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Posts Tagged ‘theological studies’

Jo 23Last Saturday night, another historic moment occurred in our household. At 10.30pm, I walked out of my study and announced with a great sigh to my husband, ‘I’ve finished writing my book!’

‘I don’t know how you do it!’ he responded with feeling.

‘I don’t know how I do it either,’ I replied with even more feeling.

Now let me clarify a little. Because this is my eighth book, I know I haven’t exactly ‘finished’ yet. I know this is only the beginning of the next part of my journey with this particular volume. I finished the first draft some time back. Last night’s milestone marked the completion of a very thorough edit and rewrite. Next step is obtaining comments from my first reader/editor. Then it will be back to editing again—and on it goes.

I know all this, yet last night at 10.30, I felt great relief. This book, my second work of non-fiction, has proved difficult to write. I can’t even remember when I started it because so many things have intervened since then. I almost gave up on it once or twice. With so many interruptions, I became a little disconnected from it all and found myself having to check back often so as not to repeat myself. Yet I wanted to finish it because I felt the idea for this book was something God had given me. So I persevered. And I’m glad I did because I learnt so much yet again about God and about myself.

This book, currently titled Coming Home to Myself, has taken me on a journey through so many memories of childhood years, of years at university, of marriage and children, of university again, of returning to teaching, of other jobs, of theological college, of ministry, of writing and speaking. As I wrote and remembered, I tried to highlight how God persevered with me through it all, rescuing me, restoring me, helping me emerge and grow and learn, drawing me on to become more of the person I had been created to be. And, in the process, I have been brought face to face with my own weaknesses and shortcomings and slowness to respond to what God has been teaching me. But, once again, I have also been overwhelmed with the reality of God’s absolute faithfulness and patience and perseverance and longsuffering in so many ways.

‘I don’t know how you do it!’ I have found myself wanting to say to God so often in response.

Yet I do know. It’s right there in the pages of my bible and it’s written on my heart. In Jeremiah 31:3, God declares to the children of Israel:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’

And in Ephesians 3:17-18, Paul prays:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ …

That’s how God does it—by loving me without end with the most amazing, pure, self-giving, accepting love. And that’s how I plan to do it too—by loving God till the end and by letting this amazing love of God inform my writing and flow onto others.

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I have to say I am feeling a mixture of both excitement and slight trepidation as the release date for my fourth and latest novel ‘Jenna’ approaches. You see, this novel is a lot closer to home than my three previous novels.  It is not my story – and yet there are more than a few situations in it that either I or friends close to me have experienced.  And the local church featured in it is not the church I was part of for many years – and yet at least one or two events described in the book actually happened there.  For those who have not heard already, here is a brief synopsis of ‘Jenna’:

Jenna Ramsey believes God is calling her to fulltime ministry training, so steps out in faith, determined to overcome her self-doubt and to grow in her gifts of leadership, teaching and encouragement.  But some disapprove – are theological studies and ministry truly something women should undertake?  And while Jenna grows in confidence and many come to value highly what she has to offer her church and community, some, including close colleagues, are not so supportive. Will she be able to stand firm and continue serving God as she desires? Will she find true fulfilment in both her ministry role and her personal life?

Who can say exactly where the novelist gets his or her ideas from?  They are a mixture of so many things – experience, hearsay, research, observation of the world around us, long held beliefs, sheer imagination, and even perhaps inspiration from God at times. All that has gone into the writing of ‘Jenna’.  And I hope my readers will hear my heart in the ‘mix’ they find on its pages and follow Jenna’s journey with empathy, thoughtfulness and grace. 

Should you wish to join in the release of ‘Jenna’, I will be speaking during the morning service on Sunday 1st August at Telopea Christian Centre, 16 Shortland St Telopea here in Sydney at 9.30am and also be interviewed.  Signed copies of ‘Jenna’ will be available afterwards, or you may wish to take up one (or both!) of the following options:

  • SPECIAL DEAL:  Up until the official release date of 1 August, ‘Jenna’ will be available from my website for the special price of AU$20 including postage (within Australia) – that’s a saving of $5.00. Please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com for more information and to place your order. 
  • You can invite me to speak or be interviewed at your church or group! For further information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com/speaking. You will find there some suggestions for possible speaking topics, a list of my current speaking engagements and also a few testimonials.

 

Thanks so much to those of you who have continued to buy my novels and encourage me in my writing and speaking journey. My three previous novels are still available in Christian bookstores such as Koorong across Australia and NZ and my fourth will soon join them.  My fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, is now complete and I am approximately half way through my sixth, ‘The Inheritance’, although progress on this has been slow, largely because of preparing for speaking engagements. Finding the correct balance in all of this is a challenge, but I am very grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way to speak in a variety of settings. I feel very privileged right now – as well as excited and a little nervous!

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