Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Category: ACW (page 1 of 2)

Refuse to do Nothing

Homeless people are human.

You may think that is obvious but at one time they were invisible to me. They first came on my radar when I read John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer. The idea that they are far more than a vague figure covered by a tatty blanket percolated away for a while, and then God added a little of His compassion to the mix. I eventually found myself chatting with Big Issue sellers and getting involved with social justice.

Francine Rivers in Redeeming Love made prostitutes human. It’s never as simple as just seeing a woman selling herself on a street corner late at night. There’s a whole back story of gut wrenching misery that drove her to that dark place. No little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute.

[Read more]

Really, God?

Do you believe that your ability to write is a gift from God?

This belief has been a long process for me. I never really dared to believe it for myself until very recently.

I had a huge wobble about writing last spring. It was the latest in many wobbles over the years. This time, I determined to tackle it once and for all.

God, if You really want me to write then please let it bear fruit. And if I’ve got it all wrong, then lop the writing branch out of my life.

A hard prayer to pray, but I meant it. Even though I fully expected God to sigh with relief that I’d finally gotten the message and He could cut writing out of my life.

Within two weeks….[Read more]

You Are God’s Poem

I had one of those eureka moments in church the other Sunday.

The speaker said that in the original language Paul used when he wrote to the Ephesian church, we are God’s poem.

In our English translations it says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which the Father has already prepared beforehand for us.

This passage in Ephesians 2 is one of my favourites. All about God’s grace towards me when I was dead to God and a rebel. How His gift to me was faith to believe in Him so that I can know how wonderful and kind His rich grace is. Wow. Some God!

I also love that He has stuff for me to do which He has planned specifically for me. Wow again!

But that I am His poem. That’s beautiful. Because that means I am His precious work of art. [Read more]

What’s in a Name?

Blogging over at More Than Writers today, the home of the Association of Christian Writer’s blog:

Adi and I honeymooned in the north of England one chilly May. Despite a severe lack of funds, a cramped caravan, and Adi’s streaming cold, we had a great time.

A particular joy was discovering… [read more]

It’s Winter…

Six years ago this autumn, I received a termination letter from my (then) employers.

The letter wasn’t a shock. I’d spent most of the previous ten months off work ill and was showing no signs of being able to resume my job in the foreseeable future. They had discussed it with me. Their tone was kind and I knew they would continue praying for my healing.

But…. [read more]

Writing: Who? What? How?

Can I write? Should I write? Why am I bothering, it’s all been said before. Who do I think I am? I can’t do this, I’m wasting my time….

After a decade of writers’ angst, I made the decision to just get on with it. To help me, I’ve typed out some statements and pinned them on the noticeboard by my desk.

Write for an Audience of One

I have a bad habit of…..[Continue reading]

 

Not What I Expected…

This wasn’t supposed to happen. How did I end up here?

I lay on my back, staring at the ceiling, my face deadpan, counting in my head until he had finished. He was my twelfth customer of the day.

I hated what I was doing but there was no choice. He had made that clear. ‘If you don’t do as you’re told, I will kill your family.’ It made me feel sick and clammy.

My parents thought I was on my way to the UK to work in a hotel. They had been so excited. There were no career opportunities in my village, it was too small. And I’d always wanted to learn English. It made me feel so grown up and sophisticated when that man came and interviewed me. He was so charming, showing me photos of where I’d be working and assuring my parents that he would accompany me so I’d be safe.

Safe? Ha. That was a joke. If only….

There was no job and no hotel. Just a bunch of other girls naively hoping for a better life.

He took away our passports and gave each of us a small room with a bed in it. This is where we work and where we sleep. There are four of us in this house. I seem popular with the customers, so I earn lots of money. Not that I get to keep any of it.

This is not what I expected. Will I ever get free? 

 

Last weekend I was at an ACW writers’ retreat at Scargill House in North Yorkshire, hosted by Adrian and Bridget Plass with Tony Collins of Lion Hudson and Monarch Books as main speaker. Tony gave us a challenge to write about a journey. So I wrote it from the point of view of a young woman trafficked to the UK from Eastern Europe. Although it is fiction, this actually happens.

The Great Escape

Did you know that a group of writers is called a worship? That’s what was happening at Scargill House last weekend. A bunch of people worshiping.

Many of us have become friends online and it was good to meet for the first time ‘in the flesh’ or catch up with real rather than virtual hugs.

Adrian and Bridget Plass were our hosts along with Tony Collins, standing in for his wife Pen Wilcock who was at home because of family commitments.

The theme of the weekend was the great escape. Bridget began on Friday evening by reminding us read more.

Two Little Dicky Birds….

Earlier this month, my friend Elizabeth and I went on holiday to the wilds of Norfolk.

Without wanting to sound super-spiritual or boring, one of our favourite things is praying together. There is something exciting and exhilarating about enjoying God with a trusted friend…. Anything can happen. And sometimes it does!

After one delightful session of prayer, I [read more]

 

The Perfect Administrator

‘Write these sums down and do them for homework. Hand them in next lesson.’

Thirty-odd eleven-year-olds dutifully scribbled the sums into our homework books. I didn’t enjoy maths, didn’t understand numbers (still don’t if it comes to that), and didn’t look forward to doing my homework.

Next lesson, I took in my homework book but the teacher never asked for it.

Over time, I lost heart. If my work was never going to be marked, what was the point?

In my job as a medical secretary, it’s important that I follow things through. Many of the specialists I’ve worked for over the years are great at their jobs but rubbish at paperwork. They don’t seem to understand that it’s not enough to initial a pathology result to say they’ve seen it if they don’t pass on the news to the patient. They simply file it in the notes, never realising that some poor soul is sweating over unknown test results at home.

In Strictly Come Dancing, Craig Revel Horwood is always going on at the celebrities about hands and unfinished movements. Not being a dancer, I don’t understand exactly what he means though I can tell when someone has beautiful arm movements from shoulder to fingertips.

Following through and completing things is important on all sorts of levels. Unfinished business is frustrating.

I had a little worship moment recently when it dawned on me that God is the perfect administrator. He always finishes what He starts and keeps His promises. He doesn’t make empty threats or get our hopes up only to brutally dash them by losing interest or forgetting what He’s said. His timing is often different to ours and we may misunderstand Him, but that says more about us than Him.

Cleaning TrolleyPaul wrote to the Philippian church: ‘I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…’

How good it is to relax in the knowledge that God will follow through on stuff and not leave anything undone. I can have confidence in Him to do what He says He’s going to do. This is especially helpful when He is having a delve in my life and chucking out the rubbish.

‘Fear of rejection? You really don’t need this Mandy, shall we shove it in a bin liner and take it to the tip?’

When we’re in the middle of a soul spring clean, it’s good to know that God won’t get tired or fed up part way through, regardless of the mess He’s dealing with. He has begun a good work in me and has promised to complete what He’s started.

 

 

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