Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘being a writer’

I have seen books meet all sorts of fates. Some fortunate ones end up on a ‘favourites’ shelf. Some are relegated to lower shelves and end up covered in dust. Some are lent out to friends and perhaps never seen again. Some are donated to op shops or second-hand bookstalls. Some may even end up in the bin. Yet there is something else interesting one can do with books too, as I discovered recently.

This year, our church held a special Christmas fair, featuring handcrafts church members had produced. Our youth group girls decided to make pretty little candles in glass holders, but it was something else on their display table that truly caught my eye. Inspired by their leader, the girls had also created Christmas tree table decorations out of old book pages, with a gold, hand-painted, scrunched-up page moulded into the shape of a star on top!

Now, being an author, I was unsure what to think. Would I really want my books to end up as Christmas tree decorations? Yet, as I chatted with the youth leader involved and joked about how I would tell my author friends about it all, I realised those old books could come to a much more ignominious end than being fashioned into a table decoration!

Later, however, I began to see even more positive aspects to this whole project. For a start, these books had been repurposed so well and in such a creative way. And in this their final format, they would continue giving joy to others, even if not in the way their author had intended. Also, I expect the girls who made them had great fun doing so. Besides, people had paid several dollars for each little tree—and this money is earmarked to go towards a great project our church supports that helps poor families and children in Uganda. Surely this is a much better outcome all round than having those pages gather dust somewhere or end up in the bin?

Sometimes, just like these books, our lives do not unfold in the way we expected. Sometimes, things happen beyond our control that change our futures forever. Yet, if we have committed our lives into God’s hands, then God will always faithfully watch over us and lead us on, bringing to us new ways we can bless others as we listen and step out in faith. And in every phase of our lives too, God seems to prepare us for what is to come.

At different stages, I have been a high school teacher, a fulltime mum, an editor, an office secretary, a church pastor and now a writer and speaker. While I always wanted to be a writer, I never thought I would end up as one, but God did it. Life can stop us in our tracks, turn us upside down and sometimes dismantle us, just like those books that ended up as table decorations. Yet these little trees are still so beautiful and useful—and we can be too as we allow God to re-purpose us and lead us along new paths.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

Jo 17As an introverted writer, there is nothing I like more than sitting at my desk, typing away in perfect peace and quiet. As I do, I can look out my window at the trees and shrubs and beyond them to the sky. I hear birds chirping and the occasional bark of a dog, yet these sounds are pleasant and somehow reassuring. In these moments, I feel so blessed—and spoilt! I have peace, both inside and out—and I am so grateful for God’s gracious hand on my life.

Yes, sometimes that outer peace of mine disappears when little grandchildren arrive and run around excitedly or when we mind them at their house until mum or dad finish work. Sometimes too, we have visitors for meals or for a longer period. Sometimes I venture out to speak at various events or promote my books, which always involves much relating to others. And each week I attend church and happily mix with the family of God there. I also meet with others one-on-one for coffee and truly value these intimate conversations. Yet afterwards, I scuttle back home to my place of peace, where I sit and process everything—and thank God again for my lovely, quiet space where I can reflect and be refreshed in my spirit.

But sometimes that inner peace of mine can also disappear, which is much more alarming. Sometimes I take my eyes off God and refuse to listen to the Spirit’s voice, urging me to be still, to become aware of God’s presence in me and around me, to remember God knows all about my issues and those facing anyone near and dear to me, as well as those in the world at large. Sometimes I choose to worry so much about this and that, instead of handing it all over to God. Sometimes I fret over situations when it is way beyond my ability to sort it all out for those involved. Sometimes I foolishly ignore that peace God is holding out to me with such love and grace and instead decide to cling onto that deep turmoil within.

How important it is in these times to stop and read again Jesus’ words to his disciples—and to me:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And how important the Apostle Paul’s words are too:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Whatever is happening in your life right now, may you too be able to turn to God, be still and rest in that peace only God can give.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Read Full Post »

Jo 17Is there some particular virtue or positive personality trait you truly admire and wish you could demonstrate more often? Perhaps you’ve noticed it in others and felt ashamed you had so little of it. It could be kindness. Or generosity. Or patience. Or loyalty. Or, as in my case … um … a good, healthy dose of humility!

I am in the right profession, I believe, to acquire more of this commodity. After all, it doesn’t take long as a writer to discover not everyone is going to like one’s books. This is quite understandable—especially given I myself am choosy about what books I read. Yet, being a published author can also add to one’s sense of consequence at times. I admit there is something nice about seeing my name on a book cover. And it is always gratifying to hear how readers have enjoyed or been moved by my books. This is fine, I guess—providing I don’t allow myself to become puffed up with pride and providing I remember God is the source of any gifts or abilities I might have.

At a recent training day, I noticed how some wise Christian leaders I have known for years conducted themselves with great humility. They did not seek any real acknowledgement. Instead, they seemed sincerely interested in everyone around them and spoke to them with gentleness and grace. Add this to several examples I have noticed lately in Scripture and—well, I get the message!

In Mark 5, I read how Jesus healed the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Heedless of his own reputation, Jesus cared enough about this ostracised woman to speak gracious, affirming words to her and heal her. He then raised up the synagogue ruler’s daughter, even after those present laughed at him when he maintained she was only asleep. As we read on, we see how Jesus, after sending the people away and allowing only the child’s parents and his disciples into the room, ‘gave strict orders not to let anyone know’ what had happened (5:43). Did those who laughed ever discover what actually unfolded or honour Jesus at all for this miracle?

Next, I read John 2, where Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. To me, this seemed to be done quietly and with minimum fuss, since only the servants knew where that wine had come from. Yes, we are told ‘his disciples put their faith in him’ as a result (2:11), but did that master of the banquet or the bridegroom ever discover who was responsible for such an amazing miracle, let alone believe in Jesus?

Then I read in Luke 17:11-19 how ten lepers received healing, after Jesus spoke to them and sent them to the priests. Yet only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank him and to praise God. Did those other nine ever acknowledge what Jesus had done for them? Yet Jesus’ only concern seems to be that they did not see the need to return and give praise to God (17:18) for their healing.

Yes, such humility is a huge challenge to me—but oh so appealing and important, don’t you think?

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

Read Full Post »