hardworking part of the population who really needs encouraging. I'm sure I could find enough to say about the subject to keep a blog going. I'd keep this current blog for faith and family posts. And I'd begin a brand new blog about writing. But my question is this. Would people necessarily want to read two blogs by me?

I know some of you have been keeping two blogs successfully for months, even years. What I want to ask my multiple blogging friends is this? Do you feel keeping two blogs is worth the effort? Do you get traffic to each of them? And if I started a new blog on writing, would you visit it? Will be interested to see what you have to say.

I can think of few friends who each keep two very different themed blogs