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Archive for September, 2012

I have to confess I don’t like hearing or seeing a recording of myself in any shape or form! I don’t even like reading my own writing out loud, as I have had to on occasions. And despite owning my first three novels in audio book format, professionally narrated and recorded by the Christian Blind Mission for people with visual impairment, I have never listened to them myself. I know I would cringe and want to edit severely. I would rather remain in blissful ignorance!

So when my publisher suggested I make a book trailer to promote my new non-fiction book Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey, you can imagine I was a little underwhelmed, to say the least. Besides, it all seemed too hard and too much trouble. I hadn’t done anything like that for my five novels—did I really need such a thing for my new non-fiction book?

However, as I thought about it and viewed other promotional trailers, some ideas began to form as to what I could include in my own. Of course my mentor Joy would be involved, since my book Soul Friend is about her part in my spiritual journey of the last fifteen years. I could also ask someone I have mentored for many years to give her perspective on the topic. And I myself would need to explain various aspects of the book. Throw in a few book endorsements—and I felt that maybe we could come up with a book trailer after all!

It was a challenge at first finding someone to film us and an even greater one getting us all together on the same day, but eventually it happened. And when we later viewed what had been filmed, we were all happy. But as I sent our efforts off to be edited in Brisbane, I was still a little wary. Would the whole concept really come together? What would be edited out? Would it flow as I envisaged and look and sound professional enough?

But I am delighted with the end product—or products—which arrived this past week. You see, I have ended up with a both a long and a short version, which will be very useful in different situations. Please click here to view the short version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br2eAB1ojDE&feature=youtu.be.

To find the longer interview, please click on the following link to my new website:

http://www.soulfriend.com.au/watch-the-soul-friend-book-trailer.html

This whole experience has highlighted two things for me yet again. Firstly, God is so utterly faithful.

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117:1-2

Where I was so faithless and doubting mine and others’ abilities to produce these trailers, God faithfully unfolded the whole process and showed me it could be done.

Secondly, I saw again how the Body of Christ is meant to work together, each gladly and graciously doing his or her part (1 Corinthians 12), as exemplified by my publisher, Rochelle Manners at Even Before Publishing, my video man Daniel Fewchuk, my film editor at Highshots, my endorsers, and my friends Joy and Alison. Thank you all for enabling this little project to come together so well.

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I must admit I was a little tired as I made my way along the tunnel that stretches for what seems like forever from Broadway in Sydney, under busy George Street and into the very heart of Central Station. And I was a little preoccupied. I had just attended a meeting where I could feel the pain of some of those present as they asked questions of the speaker at the end. My heart went out to these women and men, caught in the dilemma of disagreeing with decisions made by their church hierarchy, yet wanting to maintain unity in the Body of Christ. How was it these things happened, I wondered. And how much were we grieving God in the process?

On top of that, my mind was in a whirl as I remembered all the tasks waiting for me at home, especially in relation to the upcoming release of my new book Soul Friend. I needed to check with some places where I planned to sell my books. I had email lists to sort out before I could share the news of my book release. But above all, I needed to help my daughter set up a new website for me, dedicated to my new book and related topics. We had struck some trouble, firstly in purchasing the domain name we wanted and then in trying to get the site up and running. It was frustrating, to say the least.

It was amazing then that I noticed the busker in the tunnel at all. But soon I realised that, above the noise of a heavy suitcase being wheeled along in front of me and people chattering loudly as they rushed along, I could hear a plaintive melody. I looked across the tunnel and noticed an old, Chinese gentleman, playing a traditional, stringed instrument—possibly an erhu or similar ancient fiddle, with a box-like compartment at one end. I slowed my pace—and then it dawned on me that he was playing the old hymn, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.

My first thoughts were to wonder what this gentleman’s story was and where he had learnt this hymn. I looked across at him and smiled—and he smiled back. I hesitated, but then decided to continue on. There were so many people rushing by—and I needed to catch my train.

As I walked on, I could still hear that plaintive melody, the words that accompany it echoing in my mind:

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit! Oh what needless pain we bear!

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

How much the people at the meeting I attended needed to remember that, I reflected. How much I myself needed to take that message to heart, in the midst of my frustration about websites and launches and the like! Then I remembered some words I had read in Scripture that very morning:

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16b

So I prayed as I walked and as I sat in that train on my way home. I prayed for my friends’ situation and I prayed for my own. And I thought about Jesus, the Friend who died for us and who truly cares.

What a Friend we have in Jesus! May you too experience his peace today as you walk and talk with him.

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There I was one day last week, working away happily at my computer, when I heard a few dull thuds outside. Thinking it was the neighbours doing something in their yard, I didn’t investigate. Besides, it was a windy day—perhaps a few small branches were being tossed around. Later, however, when my husband opened our front door to go out, he almost fell over seven large cartons blocking his way. On each carton was a label saying ‘Leave at door of delivery if unattended’. Well, we had definitely been home all morning—but no one had rung the doorbell. Still, I guess the contractor thought we wouldn’t miss the little presents he left us.

My heart stood still when I gazed at those boxes. You see, I knew what they contained—my first copies of my brand new non-fiction book, Soul Friend, due for release next month!

Now this is my sixth book to be published, so one would think I’d be used to the whole process. But I find this moment when new books arrive to be rather daunting, for several reasons. Firstly, I always have to steel myself to open that first box and see what my book actually looks like. Of course I have seen the proposed cover online—but will the real thing look as good? On this occasion, I find myself a little shocked at the bright orange cover, which I expected would be much closer to a deep yellow/gold colour. But I’m still pleased with how it looks and feels as I quickly check through it.

Secondly, as I gaze at these seven boxes now on my study floor, I realise I need to decide yet again where to store them in our small house! Until I complete my new Soul Friend website and am able to offer them for sale nearer my launch date, these copies need to find a home here. Having juggled boxes of books for quite a few years now, I have become adept at turning them into coffee tables, benches and the like! It’s a challenge—but not insurmountable.

Much more formidable in my mind, however, is the challenge that lies ahead of promoting this book, not only via my website but at the various venues where I hope to speak or display my books. You see, I am well aware this will involve much hard work, lots of emails and many hours preparing for speaking engagements. It will include setbacks and doors closed to me—but it will also, by God’s grace, include many open doors and times of great encouragement.

And right now, that is where I need to focus—not on the potential difficulties, but on the wonderful opportunities ahead. From the very beginning of this Soul Friend project, God has been with me—and I know this will not change now. As I stand on the brink of this new adventure, I believe that if I continue to look to God for strength and guidance, I will not fall but stand firm, whatever happens.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

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This past week, I enjoyed another interesting experience in this writing journey of mine. À la Kath and Kim, for a few brief moments, I became a ‘filum star’! You see, I had agreed to make a little book trailer/promotional video for my non-fiction book Soul Friend, due for release next month. I invited two of my very good friends to take part and engaged a young photographer to film us. We laughed a lot, as, one after the other, we sat in front of that camera, trying to speak as naturally as possible. But in the midst of all the fun, some deeper thoughts also surfaced for me.

As I observed my lovely spiritual mentor Joy, now over eighty years old, bravely sharing her feelings in front of that camera about my writing a book featuring her role in my spiritual journey, I felt so humbled and grateful for her support in it all. Then when my younger friend present—someone I have mentored for many years—took her turn and shared how helpful our relationship has been, these same feelings almost overwhelmed me. Again I glimpsed God’s amazing grace at work, as we have each fed into the lives of the other, through God’s leading and enabling.

But later I realised that, represented in my lounge room, were four generations of committed Christian believers—my spiritual mentor in her eighties, I in my sixties, my younger friend in her forties and our wonderful video person in his twenties. God has gifted us all in a variety of ways and each of us is endeavouring to use these gifts as best we can at this stage of our journey. The opportunities my older friend Joy now has for ministry are different from the many she had earlier. Mine too have changed over the years, as I have moved through various careers into my current writing and speaking role. My younger friend is giving herself totally by serving overseas and is home only for a visit. And our young photographer friend is poised on the brink of doing wonderful things in his field, I believe. Whatever our age, God is using each of us as we step out in faith.

Now I am sure I am not cut out to be a ‘filum star’! I have spoken publicly many, many times—but sitting in front of that camera is a different experience altogether! I knew I couldn’t ‘run off at the mouth’, as I tend to do on occasions. Our time was very limited and we had to watch our words. And that’s why I was so thankful when, as we waited for our other collaborators to arrive on the day, my friend Joy, who felt somewhat the same as I did, quoted some encouraging words from Scripture out loud and prayed for God’s wisdom and peace for both of us.

And God does not let us down, we discovered yet again. God rescues, God guides, God gives wisdom and peace—even in front of a camera.

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. (Psalm 18:31-32)

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