Saturday, 25 April 2015

Glorification or Gratitude?

My mother took me to the Anzac Day commemoration every year in memory of her brother Tom, who died at Ypres. From about the age of five or six I have distinct memories of the walk down silent streets in the dark, my hand in hers, to the white statue of the soldier with bowed head under a slouch hat and hands resting on his gun stock. With my mum I listened to the Ode and the Last Post and put a posy at the soldier’s feet.  Mum always cried. She didn’t have to tell me the occasion had nothing to do with glorifying war.
            As an adult I observed how poorly attended these commemorations had become. Media references by commentators and academics to ‘irrelevance’, ‘anachronism’ and ‘drunken old codgers drinking too much’ had brainwashed the younger generation into dismissing the Anzacs’ part in our history and it was now politically incorrect to value this part of our history or to be seen honouring the fallen in that or any other war. It was rare to see a person under fifty at a dawn service.
            But the tide has turned. In this year of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, the crowds at dawn services across the nation have been nothing short of astounding. Children of all ages, teens and twenties, couples in their thirties, people of Asian, African, European and Middle-Eastern origin, all shoulder to shoulder in respectful silence listening to prayers of gratitude and speeches honouring the men and women who have represented this country in many arenas of conflict.

Section of the crowd at Tea
Tree Gull Memorial Arch  25/4/2015

My mother would have been happy to see this. But she would still have cried. Lest we forget.

Monday, 16 March 2015

 Don’t Sabotage Your Dreams

Why is it we think starting small is starting insignificantly? Oaks begin as acorns, flower beds begin with the first spadeful of turned soil, a cake begins with a cracked egg. Even Jesus Christ, who turned the world upside down, started life in a cow shed.
            Small steps teach us how to walk and walk well. A baby learns what the floor and the lower edges of cupboards and walls look like before it gets to explore the fascinating space at the back of a wardrobe (My parents used to hide my birthday presents there. It was an Aladdin’s cave of wonderful things I had to pretend I’d never seen!) A baby learns to negotiate the small space of one room as preparation for being let loose in the back garden and, ultimately, the world. A baby starts by focussing on what’s under its nose, but as it masters that territory it is able to command larger ones. Focus empowers adults, too.
            All too often our dreams are sabotaged by an obsession to be overnight success stories. If we start with what we have – one idea, a single follower, a minimal budget – and take the first steps toward growing that, we will build a foundation that can handle greater responsibility and success.                
             Recently, I learned how the leader of a rescue and support group for sex workers got her dream off the runway. She began with only one person. It was two years before she was able to help more, but what she learnt, step by step, with that first person was her training ground for all that is in place a decade later. How many of us would have given up before that? In the same circumstances how many of us would think, “I must have got it all wrong. I only imagined I had a great idea, a talent, a calling”. How many of us drop the dream, settle for the same old, same old, and never be what we were created to be?
            Focus, and one step after another, empowers us.

Friday, 28 November 2014


It’s been an exciting year. Many things have come to pass for me that, twelve months ago, I would have thought improbable, if not impossible. I was grateful for God’s favour extended to me and eagerly walked through every door that sprang open, but as the year gallops to its finish, I find myself thinking, “Maybe that was it. Maybe I presumed too much on God’s generosity. Perhaps I should quit while I’m ahead.”
            Is this the result of physical tiredness? The natural let-down at the end of a demanding race, having used up my quota of adrenalin? Or like Elijah - following the contest with the priests of Baal - is it the result of a battle in the spiritual realm? If it is, I’m determined to re-group, re-invigorate. I don’t want to settle, fearful of inadequacy, I want to build on what I’ve learnt, develop skills, extending upward and outward from seeds that have germinated in my life.
            In contrast to earlier in the year, the path I’m on now looks a little dry on the verges, but I’ve got my eyes on the road ahead. I can’t see what’s on the other side of the hill that rises steeply in front of me, but I’m determined to climb it. The scenery may turn out to be not so lush, the road surface rougher than before, or it may turn out to be a delightful roller-coaster ride in a run-up to another soaring hill.
            I’ll never know if I stop and camp, will I?

Saturday, 16 August 2014


My local library is in the habit of tossing out worn or under-used titles and selling them off at $1 each (until recently it was ten cents, but that’s inflation for you). Frequently, I come across an author I’ve never read before and find myself catapulted into unexpected reading pleasures.
            The latest gem to fall into my hands is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. He writes a rich and colourful tapestry of India in the 1970s, following the fortunes of four characters whose lives inter-connect during a time of political upheaval. It’s a big book but I’m galloping through it because I can’t put it down. Without it being ‘preachy’, or it reading like a travelogue, Mistry has woven setting, characters and the political history into an enthralling read.
            If that wasn’t enough to make him well worth the $1, Mistry has introduced me to two delicious words that sent me scurrying for a dictionary: ‘horripilate’ is that goose-bumping of the skin from cold or fear, and ‘funambulating’ is walking a tightrope or high wire. This is the sentence he used the second one in: "On windy nights the (laundered) garments danced on the wire, friendly funambulating ghosts".  I almost hyperventilate at the sheer pleasure of repeating it aloud!
            If for no other reason, going to the dictionary for the meaning of new-to-me words builds muscle for those Face Book quizzes like, “How Many English Words Do You Know?” and “How Good is Your Vocabulary?” But nobody’s fooled…you all know I’d do it just for the fun of it.

Monday, 31 March 2014


When I was about nine, autograph books were all the rage at school. All the girls had one. Can’t remember if boys had them; I don’t think boys were on my radar at that age.  These small, hard covered books had timeless literary gems inscribed on their pastel coloured pages – mostly beginning with ‘roses are red, violets are blue…’ and ending with some variation of ‘…sugar is sweet and so are you', but I suppose we weren’t looking for originality, only acceptance.
            These immortal words were usually signed by a best friend or a doting aunt. I didn’t have either at the time, so I asked my Dad. I knew it was unlikely he’d pen anything of the ‘roses are red’ variety, but my expectations – actually, I don’t remember what my expectations were – all I know is Dad met none of them. He wrote:  It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.
            Neither I nor my class mates had any idea what it meant.  I was embarrassed. I really wanted to fit in with everyone and have Roses are Red all through my autograph book, but even then I must have had an appreciation for the pithy phrase and the road less traveled because I found myself reading it again and again. At some point it made sense and it became a landmark for growing up and the getting of wisdom.
            I’m usually more interested in the written word, but recently, I have been reminded of the wisdom, or otherwise, of the words that come out of our mouths. Spoken words are powerful – for good or for bad – to bring things into being in our lives. Even the heavens and the earth were brought into being by the “Let it be!” spoken by the Creator.  We, too, get what we talk about.  If we talk negatively about ourselves and others we create a negativity of hopelessness around us. Conversely, when encouraging words come out of our mouths we influence the whole atmosphere for good. The effect, either way, is palpable.

            I’m sure my Dad would relate to the ‘silence is preferable to bullshit’ poster doing the rounds on Face Book at the moment.  I remember he was prone to use the milder expression, ‘bulldust’, on those occasions when his patience was tried. In the manner of many Australian old timers he did not suffer fools gladly. We are fools to think we will get away with constant negative talk. Better to keep silent.  Self-bashing talk will influence our lives adversely. The choice is ours. 

Monday, 17 March 2014


Perhaps your Christian background was similar to mine. We were taught how wrong it was to be presumptuous. So we waited for permission to serve, to go, to do. Then we waited to be told how it should be done. Then of course we waited for ‘God’s timing’, and spent a lot of time getting trained. Finally we waited for God to put cold, hard cash in our hands to do whatever it was, all the while hoping we weren’t blowing our own trumpet when we shared our dreams.
            I worried that I was presumptious in thinking I could write. I worried that I was too old to make a go of it without long years of writing experience behind me. I hoped God would just zap me and I’d find myself writing in a cloud of effortless glory.
            A couple of inspirational quotes had a strong impact on me. They are not Bible texts but both reflect biblical principle. The first one is from Andre Gide, the French novelist from the 19th century. I’ve never read his work and this quote is all I know of him, but it speaks to me.  He said, “We do not discover new lands unless we’re willing to push the boat out from the shore.”  Pause and meditate.
            The other one is from that wonderful teacher and father in the faith, Bill Johnson. He says, “God loves risk-takers. It shows you’re willing to trust Him.” Not everyone is called to the foreign mission field; not everyone is called to write a book. But everyone is called to act on what you have a passion for – because that passion was planted in you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. It’s a passion God wants you to run with to extend His Kingdom on earth and promote His glory.
            In putting that passion to work for God and His kingdom, a strange thing happens. We die to self. This happens because it’s impossible to fulfil the drive of that inbuilt passion unless we put God’s kingdom and His righteousness first. When we acknowledge the drive in us, and accept we won’t fulfil it in our own strength, it becomes something effective and powerful.  What’s important is not what form the passion takes, but whether it’s harnessed to the kingdom and His righteousness! Baking cakes, knitting or driving a bus are just as likely to glorify God and serve His purpose as being a doctor or designing a church. We can make a business, a ministry, from anything and carry the love of God to the world.
            A final quote, this time from a fellow member at Christian Writers Downunder, Maree Cutler-Naroba.*   “Put the prophetic trumpet to your lips and blow it loud – take those ideas nestled in your heart and give it a go.”


Sunday, 9 March 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour
Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky invited me to My Writing Process blog tour. Link to her at

What am I working on?
At the moment I only have time for short story writing because I’m busy making a platform of speaking engagements to showcase my book Cambodian Harvest which will be released from April 1st. I’m looking forward to getting back to working on my novel which has an historical premise. You can read my latest short piece, A Day at the Beach, on Rhonda Pooley - Writer   

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In terms of the biography, Cambodian Harvest, I have aimed for a journalistic approach which is not common among Christian biographers. I particularly admire Peter McSimons’ style (although not necessarily his politics!). My short stories and novel might be termed ‘literary fiction’ by some, but they aren’t so high falutin’ as that - trust me!

Why do I write what I do?
I’m interested in how the past impinges on the present - for better or worse – and how people handle that. My stories reflect this even when I haven’t set out with that consciously in mind. I write from a biblical world view, but with a non-Christian audience in mind.

How does my writing process work?
Slowly! And I’m a very linear sort of fiction writer. I like to start at what I think is the beginning and then work with a particular ending in mind. But in practice it rarely works out like that. Achieving a good ending is always the hardest thing for me.

Next week you will meet Anusha Atukorala on the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Anusha is an accomplished public speaker as well as a writer of encouragement and warmth. Visit her at ‘Dancing in the Rain’: 
I have invited two more writers, but haven't had confirmation and information from them yet.