Friday, September 27, 2013

Hello everyone, Di Riley here.

Characters.....
Adam’s ‘what if’post (September 16) made me think about the characters in my stories and how they come to life.

The short answer is 'people watching'.

I could leave my post there really, but so much more fun to walk you down the streets of my mind and how people watching works for me.


When I was sixteenish, a friend in our youth group was doing her HSC. Her parents said she had to break off her relationship with the guy she was going out with so she could concentrate on her study. 
(Very traumatic for us all at the time, after all he had just given her a ‘friendship’ ring!)
I was outraged and saddened for my friend.  So I penned my frustrations in a story (changing the names to protect the innocent!).
It was there my first characters were given life in my imagination.
The story hasn't seen the light of day yet – it is in the ‘ready for the professional editor’ folder.
(Although you will be pleased to know, an amazing HSC mark was achieved, the couple resumed their relationship and they have been married for over 30 years now!)

For seven years I worked as an office lady in a K – 12 school.  A treasure trove of situations, dilemmas, heroes and heroines were before my people watching eyes every day!
Student trauma over mobile phone usage soon had me typing away, my son and his friends provided much of the story line. 
Oh and what about relationships – school is the perfect place to find some characters to write about, deaths and romances for the unsuspecting teachers, parents and students!

Church can be an interesting place to find characters too.  People losing faith, finding faith and walking through life’s difficulties whose own characters are being built along the way in my imagination. 

I now work in customer service, the tangled webs of people's lives, gives me an enormous panorama to let my people watching eyes meander over.

My parents have moved into a retirement village, from the staff to the ‘inmates’ (as I call my folks….good naturedly!) there is information a-plenty for fabulous inheritance squabbles and family tension to be relieved with a happily ever after ending.

Hope you have found this little piece amusing (maybe inspiring?), it is confidential, but perhaps you should look out if I meet up with you at conference, something you do or say might just end up in a story!

(Names and places changed for protection of the innocent, naturally!)  


Monday, September 23, 2013

Greater Expectations


Each day starts off with certain expectations but what of our expectations of others. Do we have greater expectations of Christians than we do of other people? I think so. Just recently I have found the behaviour of some Christians hard to understand.  

In one case, a Christian friend and I had a difference of opinion that ultimately resulted in severing the friendship. That argument and what was said, was something between us and no-one else. To me it was something between the two of us and it went no further.  It didn’t concern anyone else. However she chose to relate details of the argument to others.  As we know the person telling the story invariably tells it from their point of view, so it looks like they are the one wronged.  Listen to anyone tell the story of an argument and you’ll see what I mean.

In another situation another Christian related a couple of incidents to me.  What struck me as she related the tale was the bitterness and resentment towards the other party involved in the dispute.   The situation had happened many years ago but she had not let go of it. Looking at it from the outside, it is often easy to see there was probably right and wrong on both sides.

Even though in each case the people involved were mature Christians, they struggled with their emotions and behaved in a manner that I found disappointing. The truth is we have greater expectations of Christians. Then I realised how often my actions and behaviour are also disappointing to God, to others and to myself.  How often I let Christ down and do not live up to those greater expectations.

When you look at the bible it never shies away from showing us people’s faults and times when they fail Jesus. Think of some of the disputes we see in the New Testament. There is Paul when he challenges Peter over his attitudes and hypocrisy regarding Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-21. Or Paul and Barnabas when they disagree over John Mark and his role in ministry and so go their separate ways, Acts 15:36-41. Yet no one would deny Paul was a mighty servant of Jesus.  God is always able to use any situation, even disputes, to further His kingdom.

So what does this have to do with writing? Whether we are writing fiction or nonfiction we need to show complex characters not stereotypes. Characters who struggle to make decisions, who struggle to get it right, characters that disagree and make unwise choices. As readers we need to see that even when Christians do not act as we might expect, when they harbour grudges and resentment or gossip about others, His plans are not thwarted. He can still use those imperfect people to further His kingdom.

A minister once told me and the rest of his congregation ‘if you are not having struggles sin your Christian life, then there is something wrong. Satan doesn’t think you're worth bothering with because you’re not an effective Christian.’  Let’s come back to Paul. How often did he struggle between the human nature and the godly nature and do things he didn’t want to do? Don’t believe me? Have a look at his words in Romans 7: 14-25.

In some Christian books I have read in the past, making the right decision and behaving in a godly manner comes too easily to the Christian. That makes it hard for a lot of our readers to identify with if they don’t find the Christian life and making the right choice that easy. The truth is the Christian life can be a struggle at times. So it is important we show the conflict and struggles that go on within, the time when characters doubt and make wrong decisions as well as the ultimate triumphs. I’d love to hear examples of recent books where you have found the main character has made unwise decisions and struggled with doing the right thing, while still being able to be used by God or changed by God.
 
Dale writes fiction and poetry and had recently submitted a 365 day devotional /commentary  tentatively titled A Day at a Time to a publisher. Now she's working on another novel. You can find out more about Dale at www.daleharcombe.com and you might like to follow her blog at Write and Read with Dale http://orangedale.livejournal.com/

Friday, September 20, 2013

BEWARE of STEREOTYPES


MOVIE GOER
This is something authors have to keep in mind
each time we create and write a character. And
stereotyping people is something we're too often
guilty of doing in real life. You only have to hear of
someone's occupation for a caricature to spring to mind.

One example: A MISSIONARY.

Now according to many Hollywood films I've seen, a missionary is usually seen as either of two types - a gentle, absent-minded soul who can't make it in the real world. Or a harsh tyrant trampling culture and forcing indigenous people to accept his own ingrained ideas of Christianity.

A real life occurrence of that mindset happened sometime ago. I'll fill in the background.

Many, many years before, five young male missionaries were speared to death in the steaming Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. They'd just begun to make overtures to the Auca Indians (as they were then known.) The mass media splashed the shocking headlines right around the world. Yet their sacrifice resulted in many great changes to those tribal people.

Now fast forward ....  When an a group of anthropology students asked permission to study these people, the tribe gave their consent. Some thirteen hours later after trekking through thick jungle and mountain gorges, the exhausted students reached camp...and fell on their faces. Once they'd recovered and eaten, the group began making pronouncements of how the missionaries had ruined their tribal culture. The people seemed puzzled. Then they were asked if they were worse off after being invaded by the missionaries, supposedly with the white man's germs killing them off.

When that was also translated the natives began to laugh uproariously. Now the students looked puzzled and asked, "What's so funny?" The tribal elders promptly answered: "No, no. We were saved from killing each other off." They then pointed out various tribal members and explained, "This man's father I killed, then his two brothers and his aunt." Another indicated a woman. "Her husband I speared, and her sister." Others soon joined in ... describing the routine of pay-back killings.

At that point the students' eyes grew rounder at the tale of horrific bloodshed.One of them asked the local missionary, "Are we safe here?"  But then the elder added, "Hating and killing we lived. But now Jesus has filled our hearts with His love. He has forgiven our many sins and now we want to tell other tribes about Him." Many an eye glistened and they experienced genuine embarrassment to realize just how far removed was the the stereotype of the bungling missionary.

Rita Stella Galieh is the author of two published books and is involved in an Australia-wide Christian radio program, VANTAGE POINT. This is an excerpt from one yet to be aired. She also shares real life stories of authors and anyone who cares to share about their personal romance/marriage in her weekly blog,
http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com  Her contact is: ritagalieh  at  gmail  dot  com   
She'd love to hear from you!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Seizing the day

Years ago, I remember seeing the movie ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and being very stirred by it. For a long time afterwards, those Latin words ‘carpe diem’ and their English translation ‘seize the day’ which actor Robin Williams so passionately uttered to his young student audience kept ringing in my head. And this month they have come back to me as my sixth novel, The Inheritance, has been released.

The reason they have, I imagine, is that they are a little reminder to me to ‘seize the day’ once again—to promote this new novel as best I can and to use the opportunity to be able to speak about the things God has put in my heart and mind to share with others. In one way, this is easy for me to do. Firstly, I love this novel of mine. I have become quite attached to the main characters in particular and still enjoy reflecting on how their journeys unfolded! You see, my hero Michael Trevelyan faces quite a struggle as he tries to come to grips with the past, be reconciled with himself, his family and ultimately God, and to face the future with courage and integrity. Meanwhile, my heroine Alexandra Hope has a different struggle on her hands—to stay true to her faith in God and pursue God’s purposes for her life.
Secondly, I love the main theme of The Inheritance. As a result of God’s prompting, I believe, and also as a result of many situations I have seen in ministry, I wanted to write a novel that shows how anger, bitterness, hypocrisy and pretence can have such an adverse effect in our own lives, as well as in the lives of others, and keep us from experiencing God’s amazing grace. As I wrote, the words of Hebrews 12:15 kept ringing in my ears: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. So in promoting this novel, I have the great privilege of sharing more about God’s amazing grace and about walking into all the freedom God’s forgiveness has for us.

Finally, I think the gratitude I feel to God—and to my publisher, Even Before Publishing—that The Inheritance has actually been released also spurs me on to hop into promoting it with all my heart. Even now, I find it hard to believe that, under God’s hand, I have had six novels and one memoir, Soul Friend, published in the last seven years. So surely it is up to me to go for what God has given me to do at this stage of my life. I have loved all the other roles I have had in earlier years—high school teacher, full-time mum, editor, front desk person in a busy church/community environment, local church pastor. But I believe God has melded all that experience together now for a reason—and that is to go for it with my writing and speaking as best I can, to ‘seize the day’ while the opportunities are there.

May you all be encouraged, wherever you are at with your own writing, to listen with all your heart, to hear what God has for you at this stage of your journey and then to step out and ‘seize the day’ in God’s strength. God has good things for you to do, writing or otherwise!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information or to purchase her books, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What If?

"What if?" That has got to be the greatest question in the english language. It is at the heart of all stories, and is a great jumping off point for the imagination. Most of my stories begin with a what if question.

My current manuscript was birthed out of one such question eight years ago. I was sitting in my wife’s room on the maternity ward a few days after she’d given birth to our first-born. That morning I’d been reading the story of the tower of babel in my Bible. We all know it. God confused the languages. People got into tribes and spread out across the earth. As I thought about this, a question pop into my head. What if one of those tribes actually left the planet. What if they had travelled into space and colonised another world. I'm a nerd so I think about questions like that sometimes. This gave a jumping-off point to start developing the mythology for my world’s back story, although the end result has become something a little different than what they first question led me to.

Fast forward a couple of years, and my daughter is no longer a baby, but a little girl who loves princesses. To me, Chloe was my little princess, and still is. I think all fathers of girls believe their daughters are princesses. Suddenly another ‘what if’ question appeared in my head - what if it were really true? What if my daughter really was a princess? Obviously I'm not a king, so what would that mean? This became the basis for my protagonist.

The cool thing about ‘what if’ questions is that they naturally lead to more 'what if' questions. That initial thought about princesses led me down an interesting path. What if there was a monarchist society that sent the first-born heir away to be raised in secret by ordinary people, so that when he or she took the throne, they’d know the everyday struggles of their subjects, and not just the life of privilege enjoyed by royalty. What if this custom came about after a revolt against a previous dynasty that mistreated and abused the poor. What if there was a father who adopted this special child, loved her, all the while knowing that someday she would leave him and become queen. What if she grew up happily ignorant of all of this, just to discover one day that she is the hidden heir that everyone is talking about?

Sometimes these ideas don’t so much lead to other ‘what if’ questions, but rather refining questions. My initial thought about the tower of babel got my little gray cells working. How did these people in the early days of genesis have the technology to travel to other worlds, and why did we lose that ability?

What a fun and creative way to brainstorm a story. Some of the questions that come to you will be dead ends, but that’s okay. These types of question are particularly handy for world-building in a sci-fi or fantasy situation but I think they are equally useful for other genres. I'm looking forward to doing this in a more conscious way in the future. Who knows what I might end up with.

What are some of your favourite ‘what if’ questions from story premises (either as a writer or a reader)?


Adam CollingsAdam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction and video blogger. He is actively working toward becoming a published author. He lives in Tasmania, Australia. Adam discusses books and movies on his youTube series Stories. You can find Adam on-line at collingszone.wordpress.com or his Google+ Profile

Friday, September 13, 2013

Simplify Your Life

Recently I spoke at a Ladies Breakfast on the topic: Simplify your life . I expressed the thought that our lives would be less complex if we were better at saying “no”.

Here are a few reasons why we have trouble saying, “no”

1. We underestimate our schedule. Everything takes longer than we expect.
We have a saying in our house: Never sit in front of a computer and say this will only take a minute.

We live in a fallen world and everything takes longer than it should. Computer crash, cars break down, children are clumsy, and we don’t allow time for the unexpected. We assume everything is going to go perfectly according to plan. But it’s a wrong assumption, the world is not a perfect place and we need to have gaps in our schedule. Having more gaps will ensure that we are not constantly tired and feeling overwhelmed. We also need gaps in our schedule in case God bring someone to mind who needs an encouraging phone call or visit or maybe someone who needs our prayers.

2. Our self esteem is tied to what we do
In Isaiah 6 we find the familiar verse, "I’ll go. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8). The Lord sent Isaiah, but told him people would not listen (v.9).

Isaiah’s mission was doomed from the beginning. Usually we expect that if God tells us to do something it will end in success and yet right from the start God tells Isaiah his mission would be a failure.

If Isaiah had been looking for his self esteem in his achievements, he was going to be severely disappointed. It is a trap that we often fall into, believing that we are only worthwhile as people if we are involved in something that is successful. But sometimes God calls us to do things that will not be successful in the world's eyes and we need to know that our significance as people is found in God and not in our achievements.

3. We keep ourselves busy because we are afraid to say “yes” to those things God wants us to do
We may feel challenged to become more committed about having a regular devotional time or prayer time or attending a Bible Study Group or becoming involved in a ministry. It is easy to say, I’m too busy to do anything else for God.

But perhaps God is asking us to stop doing some things so we do have time. We need to learn to say “no” to the unimportant so we have time to say “yes” to the important.

4. I’m afraid I’m not doing enough so I feel guilty when I say, “no”
If we measure our spirituality by what we do, we will find we can never do enough. It leads to the feeling that we are not good enough and that God is displeased with us. However if we focus on Jesus and all he has done for us, it leads to feelings of gratitude and the knowledge that though we can never repay him, we don’t need to.

5. Our friends, instead of encouraging us not to over schedule, actually make saying “no” more difficult
In the book of Philemon we find Paul is writing to his friend about Onesimus. Onesimus had been Philemon's slave who had apparently stolen from Philemon and then ran away. But in the amazing providence of God, Onesimus went to Rome, met Paul and became a Christian. Paul was now sending Onesimus back to Philemon. And he writes:

I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary (v.13-14).

Paul didn't want to pressurize Philemon into helping him or doing him a favour. We do others a disservice when we presume upon their kindness or put them under some sort of obligation to assist even if it is for the cause of the gospel.

Hope these few thoughts help you to simplify your life.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A few things I've learned from community...

I remember the first post I wrote for this blog. I was nervous (I think it may have been the first blog post I'd ever written) but I was also excited. This was something new on the Australian writing scene - a group of writers with a common goal and shared faith, writing together, striving together to build community. Until this blog (and it's accompanying Facebook group) appeared on the scene, writing faith inspired work felt incredibly lonely in Australia. There were writers, we knew each other existed somewhere, but struggling through the shelves of bookstores it was hard to locate books by artists from this side of the globe.

But once the online writing community started, it began to blossom. The situation for emerging and established faith writers is quite different now to what it was. Distance and isolation (be it due to location or situation) have been reduced and connections have been made possible. There are numerous online writers groups for people writing faith inspired work, each with it's unique angle and purpose, but all designed to support and encourage one another. There are also Yahoo groups, discussion groups and local voices growing in the blog-isphere.
The CALEB Conference emerged out of the Word Writers Fair - an event I've been privileged to attend twice, and will be attending again in the future. Online relationships were strengthened with discussions and workshops, and I believe the Australian faith inspired writing community is stronger now than it ever has been. The evidence is on in the book shelves of the Christian bookstores: Aussie books easier to find, more little Aussie symbols next to familiar books in catalogues, and authors standing by and supporting each other using the most powerful marketing strategy ever - WORD OF MOUTH.

For me, watching this growth of relationships and networking, both connected with this blog and the many, many sprawls beyond, it has been exceptionally encouraging. I feel less like a lonely little writer pushing against a tide of anonymity, more a part of a wider family. So as I write this post, the last CWD post from me for the time being, I want to say Thank You to the writers I've been privileged to meet and write with in this context. Here's some of what I've learned from you:

* Never give up. Even when it feels terribly hard and painfully lonely, there are other writers feeling exactly the same and when we push through, and keep going, it's worth it in the end.

* Aussie writers write good fiction! (Yep, I'll admit it, even I was dubious! But there are some local wordsmiths out there brave enough to tackle faith related themes and they are worth the search.)

* Networking pays off. It pays off in sales, but even more importantly in sharpening skills, promoting excellence and producing a more polished product.

* Stay true to your first love. Anyone reading back over the blog posts here will notice a common theme: writers striving against the pull of the world to write for the original Creator. It's not easy, it challenges the very motivations behind why we write, but many, many CWD posts echo the blessing received in this obedience.

* Stay connected. Whether it's here, or on other writing blogs, online groups, at writing conferences and get-togethers. It's fellowship; important, valuable and rich.

Penny Reeve is the author of more than 15 children's books including the 2013 CALEB Award Children's Category finalists More Than A Mouse and Wonderfully Madison. She recently returned from a two week trip to India with Stop the Traffik and is hoping to seek publication for her YA novel on the subject next year. For more information about Penny, or her books, visit  www.pennyreeve.com 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Take the time you need



Here's something I was ruminating over some time ago, and the importance of it struck me again. 

Have you ever wanted to get immediately to work on a new writing venture but your ideas are scattered in many places? Or maybe you have a couple of ideas and don't know which to focus on. Then again, perhaps you want to have a good idea, but nothing is stirring yet. I know the feelings when ideas are bouncing around in my mind, but haven't crystallised into a smooth plot. It actually took me a decade of mulling over the plot for my novel, "Best Forgotten" before it became clear that I should work on it. In the meantime I was working on other projects. But I know it's easy to get a bit frustrated when ideas are pushing each other around and not coming together quite as quickly as I'd hoped. I get anxious to commence the writing part, when I'm knocking off chapter by chapter and growing a pile of A4 pages.

But I've learned a few lessons. The first was from an interview with John Cleese. He said that one of his secrets of creativity is to take all the time necessary to ponder or ruminate over an idea without rushing it. Another member of the Monty Python team who he considered more naturally gifted than him (and he didn't say who), never seemed to come up with the unique ideas that Cleese did. One day, the reason dawned on him. His friend wanted to feel as if he was a productive worker so when he was focusing on script writing, he'd leap on the first workable idea that occurred to him with a "that'll do" sort of attitude.

Cleese, on the other hand, would take as much time as he needed to make his scripts as polished and original as possible. His advice struck a chord with me. I thought, "That's it!" Daydreaming doesn't look productive because we have a lot of ground-in attitudes erroneously programmed into our cellular make-up. First, there's the Protestant work ethic, which convinces us that we need to work hard and have something tangible and admirable to show at the end of each day. Secondly, to reinforce this, we have the 'instant' culture of the 21st century to contend with. Labour-saving devices, fast food drive-thrus, bombardments of blogs, emails and media press releases telling us how to be more productive, not waste a moment and get things done in a snap as soon as the thought occurs to us. We even get into the habit of speed reading the interesting articles that come up on our computers because our subconscious minds tell us that we must rush back to producing, impressing, working hard, having something to show for ourselves.

Even though I've got the slower-paced lifestyle of a writer/homeschooling mother, I still fall into the fast racing, rat-race style way of thinking. Of course, it's not entirely my fault. It's been drilled into all of us from our school days. We have a blank exam booklet placed before us and are told to come up with essays and stories which will wow a teacher's socks off within a time limit of 120 minutes. Didn't we used to get in trouble if we handed up just a paragraph or two because our ideas wouldn't come together? Didn't I personally, used to get scolded by my teachers for staring into space? We take on board what we're taught from those who are set over us as our guides and mentors.

It's great to get a grasp of the real truth. Daydreaming may not look productive, but when I'm doing it, I'm really working just as hard as I am when those chapters are flying out of my printer. Lying in the bath and thinking about story possibilities isn't time-wasting at all. Neither is going on night drives with music on, just because I know it gets my creative juices flowing. Even though it may look to the world (and myself) as if this is just wool-gathering and pointless, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the book of Nehemiah onwards, we read how our hero heard about the plight of his beloved city, Jerusalem, and decided to take his life into his hands by appealing to his master, the Persian king Ataxerxes, to let him return with a retinue of followers to rebuild the city. In my mind, the short chapters of this biblical book moved quickly enough for me to imagine that he had the idea one day, went out to approach the king the next, and had his group and supplies set up and ready to leave at the end of the first night. Not so at all. I read that scholars have figured out that Nehemiah took three to four months before he decided to approach Ataxerxes with his creative idea. During that block of time, he pretty much sat silently before God, fasting and praying the whole time. That's because a grand, creative idea takes time to germinate.

I want to be the sort of creative gardener who understands these things. It's not easy in a world where ideas are zapping around the globe, bombarding our in-boxes and Face Book walls while I type. We don't realise that when we fall into the 'success' traps of being productive, speed reading, multi-tasking and having something impressive to show critics and admirers alike at the end of each day, that we're actually pulling back from a life of creativity.

Paula Vince is an award-winning author of Australian Christian fiction. She had written four contemporary inspirational novels, a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults and taken part in a collaborated novel. She loves the power a well-told story has to changes moods and lives. Visit her at www.paulavince.com and follow her blog, www.justoccurred.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wonderfully, uniquely, perfectly me! by Hayley Solich

As I am working on my book, Fat Girls Can Dance, I am looking at a whole range of personal development concepts.  One of these is the whole issue of self-acceptance based on uniqueness.  We know that we are unique, but how can that help us to live happier, healthier and more connected lives?

Firstly, we are unique because our Creator designed us to have 97% in common with other human beings, but 3% of our DNA uniquely defining who we will be - our hair colour, eye colour, skin tone, voice pitch, size of body, personality etc.

The Psalmist David puts it like this... "You knit me together in my mother's womb..." (Psalm 139:13)

God intimately became entangled with the crafting of each person.

Jeremiah says, "Before I was born you knew me." (Jeremiah 1:5)

And David goes on to say, "Such knowledge is to wonderful for me", referring to the intimate knowledge that God has of each of us. (Psalm 139:6)

So this got me thinking about the struggle most people have with loving themselves.  The struggle of not comparing themselves to others and finding themselves lacking.  What does an individual need to know about themselves that will set them free from self-doubt and self-rejection? I believe it is an understanding of how their loving Creator has taken consideration for them as an individual.

Secondly, we all have a unique bar code that God gave us at birth, our fingerprint, which is like a sign to say, 'Hey, I'm an original!'

No two fingerprints are the same.  God saw fit to intimately desire to imprint himself on each of us in a unique way.

The complexity of our body systems, our personality traits and our brain's capacity is mind boggling.  Everything about how we are created screams of a loving Creator, intimately acquainted with even 'the hairs on our head', numbering them. (Matthew 10:30)

Then this started me down the pathway of the concept of 'normal' and 'perfect'.  What is 'normal' and what is 'perfect'?

Well, I have concluded that 'normal' is actually a myth, because for their to be a norm you must be comparing like with like and finding anomalies and on the grounds of uniqueness there are no two humans completely alike.  There may be similarities, as in the case with identical twins, but there are just as many anomalies!

In the area of perfection, this is also relative.  I am perfectly me.  I may not behave in a way that others think is perfect, but it is perfectly me.  So if I stop the comparisons, the playing to the expectations of the crowd and really love and accept who I am in this moment, then I can embrace this concept of perfection.

And if I add to that what Jesus says about perfection, that He has made everyone perfect, then why would I need to be on my own case about chasing some mysterious state that I have no hope of achieving, when seriously all I need to do is to accept what Christ has done for me?

Hebrews 10:8 says, "He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." That means you and I, if we are believers.

So if I am unique, perfectly me and normal for me, how much better is my life going to be when I really allow that truth to settle inside me and I embrace the huge love gift of God's acceptance in my life?  Then I can truly say and believe, "I am enough.  I have enough.  I do enough."

How many people are chasing the elusive state of perfection or feeling like they are not normal, trying to fit into something that no-one can even define?  Imagine if they could believe that in this moment there is nothing they have to do to be acceptable, that they are actually 100% okay.  That is what real grace and unconditional love does for a person - it sticks their feet on a solid foundation based on love and grace.  That's what the prodigal son's Dad modelled when he returned home - complete acceptance and grace.  Change, if required, then flows out naturally.

So, I guess I just wanted to remind you that you are perfect, normal and unique.  Perfectly loved by a creator who knows you intimately and desires to have a relationship with you every moment of every day.  Now that is pretty cool, don't you think?


About Author:  Hayley Solich is the Editor of Golden Pen For Christian Women's Magazine and Golden Pen Magazine, a published author and business mentor.  Hayley works with individuals to help them self publish their books by providing editing and design services.  http://christianwomenmagazine.com or www.hayleysolich.com.

Monday, September 2, 2013

One person makes a difference

Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/
freedigitalphotos.net

When was the last time you heard a message and thought the speaker was directing it specifically to you? It’s like you’re the only person in the auditorium, an audience of one.

I had that sensation last week at church when a visiting pastor from the UK, Paul Scanlon, spoke. His message didn’t really have a title but it was about encouraging us all to know that we are useful to God.

When God wants to do something He always finds someone who He can use. Whether it was to wipe out all living creatures (he used Noah), to building the temple (Solomon), or to evangelize to the Gentiles (Paul).

David and the Temple

Scanlon anchored his message around David. David was chosen to be king when he was a teenage shepherd boy who wrestled lions and bears if they dared go after his sheep and wrote poetry to God as he tended the flock through the lonely nights.

“If we compare ourselves to David, we’re probably over qualified.”

When David was king he had a passion to build a temple as he was affronted by the fact he was housed in a palace but the ark of God dwelled inside tent curtains. (2 Samuel 7:2). So Nathan encouraged David to build it:

“Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:3)

God didn’t give David the idea, He didn’t need a temple, but He honoured David’s idea. As most of us know, David didn’t build the temple, his son, Solomon did.

I often find myself having an idea and rather than starting the process of engaging others or moving on it, I wait for some validation from God. Somehow confirmation will miraculously appear.

Sure the world is full of hair-brained ideas that have failed. And we don’t need more of them. So we shouldn’t be shooting off to do everything that comes to mind.

When I received a co-publishing offer for Angelguard I sought counsel from others in the industry. I could have gone yippee (I did do that) and signed the deal believing that was the path the Lord wanted for Angelguard.

But it was that counsel that had me turn down the offer and more significantly opened a door to another publisher who offered me a traditional contract.

Active Waiting

I’ve always been more of a thinker than a doer. These past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot as I’ve waited. Whether it’s for new work, more sales of Angelguard, or the right words for the second novel.

God has chosen all of us to be a move of God. Sure some people will have BIG roles to play like leading mega churches, or massive revivals, or whatever. But we’ve all been chosen. We all have a responsibility to further the kingdom. It’s not just those revivalists or our pastor’s job. It’s for all of us.

That might just be by asking our neighbour to come to church with us rather than simply praying about it, or choosing to take the self-published route for your novel because it’s a genre not too popular in the CBA market at present (as a friend has recently done), or writing an email to a prominent author that I’m encouraging another friend to do.

“God isn’t fussy: He uses someone who is useable.”

So enough passive waiting for me. Time to start doing, and sharing with others the one or two of the ideas that have been percolating for a while.

Thanks Lord for the kick up the backside.

How do you actively wait when you have the seed of an idea? And especially one that you believe will bring God glory?

When did you last hear a message (it doesn’t have to be a Church one) that stung you into action?


Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, was released recently in US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter