Friday, 8 September 2017

Who would have thought?

I almost decided not to talk to the young woman I noticed sitting there. I had turned up early to my speaking engagement to set up my book table and ensure everything was ready. I did not want to chat with anyone at that point—I like to be quiet before I speak. Yet in this instance, I felt particularly mean, sticking to my own agenda. You see, I had met this girl on a previous occasion—and I knew she was blind. So, leaving my books half-organised, I went over to her.

‘Hi! I’ve met you before—I’m Jo-Anne,’ I began.

‘Oh, you’re Jo-Anne Berthelsen—I remember meeting you,’ she replied, smiling. ‘I borrowed three of your novels from CBM Australia’s audio-book library— Heléna, All the Days of My Life, and Heléna’s Legacy! I really enjoyed them.’
I was gobsmacked. Between 2007 and 2013, Christian Blind Mission Australia had recorded my first five novels, one after the other, using their special DAISY mp3 format, so they would be accessible to visually impaired people in various ways. I had almost forgotten that fact until I found my own complimentary copies around three months ago when moving house. I have never listened to them because I can’t bear to hear my own books read out, even by the well-known actors CBM engages to do so! I always want to change too much—it’s way too excruciating for me. So, wondering why I was keeping them, I stuck them in a drawer in our new home, far out of sight, and forgot about them again. Now, however, I decided to tell this girl about these and offer to lend her the two she hadn’t listened to.
‘You might be particularly interested in my third novel, Laura. It’s about a girl who loses her sight,’ I mentioned.
‘Oh, I started reading Laura  using the text to speech reader on my computer, but it was too hard to keep going, so I’d love to listen to that one—and Jenna. CBM doesn’t record books anymore here in Australia—they need to use their funds in different ways now, although you can still borrow their old catalogue from the Vision Australia library, I think.’
Then I remembered I had sent her a pdf copy of Laura soon after we met, before it was even published. Now God had given me a second chance to provide her with a much more accessible version. What a humbling experience!
After finishing my input, I asked for questions. My young friend immediately wanted to know the name of my blog site. I spelled it out carefully—and knew she would not forget it. Again, how humbling to think she would bother to access my blog each week!
None of us knows what God will do with our words, written or spoken. None of us knows whether, years down the track, God will use them to touch someone’s heart. Who would have thought I would meet my young friend again? Who would have thought God would want to use those recordings I have never listened to? So please keep on persevering with putting those words of yours out there! We have a great God who can do the most amazing things with them—don’t you agree?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and two non-fiction works, ‘Soul Friend’ and ‘Becoming Me’. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.

10 comments:

  1. That is very cool - and humbling, like you say. God bless organisations like CBM - and you for listening to His voice.

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    1. You've hit the nail ono the head, Carolyn--'very cool and humbling' describes my experience exactly! I think I was a bit slow and reluctant to listen to God's voice this time around but we got there in the end!

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  2. What a wonderful experience, Jo-Anne.

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    1. I fully agree, Hazel. It's always so humbling, isn't it, when God uses our writing to touch someone else's life. It makes all those hours of writing and editing so worth while.

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  3. Thanks for the great encouragement! Blessings x

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    1. So glad this blog and my experience I described in it has encouraged you, Keona. Keep going with your own writing!

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  4. What a heartwarming story, Jo. Loved hearing this. Every so often we writers receive this sort of encouragement to keep us on track. In one sense our Christian fiction novels are like little laid back missionaries giving a message of God's grace in lives.

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    1. Yes, I think we sure need those heart-warming experiences to keep us going, Rita--and it's so good that God knows that and seems to give them just when we need them.

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  5. A great post, Jo-Anne and one I sure can identify with. As I keep having those birthdays and am privileged to look back over the many years since was told "You have a talent for writing, what are you going to do about it?", I am left in absolute awe at what God has been doing in my life through the writing career as I seek to know His will and obey Him day by day. However,there have been more times than I like to think about I have made mistakes and He had to remind me He is in control. He humbles me,forgives me,comforts me when it is sometimes very hard to keep going,with His loving glimpses of what HE has done and I pray continues to do with my writing efforts wherever, when and how HE wants to that my Lord Jesus is glorified!

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    1. Hi Mary! I often feel sorry for authors who do not have a personal faith in God, because who do they turn to for comfort, encouragement, inspiration and guidance in this whole writing journey? We are very blessed, for sure--and blessed to have had the opportunities God has given us to write and to speak over the years.

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