Showing posts from April, 2020

I Knew It!

Do you think I’m violent now?” His one eye looks at his siblings, the other one has a cute penguin-stickered patch on. His little cherub face is looking delighted when he announces, “Well, when I’m seven, I will be a lot more violent!” He cackles a menacing laugh, whilst his chubby hand brings the spoonful of chocolate cereal to his mouth. His siblings smile indulgently, telling him he is dreadfully violent. He sighs contentedly, telling them he wants a very fighty birthday, with water pistols, handcuffs, the lot.

Context is a funny thing, I thought, standing in the queue for the supermarket, feeling the warm sun on my face, a slight breeze, birds singing... So idyllic. The stress and mess around us feeling surreal. In fact, hard to remember that the whole reason of me standing yards away from the supermarket entrance, drinking in the sun, was so as not to endanger myself or others. The taut faces and suspicious glares from other shoppers forming a weird contrast to the beauty arou…

What Writing Does For You by Allison Symes

Writing does many things for us including:-

1.  Helping us to appreciate the art of creation (and our Creator). It is a joy to take part in creativity.
2.  Helping us to develop empathy as you create characters. For them to work, you must be convinced your people could be “real” and so need to understand where they come from. You don’t have to like them though!
3.  Helping us to appreciate literacy. Writers need to read widely so we get two bites at this cherry and see literacy from both sides of the fence.

How can we make the most of this wonderful gift?

Whatever you write, it is vital you enjoy it.
It will be enjoyment which helps keep you going when all that comes in are rejections. I believe something of a writer’s love for creating a story or an article comes through in what is written. Readers pick that up subconsciously.

I have read pieces which strike me as dull. There has been no love in that writing. I can read a piece of, say, scientific writing on a topic I know nothing ab…

We, The Baby-Zoomers by Trevor Thorn

Illustration of a Zoom ‘gallery view’ from Zoom website.
Suddenly, we are walking along paths we never anticipated or even knew existed. Whoever had heard of ‘Zoom’ until 6 weeks ago? Yet now I can make a pun on the name, confident that most of my readers will understand the allusion. But, just in case you haven’t been drawn into a Zoom video conference/ gathering/ service/ time of worship, Zoom is an internet service that allows anyone with a computer to invite up to 100 internet-connected others to meet 'face to face’ 'on screen’ if that makes sense. The screens can be a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone. It is an amazing feat of technology to those of us who are infants to interconnectivity (and the vocabulary that goes with it)

Zoom, unsurprisingly, is not the only ‘new kid’ on this particular block. ‘What’s App’ is another service which may be better suited to smaller groups and ‘Skype’ has been in use for several years.

I hear some of you asking, ‘So what has this got…

Somewhere in Writer Land by Emily Owen

I’m writing this blog on 27th, which is Tracy Williamson’s slot (don’t worry, she’ll be back next month), because Tracy has a writing deadline with her publisher.

I don’t have a deadline.

Perhaps, broadly speaking, Tracy and I represent the writing community:

Those who have deadlines, those who don’t.

Those who are writing, those who aren’t.

Those who are relishing lockdown as a chance to write, those who are struggling to write during lockdown.

Those who are living their calling as a writer, those whose calling seems to be on pause.
On Thursday, I taught my six-year-old nephew some sign language. We had what you might call an ideal session; he was focused, enthusiastic, putting into practice what he had learned.

On Friday, I taught an elephant some sign language. My nephew decided to bring an elephant puppet to our online sign session. So we discussed the fact that elephants – having no hands – would find sign language difficult. We then worked out, just in case, how elephants cou…

When the tank feels empty… by Nicki Copeland

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now. My date has been looming, and I’ve been struggling to think of what I can write about. How to relate my current life events with something that will encourage and inspire all who read it. But… nothing.
As I’ve prayed about it, I’ve just had a sense that I need to be honest about where I’m at. So here it is.
I’m feeling as though I’m processing so many thoughts and feelings at the moment that there’s not much left in the tank for writing. I’ve been wrestling with a whole variety of emotions – from joy and peace all the way through to sadness and grief. As an introvert, I need time to myself to process and work through these, which means I’ve withdrawn somewhat from engaging with social media, and even from my loved ones to an extent.
I’m so very grateful for my family and friends – for their support and unconditional love. God knows what we need, and he ensures we have access to it, and I’m trying to press in more deeply to him du…

You can always take up knitting ..... by Eileen Padmore

For decades my secret passions have been knitting and crochet. Not secret because I'm ashamed – more to do with growing up in a post war society that regarded knitting as only carried out by the desperately lonely or unfulfilled.

You've heard the knitting jokes:

'What will you do with yourself when you retire?'

'Lots, but never fear – I won't be sitting at home, knitting!'

Once it came from the pulpit via a curate who was urging the young to use their skills in service. He said, to a round of sniggers:

'Don't worry.  I'm not suggesting you take up knitting.'

Now, there is a resurgence of interest in handicrafts across the generations. I know because I've been in demand to teach family and friends. But I had no idea that God delights in all creativity and can use it in his service.

Then, on retreat, the gentle voice got through at last with the name 'Dorcas'. It persisted ...... 'til I looked her up. And there she was in Acts 9, s…

The Anchor Point

When life is tough, or we are dragged down by events all around us, it can be helpful to revisit one of the anchor points in our life. It might be the time when God first became real to us, or, perhaps more likely, the most recent of numerous times when he has graciously turned the course of our life back towards himself. It may involve going to a place (this would have to be a virtual trip at the present time!), speaking with a wise friend, looking into past journals, or (for many of us) rereading a book that has had a big influence on our thinking.
A couple of weeks into the lockdown, something, I don’t know what, prompted me to look again at the story of my favourite modern saint, St Pio of Pietrelcina. I took one of my four books about him from the shelf, and as I glanced through it, my eye fell on an account of his early days as a Capuchin friar. He had longed since boyhood for the moment when he would be clothed with the habit and received into the Order. But when he was assigned…

Times and Seasons by Rebecca Seaton

Times and Seasons by Rebecca Seaton
Growing potatoes: first earlies, second for every season

    ‘For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

    We are in a strange season now. Even though we all know it, it’s hard to have a conversation with someone without saying ‘strange times’, as if we need to be sure that someone else sees what we see.

    Often, we don’t realise the uniqueness of seasons until they pass. It’s only when the weather gets warmer that we realise we’ve been cold for quite a while. Or in a lockdown, when you can’t do something you miss it even though it didn’t feel that special before.

ACW Writers' Days: from 'turning up' to having my work on the table: a season I couldn't have predicted!

    Time gives us perspective. A month ago, if you’d asked how much time I was getting off for Easter, I would have said ‘two weeks’, with a  barely supressed ‘obvi…

Grace Words by Emily Owen

Some years ago, a close friend of mine, who knew she was dying, held a ‘celebration of life’ service.
It was a beautiful, poignant service, and the church was full of family and friends. As we filed out, we passed a lone piper, the music from her bagpipes ringing out across the Scottish hills.

The piper was called Doreen. I’d met her briefly the previous day, when she collected me from the train station. I chatted further with her at the Ceilidh that night. She drove me to the station the following day, we said goodbye, and that was that. Or it would have been, if not for Facebook.
One of us friend-requested the other, and so we stayed in vague touch.

Recently, we’ve been chatting more. Doreen, from – and currently in – America, but splitting her time between there and the UK, was interested when I told her about the ‘Clap for Carers’ we do over here. She worked out the time difference, and declared that at her equivalent of 8pm UK time on Thursdays, she would play her bagpipes in so…

Food for thought

"...if you pour out that with which you  sustain your own life for the hungry and  satisfy the need of the afflicted,  then shall your light rise in darkness,  and your obscurity and gloom become  like the noonday.
"And the Lord shall guide you continually  and satisfy you in drought and  in dry places and make strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden  and like a spring of water  whose waters fail not."   Isaiah 58: 9-10
Who would have believed four months ago that the world would, for an indefinite period, virtually close down?  Our neighbours have set up a ‘What’s App Group’ to help anyone in need.As I am over 70, I asked the Lord what could I do for the common good.I grinned when I felt the Lord ask, “What’s that in your hand?” I could have answered, “A toilet roll!” But realised He was asking on a deeper level. Ps.45 came to mind, ‘…My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.’ Next to that verse years ago I’d written Ps 49.I turned to it and saw I’d highlighte…

Reflections on an online launch party by Annmarie Miles

Back in December 2019, I self published my first novel, Gorse Lodge. It had been a NaNoWriMo project. Zero words in December 2018, completed and ready for the world 12 months later. I have a small writing network but didn't feel confident enough to launch the book formally here in Wales. I was also conscious that I wanted to bring my Irish writing and reading contacts into the mix and so opted for a virtual Facebook launch party. I had seen other writers do it in addition to their public launch, but this was going to be my only shot at it. I thought I'd share with you how I arranged it and what I learned.

How did I do it?
I thought about it well in advance and looked at what and how others had done. I am not a confident marketeer and don't like constantly bombarding people with stuff about my books. This probably flies in the face of good publicity practise, but I can't do it, and I'm annoyed when others do it to me. But I decided that for this event, I would be bra…

God’s House Today

Psalm 122: 1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord.”

The eight people in the old East End Church were all getting on in age, but they were kneeling once again. They had received the letter they dreaded, which said the doors would soon close and they would no longer be a church.
“Lord, please send us some people. We need numbers in this place or the diocese will close us.” Even the oldest of men were about in tears.

Years before, the fathers of this small group once stood on the roof of the church, picking up incendiary bombs and tossing them into the Thames. Blankets had been slapped on tiles and stones as they smacked down flames. World War 11 did all it could to take them down and destroy the building, but still they held weddings and christenings and remembered to take communion.

As this kneeling group now prayed, on the far side of the city a Bishop was pushing up his sleeves and lambasting the news from the Mayor of London. The Mayor said he had a…

A Spacious Place by Georgie Tennant

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

I have been thinking about spacious places a lot recently – I’m sure many of us have, confined as we are, in a way we have never known before. 
I do not live in a spacious place.  I wrote in another post about the likeness of my house to Julia Donaldson’s “A Squash and a Squeeze” when my in-laws come to visit. Its two-up-two-down proportions certainly don’t lend themselves to it coming highly recommended on Trip-Advisor as “best place to spend a pandemic, with a husband and growing sons.”
The house isn’t the real problem though – I think I’ve known that from the start.  On my better days I am deeply grateful for any kind of roof over my head, food on the table and a location in walking distance of beautiful, flat Norfolk countryside.  The issue (as is so often the case) is more in my heart and mind.  It is one I am working on, with my ever-patient heavenly Father.
I can’t yet offer you a step…