Saturday, December 29, 2012

Anointing Oil

It’s that time of year again; when we look back at the highs and lows and determine what we want to change in 2013.

I’ve spent a few days pondering on 2012. It’s been a tough year in many ways but each difficult circumstance has revealed more of God’s character to me. If I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t. I’ve realised that each painful step, each situation I’ve had to face has wrought changes in my heart.

One of the passages of scripture that God gave me during this year summarises my experience perfectly: And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. 2 Corinthians 7:11, The Message.

A W Tozer is quoted as saying, “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly, until first He wounds him deeply." I’m not sure I would blame God for bringing the painful situations into my life – but He has undoubtedly used the wounds to bring me to a place where He can use me in a far more effective way. At times I felt lost and alone but I know that God was always there.

One of the struggles I experienced was an ongoing episode of cyber-bullying. As a result of this, I went through a period where I woke up nearly every morning between 2 and 3am and was unable to go back to sleep. If I did manage to sleep through, I suffered from terrible nightmares. After six months of this, I was seriously sleep deprived and had pretty much given up expecting a normal night. Then I went to a Christian conference up in Auckland.

I had simply thought it would be a good experience, but didn’t know I had an appointment with God. After a workshop and teaching on the Holy Spirit, all of us were invited to go to the front for prayer and refreshing. I hung back, watched from my seat for a while, and then decided to go up. The man who prayed for me was a stranger – we had never met before and lived in different cities – and he did not ask if I had any specific needs.

He poured oil into his hands and wiped a large dollop on my forehead before massaging the rest into my hands. The aroma was warm like cinnamon and cloves and I could feel God’s presence with me. He prayed while rubbing the oil in – a general prayer – but then paused before praying more specifically. He asked that God would help me to sleep at night and that He would give me dreams.
I was amazed! God had seen the sleepless nights? God had seen the nightmares? God had said enough was enough and things were going to change?

That was the 3rd October 2012 and since that day I haven’t had a problem sleeping. The nightmares have gone and I’ve actually had dreams that have been healing and restorative. It’s been a life changing experience and I’ve realised God could do the same in all my painful situations – but that He won’t. He uses difficult circumstances to refine us and shape us and He is with us each step of the way. However, the day always comes when He says enough is enough ... and then things change.

I’m looking forward to 2013 and my prayer is that God will have His perfect way in my life. I pray the same for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tender Christmas Tales

The story below is included in Tender Christmas Tales which is available as a Kindle book on Amazon for only 99 cents.
Baby’s First Gift

It’s dark in the cabin and passengers lie sprawled across the seats. The monotonous thrum of jet engines sedates them as miles surge past. Christmas flights are often quiet like this; frequented by those who book too late and loners with no family back home.

It’s gloomy outside but a tinge of apricot rims the horizon. I didn’t sleep during my break, trying to fool my body into thinking it’s still afternoon. I dread the mornings with their nausea and weakness, both reminders of my guilt. I leave the window and go and find Lucy in the galley. She touches me on the shoulder, concern creasing her brow. “Feeling alright?”

I nod as I help her with breakfast preparations. The airline has supplied a gift for each passenger; a small box wrapped in red with curls of gold ribbon. I wonder idly what’s inside them. Fruit, nuts, a novelty?

Lucy is the only one who knows my secret. “It happens all the time,” she said. “Long haul flights, exotic destinations, pilots looking for some entertainment, a moment of weakness. It’s not as though you owe the father anything. Just get rid of it.” I’ve walked into an abortion clinic three times but haven’t had the courage to sign the papers. I have a sense that what seems like a solution may actually add to the problem.

I’m laying out gifts on food trays when a bell pings softly. “You go,” Lucy says. “I’ll manage here.”

A young mom looks up at me, exhaustion etched in weary features. “My baby hasn’t slept all night. I wondered if someone could hold her while I go and freshen up quickly?”

My heart sinks but I curve my lips into a smile. “Of course. Take your time.” She hands me a tiny wrapped bundle and I slip into a vacant seat by a window. The rim is thicker now, a deep red circle embracing the world. It looks like a heavenly Christmas wreath. I adjust the blanket and peer down at the child. What would my friends at church say if they knew I was pregnant? What would my parents say?

The baby snuffles gently and I watch tiny lips sucking and rooting, trying to latch on to the blanket. She’s tiny, can’t be more than a couple of weeks old. I try and imagine how it would feel if this was my child. Words like tenderness, love and hope swirl through my mind. The mother returns and I motion her to sit. “She’s going to sleep,” I whisper. Outside, Christmas dawns properly as red suffuses into pink and smoky gray lightens to dusky yellow.

Another baby comes to mind as I rock this child; Jesus, the one whom Christmas is all about. I wonder if He looked like this little bundle, perfect, innocent, content in arms that offer love and safety. A flush of shame warms my cheeks as I realise my double-mindedness. How can I cradle a child on the outside while contemplating murder for the one inside?

I stand and gently place the infant in her sky cot before tears spill and splash. Locked inside the toilet, I sob as streams of repentance overflow and cleanse my heart. “I’m sorry, God. I wanted to fix one mistake by making another. I’ve been so concerned with people’s reactions that I forgot to ask what You thought.”

A while later, I’m serving breakfast and smiling as I hand out Christmas gifts. My heart is raw and soft but the pain is tempered with peace. Peace that I can handle the consequences of my sin. Peace that I can face my family and friends and confess what I have done. Peace that there will be those who will draw close and extend grace and mercy over the next few months.

Today, however, I will celebrate Christmas in all its fullness and majesty. I can do nothing less for this is an extra special day. It is the day I gave my unborn child his first gift. The gift of life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Read Chapter Eight Part One here.

Chapter Eight Part Two

By Debbie Roome

“Tell me how you and Grammie ended up in mission work,” I asked as I strolled next to her.

“It was at a mission house in New Plymouth,” she replied. “Bea and I were put together to do door-to-door evangelistic work. She was quite homesick at first, so I brought her home with me at weekends. My mother treated her like a daughter, and we became best friends.” Her voice broke slightly, and she gazed upward. “It may sound silly, but I miss her terribly. We hadn’t seen each other in decades, but we wrote each other every month. And when e-mail came out, we kept in touch even more often.” She stopped walking and looked me in the eye. “She was an amazing woman, Grace ... and I can see the same strength of character in you.”

“Really?” I was still trying to make sense of her words when we reached the edge of a low cliff.

“Be careful down here,” she instructed. “The sand is loose, and it’s easy to slip.”

I was more interested in the trees with gnarled limbs and weathered trunks that clung to the rocks. Each was crowned with a mass of red blossoms that looked like the ones in my photo. “What are those?” I asked as we clambered down the path.

“Pohutakawa trees,” she answered. “They’re also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree as they flower in December.

“They’re beautiful,” I said, gazing up through the canopy of red.

“We’ll stop here for a moment,” Ngiare said. “This is one of my favourite prayer spots.” She patted a smooth gray rock and indicated I should sit next to her. The beach was about a dozen feet below us and the sand lay flat, its wrinkles and flaws smoothed by the outgoing tide.

“I can see why,” I said, taking in the floral beauty, the sparkling waters below. “It’s so peaceful here.”

“It is today, but it’s not always like that,” Ngaire said, her expression contemplative. “We have violent storms from time to time and the wind can be very damaging.” She seemed to withdraw into her thoughts for a while, and I sat and waited. The sun cast a peachy glow across the ocean, and I felt more at peace than I had for a long while.

“Did Bea ever tell you about the whales?” she asked after a while, angling her head toward me.

A surge of excitement made me sit upright. “No, but she placed a carved whale in the envelope with my tickets to New Zealand.”

“She was staying with me one weekend when a pod beached themselves over there.”

I followed the direction of her outstretched hand to an expanse of sand. “What happened?” I asked.

“We tried to rescue them. Called in an emergency and the local radio put out an appeal for people to come and help.”


“Come,” Ngaire stood and started the descent to the beach. “They were pilot whales, a pod of about thirty and they were stranded just here.”

I stood still, wind whipping my hair, salty spray coating my face as I tried to imagine the scene.

“We had a hundred volunteers come out,” Ngaire continued the story. “We stayed down here all night, draping the whales with wet towels, pouring sea water over them and turning them so they could breathe more easily.” Her eyes misted over, and I felt my own eyes moisten.

“Did you save them?”

“Some. When the tide came in, we managed to refloat those closest to the water but some of them came back. The thing is that they’re social creatures. If one of them becomes stranded due to illness or injury, the others will follow. They stick together, so to speak. They won’t leave a wounded family member – and one of the whales was obviously sick.”

I closed my eyes and for a moment I had a vision of a beach full of whales, gray skin glistening as people worked to save them. If an animal cares for its own, who am I not to? The thought skittered through my mind, and I pushed it away. People are different, I told myself.

Ngaire reached out and took my hand. “Don’t fight God, child. If He’s talking then let Him talk. And when He’s done talking, act on what He’s told you.”

“I need a few moments,” I said, loosening my hand from hers and walking toward the water. I knew that coming to New Zealand would be challenging, but Grammie had got right under my skin this time. As an animal lover I knew if whales were stranded on the beach, I’d be down here helping them ... and yet I had no time for my own sister who was obviously hurting. She had to be. “My heart has become very hard,” I whispered to God although, since it was the first time I’d talked to Him in years, I wasn’t sure He’d be listening. “If you want me to change, You’ll have to soften it for me.” I stayed on the water’s edge allowing the waves to lap at my feet as the sea changed from apricot to gold to silver.

Eventually Ngaire came to join me, her hand soft on my arm. “Come up to the Pohutakawas, Grace. There’s something there for you.

I followed her and after examining the trees in the area she pointed out, I found a carved Christmas bauble hanging from a low branch. The wood was inlaid with swirls of turquoise and pink shell and had a seam through the center. “Does it open?” I asked.

“Try and see,” Ngaire said with a smile.

I twisted the bauble carefully and split it into two halves. A carved wooden whale nestled inside in tissue paper. It was twin to the one in the envelope Grammie had left me. Twin whales, I thought. Sisters that would stay with each other to the point of death.

Before dinner that night, I volunteered to babysit Aroha. We sat on the carpet and stacked blocks into towers and then knocked them down before starting over again. She squealed with laughter and tossed her head. “Again, Grace,” she shouted. “Let’s do it again.” We had a great time, but she fussed as her mother supervised dinner and then Aroha’s teeth brushing. It’s an immense responsibility raising a child, I realized. And Lauren is doing this alone ...

I confided in Ngaire when the family had gone to bed. “I never thought of Lauren’s baby as being a child, a little person that can talk and laugh and have fun. I’m still angry with her, but something has started to shift inside me.” I hung my head, regret rising like a fountain. “I wish I had a photo of her. Flo in the Rocky Mountains showed me one of her and Lauren, but it was too small to see her face.

Ngaire smiled. “I can show you an up-to-date picture if you’d like – we can even print it out.

Five minutes later I sat in front of the family computer while she scrolled through her e-mails. “Here it is,” she announced triumphantly after a quick search. “Bea sent this through shortly before she died.” The child’s face filled the screen; thick dark curls, olive skin like mine and eyes that danced with life. I had seen that face before. The escape artist, Clara Grace, at the Nutcracker Ballet. I couldn’t stop tears from overflowing as Ngaire pulled me into her arms.

Read Chapter Nine Part One by Joan Campbell today!

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.
Read More:

Chapter Two by Ruth O'Neil

Chapter Three by J.A. Marx

Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

Joan Campbell is the Featured Author today at WIP, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Recipe.

You’re invited to Magnificent Hope’s Christmas Party so come over and join all the fun!

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Chapter One by Joan Campbell

Chapter Two by Ruth O'Neil

Chapter Three by J.A. Marx

Chapter Four by Deanna Klingel

Chapter Five by MarjiLaine

Chapter Six by Sheryl Holmes

Chapter Seven by Fay Lamb

Chapter Eight Part One

By Debbie Roome

The flutter of little feet drew me out of deep sleep.

“She’s awake!” A child’s high pitched voice pierced through the last remnants of drowsiness. The feet and voice receded. “Granny, come! Aunty Grace is awake.”

Light streamed through an unfamiliar window. My head pounded; my eyes ached. It didn’t feel as if it should be morning already. Where on earth …?

Of course – New Zealand! Slowly the events of the preceding day seeped back into my consciousness: the warm weather, that didn’t feel at all like Christmas, despite the baubles and tinsel decorating the airport; the strange local accents; and—worst of all—driving on the wrong side of the road to reach Ngaire’s house. As stressful as the drive had been, I had still managed to take in a little of the breath-taking scenery. The ocean had spread like a sequinned mat to the left, sparkling in the brilliant sun, while green hills had unfurled to the right. Farms had dotted the landscape and sheep grazed in clumps.

Ngaire stood at the door now, a large smile on her deep olive face. Her nut brown hair, streaked with gray, hung in a braid.

“Did this little rascal wake you?”

At Ngaire’s side, the little rascal’s face was lit up with pride at her accomplishment.

“Well … yes. But it’s a good thing. The sooner I start operating on New Zealand time, the better.”

“I’ll brew some fresh tea for you in the kitchen. Chamomile, right? I bought some especially.”

I smiled. After a few weeks of being on Grammie’s adventure, it didn’t surprise me anymore that she had seen to all these little details.

Fumbling for my watch on the bedside table, my fingers instead wrapped around the tiny wooden whale that had been in envelope seven. I traced its smooth shape before putting it down next to the photo of the tree with the spiky red blossoms, the other mystery item in the envelope.

“All to be explained, right Grammie?” I said aloud to an empty room. Ngaire and her great-granddaughter had already left.

I made my way—somewhat groggily—to the sagging bay window and pressed my face up to the glass to stare out at the ocean. Blue, navy, and turquoise layered the water, and waves washed against rocky cliffs and a fringe of dark sand. How many times had Grammie looked at this same view? Ngaire had told me the night before that Grammie had slept in this room many times in the year she spent as a missionary in New Plymouth. The thought filled me with a strangely conflicting mix of joy and sorrow.

As I dressed, I thought of the warm welcome I had experienced from the moment I had arrived at this home. My first feeling as I drove up the long sandy driveway had been one of trepidation. The weatherboard home, spreading in all directions, looked rather haphazard. Additions had been made over the years and nothing quite matched. I couldn’t help but wonder who could live here.

However, Ngaire’s warm welcome at the door had eased my apprehension. She had folded me into her arms like a long last daughter and drawn me into her worn, but spotless home where the aroma of home baking wafted from the kitchen. I had been introduced to her large extended family. Her son and daughter-in-law, with their five teenage children, all lived in the house. One of her granddaughter’s had ‘got herself into a spot of trouble’ as Ngaire put it, with the result that a lively two-year-old now also shared the home. “It’s crowded but whānau – extended family – is important to us Maori,” Ngaire had told me with a smile.

The evening had passed quickly, a blur of smiling brown faces and hospitality. I loved the way they spoke, the lilting accent that ended every sentence on an upbeat. I suspected it was on purpose that Ngaire delegated me as babysitter for her granddaughter’s little girl, Aroha. “We’ll cook while you watch the little one,” she said, depositing the child in my arms. “She’s tired so just cradle her, and she’ll probably go to sleep.”

I admit I hadn’t been all too happy to begin with. I knew nothing about babies and small children, and they scared me somewhat. I had leaned back in the armchair, shifting position until Aroha seemed comfortable.

“I like you,” she had said, reaching up and touching my auburn curls. “Your hair is pretty.” She entwined her fingers in a spiral and held it firmly until her eyes drooped and breathing slowed. Then her grip loosened and her hand fell onto my chest, splayed like a tiny starfish.

As I brushed the hair that little hand had clasped the night before, a new—unwanted—thought drifted through my mind. Lauren’s little one would be just a little older than Aroha. What kind of conversations would she and Lauren be having? Did she look like us, or more like Steve? The sudden yearning to see my sister’s child was intense, but I pushed it away as I made my way to the kitchen for my cup of chamomile tea.

“You ready to go girl?” Ngaire asked when the tea was finished.


“Take a jersey with you. The early morning breezes are fresh on the beach.”

We slipped out of the house and Ngaire led the way to a sandy path. “I often go down to the beach in the morning to pray,” she told me.

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

Read More:

Chapter Four by Deanna Klingel

Chapter Five by MarjiLaine

Chapter Six by Sheryl Holmes

Chapter Seven by Fay Lamb

Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Extract from New Kindle Book

Alluring Lists & The Bus Watcher

Thanks for stoppying by to read a couple of extracts from my latest Kindle book. Alluring Lists & The Bus Watcher is just over 5000 words long so would be classed as a long short story.

Here's the blurb about it: A young girl’s life takes a downturn when she misses the bus to work one day. Afraid of getting into trouble with her employer, she picks up a bus timetable little knowing these will soon rule her life. Over the space of three years, her life spirals downwards into a cycle of lists, hoarding and obsessions. An intriguing short story that looks at OCD and how untreated obsessions and compulsions can destroy a life.

There was a bus stop directly outside my cottage that serviced several routes, its shelter a gaunt skeleton of metal ribs and frosted glass. It was there that my love affair with buses started. The first weekend after Mrs Cooper’s rebuke, I jiggled Dad’s old recliner into position by the front window and for an hour sat watching the buses. I could see through the frilly white veil but no one could see in and I enjoyed being a secret observer; a mouse peeping from her hidey-hole.

The next weekend, I took my research a step further and started riding the buses. Timetable in hand and metro card in the other, I boarded the buses outside my home and rode the complete circuit. I carried notebook and pencil and scribbled notes to myself, working out which buses I could catch to work, noting where they stopped and how often, always following the route on the timetable. I needed to leave home between 7 and 7:15am and I had a choice of three buses during that time. Any one of them would deposit me within a block of the office.


By 2011, I was in deeper than I had thought possible. My life revolved around the buses and the view from my front window. I was compelled to record every movement, every minute detail. If I cooked, it was a matter of tossing a pie in the microwave. More often, I had takeout delivered to my door. I couldn’t leave my spot by the window for longer than a few minutes. The lists grew in number and size and I started boxing the old ones, stuffing pages in haphazardly and tossing them into my bedroom and the passage way. I still couldn’t part with them. They were vitally important to my well-being; hoards of information that was the focus of my life.

The buses stopped their circuits at midnight and that was when I would do my shopping. Squeaking down Bailey Street on my bicycle. Pedalling from one street lamp to the next, their cinnamon cones of light illuminating my way, never allowing darkness to shroud me. At the second corner, I would turn left by the broad oak and then right into the car park. The twenty-four hour sign flickered incessantly, reminding people they could shop anytime; luring in weary travellers and thirsty party goers. My basket contained only bread, milk and microwave meals. I would be home by 1am and if I had the energy, would put on a load of washing before collapsing into bed. It was easy to toss it in the drier when the alarm called me to rise.

Alluring Lists & The Bus Watcher is available through for ony 99 cents.