Why not write your memoirs?

by Christine Sine

by Sheila Hamil

If you’re ever at a loose end, or feel directionless in today’s world, you could always try writing your life and faith story, if you’ve a tale to tell. Who else will tell it if you don’t, and it just might inspire someone in need of encouragement today?
I found myself in such a situation the Lockdown 2020. My husband and I would go out for the allotted daily exercise of one hour each morning; it was good to get some fresh air. I baked a lot, unfortunately we steadily gained weight, I looked for jobs to occupy me, but soon our home was spick and span, with every nook and cranny sorted! What else was there for me to do? My husband had many sporting programmes to keep him occupied, but nothing on television really excited me. I decided to pray about what else I could do to fill my time.
Two projects came to mind the next morning, which really took off, and I felt a new sense of purpose in my life! They were both an exhilarating ride, and hard work too, but so worth the effort.

My first project was to produce one video per day of all the music I’d previously written, along with some friend’s music too. I’ve already shared this project with you on Godspacelight. (see LOCKDOWN LEGACY)

The second project was to write a book of how I came to faith.
Had it not been for that period of enforced isolation, these two projects would not have seen the light of day.

My book began by way of my suggestion to our vicar, that it would be good to invite certain members of our church to produce a short video that could be shown on ‘Zoom’, (i.e. a video link), as to how they came to faith. I reasoned that this might encourage those who felt lonely, and isolated from church fellowship, during Lockdown. It would also bring them into the presence of God as lived out through the lives of fellow members of the congregation.
So, I started to write my faith story out, just in case I was invited to be one of the contributors. As it happened I wasn’t invited to do so, but once I had taken those first few steps of returning to my Sunday School days, as a young child in Howdon, Willington Quay in the early fifties, I became a ‘Forrest Gump’ who couldn’t stop running, (in my case writing!)
I found it so therapeutic, each day, to reflect on my entire life, and how faith in God had impacted it.

In time these memoirs grew into a huge 170,000+ word document, far too large to be a published book, but I thought it would be a super document to hand on to my family one day, because they would be able to see just how important my faith is to me, and why I believe so fervently, in God. It was also a way of showing how each song came to be written.

It was then, that someone suggested, ‘Why not condense your story, concentrate just on the faith part, and make it more accessible, because people don’t read books as huge as this?”
Taking their advice, I began the enormous task of chipping away at my recollections, trying to draw out the ‘faith parts’ within it, but I kept failing time and again. It became a burden, a dark cloud hanging over me, ever present, and never coming to completion.

It was when I sat listening to a sermon in church by Bishop John Pritchard, on Romans 8.31-39, that I suddenly realised I had set myself an impossible task with my book.
“Nothing can separate us . . !” he seemed to keep repeating! And, then I knew that to separate my faith from my life, was akin to separating the warp from the weft of a finished piece of weaving!

For to me, God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, seems to be on every single page, for He has been my constant Provider, my Comforter, my Counsellor, my Guide and my closest Friend.
I shared my weaving image with the Bishop on leaving church.

Later that very same day I experienced an amazing coincidence.
I was looking up poems by Kate Compston for a completely different project, and as I opened one website called ‘Green Christian’, the first poem I saw by Kate was entitled:- ‘Weaver God’!  It began:

Weaver-God, Creator, sets life on the loom,

draws out threads of colour from primordial gloom.

Wise in designing, in the weaving deft:

love and justice joined – the fabric’s warp and weft.

Wasn’t that amazing, after my revelation that morning?
It seemed to me that God was giving my original book project the go-ahead!
And so I began to edit and channel each part of my memoirs into one chapter per day, publishing it on my webpage, where it is all set out in order; and also on my Facebook where it became an interactive project as others began sharing their own precious memories too, which was so exciting. Carol Dixon another contributor to Godspacelight, posted her own thoughts regularly there, and I’m so grateful to her, for writing the ‘Foreword’, which you can read below.
It took me exactly 100 consecutive days (excluding Sundays), and it became a book with 100 chapters, and they’re all here for you to dip into.
This is the reason I haven’t contributed to Godspacelight in a while, as I had my own huge mountain to climb first, and now I’ve achieved it! And it’s free for you all to read!

I hope you get something out of this book to stir up your own memories, and I would love to hear from you if you care to write to sheilahamil@goodlemail.com

My webpage is:- (all resources here are absolutely free, no permission needed to any of the material in churches or youth clubs. I only print copyright to identify as the author.)

My book: “Put the hoover down go into the bedroom and pray”:-

My Lockdown Legacy videos:-

Please help yourself, and be inspired to write your own. You’ll not regret , however short it may be.


by Carol Dixon

It is a privilege to be asked to write the Foreword to Sheila Hamil’s Autobiography.
Revd. Sheila Hamil would probably describe herself as an ordinary Christian yet in her writing we meet an extraordinary person whose honesty, integrity, compassion and total dedication to her faith, entwined with her deep love for her family, shines through every page. Her strong sense of social justice and care for the community is apparent throughout.

The early chapters, set in the 1950s and 60s, resonate with many of us of a certain age, sparking memories of our own youth and early adulthood yet her experiences are still relevant to young people today going through similar moral dilemmas and searching for answers to the bigger questions in life.

Sheila ‘s writing style invites the reader to enter into the experience she is describing as we join her and her husband Bob on their travels at home and abroad. Her love for their children and grandchildren and interest in the things they get up to are amusing and moving and her sense of fun is infectious. Her passionate concern for those in need is apparent both before and after she became a Priest in the Church of England following her ministry of song with United Folk. Above all her relationship with God runs through her reminiscences like a golden thread.

Each chapter is illustrated with photos and enhanced by her wonderful songs and Sheila’s own voice comes through as though she is personally accompanying those reading it.

I can highly recommend this interesting and uplifting story of Sheila Hamil’s life with its joys and challenges. It encourages the reader to reflect on their own lives past and present and leaves them wanting to read more.  I look forward to Sheila’s next venture – whatever that might be.

Carol Dixon
Lay Preacher,
United Reformed Church & Hymn writer

December 9, An Advent Quiet Day Retreat with Christine Sine.
Join Christine for a virtual retreat celebrating quiet anticipation and focusing on experiencing a meaningful Christmas. She will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season. Register to participate here.

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