Tag Archives: hope

Interview by Michelle/Share Your Story

Meet Hazel Barker


Hazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years in Burma, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Her short stories have won awards and been published in magazines and anthologies.
Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier was released by Rhiza Press in October, 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind was published by Armour Books in August, 2016. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma.
Part 2 of her memoirs, The Sides of Heaven, was released in February, 2018.

What has your background been before you starting writing?
I taught English and History at high schools in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane.

How were you introduced to writing?
I literally started writing at three when my mother held my hands to form the first words of the alphabet. Mum used to read to me even before I went to school and I grew to love books. I wanted to be an author ever since I read ‘Little Women’ at the age of eight. My love of books led to my love of writing.

IMG_3207 Gecko
I’ve always been a bashful child. Becoming an author has made me love talking. I love to speak to others who have the same taste for books and I’m no longer embarrassed when giving talks about my books.

How is your writing making a difference for you right now?
Right now, writing occupies a large part of my time. However, I try to divide my time between my other loves – my husband Colin and my hobbies.

As a child, what was your relationship with books?
As a child of two, Mum gave me picture books. I remember them being made of cloth so I couldn’t tear them accidently as I turned the pages and they were washable too. Later, I moved from picture books with large letters to fairy tales, then on to adventure stories, the classics and romance.

What is the most important thing about what you want to do?
I want to enjoy a healthy life with my husband and get the rest of my manuscripts published.

Do you believe books can change the world?
I have no doubt that books can change the world. This is the reason why thousands of books were burned by the Communists in Russia and China. Books by Jewish authors and anti-Nazi books were also burned by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. The latest burnings to date have been those by ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Fear of their influence on people led to such destruction.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing?
I hope that my readers will realise the value of faith, hope and prayer and that they will learn from my mistakes.

What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to please the Lord and live a blissful life with my dear husband.


Has Share Your Story helped you in any way?
I have only joined Share Your Story for a few months, and I’m already reaping the benefits of joining by being able to share my stories with others.

What results have you experienced, good or bad, about being a part of the publishing industry?
I’ll start with the bad. I was too impatient to get my books published and sent my manuscripts to publishers too early, with the result that I had so many reject ions at first. The good is that since 2013, when my short story was included in the Redlitzer Anthology and I received a trophy from the mayor, my writing career went ahead by leaps and bounds. After that, many other short stories have been selected for publication in anthologies. In 2016 Part One of my memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child was published by Armour Books, and my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie was taken up by Rhiza Press. In 2018, Part 2 of my memoir, The Sides of Heaven was published by Armour Books.

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If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Peace. Peace in the world through the love of God.

Contact Hazel

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God’s Panoply by Anne Hamilton, Even before Publishing, 2013

When I opened God’s Panoply, I thought I was about to read a heavy theological treatise, but as I continued, I found the book a refreshing read. The author presents a theory and uses biblical quotations, mathematics, literature and fables to prove her premise. She quotes from various translations of the Bible and relies heavily on the Hebrew Bible.
That green is the colour of fairy folk and magic was news to me, as I’d always considered it to represent hope when trees break into life once again. Upon consideration, however, hope does raise one’s spirits, as if by magic.
I’d heard of the manner geese migrate in formation, and can relate with the author’s comparison of that phenomenon with Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. So too, I have always marvelled at ‘the golden ratio’ and the way ‘this proportion appears everywhere in nature.’
The themes of forgiveness, armour, covenant and the power of words are woven together into a rich tapestry depicting God’s love for us, and, just as Our Lord often taught us in parables, the author teaches us through stories. Her thoughts are profound, yet laden with meaning. The language is lyrical.
E.g. A thousand years ago, a Jewish teaching of the first century emerged from its chrysalis and took full flight into Christendom.
Like a lark ascending, it fills the air with the sweet music of lifting off, lifting up, forgiveness, removal of sin, burden-bearing, helping, supporting, covenant, submission, obedience, oneness. Armour-bearing.
The theme of forgiveness rings a special note to me, and the final words of the author, So put on the armour of God. And remember to lift your face for His kiss, are particularly appealing.
I urge everyone not to be daunted by the title but to spend a few hours meditating on the mysteries revealed in God’s Panoply by Anne Hamilton.

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Waking up in Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski

Publisher: Howard Books. A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publisher’s Summary
The remarkable story of a woman, plagued with guilt and skepticism, dramatically changed by the nine minutes she spent in heaven.
“God let me see me through His eyes. And in that instant I knew that God had always loved me, through all of those dark and difficult years when I doubted His existence, through every crisis and every heartbreak that made me turn away from Him more. I knew, in that instant, that His love was endless and boundless, and that if He loved me so much, how could I not love myself?”
For most of her life, Crystal McVea was a skeptic whose history of abuse and bad choices made her feel beyond the reach of God–who questioned if God was even real. She had all but given up hope. Then came December 10, 2009–and the moment that changed everything.
For nine minutes that night, Crystal went into full respiratory arrest. She was unconscious and unable to breathe on her own, unaware of the crisis happening around her as the hospital staff rushed to save her life. Crystal doesn’t remember the trauma or losing consciousness; she just remembers waking up in heaven, next to God.
Waking Up in Heaven invites readers to witness the relentless pursuit of God in a life that was broken and seemingly beyond hope, an awe-inspiring account of love, forgiveness, and redemption, and the healing power of God’s presence.
Waking Up in Heaven is the story of Crystal McVea, the day she died for nine minutes, went to heaven, and stood before God. In this remarkable autobiography, Crystal shares her experience of walking with God towards the gates of heaven – a place so full of light and love that she did not want to leave. But Crystal was miraculously revived and came back to consciousness in a hospital room surrounded by doctors, nurses and her own mother. Previously a sceptic with a dark, troubled past, Crystal’s encounter with God made her a believer. In Waking Up in Heaven, Crystal toggles back and forth between her experience in heaven and her life story, both the good and the bad, in the hope of spreading God’s message of love and redemption.
Review by Hazel Barker
Waking up in Heaven is a redemptive story depicting God’s love and patience. Crystal McVea writes about God chasing her in one of her bleakest moments – something He does time and time again.
She also states, ‘It was God taking the very things the enemy used to try and destroy me – anger, bitterness, self-hatred – and instead saving me and showing me He is real.’
The story is a faith-enriching one and relates her near-death experience but barely touches on what the title leads us to expect – Heaven itself although the author does feel God’s presence. The book is disappointing for those drawn to it in the hope of sharing her experience of Heaven.
I read the book because my brother also had a near-death experience and saw lights. He heard heavenly music and felt peaceful. Unfortunately, the vision didn’t bring him closer to God. Perhaps someday…
The author asserts that the medical profession attribute such phenomenon to lack of oxygen and that when the heart stops beating, the brain loses oxygen and can trigger memories of the past, and bright lights appear. Whatever cynics may say, if such an experience leads to conversion, then surely it’s due to God’s mercy.
The story tends to bore the reader because of the continual switching back and forth in time and the constant repetitions.
Despite its drawbacks, Waking up in Heaven has many interesting sections on child molestation and sexual abuse. Reading the book may warn us of dangers facing younger members of our family.


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