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Posts Tagged ‘Tasmania’

We have just returned from a great time away in Tasmania. I had never been there before, so enjoyed exploring the quaint, little towns between Launceston and Hobart, sampling the delightful fare offered at chocolate and cheese factories near Devonport and apple orchards in the Huon Valley, strolling around the Salamanca Markets, and seeing the amazing views of the Derwent valley and beyond from the top of Mount Wellington. But most of all, we were blessed by the friendliness and warm hospitality of the Tassie people themselves.

We had no sooner disembarked from the Spirit of Tasmania than we were whisked away for a delicious breakfast with friends in their unique home outside Devonport, surrounded by natural bushland. A time at Worldview College followed, where we were again warmly welcomed. We then headed to old friends and their lovely, little cottage at Beauty Point beside the Tamar River. In Hobart, we stayed in a comfortable home near the city, courtesy of another friend. One evening, a couple we had never met graciously invited me to share about my writing journey at their ‘Connect group’. Then at the end of our time away we were warmly welcomed at our billet in Devonport, before returning to our friends at Beauty Point. Surely all this demonstrates not only true Tassie friendliness but also care to heed Peter’s command to ‘offer hospitality to one another without grumbling’ (1 Peter 4:9).

But what touched us even further was the kindness shown on the two occasions when something happened to our car. One rainy afternoon, our oil gauge went crazy, shooting way over into the red. We put our emergency lights on and contacted the RACT for help. As we waited, an old, battered van pulled up and a man wearing a crumpled, checked ‘flanny’ walked towards us. I was suspicious – he had long, grey hair roughly pulled back in a ponytail and looked quite dishevelled.

‘You okay, mate?’ he drawled.

We explained we had contacted the RACT, after which he simply gave us a wave and ambled back to his van in the rain. I was duly chastised. Yet again, I had judged someone by his appearance and doubted his motives. Other cars had passed us, but the most unlikely person came to our aid.

A few days later, we had a flat tyre. As we struggled to get the wheel back on, an older gentleman stopped. He couldn’t help much, but we appreciated his kind heart. Then just as we were almost done, a young man pulled over. And again, I was chastised. I had not expected such a young man to bother stopping – or the older man either, with his limited ability to help. This whole experience reminded me forcibly of Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Those I would have thought most likely to stop didn’t, while others I didn’t expect to did.

So … which category am I in? I’m sure I often convey to my friends that I don’t relish being disturbed and taken away from my writing. Am I perhaps among those who are quite able to offer help or hospitality but choose not to?  ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ Jesus asks at the end of his parable. The expert in the law replies: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus then says simply: ‘Go and do likewise.

I am challenged, both by Jesus’ words and the kindness and mercy shown to us. How about you?

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Today I am embarking on a trip to Tasmania – a place I have always wanted to visit. I have been invited to speak at a conference there and a few other places in the next two weeks. And we hope to have a holiday and enjoy some of the beautiful places and scenery as well.

Now we have planned ahead for this trip. I have thought and prayed about my input and I hope I have made the right decisions with all that. I have plenty of my novels on hand to sell too at these venues. And my husband has worked out the routes we will take and printed out copious number so Google maps! I have also made sure my little prayer team who support me so well wherever I speak knows my itinerary and can follow me on my journey as they are able. But there still comes a time, I find, when I look at all the speaking engagements and travel ahead and feel a little overwhelmed. Besides that, for a few weeks now I have struggled with back trouble and sciatica pain – just when I really need to be full of energy and on top of things! So in my weakness, crazy thoughts begin to come into my head. What if I haven’t prepared appropriate material? What if I speak for too long? What if I have my speaking engagements mixed up? What if we can’t find the places on time? What if I’m in too much pain? What if …? And so the list goes on.

It’s then that I pull myself up short, and realise God has been trying to get through to me for a while now. Lately, I have been reading the book of 1 Samuel and taking in all the ups and downs of Saul’s and David’s lives. Somehow I don’t think I would have liked David’s experience of having to flee for his life from Saul, fight endless battles, live in caves and desert strongholds and be in danger on so many fronts. Many times, his heart must have failed him when people betrayed him and tried to deliver him into Saul’s hands, when his motives and loyalty were doubted, when he was forced to live among the Philistines, and certainly when his wives and sons and daughters were taken captive. On that occasion, Scripture tells us that ‘David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep’ (1 Sam 30:4).

Yet it seems to me that David knew exactly where – or who – to go to in order to find the strength he needed. On an earlier occasion when Saul was searching for him day after day, we are told that Saul’s son Jonathan came to him in the desert ‘and helped him find strength in God’ (1 Sam 23:16). Then when David’s family was taken captive, we read how, on top of that, his own men were talking about stoning him since they too had lost their wives and sons and daughters. Yet in the midst of all this grief and turmoil, the next sentence we read says simply this:

But David found strength in the Lord his God. (1 Sam 30:6b)

I think any qualms I might have about our upcoming trip pale into insignificance for sure against David’s dreadful experiences. So yes, Lord – I get the message! And I know as I look to you, I will find all the strength I need for whatever lies ahead.

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Anyone out there of an inventive frame of mind?  I would love to get hold of an inexpensive tracking device to attach to my three published novels, so I can see where they end up!  Of course, it could be a little demoralising if they were tracked to a rubbish bin somewhere or face down half-read and covered in dust under a bed or – worse still – unopened and long forgotten in some dark corner of a bookshelf.  But I have heard some interesting stories about where my books have got to and can only hope and pray there are more I know nothing about.

For instance, recently a friend told me he bought my second novel ‘All the Days of My Life’ at a conference around two years ago.  He was reading it on the plane home to Tasmania when he got into conversation with the passenger next to him.  Now this passenger had a very interesting ‘fellow passenger’ on his far side – a cello!  Apparently this gentleman had booked a seat especially for it – he was a member of an orchestra and wanted to keep his cello in sight.  On discovering this man had nothing to read, my friend promptly gave him my book, since a cello features quite prominently in it!   An interesting story – but it has left me wondering.  Did this man like it – or did it end up in an airport bin somewhere?

I know for sure the very first copy of my second novel found its way by plane to Iraq.  A friend was returning to her community work with Kurdish widows and wanted something to read on the way.  After she finished with it, it was lent around to fellow workers and eventually given to an American girl who loved it.  Again I wonder though – did it end up being taken back to America with her?  Or is it destined to wander around in Iraq forever?

Another friend also recently told me a story involving a plane trip.  She had grabbed up my first novel ‘Heléna’ in a hurry as she left home to attend a funeral in Coffs Harbour.  On the return flight, she noticed the young girl next to her looking curiously at the book.  Eventually this girl commented that her name was actually Heléna and wanted to know where she could get a copy.  My friend had a wonderful conversation with her, told her all about the book and gave her the details of where to buy it.  Another lovely story – but again I am left wondering.  Did this girl eventually get hold of her own copy?  Who knows?

I am aware of others who have bought my novels to read on planes and then left them in various countries with the family or friends they were visiting.  I currently know of copies in England, the US, Canada, Turkey, South Africa and the Netherlands.  But I also heard recently that one of my novels was seen in a second-hand bookshop here in Australia, while another was for sale on ebay, labelled ‘first edition – signed by author’!

I am just curious.  I don’t really need to know where my books have gone.  After all, God sees them and I pray will bless those who read them, whoever and wherever they are.  My role is to put my heart and soul into the writing of them and try my best to get them out there – then leave the results in God’s hands.

But a tracking device would still be neat – don’t you agree?

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