Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy  

12.12.09

What would you do with a million dollars? More importantly, what would you do for a million dollars? Beautiful Gypsy girl Janeal Mikkado is faced with a choice, and her father's fate rests in her hands. She makes a choice and lays her plans, but something went wrong. Terribly wrong. Retribution is swift and terrible, the whole kumpania is burned to the ground, and Janeal's entire life is turned to smoke. She flees and sets up a new life for herself, wanting nothing more than to forget the past. Fifteen years later, though, old ghosts begin to rise from the ash. Janeal was not the only survivor of the Mikkado Massacre as she had believed. Her boyfriend Robert and her best friend Katie also survived, and between them they have the power to destroy Janeal's new life. They know her secret. What lengths will Janeal go to to protect her carefully crafted hiding place? What will she do to be able to forget? And is there any second chance for Judas?

~~~~~

I've read a lot of reviews on this book, and almost every one said it was better than Kiss, Ted and Erin's other co-authored book. I was a little skeptical myself, because Kiss had a more instantly gripping plot line to my view. Having actually read Burn now though, I find myself having to eat my words. Burn is indeed even better than Kiss was, hard to believe as that may be. Burn is a tale of regret, loss, and second chances; a story of three friends suddenly faced with their past and with the present, and with what to do with the future and each other; a story of the struggle between the John and the Judas in all of us. A beautiful novel, seamlessly weaving the fast-paced thriller we've come to expect from Ted with the slower, deeper emotion we were introduced to in Kiss.

I can't wait for more from these two! There are no planned colabberations in the future as far as I'm aware, but Erin's first solo book, Never Let You Go is due to come out in the coming months! Hooray for new books! I'm very excited for this, if you can't tell. I'm very interested to see what what Erin has up her sleeve.

Burn is set for general release in January 2010. Find Ted Dekker's fan page at href="http://www.teddekker.com"> and Erin Healy's at href="http://www.erinhealy.com">

And of course, can't forget Facebook. If you're a fan of either author or both, or just a little bit interested, you can't miss these links. Find Ted at href="http://www.facebook.com/teddekker"> and Erin at href="http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Erin-Healy/59683195940">

And definitely read all the books you can by these guys. Very cool stuff :)

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Anxiety does not become me :P  

6.12.09

It's pretty much eleven at night and I'm desperately tired, but I can't sleep. I mean, I probably COULD, but I can't. I'm worried about a friend of mine... I know she's unwell, but I don't know how unwell. Optimistically she'll be fine, possibility she'll die tonight. And I have no way of knowing until/if she mesages me and says, "Hey, I'm fine."
I'm trying to be patient. I'm trying to just pray and leave it in G-d's hands. But it's not easy, you know? I really care about this girl. And I know there's absolutely nothing I can do for her, I know that it's totally in G-d's hands and the HE knows what He's doing, and that I shouldn't worry, I don't need to worry. I know. Worrying won't help her.
But I'm worried anyway. I love you, Princess. Don't leave us tonight, please?

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Mixed feelings  

9.11.09

I'm just over a week into this thing, and I'm falling behind. I should theoretically have almost 15,000 words now, and I barely have 12,000. On the other hand, I've written 12,000 words in a week! That's amazing! I will see this out. I will, through sheer stubbornness if neccessary, win this thing. I will not be beaten.
But I also want to sleep at some point. And read books, and watch movies, and take naps on the lawn. If I can do this though, if I can win NaNo, I can do anything I want. Not strictly true perhaps, but a very good lie ;)

Also, GREATBIGHUGEEXCITING NEWS! I wn an ARC of Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy today. My day is MADE :D

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*penguin-dance*  

2.11.09

I can sooo do this. I'm way slower than most of the others, but I can do it. My handy word count predictor thingummy is green and burbling about 55k words by the end of the month (it was red and screaming about 30k this morning) and I have under 400 words to finish today's quota. I'm about 4 hours ahead of yesterday, and I took a nap and did chores today that I'd put of yesterday. I can even get ahead now, and make up for the days I'll have to miss, or not have as much time to write in!

I'm buzzing, in case you can't tell ^_^

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#hallelujah!  

1.11.09

I did it! 1688/1667 for day 1!


This is gonna be a long month, but I'm slightly (very slightly) ahead. I can do this! And, thanks to Cody, I have some slightly more interesting stuffs happening! I AM INVINCIBLE! *dozes off*

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Head -> wall  

I'm three quarters of a day in. What the heck was I thinking? I write like a snail! I've been dedicatedly staring at my screen for hours, and I have exactly 510 words. That's from a daily word count of 1,667. I am so dead. I can't do this! I don't write novels! I write sporadic blog posts and occasional random chapters of never-to-be-finished stories. I already want to trash about half of my stupid retarded book. I keep telling myself to leave it alone, wait till December, I can tear it apart at the seams and stomp it into the ground then. Now it's time to write, to win. Why is writing in this blog so easy when writing in my novel is so hard?

Doesn't matter. I'll get there if I have to ..whatever..

I'll win.

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Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado with Max Lucado  

29.10.09

Redefining Beautiful is about.. well.. just that. Learning to see ourselves as beautiful, and exploring what beauty really is in a world turned upside down by unrealistic standards. Jenna says that a foundational beauty secret is a fathers love, and shows us that whether we have devoted dads or not-so-great dads, we already have the perfect Dad, who can make us whole.

I really enjoyed this book, though I wasn't sure what to expect at first. Christian 'beauty' books so often emphasise spiritual beauty to the exclusion of physical beauty, and I find that unsatisfying. Yes, inner beauty is greatly important, but I want to BE beautiful, on the outside. Redefining Beautiful had a beautiful balance and perspective I've never seen elsewhere, and I'd say it's definitely the best book I've read on the subject.

At one point in this book, Jenna says that she is sometimes afraid she'll be defined as 'Max Lucado's Daughter' rather than 'Jenna Lucado'. To be perfectly honest, I did in fact prejudge her as 'Max's daughter' and expected her book to be like his books. I was proved wrong, and I'm glad of it. So, if you ever read this Jenna, I'm sorry. Thanks for the reminder.

I definitely would recommend this book to all girls, and to all their dads. I think it's a message we all need to hear.



***********
I'm a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program, if you're interested in joining or looking for more information, chek out http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

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Ooh shiny free stuff yay!  

16.9.09

I just found this great program that Thomas Nelson Publishers run! They give me free books, I give them reviews of the books. If you wanna play too, I've included a link in the title of this post. I've just requested my first book, so I guess it'll be about two weeks till it gets here. Watch this space for my first review!

It'll be Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado wih Max Lucado.

I hope you're happy Brandon :P

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Shabbat thoughts  

11.7.09

The following is adapted from an email I sent to a friend on Shabbat, and why I believe it still stands, so to speak...

The italics are a quote from the email he sent me that I'm replying to, and the bold is just to seperate the Scripture from what I'm saying. Thoughts?

Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. I take this to mean that the Sabbath was actually a blessing from God to man—the gift of a day of rest—rather than a requirement of God upon men. This suggests that there is some discretion as to how we receive this gift, and if resting and doing nothing would actually be harmful in some circumstances (such as if the disciples were hungry on the Sabbath, or if someone needed healing), then it is better to do something that is good for people than simply rest.

I would agree with that. The thing is, though, that the Sabbath was set aside as holy well before the Law was given. Genesis 2:1-3 says

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

To me it seems that, even though it's not always possible or good to abstain from work, the seventh day, the Shabbat, is still holy. On a holy day it makes sense that it's ok to do that which is holy. What is holy? the work of G-d, I would say. Helping people, healing people, all those things, are good and acceptable and holy. But Shabbat is still a set apart day. It is a time to pause and to remember and to rest and to worship. Even if it's only spiritual rest and not physical rest, the Sabbath is both a holy day and a blessed day. And a day of rest.

People interperate that different ways. I know one person who tries not to work at all on the Sabbath, and I know others who will do only volunteer work and not paid work, and I know still others who work right through with barely a pause. For me, I'm happy to volunteer or help someone out or do work around the house on Shabbat, but I'm not entirely comfortable with working in a paid position. I know and accept that other people may disagree with that.

I would say at the least though, we need to pause and remember. At least that. Shabbat is a time of letting go of tsouris (stress, trouble, burdens), and of just..taking a deep breath and saying thank you. I know that's appropriate any day, but that's what Shabbat is as well.

A friend on a forum I'm on posts a shabbat blessing every week, and it's the high point of my week. You read it and you can feel the stress literally melting. It's a reminder to stop and listen, and to know and to remember.

Anyhow, that's what Shabbat is. A chance to be still and know the He is G-d. And I wouldn't give that up for anything.

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The great Dante debate  

10.5.09

Yes, it's moved off the forums and into the blogs. I'm only posting this here because several people have asked for my opinion, and why I hold that opinion. I feel no need to withhold Dante's name because 1, it's only a username anyway, 2, anyone from MP knows who I'm talking bout anyway, and 3, anyone NOT from MP doesn't know or care who Dante is or why we're having a debate about him.

I want to say now that I'm NOT complaining about the admins or their decisions, whatever those decisions might be. This is a tough question, and I don't envy them having to answer it. The question, of course, is should Dante be allowed to remain on MP, and why?

Obviously the solution everyone would like is that Dante remains on the boards, but learns some manners. Equally obvious is the fact that unless there's a huge miracle, it's just not going to happen. I would like to see Dante remain on the boards, if for no other reason than that a voice of dissent is good for us. Even if he doesn't make us question our beliefs, he certainly challenges us to put them into practice. Loving one another is easy when everyone loves us back. But it gets tougher if the person we are trying to love treats us badly. Are we not called to love our enemy and do good to them that hate us? But then, as Hollie said, banning him is an act of discipline and does not mean we don't love him.

Then we have the point that we can't just delete people from life. We all have to deal with unreasonable people in real life, so it's a bit unrealistic to keep trying to delete them from our online lives. All we end up with then is a stale, stagnant pool of people. And then again, sometimes we shouldn't seek out certain people's company either.

I can't help thinking though, that G-d is bringing Dante to MP for a reason, though I know if he sees this he'll laugh me out of town. I don't know what that reason is, but.. *shrug*

If we allow it, this whole issue could pull us together and make us stronger. At the moment, it's pulling us apart and weakening us. It's not ok to call others names, it's not ok to drag each other down, and I don't think it's ok for us to divide up into little cliques over this. I would like for Dante to stay, but if the cost is going to prove too high for the benefit, I don't know what to do.

I haven't written this very well. I'm unhappy with it. But I'ma post it anyway. If you have questions or comments, by all means bring them up, it might help me clarify my thinking a little more.

And I will respect the admin's decision, whether in the end I agree or no.

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Birds-Eye View  

17.3.09

Tiny cardboard houses between tissue paper trees and grey felt roads. That's what it looked like, just a model city. An incredibly detailed and tiny model city. It wasn't, of course. It was Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland and a hugely popular tourist destination. My home. But from the air, everything looks tiny. Fascinating and detailed, like somebody spent many many hours carefully handcrafting each building and tree and road, and then set it all in motion. Really quite amazing. I was sitting next to Renata, sharing a window with her and craning my neck at an awkward angle to see out, and she said to me, “It's weird to think that once we get down there, we will be tiny people to all the planes too.” And I just thought, 'Wow! That's kind of deep, I need to think about this one.'
There were actually two things I got out of that birds-eye view. The first is that mankind thinks too highly of itself in general. We think, 'Look what I built! My city/tower/warehouse/villa is amazing! Look what I've done!' We get the Babel mentality happening. Build a city, make a name for ourselves. Look at me! Sometimes we get so caght up in the dusty grimy city streets we forget all that's out there. We need to slow down, zoom out, and recapture that sense of awe for all that G-d has done and made and is. Life isn't about us.
The second is that each individual person also often thinks too highly of themselves in comparison to others. To me sitting in that areoplane, I was a normal person, a full-size person, a 'real' person. The others were tiny, insignificant. Mildy interesting to a quick observation, but really barely even in my perception. How often is that the case in everyday life? There's us, then our peer or social group, the other passengers on our plane, so to speak. And then everyone else. Hardly noticable, barely there. Just tiny dots going about their insignificant lives over there somewhere. As long as they keep out of our faces, we're happy to just ignore them.
What is wrong with us? Where is the love of G-d in that? Are we not supposed to shine His love and His light? I know this is easier said than done. I personally have a really, really hard time with it. But that is what we are called to do. To love the unloved, the forgotten ones, all the tiny people that it's so much easier to ignore. Flying over Brisbane, I don't know what the population is. I think around the million mark, maybe more. I don't know almost any of those people. I know maybe thirty people in Brisbane. I hate to admit it, but those other people really mean nothing to me. I don't know them, they don't know me. They're just nameless faces doing various, nameless things. Annonymous. But G-d! He knows them all perfectly! He knows how many hairs on the head of each. He knows their names, their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams. He knows their sins and their struggles and their pain. He loves them, personally and deeply. And He wants us to understand that, and to love them too. They are His children. Just like we are His children. It's time to be a little kinder to strangers. They are people just like us, are loved just like us, and need love. Just like us.

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Temptation  

25.1.09

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6, NIV

When I was younger, I held a grudge against Eve. I guess most people do at some stage or another. After all, if she had just walked away and refused to listen to the serpent, the world wouldn't be in this state, right? It took me along time to realize that in many ways, I am Eve. I don't mean that in a new-agey, the-Bible-is-just-a-spiritual-allegory way, but in the sense that I share her mindset and motivations. A quick look around the nearest shopping mall or in any mainstream magazine will tell you that all of us do. And what were her motivations?

I don't think she deliberately set out to disobey G-d that day. She didn't eat the fruit just because G-d said not to. She ate the fruit because she was thinking in the short term. She didn't want to see the long-term consequences of her actions, though she had been warned of them. She saw what the fruit had to offer now, and made a decision that the entire earth has both regretted and emulated since. What promise did the fruit hold? What was so compelling about it that Eve chose to take her eyes off her Creator and focus on it instead? It held the same empty promises which lead to the same foolish decisions we make today.

First, it was good for food. It wasn't that they didn't have other food. She didn't need that particular food. So why did she choose it over her other foods? I don't know, but I know why we do today, because many of us make that decision too. We fear somehow that the One who granted us life in the first place is unable to sustain it. We many times are afraid to do what G-d has called us to do because we are worried about how we'll live, what we'll wear, what we'll eat. Jesus said not to worry about those things, that if we seek first the kingdom of righteousness, all those things will be added unto us. Maybe Eve forgot that. Maybe we do too.

Second, it was pleasing to the eye. Ah, this one we recognize. It's the feel good mentality that at first glance seems so sweet. After all, why would G-d make something pleasurable if we weren't meant to use it? If it looks good, do it. If it feels good, do it. But that's not what G-d said. Again, it wasn't the only good-looking fruit in the garden. There are many pleasurable things in life that we are meant to enjoy, it's just that there are instructions for their use. Some things are bad for us altogether, and others are good only in certain circumstances or in moderation. It wasn't that Eve could find pleasure nowhere else, it was that she wanted the forbidden pleasure. We understand this feeling. That's what makes a little child steal lollies and treats from their parents, when if they simply asked for them they would be allowed them anyway. It's that feeling that leads to adultery too. The feeling of doing something wrong and getting away with it is exciting. What we tend to forget though, is that nothing is hidden from G-d. Even if no-one else ever knows, He does, and it will catch you up. Be sure your sin will find you out. And ultimately, the pleasure is not worth the pain. Not for Eve, not for us.

Third, it was desirable for gaining knowledge. This one's a little harder to write about. I don't understand it the way I understand the other two. If you look up at verse 5 though, we get a bit of context. “For G-d knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G-d, knowing good and evil.”. I think with this temptation it's not so much the wisdom itself, but the pride that is the problem. Losing sight of who G-d is and who we are is fatal. That was Satan's big mistake, and much of the time it's ours too. But I think it also means that we should guard our minds. Knowledge and learning and reasoning are all good tools, please don't misunderstand me. But we need to be careful not to let them replace G-d. And we need to keep in mind that it's often throuh our minds that we are attacked. When Satan deceived Eve, he did it by twisting G-d's words and planting little doubts. If someone tells you G-d said something, first be sure that he really did say that, and second, be sure that you have it in the right context and that it lines up with the rest of Scripture. Always guard your mind.

It's interesting that Jesus' temptation followed this same pattern.

First, he was told to command the stones to become bread. Now, unlike Eve, Jesus really did need food. I've never gone forty days in the desert without food, but remembering how hungry I was after just forty hours or World Vision, I can guess he'd be pretty hungry. He could do it too. He performed a similar miracle not long afterwards at a wedding. But unlike us, he stood firm and refused.

Second, he was offered all the kingdoms of the world. I don't know about you, but I imagine they would be rather pleasing to the eye.And besides, Jesus was a king, wasn't he? Should a king not have a kingdom? In fact, why not all the kingdoms, seeing they were on offer? All the power on earth, that's quite a heady concept. But Jesus remembered what we don't- that he was not of this earth. He was the King of a much higher kingdom. When he consider even the tiny glimpses of Heaven we've been granted, the splendour of earth starts to look pretty tarnished and faded. And so he resisted.

And the third, the mind again. By now, Satan realized that nothing could sway his faith in G-d and his stand on truth. But what if he could twist the truth a little, make Scripture say something that it wasn't intended to say.. what then? And so he attacked the mind. “Come on, he said he'd protect you, right? What harm is there, just a little demonstration? Don't you want to even try?”
We like to push the boundaries a bit, to see how far we can go. We want to see if black and white are really so, or if on closer inspection they turn a little grey. Do not put the LORD your G-d to the test.

And so it is through our bellies, our hearts, and our minds that we are tempted. Temptations will come, they're part of life and we don't get a choice about that. But we can choose what to do with it. Will we keep giving in to it as Eve did and we all have since? Or do we resist as Jesus did?

What will you do?

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