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they have guns but we have flowers

The news broke during our church family’s European campus conference and so did our hearts. One hundred and twenty nine lives snuffed out. We prayed. Our words got all tangled up as one of our French sisters wept. My moist eyes found hers and held them. After a pause, we did something that didn’t immediately make sense to me. We smiled at each other.

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God put Adam in the garden and told him to work it

But my success rate with green things is zero.

Flowers delight me but shrink from my touch. So, ‘fallen,

I hunker down, hand hovering ‘til I find what I’m looking for.

Spade abandoned, I click the pen, and plant letters instead.

In their own time (with only the slightest nudge from me),

Nouns and verbs erupt rudely onto thumb-worn pages,

Hungrily scrabbling along faster than I can fathom! Continue reading

15th September 2015

Doodle for a few minutes, and then go back to your Work in Progress and write for fifteen minutes. Did doodling help you unlock your scenes? Did you find a way for the cat to get out of the tree after you made spontaneous marks to help you think?

Share your doodles in the comments. And then write.

Tonight You Belong to Me (Cover) – Me and my 4 y.o.

I have been wanting to write about this video for fourteen days.
S challenged me to write a blog post and I froze. Similarly, when J responded to my short story on TWP with some great questions, I got excited and then I froze. Have a look at my doodles:

It’s one thing to get excited and say you’re going to write. It’s a whole other thing to publish and have other people read and critique your work. Receiving my first comment filled me with joy and then dread. I quickly retreated back into offline obscurity! So… here it goes!


“But toni-iiight, you belo-oooong to me!”
Her pink little face tilts up as she warbles the last line. He positions his head behind hers so that she can enjoy the glory of the moment, her moment, before joining her in the jubilant final note.

The fireworks were over but the pajama-clad four year old can’t sleep, afraid the startling bangs will return. Her dad gets out his pink ukelele and the result is not only a heart-warming video of a dad-daughter duet but a comforting picture of how our heavenly Father gently leads us out of fear into His perfect love.

Three motifs I love:

  1. Dad’s attentiveness to his little girl.


He obediently cuts the music at her command and listens intently, assuring her that the fireworks are gone. He refuses to interrupt her. He stops to acknowledge her fear but he doesn’t allow her to wade around in it. He strums into the last line of the chorus and she happily sings along. You can see it again from 2:44-2:52 where she stops and redirects him.

1 Peter 3:12 tells us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer”. Just like Dad in this video, our Father is attentive to our prayers and redirects events in response to our requests.

2. Dad’s smile reveals how much he is enjoying this moment with his daughter.

Various points, but especially 1:14-1:21 and 3:04-3:11

As she unashamedly blasts out the song, Dad smiles to himself as he sings. Zephaniah 3:17 reveals that “[the Lord your God] will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” John Piper aptly notes that “what God delights in about us is that we delight in him.” Dad is enjoying Daughter as she enjoys singing with him. How would seeing those moments where God smiles at our antics change the way we live?

3. Their song scares away fear.

As Dad and Daughter sing, Daughter listens to fear less and less, and becomes bolder and more confident in her song. In Psalm 8:2 we see that God displays His strength through the songs of the young and the weak in ways that make the enemy shut up and run, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”

“Long before the enemy can steal your victory, he steals your song. Long before he can steal your joy, he steals your praise. Before you know it, you start becoming critical, pessimistic, moody, and oppressed. Don’t allow him to do that. Let praises be continually on your lips and always be conscious of the Lord’s presence, his favor, his goodness, and his blessings in your life.” -Joseph Prince

How has God led you out of fear recently? Was it a particular song, scripture verse, or kind words from a friend?

13th September 2015

Prompt from thewritepractice.com:

Write a story for fifteen minutes today.

Buoyed by the question, “how about we go shopping for new shoes for you today?” I skipped out to the car. Right sneaker in hand, I hovered from shelf to shelf flitting from lace-ups to mules to boots. Each one got it’s chance before the mirror as I appraised each factor: comfort, colour, style. I knew as soon as I slipped them on. The satisfying sigh said it all: this is the pair!

Grinning big and silly I made for the cash register. The cashier checked each shoe, “both size 6, always good to double check! Would you like the box?” Looking over my shoulder, my breath caught in my chest as my eyes squinched in the direction of the door, “where is she going?”

Eyes widening before I briefly shut them, my brain whirred past the realisation that she hadn’t explicitly offered to buy the shoes for me and onto the sobering truth that the bill was all mine. I clenched my teeth and smiled at the waiting cashier, “let’s try this card.”

12th September 2015

Last night I attended a concert put together to raise money for children affected by the war in Syria. Many of the artists and performers were younger than me and beautifully talented. Take the [name of band] for instance. Their Mum is wonderful! The voice that came out of that 17 year old’s mouth revealed a tone and a heart’s cry I would expect from someone much older, someone who has grieved.

I chatted to Mum about the lyrics and she shared that the eldest (22) started writing at the age of 11, “just after his dad walked out on him”, often for four hours a day. Well on the way to his 10,000 hours.

Confident and secure, their performance never slipped into being “showy”. The young men were certain in their craft and bold in their execution. I was inspired… and challenged. I could only fathom the hours of solid graft and pushing through that led up to this moment enshrined in song. The guts that led to the glory. [Name of band] know what they want and they have worked for it.

It’s taken me twenty eight years to come close to knowing what I want. I have always held myself back from fully committing to any one thing: teaching, business, even from ministry sometimes because no one thing ever fully embodied what I wanted. To be honest, a part of that holding back was due to the hope that I would get married. Someday. Today I realise that it may never happen. For the first time, this thought doesn’t fill me with despondency. I still desire and I hope, but today I asked myself a question for the first time: if I never got married, what would I devote my life to? To my surprise, my soul replied swiftly and assuredly.

Earlier this week I had prayed to get my “fire” back. This prayer was answered, I feel, by my soul’s fervent cry.

I want to write.

These lines came to me this morning:

“Oh for a thousand tongues to sing about our Great Redeemer’s praise,
Ten thousand songs are not enough to celebrate His beautiful name.
Give me ten thousand years to write a tribute worthy of You, Lord,
It can’t be done but that won’t stop me, I want to fail gloriously!”

Desire to write, to tell stories, the Great Story, His Story- to see the world around me as if for the first time- is burning within me and it won’t relent. For the first time I want something so badly that I’m willing to devote all of my energy, time, great and strength to it even if failure is the best I can expect. This pursuit of words is gloriously futile but without it, my heart sighs and shrinks.

I’m going to write for ten thousand hours and once I’ve smashed that, I’m going to write for ten thousand more. !!!

11th September 2015

Prompt from thewritepractice.com:
“Today, spend fifteen minutes writing about the big, fat advance your newbie literary agent gets for you. Merchandise, a movie deal, a Pulitzer… whatever your heart’s desire, tell me what your agent does for you. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. Think BIG and have fun!”

Oh my word, I have gone from agonising over blowing my monthly budget on a €55 pair of shoes just before a trip to [European City] to releasing ragged sighs of relief and celebration. She loves my novella outline on my missionary mishaps and wants to extend it to a 30,000 word novel. My scribblings, roughly chucked together, more out of anguish and frustration than anything else, are worth something to somebody (who is willing to pay me in advance)! Just as my weariness of support raising was threatening to hammer me firmly into the floor, this comes up and blows away my woe.

I’ll have to talk to [boss] about this, but if I devoted 1-2 hours each morning plus one full work day to really ironing out this manuscript that would still leave me with 32-35 hours per week free to focus on discipleship, worship, as well as admin and all the boring stuff. That would work, right?!

Honestly, I was nervous asking [literary agent] about writing part time as I truly love the work I’m doing with the church, I felt pulled between the two. I had nothing to fear though, she urged me to continue doing both for as long as I could: adding that it would be a great source for future writing.

You know the feeling you get when you’re reeling from bad news, making you want to wake from the nightmare and finding you’re stuck? This is the exact opposite: I feel like I’m in an impossibly good dream that I never want to wake up from. My left arm is already starting to bruise from pinching myself. I wonder how I will react when the news finally hits the “this is reality!” part of my brain? A modulation from current sighs and smiles to jubilant shrieking and running around the room?

Oh Lord, You knew what You were doing all along, I just didn’t have the eyes to see it! To You who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work in us, to You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (and in my writing!) throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.