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Showing posts from March, 2017

Mealbank (part 2) by Carol Purves

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In the autumn of 2016 the Association of Christian Writers (ACW) ran a competition for up to 1000 words on the subject of a Good Samaritan. The winning story was published in the Winter 2016 edition of Christian Writer, the magazine of ACW, which members receive through the post. The judges' comments on the top three stories appeared alongside the winning entry. Carol Purves’ entry came second. As Mealbank is a little long for a blog post, it is appearing here in two instalments.

Names have been changed to protect identity.

Continued from the previous post.
The work of Mealbank is not finished. Many, many people still cannot return to their homes. Their houses have not dried out sufficiently and the builders are busy and hard-pressed.


It is known that these church workers are Christian but there is no emphasis on this. They are here to help everyone and different groups are helping them. In the early days a group of Muslims from Manchester came to help as well as people from the Po…

Mealbank (part1) by Carol Purves

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In the autumn of 2016 the Association of Christian Writers (ACW) ran a competition for up to 1000 words on the subject of a Good Samaritan. The winning story was published in the Winter 2016 edition of Christian Writer, the magazine of ACW, which members receive through the post. The judges' comments on the top three stories appeared alongside the winning entry. Carol Purves’ entry came second. As Mealbank is a little long for a blog post, it is appearing here in two instalments.

It started with a flood. A real flood, not a trickle of water. A flood that in places reached 16ft and made over 800 homes uninhabitable. The December 2015 floods, caused by Hurricane Desmond, were widely reported, but what is not always realised is the devastation to each and every family involved.

The catastrophic deluge of rain occurred on the Saturday night. On the Sunday morning members of our church in Carlisle set to work to help. The formal church services became unimportant as the ladies as well as…

Telling It How It Is - The Psalms - Allison Symes

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Image Credit:  All images via Pixabay

The Bible tells it how it is.  There is no covering up of what we are like, which is one reason why it will always be a controversial book.  How many want to cover up what we are like as a species?  How many want to cover up individual failings?  I have felt that way - and will inevitably do so countless times in the future.  It is part of being human, the part we don’t usually admit to feeling.


One of my favourite books in the Bible is the Psalms. Every emotion is in there from joy to anger and despair.  I like that.  It is difficult at times when life is tough to be “happy” and count our blessings. 

Sheridan Voysey’s speech about memoir at the recent ACW Writers’ Day in Birmingham touched on that. We can all think of those we know who are having a tough time of it.  I never quite know whether in those circumstances those Christians are under spiritual attack or whether it is just the way life can be.  All I know is how important prayer is here …

Rosemary For Remembrance - NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR AUTHORS by Trevor Thorn.

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As I write, I am pondering the detail of a new contract with a publisher so they can publish some of my work in small-scale downloads. I suppose the pre-internet equivalent would be for the publication of pamphlets for which the economic decisions for a publisher would be complicated. How large should the print-run be? How can you retail pamphlets in amongst the huge volume of books available on most topics? Who would be prepared to sell such a necessarily low-cost publication with the obvious implication of only tiny profits (if any at all)? How would a pamphlet be advertised? A question which begs a further inevitable question of how much added cost this would involve.
But these questions diminish substantially in respect of a download. The print-run is not a question, and provided sales cover the editing and modest production costs of the publisher, they can take much more of a risk than they could with a pamphlet. Additionally, all author-publisher communications can be done over …

Writing to remember, by Lucy Mills

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This post originally appeared in the winter 2013 edition of Christian Writer, as a 'Finding Inspiration' column. 

Our memories are powerful. They summon old emotions and revive previous discoveries; they help us understand who and where we are in the world.

The troubled writer of Psalm 77 directs his attention to God in memory: ‘I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD; I will remember your wonders of old’ (v11, NRSV). The biblical writers often called on their memories in difficult times. They retold old stories of their saving God. Memories gave them hope – hope that God would once again deliver. Hope that today was not forever. Hope for something bigger, better, far more solid than the ground on which they stood.

They also called on their memories in the good times, celebrating past events and allowing them to spill over into present reality.

There is an echo of memory in everything we write. Our experiences inform our worldviews. As an exercise, try using memory more consci…

Gladstone's Library, by Eve Lockett

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And there was silence in heaven for half an hour… I think they must have been on the library tour at that point. And I know what the library looks like, because I am in the earthly version of it – Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden. I am seated in a balcony alcove at an old wooden desk with angle-poise lamp, facing a central space surrounded by carved railings and open to the floor below. I have just finished reading the Spring 2017 version of Christian Writer – (brilliant poem, A Messy Business by Alexine Crawford. More please!) – and I’m now thinking about next week’s blog. In fact, I’m thinking about a lot of things. We have been visiting friends locally and extended our stay to one night in the library. Not, as my husband keeps telling people, sleeping on a bookshelf – giving rise to jokes like ‘did you have to book?’ – but in a pleasant room of almost monastic simplicity, with a view of the adjacent churchyard. Books and graves, so peaceful. Strict silence is maintained in the main…

A Balanced Diet? by Fiona Lloyd

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For the past 15 months, I’ve been on a healthy eating plan. I’d got to the stage where everything in my wardrobe was too tight, so – being too parsimonious to splash out on a load of new clothes – I decided I needed to lose the odd stone or three.
My understanding of a balanced diet is a glass of wine in one hand, and a bar of chocolate in the other…but for some reason, this was frowned on at the slimming group I joined. With a heavy heart, I hid the wine bottles at the back of a cupboard, gave away the remainder of our Christmas choccies, and purchased a bumper-pack of Granny Smiths. This was not going to be fun.
But d’you know what? Turns out this healthy eating lark actually works. Having more fruit and vegetables – and less of the fatty, sugary stuff – on a regular basis means I can now find several things in my wardrobe that fit me properly, rather than threatening to cause an embarrassing incident every time I bend down to tie my shoelaces. I can walk to the end of our street wit…

Writing Grace

I’m starting this blog on Ash Wednesday. Today we went to the Dominican Priory in central Oxford for the service of ashing. I’m still trying to figure out why it was such a meaningful service. I came away feeling I had been fed. I don’t think it was just the brief sermon, though that was helpful. Ashes in Scripture, said the celebrant, stand to some extent for penitence, but much more for mourning. What do mourning and penitence have in common? They both direct us to what really matters in life. ‘You are dust, and to dust you will return.’ It was grounding, but not depressing, to think during that service about being mortal.

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Last night I met with two very different people for a time of lectio divina and contemplative prayer. We read Romans chapter 11, verses 1 to 6, together, each taking a verse and sharing what it said to us. What struck me was how easy it is for even a gifted prophet, as Elijah was, to become bitter, self-righteous, and perhaps even a bit paran…

Psalm (of Helen) : A mission statement

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Gentle readers, may I beg your indulgence with this post; I set out to write a psalm, without first making much of a study on how the psalms were written, and I know that there are scholars among you who know and understand things like structure, metre, the little couplety thing that many of the psalms have and so on.  This will clearly fall far short.

My offering below is probably neither a psalm nor a poem, but a kind of outpouring from the heart in the rough style of the psalmists at their most raw and un-poetic. I don't think God is offended by the awkward and unskilled, and this felt important to me. It just wanted to be said.

As a writer who has - and is - struggling to understand what I am called to do, to find a niche, so stop speak, this seems the very bottom line in why I keep opening my laptop and stringing words together even when frequently I feel like giving up for good. I have tried so many different things, nothing seems to fit, and I come back time and again to th…