“Homesick” For Foreign Lands.


Chinese New Year strikes a cord within me, bringing echoes of smells, sights and sounds tumbling through my memory.

The smell of dumplings, bowls of steaming rice. Stains spilt on immaculate white tablecloths as customers wash restaurant cups and bowls in tea. Fireworks cracking and popping day and night sans of any notion of safety.

Tiny, crammed shops with black, thick wood stairs leading to the sleeping quarters above. Innumerable san pans, bobbing on the water, with children tethered aboard by an expanse of rope and washing blowing on a line across the stern. Double bunk beds, three high, filling tiny honeycombed apartments.

Markets alive with local produce, spread on sheets on the floor, accompanied by squatting women, who smile, scales in hand. Snakes for sale, squirming in dark wood barrels. Fish leaping from multiple enamel bowls to flounder on concrete floors. Chickens in small wood cages, as women, cleaver in hand, man their nearby slaughter block. Flies peppering the hanging meat stalls. Older women buying chicken feet for the collagen, and over all the stench of dried fish and overwrought drains.

Shrill, young voices, dressed in new year’s outfits, intoning the proverbial greetings in hopes of a fat red envelope from their elders. Round restaurant tables with their revolving centres. Strong, harsh, rice wine and everywhere food, dish after dish, for that is the way Chinese celebrate all things.

My mind fills with faces, long past. Those I cared for, and who cared for me. The children I taught, serious and studious, knowing the future of their families depended on their efforts. The “old folks” … not old by our standards. Walkers and scooters are unknown, where scarcely a stick is seen. They converge in parks and gardens, before the heat begins, moving to the timeless rhythms of Tai Chi or, as evening brings release, waltzing dizzy circles through outside pavilions. Toughened from lives of labour stairs are nothing to them.

Here my life is comfy and secure, yet sometimes I miss the intensity and joy of that far off other home.

Something New…


For those who have yet to discover it, let me invite you to pop over to my new blog “Christian Fantasy. Redefined” at https://jowilkinsonauthor.wordpress.com which, having been interrupted by the arrival of my latest baby grandson, is now finally up and running. While “Songbird Songs” has been an informal mix of thoughts, praise and generally whatever comes in my head lol, “Christian Fantasy. Redefined” is focused more on working in community with others to encourage and promote our writings (while I hope remaining fun!)

I got it wrong!


I got it wrong.

It was just a fragment of an old poem I’d come across years ago, that caught my eye in browsing.

“The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.”

I’ve been thankful, through frequent prayer and dwelling deeply in God’s word, to stay positive throughout three lockdowns and manifest restrictions. I’ve even been able to help others keep their heads above water, my partners and I witnessing many answers to prayer and some downright miracles. But this little quote brought me to see – I have it all wrong! I’ve been playing defence, instead of offence. I’ve accepted as fact that, though God would help me through them, these dark times would only worsen.

I’ve seen many, even Christians, grasp at the straw of vaccines, raising them almost to “saviour status” unaware of the bigger picture, or the forces of evil gathering strength throughout the earth. I cannot share their faith in frail humanity, in scientists, politicians, and dubious pharmaceutical companies. My faith stands in God alone.

You see, a thorough study of scripture over decades cannot help but align current events with the things predicted for the end of the age. How can one pray with faith against that predicted in Bible prophecy? There is a gloomy reality that sooner or later these things must come to pass, and I cannot set aside the fact that it sure looks like now.

Yet this tiny phrase spoke to me. “The clouds you so much dread,” yes, that about summarised my feelings, but the next bit blew my mind.  “Are big with mercy and shall break, in blessings on your head.” I heard the voice of God so clearly. He means to bless me. In spite of all that surrounds me, in spite of the path the world is taking, He means to bless me, personally. In spite of the darkness, He will bring light, in spite of the suffering, He will bring joy and not just enough for me, but enough to share with others.

I looked up the rest of the verse. It begins, “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take.” Fresh courage, not the old well-worn variety, but a new, fresh dose of courage, knowing, in spite of everything, good times are ahead for me. That’s the kind of inoculation I want, a jab in the arm of hope and joy!

He’s here!


Well actually he’s been here a while, but keeping us too busy to do much on my laptop. He’s the cutest ever little guy, all brand new and as yet unsullied by the world. I’m sure all grans think that, but seriously, this little guy could win a baby contest at birth, perfect peaches and cream skin with not a wrinkle in sight and big dreamy blue eyes. I wish I could post a picture but as this is a public domain maybe not.

He has of course been at work making sure his angelic state is paid due attention, particularly during the early hours, when for some reason everyone ignores him lol! Hence gran and dad have been busy while mum catches up on some much needed beauty sleep.

He’s blessed with a great dad, who will change a diaper, cook dinner (even do dishes on occasion) and loves to take a turn with his new son, but who draws the line at long distance school for a wriggly eight year old, who’d rather play computer games or read stories to his long awaited little brother for some reason. The only attempt ended in war! That is where grans come in, especially when they have years of teaching experience. I’m happy to oblige. I love the excuse to spend time with them both especially it still being lock down here.

I’m forming the opinion though, that it’s not a reasonable expectation for primary school kids to learn long distance on a computer long term. My grandson did well on his school during the first lock down, however, like most of us he is growing weary of it. He is a smart kid, and generally well behaved, but he needs someone with him now, to encourage and envision, or he’ll take “short cuts”. My heart goes out to all those parents struggling to balance working from home, while trying to get their offspring to do their school work.

All things new!


New year is wrought with expectation for our family. Yesterday the first was realised, a cute, fluffy, puppy became old enough to go live with one of my daughters and her boyfriend (we count pets as family).

The biggest and bestest is still to come, any day now! In the next week or two we’ll be celebrating big for a new little boy born into our family, my eigth grandchild. A whole new personality to love.

Somehow it’s especially reassuring at a time like this, when there is so much talk of death etc. that new life is coming to join us!

(Sorry this accidentally posted on my new book blog and, due to a new arrival and internet problems, I’ve not been able to re post it here till now)

My first ever responses! I’m so excited!


It’s a wonderful feeling for an author to to hear back from readers (especially when those readers are so enthusiastic!) My heart is surging with happiness and I have to keep from bouncing in my chair. We write obsessed by doubts -“no one will ever read it”, “who do you think you are,” “People are just being polite about your writing etc.” I’m sure we’ve all had to fight off those voices, or try to tune out to their perpetual murmurs. So, I want to share these first reviews with you, to encourage you to keep going, block your ears and know there are kindred souls out there who will empathise with your voice.

“I started reading “When Falls the Night” in the early afternoon and couldn’t put it down. It was a real page turner! A mixture of science fiction, adventure, love story and mystery – just my sort of book. She doesn’t gloss over the more disturbing incidents with moments of darkness and deep emotion. Well done for a first publication. I look forward to the next. Susan Loader.

“When Falls the Night” is a book that any reader would find difficult to put down. Its story line is riveting, and the heroes seem so real that one finds it difficult to leave them after turning the last page. It couldn’t have been published at a better time as it makes one question the meaning of what is happening in the world. Manon Vuilleumier.

“This is an amazing book. Easy reading, enjoyable, riveting. Fictional, but real story, full of jewels how the near future may play out. Couldn’t put it down. Wouldn’t miss it for the world! Especially I recommend it for right now, at the end of historic 2020, as more than a ray of hopefulness and encouragement as we move into these uncharted times.”

Michele Deogracious.

A favourite new year quote for this year.


“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.”

(Minnie Louise Haskins)

Was yours a Christmas at war?


I don’t know if your Christmas was like mine (a succession of grim fought battles) but it seems many were. I was feeling a little down, a little lacking in “Christmas spirit”. Then I heard a voice in my heart. “Christmas was full of battles, battles and great joy,” it whispered.

I reflected on the Christmas story, anything but “warm and fuzzy”, with its fearful visitations, rejection and humiliation, its hard journey on the jolting back of a donkey to find no refuge, or comfort at journeys end. Its having to flee from a tyrant’s wrath. Yet woven into the fabric of fear and stress were those moments of supreme joy – the birth of God among men, the prophecies fulfilled, the arrival of shepherds, who alone understood the symbolism of the sacrificial lamb, wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, the visit of the magi, wisest of the wise, who read the signs and provided the means for their trip to Egypt.

I realised I had experienced a true Christmas.

God had made it possible against all odds for my daughter’s Danish husband to make it home from Greenland for Christmas (oh the joy in their faces!) Another daughter’s abrupt panic and seeming relapse into long covid, on hearing news of a new strain, was slowly replaced by peace and wellbeing. Best of all the diagnosis that my soon to be eighth grandson and beloved youngest daughter could be in danger proved to be a miscalculation. Mother and baby are fine and nearing a regular delivery the consultant confirmed. Battles though these were, each turned to a resounding victory heralding great joy, far more precious than the warm fuzzy feelings I’d been hoping for.

Strangely having recognised this, the Lord gave me the Christmas I’d been seeking, not on Dec 25th. but soon after, a peaceful day full of all the joys of Christmas, good food, games, carols, and a Christmas movie, celebrated with a dear friend and abounding in “warm, fuzzy feelings”. The Lord is so good to us!

Perhaps though we should remember, particularly in these days, a Christian’s path tends to be strewn with battles and war, victory and intense joy, rather than warm fuzzy feelings.