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.

 

 

the legacy of joy

The-joy-o-the-mind.jpgYesterday, I left my twenties to embark on a brand new adventure in another decade!

THIRTY.

It feels like a beautiful new beginning, full of unexpected friendships, exciting ventures, and overwhelming inspiration and creative curiosity.

There is one word, however, that is at the forefront of my mind as I ponder all these things. It’s not happiness exactly, but it’s close. After all, happiness is fleeting and too dependent on circumstance – or so my Gran taught me…

One day, Gran went to a restaurant with one of her elderly girl friends. She enjoyed the meal so much that she insisted she thank the chef personally.

While in the kitchen, the chef was taken back by her infectious enthusiasm. He asked her what her secret was? Why was she so happy?

‘You really want to know?’ she teased – more than once.

He assured her he did.

So she told him her secret…

‘It’s joy from the Lord,’ she told him. ‘You can be happy one day and sad the next, but joy from the Lord can be felt all the time.’

His response?

‘Well, I’ll be…’

I was just a girl when I heard this story but now, looking back, I understand the importance of choosing joy.

Life is short.

Love is precious.

And laughter is important, even if sometimes it’s through tears.

My Gran probably won’t remember this story anymore – dementia has stolen it from her. But the legacy of this God-fearing matriarch is one of joy.

And I fully intend to ensure that legacy lives on.

 

 

 

 

photo cred: https://www.faithgateway.com/25-bible-verses-about-joy/

why she must wait

God's not finishedI began this year with the mission to blog everyday. And I kept it for all of two months…

Then life happened.

And a few months later, God took me on a completely unexpected journey – a challenge I didn’t see coming.

After much debate with myself over self-publishing versus sending Shamira Trinity to a Christian-fantasy publisher who wouldn’t release it for another two years, I came to a surreal, courageous and somewhat crazy solution – why couldn’t I become a publisher! Of course, there was so much I didn’t understand about the publishing world that I would have to seek assistance even if I was to self-publish. But why couldn’t I understand?

My stubbornness took over.

I could’ve ignored the idea, of course. I could’ve told it to go away and to find another collaborator because this one was already too busy.

But I didn’t.

Instead, the following morning, I pitched the idea to my husband who gave me a reassuring – ‘Yeah, why not?!’

There were many ‘why nots’ all vying for my attention – but I chose to ignore them. Thus, we began this beautiful tumultuous journey.

By June, we had taken on a children’s book, a poetry anthology, and I had two of my own books waiting not-so-patiently in the wings – the long awaited three book collection Shamira: Trinity and my new novella Spectrum of Scarlett Tanner. Adoring the former much more, I decided to “practice” on Spectrum.

June then saw us running the Winter Writing Competition to source a final manuscript to publish for our swiftly approaching launch in August. We quickly recognised one of the finalists and then waited out the rest of June. Then, on the 30th June, with mere hours to spare, we received a manuscript we couldn’t resist.

As my eyes pored over the pages, I could feel my husband watching me. Finally, he asked the question many men fear asking – ‘What are you thinking?’

I swallowed hard. ‘I’m thinking I have to have two winners and I need to wait to publish Shamira.’

Somehow, it was both an easy and hard decision. Easy, because I loved this new manuscript and felt it would bring a whole new demographic to our launch. Hard, because I have waited for this Shamira to be done for so long.

Still, ultimately, it was a blessing.

Since beginning this venture, we have experienced many walls and hurdles that can only be described as spiritual attacks. But then we met the writer of this second manuscript for coffee, and he was a breath of fresh air!

I walked away from our meeting – okay, so I might’ve skipped – thinking, ‘Yes, this is why I got into this. It may have started off with Shamira, but it’s so much bigger than that now!’

Suddenly, our mission statement came to life before my eyes…

‘To bring unique and memorable stories to life, to nurture our writers, and to encourage others to walk the path of creativity.’

It’s not going to be easy, but we feel so strongly that this is exactly where God has called us to be. We can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.

We would love the support of our online communities. Here’s our website with links to our social media pages.

https://www.elephanthousegroup.com/elephant-house-press

We look forward to seeing your manuscripts!

Elizabeth x

 

 

 

 

 

done

every day is plagued by it

every phrase defined by it

the question

or a statement?

I’m not good enough…

*

I have such a love/hate relationship with my writing that it borders on schizophrenia.

I finally heard back from a publisher regarding one of my books, explaining that the manuscript is now with the director himself – but the editor would give him a little nudge to hurry up with it…

So with this encouragement, I decided to download the file to my tablet and read it before bed every night.

Part of me wishes I hadn’t.

Yes, there are moments when I sit there and remember the pure inspiration. I fall in love with the characters all over again and am genuinely surprised by the story because it has been so long (or at least, it feels so long ago).

Then, there are the other kind of moments. The moments when I wonder why on earth anyone would publish this? It’s stale to me, and therefore, I believe it must be stale to every one else too.

Especially the publisher.

It’s typical female insecurity – only on steroids.

It’s a daily struggle.

It may not seem like an earth-shattering event to anyone else but please understand, this is what I love to do. This is my chosen vocation. This is what I hope to work at in order to make a career of it.

So what do I do?

I force myself to see past the imperfections. No, it doesn’t come naturally but as Elizabeth Gilbert says, ‘Done is better than good’. See full article here: https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/my-mothers-motto-ive-shared-the-expression-done-is-better-than-good-on-t/

It is that mentality alone that keeps a writer sane.

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I saw this instagram post this morning by @inspiredtowrite that captured my feelings perfectly. After all, the file on that laptop is not only the seemingly stale work of a struggling writer. It is a 80,000 word manuscript. It is complete. This story evoked laughter and tears as I wrote it – that alone should be something to celebrate. It birthed my own instagram account @missadelaide_sa It was also my passion project for a good nine or so months, as I drew closer to a home run. This of course came after the 12 months of planning and writing bits and pieces.

Written…planned…imagined…

The quote reminded me of something vital – I’d forgotten how far I’d come.

This book represents determination, dedication, and inspiration. It also represents grace.

By God’s grace alone, I have seen him work through every project and I can see glimpses of him reflected in them. I have been called to write – of that I am most certain. And I need to remind myself, how far he has brought me over the years, to this place where I have the honour to study the written word and to create stories of my own that touch people’s lives.

It doesn’t have to touch everyone’s life.

Just someone.

We will never be perfect this side of eternity. Therefore, our writing will never be perfect. But I tell you what, if there are scribes in heaven, I will gladly put up my hand to be one.

One day, that perfection may be a reality.

But today, I must settle for DONE.

gravity

I flinch

anxiety pools in my stomach

defying gravity

leaking into my neck

a second pool in my shoulders,

another at the base of my skull

*

I retreat

curling away from the world

away from them

all of them

head spins

the pools are poison

with fumes potent

complications

misrepresentations

words twisted

distorted

into ugly

cruelness

*

I close

the door

slowly

the fumes

subside

the pools

dry out

*

I cling

with bare hands

to the few

who are left

to the Unfailing One

and the one He sent

to stand guard

and keep me

grounded