Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Author Interview | Introducing Christine Dillon

Today we have an interview with Australian writer Christine Dillon, who serves as a missionary in Taiwan. Christine has recently published her second novel, Grace in the Shadows. Welcome, Christine!

How did you get started in writing?

I am not one of those who always longed to write. Perhaps I was more aware how hard it would be and the cost in terms of loss of privacy … My writing journey started with non-fiction since people kept asking me for training in the areas of 1-2-1 discipleship and Bible storytelling. Writing books on the topic enabled me to get a message out there.

I would never have believed that one day I’d write fiction. I knew it was way beyond me and I had no desire to put in the hard work needed. However, it seems God had other ideas. He dropped the ideas for two novels into my head during a prayer day back in about 2007.

I said, “No Lord” (two words that should never be put together but often are) and then, “If that idea was from you, you’re going to have to push me and give me all the help I need.” The strong push came in 2013 and it took me four years to publish my first novel.

Four years for the first novel and only ten months for the second? Why the difference in time?

For the first novel I had so much to learn: how to write dialogue, how to put more emotion in to the story, the list was endless. It was like conquering Everest. First, I wrote two practice novels, biblical fiction which allowed me to use my Bible storytelling skills. Then it was a long first draft and so many edits. In the end I needed two editors. Both coached me in different aspects.

The result was that book two was much easier as there were so many things I didn’t need to relearn. The first draft was already up to the standard that the first book had taken more than three years to achieve.

Did you intend to write a series?

I believed I was writing a standalone novel. That was probably God’s grace to me as I might have given up if I’d thought there was more than one. About three years into the process, I began to have ideas for a follow-up book. Then four months before publication my editor said, “This is one and a half books, not a single story.” That was hard to handle so late in the process. I asked her to explain her reasons, took a few days to think and pray, chopped off the last third of the book and wrote a new conclusion. That meant some material was already written for book two.

Later, when I talked with the editor about books two and three, more stories presented themselves. It is now possible there might be seven stories. I definitely don’t want more than that as I want to write some biblical fiction.

Who influenced your fiction?

C.S. Lewis has impacted so many authors. For me it was not just the beauty of some of his stories but that he wrote ‘life changing’ fiction. I had no desire to merely write nice stories, there had to be purpose in them. My purpose is to inspire people to follow Jesus and live transformed lives.

Another author who writes this kind of fiction is Francine Rivers. Her book, ‘Sons of Encouragement’ was the final push God used to get me started writing fiction. I love the way she tackles contemporary issues like divorce, abortion …

Randy Alcorn’s ‘Safely Home’ was also a major influence. I wanted to move the emotions like his book did. I cried the final one third of his book.

Why do you write?

The simple answer is because God forced me to write.

The more complex would be that having read much Christian fiction I was concerned about certain trends I saw. One was a sugar-coating of the realities of life. A sort of Christianised version of fairy tales that end with ‘happily ever after.’ That is what our heart desires but so much of life is not like that or at least not in the sense we’re expecting.

I wanted to write books that breathed the right kind of hope into real life. Real books about people who grow to maturity and find that God is more than able to satisfy us and provide for us. Books that point us to Jesus and inspire us to make a difference for eternity.

I also didn’t want the Christianity tacked on to the story but to have people with real problems struggling through what it means to follow and share Jesus in a broken world. If the books weren’t going to ‘multiply disciples one story at a time’ then they weren’t worth my time to write. I have far too many more important things to do. Whatever I do with the little time that humans are given it must be to work for the only Kingdom that lasts.

Who are your favourite Christian fiction authors?

  • Randy Alcorn, especially his novel, ‘Safely Home'.
  • Deborah Raney for her contemporary ‘issues-based’ fiction (aka women’s fiction).
  • Brenda S Anderson, who also writes women’s fiction.
  • Francine Rivers, who writes biblical and contemporary.
  • Tessa Afshar for Biblical fiction
  • CC Warrens for suspense

What is your process?

Like most authors I’m slowly working this out. My initial planning was done using the ‘Snowflake’ method which I discovered online. After reading the book, 'Story Genius’ by Lisa Cron, I have made sure to write the first person scenes as step one. They are back story scenes of why a character has developed a misunderstanding about life. Some of these scenes get used in the final story.

At the moment I’m outlining by having different coloured cards for the different characters and spreading them out on a table. Each card only contains one scene (which I use as chapters). There needs to be a crisis of some sort at the 25, 50 and 75% marks.

I’m planning on then working through each card and making sure I’m clear what is in each chapter and what it needs to achieve. Then I’ll start writing (not necessarily in chapter order). Sometimes I need to write an easier chapter first to warm up my writing so I can tackle harder chapters.

For my second novel, I made sure to set aside a chunk of time on nearly every Saturday morning (mornings are best for me). That regular time was fantastic and is why I managed to get the second novel out so quickly. I want to get back to that. I also used the fantastic Scrivener (a writing programme) to set word goals for myself each time. I initially aimed for 3000 words per day but worked up to 5000 words.

What has God taught you along the way?

When God takes us on a journey he always has a purpose. I have learned so much about trusting him for strength and ability. So often I’d end up on my knees saying, “I can’t do it. Help!” He always provided the help I needed. Sometimes it is through beta readers, sometimes through a support team of three other writers, often through my two editors. It has been so encouraging to see how God directs me to the exact people who just ‘happen’ to have an area of expertise I need.

I have also learned to trust God for the timing of every stage. The first novel was delayed fifteen months. I look back and praise the Lord because I still had so much to learn and I would have released an inferior product if I’d ploughed on with my plans. If I hit a roadblock, I pray and ask others to pray (I have a wonderful band of supporters on my private ‘storytellerchristine’ group on Facebook) and eventually I can see why the roadblock was there.

I’ve really learned how important ‘team’ is. Every person involved in the team is a gift from God.

About Christine Dillon

Christine never intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now fiction.

Christine was a physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so from her base in southern Taiwan.

In her spare time Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkeling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

You can find Christine online at:

www.storyingthescriptures.com (for Bible storytelling)

About Grace in Strange Disguise

People disappoint us but what if God does too?

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

About Grace in the Shadows

Physiotherapist Esther has survived cancer, but wounds within her family remain unhealed. Is her revived faith the reason for the rift or could a simmering secret be the root cause?

Cosmetics consultant Rachel buried her past - and her father’s God - but the past refuses to stay buried. Will she continue to run or is confronting her pain the way to freedom?

Two women.

One collision course with truth.

Can God’s grace shine even in the darkest of shadows?

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Pursuit of Happiness

By Patricia Beal | @bealpat

In May of 2015 (my first blog post ever!), I wrote that happiness is a fantasy station. A place we never really get to.

“I will be happy when I finish college, or marry, or have children, or get published.” But then we get there, and we’re not really happy and come up with something else. I wrote that we should therefore just enjoy the ride.

I’ve changed my mind. This is not how it works at all.

On the outside it may look that way, but what’s happening in the human heart is something different altogether.

It’s not that we get there and are not happy. It’s that our definition of happiness changes many times during our lives. Why? Maturity for sure, but also because when we conquer a mountain we want another. We want adventure and newness, and that’s okay.

Does that mean the first mountain was no good?

Of course not.

To stay on the journey theme, think of it like the trips we take in a lifetime.

I truly enjoyed seeing Barcelona, but after seeing Barcelona, I wanted to go see Madrid. After Madrid, I was ready for Seville.

If I never see Barcelona or Madrid again, I will be totally fine because I’ve seen it once and for me it was enough. If I hadn’t been there, I would be lacking something, wanting something. Those places were building blocks to future stations.

Maybe these mountains—the been theres done thats—are like college degrees and entry-level jobs. They were important and fun. They brought happiness and fulfillment. But we’ve moved on.

Now Seville is a place I visited twice and would visit again. Why? The excitement is still there for me. The newness is still there. The opportunity for discovery is still there.

Maybe the Sevilles of life are like having a child or writing/publishing a novel. Once can be enough. Twice can bring additional discoveries—discoveries worth the financial and emotional investment. The “worth the investment” part is a very personal call.

How about Paris? I’ve been there seven times. I want to go back many times. I will invest. It’s always fresh and exciting, full of undiscovered neighborhoods that hold a world of promise. Those are our marriages and careers—ideally.

So, see, it’s not that we’re confused and shallow, wanting one thing one day and something else the next day for no good reason. We’re not ungratefully making little of our victories and achievements. We’re growing and seeking and being and living.

Isn’t it interesting that the American forefathers wrote “the pursuit of happiness” instead of simply “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence? They didn’t write the pursuit of liberty—just liberty. But they wrote the pursuit of happiness. They too must have known that it changes and moves and that that’s totally okay.

Brazilian columnist Martha Medeiros wrote something brilliant in a column about happiness and the elusive happily ever after. Here’s a loose translation:

“To live is not safe. To live is not easy. And it must not be boring. Even in the middle of making choices deemed permanent, we can tour into unexplored areas in our souls and discover places never before seen or imagined. And from there we can rethink choices and recalculate the duration of forever. Sometimes ‘forever’ last less than our stubbornness and our fear of change.”

Let’s go do this. Let’s declare independence from fear and from stubbornness, and let’s fill our hearts and our minds with the joy of the pursuit of happiness, shall we?

Let’s be okay with the ups and downs that it entails and declare war on sameness—on doing what you do because, well, it’s what you do… Go do something else. Something that will make you insanely happy. When that doesn’t make you happy anymore, put it in the pages of the history of your life and go pursue something else.

What if God had been okay with a world without Adam? Things would have been smooth and beautiful, but it was to Adam that He wrote His love letter. It’s Adam He pursues.

Your Creator is wild. Go be wild.

About Patricia 

Patricia Beal has danced ballet her whole life. She is from Brazil and fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at a McDonald's in Indianapolis. She put herself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature. She then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years.

She now writes contemporary fiction and her debut novel, A Season to Dance, came out in May of 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A Portuguese translation came out in her native Brazil in August of 2018 (Editora Pandorga). Patricia is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two children.

Goodreads - www.goodreads.com/bealpat
Facebook - www.facebook.com/patricia.beal.author
Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/patriciasbeal
Twitter - www.twitter.com/bealpat
Web - www.patriciabeal.com

Friday, September 21, 2018

When God Bakes a Cake - Devotional by Dianne J Wilson

One of my favorite things about being a mom to tiny people was getting to bake snazzy birthday cakes three times a year. I've made cellphones, rainbows, lions, dolphins, butterflies, a mermaid castle... even Noah's Ark. 

 I'm happy to say that I discovered the secret to creating perfect birthday cakes. It happened round about the time my firstborn learnt to say the word 'ugly'.

I share that secret with you now ... DO IT WHILE THEY ARE SLEEPING.

Seriously. I cannot stress how important this is. Why, you ask? Here's the thing. Usually a great cake starts with your child's Current Favorite Thing and a basic slab of cake. Then you get to maul and sculpt the cake into a crumbly version of whatever-the-favorite-thing-is. If any bits break off during this process - don't panic! There is nothing that cannot be glued back into place with a good dollop of icing (frosting).

At this point in the process, your glued together cake-thing will look nothing like your child's Current Favorite Thing. You won't be concerned because you can see it in your mind - all lathered in multi-color icing, sprinkles, chocolate drops, cherries... It's all good, until said-child strolls into the kitchen, screws up their nose and asks, "What's that? It's ugly. I don't want it."

From here on, it's downhill fast. In all my years of being a mom, not once has a kid caught my vision. Any rational explaining quickly degenerates and ends with me yelling go sleep or else.

It only took a few 'it's ugly's' to convince me that decorating cake at 2am is a far better plan than trying to convert the masses.

Without fail, the next morning would bring sparkling eyes and gasps of wonder as they saw what I'd had in mind all along.

Have you ever looked at your life, turned to God and said, "What's this? It's ugly! I don't want it." I know I have.

But here's the secret to loving your life in all its glorious mess and drama. He's not finished yet.

Your Baker knows exactly what He had in mind when He created you, and He will finish what He started. You can trust Him. Philippians 1:6 '... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. 

She has just finished writing the third book in YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed. Book 1, Affinity released on the 8th of June. Resonance (book 2) will be released in October 2018.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bookish Tuesday | An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M White

Book Review by Iola Goulton @IolaGoulton

Barclay Pearce has undergone a transformation since A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard, the first two books in this series. Then, he was a thief and the leader of a large adopted family of thieves. He's now been persuaded of the truth of the gospel and the associated need to change his ways. His newfound honesty is challenged when V, his mysterious boss, asks him to befriend Mr Manning, a clockmaker who has made what could be a revolutionary discovery.

As Barclay befriends Mr Manning, he also meets and befriends Miss Evelina Manning. This is an interesting relationship to watch develop, as Lina has recently been jilted because her fiance didn't think she loved him. Now she's wondering if she can love anyone ...

And, as with the other books in this series, there is a bet within the members of Barclay's makeshift family—and again, it relates to the title.

There are two things which consistently impress me about Roseanna M White's writing. 

First is her research. She has the ability to take little-known factoids from history and incorporate them into her story without it feeling forced (for example, the origin of Rolex watches, and the presence of internment camps in England in World War I).

And the writing. She's an excellent writer, and I found myself highlighting a lot of brilliant lines like this one:

World War I is an excellent backdrop to this romance story about two people damaged by their parents and trying to rise above their histories to become better people. It's the third book in the Shadows Over England series, and while it can be read as a standalone novel, you'll enjoy it more if you read the other two first.

Recommended for historical romance fans.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

You can read the introduction to An Hour Unspent below:

Monday, September 17, 2018

International Christian Fiction - New Releases | September 2018

A Secret to Die for by Lisa Harris

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret--one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn't simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan--and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

Available at Amazon.com

Flavors of Forever by Valerie Comer

God’s love is the gold mending broken hearts and dreams

As her friends pair off, Kassidy North thinks happily-ever-after has passed her by, but she’s too busy running a busy bistro and once-a-month cooking club to be bothered by it. Much. Until a single dad moves into the neighborhood and threatens to invade her dreams and well-ordered life.

Metal sculptor Wesley Ferguson is a cynic when it comes to romance, but something in Kass makes him want to believe again. He’s not so sure he agrees when she insists forever love begins with God. What has God ever done for him?

Unable to avoid one another in the close-knit community of Bridgeview, Kass and Wesley develop the beginnings of a friendship. But when relationships break around them, can they see God as the glue capable of holding broken pieces together… forever?

Available at Amazon.com

All Made Up by Kara Isaac

Everyone thinks Katriona McLeod is living the dream. Her professional career as a make up artist sees her traveling the world working with the stars and she's got no shortage of men wanting her affection. Only problem is she's never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she's ever loved. When she accepts a job on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she's cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it.

Caleb Murphy couldn't care less about C-Class celebrity fame or reality TV and he certainly doesn't believe it could lead him to love. The one thing he does care about is fulfilling his mother's last wish. Kat's presence on the show seems to offer up a solution that will make both the network and his mother happy. It might have been almost ten years since they split but he knows he can trust her with his plan. Just as long as he doesn't fall in love all over again with the woman who will never stay.

Available at Amazon.com

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Available at Amazon.com

Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Some people marry for love; others marry for music...

Rose McNeil is rising the ranks at the Mozarteum in Salzburg as a violinist to watch. Her musical Nova Scotian heritage has loaned an unparalleled technique to her interpretation of some of the most beautiful compositions in the world. The opportunity of a first chair assignment to the Rainer Quartet under the tutelage and baton of Oliver Thorne is a dream come true--- until her student visa expires and the threat of leaving Vienna looms. As much as she grieves the prospect of leaving Vienna and the quartet, it is Oliver—with his dry sense of humour and unexpected charm- she will miss most.

British ex-pat Oliver Thorne’s recent appointment as conductor to the Rainer Quartet make him the youngest in the role during its prestigious history. But it wasn’t the path he wanted. A tragic car accident years ago forbade him from ever playing his beloved cello again. Now he spends his life teaching and guest conducting for premiere orchestras at the Musikverein. When he first hears Rose McNeil play, all the dreams he left by the wayside are reborn with her unexpected talent. When Rose learns she may have to leave Vienna, Oliver has to come up with a solution. Losing his first violinist is unfortunate, losing her is unimaginable.

So he comes up with a crazy idea: A marriage on paper only. She’ll take his name and his citizenship. They’ll split rent money and coin toss to decide who takes the bed or the the futon every night. They’ll keep their secret from the orchestra. She’ll play and he’ll conduct and, most importantly...she’ll stay.

Unbeknownst to each other, Rose is in love with Oliver and Oliver is in love with Rose. They might even find a happy ending, if only their pesky marriage doesn’t get in the way.

Available at Amazon.com

Flame in the Night by Heather Munn

In occupied France, a teen is torn between hate and love.

Julien Losier has just turned eighteen. But this is Vichy France in 1942, and his coming of age is marred by the Nazi occupation of his homeland. His father has always taught him that evil is resisted by the power of God, not by the gun. But when the roundups of Jews begin and both his best friend and the girl he's falling for become targets, Julien must question where real power lies. Can he be a man who protects the people he loves if he follows his father's ways of peace?

His hometown is a fragile fortress where hundreds of Jewish youth hide in plain sight, protected only by the goodwill of their neighbors. Julien takes part in the intricate system of sentries and alert codes that keep them safe, doing what he can to resist the Nazis. As the Germans close in, he can see the moment coming when all the town's careful defenses will fail. He's torn between the faith of his father and his increasing surety that fighting violence with violence is the only way to win. How can the meek inherit the earth when the strong hold all the cards?

Now the young Jewish woman who has captured his heart comes under deadly threat, and there are no good choices. But for Elise, there's nothing Julien won't risk.

Based on actual events in Vichy France, Flame in the Night is a powerful examination of the strength of faith and peaceful resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Available at Amazon.com

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White

Once London's top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker's daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can't help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge--and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina's father soon finds his whole family in danger--and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

Available at Amazon.com

Deep Calling Deep by Carole Towriss

Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus has spent his life fighting for the glory of Rome, but that glory has lost its shine. As both his health and his career crumble, he is drawn toward the seemingly inexhaustible peace of one of his Jewish prisoners, the Apostle Paul.

The moment Timothy hears his mentor and surrogate father Paul has been arrested, he rushes to Rome. Under the looming threat of execution, Timothy struggles to make sense of what is happening. Finally, an unexpected crisis requires him to reexamine everything, and places their hope for Paul’s freedom on the shoulders of Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus.

Available at Amazon.com

Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell

The long way home . . .

The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, the only respite she finds is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock.

Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations?

Available at Amazon.com

Friday, September 14, 2018

More Mysteries Than We Can Imagine

Keona Tann | @ICFWriters

I used to get so frustrated when someone would start to tell me something but then stops and say: ‘oh I better not tell you’. But then I realised that it was probably a prompting from the Lord for them to NOT say any more. Some people listen to that prompting and others ignore it and tell me stuff that I wished I hadn’t heard. I then have to spend hours praying to try and rid those words from my mind. I’m trying to not engage in these types of discussions but sometimes it is hard to stop people from ‘spilling’ all.

I came across a verse that reminded me very much of the ‘oh I better not tell you’ line. In John‬ ‭20:30 (NKJV) it states: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book.”‬.‬

‭‭I read that and wondered why it was put there, is it there as a statement that Jesus did more mysteries than we can imagine? Is it there so that we press in to search for more mysteries? Or is it there so that we can know that the Bible cannot contain ALL of the wonderful things of God?‬‬‬‬
I’m not sure what the answer is, but it has sparked in me a great excitement to search for more mysteries than I can possibly imagine.

The very next verse goes on to assure us that the things that have been written are so that we may believe, with a deep abiding trust, that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) and the Son of God. We can know that by believing; trusting in; and relying upon Him we may have life in His name. (John 20:31 Amplified version paraphrased)

As I ponder on those wonderful words I’m so encouraged that my future will unfold, one wonderful mystery after the other. I cling tight to the process of preparation that is taking place right now and ask for Jesus to reveal what I need right for this moment. As I faithfully serve in the seemingly small things, things that are within my ability right now, I trust in and rely upon Jesus to unfold more opportunities to serve Him AND the ability to do it.

Right now my future is simply a dream, a desire and sometimes seems a long way off from becoming. BUT I believe in the miraculous Jesus and I trust that my future will unfold at just the right time. I surrender yet again to the process of preparation, trying hard to wait patiently.
As I think about the mysteries yet to be revealed, I’m reminded of the promise in Jeremiah 33:3 where God invites us to call to Him. He promises that if we ask He will answer! He longs to tell us remarkable secrets; marvellous and wondrous things; and show us great and mighty things. He promises to reveal the things that are fenced in and hidden; things we do not yet know; the things we haven’t yet distinguished and recognized; things that we don’t presently have knowledge of or understand about; the things to come; and things that we could never figure out on your own. We’re urged to call to Him because He promises to answer and tell us of all that is to come! (AMPC, NLT and MSG paraphrased).

How truly amazing that is! I pray that you’re encouraged today to press in and ask for more mysteries, more than you can possibly imagine.

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for the wonderful promises contained in Scripture. I ask that You would grow within me a deep abiding trust in You my Saviour. I believe that You are the Messiah, the Anointed One, the precious Son of God who died to set me free. As I trust in You and rely upon You, I am promised to have life and life to the abundance.

Almighty God, You invite me to call out to You and You Promise that if I ask You will answer. I ask right now that You would reveal what I need for this moment. I ask that You would reveal to me remarkable secrets; marvellous and wondrous things; more mysteries than I can possibly imagine; and please show me great and mighty things. By Your Holy Spirit reveal the things that are fenced in and hidden, things I do not yet know. Reveal to me the things I haven’t yet distinguished and recognized; things that I don’t presently have knowledge of or understand about; the things to come; and things that I could never figure out on my own. I thank You so much Lord that I can call to You and for the glorious promise that You will answer and tell me of all that is to come!

Inspired by John 20:31, John 10:10 and Jeremiah 33:3

Many Blessings, Keona

About Keona:
I’ve lived most of my life in Tasmania, which is one of the beautiful Australian states. Deliriously happily married to my college sweetheart for over 20 years, we consider ourselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. Hubby and I have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion so we have overseas kids!
I struggled with illness and disease for most of my life. The biggest battles were: endometriosis for 28 years and adrenal/chronic fatigue which was severe for 28 months. In September 2016 healing was declared over my life, praise God, this set me on a path of deep inner healing, restoration and transformation. My passion to write was reignited and I wrote out a mission statement:
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:3 (NLT)
I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.
In my new-found boldness I’ve started a weekly blog which you can find at: https://keonajtann.wordpress.com/
Many Blessings, Keona

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Is Swallows and Amazons an Allegory for Missions?

by Sophie Neville, President of The Arthur Ransome Society

‘I can’t see it,’ the man was standing in the rain outside the cinema. ‘You said Swallows and Amazons was an allegory to missionary life but I don’t get it.’ He was a vicar, camping with his family in the Lake District. After spending a week at the Keswick Convention he brought his children to see the original film Swallows and Amazons (1974), a faithful adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book written in 1929.

‘I once went on a short-term mission to Australia,’ I told him. ‘People would ask me if I was going to convert the natives.’ This reminded me of Swallows and Amazons, as the characters refer to adults as natives, but the idea of berating aboriginal people filled me with horror.

Of course, being a real missionary isn’t like that but you do tend to go set off as a family or group of like-minded people, much like the four Walker children - John, Susan, Titty and Roger, known as ‘the Swallows’ after their sailing dinghy. Although unsure of what to expect, you often end up helping people of God who need a bit of support.

Swallows and Amazons is about fatherlessness. 

It was written by Arthur Ransome who lost his own father when he was a boy. The Swallows have to plan an expedition without their father as he is in Malta with the Navy. They gain his permission and remain under the umbrella of their mother’s love and approval, making sensible preparations before sailing across a lake to camp by themselves on an island.

They soon encounter Amazon pirates, two girls of their age with a similar outlook on life. Nancy and Peggy have no father around and explain that they have been rejected by their Uncle Jim as he is busy writing a book. They are hurting and being naughty as a result, letting off a firework on the roof of his houseboat. Although it is not easy, the Swallows track them down, make friends and end up enabling the girls to find resolution by helping their Uncle Jim to see sense. Through their own endeavour, and being in the right place at the right time, they bring restitution, even finding the stolen book.

Everyone’s moral values are tested. 

Uncle Jim, or Captain Flint as Titty calls him, realises he has been neglecting his relationship with his nieces and what ‘a cross-grained curmudgeonly idiot’ he’d been to doubt John Walker’s integrity. This had cast a shadow on the idyllic island days but almost visibly builds John’s character before his leadership skills are stretched by challenges set by Nancy. The other characters use their giftings to the full, Susan becoming the practical facilitator, Roger learning to be helpful. Titty’s active imagination seems to be undervalued at first, but her ideas prove vital. She keeps a journal or ‘ship’s log’ and takes guidance from a Christian novel in the form of Robinson Crusoe that, ‘tells you what to do on an island.’

The Swallow’s mother looks out for them constantly. 

She reprimands John and sets rules when he goes too far, ‘No more sailing at night’, but continually ensures they are provisioned and their needs met.

The children’s war and subsequent capture of the houseboat seem a distraction from the allegory but there are battles to be won on the mission field. They are usually tricky, demanding courage, timely action and often involving discomfort akin to sleeping in a dinghy moored by Cormorant Island. Interestingly, it is Titty, the littlest girl, who draws on her spirit of adventure, determination and tenacity to find the buried treasure.

‘What did the burglars do when they found the treasure had gone?’ one little girl in the cinema asked.

Someone else in the audience, who works as a missionary for Operation Mobilization, said, ‘Captain Flint carves a fish for them to find instead of the trunk.’

The great thing is, that whilst leading a Galilean lifestyle, fishing from boats and weathering the storm, firm friendships are forged that take the Swallows and the Amazons on further adventures, even to the ends of the Earth.

There is something inspirational about these that stories lead others to extend themselves, hoist their sails and harness the power of the Holy Spirit.

You can’t go out as a missionary expecting to convert the natives. 

Speaking Christianese doesn’t work. You need to come alongside people the Lord leads you to, find the key to their needs and help them use their giftings to fulfil their dreams. Things won’t always go smoothly but you are usually warned of danger. There will be a need for strong leadership when times become testing but it should be fun. If you can hold on to the unity there will be celebration and feasting in the end.

My vicar, standing in the rain beside his bicycle began to appreciate the depth of the allegory. Did Ransome ever intend to write one? He did not confess to be a Christian at the time of writing. Did it well up from his subconscious, stemming from his Biblical education at Windermere school for boys or the prayers of his devout aunts? Two of his great aunts were missionaries to China, no doubt diving for fish like cormorants.

One thing is certain: there is something about Ransome’s books that enable adults to enjoy them as much as children. They offer solace, take us back to an Eden where we can relax and escape pressures of contemporary life.

Perhaps they even inspire us to fulfill our dreams, becoming all the Lord wants us to be, doing all the things He has prepared us to do.

About Sohpie Neville

You can find out more about Sophie Neville, Swallows and Amazons, and her book at her website, and you can read the introduction to her book below (or click through to find it on Amazon).