Monday, August 24, 2009

The Coffee Pot

I love stories that make points. I also have the background of a classic worrier. I was brought up that way. My parents are great but they have always been either tied up with some problem or fear, or else searching for one, because life is just too weird and empty for them when there isn't something to worry about. It's interesting that patterns like this, which aren't formally taught, are the sorts of lessons that kids 'catch.' For several years, fearful possibilities have seemed to zoom into my head without my going out of my way to think of them. Even though I've come a long way, I still have to be on my guard.

As I approach my 40th birthday in December (I was born on Christmas Eve 1969), I'm aiming to weed this sort of catastrophic thinking out of my brainwaves completely. At the moment I have to admit that even though I've developed skills to deal with them when they come up, I'd far prefer it if they stopped coming up needing to be dealt with. But I know that would take nothing short of some sort of brain transplant. I know that is possible, and that the key to this is in the Biblical instruction to let our minds be renewed. So I decided that if this is to be achieved, the Word of God in the Bible is going to have to be the means of doing it. People like me (and maybe some of you) are the sort of people who have to make a full-on decision that God's Word is true, His promises found within are certain, and no circumstances will make us think the opposite.

So here's this story about the coffee pot that makes me understand the thing is possible. It's from a book called "Overcoming Doubt" by Neil T Anderson.

"Think of your mind as a coffee pot. You desire the water inside to be pure but unfortunately you have added coffee grounds. There is no way to filter out the coffee once it has been added so the water inside becomes dark and polluted. Sitting beside the coffee pot is a huge bowl of crystal-clear ice which represents the Word of God. You can only put in one or two cubes so your efforts at clearing up the dark, polluted water seem futile at first. But over the course of time the water begins to look less polluted. When you taste the water to which you once added coffee grounds you can hardly taste or smell the presence of coffee anymore. The process works provided you stop putting in more coffee grounds."

He assures us that the was is winnable. But we must fill our minds with the crystal-clear word of God. There is no alternative plan. Just trying to stop thinking fearful thoughts won't work. And rebuking obsessive thoughts alone won't work either. So I'm continuing the process of replacing those coffee grounds daily and at the end of the year, we'll see how far I've come.

Oh, off the topic, the cover design for my new book "A Design of Gold" is now up on my website, in the toolbar under New Book Coming Soon. Please see what you think of it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Tourist's Eyes

I was feeling a bit homebound lately. Not homeward bound but bound to the home. For months we've been meaning to take off for a quick get-away. A few opportunities have come up but fallen through. My sister and her boys were going to stay at a holiday house near Mount Gambier and we were going to join them, but they decided to go somewhere else with other people instead. Then my in-laws invited us to stay at a holiday house at Whyalla with them but Andrew was busy with his master builder's course and a few other work related things so we didn't go. (My sister-in-law and her family, who did manage to go, tell us they had a wonderful relaxing time.)

I was brought up with parents who loved to take holidays. I've been as far as Europe with Mum and Dad. Then Andrew and I have tried to take driving breaks whenever we could, one of the most memorable being up to the Sunshine Coast of Queensland and back down the coast with the kids in 2004. It makes me feel restless not going. I even bought a luggage set which was for sale at a terrific discount a few weeks ago which makes my feet feel even itchier. And I started feeling sorry for Blake, my youngest, because he hasn't had the travelling opportunities that Logan and Emma had. When we did that wonderful trip, he was only two months old.

However, last week I met a friend who I never catch up with very often at a coffee shop on our own main street. She suggested we meet at a lovely little place I've never been into before. It has quite a small shop front so I'd never even noticed it. It's called Sazon Cafe and has a real feel of the Meditteranean about it. The little alcove I sat in has a mirror on the wall which reflected the colourful leadlight window with its morning sunshine perfectly. And the scrumptious drink I had seemed straight from the movie, Chocolat! It was called Mexican hot cholocate, and was full of exotic spices. So I went away feeling as if at least I had a mini-break.

Still feeling refreshed when I got home, I took the kids up for a long hike on top of our own local Mount Lofty Summit. It was a lovely bright winter's day with the beginning of a spring feeling in the air. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom, the panoramic view from up high is fantastic and even Logan, who'd been a bit annoyed at being dragged away from Saturday afternoon football, enjoyed himself. We went into the tourist centre, which has a great outdoor lookout over the whole of Adelaide far down beneath us. Not a bad day out for just the cost of a $2 car park.

Andrew was busy that day and hadn't been able to join us so yesterday, when he had a day off, we took another walk in the local Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, which has all sorts of rugged hiking trails. We can see that the bushes, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, will be out in full colour in a matter of weeks so we'll go back then too.

It made me remember that last week, when I was invited to speak at a ladies group event with two other authors, the lady who'd organised it asked to say about why I chose our own local Adelaide Hills as settings for my novels. After thinking about it, I said that I'd taken Jane Austen's advice to heart. She said to write about what you were most familiar with. I love reading books that are set in exotic places, but if I stick to what I know, I could be helping make the Adelaide Hills an exotic place for others. I often see artists set up their easels here, so I'd like to do it justice with my own medium; words. I've never come across many other novels that are set in my part of the world. We can all try to put our own area on the map in our own way.

So if we can't get away, the next best thing is to try looking at your own area through touristy sort of eyes. (We do hope to make it away for the week in the beginning of September, though. We'll have to see what happens.)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Watermelon Seeds

OK, my busy few days continued on into a busy week. Rochelle, my new publisher and friend, stayed with us for two days and nights while she helped me get "Light the Dark" started. That is a party plan based business which sells Christian products created by Australian authors and artists. I am one of the South Australian reps. I will be taking my wonderful bag of products around to show ladies (and/or gentlemen) at gatherings. I am very excited about it.

But I'm the sort of person who needs a fair bit of quiet space. If there is too much sustained excitement, my head spins. I've sometimes felt guilty about that, but it's never changed so I've had to carefully examine my priorities and schedule this week. If I keep a calm head and focus on each of these commitments in their own turn without worrying about the others, I'll be right. My passions are God, my family and my writing, which I believe He's given me to do. I now consider "Light the Dark" part of helping promote my own writing along with the skills of others. I also teach Blake's Sunday School class, King's Kids, in three week blocks every few months. None of this is particularly easy, but I believe they are all worthwhile things that will bear fruit.

I remembered how a lady speaker I heard told us how annoyed she used to get eating watermelon because she had to spit out the seeds and it seemed so fiddly. She preferred eating to be quick and easy. So she was pleased when the seedless watermelon variety was produced and couldn't wait to get stuck into a juicy slab. Yet this turned out to be relatively tasteless compared to the sweeter, juicier red melon with seeds that she was used to. I agree with her on that. Even the colour of the normal watermelon with seeds is bolder and more ruby-red. She found out that the seedless watermelon varieties are sterile. Once eaten, that's the finish of them. The producers have to engineer more. She now sticks to watermelon with seeds.

Her point was that it's the same with the work we do. Satan tempts us with easy stuff which may require more pleasure and less effort than other things. This turns out to be sterile in the end. That work that God plans for us is bound to be filled with a aggravating seeds but if we stick to it faithfully, it leads to life.

I've been reading "Anne of Avonlea" with my daughter at night and quote Anne Shirley, who declared that "Everything worth having takes some work"