Posted in books, Marly Recs Books, my thoughts, YA series

Marly Recommends Books – New Blog ideas

I’m going to start a monthly/weekly/whenever book recommendation post.  So here’s the first one.
Only the best YA series ever written, by Australian author, John Marsden.  
The Tomorrow Series (seven books) is about a group of teenagers who go camping one holidays and return to find that they have been invaded by another country.  
The books pose the question of what would you do if something like this happened to you? And how would a bunch of ordinary every day Aussie kids survive in a war/invasion. 
Told from the point of view of Ellie Linton this series is powerful and moving and asks the hard questions whilst staying true to what these teens would be going through normally with puberty and feelings and everything else.  
I’ve read the series so many times I’m surprised I don’t know it off by heart. Definitely one I recommend, wholeheartedly.
(I read these for the first time in the late 90s/early noughties when I was in my early teens and then read them again over the ensuing years and when they put out the movie several years ago for the first book, I was so excited and the film didn’t disappoint)
Posted in 2015, fiction, my writing

The Uprising – Chapter Four [Finally!]

1.     The partial or total absence of light
2.     Wickedness or evil
Joshua reckons I’m a nerd.  I can’t help it that I’ve read the dictionary a hundred times over.  Words are fascinating.  And I like to write.  Today’s Word of the Day…darkness.  I don’t think I ever thought too hard about what that meant until I met Pips.  He’s an intriguing personality.  Argumentative, yet tender-hearted; loud, brash with a mouth that’s probably been washed with soap countless times, but willing to lend a hand at all times.  Contemplative, melancholic but exhibiting a sense of joy that I haven’t seen in another person since. 
I know, I know…I shouldn’t tell you all this straight away.  Should feed you description piecemeal.  But, I think it’s important to acknowledge what kind of person he was from the beginning. 
I guess this is kind of an obituary of sorts.  Tough to write, cathartic though.  Necessary.  It’s taken me a while to process what happened in our shared pasts. 
You see, being the ‘kid’ of the operation was exhausting, especially when I felt I had a lot more to contribute.  I like to believe that Pips gave me that out.  He recognised the kindred spirit within me and gave me free reign to make my own decisions, and face the consequences of my actions.  Of which there were many.  Not all bad, but not all good.
The first time meeting him was an awkward experience.  It wasn’t even something I’d expected.  I was out the front of the house, mowing the lawn when I heard raised voices from the neighbours and loud barking.  Mum told me later on that Elliott’s new puppy was the biggest mongrel going…not that I ever came to agree with that sentiment.  But, that’s not really important. 
The dog died at any rate.  Lachlan ended up having to shoot it to save us…but that’s a story for another time.
I went to investigate, God alone knows why.  I’m not given to being nosy at the best of times.  Elliott was out the front with a man that I think everyone would recognise.  The face of a criminal was always made well known in the City. 
Phillip Preston.  His face was plastered all over the city; wanted posters mainly.  His most striking feature those luminous eyes.  The darkness in their depths commanded attention, and received it.  Whenever I rode passed them on my bike, I couldn’t help but be drawn to his gaze.  Forever trying to decipher the emotions with them.  Something I tend to do with everyone, to be honest…
However, I hadn’t known that he was related to my neighbour, not until the reports on the news said that he’d been paroled.  Who could even imagine someone such as Pips McGee – I’ll come back to that name later by the way…he is a Preston after all – would be the brother of someone as strait laced as Elliott Preston.  Though, even Elliott ended up surprising me. 
Elliott looked over, catching my eye as Pips, who was the one doing the yelling, ranted at him.  Something about how the guards at The Astor were a bunch of “mothereffing bastards” who wouldn’t know how to shoot anyone even if they had targets painted on their foreheads.  Awkward. 
Elliott lifted a hand in my direction, I nodding in return because that was the polite thing to do.  Elliott came over, leaving his brother to keep going.
“Hey, kid.”
I smiled, glancing over at Pips.  “I didn’t realise…”
“The City Bomber is my brother?” Elliott shook his head.  “He’s always unexpected.  Came into this world a surprise.  Probably leave it that way, too.”  That was definitely the truth…
Leaning against the fence, I observed him for a moment.  Pips tugged a bag from the back of Elliott’s truck, propping it against the side of the vehicle, still muttering to himself.  In person, he didn’t seem as intimidating as the media portrayed him, but it wasn’t as if I’d ever met him.  Not sure how that could be since Elliott had lived next to us since I was really little.
“He’s never lived with me.” Well, that would explain that…
I looked at Elliott.
He sighed.  “Pips spent most of his time in trouble.  He’s that square peg trying to fit in a round hole.  Doesn’t fit.”  Elliott grimaced.  “I’m just glad he didn’t go the way others are…have gone.” I noticed his correction and knew why, grimacing myself.
“We don’t talk about Lachlan.” 
“Figures.  I’m sorry, kid.”
There was a pause then. 
I’m not sure what it was, but there was something that Elliott wasn’t saying.  The fact that he was even bringing up my cousin was odd in itself.  I was aware they were long-time friends, but Elliott was as sentimental as a brick.
“I don’t let it get to me.  Got my own life to think about.” Though that didn’t stop me from thinking things that I knew I shouldn’t.  Lachlan’s impending execution…the fact that he even got arrested.  Not something I would admit to spending my thoughts on.
Elliott chuckled and said, “We all do.  But, having a criminal in the family makes you see society a little differently.”  He slapped a hand against the railing then turned to head back to his brother. 
I thought about his parting words and that word ‘darkness’ came to my mind again.  Society was a lot darker these days.  And I don’t even know what it was that made it feel that way.  It hadn’t directly affected me, and even with Lachlan’s incarceration it still wasn’t something that made any difference to my life. 
Until Elliott turned around and came back to the fence and asked me if I wanted to come over for a drink. 
Now, when Elliott asks you in for a drink the one thing you don’t do is refuse.  The thing is, his invitation is never about the actual act of drinking.  It’s a pretext to something a lot more important.  I found that out that fateful day…
Ha.  Fateful day.  It’s still difficult to get my head around why I even walked through the door, accepting his invitation.  Perhaps my mind was still in turmoil over my cousin’s predicament.  Subconsciously speaking.  Perhaps it was just mere curiosity; or sheer bloody mindedness.  Who knows?  I walked through that door…into…well, into a neat, uncluttered space that was confronting in its tidiness.  Even more so when you consider that the abode looked like the home of a little old granny, and not two thirty-something year old men.  One a bounty hunter and the other a criminal.
Flower-printed pottery lined the bench and the fresh aroma of…
“Is that bread I smell?” I asked, stupidly. 
Elliott’s lips twitched in a semblance of a smile.  “Baked it this morning.  Pips eats it.” 
I nodded, casting my eyes around the room.  A small round table took up the central area with three chairs spaced around it.  The glass top reflected the light of a row of globes that hung from the ceiling.  The most notable objects in the room though were upon that table.  Weapons.  Firearms of assorted variety.  Small, large, some quite clunky and old-fashioned others sleek and glinting metallically in their modernity. 
Blinking several times, I tried to come up with something to say as Elliott walked over and lifted what I recognised to be a shorn-off shotgun.  Words escaped me for the first time in my life.  Good thing he decided to explain.
“We’ve got a plan, kid.” He picked up a rag and started to rub it along the length of the barrel. 
I lifted an eyebrow.  “Plan to do what?”
Elliott sighed, glancing over at Pips who was busy making some toast.  His brother’s eyes flickered to the side then refocused on the task at hand. 
“Your cousin.  You close?”
I wasn’t sure where he was going with this line of questioning but I decided honesty was the best policy here.
“We used to be.  But, then he started going a little strange…” If you could call breaking all contact with the family and subversively trying to break the law going a little strange.
“Right,” Elliott rolled his eyes.  “Anyway, the plan is this…”
After he outlined his thoughts, I wasn’t quite sure whether I was hearing clearly, or not.  Breaking Lachlan out of the Astor didn’t sound like the genius plan that he made it out to sound.  It was definitely preferable to the only other outcome, though. 
You never wanted to lose family…

Posted in my thoughts

Something that has bothered me for some time…

Hillsong is, I believe, the largest Church in Australia, and with that it has garnered a lot of publicity.  Not all of it positive.  

Now hear me out before you start claiming that I’m like the blind following the blind.  
In recent years, especially around the timing of the Hillsong Conferences that now occur in many different countries, the media has trotted out insider stories that allege that several incidents have occurred within the Church and still does occur.  Incidents pertaining to alleged abuse and so on have been aired by the media and there are claims that the leaders are covering it up.  
And perhaps these allegations are true.  But, what bothers me is that the people trying to expose the Church for these incidents don’t seem to have any other proof than just a particular insider who is no longer part of the church.   One person out of many.  
Sure, perhaps there are other people who haven’t come forward to say something but perhaps it’s out of fear.  Or, maybe even a bigger perhaps is that they have learned to have a heart like Jesus and forgive what has been done.  
It takes a bigger person to forgive than to condemn.  
The other thing that bothers me is the average atheist out there who doesn’t understand what Hillsong Church is really about and just demonise the whole church and call it a cult without realising how damaging such a label is.  I’ve watched news stories about actual cults and Hillsong is nothing like them.  They don’t even have cultic tendencies.  
Hillsong has given millions to global causes and their ministries have changed many people’s lives for the better.  Their music ministry is inspiring on many levels and the difference they strive to make in this world by bringing the name of Jesus into people’s lives? In the hope that they will accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?  I thank God for that.
Everything Hillsong does points to Jesus.  It’s the media who makes it otherwise.  
Quit listening to the haters.  They only speak lies because they fear the truth.  
Posted in Church, integrity, Message notes, note taking

Tim Healy – Integrity

My thoughts and notes as Tim was preaching yesterday at church.

The call of God on our lives to live with integrity.

Luke 10: 2-3 
As disciples of Jesus we are sent out as lambs amongst wolves.  
Following Jesus is about surrendering your life.  Not necessarily improving your life.
The reward far outweighs the risk but there is a risk. 
There should be an element of Discernible difference in our lives.
Why?  Because we’re surrounded by moral relativity these days.
Trust is the lifeblood of relationships.
Integrity provides security 
Integrity is something we all have
The 4 dimensions of integrity:
1. Show consistency – integrity is about being the same on the outside as is the reality on the inside. 
Matthew 23:3-1, 27-28
Same person no matter who you are with or where you are. 
2. Speak truthfully – deal honestly with people.  Be honest.  
Ephesians 4:25
Proverbs 28:6
3.  Act rightly – integrity does the right thing for no other reason than that is is right.
Ephesians 6:1-6
Integrity is doing the right thing with only God on our mind
4. Accept responsibility – accept that we have to be accountable. 
Integrity is not about being perfect, it’s about acknowledging that we are not.
Psalm 78:72 
Living with real integrity. 
The key is to submerge our lives into God’s grace
Divine enablement to achieve God’s purposes in this world.  
2 Corinthians 1:12
Posted in 2015, Blogging, blogging the important stuff, Christian Album of the Year, Hawk Nelson, Music, my thoughts, my writing

Diamonds in the Rough – 2015 Album of the Year Nominee – Part 2

Here’s part two of my thoughts on Hawk Nelson’s Diamonds.

Thank God for Something 

“1, 2, 3, 4 count my blessings…
If you’ve got a lot or a lot of nothing 
Go ahead and thank God for something…”

A light, catchy track that starts the second half of the album in a way that reminds you to be forever grateful.  Grateful to God, no matter the season. That’s what the song is about.  After all it’s so true that we sometimes forget to thank God during our seasons of plenty; sometimes we only rely on God when we’re desperate. 

Count On You

Another punchy track with pop sensibilities espousing the fact that God is someone we can trust wholeheartedly.  Our faith is well founded when it comes to trusting in God.

Not as strong as the other tracks on the album, still one that will get you singing along to whilst thinking about the poweful lyrics.

Made to Live 

This song is anthemic.  This song is a declaration of God’s purposes for Creating us.  I can’t do anything but share the lyrics to the whole song, because they truly speak for themselves.

With every star You’ve hung up in the sky
You were leaving Your fingerprints
And when You brought my heart to life
You were leaving Your fingerprints
I know I’m here for a reason
And there’s a purpose in every season
Cause You got me, got me believing
Oh You got me, got me believing

I was made to live
I was made to live
I was made to live
For You
I was born for this
Not to just exist
I was made to live
For You

So if I could learn to love the way You do
I’ll be leaving Your fingerprints
And when I stand for what is true
I’ll be leaving Your fingerprints
And my heart it might take a beating
Sometimes this blood is for bleeding
And I know I’m here for a reason
Oh You got me, got me believing

I was made to live
I was made to live
I was made to live
For You
I was born for this
Not to just exist
I was made to live
For You

So I’ll give it all I have
Till nothing’s left
I’m not holding back
A single breath

Cause I was made to live
I was made to live
I was made to live
For You
I was born for this
Not to just exist
I was made to live
For You

Straight Line 

This song has been hard for me to pin down my thoughts on; but, I think it’s about walking the path that God has laid out for me and, at least, attempting not to stray from it. It’s about living the life that God has purposed for me; it’s about accepting Jesus and shining His light to the world.  Or that’s what I’m getting from the lyrics.

Only You 

In the materialistic world that we live in it is wonderful to be reminded that all of the things in our lives matter not.  It is only God who can fulfill us for real.  It is only God who can fix everything in this world.

‘Cause only You can fill my heart
The way You do
Only You can take what’s worn
And make it new
So I’ll take all these broken dreams
And petty things
Replace them with something that’s true
I’ll take them replace them with You

Closing thoughts

So please,
Jesus would You come close
Jesus would You come close
Jesus would You come close

And stay right here
I need You more than I know
I need You more than I know
So Jesus would You come close

I love that the album ends with a prayer to Jesus.  A prayer for Him to come close and an admission of how much He is needed.  Because that rings so true.  I need God’s love every day of my life.  
Posted in 50 Day Blogging Challenge, Blogging, blogging the important stuff, my thoughts

50 Day Challenge – Day 3

The next book you see that has over 300 pages, open up to page 136. Find a sentence you like, copy it down, and then write about it.
“But as for certain truth, no man has known it, nor will he know it…” – Xenophanes  

The thought that comes to mind when I read the above words is that I don’t agree with them.  I believe that God has revealed His ultimate truth.  HE is the ultimate truth.  He doesn’t just embody truth, He is truth.

So, this quote is definitely mot the truth. In fact it’s a lie.

Thinking of lies and truths, I wonder if people who are amazing writers are also really good at lying?  Or at least, very good at twisting the truth?

Also, omitting information is not necessarily lying.  It’s just not telling people everything.  I think my head hurts way too much to seriously contemplate the intricacies of communication.  

Posted in Blogging, life, my thoughts

Update on Life

So, I kind of gave up on the July blog challenge, but I thought I’d take some time to update you all on my life.  
It’s July.  Less than two months until I get married. I’ve been at CBELC for almost seven months.  Simple Plan release their fifth studio album this year and life in general just looks up.  
Yes, Simple Plan is in my update.  So, what?  They’re probably as much a part of my life as my faith is.  I’m not being defensive about it.  It’s just that maybe some people might think I’m a tad obsessive about them.  
Speaking of Simple Plan and being obsessed:  I really want to get back into my writing.  But my muses aren’t cooperating… Which sucks… 
These four need to wake up and give me a little inspiration.  Especially EP.  Would be nice.
I have two stories I particularly need inspiration for.  The Baker Tapes and The Uprising.  The first one is the sequel to my favourite Avenged Sevenfold fanfiction that I wrote, Shadows Creed.  Major writers block is happening on that one.  I know where I want to go with it, I just need to get there.  

The Uprising is my original story which is based on Shadows Creed.  

I know where I want this story to go as well, but inspiration is hard to come by.  My mind is probably too full with life at the moment that fictional worlds don’t have room to flourish.  Which kind of makes sense in a way.  Stories were my way of occupying my mind when I was feeling too alone.  Now I have people in my life that fill those spaces.
But, the introvert in me still loves those moments of solitude with my muses.  Unless I’m spending it with God.  
Haha that just got deep.  Maybe I oughta write something centred around my faith…using my original McTavish muse?  
Who knows.  All I know is that right now I’m having my McGarrett/O’Loughlin fix and life is good.

Posted in 30 day blogging, Blogging, July blogging, my thoughts

July Blog challenge – Days 8/9

How do you invision your life being in 5 years?

Great question.  Now that I’m getting married in less than three months I think it would be safe to say that in 5 years I will be content in a secure and loving marriage with the man God brought into my life.  And we may very well have children.  Or at least one child.  
And Mark will have his dream of a cafe that makes a difference up and running and I will be working with children in some capacity or other.  That’s what I invision.  God willing.
What’s your food philosophy?

What the heck is a good philosophy?
I eat when I’m hungry and that’s about it.  I try to eat a balanced diet but it can be difficult.  And I don’t believe in dieting. Everything in moderation is good.  Even chocolate. 
Oh and I could not ever become a vegetarian.  
Posted in Blogging, July, my thoughts

July 30 day blog challenge – Day 7

If you could live any time period, when would it be and why?

Wow, that’s an interesting question.  I honestly think I’d choose my own time period because though the past fascinates me I think we’re better off overall now.  Sure that may seem like a cop out to the question but I’m just being honest. 
Though maybe I’d choose to be born in the 70s and grow up in the 80s.  Rather than in the 90s.  Just because it was before all the technological advances really hit.  
Posted in 30 day blogging, Blogging, July, my thoughts

July 30 Day Blog Challenge – Day 6

If you could spend 15 minutes with any celebrity, who would it be and why? 

Tough question, because in a way I’ve already spent more than 15 minutes with a celebrity but then again I don’t really consider the guys in Simple Plan as celebrities.
So, maybe I would say Alex O’Loughlin of Hawaii Five-0 because he’s my favourite Aussie Actor and I would want to pick his brain about Five-0 and being an Aussie in  a U.S. dominated entertainment industry.  
Also, because I’ve got a tiny crush on him.  I cannot lie.  Haha.  
Oh and I want to know whether he prefers AFL or cricket.  😉