Short Fiction: “Healing Faith”

Photo by David Monje on Unsplash
story by Hope Olowo

I crack open the window to my tiny cottage. The sun pours its welcome heat upon me, and the breeze brushes past my face. I smile while gazing upon the street bustling with souls going about their daily activities. Some people burst with laughter, and others frown. Every day holds its own worries. I have lived the last twelve years buried by one particular worry. And even nature holds me in disgust.

My heart skips as a passer-by shoots me a disdainful glance. It is not out of curiosity regarding my confinement but the outpouring of a contempt-filled heart. I withdraw, shutting the window as fast as I can and throw my weight upon it as my knees weaken.

My life has become a liability. But twelve years ago, I was called Blessed. Twelve years ago, I drowned in wealth and health. Twelve years ago, I had it all.

They say, “To get what you want, you must give what you have.” But I have given all only to receive the worst. I even lost the one thing in which I would have rejoiced should wealth have deserted me: the presence of my people.

I slump to the floor in pain. There it is again, all over the floor.

The places I have been . . . the physicians I have seen—none could help. Twelve years ago, Israel called me Blessed, but here I am now, sitting on the ground in a pool of blood and tears. I feel I will drown in this ocean of helplessness and sorrow.

Voices from outside grow louder every minute. The air bears their pleas to the Son of David. I spring to my feet and fling open the window.

Mercy is what I need.

The crowd surrounds Him, the One who gives laughter and healing to the broken-hearted. Of all the physicians there ever was or will ever be, He is the greatest. The sun gleams above him; a smile births within me.

He is what I need. I’ve heard that healing lies within Him and that just His word brings the dead to life. Surely, with a touch of His garment—

I hurry through the door and push through the crowd. Let Israel pour her disgust upon me—my healing is only six feet away.

I stumble and fall against the growing crowd.

My freedom is just a touch away.

Just a touch. . . .

About Hope Olowo

Hope Olowo is an 18-year old writer from Nigeria. One day, Hope came across the Lost Pen Magazine and decided to submit a poem. Though she did not consider herself a writer, she felt stirred to write the poem, which she submitted to the magazine. To see her inspired, beautiful poem “A New Me,” download Lost Pen Magazine Issue 3.


For more inspirational content, please visit our Lost Pen Blog page. To download Lost Pen Magazine, visit our Magazine Issues page.

     

Don’t Let Your Crisis Become Your Destiny

Photo by Felix Rostig on Unsplash
Article by Karin Thompson

When we have problems that overwhelm us, we often allow them to control us, too. They end up controlling our emotions and moods, our sleep, and our lives! We eat, breathe, and think about our problems all day long. We become so focused on them rather than the answers in God’s word. God cannot communicate the answer to us because we cannot quiet our minds enough to hear His voice. Ultimately, we should give all our cares to Jesus.

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Giving our problems to God allows Him to move on our behalf. The key is to leave our problems with Him and to avoid taking them back. We can trust God to handle our problems and to show us the way out.

We should live each day in the joy of our salvation, knowing God is greater than any problem we have. God can take care of it. He is our Father, and He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He only wants the best for us.

Give your burdens to the Lord,
    and he will take care of you.
    He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
(Psalm 55:22, NLT)

Give your burdens to the Lord. He will take care of you. He will sustain you. He will not allow you to slip and fall. These are amazing promises. 

God has our backs. 

I encourage you to lay your crisis at His feet. Allow Him to lead and direct you. Keep your mind on His Word rather than your problems. Soon, the answers will become clear, as will the right directions on how to move forward. You can be at peace, knowing God is working behind the scenes to turn your crisis around.


About Karin Thompson

Thompson’s passion is to author books that keep readers turning the pages while leaving them with something deep to think about after the last page has been read. Thompson desires to encourage the Body of Christ in the faith, to help believers grow closer to God, and to help them fulfil their God-given life assignments. Thompson is the author of two books, Encouragement For The Weary Soul and My Journey To Enjoying My Life. Visit her website for more information.


For more inspirational content, please visit our Lost Pen Blog page. To download Lost Pen Magazine, visit our Magazine Issues page.

Interview with Ann Harrison-Barnes

Ann Harrison-Barnes is the author of four books: Stories Outside the Box, A Journey of Faith: A Stepping Stones Mystery, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, and Inner Vision. She has also been published in several anthologies. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer. She also hosts the Inspirational Journeys Podcast, where she gives authors, creative artists, and entrepreneurs a platform to share their work. When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors…

Welcome, Ann. Can you start us off by telling us about yourself and your background?

My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes. I am totally blind, with the exception of light perception in my left eye. I’m a single mom of a ten-year-old daughter. She and I were both miracles. I didn’t know that I was pregnant until the night before she was delivered via cesarean section. We both had a very slim chance of survival. If it weren’t for the grace of God, we wouldn’t be here today. Other than that, I am a published author, a professional writer, and I run a podcast called Inspirational Journeys, which I started almost four months ago.

What is your faith background?

I was saved when I was about ten or so, and after some trials in my life, I rededicated my life back to Christ in my early 30’s. Since then, no matter what trials I face, I have to allow God to lead me down the path He chose for me as a writer and as a podcaster.

What ministries have you been involved with over the years?

I haven’t necessarily been involved in ministry, other than singing in my church choir.

How did you get involved with that ministry?

I simply asked if I could join the choir. However, once I got divorced from my emotionally abusive first husband, I went to sing in the choir at the church I attend now with my mother. I still sing in the choir and perform occasional solos.

What is your life’s mission, and how do you intend to accomplish it?

My purpose in life is to win souls for Christ and to share the message of His divine love through my writing, blogging, podcast, and in any other way that God leads.

 

InnerVisionEE2

What creative tools do you have to accomplish your mission?

For my writing, I use a PC with a screen reader called JAWS, which stands for Job Access with Speech. I also use Microsoft Word for my writing. When I am on the go or away from my computer, I use the Notes app on my iPhone. I use the built-in VoiceOver screen reader that Apple provides on all their devices and computers.

For the podcast, I use the Anchor platform, because hosting with them is free and ridiculously easy to use. I either record my episodes on my computer using Google Chrome, which makes the creation tools more accessible to me. When I’m podcasting away from my computer, I use the Anchor App for my iPhone, which has come a long way in accessibility for VoiceOver users. When I conduct interviews, I use the Zoom software. When the recorded file is converted to audio, I upload it to Anchor along with any other segments I need to add. When I do interviews in both video and audio, I also upload the MP4 files to my YouTube channel. This helps me share my guest’s inspirational story to a wider audience.

What obstacles have you encountered so far? How did you deal with them?

One of the obstacles I’ve faced is getting my books formatted for self-publication. I have learned that you don’t pay a publisher to publish your book for you. When I published a second edition of A Journey of Faith, I had the assistance of an employment specialist I was working with at the time to reformat my book so I could publish it through KDP and Smashwords, and I paid another lady I knew to publish it on Lulu for me. My other books were originally licensed under the Electric Eclectic Books brand. I had help formatting those and I turned those into eBooks. Now, I am working with a publisher to produce them in print and audio under my own brand.

 

A Journey of Faith ebook

 

As for my podcast, the biggest obstacle I have run up against was accessibility, as is the case with a lot of things I want to do. If they didn’t work, I either left them alone or I contacted the company, which was what I did with Anchor.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself and serving God with your abilities?

I have learned several things about my ability to serve God through my writing and my podcast. First of all, to write a Christ-centered story, poem or novel, I have to listen to what the Holy Spirit tells me, no matter whether I glean my inspiration from the Bible, from music, or from the natural music of the wind chimes on my front porch. Sometimes He gives me scenes of a story or information about His plan for my life in dreams. Another lesson I learned is not to pay a publisher to publish my work. I started revising one of my books last night. I found some glaring mistakes, one of which was the misspelling of a character’s name. 

When I want to reach out to people for podcast interviews or don’t know what to talk about in solo episodes, I let the Holy Spirit lead me in the direction He wants me to take the podcast. This is the reason I sent out an invitation to the Christian Writers Support Group.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

The Holy Spirit is my greatest influence, but as for others, I would say that music is the second biggest source of inspiration, healing and comfort, because God has given this precious gift and has called those artists and composers to provide it for us. An artist that touched my life on a deep level was the late great Dan Seals, who was part of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley in the seventies, but who became a country artist in the eighties. I am also inspired by a variety of books I have read over the years by authors like Janette Oke, Karen Kingsbury and Robin Lee Hatcher, to name a few.

Who or what is your support system?

Although my family supports me in my endeavors, I have a circle of writer friends. This network is constantly growing by the week, sometimes even by the day, on social media, my website, and the podcast.

Do you also have a job or are you in ministry full-time?

My only job is that of author, professional writer and podcaster. The author life is my full-time job because I am in the process of turning it into a creative business.

Other hobbies or interests? 

I love to read, listen to podcasts, which is where I did the research before building my own, crocheting, as well as spending precious time with my family.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives seeking to serve the Lord with their gifts? 

Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what the Lord has called you to do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re called to write, run a podcast, draw, sing praises to the Lord, or to use whatever gifts you’ve been given. If the gift is truly from God, He will provide the way for you to use it.

Can you tell us about your future goals?

I am planning to edit my first novel and publish a new book this year. I have a few more novels in the series I’m working on and I have other unfinished or first draft manuscripts that I want to get published, Lord willing.

Reader, I hope you have enjoyed meeting our guest. Please read on to learn how you can support her and her work for the Kingdom of God.

Blessings!

my profile

How to Connect with Ann Harrisson-Barnes:

Visit my website at: https://annwritesinspiration.com

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annwritesinspiration

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwrites75

Subscribe to my podcast on your favorite platform: https://anchor.fm/inspirational-journeys

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/annsmusic1

 

Fanfiction and Faith: God Can Use ALL Things

I am a writer.

I think. At least, that’s what a few people have told me and what I keep trying to tell myself most days. I can’t say it feels quite real, though. Not yet, at least. You see, this is all sort of new for me, a journey that only began two years ago, the summer I turned thirty-nine.

Well, maybe the journey really started six years ago. My third child was born, I had a smartphone, and I stumbled upon a concept called fan fiction. So those dark, silent nights rocking and nursing my son also became the hours I would read story after story on my phone, delving deeper into worlds I already knew and loved.

After four years of reading, one day, a thought popped into my head: I wonder if I could write a fan fiction story? I figured I didn’t have anything to lose but some time, so I went ahead and started one. It was focused on one of the adult characters from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a werewolf named Remus Lupin. After fiddling around with it for a little while, I emailed it to a friend of mine, who was the only other person I knew who had even heard of fanfiction, let alone wrote it. She suggested I keep going and start posting the chapters on fanfiction.net and Wattpad to get feedback from other people in that fandom. So I did, and within just a few weeks, the stats page was showing that quite a few people were reading the story, and some were reviewing and saying how much they liked it and were looking forward to reading more.

Success! Or, so you might think. It turned out that among the flavor of churches my family attends, Harry Potter is culturally taboo, and I started to get some sidelong looks when people asked what I was writing. Why would I support a series that is steeped in magic and actually uses the word witchcraft in the name of their school? Witchcraft is clearly portrayed as wicked in the Bible, and against the gospel of Jesus.

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Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

 

So I had to do a lot of praying. Because they aren’t wrong. Round and round in my head, I argued with myself about whether I should stop writing the story.

“Witchcraft is trying to tap into some supernatural power to manipulate the physical world in our favor instead of relying on the God of the universe to be working on our behalf.”

“But the Harry Potter books aren’t really about the Wiccan religion. They clearly describe good versus evil and extol virtues like courage and loyalty and kindness.”

“They are using magic to draw children into a fantasy world, and that could lead them to New Age paganism and turning their backs on God.”

“J. R. R. Tolkien had wizards in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.”

“He was also a staunch Catholic and was famous among Christians for being the man who helped bring C.S. Lewis to faith in Jesus.”

“Didn’t C.S. Lewis use magic to draw children into a fantasy world?”

“Yes, but Lewis clearly pointed children back to Jesus and was a famous Christian apologist. What is it you’re trying to do exactly?”

Depending on your own flavor of church this might not seem like a big deal, but I truly wanted to do whatever honored God the most. If He clearly said I was supposed to lay the story down and never pick it up again, then I would do that without hesitation.

One day, while I was praying circles around this subject yet again, I said in frustration, “Maybe I’m just being selfish because I really like the characters I’ve created!”

At that moment I clearly heard God say in my heart: “I do too.”

There was no condemnation for what I had written, what I had created. There was just peace. So I said, “OK, then. Where do we go from here?”

And, one morning on our way to church a few weeks later, God spoke again and quietly asked, “What if they met me?”

And that was when the whole premise of the story changed. He showed me I now had an audience that would read Harry Potter, but probably not be comfortable having genuine conversations about God. So over months and months and 300,000, words I led the characters and the readers on a journey of faith and testing and perseverance and forgiveness and hope. I created a pack of werewolves who had been healed by the Creator. I talked about supernatural warriors fighting demonic enemies. I started asking myself how I could use characters that readers already loved to introduce them to some truths about God.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about writing. Maybe you are a writer and are feeling dried up and uninspired and need to find something new to motivate you. Maybe you know you need to work on some aspects of your craft but a new original piece seems too daunting. Maybe you want to share your faith with someone but aren’t sure how to do it. Movies, books, video games…anything you might enjoy has a fandom attached to it and fan fiction pieces written for it. So maybe you should look into writing fan fiction. The characters, plot, and setting are already there for you, and so is the audience.

Read Part 2 of Monica’s submission, a fanfiction piece inspired by Harry Potter, tomorrow!

 

About Monica Street

Version 2I believe in stories. Some stories are real, some are imaginary, but all have power. I believe God is a story teller. He uses stories to help us understand who He is and who we are. I believe we are created in the image of God and, as image-bearers, our stories cannot help but reflect facets of God, of His creation, of His stories. My desire is that my stories reflect those facets accurately.

On a lighter note I love tea and chocolate and music and old things. I’m a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama of four, and I am the parent who has introduced her kids to Hogwarts, Narnia, the One Ring, the Avengers, the Justice League, and the ways of the Force. My husband shakes his head and smiles.

I post stories on the mobile app Texties as M Street, fanfiction.net, and Wattpad under the profile MamaStreet.

Feel free to email me if you want to talk stories at mamastreetstories@gmail.

Write What You See

Submitted by Anna Jensen

 

“Write what you see in a book.” Those were the words leaping out at me from the page as I read the story of John’s vision of the resurrected Jesus in Revelation Chapter 1. Could this living Jesus also be speaking to me, asking me to write down the observations, impressions, and insights I had received whilst travelling from place to place, here, in Southern Africa?

It would appear so! I had been sitting in my garden, reflecting on a recent trip that we, as a family, had made to Zimbabwe. We had been based in Harare, but from there had taken the day-long drive over to Victoria Falls, a must-stop location on our visit. In my mind, I relived the moment of our exploration of the Falls themselves, as we wandered through the pay-to-view area of the National Park. We followed the pathway, drawing ever close to the thunderous roar of tonnes of water falling from a river 1,708 metres (5,604 ft.) wide down a drop of 108 metres (354 ft.) into the depths of the ravine below. We stood, as close to the edge as we dared, the sound so loud we were unable to speak to each other; the spray and mist envelopped and drenched us despite the waterproof jackets we wore as supposed protection.

I thought about those verses in Revelation 1, where John, turning to see the voice speaking to him, encounters the resurrected, victorious Jesus in all His heavenly glory: the Son of Man with eyes like flames of fire, feet like burnished bronze, and a voice that sounded like rushing waters. I realized, with a start, that I had experienced something of what it is like to stand near “rushing waters.” I had been silenced by their deafening. Soaked by their extravagance. Awed by their tumultuous power. 

The voice of Jesus silences our doubts, our insecurities, and the lies that are whispered in our ears. It soaks us through to our innermost being, washing, cleansing, invigorating us. Just as Victoria Falls overwhelmed us, so Jesus will overwhelm us—if we allow ourselves to draw close enough.

I sat in my garden and wished that everyone could visit somewhere like Victoria Falls and experience what I had, wished they could be shown a truth as I had been shown. Returning attention to the Bible on my lap, I again skimmed through the passage and was immediately arrested by the phrase, “Write what you see in a book” (Rev 1:11). I knew Jesus was speaking directly to me, asking me to put into words what He had shown me, to share with others the Victoria Falls experience, though they may never make the trip.

 

DSCN3081

 

And so began the journey that became my first book, The Outskirts of His Glory. Not wishing to run off on a wild goose chase of my own imaginings, I approached a friend with “my” idea. She felt I should explore the possibility of using poetry to best express the concepts and impressions I had. My initial response was negative, feeling I was unqualified, untrained, and unable to tackle that kind of project. After a few online poetry courses, I felt a glimmer of hope. I remembered the scribbles of my teenage years and felt a little more enthusiastic. 

And before I knew it, I was working at something I’ve come to love, to be passionate about, and to be utterly fulfilled by. I am doing what I was asked to do: to write what I see in a book. I trust there is much more to see and many more books to write.

The following is one of my poems:

The voice

 

About Anna Jensen

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I am a British ex-pat who has lived in South Africa for nearly as long as in England. I have exchanged squirrels in the garden for monkeys; the caw of crows with the terrified-seeming cry of the hadeda ibis. I swelter under a hot summer sun, rather than shiver in the freezing rain.

And it is here, under a wide-open sky, that I have begun to write in response to a call from Jesus to ‘write what I see in a book.’  My first book, The Outskirts of His Glory was published in May of this year.

I trust the eyes of your heart will be opened as you read the words I’m privileged to put on pages.

Contact Jensen at:

Website

Facebook:   @annaloujensen

Twitter:       @annalouj

Instagram:  @annaloujens

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