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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Writers Downunder’

IMG_1279Since 2012, I have visited various Koorong bookstores in different parts of Australia to promote my novels and non-fiction. This Saturday, 27th July, will be my next, at Koorong West Ryde in Sydney from 10.00am-3.00pm, in conjunction with my author friend, Steph Penny, who has written an excellent book entitled Surviving Singledom. We would both love to meet with any of you who can make it there on the day!

When I started these book signings, I soon discovered some people can be shy about walking up to authors at a book table and chatting. Perhaps they believe, as I used to when I was young, that authors could not be real people but instead, some other alien race—because, after all, how could anyone possibly write a whole book? For me, that was too wonderful to imagine—yet, in the end, that’s exactly what God enabled me to do!

I soon discovered too that some people just want to go about their own business and not be held up talking to some strange author! These customers know exactly what they came to the store for and are very careful to avoid eye contact, as they scuttle past. They have a large neon sign flashing that says to me, ‘Don’t try to sell me anything—I’m not interested in your books and I’m in a hurry!’ I understand how they feel too—I’m sure I’ve done the same to other promoters on occasions.

But thankfully, there are also those who are brave enough to come and ask questions and seem genuinely interested in our books—and that there actually are Australian Christian authors around! Usually then we describe what our books are about, which may well lead into some heartfelt discussion, in my case, on the topics of becoming who God created us to be or on having a soul friend or on the love of God—or, in the case of my friend Steph Penny, on the challenges of being single. Sometimes too, we hear, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book!’ or even ‘I’ve written a book but don’t know where to go from here.’ Then we have the joy of sharing our knowledge with them, including telling them about Christian writers’ groups and conferences where they can learn so much more.

Then there are the ones and twos whom God seems to draw to our table—those ‘God encounters’ when something wonderful happens as we chat and some small and precious ‘kingdom moment’ occurs. On those occasions, I thank God, not only for giving me the right words to say but also for my little prayer team of eight women who specifically pray for these God encounters wherever I go to speak or promote my books.

Whoever we are and whatever our situation is in life, let’s seize the moment and embrace these God-given opportunities we all experience with joy and trust in God, who is able to do far more with our few words than we could ever imagine!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

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Jo 17Who would have thought? Way back in July 2009, I started my personal blog journey, wondering whether I would continue to have enough things to write about. Yet here I am, five hundred blogs later, still finding something each week to share with others.  Also during this time, I have written over ninety blogs for various Christian author groups, sharing lessons from my writing journey and encouraging other authors. Phew!

Now that represents a lot of words cobbled together—around 325,000 in fact. If I had decided not to blog and instead shaped all those words into full-length books, I could have produced three and a half more novels in that time, to add to those I did manage to complete and see through to publication. No one made me choose to churn out those blogs each week, but I continued doing it for various reasons.

Firstly on a practical level, committing myself to producing a blog each week—or perhaps several ahead of time, if I planned to be away or had a busy schedule coming up—has kept me writing consistently, even if that meant less time to spend on bigger writing projects. Also, for wordy writers like me, it is good discipline to restrict myself to around 550 words, while attempting to say something worthwhile each week!

But perhaps more importantly, writing my blogs has become a little ministry that seems to suit my particular gifts and personality well and provides a way for me to connect with those I have known in past years, as well as many readers I don’t know personally at all. It is a way I can encourage others via sharing something God has done in my life or some lesson I have taken to heart from God’s Word or perhaps something God seems to highlight in the people, places or events in the world around me. And in the process, I often encourage myself all over again, as I reflect on what I feel God wants me to say and crystallise those thoughts running around in my brain.

Recently, I chatted with a friend who was preparing a eulogy for the funeral of a close relative. I shared with her how some of Jesus’ words as he prays to his heavenly Father, just prior to being arrested, had challenged me that morning:

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

How wonderful it would be, we decided, if we, like Jesus, could truly say that at the end of our time here on earth! It is what we both aim for in our lives—to do the work God has given us to do, however big or small that might be. And I feel that my writing, including my little effort with my blogs, has been part of that work God has gifted and enabled me to do.

Recently when I spoke at an event, I mentioned some similar words that the Apostle Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy and that I would like at my own funeral:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I hope I can say that when my time comes. Is that your hope too?

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Jo 17No, I’m not talking about a huge cricket score, much as I love my cricket. I’m celebrating the passing of yet another writing milestone—the posting of my own personal Blog Number 300. Woohoo!!

‘I don’t know how you can come up with a different blog each week,’ someone said to me recently. ‘I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to write about.’

Back when I began blogging in July 2009, I myself wondered if a weekly blog was too ambitious a goal. Yet I am so thankful that, time after time, God opened my eyes and ears and birthed an idea just at the right moment. Some blogs I wrote seemed to hit the mark better than others. But even in those weeks when fewer people read them, I would often receive some encouraging online comment. It was worth it, I decided, if God blessed one person through what I had written.

During these years, I have also written over sixty blogs for Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder and International Christian Fiction Writers. I have enjoyed producing these writing-related blogs as well and hope other authors have been encouraged in their own journeys as a result, just as their blogs have helped me in various ways.

In all this blog writing, however, I know I am the one who has benefited most by far. But for my blogs, I might well have not been so alert to the many diverse ways God has touched my life, whether it be through Scripture, through some experience or event, through a friend or family member, through the Spirit’s prompting within me, through a book or article or through the wonders in the world around me. As well, collecting my thoughts together and fine tuning them has enabled me to take what God is saying to heart so much more myself. Then, from a practical writing perspective, the mere discipline of writing five hundred or so words each week in a way that will connect with others has helped me put things more clearly and succinctly. And, beyond all that, my blogs have connected me with so many of you, my readers, who have taken the time to comment from wherever you are in the world, often sharing your own beautiful thoughts in the process.

In January 2012, I received the following message from a reader:

I was at an IT in-service day last year where one presenter talked about his Biblical perspective on the use of the internet and encouraged us to be cyber salt. I always think of this now when I read your posts. Thanks for all the encouragement you provide. I love reading your gems.

What a privilege to have provided some of that ‘cyber salt’ three hundred times now, even if only in small amounts! In God’s hands, it can make a big difference in another’s life. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says:

‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?’

So, however God gifts and enables, let’s all continue to be salt in this world so that others may ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8). As for me—well, I’m aiming at the four hundred mark now!

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