Category Archives: 2018 backstories

That boy of mine by Molly Bennett

Molly’s story, That Boy of Mine, was published in the 2018 anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy, and broadcast on 1079Life FM in Adelaide over the summer. We’re pleased to bring you a reading of Molly’s story:

That Boy of Mine’ by Molly Bennett, read by Megan Higginson
Bible and toys belonging to Molly’s boy

We asked Molly for the backstory and this is how she replied.

“It’s almost ‘Arrival day’ at our house. The day we celebrate the arrival of our youngest child through foster care, the day our family went from being ‘four’ to being ‘five’. He was only a baby when he arrived, but he’s 8 now. Energetic, full of life, he frequently bowls us over with his personality and also quite literally as he comes charging in for a hug. ‘That boy of mine’ is a story, written with his permission, about one seemingly insignificant event, in a year of confusion, fear and heartbreak and the tenderness of God’s heart towards us in that time.’ 

Molly Bennett
2018 Stories of Life anthology

Like these stories? Why not grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy or head over to our 2016 and 2017 archives to listen to more Stories of Life.

Could your story be in our 2019 anthology? We hope so. Check out our writing resources and do send us your true story of faith and testimony by 31 July 2019.

Under the Frangipani Tree by Ester de Boer

Reflecting on the 2018 Stories of Life year, we have a lot to thank Ester for. She contributed three things to our anthology:

  • the title story, Three Dummies in a Dinghy (Tabor Stories of Life category). The Stories of Life team chose this as the title for its uniqueness and potential visual appeal.
  • artwork for our cover. (Surprise, surprise, we couldn’t find anything that depicted three dummies in a dinghy – thank goodness Ester is also an artist.)
  • story that won first prize in the Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life category: Under the Frangipani Tree
Under the Frangipani Tree by Ester de Boer
2018 anthology

Note: Everyone can submit a maximum one story per category . We have three categories: Tabor Open Stories of Life (between 1000 and 1500 words), Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (max 500 words), Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life (between 500 and 1000 words). The Young Stories of Life is for writers aged 17 years and below as of 31 July 2019.

Anyway, back to Ester. We wrote to her last year to ask for photos she might like to share, or a backstory. This is how she replied:

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.

Ester de Boer

It so happens that Ester and is collaborating on an exciting book project with another Stories of Life alumni, Megan Higginson. They’re about to release Raymund the Fear Monster. We wish you well, Ester and Megan. We can’t wait to meet Raymund, not so sure about the Fear Monster.

Like these stories? Why not grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy or head over to our 2016 and 2017 archives to listen to more Stories of Life.

Could your story be in our 2019 anthology? We hope so. Check out our writing resources and do send us your true story of faith and testimony by 31 July 2019.

Miracle by Juni Desireé Hoel

Juni’s story, Miracle, was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy. It is a story about a pair of crystal earrings that shone rainbows in the sun, Juni’s grandmother who gave her those earrings and the God who loved her enough to listen.

Juni with her journal

Juni’s backstory

‘Miracle’ began as a journal entry. I love journaling and spending quiet moments reflecting on where I’ve seen God show up in my life. I was then challenged to craft my experience into a story. I enjoy this challenge because I believe in the power of stories to move people (whether that’s through song, dance, art, film, or simply talking with someone face-to-face). My favourite form of storytelling is writing, and through entering Stories of Life three years in a row now, I’m learning more and more how to turn real-life experiences into compelling stories. I find this so exciting and love what Stories of Life is about connecting writing, faith, and real-life stories.

Juni’s artwork

Juni’s writing

I’m currently looking at publishing a book called When Heaven Meets Earth: Thoughts on kingdom living. It’s about everything I’ve learnt about God, mission, heaven, community, identity, etc. from 12 years of serving at beach mission. I’m just in the process of editing and getting final endorsements and permissions. Then next year, the plan is to publish a book with my artwork about how God helped me through depression and anxiety. I’ve attached a couple drawings to do with that project. And, of course, I’ll look forward to entering Stories of Life again next year too – yay!

Beach Mission

Juni blogs at Juni’s Journal. You can also follow her on Facebook at Juni Desireé Writer and on Twitter @junidesiree

Could your story be published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology? Sign up for our Editing Workshop or check out our categories and send us your story. We’d love to hear from you.

21 days by Liz Donald

Liz’s story, 21 days, was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy Today she shares the backstory to her piece:

The Donald family.

I first heard of the Stories of Life competition when someone shared it on Facebook. Immediately I thought it would be something I would like to try. I wrote stories a lot as a child/teenager and studied English at university, but it had been many years since I had written a story of my own. What drew me to Stories of Life, was the idea of writing a story that showed the way God was at work in my life.

However, as I looked at some of the past stories I began to wonder whether I had any interesting stories to share. I had been a stay-at-home Mum for a number of years and didn’t have any exciting tales of physical danger or recent overseas travel. So…what could I write about? Did I have any stories that anyone would want to read? After a while I decided to come back to the vision of the competition, which was sharing stories of faith from everyday life. I began to think about the things God taught me while my husband was away for work for three weeks and I was left to solo-parent our three, young daughters.

At the time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive, but by God’s grace I did (and so did the girls!). Actually, I didn’t just survive, but instead God used those 21 days to change me, my heart and my attitude to parenting. 21 days is about God’s faithfulness in our everyday struggles and the power of prayer.

Liz at her writing space, with her young writing companion

I wrote the story at my kitchen table in 10min increments, taking any opportunity while the kids were happily entertained to add another paragraph. Although a nice, clean, quiet writing space would have been great – I feel like there is something fitting about writing about life as a Mum of three young children in this way!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to enter my story in the Stories of Life competition. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the gifts God has given me and the way he uses difficult circumstances to teach us lessons of patience, humility and love. And for that, I am thankful.

If you haven’t read Liz’s story, grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy or head over to our archives to listen to past Stories of Life.

Could your story be published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology? We have writing resources to help you get started. Sign up for our Editing Workshop on 13 June or check out our categories and send us your story. We’d love to hear from you.

The Year by Tsung Chung

Tsung’s story, The Year, was published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy.

Tsung shares the backstory to his piece:

I wrote The Year covering events of the year after the passing of my wife, Betty, in 2016. She was 43 years old and had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma 18 month prior.Throughout this period, I found writing and putting my thoughts and feelings on paper (well, screen) helped me reflect on the situations of my life. So I figured it would fit well as an entry for Stories of Life.

When I was done, I sent out my initial draft to a few close friends and they noticed that I hadn’t mentioned Betty in the story. It was a deliberate choice on my part as I had wanted to try to convey that something was missing in the story – in this case, someone very dear to Shaoey and I.

I still try continue to reflect on events by translating them to written words. I post my Confessions of a Clueless Dad series on my Facebook page – very irregularly I must say – which allows me to use words, and photos, as a mirror to life. These two photos were taken at Mt.Lofty on the day of our arrival in Adelaide in Jan 2018.

Divinity
Tsung and Shaoey

If you haven’t read Tsung’s story, it is well worth buying a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy just to read ‘The Year’ and, as a bonus, you’ll also get another forty-three true stories of faith. You can also head over to our archives to listen to past Stories of Life.

Could your story be published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology? We have writing resources to help you get started. Sign up for our Editing Workshop on 13 June or check out our categories and send us your story. We’d love to hear from you.

Breakneck Speed by Ethan Joppich

Ethan recording his prize-winning story at LifeFM Adelaide

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.

Breakneck Speed by Ethan Joppich

Thank you to the Joppich family for supplying these photos, taken over six years ago.

Ethan with Anthony Dean, a well-known rider who represented Australia at a top level.
BMX race
Ethan and a friend at a race

If you’ve enjoyed Ethan’s story, head over to archive for more Stories of Life, or grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy for the full 2018 collection.

Could your story be published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology? We have writing resources to help you get started. Check out our categories and send us your story. We’d love to hear from you.

Bird Man by Craig Chapman

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.

Bird Man by Craig Chapman

Craig recording his story at LifeFM

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.

I 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 this spot.

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.

If you’ve enjoyed Craig’s story, head over to archive for more Stories of Life, or grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy for the full 2018 collection.

Wanna swap? by Tracey Meg

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.

Tracey Meg recording her story at the LifeFM studios.

If you’ve enjoyed Tracey’s story, head over to archive for more Stories of Life, or grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy for the full 2018 collection.

‘My friend Peter’ by Jeanette Grant-Thomson

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.

Thanks again, Jeanette, for your story,  My Friend Peter.

 

‘A realisation’ by Levi Schubert

Young man in radio studio reading from 'Three dummies in a dinghy'
Levi recording his story at the LifeFM studios

 

Levi’s story, A realisation, was published in the 2018 anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy, and also broadcasted on Life FM.

 

Family photo with background of blue-green waters, sandy beach and lush vegetation on a hill
Levi’s family on Fitzroy Island just off the coast of Cairns. From Left to Right: Mum (Fiona), Greer, Isaac, Dad (Gavin) and Levi.

 

‘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.’

Levi Schubert

If you’ve enjoyed this story, head over to our archives for more 2017 Stories of Life, or grab a copy of Three Dummies in a Dinghy for the full 2018 collection.