This is where I spend a frequent amount of time reflecting. It is a realm immersed in nature and one where I can ‘just be me’ on a bench within my father’s memorial garden. Thoughts come and go but nature remains to inspire me with its insight.
It is approaching nearly three years now that I have found myself coming here. I have written words private and observational to me while paying respect and being respectful to my surroundings. My little hardback note book or notes on my phone are always at the ready to capture my thoughts before they become fleeting, like the breeze.
It was here – in this writing space – that I sat watching the build up of an anthill growing over time. A reassuring presence in a dead quiet setting. It inspired my short story for the ‘Stories Of Life’ anthology. I feel blessed to be included in this book of connectedness. The book itself has shown me that many people have different stories to tell in their own voice which, in the end, brings us all together.
Enjoyed this? Get your copy of The Swimmer today – it’s filled with over 40 true short stories of life. You might even be inspired to send us one of your true stories of faith and testimony, and it might be published in the 2021 Stories of Life anthology. Wouldn’t that be grand?
In the lead-up to the launch of our 2021 Stories of Life competition on 1 April, we are bringing you some of the best stories from last year.
The Swimmer was the title story in our 2020 anthology. Gaynor Faulkner read her story at the book launch, and also recorded this at the 1079 Life studios for broadcast over summer. We’re pleased to bring you the recording today.
A small giveaway, written and read by Jennie Altmann. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw https://audionautix.com/
When we asked Jenine for a photo or video of herself, she sent us this snippet which her grandsons helped to produce: Jenine, an introduction. Thanks so much guys – looks like you had a bit of family production fun 🙂
If you enjoyed Jenine’s story, get a copy of The Swimmer, and tune in to 1079 Life for more stories of life. Feature photograph of Beijing Hutong by James Diewald from Flickr.
My family and I spent three weeks in the USA from December 2014 to January 2015, experiencing various locations, catching up with one of our daughters who was studying there at the time, and, of course, celebrating Christmas together. Several days after Christmas, we were shuffling our way through crowded Manhattan on our way to a restaurant. Although the weather was mild in New York, I was still wearing a coat which had been invaluable in the biting cold of Boston the previous week.
Throughout our travels, we had been struck by the masses of homeless people in American cities. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish between those with real need and those just willing to receive handouts. However, one man on this particular street really drew my attention. Initially I walked past him before realising I had an opportunity to help him. The story relates how I wrestled with whether or not God was prompting me. Though the encounter was brief, it was a graphic reminder to pay attention to the situations we find ourselves in on any given day and the needs of those around us.
I don’t know the outcome of the few minutes Andy and I spent together. I can only hope that the coat proved to be a blessing to him.
Although I prayed that the bad things would stop, I mostly just talked to God about those bad things because my parents were preoccupied with their own problems, my sister too young to understand, and the topic of family troubles taboo in school…
That Wonderful Peace written and read by Jeanette Grant-Thomson.
Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw https://audionautix.com/ Feature picture above: Jeanette’s sister, Wendy, and Wendy’s husband, with their baby.
Backstory to That Wonderful Peace
This incident stands out in my memory because of the amazing quality of the peace that enveloped me. I was, at that stage, a fairly timid person. Not ‘strong and calm’ at all, except when God was doing something special, so it was a huge blessing. I’d love to be like that all the time.
The whole thing was such a coincidence or God-incidence – I’d been teaching and doing missionary work all year on New Ireland (where I met Peter of My Friend PeterSOL 2018). Nearby in a local village were two missionaries – my sister Arlene (Wendy is her second name) and Michael (John was his second name). We spent a lot of time with them, talking and praying for one another in this interesting native culture. At the end of a busy but wonderful year, I flew over to Rabaul to have a holiday with Robyn, a Christian who worked there. I waved goodbye to my healthy sister, who had just had a baby. So you can imagine my shock when the events of the story happened.
Another interesting thing is – Rabaul is on New Britain, another large island in PNG. In those days it was established inside the rim of a huge volcano thought to be extinct, and was incredibly beautiful. To my alarm, it was often shaken by small earthquakes which rattled all the bits and pieces in the house. In 1994 the volcano erupted and send a cloud of ash thousands of metres into the air, smothering the town of Rabaul, burying much of it. Many people were killed. So the Rabaul of my story no longer exists.
The rest is in my story, I think.
If you loved this story, get a copy of The Swimmer, and tune in to 1079 Life where selected stories from the anthology will be played on-air over summer.
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.
Will your story of life be in the 2020 anthology? Submissions accepted till the end of July.
‘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.
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.
‘You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. Looking at me when I was 24 it was easy to see I was a struggling single mum who hated being cold. The only new clothes I bought were Kmart shoes and underwear…’
Enjoyed The Dress? For more stories like these, head over to our archives or grab a copy of our past anthologies.
Will your story be published in our 2020 anthology?
We hope so. From now until 30 June, you can send us your story draft and one of our editors will give you feedback. This is a free service we are offering to help people of faith tell their faith stories well. For draft submissions click here.
4 books in 4 years – will your story be in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology? We hope so.
In June, Feedback Month, we are offering feedback to anyone who would like their story draft read by one of our editors. Upload your story drafts here if you would like to take advantage of this free service offered by our editors. We are also accepting submissions to the competition proper until 31 July.
Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (up to 500 words)
Immortalise Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words, for writers aged 17 and under)
Tabor Stories of Life (1000 – 1500 words)
A person can submit a maximum of one story per category. This means that if you are under aged 17 and under, you could submit up to three stories, and if you are 18 and over, you could submit up to two stories.
Stories are already starting to come in, and we are excited at the quality of those stories and anticipating a great 2020 anthology.
Accepting submissions now. Closing date: 31 July 2021.