All posts by May-Kuan Lim

The Small Giveaway

On Tuesday, Jenine Altmann recorded her story, A Small Giveaway, at the 1079 Life studios in Adelaide. Her story begins:

It caught my eye. It stood on a narrow wall bench partially hidden behind the photo of a man dressed in military uniform. It was not an object I had expected to see in this particular situation. Maybe that was why it was partially hidden.  I wasn’t sure that I should bring attention to it. I decided to …

Curious to know what Jenine saw? Where she was? What she decided?

Read Jenine’s full story in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life. There are over 50 true short stories of faith to dip into. Pick up a copy at our book launch cum next Wednesday, 18 November at Tabor Adelaide, or order your copy online now.

Nurturing the Gift – the Story of Tabor’s involvement with Stories of Life

 In the beginning was the Word!

When God created the heavens and the earth, his Spirit moved over the waters bringing order to chaos. The living Word was there from the beginning – and not one thing was made without Him. God said, Let there be light and there was light. He spoke and so it was.

Even now, day after day pours forth speech – the voice of the living Word who has lived among us. The One who spoke healing to the lame and sight to the blind. Who rebuked the elements, saying: Be still! Who cried out, Lazarus, come forth! causing a dead man to stir to life and stagger from the tomb.

God speaks and in so doing “makes it so” – a creative power that belongs to him alone but which we find reflected in our human creativity. Oh yes, creatures of the Word are we!

While we may struggle to comprehend or express such a mystery, the point remains that language is a gift from God – evidence of a divine spark that differentiates and dignifies each and every one of us as creatures made in His own image.

Tabor’s Creative Writing program has always been about nurturing the gift of language, and the imaginative and creative capacities language makes possible. That’s why Tabor is proud to sponsor Stories of Life, an initiative that aims to equip and encourage everyone to share stories that resound God’s grace and goodness in the world.

It’s always wonderful to see the wide range of people who are moved to share their stories each year – young, old, men, women and children. Many of our students have contributed to Stories of Life over the years, too, while some contributors have been led to develop their storytelling skills by studying with us. Further, Tabor has played a key role in developing the writing resources available through the Stories of Life website, as well as hosting the annual book launch event.

2019 Stories of Life contributors and sponsor at the book launch

More than ever, our world needs people who can think and feel deeply, people skilled at creatively bearing witness to the great Theo-drama into which we’ve been written. That’s what creative writing and communication is all about at Tabor, and that’s why we’re keen to be on board with Stories of Life. It’s been a fruitful partnership these past five years, and one we pray will continue.

That prayer was answered recently with the accreditation of our new Master of Creative Writing & Communication (with nested Grad Cert and Grad Dip awards), to begin at Tabor from 2021. If you have a creative itch and a story to tell, then our courses are designed with you in mind. We’re also working on a new Diploma we hope will be perfect for people who haven’t previously done a degree and are looking for a shorter accredited course.

To find out more, jump on the Tabor website, send us an email or give us a call – we’d love to talk. You can also keep up to date with what’s happening, including the latest publishing achievements among our students, by following us on social media. Follow the links provided for details.

Dr James Cooper, Director of Creative Writing & Communication, Tabor, Adelaide

The Swimmer and other stories of life

We’re delighted to announce that the title story for the 5th book in the Stories of Life series is ‘The Swimmer’ by Gaynor Faulkner. Congratulations, Gaynor! Thank you also to Ben from Immortalise who designed our book cover.

So we’re ready to announce that the book launch and announcement of category winners will be on Wednesday, 18 November, 2020 at Tabor Adelaide and it will be live streamed on Facebook as well. We hope that you will be able to join us!

2020 stories to be published

Congratulations to all the following contributors whose stories have been selected for publication in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology. These stories are also in the running for prizes in their respective categories. Prize winners will be announced at the book launch, which will be held on the evening of Wednesday 18 November, at Tabor Adelaide and online.

 Immortalise Stories of Life

Surviving the Lockdown by Amelia Shee

Selective Listening by Anan Mclean

The Fighter by Bastien Lee

Another Happy Memoir by Baxter Gierus-Heintze

My Piano Solo  by Caleb Cheah

Suitcases by Elizabeth Turland

An Experience that Changed Me by Ellisa Thong

Lonely No More  by Isaac Wong

Suicide is Not a Book in the Fiction Section by Isabel Barton

The Perfect Song by Kaitlin Turland

A Leap of Faith by Mikayla Saladine

My Asthma Story by Moses Yong

He Answered by Sheann Tung


 Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life

That Question by Anna Kosmanovski

A Letter to You by Beverly Sweeney

Saved by Subtitles by Boo Hooi Khoo

God’s Love in the Home by Colleen Russell

Andy by Craig Chapman

Our Story during the Pandemic by Cris Yu

The Anthill by Diana Davison

Jerusalem, in Egypt by Elizabeth Tobal

Promised Rescue by Emma Taylor

The Swimmer by Gaynor Faulkner

Pterodactyl by Grant Lock

In God’s Garden by Heather Gray

The Wonderful Peace  by Jeanette Grant-Thomson

A Small Giveaway by Jenine Altmann

The Way to Remember by Jennie Del Mastro

Where is God in my Covid-19 world? by John Duthie

Peacock by June Desireé Hoel

An Imperfect Mum by Karen Curran

His Eye is on the Budgie by Lesley Beth Manuel

Twenty Square Centimetres of Power by Margot Ogilvie

Only a Male by R. J. Rodda

A Timeless Symphony by Stephanie Taylor


 Tabor Open Stories of Life

Snakes, Ladders and Green Carpets by Anusha Atukorala

The Refugee by Charles Yuen

Palm Trees, Sand Dunes and Beach Umbrellas by Diana Davison

Always on Time by Donna Meehan

Slightly Awkward by Esther Cremona

An Angel in Heaven Now by Hazel Barker

An Unexpected Adventure by Heather Gray

The Ring by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Sign Language by Julia Archer

Unexpected Grace by Kylie Gardiner

Sprinkled with Surprises by Liisa Grace-Baun

With You by Lisa Birch

In the Green by Liz Donald

Light Expels Darkness by Magda Alef

On the Way to Somewhere by Margot Ogilvie

Graves to Gardens by Martina Kontos

The Crucible by Judith Noyes

The Holiday by Nesta Hatendi

Invitation to Dance by Rhonda Pooley

The Kodak Moment by Stephanie Taylor

Misunderstood  by Val Russell




Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Last year, Valmai Redhead’s story, Papa’s Shoes, was chosen as the title story for the 2019 Stories of Life anthology. Her story was not only published, but also read out on 1079 Life in South Australia:

Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Valmai shared with us the backstory to story that has touched many, and the anthology a keepsake for the family.

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.

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.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Will your story of life be in the 2020 anthology? Submissions accepted till the end of July.

On My Dirty Knees by Sally Shaw

Last year, Sally’s story ‘On My Dirty Knees’ was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. It’s the story of how Sally found a Prickly Guinea flower under a clump of invasive grasses in her Adelaide Hills garden, and how this led her to become one of the directors of A Rocha Australia, a Christian conservation organisation.


A bit about Sally:

I’m originally from UK, married to Doug Shaw (from Queensland) and have three young adult children. We live in the Adelaide Hills and are linked to the Stirling Anglican parish.

From 1984-86 I worked as a nurse/midwife in the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand. In 1988 I moved to Cambodia where I worked in mother/child health and community development with World Vision. I later established a local NGO using improvisational drama to build self confidence in people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I moved to Adelaide  in 2007, and since then I’ve studied Creative Writing, Education, and Christian Ministry. Currently, I’m focusing on designing and running a series of workshops on the biblical and practical ways to care for God’s creation. I also enjoy teaching improvisational drama and drumming. I’m involved with the promotion of Native Bees, Trees for life, Permaculture SA and other conservation work and am one of the directors of A Rocha Australia, a Christian Conservation organisation.

Do you have something you are passionate about? What led you to care so deeply about it? Is that a story of life waiting to be told?

This is the last weekend before Feedback Month ends. Send in your story drafts, and one of our editors will give you feedback on it.

Feature image of a Prickly Guinea flower, an Australian native plant, by John Tann, Creative Commons.


Three Seconds, Bus Stops and Log Trucks by Megan Higginson

‘I gripped the steering wheel as another log truck rushed by on its way to the paper mill. My car rocked from side to side.’

So begins Megan Higginson’s story, ‘Three Seconds, Bus Stops and Log Trucks’, a poignant and powerful story that we published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. Over summer, 1079 Life broadcast the story, read by none other than Megan herself and we bring you the recording today.

Megan Higginson (centre) and her now adult children

Enjoyed this story? For more stories like these, head over to our archives or grab a copy of our past anthologies. Will your story be in our 2020 anthology? We hope so.

2016 – 2019 Stories of Life anthologies

Useful links:

Feedback Month – 11 days left to get feedback on your story draft

How to Enter

Categories and Prizes

Feature image of Logging Truck by Chapman on Flikr. 


Man to man – a message from Craig

Craig at his writing desk

Hi, fellow writing enthusiasts!

My name is Craig and I’ve been contributing to Stories of Life since its inception in 2016.

The competition is a great way to share stories about faith and encourage others to be open to the way God works in the lives of ordinary people. I have searched diligently for other Australian Christian writing competitions and concluded that they are a very rare commodity! Stories of Life is a unique opportunity for writers, regardless of experience, to present stories which might not otherwise be told.

It has been my observation that females are more inclined to accept this opportunity than males. In past anthologies, there have been many wonderful stories by female authors but comparatively few with a specific focus which might be particularly meaningful to male readers.

Over the years of this competition, I’ve entered stories about events including a mountain rescue, outdoor adventures like hiking and rock-climbing, chance meetings with strangers and the grief of losing a close friend. Stories about mundane events can be just as compelling as exciting, edge-of-your-seat adventures. I think that male readers often gain a unique perspective from stories written by other men.

So, I want to encourage men (and boys) who might have dismissed the invitation to enter Stories of Life in the past to have a go in 2020. Perhaps, also, the many excellent female contributors might consider encouraging their husbands, fathers, brothers or friends to throw their hat in the ring. The competition will be all the richer for it!

Happy writing!

Craig Chapman.


2016 – 2019 Stories of Life anthologies

Stories of Life by Craig

One of the Six (Open category), published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life


Birdman (Short category), published in the 2018 anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy and other stories of life

(Feature photo of Birdman supplied by Craig)

Useful links

Feedback Month

How to enter

Categories and Prizes

Feedback on Feedback Month


‘Thank you so much for the feedback. This was a very difficult story for me to write, but one I felt compelled to. I knew it was not right because I was focused on spelling out the injustice I felt, rather than the overwhelming grace of God in bringing about a resolution!  So thank you so much. I hope now the story has a better focus. Although I understand this is no guarantee it will be included in the publication – but I now I feel much more satisfied with my submission!’

‘Thanks a million for the feedback from Dr James Cooper. It gives me ample time  to work on the story before entering it into the Stories of Life Competition.’

These quotes are from two people who have had their drafts reviewed, and we’re so glad that our new initiative, Feedback Month, has well and truly taken off.

From serious writers to people who don’t usually write, many have written back to thank our editors, and have said that the feedback is helping them to improve and continue working on their story draft. Our editors are all published authors and are freely giving of their time and expertise. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

To submit a story draft for review, click here Feedback Month.


Stories of Life as a pastoral opportunity


As a pastor of a congregation, I have been happy to encourage our members to contribute to Stories of Life over the past few years. While many worry that their story isn’t ‘remarkable’ enough, or they are not a good enough writer, those who have gone through the process have been blessed and encouraged by the experience. And they have been surprised to discover that their story is more interesting than they might have thought, and that with a little bit of help, they could produce a well-written story.

Mark Worthing, editor and author

As a pastor one of my goals is always to help people reflect on their own journeys of faith in Christ, and to be able to communicate their stories to others. I have found that Stories of Life presents a wonderful opportunity to do this.

Many Christians carry with them the burden of a difficult experience (often an experience of serious injury or illness, a relationship break-up, or the death of someone close to them). There is much healing to be found in being able to put these experiences and the feelings still connected to them on to paper. I am continually amazed at how beneficial this is, and how many conversations it helps to open up. And, of course, if the story is published or read on radio, hundreds of others hear it and begin to think and talk about their own similar experiences.

Beyond the pastoral care benefits of writing one’s story, there is also a strong evangelistic benefit. Not only the stories of about coming to faith in Christ, but also the stories about personal struggles and how God was present in these times, provide a strong witness to the transforming power of Christ in individual lives. As a pastor I can stand in the pulpit and tell people that Jesus transforms lives, and I can tell those I meet about the good news of what God has done for us in Christ; but, in truth, there is nothing more effective than a so called ‘everyday’ Christian sharing their own experience of God’s grace. This is why pastors are always encouraging people to talk about their faith, to tell those around them about what Jesus has done for them. Stories of Life is a brilliant tool to help people get started doing this.

So, from the standpoint of a pastor, Stories of Life, and all the assistance and encouragement provided on line and via other means to the story writers, has been tremendous tool for pastor ministry.

I believe that every Christian has a powerful story to tell. Encouraging them to consider writing a story and submitting it to Stories of Life is a great pastoral and evangelistic opportunity.

by Rev Mark Worthing

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, North Adelaide


Useful links:

Feedback Month (till 30 June for our editors to give you feedback on your story draft)

How to Enter (accepting story submissions till 31 July for a chance to be published in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology and to win a category prize)