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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Why I may be impish


 An imp is a mischievous sprite in folklore. The Girl Guides have a section, the Brownies, where each pack is divided into sixes. When I joined the Brownies I was put (without the use of a sorting hat) into the Gnomes. Each six was named after a different sort of “little person”. The Gnome emblem showed a figure with a sweeping broom (not a besom as favoured by witches). Now woodland creatures are an alternative.
An Elf and a Brownie
When I became a Sixer, due to seniority rather than any leadership skills, I was moved to the Elves. There were also Fairies and Pixies in our pack. At the Brownie Revels and other events where we met with other packs, there were Sprites (the drink was not yet invented), Leprechauns and perhaps more beside.
In those days adults used to make remarks to children in passing, whether they knew them or not. They might call them rascals, scamps or imps. How customs have changed in many parts of Britain!

While I was never officially an Imp, I have been known to be mischievous – the chief quality associated with imps. (Puck in Puck of Pook’s Hill and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a literary example.)

At Scargill House during a painting weekend I recently attended, a short (optional) creative writing workshop was led by a community member, who joined ACW following the Writers’ weekend with Adrian and Bridget Plass. One of the exercises he set was to write a rhyme using the structure, “I’d rather be …than …”.

Here is mine. Some of the lines were dictated by rhyming rather than truth!

I’d rather…

I’d rather be chilly than hot;
I’d rather be silly than not!
I’d rather be dry than wet;
I’d rather be wobbly than set.

I’d rather be still than fizzy;
I’d rather be calm than in a tizzy.
I’d rather be listening than speaking;
I’d rather be whispering than shrieking.

So a little silliness:-

There are lots of impish attributes I wish to avoid:
impropriety, imprecision, impoliteness, becoming impoverished in the ideas department, self-importance, impertinence, impetuousness, being implicated, impatience.

There are some I cannot avoid, although I could work on reducing their impact: imperfection, impressionableness, wishing to impress.

I hope I have imparted some important ideas. It is not imperative that you laugh at the next sentence, but I implore you to beware of imps!


Some things I should remember are that timpani are kettle-drums, chimpanzees are apes, limp lettuce is not inspiring, and simply to trust God, who hears my imprecations.

Susan Sanderson blogs at Sue's Trifles and Sue's words and pictures. She began blogging 5 years ago on her first blog Sue's considered trifles. Follow her on Twitter @suesconsideredt

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Feeding One Another

Jesus commanded Peter to “feed my sheep” at the end of John’s Gospel. I think many focus on Peter feeling hurt Jesus asked that question three times.  I  think of it as a “cancelling out” of Peter’s threefold denial. 

I wonder about the walk along the seashore where Jesus challenges Peter to focus on his walk with God, rather than worry about the disciple behind them.  Worrying about what other Christians are doing means not paying attention to what God wants us to do!


Walking along the seashore.  Image via Pixabay.
I find the “do not worry” command the hardest to obey and suspect this is true for most of us.  This is why one of my favourite Bible verses comes from Hebrews.  “For we do not have a high priest unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

It is a great comfort to know we are all in the same boat, needing that mercy and grace.


Someone here is listing their troubles.  Image via Pixabay.

One thing I love about the writing world is its strong sense of community.  I’ve recently returned from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and caught up with old friends, made new ones, and learned so much from the workshops. I also picked up useful advice talking at meal times with fellow writers, which is a nice way to learn.


A view of part of the grounds at Swanwick.  Image taken by Allison Symes.

 The “white badgers” (those coming to the school for the first time, as I did last year) were made welcome with their own reception, given the guided tour and what could be done to break them in gently was done!

Throughout the week, the fellowship between writers never wavered, whether it was sharing thoughts on courses or discussing works in progress.  People were keen to share and you never know when what you discover this way will benefit you. But it is the sense of helping one another, no matter how far along you are on the writing road (or otherwise), that helps make Swanwick special.

The road ahead is not always clear.  Image via Pixabay.

Helping one another on our spiritual road is something we can all do.  I’ve found, as I am sure you will have done, just knowing someone is praying for you when life has thrown the proverbial spanner in the works comforting and enhancing.  It can and does make the difference between coping with a situation or not. 

We all have our life experiences, which may be used by God to help you to help someone else.  It is a question of being open to that possibility. Sometimes the best help of all for someone is knowing others have been through the same or similar experiences and a word of encouragement is what is needed.

We need to feed one another so let us use encouragement as a great place on the “menu” to start!


ENDS

Monday, 28 August 2017

Go Into All The World... by Trevor Thorn

Nasa’s glorious 'Blue Marble' picture

One of the most perplexing Bible texts to me in my teenage years was that of Mark 16.15: "...And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation.’" (NRSV). Taught regularly to interpret the instructions of Jesus to his disciples as being addressed to me as a follower of Christ, I could not conceive how I could fulfil that command in any possible way. I could not at that time imagine ever leaving the UK - and certainly not for long enough to meaningfully ‘proclaim the Good News to the whole world', which was the more familiar phraseology of those earlier years.


Yet now, every one of us has just that opportunity given to us by the marvels of the digital age. My own blog, The Cross and The Cosmos has, in its six year old existence, been viewed in 136 different countries out of the possible 196 (or thereabouts) which would encompass 'the whole world'. So perhaps it is a challenge to us to receive this text today in a very 21st century way. Maybe those of us who write about our faith can think about how our outpourings will be understood in different places and different cultural backgrounds, so that the excitement, the joy, the hope and the peace of being a follower of Jesus can be understood by readers across the world.

That is actually a considerable challenge and I constantly have to recognise that in more than a few of those countries, a viewer will only have ‘grazed’ my blog as s/he searches for something else. But even in that situation, there is the possibility that a ‘grazing’ click might provoke some degree of curiosity. And I have heard curiosity described as an important aspect of pilgrimage. So, nowadays I write in the hope, and with a prayer, that I may start someone on a journey that will somehow lead them into or towards the joy of knowing Jesus. Someone, that is, who comes from somewhere quite unknown to me, as represented by another marvel of our generation - the ‘Blue Marble’ picture of our common home viewed from the vastness of space that heads up this posting. This all seems to me a great and mighty wonder!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Labyrinth, by Lucy Mills


I confess, I have had no chance to write an original post this month.  So here's a poem I wrote years ago about 'becoming a writer'!


trying to chart a labyrinth
with rattling words
and futile rhyme I wait
like a mime artist
clawing the air
clutching for a new way
to articulate my stampede
into the careless freedom
of words

when they are inadequate.
I only sound foolish
scrabbling in the dust
for a gemstone
finding only coloured
glass lying there
dead but sharp
and the abrasive nature
of my discovery
only repels my intent.

from what I say
you could assume that
I am enamoured by the trivial
but I search among the trivialities
for a breath of meaning
forgetting my cheap imitations
of masterpiece
and hoping one day
to match the skill
of simply saying

what no one else could.

(c) Lucy Mills

Friday, 25 August 2017

In Celebration of Summer, by Fiona Lloyd


Apparently, it’s summer at the moment. Not that you’d know it: the past few days the sky has been 49 shades of grey. It wasn’t much better in Brittany, where we spent the first two weeks of August, and where the sun occasionally popped out to taunt us before retreating behind the nearest thundercloud. 

            The upside of it being summer – bad weather notwithstanding – is that it gives me more time to read. Why moan about the rain if it means I can curl up with a good book? So, rather than bore you with my holiday snaps, I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on some of the things I’ve read recently.

            I think my favourite book of the summer was Destiny’s Revenge, by Philip S Davies (and no, I’m not just saying that because he’s a member of ACW!), which I read in a day. A YA fantasy novel, it follows the adventures of a feisty young woman called Katelin, who first appeared in Philip’s previous novel, Destiny’s Rebel.

            A close second was The Evenness of Things, by Deborah Fiddimore (also an ACW member). This is quite short, but it’s beautifully written, with a very strong sense of place. It tells the story of Daisy, who buys a house on impulse, and the events that led up to her doing so.

            Home, by Marilynne Robinson, is also extremely well written, and very evocative of small-town America. Robinson has a real talent for using seemingly insignificant detail to bring characters and situations to life. Having said that, I didn’t enjoy it as much as her earlier novel, Gilead, with which it overlaps.

            Another book, which I’d been wanting to read for a while, was The Light Between Oceans, by M L Stedman. This one put my emotions through the wringer; so much so that I almost gave up at one point! I’m glad I persisted though, because it’s a good read. It’s mostly set in and around a lighthouse on a small island off the coast of Australia, where Tom and his young wife Izzy long for a family of their own.

            Some friends gave us a copy of Love and War, by John and Stasi Eldredge, and my husband and I both read this while we were away. This book – on developing and maintaining good relationships in marriage – has had rave reviews, but I must confess to feeling somewhat disappointed by it. There is some good advice in there, particularly for young couples in the early stages of marriage, but I found the stereotyping of how men and women think (and the regular plugs for their other books) rather off-putting.

            Since returning home, I’ve read (and reviewed) two books for Instant Apostle. Rooks at Dusk, by Chick Yuill, tells the story of Ray – a renowned Christian speaker who suddenly realises he’s not sure what he believes any more. I admired the way the author was willing to tackle a difficult subject with honesty and compassion.

            Finally, I read Eden Undone, by Anna Lindsay. This (fictional work) is based around the creation story in Genesis, and explores what might have happened if Eve had refused the apple. I thought this was a really interesting premise, not least because it made me think more about what relationship with God should look like.

            So, over to you. What have you read over the summer? Anything interesting, challenging – or even boring? And if you’d like more inspiration, check out the ACW reading challenge here.


Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. Fiona blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com and at http://thejesusonthebus.blogspot.co.uk. You can find her on Twitter at @FionaJLloyd. Her first novel will be published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona is vice-chair of ACW and is married with three grown-up children.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Hidden Stories No 1—Rich Man, Poor Man

In the Gospel parables, teaching is hidden inside a story. In the Letter of St James (my favourite book of the Bible), there are stories hidden inside the teaching. I found this little story nested in chapter 2, and I thought I’d share it with you.


Embed from Getty Images

It is time for prayers to begin. The small synagogue is almost full. Sophron methodically runs his eye over the rows of worshippers. He knows nearly all of them, even though many have only joined since the breakaway. Despite the scandal of their withdrawal from the mainstream synagogues of Judaea, people continue to be drawn in by their message about Yeshua Mashiach, the Lord of Glory. With an inner prayer, Sophron moves to ascend the bema, but at that moment two people appear through the doors at the back of the room. He doesn’t recognize either of them. One man is smartly dressed in expensive robes, with gold rings that can be seen across the room and a richly embroidered prayer shawl. ‘Worth more than the rest of us put together’, thinks Sophron. ‘I wonder what’s brought him here?’ The other guy has shabby old clothes on, not unlike some of the other brothers and sisters, possibly a bit grubbier. Sophron hurries across to greet the man with the rings. ‘Delighted to see you, sir,’ he says. ‘Do take this seat. Make yourself comfortable.’ It’s the last empty chair and not too rickety, thank goodness. Sophron turns to the shabby man. ‘Brother, you can sit here on the floor near my stool… Now, if we’re all ready, let us begin. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord with all your heart…’


Half an hour later, prayers are over; the congregants are milling around and chatting. Sophron begins to push through the crowd towards the well-dressed newcomer. He must find out why a man like that has attended the prayers. Just as he is about to catch the man’s eye, he feels a heavy hand on his shoulder. He turns round with a familiar sinking feeling. It’s Yakob the Elder, with something on his mind.
‘Blessed be the Lord of Glory, brother Sophron,’ says Yakob. He’s got that look in his eye.
‘Blessed be he forever,’ replies Sophron correctly, wondering what’s coming next.
‘Brother, you know how the Torah forbids discrimination between people.’
‘Yes, Brother, I know.’
‘And hasn’t God chosen people who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?’
‘Yes, of course he has.’
‘But you despised that poor man over there.’
‘I was only—,’ splutters Sophron, but Yakob is in full flight.
‘You were discriminating. You made yourself a judge, with evil thoughts.’
‘I was just trying to welcome our distinguished visitor…’
‘Yes, and as for rich people: aren’t they the ones who oppress us, drag us into court, and slander the Name of the One after whom we are called?’
‘Well, yes, Brother Yakob, but—’
‘What is the Law of the Kingdom?’
‘I do know that, Brother: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”, we’ve just recited it, but—’
‘So, if you keep that Law, you do well. But if you discriminate between people, you’re committing a sin; the Torah convicts you as a transgressor. You know what it says about breaking even one law, I expect?’
‘Yes, yes, Brother: “whoever keeps the whole Torah, but offends in one point, is guilty of all.”’
‘Very good, Brother Sophron. So mind you speak and act as one who is going to be judged by the Law of Liberty.’
Oh dear, half the people in the room are staring, and Sophron can feel his cheeks burning. Before he can think of any reply, Yakob delivers his parting shot.
‘Remember—judgement is without mercy to anyone who has not shown mercy. But, cheer up, Brother: Mercy triumphs over Judgement. Goodnight!’
He strides towards the doors; Sophron hurries away to do some tidying up, on his own...

Next month, a second Sophron story: ‘Words and Deeds’.
If you enjoy (or can stomach) my unorthodox orthodox thoughts, you can find other faith-related ones in my blog Ecclos.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Thoughts of Thanks by Emily Owen


‘We want to make it as easy as possible for you, in a way that will suit you.'

The quote above is taken from an email I received.  I’m fortunate in that I often receive nice emails, and this one should definitely be included in that category.
The email was one in a conversation between myself and Authentic Media, who are publishing my next books.

The conversation – fear not, I shall greatly summarise it – went like this:

Them: We need to schedule a team meeting with you.

Me: OK.

Them: We usually arrange a Skype meeting, is that alright with you?

Me (thinking): Oh no.

Two reasons for this:

1)      I am pretty bad with technology.  I’ve only ever had one Skype meeting in my life, and that was just a month or so ago. With one person.  To be honest, we had enough hassle setting that up, let alone a meeting with multiple people.  I mean, how would that even work?

2)      I am deaf.  I can lip-read, but lip-reading is easier in person than from a screen.  Especially more than one person from a screen. I assume, anyway. (And how would it even work?)

Me (also thinking):  I’m making things difficult if I say no.

Me (apologetically): Well, um, a face to face meeting would be easier for me but don’t worry if not, we can give Skype a go.

Them: Ok, we’ll look into logistics of an in-person meeting, as one team member lives quite a distance away.

I was about to reply saying no don’t do that - let’s skype, I’ll manage - when I received an email.

Them: Right, it’s all sorted.  Let’s meet at our offices on X date. We want to make it as easy as possible for you, in a way that will suit you.

So, someone made a three hour plus journey just to make an hour-long meeting as easy as possible for me.

The reason I am mentioning this is to simply say thank you.


The meeting was to talk about my next books, which will be out on September 1st.  If you’d like to have a look, here’s the link.

But the main point of this blog is the reminder that it’s such a privilege to have reason to say thank you.
And it’s a privilege that belongs to all of us...


What are you thankful for today?



Monday, 21 August 2017

Our national heritage

The Lord will watch over 
your coming and going 
both now and for evermore.  
                            Psalm 121:8 



 

This month friends from the US stayed for a week their first time in the UK.  As we live in Bristol they visited the SS Great Britain and wandered down the river to the city centre.  On Sunday they joined us at Bath City Church, after which we visited the Abbey, walked around the sights, had a late lunch in an old pub by the canal, and returned to visit the Roman Baths which became the highlight of their visit.

With all the rain this August I felt like saying “Woe to be in England now that summer is here,” but we found the Lord carefully orchestrated the days that if we were inside, be it in the car, or a building, it would pour with rain, but when walking around a village, castle, garden the sun came out its warmth and splendour making wonderful photo opportunities.

From the outset we joined the National Trust, and realized what an extraordinary history we have, and we were grateful they have preserved so many places.  David before leaving the US asked, as a fan of Agatha Christie’s stories, to visit her house in Brixham.  As we drove to Devon I realized just how much of a green and pleasant land we have, helped by hedges which have grown so thick and high you can’t see the houses behind them!

It was fascinating to hear Agatha’s very refined voice on a radio interview. And discover that on archaeological digs with her second husband she’d think up plots and when back in Devon she'd write them and we saw the very small typewriter she used.  Her typing speed couldn’t have been over 60 wpm, unlike today typing errors weren’t automatically adjusted, and cutting, pasting and editing would mean retyping a whole page.   It was no mean feat to write a book in those days, and she did one a year! 

A glassed door bookcase had several rows of her first edition books along with the film script of ‘Dead Man’s Folly’ signed by David Suchet who plays Poirot. When we returned home after the traditional fish and chips in Brixham Harbour we watched that film made at her house.  We saw again the extensive gardens and the boat house where the murder took place, and spotted that her house had been interchanged with another! 

Our friends also enjoyed Lacock where the ‘Cranford’ period drama was filmed, along with the Abbey which was used for Harry Potter.  I preferred Castle Combe as a preserved village, and they were thrilled to know “War Horse” was filmed there.   Cardiff Castle was preferred to Dunster as more how they imagined one to be.   They took hundreds of photos including my traditional offerings of  roast beef with Yorkshire pudding; sherry trifle; Cornish pasties; strawberry cream tea; 'Toad in the Hole' and apricot crumble. 

They went on to cruise the Norwegian Ffords, had two days in London and as you read this they are on the plane with many memories to take home.  
                                                                          Ruth Johnson


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Clearing the clutter by Sue Russell

I've been cogitating on the subject dear to all our hearts (or maybe not): editing.
The gardening analogy is an obvious one, but might bear reiterating. We humans, compared to a grapevine, are told we are in need of pruning in John's Gospel, chapter 15, verse 2, with the express purpose of becoming more fruitful. I don't know anything about viticulture, apart from the delights of the end product, but I have a vague notion that some plants need pruning, whether delicately or more stringently, and I guess there are few among us who would deny we need that sometimes painful discipline.
Just lately we've been doing some drastic clearance in our UK garden. Used as we are to macro-gardening in France, we wanted to make our English garden as low-maintenance as possible. So the ugly, overgrown and already-ringbarked-and-therefore-dead Leylandii between us and our neighbours  - planted many years ago, and not by us - had to go. A dozen or so trees, ranging from spindly to massive, had been taken over by a rampant, tangled and inaccessibly-high growth of climbers whose woody stems had entwined themselves in and out of the chain-link fencing put in by us and our neighbours to prevent mutual dog incursion, and had been taken over by undesirables such as brambles and ivy. So it was a huge job.

Down comes the overgrowth...


 ...and  a little over a week later the new fence is partly up, after a great deal of hard work. I  am aiming not only for practicality but also for a more harmonious array of plants and a great deal more light. Which is where destruction begins to turn into reconstruction, and we see the (perhaps flimsy) analogy with editing. 

I wouldn't suggest that every work of ours needs quite such treatment, but I don't suppose that many of us can produce a perfect first draft - as Mozart is reputed to have done, so I am told. Editing, especially by a sharp-eyed professional, is surely essential, whatever we have written. Often we are too close to our great work to see its flaws of construction or gaping plot-holes. And proof-reading is also vital; how easy it is to miss the repeated word or misplaced speech mark. I don't know about you, but anachronisms, typos, spelling and grammar errors, inconsistencies and the like will very soon deter me from continuing to read. Such carelessness seems to indicate a lack of regard for the reader, and ignorance is no excuse.
No one is immune, though. I try very hard to eliminate mistakes,  but I once allowed 'bothers and sisters' to go to print!


Sue writes as S.L.Russell and has written six novels from a Christian viewpoint, available in the usual places. The sixth, 'A Vision of Locusts', published by Instant Apostle, is available to pre-order now on Amazon (yes I know, shameless plug.)






Saturday, 19 August 2017

Making your mark, by Veronica Zundel

How do you write? I don't mean, how do you begin, do you plan or just pitch in, do you use lots of adjectives or conversation or authorial comment, do you do research? I mean physically, do you tap on a tablet or doodle on a desktop, or are you one of those supposedly old-fashioned writers who have to start with a pad and pen, or even a fountain pen on fancy thick cream paper?


I can write straight to screen if it's prose (like this),  but with poetry I have to have the physical feel of pen on paper, the muscle memory of inscribed words, even in the middle of the night when all I have is a nearly finished reporter's notepad and a run-out biro by the side of the bed (and yes, last night I had to go to the home office twice since the first ballpen I picked out there was just as run-out as the one by the bed, but at least I got the draft poem down). I gave up 'proper' fountain pens decades ago, in spite of being the generation that started with desk inkwells and dip-in nips with marbled tapered wooden handles (remember those? And the way they picked up fibres on sub-standard exercise books and dragged them across the page smearing everything?).

There's something about the bodily act of making marks on paper that just helps the flow of poetic inspiration - and maybe it's also the fact that most of my poems turn out shortish, which means I can stop well short of writer's cramp. For millenia, making real marks on a real surface, whether cuneiform on clay, heiroglyphics on stele or illegible scribble on a prescription pad (my dad was a doctor, which is why I haven't yet deciphered his roughly 40 years of tiny Letts diaries), was the only way to preserve and share your profound and priceless thoughts. Digital is a mere Johnny-come-lately, and for all its convenience (and I think every schoolchild should be taught to touch type), is somehow at one remove from the sensory experience of moving something long and thin around a surface (which reminds me of a wonderful video I just saw of a pre-schooler painting using her dog's tail as a brush!).

Writing is a physical activity, and though it sadly doesn't burn many calories, it can still be viewed as a sort of exercise, linked  to walking or running (as Georgina pointed out in Thursday's blog) which are both activities that can stimulate inspiration - literally, an intake of air. It demands good posture and a comfortable position - I still don't know how my husband can work with a laptop literally on his lap, or my son sprawled on the floor with his in front of him. I'd be wriggling like an eel within minutes, which is why chemotherapy, which involves long periods of sitting, has been such an ordeal.

So tell me, do you pick up a pen or sneak a stylus, tap on a typewriter or  tickle a keyboard?

Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer whose latest book is Everything I know about God, I've learned from being a parent (BRF 2013). She also writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, and Bible notes for BRF's New Daylight. Veronica used to belong to what was, before it closed, the only non-conservative, English speaking Mennonite church in the UK, and is currently playing at being a high Anglican. She also blogs (rather occasionally!) at reversedstandard.com





Friday, 18 August 2017

What do running and writing have in common? By Georgina Tennant

My two sons love telling jokes.  They have, in fact, become a headline act in our church's yearly talent show.  Andy Murray's favourite number?  Ten is.  His bedtime?  Ten-ish.  Such is the quality of quip featured in their annual performance.  

'What do running and writing have in common?'  sounds, initially, like a question so absurd that it wouldn't be out of place in their next recital.  Running and writing?  Surely these two verbs are from such far-flung ends of the 'verbial' spectrum (sorry, a neologism was necessary there!) that they can only co-exist in a comedy line-up?

Think again!  I have long thought that running contains a limitless supply of metaphors for our spiritual lives.  It was only recently that I began to discern its countless connections to writing too.  As I set out running, a few weeks ago, for the first time in a while, after weeks of holidays, parties and indulgences, I observed a few things about running that we would do well to heed in our writing. 

One, I reflected, was that it's really hard to get started again after a long break - but you have to start somewhere!  I could have put it off for another week, but it would have been just as hard - harder - if I had let another week elapse before I leapt into my lycra (okay, crawled into my kit is more accurate).  When we haven't written for a while,  picking up a pen and starting out again feels hard - but as we do it,  we suddenly find ourselves in the flow again and, a few pages in, we wonder why we left it so long. 



Secondly, if we compare ourselves to others and try to keep up with them, it is tempting to give up when we've barely begun.  This is a real battle for a beginner runner - and writer - like me.  Though my two running friends declared themselves unfit and out of practice too, they soon sped ahead, leaving me pounding the pavements at my own sorrowful speed!  Beetroot red in the face, I was tempted to take a short-cut home.  But my eyes were on the end game; if I wanted to get fit, lose weight and be healthy, the painful beginning had to be endured, however far behind others I lagged.  Likewise with writing.  If I look enviously at the impressive CVs of other writers and compare them to my beginner's ramblings - this would be the last thing I ever wrote!  But we all have to start somewhere and it's only with patient and disciplined practice that our running and writing 'fitness levels' improve. 
Finally, we need encouragement - so much encouragement - to keep on keeping on.  Despite my tortoise pace and my bright red face, my friends congratulated me on getting back out there, arranged another run for another week.  Our writing needs this too - someone to spur us on, encourage us to keep doing it, even when progress is slow.  If you haven't uttered any encouragement to a fellow writer recently, make it a priority this week!  It is oxygen to a discouraged soul and may just be the nudge they need to have the courage to keep honing their God-given gift, instead of hurling their tentative scribblings onto the nearest log burner. 

So starting is hard.  Re-starting is hard. But in writing, as in running, rewards await those who set themselves in for the long haul.  So get out there!  Start writing.  Keep writing.  Stay focused on what God has given you to write, not what others are up to.  Most importantly, be an encourager, especially cheering on those flagging at the back! Type that comment, send that text - you may be the catalyst someone needs to keep training, keep trying.  Ultimately, your five seconds of encouragement could help to keep a plodding beginner from veering off and collapsing on the side of what could be an exciting road ahead, as God anoints small beginnings and transforms them into great things for His kingdom.




Georgina Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive.  She is married, with two sons, aged 9 and 6, who keep her exceptionally busy! She feels intimidated by having to provide an author-biography, when her writing only extends, currently, to attempting to blog, writing the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local paper occasionally, and having a poem published in a book from a National Poetry Competition! Her musings about life can be found on her blog: www.somepoemsbygeorgie.blogspot.co.uk

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Writing from a place of rest By Claire Musters



During the summer our church has been doing a preaching series on rest. Last Sunday my husband Steve and I spoke, focusing on working from a place of rest, which is something that God has been talking to me about a lot this year.

I know that many of us fit our writing around other jobs – and even if writing is your main job it can still seem like there is never enough time in the day for it.

Here is what God has been teaching me about resting in Him as I start each day rather than rushing on with my ‘to do’ list…

The importance of ordering my day
I try to remember to ask him to order my day before I hit the to do list. I have found when I do this it really makes a difference – and I think part of that is heart attitude, as I’m giving the control over to God before I start running away with it myself.

Starting the day in silence with Him
I am someone who can’t sit down and relax until all the jobs are done. God challenged me, saying that He knew I did give Him time as soon as dropping the kids off but I always seemed to be racing against the clock while they were at school. He asked me to take time out with Him in silence, and concentrate simply on connecting with Him.

Sometimes I say a simple prayer such as ‘come Lord Jesus’; at other times I concentrate on breathing more deeply and slowly as that helps tension to go, and say a phrase as I do so, such as ‘Be still’ (‘be’ when I breathe in and ‘still’ when I breathe out. Or ‘Come, rest’).

I know in our world that silence is quite alien but, more and more, I am learning that it is in the silence that we connect more deeply with God.

As I learned in the book study group I help run, when we studied Having a Mary Heart in Martha world, it is about establishing the centre (connecting ours with His), and allowing everything to work out from that place (like the centre of a wheel and the spokes coming off of it).

The importance of prayerful prioritising
Rather than simply working out the priorities of the day myself I bring them before God. Sometimes this simply means reading my ‘to do’ list out, offering it to Him and asking for His perspective, to point out the things that I can simply drop for that day.

Sometimes I pray for God to show me the ‘one thing’ that He wants me to do, and I purposefully leave all the rest (which is so against my nature!). It is interesting to see how the things I thought were so important are simply no longer necessary once I’ve let them go for a little while…

Be open to the unexpected
When we give our work over to God He can sometimes bring things or people into our days that hadn’t been on our horizons at all. When that would happen before I would get stressed and sometimes tell God I couldn’t deal with it because I was working.

I’m learning to prayerfully consider whether an interruption is something that God has brought into my day – and when it is my life has certainly been enriched. I’ve also seen God enlarge my capacity in order for this to happen.

Claire is a freelance writer, speaker and editor, mum to two gorgeous young children, pastor’s wife, worship leader and school governor. Claire’s desire is to help others draw closer to God through her writing, which focuses on authenticity, marriage, parenting, worship, discipleship, issues facing women today etc. Her books include Taking your Spiritual Pulse, CWR’s Insight Into Managing Conflict, Insight Into Self-acceptance, Cover to Cover: David A man after God’s own heart, Insight Into Burnout and BRF Foundations21 study guides on Prayer and Jesus. She also writes Bible study notes. She has two books being published in November: Taking off the mask: learning to live authentically, with Authentic Media, and Cover to Cover: 1–3 John Walking in the truth, with CWR. To find out more about her, please visit www.clairemusters.com and @CMusters on Twitter.