Showing posts from 2020

To list or not to list? by Susan Sanderson

 Some people find lists helpful; others do not bother with them. I cycle between using lists and forgetting or not bothering to use them. At particularly busy times I find lists essential, but at other times I may not bother to look at a ‘to-do’ list I have already made. Is this a form of procrastination? Perhaps if I made a habit of making lists and checking things off on them I’d achieve more. Maybe I don’t use lists when there are things I’d rather not do! (The image is some books in list form.) One sort of list I find easy to make is for my blogs - a contents list and index can easily be kept up-to-date as long as I do this from an early stage. When I decided to index my book reviews by author, it turned out to be a big job! Updating it now it has been started only takes a few minutes a month. The problem I find with to-do lists is that I might set off by doing the easy things, leaving the things I find difficult until last. Then they remain reproachfully on the list. At this


It is nearly the end of the year, and one of the things that come to mind is Expectations. Expectations for the year behind and ahead, for Christmas. Expectations for the day, for my writing. It’s Monday as I write this, and I was expecting an early food delivery. I woke up, and the world was strangely quiet. I just knew it was that snowy quiet that I didn’t want that morning. My expectations for the day had been shattered before it was even light! (Thanks to the incredible delivery driver, we still got our shopping!) Then there were our expectations for 2020. Ha. Need I say more? With all the craziness, some expectations disappeared right away, but I found out what a good thing that can be. My daughter has immense expectations for what a birthday should look like. Those expectations are never met, as they involve a carefully shaped script for every member of the family, covering every moment of the day. The only problem is, nobody has seen the script, so we all get our lines wrong,

Looking Ahead by Allison Symes

There was only one topic for this post given its timing. How can writers look ahead? Can you over-plan? Should you allow room for spontaneity? Answers on a postcard…  Seriously, there are ways writers can look ahead.   This kind of plan can help clear your thoughts. Pixabay image.   Yes, you can over-plan.  Yes, you should allow room for spontaneity. Does that sound like I’m trying to have my cake and eat it? Guilty. Why have cake if you’re not going to eat it? Using deadlines, such as the end of a year, to review what you've achieved and work out what you would like to achieve in the next 12 months is a good idea.  Pixabay image. Looking Ahead Think about where you would like your writing to be a year from now. Discard the dreams of winning the Booker. It’s unlikely. Look back at what you achieved with your writing in the past year.  Jotting down ideas of what you would like to achieve can help you make progress towards achieving them. Pixabay image.   Achievements can be anything

A Unique Christmas - We Hope! And a suggestion - by Trevor Thorn

Our Christmas tree with 74 angels  - but only us to reflect on them. Other than for those among us with a desire to be a hermit, I imagine most of us will be feeling sad that we were not able to be with those we love and care for during this year's celebration of Christ’s birth.  I imagine, too, that most of us will be hoping Christmas 2021 will be a reversion to our ‘normal’ celebratory mode - although changes during the twelve months until 25.12.2021 will almost inevitably mean next years commemoration will not be a mere postponement of this year’s plans. So while everything is fresh in mind, with every missed hug, every diminished gathering, every unexpected solitude, it might be  good if anyone who delights in writing in any genre, recorded our feelings about this festival time that we hope will prove unique. It might also be good discipline to limit our accounts to a single side of A4 - and someone just might like to take on gathering these stories together. (I can’t do that b

What happens next? Tracy Williamson

How did it feel for Mary and Joseph as they began their long journey into parenthood?  Up until now their entire focus had been on getting themselves safely to Bethlehem and finding accommodation.   Such a whirlwind of emotion those last months, from incredulity, awe, confusion, sadness,and deep anxiety, to love, worship, joy and inner peace. They had done it!  They'd heard God's call and believed.  They'd given everything to see that call fulfilled, whatever the cost, whatever people believed. And here it was, their precious son, Jesus. Yes they'd had nowhere to go and that was hard, but they'd persevered trusting God for who else could they entrust with this secret so huge? That moment of sublime ecstasy, agony and joy as Jesus was born and they gazed upon their son. And the Shepherds came And the animals watched And they knew profound relief. But what about the next day, and the next. and next?  As the adrenaline subsided now the massive milestone of his birth ha

What do St Stephen, wrens and leftovers have in common? by Nicki Copeland

  Today, the day we call Boxing Day, is also called St Stephen’s Day, after the first Christian martyr (see Acts 6–7). It’s called Boxing Day from the practice of giving little gifts and leftover food to household servants as a thank you for their work. In Ireland, it’s also sometimes known as Wren Day. In days gone by, a wren would be killed and children would parade it round the streets, offering one of its feathers, which were believed to bring good luck, in exchange for money. (I didn’t know that.) By Boxing Day, for many of us, all that’s left of Christmas Day is a bin-liner full of screwed-up wrapping paper and a mountain of leftover turkey and roasties. Yesterday was perhaps a different Christmas from usual for many of us. We may not have been able to see the family we had been planning to. Some of us may even have spent it on our own, or in a much quieter manner than we had been anticipating. For others of us, with family members still at home, it might not have been so diffe

Nativity 2020 by Eileen Padmore

 The emergency ambulance screamed through darkened streets over icy rain soaked surfaces. Directions had been vague .... a barn .... in a field. Through town now, final squealing corner .... broken gate .... muddy track; siren shattering silence. Skidded stop: hearts pumping painfully in the run to the barn .... intense blackness overhead lit by weirdly bright star. 'God help us,' breathed Zac as they peered inside, knocked back by the pungent smell of cattle. 'A born-on-arrival in this mess!' For there was the babe in a cattle feeding trough wrapped in Dad's grubby hoodie. Teenage Mum looked vulnerable, exhausted – Dad shivering, shell shocked. 'What's your name, darling,' asked Liz? 'Maria, that's nice. Let's have a look at you.' Crash! The wonky door swung open as a posse of dishevelled migrants flooded in. Employed by the farmer to pick his winter crop of sprouts for less than minimum wage, they surged forward on a confused tide of ch

Comfort and Joy

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40, the lesson set for the second Sunday of Advent in churches that follow the lectionary.) Amidst the very real gloom and darkness of this present time, let us hope and pray that we Christian writers will be able to touch and affirm the ‘comfort and joy’ of Christ’s Advent. If we can manage that, even perhaps feebly and faintly, we should go on to think how we can by our writing

Sacrificial Love by Rebecca Seaton

                                Sacrificial Love by Rebecca Seaton                              Celebrating the birth of Jesus might seem a funny time of year to be thinking about sacrificial love. Surely that’s more Easter? But to me, Christmas reminds me of that too: our God came to earth not as a king but as a baby to live and grow as a human and ultimately to die for our sins. Living as a human, fully man whilst fully God, was no small sacrifice in itself. Growing, eating, sleeping, just sharing a house with family, being different but living with them like equals. Also, there weren’t the creature comforts we have now. Jesus was walking or riding a donkey in hot, sandy conditions. Just like us, He experienced loss, was mocked, saw friends suffer. But He chose to do this knowing He had the power to do what he liked. We often talk of His life as a sacrifice and mean when He gave his life on the cross, but it’s important to remember His life itself was also a sacrifice, living as a m

The Word In Words by Emily Owen

‘Words!’ said my five-year-old niece, triumphantly. They’d been talking about Christmas, and Jesus coming, and how the whole Bible points to Jesus. At the end of the conversation, just to round it off, my sister asked my niece what runs through the whole Bible? No Sunday School-esque answer of “Jesus!” from my niece. What runs through the whole Bible? “Words!” Never let it be said that my niece does not have impeccable logic. But perhaps she wasn’t as far off as my sister’s ‘we have some work to do….’ message to the family WhatsApp group implied. Along with the written words on each page, even in those words, is The Word – Jesus. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14a At Christmas, we often read: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… Isaiah 9:6a Echoing words of the prophets, who long predicted that the Messiah would come. And in the end, He did. Because words on a page – or a scroll, or word-of-mouth – were not enough.

The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer

  “ …Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,   to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’   tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord . When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”                 Joshua 4: 5-7 As writers we have a great opportunity to play our part in the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer.  The above picture is how this monument will look when built. It is to be situated between the M42 and M6 Motorways and it is estimated with cars, trains and planes from Birmingham Airport that 500,000 journeys will pass the site each week.   You may already know this is to be a memorial to the Lord who keeps and watches over us.  And it would seem in perfect timing as we come out of the wilderness of this year.  Many p