Farewell 2018

December 31 2016
Two years ago my vision for the future had diminished to a network of textile fibre threads weaving within my domestic space. My feet moved, my hands wrapped the threads that stretched out behind me around the anchor points I had chosen, and I listened to how my heart was responding.

What had begun as an experiment for a Visual Culture unit on identity was about to transform the final Fine Arts project that would bring me to the end of my double major degree. The experiment involved finding a way to express my presence within my domestic space, a self-portrait without any human representation. Meanwhile, my major project was about finding a way to overcome the emotional blues. As I lost myself to the experiment, my heart recognised the significance of what I was experiencing.

I had worked with textiles for as long as I could remember. I had even used yarn to explain to groups of children the connections that each of us makes when we engage in social activities. But the jump from a craft material to a form of visual expression for contemporary art changed the way I see the world.

My research had taught me that successful recovery from depression required the sufferer to find a way to reconnect to the ordinary everyday world. To learn how to take something mundane and discover the beauty and wonder that would transform their worldview.

December 31st 2017
I was emotionally and creatively exhausted. The months since I had submitted my final university assignment had been filled with indecision and idleness. My Blue Skies: Chasing Away The Blues Exhibition was fading to a memory and I was waiting for God to show me what would follow.

Now my days were spent wondering when my Graduation Certificate and Year Book would arrive in the mail, and daydreaming about possibilities. I made a beginning on archiving all my study assignments, and I put my cameras and the vast collection of assembled materials into hidden corners.

December 31st 2018
This morning I was reading one of my online devotions and a familiar Scripture leapt off the page at me. This same Scripture had a dramatic effect on me before, a few years before God moved me from the rural community where I had established deep roots and thought I would live forever.

At that time, I had been satisfied that I was ministering and working at maximum capacity, and the revelation that God had something bigger in store shook the foundations of my busy world.

Isaiah 54:2 (WEB) Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your habitations; don’t spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.

As I look ahead to a new year, I have the threads of my recent endeavours trailing out behind me. Into the idleness of waiting, God had unlocked a hidden door, the dream to be a published author, long abandoned and almost forgotten. Unexpected. Unfamiliar. More than a little bit terrifying.

I have sat and listened as God has given me new story threads to add to my already complex weaving, and I have learned a lot more about who I am and the trace of my presence that I leave behind me in the world.

In 2018, I have engaged in three large textile weavings with children as enthusiastic participants, started this blog, written many words and gained new friends.

In 2019, I hope to self-publish White Rose of Promise and to have the sequel When Promises Are Broken follow the same journey. I have the outlines for another five stories hidden away and am working on the third manuscript now. There are a few obstacles to overcome: my fear and my limited resources (time and money).

In preparation, God is asking me to stretch my understanding of who I am so that I am ready to receive whatever 2019 brings to me )i(

It is my prayer that you, my readers, will have the door of opportunity open for you in the coming days, weeks and months. That you will take hold of the threads that you carry forward from 2018 and continue to weave your own marvellous tapestry.

Thanks for being part of my journey )i(


Transformation business
“That is not the end of the story. God is in the transformation business. Judgement flows from God’s holy character but he delights to show favour and love; these are the things that last…” John Grayston, WordLive 09/12/2018. For the complete devotional please click the following link: 

A milestone not to be forgotten )i(

Thirty years ago, I was in a terrible state. As a patient in a private clinic, I had been weaned off one powerful medication only to have an adverse reaction to the new one. Five months earlier I had been admitted to hospital after developing encephalitis, and then sent home when I didn’t die. The prognosis for the next few years was bleak. I wasn’t going to get better anytime soon.

I could no longer stand upright without support, and when I closed my eyes I fell over. I was plagued by visual hallucinations, nausea and a slowness of thought where the neurologist’s tests matched my waking moments to that of a normal person sleeping. I could barely look after myself, and my son had gone to live with my mother. No-one was surprised that I was clinically depressed, a chemical imbalance that robbed me of my joy.

My faith in God was tested.

Then a series of unfortunate events tipped me over the edge. First, I was violently ill in response to the new medication. Then one of my new friends told me she wished she had the hope that I had, and went away to die alone – she changed her mind at the last minute but the person she called for help didn’t arrive in time. But the straw that broke this heart was going out with my husband to a Christmas function and having the waiter accidentally tip a cup of coffee down my back.

My last recollection was wailing on the pavement, as a swirling pit of darkness underneath my feet. I cried out to God that I couldn’t take anymore. The darkness grew and I was falling. Then I felt the hand of God grab me by the back of the neck like a kitten carried by its mother. He pulled me back into the light. My husband watched me go from insanity to a quiet mess. Neither of us has been the same since.

There followed an amazing series of positive experiences that cancelled out all the bleakness of the previous days. I awoke on Sunday 18th of December, sane and alive, and in a defeated state. I lay in bed in the private clinic and told God He had to take over control because I had nothing left.
Within minutes, there came a knock at the door, an unexpected invitation from an acquaintance, and I was dressed and out the door on an unexpected visit to an unfamiliar church. During that morning service, one by one, people stood up and quoted scriptures, each with direct correspondence to some puzzling visions that God had given me in answer to my pleas for help in recent weeks.

Hope reawakened in my heart. But God wasn’t finished with me yet. I was still physically broken but my joy was overflowing and I knew God had heard my desperate cries. That evening, I went back to that same Church, and during the service, God called me to my vocation. I went from a helper for other people’s ministry to a leader of a ministry of my own. Only when I had fully accepted that new calling did God bring about the greatest sign of all.

I went forward for prayer at the end of the service, and witnesses told me it was marvellous to see. My walking stick went flying as I fell – I closed my eyes to pray and the catcher missed me. I had a bump on my head to testify to the hardness of the floor. After making my confession, my body felt as if I had been struck by lightning, and I jumped up. Much laughter and celebration followed, and then other people hurried down to have prayer, not wanting to miss an opportunity for a miracle.

I was delivered back to the private clinic afterwards, and the other patients had me walking and leaping up and down the corridor to prove that I was healed. My transformation was remarkable. God is good. )i( He steps in at just the right time. My faith in God was tested to the very limits of my sanity, and He didn’t let me down )i(

When I started writing White Rose of Promise one of my Church friends asked if this book was going to be autobiographical. I said no. Yet I realise that the transformation that takes place in the life of my central character has the foundations in that event that happened thirty years ago. I had been an active Christian for fourteen years when my faith was tested.

There have been other testing times, including the season that I am in at the moment. My WRoP manuscript went to the proofreader yesterday, and I have hired a designer to take over the cover preparation. I still have a lot to learn about life, about being a writer, about living a faithful life in a troubled world.

But today, God has filled my heart with rejoicing as He reminds me that the journey of discovery is ongoing, and He will be right there with me to pick me up when I fall. I have a couple of miracle memories to make sure I don’t forget )i(

A Small Dog

A long time ago I came across a Charles Shultz quote that has stuck with me: Speak Softly and Carry a Beagle. Anyone who has read Shultz or seen the Peanuts cartoons on television will know that this reference is to a very special dog called Snoopy.

Now that I have the internet, I don’t have to hunt through my overcrowded bookshelves and try to find the original source. Imagine my surprise to discover that this wasn’t some randomly remembered phrase, but the title for a series of Shultz’s comic strips in the ’70s. 

I used this quote when I was working on my 2017 year long research project for my degree. I was looking at different strategies people can use to improve their mental health. The terms “Blue” and “Black Dog” are commonly used now to talk about depression without having to use the dark word. As I worked my way through some dark texts, I often thought about the Schultz character Snoopy. 

Here are a couple of links, if my writing has been a trigger for you

One of my earlier attempts to draw Snoopy from memory.
I am not confident at realistic drawing, but I am getting good at capturing enough of the characteristics that other people can see what I am referencing.

When I am feeling Blue and especially when the Black Dog is snapping at my heels,  I step out into my world with my equivalent of the Small Blue Dog (Charles Schultz, see above link). I have used Snoopy GIFs and Stickers on Facebook to remind me. Then someone gifted me a sparkly one to carry around with my handbag.

Sometimes I swap out the word Beagle and replace it with Small Dog…  This makes a good learning opportunity for me to consider what is happening in my life.

It takes a lot of courage to publicly admit that I have days when the darkness is stronger than the light. Surely having been a Christian for four decades has raised me above such a worldly condition? No! As a Christian, I come to my faith journey with all the ordinary things that beset non-Christians. The difference is that I am never alone in the darkness.

This image is from my Wounded Paper series of digital drawing and text experiments.
I began by taking photos of paper
that had been irreparably damaged.
For a writer, the idea that the page
upon which I write can be
pierced, ripped, shredded
is a significant visual reference for trouble.

I write my stories faster than I can type. My brain sends the signals to my fingers and sometimes I stumble. These typos can be enlightening. I mention God a few times in my stories – my heroines and heroes are all on a discovery journey. So it isn’t uncommon for my clumsy fingers to type doG instead of God. Can you see where I am heading with this?

Now God has something to say about what seemed just a typing error. Sometimes, my inspirational quote appears on the screen as “Speak Softly and Carry a Small goD.”

Firstly, He wants to let me know that there is nothing small about Him. He created the universe and sustains it all without any effort. He can move mountains and perform miracles. I have seen evidence of this with my own eyes.

Then, He wants to talk about my carrying Him. There are two aspects of carrying. I carry His words and His presence into every situation, so when I am feeling Blue and when the darkness is pressing in on me, He is right there. I just have to open my eyes and look for the evidence of His presence.

The flip side of this relationship is that He has promised to carry me through every situation and bring me safely out the other side of every Valley of Shadows experience (Psalm 23).

During the week I came across the following quote hidden in my backlog of personal email subscriptions. 

“If we tend our garden, we’ll have plenty of food with which to feed others. If we give our garden just cursory attention, we may have enough to feed just ourselves. If we completely neglect our garden, we’re going to be so hungry we’ll become “consumer” Christians, feeding off of others.” 
Gary L. Thomas, from Sacred Pathways, accessed through FaithGatewayToday Newsletter, 28/10/2018. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56522.Sacred_Pathways

I am very passionate about my writing adventure. I want to write lots of stories. My heroines and heroes face great challenges, but I want them to be able to stand confidently at the conclusion. They need to be strong and secure. If I am to achieve this for my characters, then I need to make sure that I am also strong and secure. Today, I am going on with the journey. I will speak softly, and look for opportunities to be carried by my Big God )i(