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Posts Tagged ‘Soul Friend: The story of a shared’

P1030746To celebrate the launch of my first non-fiction book in October, a friend gave me the very thoughtful gift of a new journal. Now this isn’t any old journal, I hasten to add. It is from Turkey and is handmade, with a wonderfully ornate blue cloth cover, decorated with gold thread and patterns of green, red and white, and the word ‘Türkiye’ (the name the Turkish people call their country) on the front and back. As well, there are small, metal triangular pieces attached to each corner, so the whole thing does not get worn or tattered. And inside are lots and lots of lovely blank, white pages!

Now when I was in Turkey once, I saw a similar one with a deep red cover in a shop in Istanbul and could not resist buying it. I was so looking forward to using it, but some time later, when another good friend celebrated an important birthday, I realised I needed to give this journal to her. It just seemed right in so many ways—and I know she truly appreciated it. Not long after, I mentioned this to my friend who was still in Turkey and asked her to buy me another one if she was ever in the vicinity of the shop where I had bought it. Time went on and I forgot about it—but obviously, my friend didn’t. So what a special surprise it was to receive such a precious and moving gift from her when I least expected it!

And this week, I decided to begin writing on those pristine pages it contains. Despite having a few unused ones in my old journal, I wanted to commemorate the start of my writing year in some significant way. But what should I write first? My thoughts about my writing at this point? Perhaps my own personal prayer for the year ahead? Or maybe a quote from one of several good books I am currently reading?

In the end, I believe I made the best choice. On the first page of my new journal, I copied out the words of Psalm 33:20-22 as neatly as I could:

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Can you think of a better statement or better prayer with which to begin a new year? I know I can’t. This world really is an uncertain place, isn’t it? No one can say with complete confidence that they know what 2013 will hold for any of us. This past week, parts of our country have been in the grip of catastrophic bushfires, which can turn and race this way or that, according to which way the wind is blowing. One moment, those living in these areas had homes and property and businesses and livestock and pets—and the next, it was all gone. But for any of us, there is no real certainty in life. Yes, there are those who love us deeply, but they may not be able to be there for us forever. Only God is eternal.

So may you too face the year ahead with hope and trust in the Lord, fully aware of the Lord’s unfailing love resting upon you, whatever happens!

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We have just returned from a road trip to Queensland, our home state. We have driven there many, many times over the years since moving south, sometimes travelling the inland route, sometimes the coast road and sometimes a combination of the two. Each time, we seem to discover some new vista along the way, as well as enjoy familiar ones we love. And this time was no exception. On top of that, an added bonus was a guided tour around the beautiful beaches of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, courtesy of some good friends. I was refreshed in spirit by it all, despite our busy schedule. And I think that’s because I saw again two key things about God that still blow my mind.

Firstly, God is amazingly, amazingly creative. Who could possibly stand looking out over those beautiful beaches and not be in awe of a God who has created something so vast as our blue ocean and so breathtaking as those shimmering expanses of sandy foreshore? Who could not marvel at the variety in nature to be seen at every twist and turn of the road? As I observed all this beauty, it occurred to me again that, as God’s children created in his image, we have something of that very same creativity within us. It is God-given—so any creativity I might display in my writing is not something I have produced all by myself. As a result, I need to be so thankful for the creative gifts I have and handle them with great care and humility. God is the Creator par excellence—and, by God’s grace, I have the privilege of reflecting just a teensy bit of God’s creative heart to the world.

Secondly, God is amazingly, amazingly faithful. On our way up and back this time, we drove through a particular spot just west of Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers area that holds special significance for me. From this spot, high on the crest of a hill, there is a breathtaking view of the whole hinterland area, with its green paddocks and rich soil, as it rolls on towards the beautiful coastline and the blue ocean beyond. Almost fifteen years ago, having completed my theology degree, I stopped at this very spot on my way up to Brisbane. I could not have done otherwise. I was simply overcome with the goodness of God in enabling me to complete my studies at that stage of my life. It had been a hard road, but God was there for me all the way along.

But now as I gazed at that same scene in 2012, I realised how utterly faithful God has continued to be to me. In those intervening fifteen years, I completed a very fulfilling ministry in a local church. God then called me out of that ministry into another one—that of writing and speaking. Now I have five published novels and one work of non-fiction—plus another novel due for release next year. I have also spoken many, many times in a great variety of places. And I know all this has come from the hand of my gracious, faithful and loving God.

So right now, as I look to the launch of my sixth book this week, I am so humbled and grateful. We have such a beautiful country. But we have such an incredibly beautiful, bountiful God.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … Psalm 103:1-2

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