My Chaos Theory  Sydney Avey

Chaos is an element of most transitions. My husband and I live two lives.  Half the year we shelter under the California Gold Country oak and pine trees in the shadow of Yosemite’s granite cliffs.  The other half a year we settle into Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, nestled up against the White Tank Mountains. In California, I sing on a praise team in a small community church. In Arizona, I sing with a fifty-voice choir in a large Presbyterian church. The Phoenix area offers resources we don’t have in Groveland—recreation centers, accessible shopping, theaters, medical centers, a university, and an airport. Groveland offers rural peace and a close community.

As we pack to leave, I am re-launching my first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, and readying the house for six very welcome houseguests (family) who will visit until departure day. When stress over deadlines mounts, I remind myself that I chose a life that supports my work, not work to support my life. A bit of chaos is good for creativity.

The contrary nature of chaos

Recently I asked some friends to pray for me. Their prayers changed my approach to dealing with stress.The very act of requesting prayer helped me articulate the real need, and the answers I received were refreshingly counterintuitive. Contrary to popular wisdom, striving isn’t always the answer. Here is what I learned:

  1. Cease your striving.I reset my internal clock, which runs fast, to be more in tune with God’s timing. Facing anxiety over being in the public eye, my prayer is “Lord, make me dwell in safety.” NIV Ps. 4:8b (Courtesy of a prayer partner.)
  2. Bigger effort doesn’t always yield better results. A prayer partner reminded me of the fishermen who struggled with more than they could handle. They asked their partners in other ships to come help and both ships benefitted. Power is available to us when we do it God’s way.
  3. Learn to wait. Creativity consultant Dan Blank cautions artists to spend the majority of their time improving their craft and helping people connect with the soul of their work. Trying to master every promotion strategy is time misspent. Amen!
  4. Stop pushing and let some things go. It is easy to say it is all in God’s hands. His timing is perfect. It is harder to see a publication date slip and not want to do something about it. If my identity is truly in Christ, I need to trust that it is Christ who is in the details, not the devil. If I identify first as being in Christ then I shouldn’t stress over my identity as a writer. That takes a lot of pressure off!
  5. Count God faithful.I had a moment when I was solving one tough technical problem after another and God said, “See? You couldn’t have done this four years ago.” He brought to my mind his faithfulness. As we push through chaos, it is good to acknowledge how far we’ve come, and count God faithful.

Sydney Avey write historical fiction novels about dynamic women in changing times. In each of her books, small graces foster hope and and give people courage to step over uncertainty and continue the journey. She is the author of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, The Lyre and the Lambs, and. coming in February 2018, The Trials of Nellie Belle.

Sheep Walker’s Daughter

When Dee Moraga’s secretive mother dies in the 1950s, Dee gives up hope of ever learning her father’s identity. But a series of puzzling discoveries causes her to reconsider. Why did her mother send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? And what does the Anglican priest who shows up at her door know about her cultural heritage that he isn’t telling? A tribute to the resilience of immigrant families, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter pairs one fractured family’s history of loss, survival, and tough choices with one lonely woman’s search for reconnection.

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Sydney Avey, Author
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing novelist Sydney Avey. I had the pleasure of getting to know Sydney through the American Christian Fiction Writers San Francisco Bay Area chapter. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her too!

Sydney, please tell us about your novel The Sheep Walker’s Daughter.

When Dee loses hope of ever knowing her heritage, a series of puzzling discoveries cause her to reconsider. Why did her mother send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? And what does the Anglican priest who shows up at her door know that he isn’t telling?

Sydney Avey, Author

Sydney Avey, Author

What inspired you to write this book?

At the end of her life, my mother confessed that she had concealed her heritage. Her father was a Polish Jew. I wanted to understand what motivates people to hide their heritage and what we lose when we don’t know our family history. Read More →

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The Naked-Fear Dream By Sydney Avey

Dreams come out our deepest anxieties. In a classic fear dream, you stand naked in a public place and no one hands you a cover-up. Often this dream calls you to face the unknown with a sense of confidence.

It was not my dream to sing on a praise team. I’ve been hiding in the church choir for years, but our choir aged and our numbers shrank. When the choir disbanded, I found myself on a small worship team…behind a microphone…in front of guitars and drums. Now I could really be heard!

Praise music and hymns have different rhythms. Contemporary worship songs go places I can’t always predict. It’s a challenge to invite our congregation into an experience I’m unsure about. Like a job retraining program, it requires new ways of thinking.

One Sunday after I’d missed rehearsal, a string of unfamiliar words appeared on the screen. I had no idea how to sing them. A still, small voice whispered, “Give yourself to the music. It’s a conversation. Sing it that way.”

In business, we refer to that sudden clarity as a paradigm shift. A song vocalized in a conversational tone instead of poetic meter becomes an informal prayer. One musical expression isn’t inherently better than the other. They are different worship experiences.

Singers unsure of their voices often step back from the microphone. “Lean into the mic,” our worship leader says. “The farther away you get, the more the sound distorts.”

As a writer I’ve learned when I step back in fear, my writing loses power. But I can lean in with confidence,  “…for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very time what you should say” (Luke 12:12 NIV). The Naked-Fear Dream no longer has the power, I do.

Sydney Avey, Author

Sydney Avey, Author

Sydney Avey is the author of three historical fiction novels that explore the passions that drive women to live unconventional lives. She enjoys theater, travel, and choral singing. She and her husband divide their time between the Sierra foothills near Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

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John Vonhoff, host of Writers and Authors On Fire, interviews CAN members

Writers and Authors On Fire Podcast

Host, John Vonhoff, discusses writing, writing life, writing lessons, and the best tips to be a successful author with his guests.

Listen to episodes below by clicking on the link.

 

  • Cheri Cowell is an accomplished author, speaker, and owner of EABooks Publishing.
  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson is the author of Hope Prevails, a book about depression.
  • Sydney Avey writes literary fiction about the human experience.
  • Jane Daley has written two nonfiction books about life’s hard issues.
  • Sherry Kyle is an author of novels for women and books for tween girls.
  • Crystal Bowman is a children’s author with over 100 books written.
  • Torry Martin is a Christian sketch writer/scriptwriter, who also writes humor and nonfiction books.
  • Mona Hodgson Historical fiction and children’s book author talks about these two exciting genres.
  • Karen Whiting is an author of 21 books and 600+ articles, and writes for children, moms, and families.
  • Sarah Sundin Author of WWII historical romance fiction.
  • Angela Breidenbach writes historical and contemporary romance and non-fiction is intent on growing.
  • Kathy Ide Editor and nonfiction author.
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