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Open Diary


When Julie Hall took a step of faith, God answered her prayer for a new direction in life


It’s


up the courage to venture out on my own and explore Kampala and further afield.


too late


Above my bedroom door hangs a vintage painted sign that I cannot fail to see every morning when I get up to start my day; it reads: “It’s never too late to become who you were meant to be”. When I first bought this sign over a year ago I wanted to believe it, but now I know it is true. Approaching my 50th birthday, I found myself


battling a low-level depression brought on by various factors: an empty nest, a move to a new area and a general feeling of displacement. Who was I? What was my purpose now? Which fork in the road should I take? I’m not usually a fan of self-help books, but


I found myself drawn to a couple of titles and through them God told me that to help myself I should help others. I felt that I should seek to be a miracle for someone else, instead of waiting for my own miracles, and – perhaps


the most important message for me at that time – that I should go ahead, in faith, despite


the fears that would normally hold me back. So early one cold November morning, I found


myself at Gatwick airport heading for Uganda, to volunteer for a month at Sanyu Babies’ Home, a Christian orphanage that I had come across through researching non-profit, ethical


volunteering projects online. I had had only e-mail contact with Barbara, the director of the organisation, but I knew it was where I should be. Some family and friends questioned my sanity, but my two daughters told me they were proud of me and encouraged my sense of adventure. I arrived in Uganda in the early hours of the


morning, to an overwhelming blanket of heat and noise. I had been prepared for some level of culture shock, but not for how homesick I would feel. England – and home – seemed a very long way away. However, after a couple of days getting to know


the children and staff (local and other volunteers), establishing my own routine in the orphanage, and creating a temporary home out of my basic accommodation, I finally settled in. I even plucked


As I got to know the staff and the babies in our care, I realised the wisdom of that earlier advice: it really is true that when you give of yourself, you feel better about yourself. However, what I hadn’t expected was a deeper blessing for me personally, as God confirmed for me a new purpose for my own life. Before I left home, I had decided to write


a daily journal about my experiences to show my daughters on my return home. Barbara saw me scribbling away and asked if I’d like to volunteer in the office, as well as with the babies. Soon, I was updating handbooks, writing reports and preparing articles to submit to the charity’s newsletter. I rediscovered my love of writing that had got buried over the years by careers, marriage and caring for my family. Suddenly, I knew without any shadow of doubt that God was telling me to use the


It really is true that when you give of yourself, you feel better about yourself


gift he had given me – and not just for that month in Africa, but also when I got home. Back in England, I got involved in a local


creative writing group and took an online diploma in freelance features journalism. I set goals and almost immediately started to see results and my name in print. But, thrilling as these small publishing successes were, I soon realised writing was proving to be a good therapy for me. The more I wrote, the more deep-seated issues (bereavement, divorce, unfulfilled dreams) surfaced. I have been able to help myself –


and others – by exploring these issues through the written word, and I am confident that I now have a powerful tool to guard against any future threat of depression. I thank God that he knew it was not too late for me to rediscover my gift of writing, nor to use it to praise him and to serve others. I would like to encourage others to


have faith and trust in God’s perfect plan, and to know that it is never too late to become the person you were meant to be.


womanalive October 2015 37


never


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