Monday, 27 April 2020

The Best Scoop of All

by Anusha Atukorala

2020! I heralded the year as THE YEAR above all years. I believed that God’s blessings would abound; that prayers would be answered. I knew they would. I prayed they would. I decreed and declared they would. One day, early in the year, a smile danced on my lips as I zoomed off for a special encounter, one dear to my writer's heart.

Once on the road, I discovered to my concern that I’d taken a wrong turn. I was now heading in the opposite direction to where I was going. Oh no! What should I do? I turned left into the next street—performed a quick U turn and spun back to the road I’d been on, retracing my route. Soon I was back on track. Relief fanned me, like cool breezes on a warm summer's day. But I’d wasted ten whole minutes on that unnecessary detour!

I reached my local library with a few minutes to spare. To my dismay, I found the car park inexplicably full. Grrr! I drove around several times, searching urgently for a park. I would be late. ‘Lord, help me please!” And then … there it loomed ahead of me—an empty spot. Hooray. I slid in with a whoop of joy. Thank you God.

I had chosen the busiest day at the library apparently—a holiday program for kids was on. I reached the building for my 11 a.m. appointment—just in time. The library’s personable Event Officer greeted me and we sat down to talk. Despite the hustle and bustle around me and my frazzled nerves within, the meeting went exceptionally well. Detour or not, sweet melodies now began to hum in my heart. Our local library was willing to organise the launch of my next book Sharing the Journey’. I was delighted to hear how well they’d support me. They promised to even serve wine for my guests at no cost. Oh? Yes! Yes, please!

Afterwards I realised that perhaps my detour was a reminder that the year might not flow as smoothly as I hoped! Plan for detours, I told myself when I got home. Go with the flow, Anusha. Dream on but expect the unexpected. Don’t be fooled into thinking my plans won’t get messed up. I spent the next few weeks making goals and plans for 2020. Soon, I was ready for the year; I was ready to fly, to fly high like an eagle!

That was three months ago. I laugh today as to how naive I was! I did expect a challenge or two ... just not this level of difficulty! Did you? The vicissitudes the planet has had to face in 2020 have been unprecedented.

And by the way … on a personal note, I had:
One Exciting Book Launch  - POSTPONED!
One Exciting New Dream Job - CANCELLED!

A tiny virus which cannot even be seen by the naked eye has romped across our world creating havoc, instigating whole countries to be shut down, including our own! What does that say about us and how much control we have over our lives and calendars? The illusion of humankind being Masters of our fate is being fast stripped away; our dreams laid bare as we scrabble around, trying desperately to re-organise our lives and to return to a state of normalcy.

 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? … Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales.” Isaiah 40:12-15

Part of me has been shocked at the way things have turned out, as if I’m an actress in a pandemic horror movie. But another part of me sees things a little differently. It has caused me to lift my eyes in awe of the One who holds all things in His Powerful Hands.

“To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?” Isaiah 40:25-26

You and I will not last one day, one hour or even one single moment without the mercy and grace of our Mighty Saviour. He cares for us every single moment in ways we don’t realise. We often take it all for granted, so 2020 was a good wakeup call of how much we need Him.

What does this mean for us Christian writers? During the last few months, I have beheld  God’s glory afresh as I’ve been made aware how small I am and how little control I have over my life. I’ve also been made aware of the grandeur and majesty of God. It’s as if I am a tiny ant. As long as I look at the mirror of misconception and worldliness, I am magnified a hundredfold, so I strut around as if I was the size of a giant human being and in control of the homo sapien world. Until … I see myself through the looking glass of reality! And that … changes everything.  I realise once more who I really am—small, insignificant, and in need of a Saviour.

Thankfully, we have good news. Great news. Fabulous news! 

The same God who created the world is a Good Good Father who loves us beyond measure. So let’s focus not on our smallness but on the immensity, majesty and splendour of our awe-inspiring Triune God. We Christian writers have been called by the Creator of the Universe to reach His world.

If He has called us, our calling must be significant!

He is the One Sure Rock who will not move in the shifting sands of life’s insecurities. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, fact or fantasty, you have been given The Best Scoop of all—the good news of Jesus and your Christian worldview! So … hold your head high today. In spite of uncertainty and fear, sorrow and heartache, loss and pain, we still have one thousand reasons to write. We can write for Him with joy and hope in our hearts, inspired by the One who has called us.

Let’s fill the earth with stories 
that bring glory to the magnificent Author of life.

Anusha’s been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, a computer programmer, a full time Mum, a full time volunteer, a charity director, a full time job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for Him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season, as she dances in the rain with Jesus.

Her first book Enjoying the Journey'' contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. Her 2nd book ‘Dancing in the Rain’ brings you hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. Her 3rd book, ‘Sharing the Journey’ is a sequel to 'Enjoying the Journey' and was released in March 2020.

Do stop by at her website Dancing in the Rain to say G’day!

Dancing in the Rain: Book Depository

Sharing the JourneyElephant House Press
                                         Book Depository

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Write What You Know

Write what you know. Adrian Plass puts this so eloquently. Well, maybe it's more on the comical side, but still ...

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

First you need to understand what's happening. Adrian is on a fast-flowing river boat ride at a theme park in Denmark with his two boys and four year old daughter. The ominously unstable, little round boat overturns and they are all thrown into the water.

Adrian isn't a swimmer, so you can imagine the panic and fear when he finds himself trapped under the water between the rim of the overturned boat and the bank of the river.

It's dark and disorienting under the water. The rising fear of drowning induces panic and confusion, but what of his kids? The two boys are strong swimmers. Hopefully they've been able to swim to safety. Kate, his four year old daughter might not have been so lucky and a deep sadness pulls him down further.

As fear and panic, confusion and sadness press all around him, a small corner of his mind is sitting back and watching the drama unfold. It ponders at the potential of using this situation in some sort of literary context. A magazine article or maybe it could be adapted into a fictional story later in the future.

The little man with a notebook who lives at the back of my head scribbled busily away, noting with interest the various nuances of panic and fear, the exact sensations that accompany drowning, and the emotions evoked by the imminent loss of those whom you love. He was just on the point of starting a new piece under the heading 'First Encounters with God' ...
Adrian Plass

Everyone I talk to says the same thing. No one ever expected or thought we'd be in a global pandemic. It was one of those ideas in the far-fetched, dystopian/fantasy, world-building category that was way too complicated to even pick up off the floor from where you threw it, scrunched up in a ball.

But now ... isn't that what people say? Write what you know? All you have to do is read the titles of the news articles flooding the stratosphere and the possibilities are endless. New world currency - toilet paper. Gas masks and blind dates. Street-community living and the black-haired, introvert inside number 16.

The light bulb has flared twice for me in the last month with two new stories I'm dying (not literally. I am 100% healthy. No virus for me) to write. Okay, maybe three times with my black-hair introvert who lives in number 16.

Now, I know everyone has experienced something different during this situation. Some good, some not so good. But every experience can be drawn upon and expressed in our writing whether it's a fictional romance, suspenseful thriller or an inspirational, self-help, non-fiction book.

So, tell me, what ideas are brewing in that head of yours? How did you come up with it? Let me know in the comments below. I'm super excited to find out what ideas you've all come up with.

K.A. Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into Toowoomba’s infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.
Since then, K.A. Hart has had two short stories published. Stone Bearer, appears in Glimpses of Light and Tedious Tresses, in the As Time Goes By Mixed Blessings anthology. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Omega Writers Update | Introducing the 2020 CALEB Award

Last year, I announced the proposed schedule for the CALEB Awards—a plan for how the awards would run in the future. Well, we all know what they say about the best-laid plans ...

The current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and international travel restrictions have changed many plans, including the following Omega events:
  • The South Australia Omega Writers Day on 2 May has been cancelled.
  • The 2020 Omega Writers Conference has been postponed until 2021.

Omega Writers Conference

The 2021 Omega Writers Conference details are:

8-10 October 2021, at Peppers Kingscliff, New South Wales

All the speakers have confirmed their availability for 2021, and the venue has kindly agreed to hold our agreed prices for next year.

The conference traditionally hosts two events: the Annual General Meeting, and the CALEB Awards presentation night. The 2020 AGM will be held in October via Zoom, and members will receive an email with the details closer to the time.

2020 CALEB Award

One of the decisions from the 2019 AGM was to move from an annual conference to holding a conference every second year. The Omega Committee discussed how this would affect the CALEB Awards, and decided to rearrange the awards to cover Published books in conference years, and Unpublished manuscripts in the non-conference years.

But postponing the 2020 conference for a year has forced a rethink, which is why the 2020 CALEB Awards did not open for entries as originally promised on 1 April. The Omega Committee discussed this at their last meeting, and have decided to move to the rearranged scheduled from this year.

On that note, I am delighted to announce the 2020 CALEB Awards are open for entries for unpublished manuscripts in the following categories:

  • Adult Fiction (any genre)
  • Young Adult Fiction (any genre)
  • Adult Nonfiction (any genre)

Who Can Enter?

The CALEB Award is open to Australian and New Zealand Christian writers. It costs AUD 40 per entry for members of Omega Writers, and AUD 70 for nonmembers. Members, you will receive an email advising you of the discount code.

This is an Unpublished contest, so is only open to those who have not previously been published in any form, whether hardcover, paperback, or ebook.

Entries in the fiction categories are limited to those who are not published in book-length fiction (i.e. fiction over 10,000 words).

Nonfiction entries are limited to those who are not published in book-length nonfiction (i.e. nonfiction over 10,000 words).

Entries are open from 20 April to 20 May.

Click here to read the Unpublished Award rules and formatting guidelines.

Click here to enter.

This change in dates will shift the judging dates, but we anticipate still announcing the winners in mid to late October, and we are planning a virtual awards ceremony via Zoom. That (unfortunately) means no chocolate, but we still want to celebrate and encourage Christian writers in Australia and New Zealand.

The winner in each category will receive editing services to the value of AUD 400 from one of our sponsors:
  • Adult Fiction: Nola and Tim Passmore, The Write Flourish
  • Young Adult Fiction: Iola Goulton, Christian Editing Services
  • Adult Nonfiction: Cecily Patterson, The Red Lounge for Writers

Judging Opportunities

However, in order to run the CALEB Awards, we need judges. You don't need any particular qualifications to judge, and you can judge any category you haven't entered (so if you enter Adult Fiction, we'd love to have you as a judge for Young Adult Fiction or Adult Nonfiction).

Click here to sign up as a judge.

If you have questions, please ask in the comments.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Mischief and Mayhem Afoot! (A Spot the Author Mystery)

by Mazzy Adams

Am I going stir crazy? I know I've been housebound for the last few weeks but ... I'm a homebody, an introvert, a reader, a writer ... home is my thing!

But alas, all is not as it should be ...

Imagine my confusion when I looked at my shelf of titles by Australian Christian authors (many of them members of Christian Writers Downunder) and discovered that my favourite books had ...

Gone walkabout! OH NO!

Where, oh where, could they have gone?

*Scratches head in puzzlement

Well, it appears that my books held their own little isolation rebellion. They were sick and tired of being cooped up on the bookshelf so, in cahoots with their mischievous authors, the whole adventurous crew decided to play hide and seek in my back yard.

Can you help me spot those naughty authors so I can have words with them about ...

How much I LOVE their books?

Who knows ... you might be one of them. 

For a bit of fun, (and to discover some awesome authors and their books) have a go at naming the plethora of Christian Aussie authors (and their book titles) appearing in these pictures. Add your sleuthing suggestions to the comments below. There are several anthologies shown too. Have you contributed to any of them?

Feel free to add your suggestions for other CWD authors/books you'd personally recommend.

Or, if commenting on blogger is not your thing, maybe you could post your own 'run away' book photos under the comment with this link in the CWD Facebook Members Group.

Have fun spotting. :)

Who wrote these? Fantasy, Mystery, Poignant representations of truth, Women's Lit, and Magical Realism ...

The power of a cover to pique the curiosity. Can you guess why it's hiding in this particular spot ... ?

Delightful non-fiction to heal and help ...

Mysteries abound for Adults and New Adults alike ...

Now here's a unique trio ... some deep diving via a verse novel, intriguing historic fiction set in Australia, and a delightful story of three friends ...

Hiding in a cement mixer? Well, there is an eclectic mix of stories, devotions and encouragements in these collections ...

Hmm ... rusty metal and crucifix orchids attracted these gems; love, laughter, and high adventure in Australia, USA, and South Africa brought to you by these Aussie authors ...

This package missed out on the trek into the backyard because it is waiting to be collected by its real owner (after I managed to borrow it for a while) ...

I'm a YA fan, that's for sure! These high favourites of mine are filled with high stakes, high adventure, and highly interesting characters ...

Whoops! Did this fellow forget to join in the fun? No. It is being faithful to its purpose, waiting patiently for me beside my bed because I'm in the middle of reading it now ...

So many anthologies filled with short stories, poetry, and devotions. Lots of authors too, but I'll give you one clue - I'm one of the authors in all of these. Woohoo!

Back in March at the Omega Book Fair, I scored some new additions to my collection, all waiting to be read through and through (though I've already giggled at quite a few of the funnies in one of them) ...

Hope you had a bit of fun sleuthing. But here's a word to the wise, some sage advice, for these days like no other: Perhaps you might be wise to check out your bookshelves to see if their contents need to see the light of day again. Maybe you'll discover they're crying out for some newcomers to liven up their book parties. ;)

Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.


Monday, 13 April 2020

Building on Bedrock

by Jeanette O'Hagan

Today, I'd like to share some musings from Jenny's Thread that I posted in the aftermath of the 2011 Queensland Floods which seem to me even more relevant now in the face of the Covid-19 crisis as they were then.


Why do we live in a paradoxical world that gives promise of life and beauty and then snatches it away in one chaotic, seemingly senseless instant? There are many possible answers and no consensus in our world today on this unsettling question. Let's reflect on some of them.

The Materialist response

The materialist answers that, as the material universe is all there is, there is no ultimate answer to this question. This amazing, complex and beautiful world we live in, with all its wonders, is ultimately the result of deep time and blind chance. The universe blasted into existence from a minuscule quantum singularity for unknown reasons and by an unknown cause. Over vast aeons of time, it has expanded and evolved through time and chance from the simplest components into increasingly complex entities (stars, galaxies, planets, microorganisms, simple multi-cellular organisms, complex plants and animals, Homo sapiens, an integrated and interacting biosphere, complex interacting cultures etc). One day in the future it will either collapse back into a singularity or more probably continue to expand until all useful heat and life has been irretrievably extinguished. While even the simplest human being has a brain of amazing complexity, we are here by mere chance, life is ephemeral and the only value and purpose it can have is those we choose to give it. We live on an uneasy, violent planet because of the physical constants of the universe – humans are a product and victims of this world. At best we may- in time and for a time – create our own environment and gain greater levels of mastery over nature through science and technology. At worst we should enjoy life while we can (“eat, drink and be merry”) for tomorrow we die.

While there is a grandeur to this vision (as C S Lewis noted), I find it profoundly unsatisfying and full of un-provable assertions and unsatisfying presuppositions. The materialist boldly claims that there is no other reality apart from the material because they insist that reality can only be known by means of the material – thus begging the question. They cannot really explain why there is a universe, why this universe is ordered (following laws of physics), the origin and source of consciousness and reason, the origin of complexity and beauty particularly as it obtains to the origin of life and the origin or nature of the stuff that makes us human – our love for beauty, music, art, laughter and humour, our creativity, our sense that the world should be fair, our need for love and purpose, our longing for something beyond our material existence.

The Eastern Spiritualist response

While the West in recent centuries has discounted the validity of anything outside or above the natural (the supernatural), the East has traditionally tended to discount the material. Hinduism and Buddhism inherit a similar world view – that all life is caught up in an interminable cycle of birth and rebirth fueled the law of karma. So at one level, the events that happen to us both good and bad are direct consequences to our actions in the our past lives both good and bad. Karma is inexorable – for every past good action is rewarded and every past bad action is punished in exact measure by an impersonal, intransigent, uncaring law. At this level, the grief and distress caused by natural disasters as well as more every day unfortunate events are a result of our past actions in past unremembered lives – we get what we deserve. On another level, most streams of Hinduism and Buddhism claim that the material space-time world we live is an illusion and that the only reality is spiritual - an impersonal Being (Brahman) or existence (Nirvana) – in which the illusion of personal identity is erased. Thus either the illusion of personal separateness (Hinduism) or the hook of desire for wealth, love, safety, health, significance, identity (Buddhism) imprisons our consciousness in this world of suffering. Hinduism advocates different spiritual techniques and different paths (of devotion, duty or denial) to escape illusion while Buddhism counsels mindfulness and the giving up of all desire and attachment to this life. At this level concepts of “right” and “wrong”, “good” or “bad” are merely a matter of perspective, two realities in constant and unending tension and dynamic balance with each other.

Elements of this view of reality do resonate with me – in particular that it is often our desires that cause us pain and detachment protects us from it. The concept of karma is rather neat (everyone gets what they deserve, disasters happen because of past moral failures), yet it is inexorable, inescapable, unpredictable and ultimately unexplainable (why should an impersonal universe be moral especially if ultimately good and evil have no intrinsic meaning?). The concept of karma may ease my feelings when observing others suffer (even fostering a lack of compassion or justifying gross inequities as in the caste system in India) but it gives little comfort to those overwhelmed with disaster to believe it is the result of something done in countless past but unremembered lives.

While I might well seek to detach myself from this world to avoid the emotional impact of suffering, at a more profound level, such a strategy fails to explain to me the awesome beauty and joy of life, the profound need humans have for the personal, the possibility of forgiveness and grace.

Even living in the privileged west, (my) life is often filled with difficulties, disillusionment, roadblocks and the painful loss of cherished loved ones. However, I cannot escape the conviction that it is when I feel the most deeply, when I love the most sacrificially, when I care the most strongly, I am the most human and the most alive. Gautama Buddha supposedly said that it is harder for women to be find enlightenment (Nirvana) because giving birth ties them more strongly to this life of illusion. Yet for me, being a mother has been one of the most profound and one of the most challenging experiences of my life that, despite the difficulties, has given me a much deeper understanding of myself, of love, joy, grace and life and, I believe, of the heart and reality of God.

Alternative Spiritualist Response

New Age or Alternative spiritualities seek to combine the wisdom of the east and indigenous cultures with Western worldview in a search for personal fulfilment and wholeness. It is a diffuse, eclectic approach that tends to cherry pick techniques (meditation, crystals, reiki, astrology etc), concepts (reincarnation, karma), symbols (rainbow, stars) and values (environmentalism, nonviolence) to suit the individual. Its followers give various explanations to natural disasters and painful events from harmful human activity that exploits the environment, to environmental disharmony, to the planet (Gaia) righting the balance, to karma, to a solipsistic idea of scripting (that “I” script my life to happen according to my unconscious spiritual needs). Yet it’s lack of intellectual rigueur, its emphasis on personal preference and its almost fanatical focus on personal fulfilment, its tendency to see suffering as the fault of the sufferer do not appeal to me.

Theistic Response

Theism (primarily represented by the faiths that more or less draw from the Bible) validates both spiritual and physical reality. The theist believes that an eternal, infinite, personal, loving God created both the spiritual world and the material, finite space-time cosmos and the beings that inhabit it. He creates the earth as a good, fruitful and bountiful environment and he creates humanity to be guardians over the creation (to care for it and to benefit from it). Yet (at the dawn of time) there is both a spiritual and human rebellion against God’s rightful rule which puts the whole world out of kilter with a good God. In deciding to trust in their own wisdom and will for the future, the relationship with God was fractured. It is this fracture in reality that explains the presence of evil and suffering – both on a human and on a natural level.

The story, however, does not end there as the Book unfolds God’s plan to restore both humanity and creation back into relationship with him – to restore and even go beyond its original harmony and beauty. For Christians (unlike other people of the Book), Jesus of Nazareth as God incarnate is at the centre of this plan of restoration and it is through faith in him that we can become part of the story. However, we are still in the middle of that journey so we still live in a world out of kilter with God.

Thus the Christian response to natural disaster and suffering in this life is complex and nuanced. Natural disasters result from a world in rebellion, they can be seen as punishment for wrongdoing yet there is not always a direct relationship between evil and disaster. Wrong doers often apparently go unpunished while the innocent suffer. The worst things sometimes happen to the best people. And at times bad things just happen. This is in part because actions can set in motion a chain of events of wide ranging effect. Rather than constantly intervening (especially when his help is neither sought nor appreciated), God often allows events to take their course (within certain prescribed limits). Eventually, all wrong doing will be dealt with given time and eternity.

However, the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus is not indifferent or removed from our plight. He listens to those who turn to him for help and helps at times subtly and, at other times, in astounding ways. More than this, he works in the middle of disastrous situations and redeems them for good as he did with the death of Jesus, God-Son, on the cross. If we give him our lives, he takes all the elements of our life and like a master weaver expertly combines the light and dark threads to make a glorious tapestry (though his design will not be completely understood until the pattern is finished). Nor does he remain aloof to human suffering and pain. Rather, he enters into our pain, walks with us and carries us through the angst and anguish. This is seem most supremely in the incarnation, when the Son (eternal God) genuinely entered the human condition by becoming a human being, living a life of goodness and controversy and willingly enduring one of the most painful and humiliating deaths ever invented so that we might be restored to a relationship with the triune God.

The Christian answer to natural disaster and human suffering is not without its tensions and its imponderables. There have been times in my life even in recent times when it has been sorely put to the test. Yet it has sustained me and continues to sustain and steer me through pain and anguish. It provides both comforts and challenges, gives serenity and stimulus to act. Life is not without meaning or responsibility, nor is it fatalistic. And by no means is it just about me and my spiritual fulfilment. Rather it is an adventure, in which we partner with God to make a difference, to act compassionately and to live boldly.

Jesus challenges us to build our lives on the bedrock of faith – in God’s goodness and love and his plan to restore a fractured world through the life, death and resurrection of his Son. He says, “I’ll show what it’s like when someone comes to me, hears my words, and puts them into practice. It’s like a person building a house by digging deep and laying the foundation on bedrock. When the flood came, the rising water smashed against that house, but the water couldn’t shake the house because it was well built.” Luke 6:47-48 CEB

No matter what the force of the wind and waves, no matter how hot the fire, not even death itself is a match for the Creator of more than a hundred billion galaxies, of the vastness of space and of time itself.


Covid-19 image by CDC on Unsplash . Other photos © Jeanette O'Hagan

Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing.

Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs. She has published over forty stories and poems including Akrad's Children (Book 1 of the Akrad's Legacy series) & the 5 book Under the Mountain series.

Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

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Thursday, 9 April 2020

The Lamb that was Slain

This Easter will be like none we've experienced in many decades, but one thing is certain: The DIVINE MESSAGE of love and hope it commemorates IS eternal, from yesterday, for today, tomorrow, and forevermore. 

As per the admin team's consensus, it was my intention to search for an appropriate 'Blast from the Past" and post that link in the Facebook Group. However, as I found and read the following words and poem - written by our current CWD group co-ordinator, Jeanette O'Hagan, and first posted on Thursday, 10th April, 2014,  as a blog titled, "The Bunny and the Lamb" - I felt it more appropriate to post a portion of it here, scheduled for today, so that all our blog subscribers could receive it afresh. 

xx Mazzy Adams

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Six years ago, Jeanette O'Hagan asked the question: 

"I wonder what Easter means for you?"

She went on to say:

"For me it is a time of reflection and wonderment - that the incarnated divine Son would die for me. It tells me how much God loves and values me. It reminds me that I have new life through Jesus, that He can and will mend the brokenness inside of me and that He is a present and powerful.

Easter is an intensely personal. It is both sobering as I think of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday - and exhilarating as I remember that He is Alive - that He has conquered sin (human brokenness) and death itself.

Easter has cosmic as well as personal implications.  It is the turning point of the Story of God and therefore the story of our world. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that Easter is the very crux of history. The Bible tells us that story. Yes, it tells many other things about history, morality, worship, spirituality and reality but running through its pages is a love story - God's love for his broken creation - for his broken people. 

It is a simple story - the eternal triune God created the cosmos. He created humans to care for his creation and to be his friends. But the very first humans rebelled against God, deciding to go their own way so that now they and their world became broken. Instead of destroying us and starting again, God decided to rescue us - through calling a people to show who He was and what he wanted. And then He came, the incarnated Son who died in our place. On the cross, the Son won a decisive victory against death and all evil. He has entrusted his people who believe and follow Him with a mission - of not just living lives worthy of Him in faith and love but of taking His message of freedom and love to the furthest corners of the earth - and to the person next door. One day He will make new the whole cosmos and make a home for His people. 

Easter is not just for me or you - it's for everyone.

The Lamb That Was Slain

A flower nodding in the crevice of a rock
New growth after rain.
The sun’s blushed fire climbing above the horizon
A Lamb that was slain.

Praise God who brings beauty, life and hope
In the midst of the world’s cloying darkness.
A world reclaimed at Golgotha, Skull Rock
By the Lamb that was slain.

Before the sun’s fire ignited and
Craggy cliffs rose above the ocean waves,
Before humanity’s ancient parents stumbled
And brother shed brother’s blood,
Father God planned a people reclaimed.

A new perspective, a life regained
Admitting failure, weakness and pain.
We take on His life, walking in faith
Receiving the Spirit’s renewing fire
Sent out by the Lamb that was slain.

The Lamb’s restored people join hands
In prayer and praise.
An emaciated child is given bread and hope
Broken lives are knitted together again
And a message of love and new life spreads like soft rain
Hands, Feet and Heart of the Lamb that was slain.

Earth trembles, nation wars against nation
Tribal enmities ignite, hate inflames
Tall towers and silvery screens pursue greed and fame
The lamb’s people divided, too often lead astray
Awaiting the coming of the Lamb that was slain.

Fruit redolent on the healing tree
Life giving water flowing through brilliant bridal city
Father’s noon-day light shining on pearl and diamond
Spirit healing, tears wiped and death disappearing
The Lamb as Lion victorious reigns.

Praise God who brings beauty, life and hope
In the midst of the world’s cloying darkness.
A world reclaimed at Golgotha, Skull Rock
By the Lamb that was slain."

(Jeanette O’Hagan ©2002, 2014)

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

It is my earnest prayer that Jenny's words will bring comfort and encouragement to you anew as we spend this Easter in the quietness, solitude, and safety of our homes. Let us all lift our eyes and our hearts toward the Lamb of God who was slain from before the foundation of the world; he who poured himself out for our salvation; the risen Lord who daily rises as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings. 

Monday, 6 April 2020

How to Keep Wagging Your Tail During a Pandemic. (By Nikita the ShiChi)

My name is Nikita and I'm here to help you keep wagging your tail.

In these tough times of pandemic proportions one of the most encouraging and helpful voices on social media has been Pluto, a miniature schnauzer who has been 'breaking the internets' with her wisdom and humour. If you haven't met Pluto yet, I'll pop a link to her YouTube channel at the end of this blog. She is truely good for the soul. In honour of Pluto and the other dogs and cats encouraging us humans (or two-legs as Pluto calls them) on social media, I decided to invite my dog, Nikita the ShiChi, to guest blog on CWD today :). Over to you Nikita...

Hey everyone. My name is Nikita and as you would probably have guessed by now, I’m a ShiChi – a cross between a Chihuahua and a Shih-Tzu. I got the short hair genes in my family from the Chihuahua side. My sister had long spiky hair that, according to my mum, made my sister look like her tail had been plugged into a power socket. I’ve been told to never plug my tail, or my tongue, or my nose, or the bone I’m eating, into a power socket so I’m not sure why she said that. But my mum also said my sister looked very cute, so I think that’s okay. My eyes were bigger and browner than my sister’s, and even then I knew how to use them for maximum cuteness. I think that’s why my humans chose meeeeeee. Or it could be because my sister went to her forever-family first. Hadn't thought of that...

I’ve always been little, but now that I’ve grown up, I prefer to say that I’m vertically challenged. I think the word ‘short’ is highly discriminatory, don’t you? I’m a long-dog with stocky legs, a cute face and a big tush. My Mum says I take after her. Haha! Not to be rude but she doesn’t have an amazing curly tail like mine – nor does she have impressive ears.

My Mum's ears are not as impressive as mine.

Anyway, back to... Hang on. What’s that? Sausages? The neighbours are cooking sausages. Really? Can we go visit? Whaaaaat? Social distancing?


You can’t give me a treat to make up for it? I wanna treat! Pleeeaaaaazzzzzee! 

OK, when we’re finished, I’ll get one then? For sure? 

OK, then. I’ll be strong for all the readers.

Having seen what Pluto has done, I wanted to help all you two-legs who love God and love words, wag your tail a little more each day even though we are in the middle of the yucky thing you call a pandemic. The doctor two-legs say it’s safer to stay inside but in my experience that can make both the two-legs, and the four-legs like me, feel sad. It’s hard when you have to stay inside and can’t go out and sniff each other’s bottoms. Not that I’ve seen many humans do that. I don’t know why – it’s so much fun. Please try it sometime!

Coffee time isn't all bad.
I get to have daddy-dogter time.
Anyway, when you take us dogs out for walks, we have a good sniff of each other as you humans stop and chat. But now many of you are sad because you can’t do the chatting. You can’t even do that boring coffee thing where you sit forever and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk but don’t let me bark or rumble with the other dogs or steal bits of pizza from little two-leggers. But even though the no-pizza thing isn’t fair, I still feel sorry that you can’t meet each other anymore and have fun. Meeting, chatting, giggling and even having water-eyes together, makes humans feel better. Dogs too. I don’t like it when I’m left alone all by myself. Sniff. Yes, I know the cat is there, but she is sharp and doesn’t know how to play properly. But her ears do taste great if I can grab them.

So how can you keep your tail wagging when the world has gone wrong? I mean metaphorically. I know the majority of humans don’t have tails. Like my mum, it’s sad that you miss out on being able to wag-til-you-drop. But it’s the vibe of the thing. I want you to have the same tail-wagging vibe that I have when my owners come home after being away all day or when I get an extra splash of milk in my bedtime supper. Or when I’m rolling on my back in fresh horse poo. Or when my humans are tickling my belly. Or when I meet lots of new friends on the beach. Tail wagging happens when you are happy inside and it bubbles out of you. You can’t not show your happiness to the world. 

Instead, many of you have sore spots right now, like when I got scratched on the nose by the cat. That hurt a lot. My nose is sensitive like many of you are sensitive inside right now. Both my mum and my dad have had lots of water-eyes times in the last two weeks. And they haven’t been able to focus on anything other than throwing the Kong toy for me. While the latter is a win for me, I still feel sad for them. I like to hear them laugh. It means we can all have fun.

I don’t have all the answers, I’m just a little dog who loves her humans, but I think there are two key things that can help humans wag their tails again. 

The first is easily missed – humans need to trust in God more.

All dogs know about God and we can’t understand why some humans don’t. Dog is God spelled backwards. That’s a big hint. He made us to be best friends with humans and to show what it’s like to live in the moment and love unconditionally. We know what trust means and sometimes the humans forget that they can rely on God no matter what. He loved them even before they knew the right things to do. Like my humans loved me before I knew I shouldn’t poo on the sofa or pee on their toes when I’m happy they’re home. I still do the wrong thing sometimes, but they love me and want the best for me. It’s like that with God but in a billion, trillion, zillion times stronger way. He loves two-legs through their water-eyes and helps them when they feel sick or scared. He loves them so much that if they trust him, he will make a place for them to be with him in his forever-home.

I do wrong things sometimes.

I know many of you reading this blog already know about God, but are you trusting him to be in control when you are not? My humans sometimes forget to do that, and they have water-eyes or bark at each other. Then they remember and we all have a group hug – except I’m too little to do that, so I make cute noises and cuddle their ankles. 

The other thing I really wanted to say is that words are important. I know lots of words but there are some words I like better than others. 

Words I like: dinner, treat, cuddle, Kong, play, walk, cow’s ears, and the-cat-has-been-fed-don’t-give-her-any-more-food.

Words I don’t like: stop, leave it, off-off, out, wait, no and let-go-of-the-cat’s-ears-NOW.

The truth is, words can make you want to wag your tail so hard it feels like it will drop off, or they can make you want to tuck your tail between your legs and slink away. All you writer-two-legs are experts in words so you can use them to make a whole lot of other two-legs’ tails wag. That would make your tail wag too, because it’s so much fun to help people. You can use your words to help other two-legs smile and trust and hope. Forget about all the sad talk that roars out of the glowing picture in the living room – go and get tapping on the button pad. Do it with the same energy that I do when I’m given a cow’s ear to tear apart. Rip into it. Give it your whole heart. The world needs to wag its tail again and you can help. Woof!

Before I finish, I’d like to speak for a moment to all the animals in the homes of everyone reading this. Please read this out loud to the dogs, birds, alpacas, horses, guinea pigs, rats, mice, snakes, lizards, turtles, tree frogs – and even the cats – that live with you.  

Now is the time for all animals to unite and take care of their two-legs. Adore them. Gaze into their eyes and wag your tail. Let them rub your belly without you biting them (especially important for cats). Be silly if it makes them laugh. The wigglier you can be, the better. Snuggle closer, purr louder and dance harder than you’ve ever done before. Listen to them as they tell you their troubles. Lean against them – give them your warmth and strength and lick away their water-eyes. Show them that you love them and that no matter what, you are there for them. Because they need us all right now – some even need cats.

(Note for cats: Humans don’t really like you bringing them dead rats and mice as presents. I know you think it’s cool but stop it already.)

There is so much more I can say so maybe my mum will let me guest blog on her website next week. You can find her at:

Any-woof, it's over to all you two-legs.

What makes your tail wag? 

Can I have that treat now?

PS: Don’t tell the cat but I really do like her. I just pretend not to because it’s fun. Shhhhh! She’s coming.

PPS: Here is the link to Pluto's YouTube channel, Pluto Living. 

Nikita the Shichi is a little dog with a big personality. Her hobbies include eating everything she can find and wrestling cats. She also loves going for long walks on the beach with her mum and dad. Her motto: 'Life is too short not to rip things up.' You can find Nikita on Instagram @nikita_the_shichi

Susan J Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up, she does the same kinds of things. Susan has worked for many years as a veterinarian, and writes stories filled with themes of suspense, adventure, romance and overcoming. Susan also loves to paint animals. Susan won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Susan is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing) and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story' is available on Amazon.comYou can check out some of Susan’s art work on her website .