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.
Last year, Diana Davison’s story, Sprinkler Spontaneity, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life.
Diana also recorded her story at the 1079 Life studios in Adelaide. Sprinkler Spontaneity was broadcast in South Australia over summer. You can hear it here:
We asked Diana to tell us a bit about herself, why she entered this competition and if she had any photos to share. This is what she sent us.
This is a treasured old photograph of my beloved father – Kenneth Davison. That’s little me photo-bombing to the left (I may have started the movement… just saying).
My father was my solid ground and I feel very blessed that he was here to be my beacon on this earth. I miss him dearly. My short story – Sprinkler Spontaneity – is dedicated to him.
Writing my story was a needed step to healing after his passing on Boxing Day in 2017. I was not coping and felt so alone. However, I soon realized I was not alone. My ramblings were heard and, with the acceptance of my sharing of emotions and struggles, I was acknowledged with a print in – Papa’s Shoes – which I am truly grateful for. It has propelled me forward positively to embrace writing and to know we are never truly alone. Thank you ~ always.
Copies of Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life are available for purchase online. You can also visit our 2018, 2017 and 2016 archives for more great stories of life. You’ll find prize winning stories, pictures and stories recorded for radio, often read by the writers themselves.
Could your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? More info on key dates and the kind of stories we are looking for here.
Last year, Emily Maurits’ story won first prize in the Tabor Open category. Her story, Confessions of a Realist, was published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. We asked Emily to give us some background to her story and this is how she replied:
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, 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.
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.
Emily’s story was published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. Could your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? More info on key dates and the kind of stories we are looking for here.