Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2010

I am sure many of you, like me, have had a very big 2010. Perhaps, like me also, you look back at times with a kind of surreal feeling and wonder how you did it all. I think at this stage of the year we can all be excused for ‘feeling our noble tiredness’, as Michael Leunig once put it.

But this is also the time of the year, I often find, when I can tend to feel a little ‘blue’, wondering if all my speaking and writing efforts have made much difference in this world. This is warped thinking, I know. I have some lovely email and Facebook messages from readers who tell me how much they have valued my books – and it was only a few days ago after speaking somewhere that several people told me how much God had challenged and encouraged them through what I said. These comments set my heart and mind and rest and inspire me to keep going. But nothing speaks peace and encouragement into my heart more than God’s word itself, which has a unique way of putting everything in perspective, I find.

Take Isaiah 26, for example. Three things in particular here impacted this week. Firstly, verse 3 reminded me I need to keep trusting steadfastly in God if I am to remain at peace as I look back over the past year:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

What a good antidote that is to the warped thinking of a tired brain! It is also a death knell to the distortions and accusations the enemy delights to throw at us when we are weary. As I choose to remain faithful, my mind focused on God, then I can be at peace, whatever has happened or will happen.

Secondly, verse 8 reminded me why I have put all this effort into speaking and writing this past year. It has been for God’s glory and not my own – ultimately, it’s not about what I have achieved or not achieved or how well people think of me. It’s not about me, full stop – it’s about God.

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

So I can be at rest and at peace, as I take my eyes off myself and instead concern myself with bringing honour to God, waiting for him to show me how that can best be done.

And finally, verse 12 put all my efforts of the past year into very clear perspective. Yes, I might have worked hard, preparing talks, writing and editing my novels, liaising with people and travelling here and there to speak. But behind and in and through all that, God was at work.

Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

So again, it’s all about God and not about me. Yes, I needed to be willing to serve God and use my gifts, but God is the one who gave me the gifts; God is the one who called me; God is the one who empowered me; and God is ultimately responsible for what has or has not been accomplished.

I think I like God’s perspective, don’t you? So right now, I’m choosing to remain steadfast, to put God’s renown first and foremost and to remember who has enabled me to accomplish what I have this year.

And that, I believe, is how true peace comes.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I received a very special gift this past week. It might not seem wonderful to others, but I absolutely love it. I am looking at it now as it sits beside my desk – and even as I do, I feel blessed all over again. So … it is just an old chair, some might say! The cover looks a little worn and ‘pre-loved’ and is in need of being tacked on again in one spot, while the seat itself is definitely lumpy in places. And yet I chose it from my dear friend’s possessions above other things that were freely offered to me.

My friend wanted me to have something of hers with all her heart before she moves out of her very large, old home – and I did not want to disappoint her. Besides, I was delighted at the thought of having something to remember the many times we had met there together. This dear friend has been my ‘spiritual companion’ for a long time now – I know I would not have achieved what I have in my writing journey these past few years, were it not for her wisdom, support and encouragement. But what would be best, we wondered, as we sat drinking our favourite Lady Grey tea and reminiscing? Perhaps one of her precious, old books or some cuttings from the wonderful array of treasured plants in her cottage garden? Or perhaps something else I had admired over the years?

We wandered then along the winding path towards the tiny chapel her husband built many years ago. We stepped across the threshold and I gazed around – this truly was a sacred space that had been lovingly set aside and used for prayer and worship through the years by men and women from a variety of backgrounds. Again my friend asked if there was anything I would like and I shook my head. But then she lifted a cover off an old chair that stood in one corner – and I knew this was what I wanted.

I carefully carried the chair to my car, but whichever way I manoeuvred it, it would not fit in the boot. As a last resort, I flung open the back door and tried sliding it in there – and to my surprise, it fitted perfectly.

My friend and I flung our arms around each other. We were both so happy – she, that she could give me something that had been a precious part of worship for her for so long, and I, that this old chair would continue to be used well by those I now talk and pray with. I am honoured to have it in my study. It symbolises to me all the richness of the loving relationship my friend and I have enjoyed – and beyond that, the relationship of love and grace that God holds out to me – and hopefully to any who may come to talk and pray.

God’s presence is not dependent on particular chairs or any other piece of furniture, I know. But at this stage of the year when tiredness seems to have taken hold, it is so good to have a tangible reminder nearby of the one who is always with me, who knows my heart, who knows everything I have tried to achieve this past year, who knows all the coming year holds and who says to me lovingly: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.’ (John 14:27)

May God bless you too with deep peace as you celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus, the Prince of Peace!

Read Full Post »

I have a friend, Dale Harcombe, whose first general fiction novel Streets on a Map is due for release this month from Ark House Press. Dale lives in South Coast NSW and, prior to Streets on a Map, has had seven children’s novels and Kaleidoscope, a book of poems, published. For more information, please visit Dale’s website  and her own blog.

Recently, Dale asked several author friends to write a guest blog for her on the topic ‘The map I use for writing is …’. Here is my effort on Dale’s behalf:

When I write, I always use the same large-scale map, without which I would inevitably lose my way and give up. I do also begin with a more detailed one, yet while displaying many of the twists and turns of my proposed journey, it does have one distinct drawback. It has a tendency to change regularly, with landmarks being added and removed, streets shortened or lengthened or even disappearing altogether and narrow lanes, over time, becoming major highways. So I need to ‘zoom out’ frequently to my large-scale map, if I am to keep my bearings at all.

What does my large-scale map look like? Well, there are only four main roads marked on it – but they are extremely important and form a strategic crossroad right in the centre. 

The name of my first road is Experience. I have travelled this road for some years now and learnt many things that invariably find their way into my writing. I love this road. It makes me feel secure, as I know where I am going and can easily describe it to others as well. It is a rich road, full of memories – and I am so thankful for it.

My second road is called Imagination. I particularly love this road and always enjoy travelling along it. The journey is invariably interesting and exciting, with unexpected vistas opening up almost at every corner and serendipitous events that often take my breath away. I can tend to forget where I am at times as I journey through the somewhat uncharted territory this road traverses – but I would definitely be the poorer if it did not exist.

My third road has a slightly dull sounding name. It is called Perseverance. At times, my feet lag as I step out here, but I know the route this road covers is essential in getting to where I want to go. I try to walk here with my head held high, looking straight ahead and not being distracted by the various tempting turnoffs along the way. I know if I wander, I may never reach my desired destination.

And my final road is the most important of all. It is called Inspiration and is a beautiful highway, fashioned by Someone with much more experience, imagination and perseverance than I will ever have. If I am dispirited as I journey here, I know I can stop for a moment and breathe in fresh ideas and phrases that seem to come from somewhere above and beyond – perhaps even from another place altogether. I am uplifted and encouraged every time my journey takes me this way.

But whichever route I take, I always eagerly head for the crossroads in the centre. That’s where I come to meet the one who always understands, who believes in me and loves me, who helps me find my way again. Jesus, who himself is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Read Full Post »

At times, walking into bookstores can be a bit daunting for authors. There are just so many books out there already other than our own. Perhaps the writer of Ecclesiastes knew something way back around the tenth century BC when he declared: Of making many books there is no end … (Ecc 12:12). So why am I trying so hard to add to their number? Well, there are several answers I could give, some more noble than others. Take self-interest, for example. It is definitely gratifying to see my very own books on the shelves and to have people buy and enjoy them. But if that were all there is to it, then I suspect the novelty would soon wear off.

For me, my main motivation is that I believe God has called and gifted me to write. And as I pursue that call, I have found that writing for me is utterly liberating and fulfilling. Yes, it has its testing times and frustrating days, but it also has the power to make me feel fully alive. And just when it threatens to become that little bit too difficult, God specialises, I’ve discovered, in sending unique morsels of encouragement my way.

A few days ago, my son handed me two large boxes with the comment ‘Happy Christmas!’ Inside were two long awaited Braille copies of my third novel ‘Laura’, which tells the story of a girl who is blind. My son was simply delivering them to me from a friend who had persevered over many months in arranging the transcription of my manuscript into Braille, for which I feel so indebted. I had promised another friend who originally inspired this novel that I would try to get a Braille copy for her – and I can now fulfil that promise. And this also enables me to lend the second copy to others who have enquired – like a contact who wanted a friend who is both deaf and blind to be able to read it.

Then this very same week, I also received the news that the dedicated workers at Christian Blind Mission in Melbourne have now completed the narration and recording of each of my first three novels – ‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’ and ‘Laura’! This means my books are now available in Daisy/MP3 format for anyone with a print disability to borrow from CBM’s audio library (see www.cbm.org.au). I am so delighted that those for whom reading books such as mine would have been a huge challenge, if not an impossibility, are now able to access and enjoy them.

In all of this, I am reminded of the words of 1 Peter 4:10:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

That’s what I believe I am called and privileged to do – to be faithful in allowing God’s grace to bless others through my books. That’s why I write. Yes, there may be many and much better novels out there already, but God has a plan and a purpose for mine as well, I believe. Even – or perhaps especially – for those who are visually impaired.

I am humbled by that – and so grateful.

Read Full Post »