Dreams and Visions

Joel 2:28 and the again in acts 2:17, it says “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” I was encouraged by a pastor at my church once to define my vision and to never let it go. What is my vision for every area of my life? 
On the topic of relationships, I think that often we lose our vision for who we want to date. For some reason, it appears that in one of the most important areas in our lives, we can compromise. Perhaps it’s because there’s so much at stake- would I give up a part of my dream man to not spend every night alone, with no one to talk to? I let the answer, for a long time, be yes. I have come to realise, it must be no. 

May I encourage you to write down who you are seeking? Figure out what job you want, what you expect from God, what sort of partner you have on your heart, and pray about it. To challenge you to do this, I here post my plan. As you might write out the church you want to see, or the family you want to build, here is the guy I see myself being with, and who I refuse to compromise on. (Feel free to take the message and stop reading from around here.)
The husband I see
He loves God. I didn’t realise how important that was to me for a long time, and it was what spurred me to write about dating non Christians, because I tried it and it didn’t work. I was surprisingly surprised by that. I probably shouldn’t have been. Not half saved, or goes to church on Sunday’s saved, but someone who can challenge me. The bible says I need to find someone equally yoked, and I intend to. Someone who loves Jesus more than me, and can accept that I love Jesus more than him. 

Secondly, somebody with respect. While he needs to make me laugh and smile, not at the expense of someone else. He needs to respect others and me for who I am. Respect my friends, my choices, children, adults, parents, elderly, his neighbours. Respect runs deeper than physical attraction, and that’s what I see in the man I envision.
Honest, loyal, sincere. Spontaneous, and prepared to love me for better or worse. 

That’s the man that I see. 

Perhaps yours is different. That’s fine. But do not settle. You are worth much, much more than second best. 
😛

Relationships and Religion

Socks and shoes. Cereal and milk. Toothpaste and toothbrush (shout out to the Elizabethans who used twigs and chalk). Some things just go better together. 
I was thinking about the purpose of a relationship, recently, and it’s a bit of a weird question (my favourite type). While we all seem to fall into them from time to time, first with our family, then with friends and later dating, et cetera, we rarely question the actual purpose of relationship with each other. But why? Dangerous thoughts spring up when you stop wondering how or what and start thinking why. 
So, we turn to the Bible. Genesis 2, the first ever relationship, and it’s not between two people, but man and God. V7, “the Lord God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing.” In v16, the first exchange of conversation. As it was in the beginning, Jesus also encourages the relationship between man and God as the primary one. Matthew 22:37, Jesus says there are two commandments that sum up life. Interestingly, both have to do with relationships. The first, as mentioned, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” The purpose of relationship, I’ve come to realise, is to grow a loving relationship with the one who programmed this want and need into us. The first, and most important relationship and reason for a relationship is God. 
I’ve got to say, though, that having been a bit of a loner at times, I’ve tried to live on a diet of only God. Waking up every morning and having a conversation with him is good, but not great. And I realised that the problem wasn’t that I wasn’t satisfied- God can satisfy- but that I wasn’t full. Our God is a God of abundance and love. He isn’t happy with half ways or 80%’s. Our God is a god of 110%. Genesis 2:18, God says “it is not good for man to be alone,” and he makes woman. Adams joy is pretty much the first love song ever. (V23) “Here is someone like me! She is part of my body, my own flesh and bones. She came from me, a man. So I will name her woman!” Jesus says that the second most important commandment is “to love your neighbour as yourself“. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. God gives us the ability and desire to love people (1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 1 John 4:8) and highlights its importance throughout the entire bible. Our religion doesn’t dictate one of loneliness, but one of fellowship and connection as we build each other up and learn to live life to the fullest. 

So, my theory so far is that God gives us relationships to teach us about his heart, and who he is, teach us to yearn for him and have fun in life, but what role do relationships play in our lives? What about when they don’t go the way they’re supposed to?

I think the part some people forget when looking at the story of Adam and Eve is that they had a great time when they were doing as God wanted. Religion, or rules, aren’t there to make life suck, but to make it better. This whole “marriage oath” thing isn’t a contract to be adhered to, but the suggestion that loyalty and faithfulness is more significant than difficulties encountered when doing Gods work and loving each other. Sex shouldn’t be saved for marriage because God is a prude, but because he’s got a great plan for it (110%, remember?). Genesis 2:24-25 (funnily enough, Jesus also mentions this verse), “that’s why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman and the two become like one person. Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed.” In the original plan, the two people did as God said and there was nothing wrong. No shame, nothing. It worked. It screws up when they screw up. 

Genesis 3:6; the woman eats the fruit and the man follows. The first sin.

Genesis 3:7; the shame. Just comes. It just happens. First thing, shame. They cover up. Then 

Genesis 3:10; the relationship with God is screwed up, as Adam is frightened when he hears God walking through the garden

Genesis 3:12; the relationship between the two of them is ruined as Adam blames Eve to try and save his own skin. 
So, what do we do? What can we do? If we are stuck in this stuffed up relationship with God, how are we meant to have any connection with each other? Every person you will ever love will die. Every person you will ever love has the ability to hurt you- quote, “love is giving someone the ability to break your heart and trusting that they won’t.” End quote. Suddenly something beautiful turns into something that scares a lot of people. It scares me. Well, once again we turn to the Bible. 
God knows that we’re lost, and that we’re going to screw up. He always presents us with hope, though. 
He connected us with him. 

John 3:16- it was Gods love that brought us back to him. He reaches out for us, and all he asks is that we come back, through Christ. He wants to repair that relationship, even though we will continue to stuff it up, again and again, generation by generation (Romans 5:6-8). The Bible draws a connection between that first relationship between man and God and the one we have now. 

Romans 5:12-21.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ,overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And then, through the Bible, God teaches us again how to love others. He teaches us about forgiveness, and loving our enemies, love for the poor, compassion, romance. He gives us all we need to keep living lives where we connect with everyone, discriminate against no one. We will screw up, but the God who looks past that and encourages us just to keep trying, in his name- well, that’s one hell of a love story. Hosea presents us with the story of a prophet told to marry a prostitute to demonstrate Gods love for us, Isaiah foreshadows the death of someone who we will mock and beat and yet will still die for us, Song of Songs is a collection of love poems from God to his people, we are described in Ephesians as being the bride of Christ- God is screaming out about the purpose of relationships in religion. A God who wants to know us, and wants us to know each other, not shallowly, but walking every step of the way together. He is our father, our friend, our groom, our king. A relationship that humbles us and lifts us. One of grace. One that teaches us how to love each other. A plan. 

Zephaniah 3:17 (a lesser known one about our relationship with the Lord, but a good one)
The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”
  

Part 2: Pirates and Penance

“I’ve never had a woman aboard before,”he said, walking around the cabin and absentmindedly playing with whatever he came across. “Indeed, from memory, I was specifically warned against it. However, you have apparently been doing a good job patching up my crew, and so the plan of leaving you next time we reach port was discarded. Also, Scrubs would have slit my throat as I slept. So, you stay. Agreed?” He looked to her.

Dove nodded.

“Swell, swell.” He resumed fiddling with the many objects the room was filled with. There were candles that barely lit a room full of beautiful and rare objects. Dove herself was struggling to concentrate as he continued to talk. 

“So you’re one of my crew now. Well. The rules are that you can take whatever you please- funnily enough, people tend to steal less when they know they can have what they want. Besides, we’re pirates, so we get into our fair share of trouble for taking what isn’t ours. But here, aboard my ship, we share. You’re allowed in here too-” he gestured about him- “and there’s a lock on the door, although I’d personally prefer not to be locked out myself.” They both smiled and Dove nodded her acceptance of the conditions. 

“Sorry it took me so long to invite you down. I suppose I just wasn’t sure what I’d do when you actually came. That’s really all I wanted to say though, so you are free to go.” 

Dove nodded and turned to leave. She, as happened many times each day, had something to say but not the words to say it. She quickly turned around and kissed him on the cheek. He put a hand to touch where her lips had met his skin, surprised. 

“You’re welcome.” They smiled again. She left.
Dove soon became a normal part of the crew. Scrubs had warned of the consequences of anyone who dared advance on her without her consent, and the men were quite certain he could deliver, despite his shuffled hobble around the ship. There then came the day when Dove experienced what the pirates spent every day waiting for. The cry came- a passing ship. All of a sudden the lazy scene sprang to life, every man scuttling to perform his role. Masks were donned and Dove shepherded downstairs, to wait for the men to return. They were ready. She was content to leave them to it. Blake emerged, brandishing his pistol and cutlass, and led them by swinging over to the other ship. All the could be heard from below was the cry of “take their bread, take their gold, but do not take their lives!” And with that, a peace overcame the girl and she sat on her bed to anticipate the amount of injuries that would be sustained. 
It was much sooner than she expected, however, when she heard the clump of boots on the wooden stairs. She stood to greet the man coming down below, but took a step back when she realised she did not recognise him. Her back hit the wall and he smiled at her, but not the friendly smile of her Captain. He was well dressed, and clean, but his smile made her feel as if he were covered in slime. Before she had fully comprehended his intentions, he lunged for her and pulled her to the ground. She hit wildly at him, and he pinned her arms above her with one hand. 

“It’s always better when they fight,” he growled into her ear, his breath hot and wet. 

She writhed and struggled, but he was too strong and she tried to conjure a scream but her lips, dry and disobedient, refused to obey her. As she resigned to what was about to happen, the mans head jerked back. He yelped like a puppy as he was held up by his hair. The captain looked down at him with disgust and pulled him up the stairs, not meeting Doves eye. 
He threw him onto the deck as the men swung back to their own ship. 

“I caught this man below with Dove.” There was an uproar. Dove emerged from the depths of the ship. The men held up their weapons, some bloodied already. 

“He was going to defile our Dove.” The men shouted louder, stamping and clanging their swords. 

“What do we do to men who want to hurt our Dove?” The captain shouted to his men, as he pulled out his pistol. The men went silent. Scrubs stepped forwards. 

“Take their bread, take their gold, but do not take their lives.”

The other men repeated after him, and the captain looked around at them, his eyes settling on Dove. She averted her eyes to the floor and shuffled her feet.

“What do we do, Dove?” He asked, his voice now little more than a whisper. 

She looked to Scrubs. “Do not take their lives,” he translated her thoughts for everyone to hear. The Captain faced the man, lying on the ground. 

“Today, you know forgiveness. We’ll drop you at the next port.” And he turned to go to his cabin. The man stood and deftly lunged at the captain. 

“I’ll take no pirates mercy!” He cried as his blade glinted in the sun. Seamlessly, Blake turned around and shot him between the eyes, then continued down below to his cabin. Nobody moved for a few minutes, before everyone wordlessly returned to their duties. Two men picked up the body and threw it overboard as Dove stood, her feet cemented to the deck and a tear hanging from her eyelashes. 

As time continued, there were more sieges. No one spoke about Doves first siege- indeed, the Captain did not talk to Dove anymore at all, and she made a habit of avoiding him if she could. The men moved like clockwork most days, with the Captain emerging only to lead the men when needed. Pirates cannot only take, however, they must have contact with land at some point, so there was a point where they came to land. Blake came out to dictate when the men had to come back and what their duties were, the men greedy to find women and drink for a night. The Captain too, disappeared off into the dusk, while Dove decided to stay back with Scrubs. They talked as the elderly pirate told her his story, and how he came to be aboard the ship. She curled up next to him as he rested an arm around her shoulders and got lost in reminiscence. Soon, they were both asleep. 
Dove awoke to quiet groans that were slightly different from the gentle creaks of the boat. Careful not to disturb Scrubs as he snored, she went to the top deck and there found the Captain, a large gash bleeding into his shirt. He was trying to hold himself together, but was as pale as a ghost. She quickly gathered some bandages and salt water and began attending to his wound. He tried to stay quiet as she worked, but when she touched his skin with a swab of alcohol, he gasped and grabbed her shoulder. She took his hand and held it, looking deep into his eyes, waiting for his grip to relax slightly. Placing his hand back on her shoulder, he chuckled with a wince. “You should have seen the other guy.” She smiled and he smiled in return. She worked as quickly as she could, wrapping him up tightly and carefully, then attempting to help him back to his cabin. He walked stiffly, but deftly and as she lay him gently on the bed, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to sit on the bed beside her. She obliged and he held her hand in his. 

“I’m sorry for what I did, Dove,” he whispered eventually. She shook her head gently and put her hand over theirs. He smiled sadly. “I didn’t want that for you. I thought I could protect you, but I thought I only had to worry about my own men. How could I be so wrong?” He looked at her and cupped her chin with his other hand. “I’m sorry, Dove”, his voice barely audible. She breathed in, trying to predict his next move. He looked away, and she breathed out. He kissed her. Her eyes flew open in surprise. 
She relaxed. They closed. She leaned in. He kissed her deeper. 

Part 1- The Scallywag Legacy

On the seven seas, you may have heard there often travel pirates. Rouges and rebels who jump aboard passing ships and take what they please. Well, it just so happened that, during the time we will look at, there was a group of pirates called the Scallywag Legacy. Led by the dreaded Captain Quentin Blake, they were, truth be told, one of the greatest band of misfits to travel those seas for they were renowned for a distinct quality. Their creed, echoed across both land and sea, was “take their bread, take their gold, but do not take their lives!” With this cry they would leap aboard passing cargo ships, wielding weapons but only to keep everyone in line. 
Well, it just so happened that one day a terrible storm blew them off course and they found themselves bumping against a desert island, the only inhabitant of which, it was clear to see, was a beautiful young lady. The men, starved of beauty for many days, happily welcomed her aboard. Grubby, and in a torn dress, as well as sharply noticing the looks she was receiving from the men (they were honourable pirates, but she was a beautiful lady), an old pirate by the name of Scrubs took pity on her and decided she was to be his charge. He took her to the belly of the ship to find her some fitting clothes and as he searched through trunks upon trunks of gold and booty, he found a skirt and small cloth shirt. Attempting to make conversation with her, he looked up to see her quivering and looking at the floor- it was clear she could not, or would not, reply, and the old man once more took pity upon her. “You’ll be right, little dove,” he remarked, grasping her hand. “Aye, Dove suits thee quite well indeed. May I call ye that, dear?” The girl looked up at him and her face suddenly broke into a beautiful smile. The old man smiled back with the teeth he had remaining and left her to get changed.
Slowly, Dove wiped the muck that had built up over the years from her skin, using a cloth dipped in some warm water. She uncovered every scar and combed every tangle from her hair. Slipping into the skirt, she smoothed her hair to ensure it covered her neck and pulled the sleeves down to make sure they covered her arms. 
When she walked up onto the top deck, every man stopped what he was doing and Scrubs beamed. He introduced her and she smiled modestly and nodded, happy at her new name. The captain, however, did not emerge from the depths of his cabin, even who approached by Scrubs at the prospect of having a woman on board. He was given only the instruction to find out what she was good at and make sure she did it.

As time continued, it became increasingly clear what Dove was not good at.

She could not cook, having survived on raw roots and fish on the island.

She was too weak to scrub the decks and hadn’t gotten good enough sea legs to climb the riggings.

She had tried to sew the men’s shirts and only succeeded in tearing larger holes.

However, the men were quite happy just to have her sit by them as they worked, encouraging them with their smile and keeping them company as they talked and she listened. 

Still, the captain remained unseen. 
However, one day, at the end of a very long day, Dove retreated to the little space which the men had converted into a small room for her. Sitting on her bed was Scrubs, his wooden leg beside him. As he unwound bandages from his stump, a putrid smell filled the air and, without a sound, Dove rushed away. Figuring he’d scared away, Scrubs thought no more of it until she returned with a dish of salt water with some spices mixed in. Scrubs moaned as she gently began to wipe his leg and the pain disappeared. It was clear what Dove could be to them- a nurse. Yet, as a line grew outside her door, the men suddenly ailed with every ache and pain they could find, the Captain remained unseen. 
And so the arrangement with Dove continued for a few days. Indeed, it was quite a few days before she finally got what she had been waiting for. The captain called her to his cabin. 
The girl was nervous, for she had never seen this man and he had never seen her, yet it was by his grace that she was on the ship she had just begun to consider home. As she gently knocked on the door, a garbled response came from inside, and she entered. He swung around on his chair to face her, and they smiled at each other. Quentin Blake was young, with a clean shaven face unlike most of his crew, and eyes as blue as the sea he said upon. His smile was kind and his hands rough but soft. He took her hand and kissed it gently. “Well, Dove, welcome aboard.”

Alexanders Painting

Alexander was tired.His back ached, his legs were sore and the string from which his broad brimmed hat hung around his neck felt like a noose. Much like a business man at the end of a very long day, he loosened the button that pressed into his throat- however it was only eleven thirty. He slumped on a hard bench and dropped his back pack beside him- it too rolled to its side, exhausted. In particular, his feet were sore, as his mother had bought him shoes just a little too big, convinced he would grow into them soon enough. Of course, the very first day he was to wear them there was an excursion to the local art gallery.
To his right, Alex could see the rest of his class hanging onto every word the tour guide muttered. Despite a bow tie and clear interest in his subject matter, the man was utterly dreary, droning on in a monotone dispersed with the occasional stutter. Glancing over at his teacher, Alex thought she might be on her phone. Probably taking avid notes. 

He sighed and rested against the hard wooden back. Surely they wouldn’t be here much longer… The thought then occurred to the boy that he should probably look as if he were doing something. After all, he was sitting close enough to the group as not to raise suspicion that he wasn’t paying attention, but far away enough for most to be oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t. And yet, if she were to look up… He quickly looked around for something to be interested by, and, indeed, right in front of him was a curtain. Velvet, it looked, with a sweet little golden rope hanging just to the right, ready for someone- anyone, really- to yank. The boys fingers twitched, his eyes glistened. Surely no one would notice? 

Slowly he got up, slipping off his hat and leaving it on the chair. Then, with the reflexes and energy only a six year old possess, he slinked across the hall and slipped behind the curtain. He could barely contain his glee as he peeked through it and checked he had gone undetected. The boy suppressed a giggle and spun on his heel to see what had been behind such a pretentious curtain. His jaw dropped in awe.

In front of Alex stood a tall, life sized portrait of a man in a field of flowers. There were little stage lights positioned towards the thing so each detail was highlighted, and, at first, the child could not concentrate as what was in front of him hit him like a train.

First came the colours. Lavenders the colour of violet, violet the colour of ultramarine! Grass, somehow seamlessly shaded from left to right went from the brilliance of emerald to the tired lime of century old terraces, the sky, Alex could see, was flecked with yellows and blues, the sun exuding tints from the first breath of a newly burst daffodil to the darkest burnt umber. As he focused, he looked at the man- the depth of his rich coat, the brass buckles on his shoes, the rosy swell beneath his cheeks. Alexander felt that if he just reached out to touch him, the skin would be warm, and he could feel the blood pulsing beneath it. Of course, the boy didn’t know what to call these colours, but he would one day and when they writhed in his most vivid dreams, he would call out to them by name. 

Then came the detail. The softness of some petals, the roughened bark on the trees, the glint in the eye of the subject proudly beaming down at the child as he was admired. Alexander beamed back. He felt as though he wanted to shake this mans hand- indeed, although he was ashamed to admit it to himself, he felt as though, if he could just run his fingers over the knobbled gucco acrylic, the man would nod his consent and Alexander could jump in and join him. He looked down at his dreary uniform and imagined what he would look like up there. His chest swelled with joy as his eyes flickered over every inch of the canvas again and again, hungrily devouring every morsel. He would leave no corner unravished. 

However, there came the inevitable moment where there was nothing else to look at. He squeezed his eyes shut and peeked through his lids- no, surely there was more! He was so unsatisfied! He glanced at the plaque sitting beside the canvas, outraged that he could not read it. He wanted more of the painting, but if only to know the name of the one who had created it. There was only one solution, as heart rendering as it was. He tore himself away from the portrait, silently promising the man he would return. The man simply smiled as Alexander dashed back through the curtain. He grabbed his backpack and flung his hat on his head, catching it on his ears in his hurry. He grasped each strap, energy pulsing through him, his eyes darting around for anyone who could read the plaque and give him a name- oh but a name! 

“Alexander?”

His blood pulsed through his ears, and he almost didn’t hear it.

“Alexander.”

It was repeated, this time not a question but a command. The boy turned to see his teacher and the class staring at him. 

“It’s time for lunch, sweetie.”

His shoulders sagged. His arms dropped to their sides, the backpack hitting his spine, devastated at the adventure it had been denied. His hat slid off his head and his eyes fell to the floor. He sighed. 

As they trudged out of the gallery, he glanced over his shoulder at the purple velvet curtain and the man in the portrait continued to beam, but maybe just a little less. The bottom of Alex’s shoes whacked against his soles. 

————————

He hit the nail one more time, and gently pressed a thumb down upon it, testing its weight. It resiliently refused to budge and he gave it a thankful smile. Today was the day. 

He practically tripped over himself in his excitement to get to it, but contained himself just enough to handle it with as much care as he had his children, and their children. It shunned it’s bubble wrap as a butterfly does a chrysalis and he looked at it as he had fifty years ago. Gently, he lay it in its frame, and placed it upon the nail newly embedded in the wall, just to hold this, just to display this. His eyes shone with tears as he looked the man in the eye again and they smiled at each other. As Alexander took a step back to admire the painting- now his painting- he laughed as he hadn’t in years. 

Home

Home is where the heart is, and as I look around, I see my heart reflected.I think my home has become more to my family than my parents ever expected.

My heart is written in the clothes on the floor and the shelves that are filled with books

In every little cranny that one has curled into, and in every little nook. 

  
My heart is thrown across the back of chairs and in the sound of joy

In every tinkling of music, the instruments, and the squeak of every toy

Our hearts are bared on the mantelpiece in every single photograph

Our memories printed on paper and put in glass cases bursting with each laugh

  
My heart is in the living room, where advice has been given as hearts break

My heart is in the kitchen, where my mother has cooked as I have tried to bake

My heart is in the bathroom, hours spent looking pretty as dad shaved

My heart is in the spare change jar where all our coins are saved

  
My heart is in the eyes of mum and in the smile of my dad

Our joy is spread through the most happy times and the saddest of the sad

My love is shown by my hugs and giggles and sometimes by my words

My spirit is displayed on my sleeve, even when it hurts

  
Yes, home is where the heart is because as I look around I see my heart

In this building, under this roof and in every piece that plays a part 

It’s somewhere to come back to, and somewhere to get old

My heart will be here long after every part is gone, in every story that is told.

Graffiti

I ask for a lot of guest writers all the time, and suddenly another one reached out to me with a piece. It’s written carefully and thoughtfully, and gives you good food for thought which is what I’m all about, so give it a read. Thanks for writing it, man. 

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Graffiti.
 What is graffiti, you may ask yourself at some point in your life? Well, let’s put this question into perspective. 
Imagine a room full of people and all these people are calling their names out, but their voices are very distant and hard to hear. Meanwhile, there is a different looking person that is calling their name out loud and it is coming out different to all the others. This name is being loud and clear, with vibrant colours and different sounds. 

 This image is represented in modern society, although it may seem hard to picture. Now let’s expand on this. You see, the people that are calling their names out but not being heard represent everybody that do nothing about their names. They just use them as their name. A name is far more than just a name, however- a name is who you are and what people will remember you for. When people use names they don’t respect them, but use them just like any ordinary word. A name is more than that. 
A name is you and what you stand for.  
Now, the person that is different from all the others represents a graffiti writer (we are called graffiti writers or simply writers.) This person uses more than just the simple English language to express their name- they use many tools such as colour, appearance, angles, shapes, locations, and style. A graffiti writer understands what a name is and uses it to get respect- when graffiti writers speak about other writers they do it out of respect, unlike normal people who just uses names as names. A graffiti writer goes the one step further which other people don’t. 
Now, using the English language is fine and I hold nothing against it. The thing is, with graffiti, it goes to a different level that then gets received at a different level. It can describe what words cannot. Different types of feelings and thoughts can be portrayed through graffiti, like all art forms. 
I’ll explain all the tools that were mentioned above. 

Colour can represent what kind of emotional state the writer is in, if they are looking for attention or just trying to get up in the outside world. It also can show how much the writer understands colours and how they mix, which also shows how experienced a writer is and how long they have been on the streets for.  

    Appearance is another major part of graffiti- this is a hard to learn technique that shows how skilled a writer is. If a letter is out of proportion it can lead to disaster which then makes the writer have a failure to his name. Generally writers get good at letter positioning and proportion size before they go out into the real world. If they don’t, it can show they are cocky or don’t know what is good for them. 

    Angles are a hard to learn technique also. This involves shadow, 3D, line structure and the points where lines connect. This is a more advanced technique that is rarely present in a writer that has just started doing graffiti. Fair enough, though, because if you fail while out on location it is very hard to fix without ruining the whole thing- all for a small mistake. 

    Shapes are a hard to grasp idea that involve implementing shapes into the format of the piece. If a writer tries to put a harder shape into his piece it can go lopsided quickly and not look right, but if the gamble pays off it can look a lot better than the original idea, therefore making it a risky technique to involve.

    Location is more for illegal graffiti where the harder, or higher places get more respect than the easier spots. 

    Style is the biggest part of graffiti. This shows what kind of personality a writer has and how they act. I used to use wildstyle but now I have changed to a different style altogether. 
That is enough from me now. 

Till we meet again.

SCZ

2015

Drama HSC Scriptwriting

Wondering what to do for your HSC drama individual project and aren’t too good at acting? Rest assured! Acting isn’t all there is for you, little thespian. There are plenty of options, from making posters to doing research projects, however, my personal least favourite is scriptwriting. And why? Because I did it! And therefore, if you find yourself drawn to it and realise there are no resources on it (there may be by the year you get around to reading this, but right now it’s 2015 and the syllabus hasn’t been amended since 1999, which makes it one year younger than me), look no further! Because I’m about to teach you everything I learned. So sit back, grab a notepad and take notes, but not really because this is a blog post and it’ll be here for a while.
So, how do you write a script?

This is the easiest part! You have a story in your mind, and have up to 25 A4 pages to write, all to yourself. You can write on whatever you want- one of the benefits of picking something no one has thought much about is that no one has thought much about it. I wrote an absurdist play after doing a few weeks on absurdism, and threw in some Brecht for fun. You may do whatever you want. 

Bit of formatting rubbish- marks will be taken off if they can’t read whose saying what (I was here). If you’re a computer whiz, use “tabbing” (if you’re not, pay someone) to make sure everyone’s saying the right thing. Do this from the beginning so you’re not spending hours on it later on (I was also here). Once you’ve got a nice little draft with everyone’s lines, etc. don’t forget to add in some stage directions. There are a few differences between a story and a script. One is quote marks every time someone says something. Another is that, although everything is happening perfectly in your head, when people act it out, they won’t be able to see inside your head, so every little important detail, nuance and sly look must be documented. No emotive description, limited changing scenery. Use technical language like “cross stage right”, or “stand centre stage”. 
Now that you’ve got your draft, smile. You’re about half way there. 

Now go over it and comb out all of the spelling mistakes, add in every line you forgot, change everything, and cut the rubbish. If it’s too short, bulk it- if it’s too long, cut things out. Sad, but a must. 

Now you’re 60% there. Pat on the back. 
It is at this point that you may want to open it up to some public opinion. I knew things were going wrong when my teacher told me she needed to print all twenty five pages of it off because she couldn’t read off a screen. And then it came off not double sided. The trees that were killed in the name of my ATAR. However, no fear! It’s all in the name of a good cause. Ish. So, hand out, email, Facebook, a few copies to people. Give out as many as you can. Listen to as little as possible. Because if you know what you’ve got is good, that’s good, but other people may not realise this. I got everything from too much detail to not enough detail. From very deep, to too shallow a grasp of life. The common denominator was that it was too long with too many characters. Give a girl twenty five pages, she’ll take it! Anyway, so don’t freak out. Take it back to a teacher or someone with a good head on their shoulders and revise the notes that you can gleam from people’s opinions. Make sure you ask people who will give you more than “it was okay”. I asked specific questions about things I was worried about. Then take your baby and nurse it back to health after the beating it’s gotten. You want constructive criticism, but make sure you ignore the uneducated jargon that will get mixed it with it, as well as the shallow “wows”. You want pure positivity, not the praise of someone who gave it a once over. 
So, now that you’ve got notes, work at it. Recognise what doesn’t make sense to people who aren’t you. Add to it and take away. Everything is within your right to keep or discard, but remember that this is going to a marker who also may think like the general public. At this point I had a look at some scripts that I wanted my script to be like, and how they did things I was having trouble with. Samuel Beckett, for instance, barely describes where and how things were set out. A friend said they didn’t have enough information. Dorothy Hewett gives an entire page of notes on complex stages. Mine wasn’t a complex stage. I had to find a balance. 
Once you’ve added things, taken away things and once again spellchecked it, read it for yourself. Pretend you’ve never read it and start from the beginning. I read thirteen characters in my room in different voices. Insanity for art. You may have the luxury of some volunteer actors, however the problem is that unless they’re super talented, they’re going to do it wrong and you don’t have time to direct as well as listen and observe. Actually, by this point, you just don’t have time. So, you may want to do this part solo. However, super talented people do exist. Then again, most of them are in your class and working on their IPs, so play it by ear. 
Once you’ve gotten through a lot of drafts and late nights, and criticisms and ideas and dead trees, evaluate. How have you been going? What could you do at this point? You should have been doing your logbook, so check through for things you wanted to do later and didn’t do. Write your rationale, and write a lot more in your logbook. A helpful and fun activity a teacher set me was go fantasy cast my own play and set it on a real stage I’ve seen. I put together an Australian/British cast because my play was set in a country community hall. It helped me visualise things and gave them stronger voices, so I could change the language around a little. 
Okay, so you’ve marked everything off your list.

Table of contents

Draft 1-1,349

Logbook

Rationale

Actual script (!)
And now you put it in a big binder, or whatever you want and hand it in. There may be some last minute stressing, but the check list for the actual script is

Formatting

Spelling

Grammar

Punctuation

Good content (of course you’ve got that)

A character list is always helpful

Setting of stage

Stage directions throughout

A title is good too (on a separate page)

If there is more than one scene, it’ll start on another page.
And that’s how you write a HSC script. There really isn’t much time between trials and your HSC, but make sure to listen to comments and get hopped up on the marks- they’ll carry you through. 
After making a script, I gotta say that I do think it was worth it. I have no regrets, although I did go into it not knowing what I was meant to do and with a teacher that openly admitted she didn’t either. It was fun! And I got to tell a story, share a message and write a flipping script. Give it a go, even if you’re not in year 12 yet, and see where you end up. The best thing about scriptwriting is that you’ll surprise yourself and impress everyone else. 
  

Blame

So the question asked to me to write on was “Why does god blame us for the causes of suffering although he created us sinful beings?” A very, very loaded question which I will attempt to slowly unpack. If you disagree or have anything to comment or ask, feel free to do so in the comments bar 🙂 

I’m going to split this question, and then, like a good chef, tie everything together at the end. 

Why does God blame us?

This  was, funnily enough, what I saw as the biggest part of the question because it’s a misunderstanding that is the precursor to the other parts. To believe that God sees us as the causes of suffering and to be confused  about him creating us to be sinful, we must first accept that he’s blaming us, and that is unacceptable. 

Picture it like this. A child grows up and while they are growing up, they make mistakes. That is unavoidable. Sometimes those mistakes are simple, sometimes they hurt other people, but in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul states that when we were children we thought as children, while Jesus refers to the innocence of a child. They don’t know what they’re doing wrong. This is the state that Adam and Eve started off in. Innocence, because they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. 

Then we grow up into adults and we’re expected to know better. Adam and Eve could have stayed in bliss, but chose not to. Life, parents, people teach us what we can and can’t do. And this is where the concept of “blame” comes in. Because if an adult commits a crime (makes a mistake, does something wrong), then a judge and indeed a jury will charge them for it. You expect it- it’s justice. However, here is also where grace comes in. Because the Bible doesn’t say our God is one of blame, but one of love. I can’t say it happens all the time,  because we’re only human, but there are times when someone commits a crime and the ones they love them don’t blame them but find the grace to live them. Stick by them. And that is just a tiny example of how God feels about us. For everyone, for every mistake, he offers love and forgiveness. 

We know he’s a god is grace and love, and the mentality of blame just doesn’t fit into that. 


For the causes of suffering 

I’ve outlined on here before about suffering. I’ll use the same principle, but with the nice little metaphor I’ve just set up. 

So, we serve a God of love, and yet look around us and it is clear that we do not occupy a world of love. Why is that so? I have speculated that we need to first examine “love”. This inherent urge to protect, provide, have compassion for, experience empathy, forgive and love other people, from which stems happiness and peace (which can sometimes seem lost in amongst the cloud of sad dreariness that occupies our society)- where does it come from? I believe, from the plan set out in the very beginning, that these qualities come from God. In Genesis, God says “we will create man and he will be like us.” I’ll come back to that later. But basically, we were clearly given the capacity to be good people. The world was given to us with the intention that we’d take good care of it. Other people were put in this world so that we could get more out of life, experience the love and companionship a community provides. They were good plans! But if you drop a pebble into a pool of water, you’d better expect there to be ripples. 

So, earlier in the story, we saw God as the loving father. The Bible refers to him as this many times. Because a God of love- the God who I follow, the God who is preached to me, the God in the Bible- does not sit on his little throne with his little thunderbolts waiting for us to screw up. The loving father doesn’t hit his kids every time they do something bad. But say an adult does something bad. If they ask their parents for forgiveness, the parents might forgive them. Even the victim and the judge might forgive them. But the Bible refers to God as just, and he wouldn’t be just if there was no punishment. That wouldn’t be fair. So the judge sentences the man to gaol. 

Sin causes suffering not because God likes it that way. Sin causes suffering because God had a plan for Good and sin is literally the decision to turn away from that plan. If a politician decides to be greedy, he can start a war and cause the suffering of millions of innocent people. If a country perpetrates the ideals that we can own everything (*cough cough capitalism*), then millions of children can be confined to sweatshops, forced to work sixteen hours a day and get paid a dollar- sin has consequences. If you lie to someone and they find out they can get hurt. Simple. And are you expecting a God of love to sit back and watch this happening without hurting? He doesn’t. He won’t. No, God doesn’t create suffering. We do that easily enough. But he is just and so he doesn’t shield us from ourselves and the consequences of what we do. This is where the judge and the father meet. The father also has to let his kids, one day, figure it out for themselves. He’s there, he’s loving, and he’s ready to help, but bad stuff happens because we live in a world where people keep choosing to do bad things. This is sin. Not the wild party advertised, but the root of suffering.

Although he created us sinful beings.

Genesis, first book, God says, let’s make them like us. God is not sinful. 

The gospels, first chapter, Mary gives birth to a son from God. Jesus is therefore Gods son. God is not sinful. 

I once had a preacher say to me that there are things God cannot do. This is a lie. I was like ten at the time and I knew it was a lie. I just didn’t have the time to tell him. Sing with me- “my God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do! (That’s true!)” The man speaking told the congregation that God cannot sin. That is a lie. Where is the proof? If he created us in his image, and we can sin, then he can sin. If he sent Jesus and Jesus was tempted like we are all tempted (hebrews 4:15), then God can sin. If you know the difference between right and wrong, you can sin. The problem with getting to heaven, though, is that God doesnt sinHe is not sinful. Every day, he picks right, which is how I know he’s not an angry or vengeful God, because he has said not to be. I know he’s loving be cause he tells me to be loving. And when he created us, humanity, me, you (who asked yhis question), he created us in his image and that was to be not sinful. He sent Christ and told us to follow Christ (thats all that being a christian is) and Christ was not sinful! So therefore, God didnt create us sinful beings. He created us with intelligence and the capacity to choose whatever we want to do. A loving father does not control every action of his kids. If you sin, and you get hurt, there is a God out there watching over you whom is hurts very much, and he really wishes you’d turn around and come home. 

I’d like to finish with another image. The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) He leaves a father who loves him and has taught him everything he can. A father who sounds like a great guy. A father who has, as most fathers sdo, raised his son in his own image. The son rebels, the father lets gim go. The son lives against his fathers wishes and warnings and winds up feeding pigs, suffering the consequences of his own rash actions. The son realises he was much better off living with his father. He returns not to judgement but to open arms. Because even a God of just judgement figured it out so that we would not suffer being apart from him anyway, but instead  sacrificed his son so that even when we seperate ourselves from him, we can always come back.

That is a God of love. 

To conclude. God doesnt blame us. He made you smart enough to make your own choices, which is what everyone wants anyway, and then told you how to do it safely and having the most fun. A little handibook called the Bible. Whether you do it or not is up to you. If you dont go the way of the plan, like putting toothpaste in a car that clearly needs fuel, then you have to face the consequences, like a car that won’t drive. And yet, God will always accept you home. 
I hope this has answered your question. 

Blessing

 

So this week I was reminded to get my perspective sorted out. I suppose I had my own little revelation that in my Christian walk / life in general, it really is not about ‘me’ or what ‘I’ do. So often I find myself personally praying to God asking that he use ‘me’, that he’ll give ‘me’ opportunity, that he’ll make ‘my’ dreams come true. Don’t get me wrong we are called not to complacency but to greatness, so asking God for those things isn’t wrong at all. But sometimes, we have to reconsider where our hearts are at & remember that if God was to take you out of the equation or you out of the journey, the meditations of our mind and desires of our heart should still be so raw and real , BIG PICTURE (GOD) FOCUSED that the passion for it wouldn’t waver. An ‘It’s not about me, but about you God’ type of attitude. 
It’s this selfless longing in our faith that we need to develop, for example, if I were to pray that God would use me to speak to & inspire thousands of homeless youth in Australia, the authenticity of heart should be not focused on the God using ‘me’ part, but on the situation and desperate need for God intervention as a whole. Sometimes I know I personally can get a bit envious when I see how God uses other people or when I see the big things God does in their lives / the opportunities he throws their way , at these times we need to remind ourselves that God is at the centre, and that all he needs to know is that we are willing to go where he calls us & do what he tells us, whether that be to preach to nations or talk to a neighbour, to pray for multitudes or to pray for your dad. God is going to use you, have a willing heart and let him know you are available and so hungry to see him work that you are willing to take the back seat and be in the back row , knowing that in God’s eyes your simple ‘yes’ is as important as the people in the front row. 
A bible verse to remember that it’s all about God is 
Psalm 115:1 

“Not to us , Lord, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” 

Psalm 116:15
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” 
Not to us, but to GOD. 
Let’s have a selfless ‘death’ to ourselves and our egos and let God have the credit. We need to be faithful servants , willing to attend to the masters business, vessels of grace.
I love that song “oh what grace I’ve found in you my Jesus, that my soul can entertain your greatness. . . If this life I live hold nothing but the cross where Jesus bore my shame, then with hands held high , my every cry my souls will sing your name (may be slightly wrong lyrics here sorry). . .”
How cool is it that we get to entertain a God as great as ours in our own lives -oh what grace. & if our lives hold nothing but the truth of the cross and crying and singing Jesus’ name, that’s so fine. Because “Not to us Lord, but to your name be the glory.” 
I hope that made sense, love having my own revelation all over again when I’m writing this to you girls. God is good, and his grace is everything ahhhh.

– by a girl named Justice. Thanks 🙂