31 March, 2015

Three Books

Well, I haven't written any proper book reviews lately, but I have been reading, of course. So here are three books I feel like talking about:

Tales from the Secret Annexe by Anne Frank
I had read the Diary of Anne Frank a couple of times, but it wasn't until last year that I learned that there was actually another book by her – and that a compilation of some edited diary entries, essays, short stories, and the beginnings of a longer story. Of course, when I did find out, being a general fan of her diary, I really wanted to read it. So I put it on my goodreads want-to-read list, and waited for someday when I decided to order more books. Well, then my friend and her family went overseas, and they ended up in Amsterdam. While they were there they got to visit the Secret Annexe – where Anne Frank penned most of her diary. But, they must've also visited the shop in the front of Anne's house, because upon their return, I received this book in the mail! Now books themselves are just plain exciting, but a book I really wanted to read, and a book that had literally come all the way from Anne Franks house itself?! Added to that, it was as good as, and better than I expected. There are a few things in there that I don't agree with, but overall it is an excellent book – the stories are well-written, and have underlying themes, morals - the most common of which is simply get outside, look at nature, and find contentment. The diary entries are good, and they make me laugh. Mostly Anne is just so plain – she says what she thinks, and often that includes unpleasant sentiments about various members of the shared house, mostly about Mrs Van Daan, of course. Anne wanted to be a writer when she grew up and the war was over, and while she never got there, her writing did. I always find it inspiring to read her thoughts, because they're deep and real, and yet she was only a young teenager.

It Took a War by Emily Ann Putzke
I first discovered this book late last year, before it was even published, actually. I really enjoyed reading the author's blog, and when her book was published, I really wanted to read it because 1) It's historical fiction, which is one of my favourite genres; 2) it sounded like a good, interesting book anyway, and 3) the author is just nineteen! (Wow). That is very inspiring for me, obviously, as I would like to be an author myself, so I really had to read her book. I wanted the paperback version, but that worked out hugely expensive, so I settled on getting the ebook.  Then, I ended up getting it extremely cheaply on a Valentines day special! Anyway, I read it, and it was really good. The story itself was simple and went by pretty fast, but it was still good and well-written, and the characters were relate-to-able. While it is a story set during the Civil War, which I know practically nothing about, that didn't make it boring at all, and I could still follow everything. So, yes it was really good and inspiring, as I've said three times already. Check out the author's website for more about her life & writing, here. She also wrote a really good WWII short story the other day too, here

The Shadow Line by Joseph Conrad
Apparently Joseph Conrad was a British novelist in the very early 1900's, but I'd never heard of him. Until, that is, I was browsing the book section of an op shop, and I discovered this little book by him, called The Shadow Line. I bought it (for $1, I might add) just because I liked the cover, and it was old; I like old books, and I'm aspiring to have a whole shelf of them someday. :) Later I discovered more about Joseph Conrad, and that this book was first published in 1915, although my edition is a little bit younger. Apparently also, it's a mostly autobiographical account. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. But seriously, even if the story is mediocre, the cover will still be there, and that's what sold me in the first place. I always keep my eye out for these old covers – and older. I saw one in another op-shop the other day that was really nice – published in 1907. But unfortunately, someone saw value in it, and priced it accordingly. :(

So there you have it: three books I feel like talking about. Actually, I'm rather behind with writing and posting, so it's been a few weeks since I read the first two, and bought the last one. I still feel like talking about them though, so that's how good they were. :) What have you been reading lately? Have you scored any bookish bargains recently?

22 March, 2015

Before We Called...

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24 This is God speaking, through Isaiah, about what it's going to be like in the new heaven and earth. But sometimes we get to experience a little bit of heaven on earth; God answers our prayers before we've even thought to pray them. I've noticed that happen twice in the last week, and I want to share it with you...

Last Thursday night, I was in my bedroom, possibly being silly as my overtired crazy behaviour kicked in. Anyway, I was considering my shoes, a few pairs of which were lined up on the floor. The furthermost pair were a white pair of flats which I've practically lived in for the last year or so. They've taken me around town many times, and even bushwalking etc. As such, they're in a sad state, and not so presentable anymore. So as I looked at them there, I thought to myself, “I'd better start looking around – in op shops or on sale -  for another pair.” I gotten that last pair at an op shop for cheap – and they were very close to brand new too. The thought began and ended there, and I moved on. The very next day, however, we were in town for another reason, and we decided to go into a shop we'd never been to before. It's called a boutique, so we were just looking – those places aren't normally affordable. But when we got in there we discovered that it was actually like an upper class op shop, selling only brand names; yet their prices were still very reasonable. Amongst everything else, there were a pair of shoes, black flats, size 8 ½. I put them on and they fitted. They were a good brand, and promised to last long and be comfortable. They were a cheap price, and they looked brand new. I hesitated because they weren't exactly what I had in mind, but then I remembered my thoughts of the night before, and decided that God must've been answering my unspoken prayer – and so soon! We bought them, and I've decided I do actually like them, and that they're a little gift from God just for me. :)

Then, actually that Friday night, my Mum expressed her thoughts about how nice it would be to have a bit more fellowship for Sabbaths, particularly the one we were just about to begin. We'd discussed this all before, and come to the same conclusion as we did that night – there is no one else, locally, around us. Still, one can wish. I don't know if my Mum prayed about it that night, but the next morning we got a text message to say that we were having extra visitors for the day! We were excited to say the least. We had a great day together, and even discussed meeting up and doing it again. It reminded me again of the verse “before they call, I will answer” - before we'd even prayed about it, the answer came, and from a place we didn't really expect.

Another verse, which I sort of got mixed up with the one above, describes this as well: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3 It's exciting to see the fulfilment of these verses, even in such seemingly small ways; before we prayed God answered, and showed us great and mighty things which we knew not. Thank-you God!

How has God been answering your prayers? Have you ever had an experience where God answered your unspoken prayer? Please do share; I enjoy reading all your comments so much. :)

Jessica xxx

04 March, 2015

Before Pinterest...

...there was such a thing as a pin-board - a literal board that you pinned notes onto. (I know; wow!) So let me introduce to you:

My pin-board! Yes, a real live pin board – nothing to do with Pinterest at all. This is the real deal. I've always thought it would be novel to have a pin-board where I could stick up inspiring and relevant quotes & pictures, along with other lists that currently clutter up my desk. Finally I realized that if I just quit dreaming about it, all it would take is a couple of dollars, and a trip to the cheap shop, (and a helpful brother who knows where the screwdriver is). And now a pin-board is happily residing on the wall next to my desk!

So I wanted to share with you what I've got pinned up there so far (it will definitely be added to). I'm always finding inspiring and motivating quotes, and I pin them on Pinterest and then forget about them. A couple of weeks later I come across them again, and yet when I go to pin them, Pinterest reminds me, “Pssst. It looks like this is already on Little Wisdoms.” Oh. So now, I'm beginning to write out those amazing quotes I don't want to forget, and put them on my physical pin-board, where I can look at them every day, and be reminded of what they mean to me. Of course, a few other things have found their way up there too. :)

The very first quote I put up there is that one in the middle: “God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” (Martin Luther) I mentioned that before, as being somewhat of my life motto. It's a very good reminder for my pride – if I want God to use me, I must be nothing in my own eyes.

Another quote I have up there, is short, and yet it reminds me of so much: “The north wind made the vikings.” We all regard the vikings as a fierce, strong and tyrannic people, and this quote is saying: it was the north wind – the hard times – that made them what they were. So this reminds me that it's the same for us – hard times aren't to be looked upon as a curse. Rather they can be, if we choose to let them, the making of us.

The only other quote I have up there at the moment is one I copied from Tales from the Secret Annexe by Anne Frank. It is about my favourite quote ever, and I think it's amazing that she wrote this while still a young teenager, and while living in hiding, with the continual fear of being discovered: “How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world! How wonderful it is that everyone, great and small, can immediately help bring about justice by giving of themselves!

“Give and you shall receive, much more than you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor!”

Isn't that profound? It's from an essay she, Anne, wrote in 1944 titled, “Give”. The whole thing was so good, I wish I could have it all pinned on my pinboard and typed up here. I really like that last sentence though, which was apparently one of her grandmother's favourite sayings: “People who give will never be poor.”

Next, down in the bottom left corner of the board, is my before-18 bucket list. And one of the things on there (in fact the only one that has been crossed off so far) is 'Blog every day for a week'. See, I told you it was on my bucket list! I wrote this list on my seventeenth birthday, and I'm really glad I did. All the things on there are achievable, to a certain degree anyway, and it's good to be reminded often of what I'm working towards. The very first thing on the list though, one which i'll never fully be able to cross off, or achieve, is 'Know God.'

Then there's another list; that orange and purple conglomeration in the top left corner. And that, my friends, is a list of books I want to borrow from the library someday – not all at once. I plan to reserve a few this week, and get stuck into reducing that list. The only problem, of course, is that the more I read, the more books I find to put on the list. Whatever the case, I'm really thankful for our excellent library system, because as you can see, they have plenty of good books that I can't wait to read! (And, don't tell anyone, but the list actually continues on the back as well.) :O

The little owl there, is just to keep me company. I do really like owls, so I couldn't resist sticking him up there. I might even have to add a few more. :)

And in the bottom right corner is a picture, a painting I believe. It's just the front off an old card I found, but I really like it. It reminds me of times gone by, when life was simple, and days were happy and uncluttered. It makes me think of books like Little Women, where families worked, and families played, and families lived, and laughed and learned. (And hung Grandma's hand-pieced quilt to dry in the shade of an apple tree.)

Finally, in the very top left corner is that hulking bow. I made it from this tutorial, and I guess it just describes another part of me, because polka dots are one of my favourites. So of course, I couldn't resist sticking it up there, even though it doesn't go with anything else I have around.

So that, my friends is the latest edition to my little nook. And it fits right in with the rest of my un-themed everything: nothing matches, all colours go. But, I like it, and so far, I've found it very helpful in keeping things I want to remember, in my memory. I plan to add more quotes (tell me what your favourites are!) and pictures up there, along with promises God gives me in the Bible. After all, a good old pin-board beats Pinterest any day. :)

Oh, and belated happy Autumn to you too! I'm glad it's arrived, as I've finally decided that Autumn is my favourite season... What's yours?

Jessica xxx