ACW

ACW

Friday, 29 January 2016

Procrastination by Fiona Lloyd



I wanted to write something profound about how often I'm intimidated by a blank page...but if I'm honest, sometimes that's just an excuse!


So, here's a poem about procrastination: a subject in which I am something of an expert. (Apologies to those of you who've heard this before.) If you happened to be at Scargill last September for the writers' weekend, feel free to sing along.


Altogether now:


I’m full of good intentions
As I settle to my task.
One thousand words by dinner-time –
Is that too much to ask?
A blank page is quite scary
When you’re starting something new;
The first line’s always hardest so
I’ll pause and think it through.


Now, checking up on Facebook
Is legitimate - it’s true!
I’m networking, not putting off
The work I’d planned to do.
I’d better check the emails
As you never know what’s there.
If I don’t answer straight away
It seems like I don’t care.

I’ll have a cup of coffee –
That’ll get me on the go:
An extra hit of caffeine and
The words will surely flow.
That cheesecake looks inviting –
It won’t harm to have a snack;
And building up my energy
Should get my focus back.



I know it’s only August
But there’s Christmas stuff on-line.
Those pink and fluffy slipper-socks
Will suit my mum just fine.
Today has gone so quickly
And I’m feeling somewhat fraught.
I’ve done three lines (with two crossed out):
It’s progress – of a sort!




Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. She enjoys writing short stories, and is working on her first novel. Fiona self-published a violin tutor book in 2013, and blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com. She is married with three grown-up children. Fiona is ACW's membership secretary.






Thursday, 28 January 2016

Prayer for Creativity

On one occasion, at a local Association of Christian Writers, another member challenged a small group of us whether any of us prayed ahead of sitting down to write.

That felt a considerable challenge – so the most practical response seemed to be to write one!

Here is mine – which you are welcome to use or you may prefer to write your own.

Gracious Spirit,
inspire in me
holy creativity
that I may do
bold things for you
and to Christ's glory.

And here, a Celtic-style image of the flame of that same Holy Spirit

Trevor Thorn


Trevor writes faith-based poetry and accompanies many of the poems with simple images, either painted (mainly in acrylic) or in cross-stitch, or as computer generated images. About half of the poems have a science and faith theme. He publishes all of these on his blog, The Cross and The Cosmos which can be accessed HERE where you will find this heading logo.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Memories of a (Washing) Machine, by Lucy Mills


We've just replaced our washing machine.  The former one had a pretty good run; but more and more things were going wrong.

On Monday, the delivery men brought the new machine (left) and took away the old.

As they did so, I was reminded of the former washing machine's moment of fame (and trying not to look at the footprints on the hall carpet which would need treating later).

It was featured in my first 'proper' published article - in Woman Alive (my first acceptance was from Christianity, but that was published later). It was an article reflecting on the dangers of the 'Worry Machine' in our lives, and I decided to send a photograph to go with it, in case it was useful.  Cue kneeling on the kitchen floor of our former home, getting a good angle.

(It would be difficult to do this in our current kitchen - the washing machine is too tucked away - unless I crouched behind the downstairs loo opposite - yuk. The one above is taken in the doorway leading to said toilet.)

So as the washing machine in question was carried from the property and the new one brought in (yikes, what do they have on their shoes?!), this was the memory that was triggered.

Objects can carry strong associations for us. There are little mementoes I keep in my office for this very reason.

You may have objects that remind you of your writing life. There may also be those that inspire you to write.  For me it was that washing machine, going round and round, reminding me of the cycles of worry to which we subject ourselves.

You never know what might inspire you - or what might make you smile, one day down the line, at the memory of it.
***
 

Lucy Mills

Lucy's first book, Forgetful Heart: remembering God in a distracted world, was published in 2014 by Darton, Longman and Todd (DLT). She's written articles, poetry and prayers for various publications and is an editor at magnet magazine. www.lucy-mills.com

Lucy on Twitter: @lucymills
Lucy's Facebook page




Previous More than Writer posts:



Monday, 25 January 2016

What, me? by Fiona Lloyd



I'm not sure this is the right way...
I've been studying the weather forecast more closely than usual this past week. By the time you read this, I'll just have got back - snow permitting - from our annual ACW committee retreat. This time away together gives us a valuable opportunity to pray and plan together, as well as providing space to relax and get to know one other better. We share what progress we're making (or not!) with our own writing projects, and hopefully come away with advice and encouragement to “keep at it”.


Writing can be a lonely business, and I've found it makes a real difference when I can engage with other writers; whether that's online or face-to-face. It’s a privilege to pick the brains of those who are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I, and I’m sure my work has improved as a result.


It can be tempting, however, to sit back and hoover up other people’s expertise without considering what we ourselves have to offer. Sometimes we dream up a list of excuses rather than reaching out to help others. What, me? I’m only just starting out! Since when did my opinion count for anything? My books are hardly in the same league as JK Rowlings’.


One of the wonderful things about being a part of God’s family is that we all have a role to play in encouraging and supporting one another. God doesn’t call us to be mega-Christians (whatever one of those is) before we can minister to others. And I’m sure we can all point to occasions when someone else has said something at exactly the right moment, or has done something that has a dramatic impact on our spiritual life. Often it can be a small action or a seemingly innocuous comment that makes all the difference.


Encouragement comes in many forms...
As Christians who write, we can choose to take an active role in encouraging other writers, whatever our previous experience (or lack of it.) Taking time to read someone else’s work, writing a book review, commenting on a blog post (and no, that isn’t meant to be an elephant-sized hint) are all things we can do to support one another.  Maybe we could join a new writing group, or respond positively to a prayer request from a fellow writer.


So, as we settle into the rhythm of a new year, let’s ask God to show us ways in which we can encourage and build each other up, so that – as a writing community – we can bless other people and shine His light into our world.



Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. She enjoys writing short stories, and is working on her first novel. Fiona self-published a violin tutor book in 2013, and blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com. She is married with three grown-up children. Fiona is ACW's membership secretary.





Sunday, 24 January 2016

Paradox and Puritan

C. S. Lewis was a master of the use of paradox, that most powerful means of making readers ‘see’ the truth. Of course, no writer should fabricate specious paradoxes where they don’t exist. But Lewis could see to the heart of a matter so clearly that he could spot the potential paradoxes to be elicited from it.

I’ve already told you (September blog) how in English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Lewis explains to us who the Humanists of the ‘Renaissance’ were. Remember the paradox of the Humanists? They aimed to restore the Latin language to its classical purity but only succeeded in killing the living Latin that was the esperanto of Europe; in Lewis’s brilliant words, ‘before they had ceased talking of a rebirth it became evident that they had really built a tomb’.

In the same section of his Introduction, ‘New Learning and New Ignorance’, Lewis also introduces us to the real Puritans, and throws us a number of paradoxes about them.

The first paradox is that ‘puritan’ in the sixteenth-century sense has practically no relationship to its modern meaning. ‘By a puritan the Elizabethans meant one who wished to abolish episcopacy and remodel the Church of England on the lines which Calvin had laid down for Geneva.’ The purity involved was that of church organization, not personal morality.

The second paradox is that when you get clear what Humanists and Puritans really were, you find that ‘the puritans and the humanists were quite often the same people’ and ‘even when they were not, they were united by strong common antipathies and by certain affinities of temper’. ‘Humanist and puritan both felt themselves to be in the vanguard, both hated the Middle Ages, and both demanded a “clean sweep”. The eagerness to smell out and condemn vestiges of popery in the Church and the eagerness to smell out and condemn vestiges of “barbarism” in one’s neighbour’s Latin had, psychologically, much in common,’ says Lewis.

The third paradox relates to the modern concept of puritanism. Lewis tells us that ‘every shade of Christian belief whatever…then had traits which would now be called “puritanical”’, but more remarkable, notable defenders of (and martyrs for) the old faith, like Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, ‘had these traits in a much higher degree than most Protestants’. Lewis says further that ‘nearly every association which now clings to the word puritan has to be eliminated when we are thinking of the early Protestants.’ ‘They were not sour, gloomy, or severe; nor did their enemies bring any such charge against them.’ Thomas More wrote that a Protestant was one ‘dronke of the new must [new wine] of lewd lightnes of minde and vayne gladnesse of harte’; he said that Luther ‘spiced al the poison with libertee’. And again, ‘I could for my part be verie wel content that sin and pain all were as shortlye gone as Tyndale telleth us.’ Lewis summarizes: ‘Protestantism was not too grim, but too glad, to be true.’


Saturday, 23 January 2016

They're not coming, you know - by Helen Murray

Today I feel as if I'm thinking through a fog. You know when you dream that you're being chased, and yet your legs won't move fast enough to run away? Like that, only in my head. I'm thinking through treacle. Trying to have an original thought is difficult, let alone writing it down.

A word of explanation: I'm just getting over a chest and sinus infection that's knocked me for six over the past couple of weeks, and I only have a short time to myself before I need to be somewhere to do something and so I have one eye on the clock. I need to make a phone call that I'm putting off and I've half an idea that my younger daughter wasn't really well enough for school today so the secretary might call me to come and pick her up.

My thoughts don't respond well to being chivvied and marshalled at the best of times, so to try to corral them into a blog post through the vapour of Vicks is compounding the impossible.

And yet, I write. I'm writing because it's nearly the 23rd of the month, which is my day on the blog, and also because CS Lewis had a quick word with me earlier on.

This is what he said:
'If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come.'*
Did you hear that? Favourable conditions never come. 

This is not good news, because I have been on the lookout for favourable conditions for quite some time, you see. The wheels came off my writing ambitions in late Spring last year when a confluence of life events saw me drop pretty much everything to cope with one day at a time, and if I'm honest, I've been waiting ever since for a period of calm, peaceful stability to try and get the show back on the road.

New year, new start?
Waiting, waiting... it's the middle of January and, despite the motivation of a brand new year -- fresh start and all that -- I have a multitude of excuses. I've been ill. The weekly routine is exhausting. My husband is working from home  so it's difficult to find quiet and headspace, as well as a physical location to write. Our business is taking off and more time needs to be spent on that.

Mr Lewis shakes his head with a gentle smile and tells me that favourable conditions never come.

Sometimes I feel the absence of my writing so keenly that I long to get back to it. I can't say that I'm inundated with ideas at the moment but I remember the times when I was with a nostalgia that's almost painful. If only I could get that back -- those were the days when I was confident and enthusiastic, convinced that I was going somewhere. Instead, it feels impossible.

I realise that my definition of  'favourable conditions' is getting more and more specific. Here's what I need, please:

I require days at a time, long days, alone in the house (which will be clean and tidy); I will be well rested, healthy and relaxed in body and spirit, and my head will not be full of things. The children will be getting on together, happy, doing well at school and secure in their friendships. There will be no doctors appointments on the calendar. My computer will be functioning efficiently and my mailbox up to date.  The doorbell will not ring (though it will be working), the phone will be silent and I will be up to date and missing nothing on all social media. The sun will be shining (but not so much that the garden needs attention) and the sky will be blue. A variety of wildlife will occasionally scurry into view around the apple trees and bird feeders (which will be full) long enough to inspire me but not distract me. I will be warm enough but not drowsy. Cool enough but not chilly. The coffee machine will be full of coffee and my chair will be comfy and the desk the right height. The label in my jumper will not itch.

Yes, that's about it.

So, favourable conditions never come. They're not coming. I should finish this post with determined resolve to write and keep writing despite the aches, pains, coughs, worries, noise, interruptions, temperature, dust and distractions. That's what I should do.

I should, perhaps, lower my expectations. Grab a little bit of time here and there and make a start. Just get some words down, even if they're not arranged as nicely as I'd like them to be. In fact, I should stuff perfectionism in a stout box, tape it up securely and then push it right to the back of the loft, out of reach.

While I'm up there, balanced on the ladder, I should blow the dust off my writing projects, from the abandoned blog that used to be my lifeline, to the huge and ambitious novel-dream, and break them up into the smallest of pieces, and tackle them one by one, small step by small step, as opportunity allows. I need to stop opening the door to opportunities and telling them that they're not opportunities, and instead invite them in and make them at home.

I should stop waiting for favourable conditions that never come.

That's what I should do.





*CS Lewis, The Weight Of Glory, 2001, Zondervan  
CS Lewis was talking about learning (during wartime, to be specific), but he was convinced that it applied to my situation too. He made a compelling argument. 




Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a researcher, church worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently supposed to be working on her first novel. 

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims and has ninety three Aloe Vera plants at the last count. It's getting ridiculous.

Helen has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. It's been a while since there was anything to report. 

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray

Twitter: @helenmurray01

Friday, 22 January 2016

Resolutions...my way.

I realise I’m slightly late to the party here, but now we are out of the chaos of Christmas and the humdrum of the holidays, my main job this week has been to sit down and consider my new year’s resolutions.

I think resolving to change for the better is an important part of growing up, so I'm a big fan of it. But I personally think that New Years Day is the worst possible day to start new things.

I don't know about you, but by New Year I'm exhausted. We've normally travelled as a family to both sets of grandparents, so by the time the kids go back to school I'm frazzled. The thought of adding in extra things to do at that point is crazy. I did it for years, and never managed to hang on to my new, shinier life. And these days, by January first I can't even remember what normal life looks like (and our family life is fairly chaotic at the best of times...). 

New Year just isn't clear. Everyday life goes out of the window. And whilst having a week long detox of all things unhealthy feels great whilst I'm doing it, if I really want to make changes that last, they have to fit in with everything else I do. A resolution has to be incorporated into the lives we live every day, not just easy to say on the day after what, for many of us, has been an overindulgent night.

So here's what I do. I send the husband off to work and the small people back to school, spend a few days getting on top of the jobs that got left undone whilst away, drink some coffee and do some knitting, and generally give myself a rest. Then, once I feel more at peace and back into the routine of everyday life, I can start changing things, because unless I figure out a way to fit them into my normal life all year long, there's no point in trying to do them at all.

My job this week is to take stock of my life. What was great about last year? How can I keep it great this year? What was pants about last year? Is there anything I can do to improve it this year? What did I achieve last year? What do I want to achieve this year? It's only when I've answered these questions that I can decide exactly what it is I want to change.

This year my resolutions have much to do with writing and building some sort of professional life. I plan to learn how to write better articles to see if I can manage to sell some. I plan to blog more regularly and stop getting caught up in not posting anything that isn’t perfect. I plan to get the mental health book I’m writing into better shape. I plan to spend more dedicated time on the intimate project of completing a second memoir. And, somehow, I plan on learning how to manage my time better in order to do those things, despite also having to be a mum, wife, an general dogsbody when it comes to family organisation.


Am I setting myself up for failure? As a perfectionist, I’m never sure. But writing it down is the first step, right?!




Abbie has been writing every since she could hold a pencil - her first self-published work was a short story about a magic key, which was displayed on the fridge. After struggling with self harm and eating disorders for a number of years she went on to write a memoir ‘Secret Scars’ published by Authentic in 2007, and later ‘Insight Into Self-Harm’ published by CWR in 2014. In 2007 she launched Adullam Ministries, an information and support website and forum on self-harm and related issues. She blogs at Pink and Blue Mummyland, tweets as @AbbieRobson and @AdullamSelfHarm, and is currently working on a book about mental health and the church. She lives in Rugby with husband John, two demanding children, and two even more demanding cats.

Cover of book: Secret Scars by Abbie RobsonBook cover: Insight into Self-Harm by Helena Wilkinson and Abbie Robson

Thursday, 21 January 2016

'Laughter' is an invisible gift from God

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal]. Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting;  Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us;  We are glad! 
Ps.126:1-3 Amp.

Last month I wrote of the most precious of gifts: Jesus and His salvation package.   Five of us celebrated as this year began and I became a year older.  It was a time of fun and laughter which continued the following day and those joining us entered our bubble of joy. In the midst of that I sensed God said, “This year would continue as it has begun.” 

Later contemplating this with the Lord inevitably I spoke into the terrible problems people faced in this world. The Lord pointed out, “Laughter is one of my gifts.”  He reminded me of the Psalmist writing: “He who sits in the heavens laughs (at their rebellion) ….” Ps.2:4 and in 37: “The Lord laughs…for He sees that His (enemies) day (of defeat) is coming.”  Luke also wrote that when we hunger for righteousness we will be satisfied and from our weeping we will be blessed with laughter.

My response was “Of course, the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  His reply: “But it isn’t you being joyful that is your strength, it is my joy over you that becomes you strength.”  Simple, but a profound revelation!  Zephaniah confirms it: “He will rejoice over you with singing”! 

Zephaniah also wrote about God’s judgement bringing great trouble to nations, but that God would be in the midst of His people, He would save, love and rejoice over us with shouts of joy.”  That fitted my thinking!  He also prophesied God would restore the fortunes of His people and they would again occupy their land.   In the 1800’s Jews began to return to their promised land.  It's nearly seventy years since Israel became a nation in a day and streams appeared in the desert making it a fruitful land. That is now a fact!

God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  His desire is to pour out unconditional love on all flesh.  And Jesus releasing His Spirit on earth meant God’s nature can be ignited within us.   The disciples learnt from Jesus and found they could do as He did.  Some spoke, some wrote even before the power of the Holy Spirit changed and flowed through their lives.  Romans 4:17 says “God …calls into being that which is not.” There is so much more to learn about our salvation package.  Let's test God’s word, and begin discovering His gifts and claiming His promises Romans 10:10-12 says we won’t be disappointed. 

Graham Cooke in his 3 part series on fruits of the spirit confirmed and inspited this blog.  I recommend reading it.  http://www.brilliantperspectives.com/nothing-works-against-me/

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Dream big, act small by Sue Russell



I think of Jesus by a number of different names, just as he has quite a few different titles throughout the New Testament. For reasons that are unclear, since I have no military connections and would be useless in any army, I sometimes think of him as my Captain, the great leader of the mighty army of the faithful, past, present and future, as pictured so vividly in Revelation; an army in which my own part is probably no more significant than that of a rat marauding among the supplies. (Perhaps one day I might get promoted to the urchin who bangs the drum!)
This led me to consider how small a part any individual must have in God's great design, limited as we all are by the apparent accidents of birth, gender, education, talents, opportunities and so on. Recently I played for the funeral of an elderly lady in our village and it struck me how briefly a life of more than threescore-and-ten was summed up, Of course there was a good deal more to this lady than could be mentioned in such a setting, but I did wonder what might be said at my funeral one day. It doesn't do to dwell too much on these things; better by far to get on with the tasks in hand and leave the rest to God. Nevertheless...
No doubt like many other people, when I was younger I had dreams of great achievements. As we get older, mere survival tends to become more of an issue, especially with bits of us packing up or falling off, reminding us that we are mortal and fragile. Circumstances militate against the dreams of youth, and we readjust our expectations. In the words of one of Pen Wilcock's characters, 'You start off set to conquer the world, and by the end you have to be glad if it hasn't conquered you.'
Sometimes this makes me feel quite sad. I tell myself that small but real achievements are better than big empty dreams that come to nothing, and knowing that we can't do as much as we hoped shouldn't be an excuse for laziness or timidity. C.S. Lewis wrote this, or something like it: 'Good and evil increase at compound interest. Little decisions are of infinite importance. The smallest good act today captures a strategic point which could lead to undreamt-of victories.' Certainly Lewis himself is a shining example of how one person can have a huge influence for good. So with Lewis I return to my military metaphor. Perhaps in the clash of battle the ragged urchin's hearty banging of the drum might encourage some flagging hero.
I know I can't do much, but what I can do, in his name and for his glory, God can multiply many-fold beyond what I can presently imagine. It's something to hold on to when those big airy dreams get blown away.




Sue Russell writes as S.L.Russell and has four novels available in the usual places: Leviathan with a Fish-hook, The Monster Behemoth, The Land of Nimrod and A Shed in a Cucumber Field, published by New Generation. The first three are a trilogy, the fourth a stand-alone, and a fifth, An Iron Yoke, in a similar genre - realistic British Christian fiction for adults - will be out in the world very soon.
Sue lives in Kent with her husband, currently one daughter, and Rosie the dog. She is an amateur singer and church organist, and blogs at www.suerussellsblog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The loneliness of the long distance writer by Veronica Zundel

'No one but a fool ever wrote except for money', said Samuel Johnson famously . On a day when the papers are telling us that the gap between the income of  'top' writers (JK Rowling et al) and that of the average writer is bigger than ever, his saying bears thinking about. But that's not what I really want to say. Let me instead suggest a new saying, which may or may not catch on: 'No one but an introvert ever enjoyed being a writer'.

Don't get me wrong. I love writing, and every time I do it I remember just how how rewarding it is, whether or not money is likely to be forthcoming - although it's nicer when it is. It's not the actual writing I don't enjoy, it's the being a writer. Because let's face it, being at home with no one to talk to but the cat and the computer, doesn't really work for extroverts. And I am, as numerous Myers Briggs profiles have shown, an extrovert. I don't mean I'm mouthy and a show-off, although I can be both. I mean I need to be among people, or at least outside the house, to gain energy and motivation.

I don't always have to relate to the people. Wandering round a food market, with strangers milling around, will often do. But what I know is definitely bad for my mental health  is being alone with my thoughts for more than a day at a time. Yes, my husband comes home in the evening. And yes, our son, having (hopefully temporarily) dropped out of university, is around to disturb me, usually when I've got stuck into a particularly difficult piece of writing. But that is not enough.

Many writers, of course, get that extrovert hit by being speakers as well, which also does marvels for one's public profile and book sales. But I'm not on the Christian speaker circuit (probably on account of being a shameless heretic) and besides, I'm not that kind of extrovert. Public speaking fills me with dread. So how to avert the gloom of writer's loneliness?

In my email address book I have an group called 'Lunchladies', consisting of other women with whom I occasionally have lunch (and a couple of men both of whose names end in 'sop'). When I start feeling too isolated, I fire off a group email to them and hopefully get some positive responses. But people have busy lives, especially in London, and the initiative has to come from me. I'm a long way from my goal of having a lunch date every week.

There is probably no easy solution. Perhaps group blogs like this go some way towards feeling more part of a community. And Facebook, provided it doesn't take over, is a lifesaver. Nevertheless, being a writer is isolating, and always will be. After 35+ years, I ought to be used to it, but I'm not. Anyone else out there feel the same?

Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer whose latest book is Everything I know about God, I've learned from being a parent (BRF 2013). She also writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, and Bible notes for New Daylight. Veronica belongs to the only non-conservative, English speaking Mennonite church in the UK, and also blogs at reversedstandard.com

Monday, 18 January 2016

Aspects of war and peace by Joy Lenton

Would you believe I haven't read a novel in months?

As a professed bookworm, I've been sticking to my preferred genre for a while - namely non fiction - mostly memoir, devotional reflections and poetry.

My soul is craving some escapism, so I've chosen to lose myself in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. For. The. First. Time... gulp!

Crazy, or what? Although I have enjoyed reading Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky in the past.

I began 'War and Peace' after the TV series had commenced. My reading speed is slow because I'm more used to the dip, sip, savour or pause, ponder, pray way of digesting books rather than feasting on fiction.

Life often feels like war and peace combined as flesh and spirit are in combat with one another.

Books I read invariably reveal some commonality with my own life, enlarge understanding and inform my writing.

Here, universal themes of love, hate, faith, conflict, power, politics, war and peace are already evident, as is seeing how my mind is also peopled with various 'characters'.

Because you don't have to be a fiction writer to have varying voices vying for attention within.

For example, some days..

  • The poet in me pleads for prominence
  • The shy child abuse survivor seeks to be seen
  • The chronically sick person wants her weak voice to be heard
  • The closed captive seeks to escape her carapace
  • The open, encouraging me endeavours to encourage and support
  • The mature (wise?) woman desires to share insights
  • The contemplative has a thoughtful offering to bring

These 'people' are all aspects of my character and life experience. Maybe you can see something of yourself here too?


We have to find a way to live in harmony and balance with our disparate selves.


They're composite parts of a complex whole.

It takes wisdom and discernment to know which aspects to allow prominence to, what to keep hidden or share.

As writers, we are advised to speak in our own authentic 'voice', and that's what I try to do.

Guided by Holy Spirit, I aim to speak from the heart, to bless and encourage others on their faith journey.

We all bring our unique personal history and experience to bear on what we share as writers. It's what adds richness to our reflections.

Ultimately, we're not at war with ourselves or others but with spiritual forces of darkness. 

So how do we avoid inner conflict (war) and maintain peace?

Here's what I find helpful:


  • Realise - we will always be in a spiritual battle here
  • Ready  - ourselves by staying armed and dangerous (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • Remember - Christ has already won the victory, we're just standing ground
  • Rejoice - in His equipping and peace being present to us for all circumstances
  • Realign - our hearts and minds by daily surrender to God and His word
  • Rest - in who we are on the way to all we're becoming by His grace

As we accept we are intrinsically flesh and spirit, ask Holy Spirit to guide us, listen for His voice, remain obedient to what He reveals for us to do, daily surrender our thoughts, words and work into God's hands and maintain an eternal perspective, we will live with less conflict and remain authentic in our calling.

What are you currently reading? How is it informing your thinking?


Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer and poet. 

She enjoys encouraging others at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. 

You can connect with her on Twitter, or on Facebook.  

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The waiting game by Claire Musters



We are still in the first month of the new year, and so I am going to admit to you what one of my unfulfilled goals was for last year. To get my book published. Now some of you may feel that was quite greedy – and that it was fulfilled anyway, as my Bible study notes on David came out before the end of 2015. But, while I have indeed had five books published traditionally over the years, each one was an idea that came from an editor with whom I already had a relationship with (either as a freelance editor or writer for them). So they feel like a bit of a cheat (which is silly, I know).

The problem is, I have had a book simply burning within me for a few years now. Based on my own life’s circumstances but then broadening out, I feel passionately that God has called me to write it. After some initial wobbles, I felt him speak clearly to me during a leadership training day … on preaching of all things. He told me that this is my story, and this is what I am to convey. While others in the room were being called to preach, I was being called to write my story down – and then be willing to talk about it.

Since then, I have had interest from one publisher, only to have that initial interest wane after the publisher was made redundant. I am in correspondence with another publisher – but still have no idea (or any guarantees) whether they want to publish. The commissioning editor has been extremely kind, and brutally honest – which I know those of you who have been on the receiving end of that before can probably still remember the sting of it. And yet the comments were well meant, and have made the book better as a result. I am exceedingly grateful – even though it hurt at the time.

But my book still remains unfinished and without a contract. I feel like I’m in a waiting game, and that is very much like being in limbo. Yes, I could be finishing it off anyway – and I do try to write bits of it when I can, but life does tend to crowd in, in the form of other writing assignments that pay and family and church activities. Oh yes, and enforced rest from work due to ill health – I’ve had a surprising and unexpected amount of that in the last year.


I am trying to do the waiting well. Trying not to pin all my hopes on this one publishing house. I’m trying to keep things in perspective, as well as keep on with relevant research and bits of writing when I can. I know I’m not alone – that waiting is one of those painful but inevitable parts of being a writer. How about you? How do you do the waiting well? I’m hoping I can learn something from you…

Claire is a freelance writer and editor, mum to two gorgeous young children, pastor’s wife, worship leader and school governor. Claire’s desire is to help others draw closer to God through her writing, which focuses on marriage, parenting, worship, discipleship, issues facing women today etc. Her books include David: A man after God's own heartTaking your Spiritual Pulse, CWR’s Insight Guide: Managing Conflict and BRF Foundations21 study guides on Prayer and Jesus. She also writes a regular column for Christian Today as well as Bible study notes and is currently standing in as editor for Families First magazine. To find out more about her, please visit www.clairemusters.com and @CMusters on Twitter.