Ethan won first prize in the Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life competition in 2018. He also visited the LifeFM studios in Adelaide and recorded his story for broadcast over the 2018/2019 summer. This is his story.
Thank you to the Joppich family for supplying these photos, taken over six years ago.
Craig’s story Birdman was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy. He also visited the LifeFM studios in Adelaide and recorded his story for broadcast over the 2018/2019 summer.
Backstory for Bird Man
Over a period of time, I
observed a man who regularly frequented the carpark at my local beach. It
appeared that he would often park there during breaks in his work routine. What
was interesting about him was the way the seagulls gathered on, and even in,
his vehicle. He had obviously spent sufficient time with them to ensure they
were comfortable in his presence.
began thinking about the connection this man appeared to have with the gulls. I
also speculated in regard to the events of his life and why he was drawn to
I have not had opportunity to meet Bird Man in person. There is a part of me which prefers it this way, as I can imagine his circumstances without being restricted by facts! He reminds me of the importance of removing myself from distractions and coming to God in stillness.
About Craig Chapman
Craig has been writing for many years – poetry, fiction, non-fiction. He has contributed several stories to the three Stories of Life anthologies and is also a published novelist. His book, Succession Plan, was published in 2017. It is a biblical fiction story, set at the end of King David’s life and based on events described in the first chapter of 1Kings. His website is craigchapman.org. Craig enjoys outdoor adventure and is a regular blogger on seedtrek.com.
Ruth grew up in the arid Queensland outback, intrigued by the strange-accented relatives she met on holidays near Byron Bay, in areas developed by her power-house grandfather W. A. Back.
Ruth’s career in classical music became a passport to the world.
Destiny led her to live in Sweden, directly across the Gulf of Bothnia from Granddad’s birthplace in Finland. There she researched his story, and that of the black-sheep brother who in 1899 fled with Russians in pursuit to Suez.
Ruth is author/editor of a dozen publications about music, education and performance, five through Words and Music and two with Oxford University Press. Burn My Letters, Book 1 of the Back Brothers’ saga, won the 2017 Omega Writers’ Caleb Award for Nonfiction.
Tracey’s story Wanna swap? was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy. She also visited the LifeFM studios in Adelaide and recorded her story for broadcast over the 2018/2019 summer. This is her story.
Last year, Jeanette’s story, ‘My friend Peter’ was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, ‘Three Dummies in a Dinghy.’
We sincerely apologise, Jeanette, for formatting mistakes in published version and we have uploaded the clean and correct version here.
‘My friend Peter’ is a very an important story. It speaks of youthful adventures, friendship and ageing. How marvellous that through this story, Peter gives us all this important message about old age and dementia.
‘Stories of Life has been a great opportunity and motivation to gain some writing skills and experience. But I think the biggest impact that Stories of Life has had on my life has been reading the stories of other people around my home city who have been impacted and used by God in incredible and inspiring ways.’
Thank you Simon, Kit and Ruth for giving of your time. Today we feature Simon Kennedy. We will tell you more about Kit and Ruth in the days to come.
Judge in Focus
Simon Kennedy is co-creator of Safe Harbour, a 4 x 1 hour multi-award winning psychological thriller screening on SBS and internationally on Hulu and BBC. He has researched, developed and written for many production houses, and is working on streaming, television and feature documentary projects.
Simon is a sought-after script consultant and has his own slate of TV, feature film and webseries projects for both children and adult markets. He has won national awards in short story and poetry and was a juror for 2017’s international 168 Film Festival’s screenwriting competition.
In 2013, after seven years as a professional musician, Simon co-founded and continues to perform in Songs with Simon, a YouTube channel of kids’ songs produced in his garage that has over 44 million views and 58,000 subscribers.
We start off the story readings this year with a reading by Naomi Currie. Last year, Naomi’s story, Flawed, was published in the 2018 anthology Three Dummies in a Dinghyunder the pen name Patricia Elder. The story was also broadcasted on Life FM
Last year, the Stories for Life competition motivated me to actually stop and reflect on God’s love and nearness during a mentally challenging time. This year, it was a week before entries closed and I had no idea for a story. In desperation, I pulled out last year’s anthology, and re-read the title story, about God speaking through a gecko. It reminded me how often God uses objects or animals to preach sermons more powerful than human words. Then I saw the tallboy in my bedroom, and remembered how God had used the tallboy to finally break through my low self-esteem. Suddenly I had the ending to my story. I found some old reflections and an unpublished article I had written a year ago about going through the SA school system as a student with a disability. The storyline came together quite quickly.
So, I don’t know what I’ll write about next year, but expect something! Because everybody has more than one story. It’s just a matter of finding it (And knowing what to leave out!).
Three Dummies in a Dinghy and Under the Frangipani Tree by Ester de Boer
Three Dummies in a Dinghy
The two stories I entered into Stories of Life this year really are as different as chalk and cheese. You’d think they were penned by two different people, although of course the subject matter of each required a different style and pace of writing.
Without realising it, I had kind of given my testimony- a before and after snapshot of myself. I am vague about dates during that period of my life because, frankly, I lived a bit of a crazy existence! I do know, however, that Three Dummies took place about a year before I came to the Lord. It was one incident in a chain of events that got me exactly where God wanted me- like an unwitting piece in a really cleverly-played chess game.
I have photos from this stay, but none that I really care to show! (me wearing skimpy clothes with a gun on my hip is not a good look for someone who is now a primary school teacher)
On that Rockhampton road trip (that turned into an extended stay due to the flood), I had a few hard reality checks that told me that it was time to get my act together- God was pulling on my heart.
While trapped by the flood, I stumbled upon an article for a fashion design course in Brisbane for $99 over just three weeks, so I planned to get to Brisbane to do it. Through a series of equally crazy experiences involving hitchhiking and even a yacht (!!!) I finally got down to Brisbane only to discover that it was a misprint. The course was actually $990 and went for nine weeks! Plus by then I had only five dollars left. Thankfully, someone handed me the number of a lovely Christian woman who took in street kids and she took me in. I also got my first job in Fortitude Valley, and almost all my work mates decided to start going to church as well (since when does that happen?) So, I was the victim of a setup- God’s a great strategist!
Under the Frangipani Tree
I came to the Lord a very messed up, hurting girl. The moment I was saved, though, I (a little naively) thought “oh great! Everything’s going to be fine now!” I started going to a youth group with a lot of other young people my age but really feeling like I was from another planet- our experiences of life were so different and I felt like I was so much older than them in experience but so much younger in readiness to face life. Two by two they paired up into smug, neat little Christian couples, while I felt like the one every boy’s mother had warned them about! I jumped into the first possibility of a Christian boyfriend I found and predictably found myself in an abusive relationship that confirmed my sense of worthlessness. That was the backdrop for this story. Where I worked, which park it was in, are irrelevant really- It was just a moment that God reached out to me to show me that HE treasured me. It wasn’t a moment of instant change. Healing took years. It’s something I have never shared until now, frankly because it risks sounding pitiful and a little too imaginative. But it’s mine.
Uprooted by May-Kuan Lim
Hedges and new roses six years after the events described in ‘Uprooted’, story by May-Kuan Lim. May-Kuan also helped her dad write and publish his story, Fish in the Well, a memoir of aspiration and faith.