Hazel Barker’s story An Angel in Heaven about losing her baby was published in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology. This is what she told us:
I wrote this story in the hope that anyone who grieved would turn to God for strength and support. My husband and my religious beliefs were a comfort to me when I grieved. We supported each other, and the Lord gave us the strength to bear our cross.
My story, An Angel in Heaven is especially for women who have lost their babies to know that they are not alone in their grief. Experiencing something like the death of a child can only be fully understood for those who have suffered the same loss.
Do you have a story of faith to tell? We’d love to hear it. Entry guidelines here. Feature photograph of Hazel Barker supplied.
Last year, Rhonda Pooley’s story ‘Invitation to Dance’ was published in The Swimmer and other stories of life.
‘Invitation to Dance’ is about how Rhonda visited Cambodia to celebrate Cambodian traditional instruments, and how she participated in this celebration through prayer, music and dance.
The events referred to in this story have greatly impacted my life. They show me that God has a uniquely designed purpose for everyone and that he will bring it to pass if we are faithful to follow his leading – no matter how long it takes!
Do you have a story to tell? We would love to read it. From Rhonda’s story, and the many other stories in our archives, you can tell that a story of life can be set anywhere, and can be about practically anything. That’s the beauty of an anthology! What’s your story? Five days left to submit.
Last year, Val Russell’s story ‘Misunderstood’ was published in The Swimmer and other stories of life. It’s the story from when Val was a child, migrating from England to Australia, flying via Bahrain. Val describes that huge journey from the perspective of her younger self, a little girl with autism.
SOL: What led you to write this story?
Val: I think the fact that females with Autism go very much unnoticed and people need to know the internal impact it can have on a child when no one knows or understands.. When I tell people i have autism they often say ‘but you don’t look or act like you have autism’. People need to know what it’s like having autism, so they can begin to understand and relate appropriately.
SOL: What has being published has meant to you?
Val: I was very very shocked that my story was published. I am encouraged to continue writing the story.
SOL: Have you received any feedback from people?
Val: Feedback has been very minimal. I think my story is different and people don’t know what to make of it. Thats my guess anyway.
Nesta Hatendi’s story, The Holiday, was published in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer. A very short excerpt:
The last five months have not been how I envisaged them before I left home. I arrived in Australia in March for a family reunion and a once in a lifetime trip to Bali, thrown in as a bonus. …
The long-awaited Bali holiday dramatically smouldered into ashes as news headlines referenced new visa restrictions to limit the spread of the virus to Indonesia. The global epidemic was now a pandemic which had a name – COVID-19…
We asked Nesta about her experience of having her story published in our 2020 Stories of Life anthology, The Swimmer.
What led you to write this story?
I was feeling disorientated and somewhat despondent because my plans had gone awry and things seemed to be out of my control. Then when events started falling in line without much effort from me, I began to realise that there is a time and place for everything and I should just have faith which conquers all.
What has being published meant to you?
This was my first published short story ever! Since then, I have been writing more and submitting short stories online. I want to eventually publish an anthology of short stories. So thank you for the boost in my confidence.
Any feedback from people who have since read your story?
When my story The Ring was chosen to be published in The Swimmer anthology and also won third place in the open section of the Stories of Life competition, I was delighted not only for myself but also for my friend Ruth Allan. Ruth and I have been good friends for over thirty years and even travelled overseas together in 2000 to Europe. I have forgotten when Ruth first told me about losing her ring as a young girl, but I was so taken with the story at the time that I carefully checked the details with her and recorded them on my laptop to be explored at a later date.
Finally, that date came this year. I had just completed my current novel and was checking what other writing projects I had that I could explore further when I saw the ad for the Stories of Life competition. I decided to polish up Ruth’s story, make sure I had all the facts right as best Ruth could remember, and send it in. Ruth has gone through some very difficult experiences in her life, yet she has held onto her faith in God through it all. And this event I have shared in her story The Ring had a key role to play in helping her do just that.
I hope this story honours God for enabling Ruth to keep going but that it also honours Ruth herself for holding onto God. And both Ruth and I hope that, as others read what happened that day down at the beach, they will draw that little bit closer to God and know for sure that God loves and cares for them too.
Feature photo of Jo-Anne and Ruth supplied by Jo-Anne (left)
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.
Last year, Olivia Harman’s story, John Jenner, was published in our 2019 Stories of Life anthology.
Olivia’s quest to find her great-great-great grandfather led her to the pauper’s corner of the Cornelian Bay cemetery in Hobart, Tasmania, but it’s not his final resting place in the photo above that she sent us. Nonetheless, the historian and traveler in her found it fit to try to remember and honour a certain John Jenner. Who was he? Read Olivia’s story in Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life.
Last year, Claire Watson’s story, Arise, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life.
We asked Claire to tell us the background to her story, and this how she replied.
‘As a child I loved reading and writing, but better job prospects within science and health led me away from the arts. My love for words remained dormant while I pursued a career in physiotherapy, but began to trickle back when God interrupted my plans and directed me towards full-time service within The Salvation Army.
Life in the Watson household was full and happy when we received the shock that our third child, and only daughter, had a rare and incurable disease. I began to record some of my thoughts on paper, and a book began to take shape following Hannah’s death in April 2014. When I realised I was ill-equipped to edit and publish it, I enrolled in the Creative Writing Course at Tabor College. The quality teaching and regular encouragement I received empowered me to publish my memoir through The Salvation Army.
Arise, my contribution to the 2019 Stories of Life is a brief snapshot of my book: Fingerprints of Grace. It contrasts the innocence of childhood and my former simplistic faith, with the deeper trust in God that developed through suffering. It also highlights the hope of the resurrection. Although the circumstances are not what I would have chosen, I am grateful to God for both the gift of our daughter and the opportunity to tell her story. The book is available from Koorong: www.koorong.com.’
Claire supplied the feature photo of her daughter Hannah. Heartfelt thanks to Claire and the Watson family for sharing your powerful story of resurrection hope with us all.
On Good Friday we remember Jesus, who died a criminal’s death because of false accusations. We think of his mother and all who had placed their hope in him, people who thought that lies had triumphed over truth, despair over hope, and death over life. It was not so, but they didn’t know it yet.
It is with that same sense of waiting for a turning point that we bring you Anusha Atukorala’s story ‘The Answer’ that was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. Her story was also broadcast on 1079 Life and we hope that it will encouraged you, as it encouraged us.
Anusha has been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, computer programmer, full time mum, charity director, and job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season as she dances in the rain with Jesus.
Her first book Enjoying the Journey contains 75 short God stories while her second book Dancing in the Rain offers hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. The sequel, Sharing the Journey, was released recently on 21 March 2020. Anusha hopes that it will inspire you during this pandemic era to enjoy life with God and with each another. The journey of life is better with travel companions. The journey of life is rich and remarkable with a God who walks beside us. Sharing the Journey is a doorway to discovering a rich and fulfilling life.
In 2016, Peter Evans thought that a writing competition around stories of faith would be a good idea. So he went to the 1079 Life FM office in Adelaide to pitch the idea, and four years down the track we’re still collecting stories, still awarding prizes, and still publishing books.
Last year, Peter submitted a story that he’d been working on, a story from his younger cab-driving days in Sydney – a story that includes the mention of bodies, a stick and eternity.
As a Stories of Life team member, Peter’s story was not eligible for a prize, but our editors chose it for publication in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. Here is a reading of Peter’s story, as broadcasted on 1079 Life through the past South Australian summer:
Enjoyed this? Order our anthologies from Book Depository and get more light-filled stories delivered to your door.
Might your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? Think about the times you’ve experienced God’s grace and check back in next Monday for a short writing video on ‘Getting Started’ by Dr James Cooper, head of Creative Writing at Tabor College.
Writing and submitting entries could be a great project for families or faith communities to work together, even if you cannot meet together in person. To write about something is to relive it again, and writing a story of life could be a great reminder of God’s goodness at a difficult time.