Daughters Of Love & Light

THE VISION

Inspiring women

to find themselves in fiction…

if only for a moment.

‘How are you going?’ we ask, not batting an eyelash when the reply is ‘busy’ or ‘tired’ – or when it’s both. ‘That’s just life,’ we all conclude.

Certainly, this isn’t the ideal psychological or emotional environment in which to lose oneself in a work of fiction. Some wish they read more, but often find life too demanding for such an indulgence.

The D.O.L.L Women book series is designed to counteract this assumption.

Think short chapters and short books.

Think relatable Christian women who don’t always get it right.

Think large font for ease of reading after a long day at work, during a break from a gruelling study period, or while waking up to midnight feeds.

Think of women being given the gift of self-care through encouraging stories.

Think of women experiencing a sense of completion because they actually managed to finish reading a book!

Think of women finding themselves in fiction to avoid simply feeling like they are just an overactive participant in the daily grind of the corporate arena.

Think of women finding themselves in fiction to avoid simply being someone’s daughter, wife, or mother, and all that entails.

Think of women finding themselves in fiction to escape the confines of their own minds as they wade through bouts of depression and anxiety.

Think of women finding themselves in fiction in order to be reminded that they are a Daughter Of Love & Light.

Think of women finding themselves in fiction…

if only for a moment.

Join our writing team! Email elephanthousepress@gmail.com

Copyright Elephant House Press 2019

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state of mind I am…

I breathe it out and take it in

this state of mind I am.

It shakes and stirs, swells and swirls

this state of mind I am.

Am I this, or am I that?

Am I in-between?

Do the tears mean more

than what I feel should be?

I risk it all, I don’t look back,

this state of mind I am.

It sits there, at the door, and knocks,

this state of mind I am:

‘Are you home? Are you real?

Your fears told me to ask.’

‘I hear you, State of Mind I am,

but I won’t listen to your lies.’

the struggle is real

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I’ve battled anxiety on and off for years. I just didn’t know what it was.

The first time it hit I was in year twelve. Overwhelmed and striving for perfection, I felt like I could never meet my own expectations. I was Deputy Head Prefect, I was a passionate student with good grades. I even met the Prime Minister of Australia that year. Still, the pangs were real. As were the cramps. And the imaginary tumour in my core, rupturing anytime it became too much.

Then it was the court battles of my early twenties and the bankruptcy that eventuated. I slept with my Bible every night and finally found a Gospel-centred church where I would cry through every sermon, at least for the first year.

Then came last year when the feelings came from almost nothing at all. I had to check myself, and tell myself things weren’t a big deal. I didn’t know where the feelings were coming from. All I knew was that I hated them.

Then came the incident of a couple of weeks ago…

I woke at 1:30am on a Tuesday morning to hear the jarring of wood in our bedroom. I could see a shadow moving in the corner of the room. The fear was paralysing. I was hollow. My heartbeat took over every single inch of me, from the crown of my head to the tips of my toes. I actually feared the intruder would hear my heartbeat and realise I was awake. I could hear the crumpling of plastic from various items in my toiletry drawer. I thought, so long as he’s not hurting us, he can take what he wants and leave the way he came. But what was taking so long? Surely the drawers weren’t that hard to open. Not that there was anything of worth in them.

My husband stirred beside me, sitting upright, and the noises stopped, the shadow shrunk away for a moment. My husband adjusted his blankets and then went back to sleep.

The noise started again. More jarring wood.

I prayed to Jesus for protection and in that moment my heart miraculously slowed.

The noise stopped.

I waited.

Tentatively, I reached over to brush my husband’s neck and whisper: ‘Wake up. I think someone’s in the house.’

‘Give me your phone,’ he said and leapt from the bed.

Every light in the house was switched on. Every corner was checked. Every window. Every door.

I stood on the cold hard concrete of our kitchen, crying. ‘Someone or SOMETHING was in our house…’

The drawer of my dresser was partly opened.

My jewellery box, though nothing missing, was knocked over.

My husband took my hand and sat down with me, praying over our house in Jesus’ name. He proclaimed Jesus’ rights over our house, from the front of the property to the back. He proclaimed protection over us, the house, our animals. Everything.

That was when it dawned on him. In our bedroom, we had a portable air-conditioner and a board in our window. Could it be that the jarring of wood was not in fact an intruder struggling with our drawers, but him struggling with the board in our window?

With a theory in our minds, we marched to the bedroom. And in this moment, one of our cats went up to the window and meowed – much like he would at a door or the cat flap. Only catch? We never opened that window.

It’s fair to say, the board was drilled into our window that night – good luck to anyone who tries to remove it in the future! Even though it was next to impossible to actually remove the board as it was, there was evidently enough room for someone to have their arm, if not part of their upper body inside.

We went back to bed at 3am, listening to God’s word through the audio Bible. We drifted until 7am.

Since this incident, I haven’t been able to shake the anxiety. It flares up daily. It paralyses me. It steals the joy I used to have.

Yesterday, I met with a bookstore in the heart of the city who wanted to stock our books. As the head of our indie publishing house, I reluctantly went. I actually told my husband, I can’t be bothered, and I’m not all that excited…

A fact that was simply NOT me.

My sole motivation was then my responsibility to our authors and somehow, that got me there.

Fortunately, God didn’t leave me to my own devices yesterday.

Blessedly, he had already set up an opportunity weeks ago for that very day. An opportunity to catch up with a friend who also just so happens to have a counselling degree.

Let me just clarify, I’ve tried to reason myself out of the anxiety. I’ve tried herbal remedies to sleep. I’ve tried Rescue Remedy Stress Relief products, calming teas, and Epsom salt baths. I’ve tried counteracting my lack of sleep with caffeine leading to an unhealthy cycle of insomnia.

The struggle is real.

I tried to tell myself that there wasn’t a person in the corner, it was only a hand. There wasn’t someone in your bedroom, it was only their arm…

But like a friend told me the other day, the intention of the intruder was the same. Had they managed to get that board all the way up, they would’ve been standing in the corner. They would’ve been in my bedroom.

And only God knows what would’ve happened then…

The struggle has been very real. Paralysing. Joy-thieving. Overwhelming.

But yesterday, I received a type of healing I didn’t expect.

This friend stared at me dead in the eye and told me how I was feeling was normal. That I had endured a trauma – multiple over the years, in fact. Most importantly, my friend assured me that my feelings were indeed legitimate.

That, and that alone, seemed to open a door for me and lightened my load.

I still have a long way to go. I have a season of being gentle with myself, of establishing habits to support these tendencies towards anxiety. I have a season of healing and empowerment ahead. And I can only take it one step and one day at a time.

At this time, however, I still consider myself blessed that the Holy Spirit has gifted my heart these verses:

‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control’ – 2 Tim 1:7

‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’ – Matt 6:24

Photo cred: http://wjou.org/9-28-18-do-not-fear/2-timothy-1-verse-7/

out there

I won’t pretend

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I’m not scared

to ponder on this life

out there.

Where cream-corn fields

no longer thirst

and whirlwinds curl

the road base dirt.

I won’t pretend

I’m not scared

with city lights

beyond the hills.

Where’s my noise?

I’ll ask in fright.

Where’s my electric

fireflies?

I won’t pretend

I’m not scared

to leap, with faith,

to the place out there.

Where the country pump

is a one-stop-shop –

the only building

on the block.

I won’t pretend

I’m not scared

it may not be

this life out there.

Misplaced fear

has found its home.

For, what if God says

‘No’

I won’t pretend.

I’m not scared.

My trust’s not found

in the place out there.

I’ll wait my turn.

I’ll keep my faith.

For what if God

says, ‘Yes, just wait’

photo cred: Pink House Yellow Field by Cathy Locke

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BIG DREAM

i_have_a_big_dream-252041We were praying constantly, asking God, ‘What do we do next year?’

Our BIG DREAM long term dream was … is … to have a creative space, a coffee/book shop, where we can run workshops and encourage others.

But this new prospect was completely left field…

Or was it?

We had seen a full time coffee van advertised on Gumtree. We thought that would be a fairly straight forward way for my husband (now studying full-time) to run a business and to take a natural step toward our BIG DREAM. It meant I would eventually be able to leave my job, once we fell pregnant. It meant I could have a barista-made coffee before he went off for his rounds for the morning.

Still, something wasn’t right.

So we prayed harder, asking God, ‘If this isn’t right, what is?’

Sometimes, one should be careful what they ask for…

I was attending a writers conference (my first one actually), and I was attending as a publisher, not a writer. Unfortunately, as a publisher, I could only attend for the Friday as we had one of our books launching on the Saturday. So I made the most of my one day there. But just as it was coming to a close, I received a text from my husband. It was a screenshot of a job at a campsite I knew well. A campsite where I had been both a youth camper, a kid’s camp leader, and a church camper multiple times. A campsite where one of our dear friends now worked. A campsite… wait for it… that was about 2 hours away from home.

That’s a long drive baby!! I replied, thinking it was a joke.

On the drive home, I called him to debrief about my day – that was when he mentioned the job. He had also evidently texted the husband of the friend who worked there who pretty much said he should go for it. Not once, but twice. Apparently before now he had mentioned it to him but again, it was taken with a pinch of humour.

Now this concerned me. Mainly because the last time this friend told him to something, it was to sign up to a Christian dating site because he had found love there. A Christian dating site where we had met. All because God had orchestrated this friend to speak over my (now) husband’s life.

And now he was saying we should uproot our lives and move two hours away?

I considered it for a moment while I drove through the Friday night congestion of North Tce. ‘Well, if you think this is what God is saying, you better pray pretty damn hard about it!

After a forty-five minute drive of conversation, my husband was convinced that he should apply once the uni semester was over. Ironically, I was convinced he should apply the very next morning.

So we did.

We drafted a cover letter and revised his cv. We sent it off, all the while praying about it. Then, with butterflies soaring wildly within us, we set off for the book launch that was to be held almost 2 hours away, only in the other direction.

The books were laid out. We were standing at our table ready, excited….

Then his phone rang.

It was them.

Now, I want to be clear, we expected one of those ‘unfortunately, you have been unsuccessful’ emails. We hadn’t expected a voicemail stating the fact that the Deputy Chairman of the campsite’s board wanted to meet with him…

Fair to say, we were rather distracted. I think I may have given someone the wrong change for a book and everything!

Then, when the book launch came to a close, we made the return call.

My husband made a time to meet up with the Deputy Chairman. Tuesday. And there he made a time to see the campsite. Friday. And now, two weeks later, we are waiting, desperately hoping and praying that he is successful. Meanwhile, the board is deliberating.

We’ve restarted renovating our house ready for rent. I’ve given my work notice in case it happens. Heck, I’ve even signed up to do a Masters in Divinity next year, something I could only do if I left my job…

So why am I documenting this before we have an answer, you may ask?

Well, bascially, because I want to remember this journey.

We are still praying hard and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, we will act as though we have it, simply because we don’t actually know what else to do. We will go through the motions in preparation for a job we don’t actually know we have yet.

But isn’t that what faith is all about?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: https://pursuehim.net/when-god-gives-you-a-big-dream/

3 days, 2 nights, 1 decision

bible-biblia-book-1112048I almost started a new blog today.

It was the epic morning meeting that did it. I momentarily felt that it could be the perfect accompaniment to my new pseudonym and new lease on writing for children and young adults.

I used to think I was a fantasy writer. Then I believed I didn’t have a go-to genre at all. Then I supposed I was a Christian romance writer. However, now I’ve discovered that I am simply a Christian writer – certainly not a writer who just so happens to be Christian, but someone who can’t help but include her faith in her writing.

Despite this discovery, I didn’t start a new blog today. The thought wafted through my mind so swiftly that I barely took it seriously. After all, we’ve been through a lot this blog and I. These luminous pages have been marked with life’s challenges and unexpected outcomes…

Speaking of which…

After my epic morning meeting, I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic on the long drive home. I had decided to start the audio book again this morning (for the hundredth time), because every time I do, I get something new out of it.

Today, it was this:

‘Real-life drama derailed me from my pursuit of invented drama…

Such upheaval does not make for the ideal environment in which to devote oneself to writing a sprawling and heavily researched novel…

And because I must always be writing about something or else I will go mad, I decided to … chronicle what was going on in my real life, as a way of sorting through its complications and revelations. (As Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”)’

For me, with the prospect of moving to the other side of the state and living in a somewhat rural community to follow my beloved’s chosen vocation, which would essentially mean me leaving my job, working full time on the publishing business, and spending my spare hours writing because the closest person I would know would live in Strathalbyn (about half an hour away) – I could certainly identify with Gilbert’s situation and her inability to write in the shadow of such upheaval.

I should briefly mention here that my writing of late has felt stale and flighty, like I can’t commit to one project, and that every one of them is a failed attempt at a once inspired idea, yet is found always wanting.

Now, I see why.

Furthermore, I’m on the brink of completing my Graduate Diploma in Arts, majoring in Creative Writing, and didn’t know where to go from here. My Christian university, of which I am determined to remain at, isn’t offering a Masters in Creative Writing. And although there is a Masters program in the works – of a more general nature – I feel led elsewhere.

And in this moment, after my epic morning meeting, my mind is now frantic for reason. And yet, if I say it – or write it – out loud, it’ll be tangible and that actually scares me.

Even so, I have to empty my brain. The pressure is bordering on the insane. (No rhyme intended.)

So, here it goes.

Another reason that I wanted a fresh page, and a fresh blog, and why I was in desperate need for some therapeutic writing time, is because I have committed to undergoing a Masters in Divinity.

It has been a gradual yet sudden decision, and certainly not based on a single whim but rather a collection of signs.

Yes, I’m at the end of my graduate diploma with no creative writing path to take. And yes, I may have been discouraged when a Facebook memory came up the other day with my obvious enthusiasm for a writing project – an enthusiasm I haven’t felt since.

But it’s more than that.

This semester I’ve been listening keenly to my husband’s theological lectures as we drive into uni or work – and I’ve found them fascinating. From discovering my personality type to approaching the lecturer with my thoughts, I was encouraged to take up some theology subjects. This, of course, I dismissed with a chuckle, taking it about as seriously as my new blog idea. However, then the idea started to resonate with me and I attended my husband’s commissioning service. I heard countless stories of lives changed through the program, and how they now understood their calling. This not only confirmed to me that this was the university I wanted to attend. But also, that I wanted to delve more into theology, to see what such subjects might hold for me.

The following morning, I visited the Hub cafe, where the beautiful and cheery barista told me how much we’d be missed next year if I wasn’t to continue studying. In a small voice, I confessed I didn’t know what I was going to do next year, but that it could involve ministry or theology, I just didn’t know yet.

Balancing my laptop, folder, handbag, and two coffees, I went to meet my fellow editors to discuss our anthology project. Here, I discovered that a children’s writing subject was going to be available in semester 1 of next year, and that my fellow editor and dear friend was helping to run it.

I took it as a sign. Especially, since I had previously enrolled in that subject, only to be forced to let it go due to workload. Now, it seemed perfect timing, and I instantly made inquiries.

Hence, my epic morning meeting…

In this meeting it was confirmed that I could indeed use my electives to enjoy more creative writing subjects and that my research project would inevitably be a combination of both loves – creative writing and the divine.