Showing posts from 2019

Out with the old by Susan Sanderson

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time for looking back over the past year and looking forward to the year, which is about to begin.
2019 has been an eventful year in many ways. I know that many people including me have attended more funerals than in other years. Whether this is inevitable with increasing age and the demographics in the UK I am not sure.
Some of us made resolutions at the beginning of the year, including setting out our writing goals. I wonder how many we achieved. There are a number of expressions, which remind us that it is not our own goals that count, but rather what God wants us to do. “Man proposes; God disposes.” More colloquially, “God laughs when people make plans.” And a promise from the book of the prophet Jeremiah 29: 11 “ForIknowtheplansIhaveforyou,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
After more than seven years as a blogger, I still haven’t worked out what I should be concentrating on as a…

Books and Oliebollen

Memories. The end of a year lends itself to reminisce, to look back. As I'm getting older I find myself doing what my mum used to do: start a lot of conversations with, "When I was little, we used to..."

It used to annoy me no end, as a lot of those memories were brought up to point out how spoilt we as kids were. Now I find myself looking back a lot more, usually with great fondness.

Maybe it's because as adults we are more aware of changing times, of losses, of time slipping away from us. This year I lost my wonderful father in law, and just recently my spiritual father went to be with Christ as well, which I know is far better, but the grief is heavy to bear.

The memories are there, and filled with sweet feelings. End of the year in the Netherlands meant books (school gives you a book, so does church. You could pick whichever one you wanted off a list. I went purely by page numbers. Make the gift last as long as possible!). It also meant oliebollen, dough balls c…

Christmas Angles

By the time this goes out the "big day" will be behind us, but I thought I'd examine favourite angles to the Christmas story. It’s hard to say which is my favourite here but little details are inspiring.

The classic is the simple statement “there was no room at the inn”.  We’re not told of the despair Mary and Joseph felt on hearing that but we can imagine it. Both would have been exhausted and the donkey too would’ve been looking forward to getting its head down for a while!

It also reminds me of my favourite school nativity story where, on a Scottish island which was proud of its hospitality, the lad playing the innkeeper wasn’t happy at having to turn Mary and Joseph away. The lad was told he must do it and, star that he was, he obliged but nobody expected the stage whisper of “Come back and see me later and I’ll see what I can do!”.

Now that story always makes me laugh but thinking about it further, well why not?

I wonder what the innkeeper made of the strange visit…

A star's view

For my Blog today I thought I would love t share some of my piece for the Merry Christmas Everyone book.  It is an imaginary reflection by the Star of Bethlehem as he leads the three kings to the newborn baby Jesus.  In this reflection I realized the awesome wonder of the Christmas message, that God came t be with us through His Son Jesus.  I also realised how huge God's desire has always been for us to know and understand His glory .
I've felt a bit overwhelmed this Christmas and fighting against getting pulled down with all that is going on.  But God wants all of us to understand His ways and purposes and open our hearts to Him,to hear His voice and know the wonder of His glory within us whatver is happening in our lives.  I hope this will bless and encourage.

A Star’s View  An Imaginary Reflection by the Star of Bethlehem ((c) Tracy Williamson from Merry Christmas Everyone)

I’ve been guiding them for years now, the radiance of my glory lighting their paths along countless miles…

'I should have done more' by Nicki Copeland

We were singing a Christmas carol in church yesterday – I can’t even remember which carol it was – when a little thought struck me. How would the owner of the house have felt when the significance of this little baby, sleeping in the courtyard with his animals, dawned on him?
Let’s rewind a few days. The owner of the house – let’s call him Festus – discovers that Caesar Augustus has ordered a census. ‘Marvellous,’ he thinks. ‘Now all the rellies are going to descend on us, expecting somewhere to stay until all this is over. As if I haven’t got enough on my plate feeding my own family, now I’ll be expected to host untold cousins I haven’t seen for years and make polite conversation with people I hardly know.’
Before long, people start knocking at the door. ‘Can we come and stay?’ ‘It won’t be for long – just until the census is over.’ ‘We won’t get in the way – you won’t even know we’re here.’ Within days, every space is filled, and there’s barely a moment’s peace.
Late one evening, t…

Novice Angel by Eileen Padmore

'What was that all about?' asked the exhausted new angel.  She had tried her best to follow the others but it happened so fast.  One moment they were floating in the heavenlies, then the rapid descent into chaos.  No time to catch breath as they wooshed downwards with terrifying accelaration on collision course for that moth ball of a planet.

Then quicker than the eye could blink they stopped, suspended over a dark field where a few tattered peasants huddled together with dozy sheep.  Why so frightened?  What could be more ordinary than a battalion of angels?  But those sad bundles of humanity, dressed in filthy rags bound with string and patches, shielded their eyes in terror.

Angelica wished she was back in heaven.  Down here it was cold, menacing, unsafe.  Fear gripped her with dark, squirmy tentacles.  Araton, their leader, shivered as he felt it too – but his voice cut through the thick blackness in a sparkling stream of sound.

'Don't be afraid!  We bring news of …

Premier Writer

The ACW can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The election is over and the British people have spoken decisively. The danger is receding that divisive political debate will break out inside our writerly safe haven. 
But without being partisan, can we be a bit more positive than this?  There’s a new, and for us, possibly exciting factor. We have elected a Prime Minister who has a second calling that most of his predecessors lacked. Like us, he is a writer. 
And he is an all-round writer, too. He started out as a journalist, and has explored most of the inevitably murky crevices of that profession, honing his facility with words along the way. He has developed the journalist’s ability to encapsulate a situation vividly. 
He later graduated to writing fiction. I’ve read the first few chapters of his political thriller Seventy-two Virgins, and he seems to have learnt the technique of writing racy, throwaway narrative that keeps you turning the pages. I’ve also read that the book is too lo…
Redemption by Rebecca Seaton

‘You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Saviour and your Redeemer’ (Isaiah 60:16)

    Redemption. I never set out to write about it but it’s become a recurrent theme. I think it started off with my desire to create well-rounded characters, people who had got things wrong but were still capable of good.

    This is, after all, how God sees us. How many times in the Bible does God essentially say, ‘Okay, you stuffed up, but let’s try again.’ It’s a lot! Not to mention that He says it a lot better and with less eye-rolling than I do when I’m giving someone another chance. God’s redemption is powerful in its abundance and completeness. The prodigal son knew he had sinned and hoped only to become one of his father’s servants but instead, ‘…when he was still a great way off his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.’ (Luke 15:20). There is no hesitation on the parent’s part, there are no conditions for the son. The fathe…

Attenborough at Christmas by Emily Owen

You may think, from the title of this blog, that it’s about the late Richard Attenborough. After all, didn’t he make a Christmas film?

He did indeed, and it’s a film I like watching at Christmas (yes, still!), but this blog was sparked by his brother.

I recently enjoyed watching the David Attenborough series ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’.

The programme on Australia featured one of the world’s largest birds, the Cassowary. At one point, the adult bird waded across a stream, leaving his little chicks to follow. Scary for the babies! One managed it, but one was too anxious, overwhelmed by the water, and turned back. After wandering around on its own for a while, it returned and plucked up courage to cross the stream to follow its father. As Attenborough’s commentary put it, ‘their bonds are stronger than their fears.’

Bond means join, or link. No matter how scary things got, they were less scary than separation.

No matter how big our fears, our bonds with our Heavenly Father are stronger…

God's gift to you

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears
                                      Isaiah 11:2-3

It's that time again to celebrate Jesus' birth, life and death and the release of the Holy Spirit into us.  What a privilege to have such a gift that grows and helps us to know Him, and can be used to bless others.  It was the Holy Spirit who drew my attention months before I committed my life to Jesus in 1972 and since has brought me divine appointments and incredible God-incidences.  He has made me conscious of God’s timing, provision and desire to fulfil my unspoken desires. Even silly things, one which happened the other day.  Having talked about a fiction book a friend and I wanted to read I was in the Oxfam bookshop two d…

Tidings of Comfort and Joy by Annmarie Miles

I hope you are all enjoying the Advent season and are looking forward to special family moments over Christmas. I'm aware that for some, Christmas is a difficult time, and a number of our ACW friends are struggling with illness and pain. I pray that God will bring great blessing and strength from these trials. 

2019 has been a difficult year for me. My 'pastor's wife' hat has felt more like a helmet as our church family have battled illnesses and struggles, leaving some of us tired and in need of healing and refreshing. I have been very emotional this year and have cried a lot, not always 100% sure what about... I fell at the end of August and cracked some ribs. I was in so much pain and felt old and weak. My confidence is still fragile four months later. Working on edits for my non-fiction wip about food, weight and God has been difficult and I've been challenged to look deeper at the reasons for my 'chaotic' eating. This is not easy.

In the middle of all th…

Channel People by Kathleen McAnear Smith

Channel People
The cold winter of Germany meant we could blow on our hands and see a soft cloud rise. We were young, my husband and I; and it was Christmas Eve. We’d been for a long walk over frozen ground and our conversation was of trying to remember a few words in German. It would mean so much to my mother in law. It was her night, her culture and we had promised that as she lived most of the year with the English side of the family; the conversation around the table on this night would be in German.

Once inside Tante Lisel’s house, warm and glowing and full  of advocaat and lebkuchen three nationalities of our family gathered. My dad would find the British English more challenging than remembering his high school German, and he tucked in his pocket the little American-English/English-American dictionary I found for him.

It was the jokes that didn’t always translate well, but Oma Lizbet clearly insisted we light candles and sing Stille Nacht, and then sit at the table full of the b…

Expectation Management for Advent by Georgie Tennant

My friend and I have coined a term which is helping us to navigate the ups and downs of family life – Expectation Management. We remind each other of it frequently, particularly at times when our expectations are in danger of running away with us.  We look forward to special days, birthdays, Christmases and holidays – but it is dawning on us both that Expectation Management is essential for these times.
The trouble is that we our victims of our own high expectations, as we envisage the most wonderful of days, our Mary Poppins-like selves, swirling and singing amongst our children, offering them home-baked wares and fun without ceasing.They, in turn, will listen to every sweet-sounding word we utter, offer their siblings first choice in all things and skip home, to head straight to bed with no need for toe-nail cutting, three extra drinks, five snacks and seven stories.Reality, as you can well imagine, never matches up – not even nearly.
I am a gold-medal winning high-expectations perfec…