Last week while sick in bed I had the pleasure of diving into the new book by Deborah Kirsten, wife of Gary, called Chai Tea and Ginger Beer. My unexpected journey… Cricket, Family And Beyond.
I love reading, especially auto-biographies and biographies, but with all the other pressures of life I seldom get the chance to spend a whole day indulging in a book so it was really great to have some uninterrupted time to get stuck into her story. And I was really grateful that I didn’t have to put it down for a few hours as that would have been really difficult, so captivating was the read!
I found the book to be really well written and full of insights into her family and faith. And once I closed the final pages I felt really encouraged and inspired to live my own best story too.
To find out a bit more about Debbie, her book and her life I asked her a few questions. Read on to find out more about her…
Debbie please tell me more about yourself and what you currently do?
I am a mother of three (which every mom will know doesn’t allow too much time to do too much else!) and am married to Gary who is an ex-cricket player and a cricket coach.
We live in Cape Town, but thanks to cricket have spent much time traveling all over the world. For several years we even lived with one foot in South Africa and another in India!
I’m a complete creative – rather messy, a touch disorganized and I love cooking, painting and writing. I love to put colour into everything and even have a purple couch!
For several years I worked as a freelance journalist and last year began the mammoth task of writing my first book. With the book having just hit the shelves, I feel like I have given birth to a fourth child – and with another ‘child’ comes a whole string of new demands… So what do I currently do? Juggle the demands of our home, three very lively children, an extremely busy husband and a new book. It’s fun and games!
When did you know this is what you wanted to do (eg. writing the book)? What inspired you to write your first book?
I think most writers, whether you’re a journalist, a blogger or simply just love writing, dream about one day writing a book. My dad, Michael Cassidy, is an author and has written many books. He always encouraged me and believed that I would one day follow in his footsteps, but I don’t think I really ever believed that I could do it. It’s funny how often we are the last person to believe in ourselves! In the end it was my publishers, Struik, who approached me one day after I had delivered a talk somewhere. Suddenly, from that moment, I began to believe that I could make my dream a reality!
What did you study – was it in this field or something different? What path has your career taken prior to this?
From the time I was a little girl I knew I wanted to teach, I was passionate about teaching and education. I studied Primary Education at UCT and even went on to do my Masters in Education, but after my studies I met Gary and really wanted to find a more flexible career than teaching, something that would enable me to travel with him. This is when I launched into a new career in journalism. I was fortunate to get a job as a food and travel writer for a top SA lifestyle magazine (what could have been more perfect?) I started to write and take the photographs for my columns. I fell in love with writing in a whole new way.
I still miss teaching and when I get the opportunity to teach, be it to adults or children, I still love it!
What’s been the best part of writing this book?
The best part of writing this book is the personal journey that it has taken me on. Writing this book has helped me believe that I actually do have a story worth telling. Believing in the value of our own story is a strong message that I try to convey throughout the book. Many of us, especially us women, don’t believe that our own story is worth telling, we don’t value our story enough and in turn don’t value ourselves the way we should. I’ve had to overcome many insecurities about my own story and finding the courage to tell it, to show up and to be real. It has been daunting to say the least, but also incredibly liberating!
And the most challenging part?
Apart from just simply finding the self belief to do it and to be so vulnerable, the hardest part was definitely juggling kids and trying to work with constant interruptions!
What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
Now post-writing the book, there has been a lot of PR work and marketing work (just when I thought I could put my feet up!)
My day begins like most other mothers – 6am, coffee always comes first! Then it’s lunch boxes, sports clothes in tog bags, jungle oats on the stove or smoothies in the blender. Sometimes I confess a fair bit of shouting and craziness accompanies the morning regime. I find the mornings are tough – especially if Gary is away.
My aim, even if it is short, it to try and get in a quick quiet time somewhere in the early morning, this usually has to happen before kids wake up or it just doesn’t happen. I read my bible and commit the day to the Lord – even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes, it makes a big difference to my day. I don’t always win at this, it’s a constant struggle, but I do try.
Once kids are deposited at school I will often try to get a quick run in, it clears my head and does wonders for my mental space.
I max out my work in the mornings as for the most part its pretty much all I have – at the moment its meetings, interviews, speaking engagements or emails.
Come lunch time free time is over and I’m back on the move fetching or carrying kids around.
My laptop travels around with me and I steal moments to get snippets of work done – yesterday it was watching kids at a cricket match and then on to a soccer practice!
The evenings are as chaotic as the mornings – I hate dragging my kids in from the garden to do homework – surely kids were never designed to do homework after a whole day of school?! In our home we like to make supper something special and it’s a great time to connect with the kids. I love cooking, but I’ll confess mid week meals are far from gourmet…Most often we will all eat together as a family but sometimes Gary and I will wait until the kids are sleeping to enjoy a quiet meal and a glass of wine together.
How did you come up with the title?
With much difficulty. Originally I was thinking of something along the cricket lines…Opening Partner, My Spin on the ball…something like that. But in the end it just felt too cheesy, just not quite me. Yes, there’s a lot about Gary and cricket in the book, but in the end, I felt it important to own my own story and make the title more ‘me’.
If you read the book you will see how these two elements come into it: the ginger beer symbolizes home, family and the roots from which we all grow and the chai tea all the exotic flavours in the book – the travel and most especially our time in India (there is a blurb on the back cover that explains this in more detail.)
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I could write another whole book about what I learnt from writing this book. But a few things that come to the top of my mind…
• Nothing good comes easily – hard work and sacrifice are behind most of the really significant things we will achieve in our life.
• Each one of us has a story and that story matters and is worth telling and sharing with others.
• Keep our eyes focused on the Lord and our ears open to His voice. As Mother Theresa says, “I am but the pen in God’s hand, He is the real Author of my story.”
• Keep searching for and discovering the unique role that God has assigned each one of us in His Great Story. When we tap into our calling and God’s greater purposes for our lives and when we begin to use our God-given talents, then we start to live a story that is so much more meaningful and filled with purpose and passion.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I hope that all the stories and anecdotes will touch readers in different ways – whether they pick up a message around marriage or family, faith or friendship, I am hoping that between these pages there will be something for everyone. I am hoping that people will see their own stories in my stories and be encouraged in some way.
However, most definitely a big message of the book is about valuing our own story.
I think in some ways the last few paragraphs of the book speak into this message:
I believe that God intends for each one of us to live a more purposeful story and He offers to guide us towards the much Greater Adventure of His Story.
How wonderful it is when we make the choice to live a better story, and how glorious a better story shines!
A great story is made up of many smaller ones. Some are about home, happiness and love. The pages sing with exciting journeys and colourful characters. Yet alongside these there will always be stories that are harder to read. These are the ones that talk of loneliness, they tell of tragedies and paint portraits of pain.
But a story would not be complete without all of its chapters. In the end it’s these parts that make it whole. And they’re all woven together by common threads: there is risk, there is resistance, there is often sacrifice, and there is always fear. But if we choose not to be overcome by any particular part of our story – to keep writing even when the risk or sacrifice are overwhelming or the fear consuming, we may just realize our part in God’s Story. This is when our seemingly small stories will give breath to great stories, which in turn give life to greater stories.
Here’s hoping that the next one is yours.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Traveling Light by Max Lucado
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think I have learnt that stories are the currency of human contact, they are the way we connect with one another and there is incredible power in a story. Find the stories and tell the stories honestly. If you’re real, people will be interested in reading what you write.
Do you have any key advice for other moms trying to achieve their own dreams while raising a family?
It’s got to be the toughest thing ever! When we are passionate about our children and committed to supporting our husbands juggling family life becomes a pretty full-time job and there is often very little space, time or energy left for ourselves.
For women life happens very much in seasons and we need to accept this and work around it. The season of having babies and rearing young children isn’t always the best one in which to pursue our goals and dreams. But this passes and kids grow up and following our own dreams and calling, and using the gifts that God has given us will give us a deep sense of purpose in our lives. So I believe when the season is right, one must work hard to make these happen.
As mothers we often lose our confidence in the area of work and fear can be an overriding factor preventing us from achieving our dreams. We need to find ways to overcome this. We were have an important role to play in God’s Great Story and we need to believe this and live like we believe it.
Ditch the guilt, ditch the fear and go for it!
As a mom how do you get the balance between your family and career life right? Your tips and tricks?
Again, this is a constant struggle and I’m really not sure I always get this one right. The last year of writing a book was incredibly tough on the family and I’m not sure I struck the balance very well.
I think we always need to keep in sight what are the most important priorities in our lives. For me these are relationships, first with the Lord, then with my husband and then with my kids.
The greatest disservice we can do our children is not to look after our marriages, so I believe this should always be at the top of our list. It’s so easy when life gets busy with work and other demands to put our husbands at the end of the queue.
I think being intentional about our lives and what our diaries look like is important. Our diaries will quickly tell us what our priorities are. We need to make time for those things in our lives which are most important.
What do you do for fun in your down time?
My best is to go out to dinner with Gary. Trying a new restaurant is such fun and we’re spoilt for choice in Cape Town with so many beautiful places.
Probably my favourite past time is to get into my art studio and paint. I also love to pop my running shoes on and head out for a bit of exercise.
I enjoy cooking and I really love hanging out with my girlfriends – girlfriends are the bomb and I couldn’t do life without them!
What do you still want to achieve?
Whew – there’s a tough question…Sometimes I just feel like I want to get through the day!
I think I would like to write another few books in my lifetime.
Minister into the lives of women.
Get my house tidy and clear out the clutter.
Have an art exhibition.
Keep listening to God and follow where He leads me…
WOW see what I mean – so inspiring. You really want to read the book now don’t you! And I can highly recommend it. The best news is that I’m giving one away to a lucky Becoming you reader!! Read on below the pic to find out how to enter…
One lucky Becoming you reader will WIN a signed copy of Deborah Kirsten’s book called Chai Tea & Ginger Beer.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
Images: Deborah Kirsten