Category Archives: A 2019 announcement

Confessions of a Realist

Emily Maurits’ story, Confessions of a Realist, won first prize in the Tabor Open Stories of Life category. Her story is published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology, Papa’s Shoes.Emily shares with us the background to this true story of faith.


When my sister Jasmine was diagnosed with a brain tumour just in time for my 21st birthday, I was distraught. Struggles with health were common in my family – but my little sister had always been the healthy one.

That diagnosis began a three month hospital stay, eleven operations, and countless hours spent in the Children’s hospital. It also began a journey. A journey which pushed us closer together, which uncovered the deep love of our church community, and ultimately, a journey which brought us hope.

Hope for healing, yes, but also hope in the kindness of others, in faith that can outlast tragedy, and in miracles after the eleventh hour.

After she was released from hospital I began a blog about loving people with chronic illnesses because, as we soon discovered, sometimes healing comes with complications and aftereffects. I named it Called to Watch (www.calledtowatch.com), because if there’s one thing I learnt over those long months and the years that followed, it’s this: I can’t save anyone. I am not the Saviour, Jesus is. Sometimes you can’t bear someone else’s burden; all you can do is watch – but you can watch in faith, in love, and in hope. You can watch because God has called you to this moment, even as he calls the sun up each morning and the cicadas each evening.

My entry into Stories of Life captures a moment of hope reawakened. It’s a glorious moment, a true gift from God. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that these moments can exist. In the long, hard slog of caring and being cared for, healthy pragmatism can become life-killing cynicism very quickly. I wanted to share my sister’s healing because there’s comfort in second-hand miracles. They are a reminder that our God holds each moment of each day in his hands. When He brought my sister home on the exact date I prayed for, against the expectations of everyone involved, he actually did two miracles: one of physical healing, and one of hope restored.

My prayer is that He would bless each of you with this second miracle through my sister’s story. Not all miracles are ground shaking or impressive looking, but each are a gift from our Father, and a reminder of a better future.

Emily Maurits (right) with her sister.
Photo supplied by Emily Maurits.

This is a photo of me and my sister three years after her first surgery. It makes me so happy, because there were many hospital days when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see her again.

Drop Zone Backstory

We congratulate Juni Desireé Hoel’s for winning second prize in the 2019 Eternity Matters Short Story of Life competition. Her winning story, Drop Zone, has also been published in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology of true stories, Papa’s Shoes. In our blog spot today, Juni shares with us the backstory.

Juni Desireé Hoel

I wrote Drop Zone because I wanted to share a short encouraging story that is also a reminder to self. This story encourages me personally on two levels.

First, it reminds me that I am enough. I am only one person but God loves me as much as he loves any other person. And he will do whatever he can to get my attention and show me who he is. He shows me he wants to be in my life every day and we can talk to each other all the time.

Second, it reminds me that when we serve God and share God with others through words or actions, it is never in vain. We may think it has no impact and that it’s a waste of time and effort because we don’t see anything happen on the outside. But who knows what seed is being planted or watered or is growing in someone’s heart?

Having been on both sides of one being served and one serving, I can appreciate both sides and see how they work together. As a youth leader, I could become discouraged thinking that working with teens each week wasn’t making a difference. But Gabby’s words encouraged me that it mattered. It mattered in my life when Gabby ran Drop Zone every week, so, I would keep going because it might matter in someone else’s life.

In terms of how I wrote the story, I wanted to capture these two sides, so, that’s why the story is split into two episodes. I also wanted to focus on dialogue because it was a conversation with Gabby that gave me this insight about the one being worth it. I then chose a conversation with Gabby from the earlier episode where her words also gave me an insight that God is real and personal. I wanted to highlight that what she did matters. It wasn’t big, flashy, weird, or wacky, but it was simple, casual, normal, and relatable. It made a difference.

Juni Desireeé Hoel

Juni published her book, The Art of Mental Health, last month.

2019 Stories of Life winners

Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life

1st The Golden Detour by Kaitlin Turland

2nd The Happy Memoir by Baxter Gierus-Heintze

Equal 3rd My Mother’s Death by Jonah Teh and My Journey Climbing Mount Kinabalu by Leanne Low

Highly Commended Story of My Life by Joyce Ling

Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life

1st In a Manger by Joanne Prenzler Smith

2nd Drop Zone by Juni Desireé Hoel

3rd The Crazy Message from God by R J Rodda

Tabor Open Stories of Life


1st prize Confessions of a Realist by Emily Maurits
2nd prize No Place Like Home by Gaynor Faulkner
3rd prize Vessel by Rebecca Abdel-Nour

Introducing the Stories of Life team

We’re super excited to be launching the 2019 Stories of Life anthology, Papa’s Shoes, at Tabor College at 6:30pm tonight. Apart from launching the book, the Stories of Life team also hope to get to meet some of the contributors, and their friends and family members. So we thought we’d introduce ourselves to you in advance, hoping that you might come up to say ‘hi’ if there’s an opportunity to do so.

Peter will be presenting the prizes for the Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life. It was Peter who first came up with the idea of a writing competition that get stories of faith out there and we’re thrilled that his story, A Cab Trip, will be in the anthology this year. This is a story about an incident that took place when Peter was a cab driver in Sydney. Peter’s story is not in the running to win a prize, but it’s a great read and we’re so glad it’s in Papa’s Shoes.

Dr James Cooper, Senior Lecturer, Tabor Creative Writing program

Presenting the prizes on behalf of Tabor College, will be Dr James Cooper, Head of Creative Writing. James has been very generous with his time and expertise over the four years of the competition, providing notes and writing resources to participants of this competition to help us get our stories into the best shape possible.

All our books have more than one editor, and Rev Dr. Mark Worthing is the only person who has worked on all four anthologies. He is an established author who has published books across many genres. His book Matin Luther. A Wild Boat in the Lord’s Vineyard was shortlisted for the 2018 Christian Book of the Year Award.

Claire Bell, author and editor

Claire Bell has had numerous poems and short stories published, including her first novel, The Golden Hour. She blogs at The Character Forge.

Pete Court, editor

Apart from editing the anthology this year, Pete has managed the process of recording selected stories from the anthology for broadcast on 1079 Life since 2016. Pete Court has also published a novel, Sub Urban Tales.

Susan J Bruce

Susan J Bruce was the 2017 Stories of Life administrator and still pops in from time to time to encourage us with her bubbly personality and editorial nous. She edited the anthology, If They Could Talk: Bible stories told by the animals.

May-Kuan Lim, administrator

May-Kuan Lim is current the administrator who dreams up promotional possibilities and manages the website. She is currently publishing her book Refuge as a serial online release.

Stories of Life – more than a writing competition

In the lead-up to our 2019 book launch and prize winner announcement tomorrow, here is a summary of the different aspects of Stories of Life: writing competition, book publication, radio broadcast and an online community that celebrates life and faith.

Writing Competition

From 1 April to 31 July each year, we accept submissions of stories of faith and testimony from around the world. Entries are submitted online in one of three categories: Open, Short, Youth.

We are indebted to our sponsors Tabor College, Eternity Matters and Lutheran Education for sponsoring the cash prizes in each category: first (AUD500), second (AUD300) and third (AUD200).

Unusual for a writing competition, each year we nominate different judges. The judges receive stories in their categories as anonymous entries. This year we’ve been privileged to have the following judges: screenwriter and YouTuber Simon Kennedy (Open); radio host Kit Densley (Short); author and music teacher Ruth Bonetti (Youth).

A highly anticipated part of the book launch is the announcement of prize winners. All stories that are to be published are in the running for a prize.

Book Publication

Once our submission period closes on 31 July, the Stories of Life editorial team selects the best entries for compilation and publication in an anthology. Since 2016, we have published over a hundred short stories in three anthologies: A Chicken can Make a Difference, The Gecko Renewal, Three Dummies in a Dinghy.

2019 Stories of Life anthology

Tomorrow, apart from announcing the prize winners, we will be launching the fourth book in the series: Papa’s Shoes. Radio host and short story judge Kit Densley will be at the launch tomorrow and she has kindly agreed to read the title story, Papa’s Shoes. Books will be available for purchase at $20 per copy at the launch and thereafter in Koorong and online.

Radio Broadcast

1079 Life has been a strong supporter of this competition since its inception. Every year selected stories from the anthology are read (by the story writers where possible), recorded, and broadcast over summer and throughout the year.

Kaitlin at the 1079 Life studios in Adelaide recording her story, The Golden Detour

Online Community

The audio clips from the radio broadcasts are archived on this website by year of publication: 2016, 2017, 2018. Throughout the year we also publish blog posts to share photos and backstories from contributors to the anthology. In addition, we like to promote and support any other publication by Stories of Life alumni.

In all this, our aim is to promote the telling of stories of life and faith around the world in print, online and on-air.

We look forward to welcoming many of you to our book launch and announcement of prize winners tomorrow at Tabor or online.

Papa’s Shoes

Image courtesy of Valmai Redhead: Laurence

By Valmai Redhead

My husband Laurence and I were about to step into retirement, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After just a few short weeks, he stepped into eternity in July 2016. Losing my soul mate after forty-two years of marriage was the most difficult thing I have had to face. But the words of Psalm 30:5 are indeed true: Although weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.

A few years earlier, when my dear mother-in-law, Alice Redhead first gave me Laurence’s baby shoes, I was touched to have such a beautiful childhood keepsake.  Knowing that one day some creative inspiration would come, I put them away with no idea of how that would happen, or of the events that would unfold.

 After the sadness, the joy did come. On 21 November 2016 Archie Laurence was born. About the same time I remembered the baby shoes and I knew what I needed to do. Although Laurence (Papa to his grandchildren) had never met Archie, he did know that his second name would be Laurence.

On the day of Archie’s dedication, what a joy it was to present the gift that meant so much.  And what a privilege to see Laurence’s mother, aged 97 years, holding her great grandson. It was such a glorious picture of a legacy of faith through the generations.

Image courtesy of Valmai Redhead: Alice Redhead holding her great-grandson Archie Laurence

Memories of that day created the perfect image for birthing ‘Papa’s Shoes.’ The story almost wrote itself. As soon as I began, more than 700 words poured out on to the page. The challenge of editing, crafting and honing it into just 500 words took much longer. Finally it was finished and I knew that whatever the result of the competition, the journey had been worth it. Laurence and his mum would have both been proud of me, and in knowing that I am content.

What’s church got to do with it?

Being an anthology comprising stories of faith, you would expect Papa’s Shoes and other stories of Life to have stories featuring churches. Indeed, some stories are set in churches, but perhaps not in the way you might expect.

In A Lesson for Life, Alan Blunt brings us to a 1948 school yard in Darling Downs, southern Queensland, where he and his sister Patty are targeted, not just because they are new, but also because they are Catholic. Help comes from a most unlikely source.

In An Inclusive Church, John Alexander Duthie turns our attention to attitudes towards disability in the church, and how the physical spaces our churches occupy affect people with disabilities.

In A Stranger Passing Through, Maria Rudolph, a young German backpacker, arrives in Adelaide too early to check-in to her hostel. In the early morning stillness, Maria comes across a church with ‘a wide, open portal’. Stepping in, she muses that she has visited many church buildings, but had never experienced what goes on inside, in context. The story then unfolds through the heart of one experiencing church life for the first time: music and singing, stained glass and candles, church luncheons with Aussie sausage rolls and cold meats. What will it all add up to for this stranger passing through?

Read all these stories and more in Papa’s Shoes, to be launch on Thursday, 7 November, 2019.

Mountain Trails and Mountain Tops

This year, we are thrilled to have several stories that take place on mountains around the world:

  • Kosciuszko Tough by Hannah Morrison. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia at 2228m.
  • One Blue Arrow at a Time by Naomi Currie about climbing St Mary’s Peak (Ngarri Mudlanha), 1168m, in the Flinders Rangers.
  • My Journey Climbing Mount Kinabalu by Leanne Low. Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4095m.
  • The Golden Detour by Kaitlin Turland on climbing Mount Catherine, Egypt, 2,629m.

As can be imagined, mountain climbing pushes us to the limits of our endurance, and awes us with spectacular reminders of the greatness of God. These stories carry us along in the physical challenge, but also enable us to experience, vicariously, what it is to:

  • lean 20 degrees into wind gusting at 60km/hr in order to help your eight-year-old sister continue climbing (Kosciuszko Tough)
  • feel gear envy when your water bottle is a freebie emblazoned with sponsor’s logos, but others have ‘the lightweight backpack with inbuilt water-cooler and sipping tube’. (One Blue Arrow at a Time)
  • prepare for months as the youngest member of a group comprising five families (My Journey Climbing Mount Kinabalu)
  • give in to hot and tired frustration when your Bedouin guide leads you downhill when the summit is so close that you can see it in your mind’s eye (The Golden Detour)

If your reading chair beckons, but you still want to feel some of that mountain-climbing adrenalin and learn some of those life lessons, pick up a copy of Papa’s Shoes at the book launch or online. Only one week to go.

Hospital wards and graveyards

In life writing, it is the generosity of the writer to open a window into their reality, and it is the privilege of the reader to enter into that reality.

Papa’s Shoes, our 2019 Stories of Life anthology, is filled with stories of people encountering God somehow, somewhere. Some of these encounters take place, as you might expect, in places such as hospital wards and graveyards. Today we introduce you to four of the stories in Papa’s Shoes along the themes of healing and suffering, death and life.

In No place like Home by Gaynor Faulkner, her seven-year-old-self is hospitalised at a time when parents weren’t allowed to stay with their children. Snoring old ladies and stern matrons populate Faulkner’s story. Her hospital experience is a far cry from the Neurology Ward where Emily Maurits’ young sister was an inpatient. In Confessions of a Realist, Maurits prays a daring prayer after ’86 days, 10 operations and plenty of easily manageable prayers’.

Craig Chapman takes the title of his story – One of the Six – from the statistic that ‘Every day, eight Australians take their own lives. Six of those are men.’, while Claire-Louise Watson’s title Arise is taken from the story of Jesus raising a little girl in the bible. Watson’s story, however, centres on what happens after doctors tell her that there is nothing else they can do for her own little girl.

These stories are short, but they are not little. We commend them to you. You can read these stories and many others in our 2019 Stories of Life anthology, Papa’s Shoes, available at our 7 November book launch and online thereafter.

Bus Stop Book Giveaway

One of our 2019 story contributors, Rosalind Lum, recently wrote to us about her experience at a bus stop. We thought it such a great story that we asked her for permission to share it. ‘Do share it with everyone,’ she replied. So here it is:

2016 Stories of Life anthology

I ordered three of the previous Stories of Life anthologies from Koorong book store recently. Two of the books arrived. I was reading A Chicken can make a Difference. Really good.

I only read three quarters of the book. I did not get to read the rest of the book. This was the reason.

I would wish everyone at the bus stop ‘Good morning!’ if I were taking the bus in the morning. A Chinese girl came past me and I wished her too. She did not stop, but walked down to the next bus stop because we were early for the bus. She came onboard and chose to sit next to me on the bus.

We started talking and she told me she was learning the English language at the Uniting Church. She noticed my book sticking out of my carrier bag, saying she noticed we like reading on the bus.

Without hesitation I took out the book and gave it to her saying she will improve her English language skills by reading more books. She was so grateful and messaged me that night to tell me she has started reading the book.

I will keep in touch with her to see whether she needs help reading.

Rosalind Lum

You can read Rosalind’s story ‘He is Alone’, about her quest to find her biological brother, in the 2019 Stories of Life anthology, Papa’s Shoes.

Pick up a copy of Papa’s Shoes at our book launch at Tabor Adelaide on 7 November, or online from 1 November from Amazon and Book Depository.