How did you become a Christian?
I was brought up in a Christian home. When I was 2 years old my father left his job to start living by faith, depending on God for his income, and we moved into a Christian community. We were pretty much in different types of Christian community from then until I got married and left home. So worship of God, bible studies, church, all that was part of my life from the very beginning. I was christened as a baby and confirmed in the Anglican church in grade 5.
But it wasn’t until my parents joined YWAM when I was in grade 6 that I realised that this life, this faith, was a 24/7 thing. Before then I would try to get away with things on the ‘off days’. But living in a monastery with 150 people who were all determined to follow the Lord as missionaries brought me to a new understanding of what Christianity could be.
I think pretty much all my childhood and into my twenties, if there was an altar call somewhere then I would go up the front for prayer. I knew I was following God but I still responded again and again and again.
But when we were in my twenties my siblings and I we started to differentiate from our parents. Various hard things happened, I won’t go into them here, and my older brother and younger sister started to turn away from the Lord. I realised that I needed to make a decision here. It was time for a line in the sand. I needed to either go God’s way, or go my own. I couldn’t keep prevaricating.
So I chose God, and as a sign of that I got baptised in a swimming pool. And I needed that line because now if I’m tempted to turn away from God I’m reminded that I made that decision, fully, and I am committed to God until the day I die.
So it was a long journey of development and growing up.
What do you do for a job?
This is also a difficult question. So much of your identity is tied up in your work, isn’t it?
I might go through my job history.
I started after school as a check-out chick, then worked as a bank teller. Then got married at age 19 and had our daughter 18 months later. I really wanted to be a stay at home mum so I did that, and I sold Amway, and cleaned houses, and worked as a family day carer to try to help with family finances. Our son was born three years after our daughter. And after that I suffered from postnatal depression and because of that I went to uni.
At uni I studied science, chemistry, and I loved it. I loved it so much that I went on to do a PhD and I used to joke that inside the stay at home mum was a career woman dying to get out. The opposite, I think, to how it goes for many women.
I worked as a lecturer and researcher for eight years after the completion of my PhD but four years into that I realised that what I really wanted to do was write for a living. I wanted to become an author.
And that’s the journey I’ve been on since.
So now, I work as an author, I’m working on my fourth novel right now. I am self-published and you can find my work on Amazon, Apple Books, or Kobo under the author name RJ Amos. Those are clean cosy mysteries and there’s a new one coming out soon that’s romantic suspense. I also have written a memoir/self-help book under the name Ruth Amos and you can find that on Amazon or on the Koorong website.
And of course, there is this podcast, and my blog A Quiet Life Blog on wordpress or you can find it on ruthamos.com.au.
So far my novels are paying for themselves but I’m not yet making a living from my writing, so as well as writing I also run my own editing business. And I like that because it helps me stay in touch with the scientific side of myself. I edit scientific manuscripts to improve the English in them. I like to work with scientists from non-English speaking backgrounds. But to tell the truth, I edit anything anyone gives me right now. Technical papers, scientific papers, annual reports, whatever.
I am working from home, which I love. Totally.
People have asked if I always wanted to be an author but I don’t know if that’s true. Books and reading have been so much a part of me that I thought that everyone wanted to be an author. I really didn’t start to realise that this was my dream until a good friend told me that it wasn’t hers. And then I realised that maybe it was a true dream.
But I have always wanted to work from home. And I’m loving doing that now. I love sitting in my little office with the pin board up on the wall with encouraging things stuck up on it and pottering away at my desk, writing or chatting to you guys like I am now.
So if you want to make me happy you can send me a little card to stick up on my pin board.
The other thing I love about the work I’m doing now is that it’s flexible so I can fit in the other ministry things that I want to do as well. I think having parents who worked in Christian ministry all my life, this is what feels right to me. It’s what I love to do.
So as well as writing, and chatting, and editing, I also have coffees with people. These ladies are my friends and I love to chat with them. We support each other. And it’s a joy. But I also feel like it’s a ministry that God has called me to. And this podcast is part of that ministry. It’s a way that I can have coffee with you, yes, you, without going mad because I’m trying to have coffee with a zillion people.
Another way I share my faith through my work is through what I write. You might remember the chat I had with Wendee where we talked about the difference between being a Christian author, and an author who is a Christian. Well, my mysteries definitely fall into the latter category, but I still try to share my worldview through them, normalising Christians (Alicia, my main character goes to church), and showing the value of people, and keeping the content clean.
My blog is definitely Christian, but I’m interested in how many non-Christians, or even people who describe themselves as anti-religion will still read it. It’s such a blessing to me that I can share with these friends, some of whom live in other countries, and share God with them.
When do you feel close to God?
One of the times I feel close to God is at church. If I’m struggling with something, or sad, or emotional and I go to worship then that time of worship always breaks down the barriers and I usually cry. Also in that time of worship when I feel the Spirit moving I might dance too. I’ve always danced in worship, since I was very little. I’m really grateful that my parents encouraged that. I haven’t had a lot of training and I’m the least flexible person that you’ll meet but dancing is for me a way of communicating with the Spirit.
I remember once when a friend of mine was dying, she came to church and I felt that the dance I did in worship was for her. It’s a very strong form of emotional and spiritual communication that goes behind the barriers that we put up in our minds.
Anyway, also at church I feel close to God when I take communion. We go to an Anglican church and our communion service means that we go forward and kneel to take bread and wine (or grape juice) and that physical movement of going forward and kneeling makes me feel close to God.
And I talk with God all the time. Pretty much anytime my brain isn’t busy with reading, or writing, or watching TV, or scrolling social media (that’s a lot of busy times) then I get into conversation with God, tell him how I’m feeling. Ask him for stuff. And often he puts a person on my heart, like I just find myself thinking about them all the time, and I have worked out that I should always pray for someone if that’s happening, whether I know something’s going on in their lives or not.
I love to talk with God when I’m walking on the beach. The beach is a really special place for me. Sometimes I really need the rolling waves, sometimes I need the quiet lapping water. But it’s just a place of peace and joy for me. So walking on the beach is another time that I feel very close to God.
What’s one thing about God and Christianity that you wish everyone knew?
I wish everyone knew that God is real. I see a lot of spirituality around the Western world and it’s sort of nimbi-pambi take what you like and leave the rest, if it’s good for you, then you do it stuff.
But we can’t treat spirituality like that because God is real. We can’t take parts of him and leave parts because it’s like cutting off your own arm. He’s not a theory, he’s not an idea, he’s a real person, actual God.
And for those who don’t live in the super materialistic society, they need to know that God is real so that they have someone onside to fight for them in their spiritual battles.
So yes, God is real. God is love. And, you know, the whole gospel.
And that doing things God’s way is good. He sets out a way of living that our society says is restrictive and harsh but actually, if you live by his rules, it’s good. It’s not just holy or right, it’s good like honey is good, like secure relationships and joyful community is good. It’s good to live his way.
So that’s me. That’s what I have to say in answer to the questions that I ask. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to my voice and next week we will have another interview for you.