Whenever anyone would try to abbreviate my name when I was young, my mother would give the person a puzzled look and ask "Who?" People soon learnt not to shorten my name. However when I was in high school a friend shortened it to "Jules" and for a few years it stuck. Then I grew up, left high school, got married, had children, and thought no more of it until I needed an online user name. Suddenly it seemed to fit again.
Just as "Jules" is an abbreviated version of my name, the paragraph above was the abbreviated version of my life.
I was born in Australia to Christian parents, and two years later my life was forever changed, not when my sister was born (although that certainly changed things forever - for good) but when I contacted meningitis. You can read the story here. Apart from partial hearing loss there is nothing to indicate that my life was threatened at such an early age. But such an experience - growing up and knowing that God had chosen to heal me - knowing that according to the medical opinion of the day I should not have been able to walk or write or talk - had a profound effect - a sense that God's Hand has always been on my life even during the times I've not been aware of it.
I gave my life to Christ at a young age and grew up in the church. At twelve years of age I was baptised and soon after started teaching Sunday School - the beginning of what has been years of involvement in church ministry in one way or another.
After leaving school I went nursing but gave it all up when I married the man I had dated during my last year of school. He was from New Zealand and at the time we married I never had any reason to suspect that we would live anywhere but in my beautiful homeland.
Our first son was born one year, one week and one day after our wedding day. He was soon to be followed by another son ... then another ... and another ... and finally another. When the youngest was almost two years of age, we packed up home and family and moved trans-Tasman. After fourteen years away from his homeland my husband was ready to go back. And so we did, however it was only after much prayer that we made the decision and only when we were both one hundred percent certain that it was what God was calling us to do.
Our sons grew up, I went back to study and then later returned to the work force part-time, and suddenly I had time to pursue what had always been a passion: writing. As a child I had almost driven my mother insane asking her how to spell words so that I could write short stories after school (I was six at the time). A few years later, I was typing up stories on an old typewriter during my school holidays. I even submitted a few to magazines which were all politely rejected. But fast forward to adult life, children at school or leaving home, and I began my writing journey in earnest.
I believe that nothing is ever wasted and all those years of writing essays, letters, journal entries, etc, taught me skills that I needed in order to pursue my dream. Finding an online Christian writers' group was also an answer to prayer and a way of refining my skills even further. I began submitting my articles and short stories to a number of publications and many were accepted.
Around this time I completed a manuscript that I'd been working on for a number of years. There was certainly a wonderful sense of accomplishment when it was completed but I realised that it was not ready for publication. During the time that I'd been working on this MS my style had changed dramatically and it was evident that a lot of editing would need to be done before it was ready to see the light of day. Currently it's on the back burner but one day I hope to pull it out and rework it and submit it for publication.
Shortly after completing this MS I decided to write another novel and while searching for an idea came across a short story I'd written previously. As a short story it had been a dismal failure but it showed promise, and so To a Distant Land was born. Story complete, I submitted it to a Christian publisher and to my astonishment it was accepted. The rest is, as they say, history.
My desire to write is I believe a God-given one and it is to bring Him glory and to hopefully point others toward His kingdom that I write. When I submitted my MS I first placed it in His Hands. That He has chosen to use it is extremely humbling. However it now seems that the path that I trod with this MS is not the same path I will tread with the next. The path this time seems dark and there are pitfalls along the way, but He goes with me and I know He will not let me fall.
Whatever the future brings, whatever works are published or not published, I know that He is in control. My gift, my ability, my passion all belong to Him.