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Posts Tagged ‘writing a memoir’

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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This past weekend, I experienced a reality check. I happened to glance at the calendar on our kitchen wall and noticed it was showing the dates for January. That’s okay, I thought—we’re still in January, aren’t we? But wait! We had Australia Day last weekend—we must be in February!

With a sinking feeling, I reached out and tore off that sheet showing all those January dates, crumpled it up and threw it in the bin. Usually whenever I get rid of the past month’s dates, I pause to reflect on all that has happened during that time—family events, appointments, speaking engagements, writing days. But this time, there was a big blank in my mind about it all. Where had that first month gone? How had I let it slip away like that?

Granted, there have been some extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into account—like a back operation in the middle of the month! Prior to that, I was largely focused on coping with pain and deciding on the best way forward health-wise. And afterwards—well, I’m hanging onto the theory that my brain fuzziness is due to the anaesthetic I had rather than anything else! I’m slowly getting on track again, but realise I have missed out on most of the planning I usually do in January to set up speaking engagements and promotional events. As for my current writing project, I can barely remember what it is about right now! Any wonder I felt a little discouraged, as I tore that first month from our calendar?

I almost laughed out loud, however, when I turned to that well-worn part of my bible, the Psalms, yesterday and discovered I was up to Psalm 18 again. I suspect God has a sense of humour, because there I found the following verses:

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help, I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. (28-29)

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. (33)

You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. (36)

Now I’m clumsy at the best of times. Somehow I don’t think my feet are anything like those nimble deer’s feet. Right now, I’m not advancing anywhere too confidently. And as for scaling walls—forget it! Yet do you think it was any accident I read those verses? Do you think God was mocking me or trying to give me false hope? That doesn’t sound like God to me.

So I’m choosing to hear God’s positive, encouraging messages to me via this psalm. Right now, I’m choosing to accept God’s help as I step into this year, knowing that help will include strength for what lies ahead and the ability to stand and to overcome any obstacles along the way. With God, I know I will even be able to scale those walls that might look impenetrable. And as I live in God’s light and love, I know my own lamp will not go out but shine brightly.

So I’m looking forward to the year ahead—and I hope you are too. Let’s scale those walls together!

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