December 16

Backstory to Campfire Cathedral

Karen Brough’s story ‘Campfire Cathedral’ was published in our 2022 anthology, Bones and Blue Eyes. Today Karen shares with us the lead up to the story and what being published has meant to her as a woman of faith and as a writer.
Writer and Stories of Life contributor Karen Brough.
‘The backstory to ‘Campfire Cathedral’ probably began 12 years ago when I was first struck down with an auto-immune condition. After a few years of dealing with Melbourne weather and learning what helped, we decided to enclose our alfresco to create a sunroom. The place where I got my vitamin D intake, kept warm on cool days, and created/wrote/flowed with God. Effectively this allowed my largely housebound body to thrive. The warmth helped greatly with the pain.
The only problem was, Melbourne Winter was soooooo c c c c c cold, and this was the season that my bones would pince, and send sharp jabbing pains into ribs and joints, pain so sharp it would take my breath away. Warmth, and heat helped greatly! We had electric heaters inside but missed the sweet aroma of wood burning and crackling. The fresh air and being ‘outside.’ The sunroom was now to become a winter room.
Karen’s story Campfire Cathedral came out of John’s installation of this firebox.This is a picture of the first fire!
It was during this 12-year period with auto-immune that God increased my intimacy with him, a time when I learnt to hear His voice for myself and – strangely enough – bring words of life to others. The number of people I have interacted with – from home – would astound most. But needless to say, whenever I have conversations, people arriving, maintenance, installs, or repairs – God will have words of life for them. And I have the great privilege of sharing them. How does this relate to ‘Campfire Cathedral’?
Well, John was just one story of many where – although I was unwell – God allowed my weakness to bless another. Which has, in turn, blessed me in my own journey.
The competition was a strange story in itself. ‘Campfire Cathedral’ was actually a story I had been tweaking for my final book, Take a Step with Him, from the Be Held By Him – Finding God When Life Knocks You Off Your Feet series. I’d been hearing and seeing the call to submit elsewhere, outside of your own website, blogging etc. everywhere. In the same week, a ‘random’ email arrived from Omega writers. A call for submissions. I heard a gentle prompt, ‘send the story you’ve been working on.’
So I did.
I didn’t do much to it; I honestly wasn’t even sure where it was going.
I was simply following His lead.
When I heard from you that it had been accepted, well…..the tears flowed. I was having such a tough month and questioning whether I was fooling myself in pursuing writing in my life. I’d had some big discouragement and a flow of hard life events, and my tank was down to drips. Then the Stories of Life email arrived, and oh my goodness, what a timely encouragement.
I’ve always self-published my writing. To hear that someone found my writing worthy of putting in their own book, well… heart flew! My heart still flies at the thought. Such an affirmation for this writing life, which can be so isolating at the best of times.  It’s not often that encouragers get encouraged, but I can tell you that I needed it at that moment – and through this competition, it was brought.
Pure God poetry.
For more of Karen’s writing, head to her website, or socials. @karenbroughauthor
To read ‘Campfire Cathedral’, get a copy of Bones and Blue Eyes from our online bookstore today.
Bones and Blue Eyes is the seventh anthology in the Stories of Life series, true stories of ordinary people experiencing a connection with the divine in the context of their ‘ordinary’ lives. They are electricians, accountants, butchers, mothers, preachers, children; people grieving, people rejoicing, people helping and being helped. In each story we see individuals believing, however shakily, in a God who cares and comes to them. The writers are honest about pain, doubt, poor choices, unjust circumstances, fear… This is not a collection of neat stories, perfect doctrine, and pasted smiles. On the contrary, many are unfinished stories of people who simply acknowledge that, along their way, the God of love meets them.
Feature photo by Jack Cohen on Unsplash.


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