Thursday, January 22, 2015

A timely reminder - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

I stood at the counter of the Christian bookstore, fuming. Not a good scenario, whichever way one looks at it! Before leaving home, I had checked on the store’s website to make sure the book I wanted—one of my own earlier novels—was in stock. I had none left and needed a copy in a hurry. I also decided I would see if my current novel, of which the store seemed to have plenty, was on display.

At the store, I discovered that the one copy left of my earlier novel was already set aside for another customer. Sigh. I then went to find my latest novel--but alas, it was nowhere in sight.Yet there were supposed to be fifteen in stock. Where could they be? A staff member helped me look for a bit but then gave up.

‘You’ve come at an awkward time,’ she informed me. ‘Our books are being moved around our different stores and we’re also tidying up after the sale.’

I understood totally on both counts. And I think it’s a good idea to shuffle those books around the different stores so they are available across the country. Still, it seemed odd there were no copies at all to be found in this large, busy bookstore in the meanwhile. There was nothing I could do about it, however, so, in very grumpy author mode by now, I gave up and left.

I drove home—and then a long way to another bookstore, after discovering two copies of my earlier novel still available there. Soon, self-pity set in big-time. How come that staff member could not find those copies for me ... and also did not seem too worried about it? How can my books sell if they aren’t even on the shelves? Clearly too, I was just some crazy old author lady to be humoured but not taken seriously! Humph!

After a while, as I covered those kilometres to the other bookstore at just under the speed limit, I began to calm down a little. Then I heard that gentle whisper of God somewhere in my spirit.

‘Firstly, Jo-Anne ... isn’t it a good thing someone had already ordered that only copy of your earlier novel remaining in the first bookstore? That novel came out almost seven years ago—that’s amazing it’s still selling at all. Secondly, while that young staff member couldn’t locate those stocks of your current novel, the fact they are in the process of being moved around different stores is surely a good thing too? Could you perhaps look at the positives in all this and be thankful?’

I took a deep breath. Yes, I decided, I could. I needed to forget my gripes and grumbles. I needed to be thankful the bookstore in question has stocked my books for years now. In fact, I needed to remember all the blessings of my writing journey—and be so thankful for it all.

How about you? What things are you thankful for in your writing journey?
Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:18
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 four grandchildren. For more information, please visit


  1. Oh Jo, that must have been really frustrating, but it's good you were able to turn it around. It's always amazing how God can turn a negative into a positive. Something I need to remember and apply.

    And what things am I grateful for in my writing journey? Well, a ton of things but I like the way that God opens doors when we step out. There have been a few times when I've had a short piece published and then another opportunity has arisen because of that. Love it when God does that. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think that's so true that God seems to open doors when we step out, Nola. I often look back and realise that some great thing in my life wouldn't have happened unless I had been obedient to God's promptings prior to that. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Thanks Jo for the reminder to turn the negatives into positives - a challenge to all of us in our writing journeys and in our daily lives. I am grieving my Mum's death at present - and find it hard to get past it. She was my biggest cheerleader in my writing journey. Just yesterday a friend had mentioned me in her blog and I would usually have sent it to Mum - who would have immediately checked it out and written back warm words of congratulation. It's so hard to know that I don't have her alongside me any more.

    And yet - I could instead praise and thank God that I did have her cheer my writing journey for the first 8 years of my writing journey. I can thank Him that I have Him cheering me on all the way. That I have many amazing writer friends who also believe in me and help me, a precious husband and son and many more wonderful Christian friends who encourage me on.

    I can live to make a difference in my world through my writing just as she did for 72 of her 89 years right until the time of her death.

    Thank you for reminding me - God's been prodding me to choose gratitude - and your blog was yet another pin prick. THANK YOU Jo-Anne. So glad your books are in demand! And well done for listening to Him too!

  4. I feel for you, Anusha, in the loss of your mum--I have seen your beautiful tributes to her on Facebook in the last little while. Of course I didn't know her, but I think she would be very proud of you and all your writing efforts. I'm sure you are thankful for her and for your family and friends etc, but it's important to allow yourself this time to grieve too, Anusha. Whatever our age, our mums are important to us. After my own mum passed away, I can remember thinking, like you, 'Oh, I must tell Mum that!' But she wasn't there anymore to tell--and so we grieve. God bless and comfort you--in the midst of being grateful for what your mum meant to you and for all you have.

    1. Thanks for understanding Jo-Anne. You are right that I need to grieve. I have been surprised by my grief. But I've been used to sharing so much with her over the years that it is not surprising. I can now understand the grief of others better too.

      God's shown me through your blog and other means that being thankful is one way to heal - so am grieving in full - yet - determined to focus on all the blessings - and know God will help me get to a better place.

      Thanks again for your kind words Jo-Anne.

  5. Hi Jo-Anne
    It's great to look at the positives in the situation and even when they are not obvious, holding on to God's love and wisdom in our lives. Isn't it wonderful that someone wanted your earlier novel to put it on order :)

  6. Yes it is, Jeanette, for sure. I thought those first two novels of mine would be long forgotten by now but they have kept on selling over the years, probably because I kept speaking and kept having new books published. I have a lot to be thankful for.

  7. Great post Jo-Anne, made me laugh at the thought of you the 'crazy old author lady' being in a huff!
    I love the way God can shake our emotions back into line with a dose of being thankful....and the lovely author we know and love you for was back!
    xx Di