31 December 2016

What Is My Legacy?

I spent nearly an hour or so this morning watching a BBC programme about people who had passed away in 2016. There were, as you might imagine, quite a lot of names. And the list wasn't even complete. There were other names that they didn't mention, that I knew about, that I recognised as people that had influenced me, had helped me form my world view.  Kind of hard to keep up with all that had happened, I suppose...

And with each of the names there was a sentence or two, summarising what they had done, what they had left behind them. Their legacy to the world.

And it got me thinking... what would my legacy be?

OK, so I don’t need to be a rock star, a terrific actor or a tech genius to make a difference: it’s not about the money. It certainly isn't about the fame. It is all about how we - you and I - can touch other people’s lives. And make them better.

So, with all that I do, is it enough? As altruistic as I believe I am, am I actually doing good?

One Hundred Years from Now
(An excerpt from “Within My Power” by Forest Witcraft)
One hundred years from now
It will not matter
What kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money was in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a better place because
I was important in the life of a child.

Or an adult. Or a person who was in need.

Happy New Year.  What do you want your legacy to be?

2 December 2016

Are You A Dummy?



“There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”
Grandpa George, from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Roald Dahl (2005 film)

16 November 2016

Mockers

Proverbs 9:7 (NIV)
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

I am really sorry. I was only trying to offer help in that situation.

However, all that you could offer to the conversation were jokes and insults. Did that make you feel big, trying so hard to make me look so small?

You made me angry. And you made me sad.

The anger subsided pretty quickly. The sadness is still hanging around, trying to overwhelm me.

Lord, help me to forgive.

1 October 2016

Poker Face

I'm pretty good at adopting a 'poker face'. Yeah, just like you're supposed to use in the card game, but in my case is not for financial gain, or even to help with your love life (like Lady Gaga). No, this is a self-preservation trait that I found myself using quite a lot...

Because sometimes I simply can't show what I'm thinking when other people are around. It simply wouldn't be polite, for starters. Speaking my mind would get me into far more trouble that I'd like. So I clam up.

But I know I have a problem with this.

Because I really struggle with letting it out later and dealing with it. Keeping it locked up within is simply bad for my health.

Take the other week. I was so angry about something that had happened, that it got to the stage that I simply could not think straight. It took all the strength and determination I had to sit there and endure, repressing my negative feelings because it wasn't an appropriate moment to share them. It wouldn't have been the right time.

So I had to 'suck it up'. Bury it. Put on the mask. Wear that poker face...

But was it easy to try and get it out of my system once everyone had disappeared? Nope.

And I know I have to rid myself of the bitterness... it can't sit there, unresolved. It took about an hour or two of intense examination and deliberate refocussing of my feelings in order to get back on an even keel.

****************************

Father, I acknowledge that I've held resentment and bitterness against the person who made me feel that way. I confess this as sin and ask you to forgive me. I forgive (the person). Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask you to also forgive them.

Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen.








28 September 2016

Escaping Reality For A While

It was horrendous. Standing room only on the train this evening. Ugh!

Dozens and dozens of people, crammed together like sardines as the carriages lurched their way through the suburbs of South London. My arms ached with the strain of keeping myself still, as the movement of the train threatened to throw me into the lap of a fellow commuter. My legs ached as I strained to keep upright after a full day at work. No seat for me on the way home tonight. Yes, they'd cancelled the train before, overloading the next service that came in. The lack of personal space, of the comfort of seating, of fresh air, of any privacy at all.  It's simply the worst part of travelling in the London rush hour. I would rather be anywhere else.

And so, that's what I did.

I shut the rest of the world out. I imagined myself in the middle of a field somewhere, miles from anywhere. I could see the green grass, the trees, a stream off into the distance. A cool breeze gently brushed against my cheek. There was the sight of birds soaring in the sky, of rabbits under the hedgerows. Not another soul for miles around. Certainly, miles away from where I was at the moment...

It helped for a while. And they say there's no place for imagination in today's world.

I wouldn't leave home without mine.

4 September 2016

Odd Timing Or Perfect Timing?

I was sitting in my car, talking to a friend about God's calling on our lives. Oddly, it was 3.30 in the morning. Not really the ideal time and place for such a conversation, you might think. Not in human terms. But was this God's moment?

I would hope so. A good time to ask the question:

Is this my purpose in life?

Or in spiritual terms, a better question would be "Is this God's purpose for my life?"

It's a good thing, I suppose, to constantly keep our motives under scrutiny. Bringing our purposes constantly before God, asking him to double-check why we do what we do.
  • Is this what you want me to do?
  • Is this for personal gain?
  • Is this for fame?
One of the first starting places for anyone's personal 'search for purpose' is the question, "why am I here?" So why was I sitting in that car with my friend at that time in the morning? We had just completed five hours of voluntary work. I was driving her home afterwards.

The person concerned was also seeking a similar confirmation. She was asking the Lord the question "should I stay or should I go?"

She asked me what I thought. I think I gave her a valid answer from my personal experience..

Because I've asked myself the same sort of question before. I still do. Over and over again.

Am I doing what God wants me to do, here, in this situation?  Should I stay, or should I go? Is this God's purpose for my life?

Not for weight of glory, nor for crown and palm,
Enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth lives for whom He died:
He whom Jesus nameth must be on His side.

lyrics by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)


31 August 2016

When To Fight

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I don't really like conflict. But sometimes, you simply have to fight for what you believe. You have to stand your ground. Or else, you'll end up losing that ground.

So, if I seem to be picking a fight, it's got to be because it's something I feel quite strongly about...

And yet, it's really difficult to work out when to fight and when not to fight.

Because I always seem to get it wrong. Or so I keep being told. Either I'm too 'laid back' or I'm too 'uptight'.

So, bear with me. And forgive me. Because I'm trying to get a balance. I'm trying to get it right. (sigh).

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:13 New International Version (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

29 August 2016

Should I Say Hello?



Find more doodles here: http://introvertdoodles.com/

The author of this website also has an Introvert Doodles book (currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble; on shelves December 2016).

27 August 2016

My Wife And I

My wife and I have been married now for 24 years. Christine and I tied the knot way back in 1992.

There have been good times, and there have been not so good times, between then and now. And a whole lot of things that have happened that we didn't reckon on all those years ago. In fact, surprises around every turn.

We've raised two children together, and I don't think we've done too badly, all in all.

We're not the young lovers that we were all those many years ago.

But we are still together.

And I'm very happy about that.

26 August 2016

Z is for Zouch

Zouch is a hamlet in south west Nottinghamshire. The nearest town is Loughborough. It only has a population of 53 people. There is a pub in the hamlet, the Rose and Crown.

The meaning of the name derives from the Old English term for "poor ground".

But how many other options did I have for Z?

25 August 2016

Y is for Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth, often known to locals as simply Yarmouth, is a coastal town in Norfolk, 20 miles (30 km) east of Norwich. The town has been a seaside resort since 1760, and so has a terrific maritime heritage. Admiral Lord Nelson was a frequent visitor to this busy port, where wealthy merchants built their houses.

Travel inland from the port and you will find mile after mile of slow winding rivers and unspoiled waterways. The rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney are an important part of the Broads National Park, which stretches for 125 miles over parts of Norfolk and into Suffolk.

24 August 2016

X is for Exeter

Exeter is a city in Devon, situated about 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Plymouth and 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Bristol.

The city dates back to Roman times, so there's plenty to see here, including its mysterious Underground Passages, the magnificent Cathedral, and the historic quayside. It's also a great place for food, with a thriving farmer's market and a variety of restaurants. The city is also only 10 miles from the coast, with a good selection of sand or pebble beaches to choose from.

23 August 2016

W is for Whitstable

Whitstable was recently christened 'Islington-on-Sea', reflecting its popularity with trendy Londoners who want to get away for the weekend. It's a seaside town in north Kent, situated 5 miles (8km) north of Canterbury.

Whitstable is famous for its oysters, which are celebrated at the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival. A variety of other seafood is also readily available. The town is a treasure to explore, with wonderful bookshops, art galleries, delicatessens and gift shops. There are a whole host of cafes, restaurants and pubs in the town.

22 August 2016

V is for Victoria Coach Station

Victoria Coach Station is the largest coach station in London, located right in the centre of the City of Westminster. It was opened in 1932 by London Coastal Coaches, a consortium of coach operators. The building is currently owned and operated by Transport for London.

It serves as a terminus for many long distance coach services in the United Kingdom. I still fondly remember using the station when I was younger, when I would set off around the country (cheaply!), exploring and meeting up with friends.

21 August 2016

U is for Uxbridge

Uxbridge is a town to the west of London, the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon. It's some 15 miles (24.1 km) from the centre of the capital. Historically, the town was part of the parish of Hillingdon in the old county of Middlesex, and was 'swallowed up' into London during the 20th century, finally forming part of Greater London in 1965.

Despite all the changes, the town remains a centre for working, shopping and entertainment. It is also the home of Brunel University (which is named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest British engineers of the 19th Century).

20 August 2016

T is for Truro

Truro is Cornwall's county town and only city - in fact, it is the most southerly city in mainland Great Britain. Its most striking feature is the Cathedral, dominating the local skyline with 250 foot high towers and Victorian stained glass windows.

As a market town, it's worth a look, as there are many lovely small shops to be found down its narrow streets, complementing the usual high street chains. 

19 August 2016

S is for Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue can be found right in the centre of London. The street itself is named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and was built in the late 19th century to provide an important connection in the heart of the capital. It's generally considered to be at the heart of modern London's West End theatre district.

However, during the last century, the area has also seen a considerable growth of Chinese residents, who set up their businesses in order to cater to Chinese sailors who were frequently in the docklands. Today, you can find London’s 'Chinatown' off of Shaftesbury Avenue, with over 80 restaurants offering London's finest and most authentic Asian cuisine - Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian and Taiwanese.

18 August 2016

R is for Royal Tunbridge Wells

Royal Tunbridge Wells (often shortened simply to Tunbridge Wells) can be found in west Kent, approximately 40 miles (64 km) south-east of central London.

The town first came to fame as a spa (do you notice a bit of a  trend here? It wasn't intentional when I started this year's list!) and the town remains a popular place to visit, deriving 30% of its income from the tourist industry. The town is often thought of as the stereotypical conservative "Middle England" town. Is this fair? Why not visit the place, and find out...

17 August 2016

Q is for Queenborough

Queenborough is a small town on the Isle of Sheppey, part of the county of Kent. Two miles (3.2 km) south of Sheppey's main town of Sheerness, the town soon developed as a port, as it is close to the Thames Estuary, where it joins the River Medway.

Queenborough Harbour still offers boat owners a useful base for cruising to or from the East Coast, London, Ramsgate or the Continent.

16 August 2016

P is for Portmeirion

Portmeirion was designed and built by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976, in the style of a Mediterranean village. He wanted to show how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. The results are truly spectacular.

The site has served as the location for numerous films and television shows (including Doctor Who), but is probably best known for being "The Village" in the 1960s classic television show The Prisoner.

The whole site is now a tourist attraction and is now owned by a charitable trust. It's located near to Porthmadog, in Gwynedd, North Wales.

15 August 2016

O is for the O2

The O2 is a large entertainment complex on the Greenwich peninsula in London. It was built largely within the former Millennium Dome, thus The Dome remains a name in common usage for the venue.

The site comprises an indoor arena, a music club, a cinema, an exhibition space, piazzas, bars and restaurants. The Arena alone has a capacity of up to 20,000 depending on the event, and is reportedly the busiest music venue in the world.

14 August 2016

N is for Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London. As the name suggests, it is home to some 80 million specimens, covering botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. That means it covers everything from dinosaurs to massive mammals, and even the smallest insect, so you really get a chance to explore the whole diversity of life on Earth.

The museum is recognised worldwide as a centre of research in these fields. However, remarkably, it does not charge an admission fee...

13 August 2016

M is for the Millennium Centre, Cardiff

The Welsh Millennium Centre is an arts centre in Cardiff. The 7.5 acre site contains a 1,900 seat lyric theatre, designed for opera, large scale musicals, ballet and contemporary dance – as well as a studio theatre, a dance house and orchestral hall.

The Centre has made numerous appearances in film and television including Doctor Who, as the latest series is produced locally by BBC Wales. The spin-off series Torchwood also features the Centre - in seasons 1 and 2 of the series, the team had their headquarters underneath the Water Tower in Roald Dahl Plass.

12 August 2016

L is for Llanberis

Llanberis is somewhere we only discovered last year. The village is right at the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. It's the home of the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that takes you right to the summit. It's a popular centre for walking, climbing, mountain biking and pony trekking as well as water sports.

However, my breath was taken away by the magnificent Llanberis Pass, a unique glaciated valley and world class climbing spot. The valley is narrow, straight and steep-sided, with rocky crags and boulders on either side of the road.

11 August 2016

K is for Keswick

Keswick is located in the Lake District, a mountainous region in North West England, which is renowned for its lakes, as well as its forests and fells.

The town originally became famous for its association with the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. As you might expect, the town has since become a major centre for tourism, with a wide range of attractions for visitors.

10 August 2016

J is for Jersey

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, but that just means it's 9 miles by 5 miles (14km by 8km). Although not strictly part of the United Kingdom, it falls under UK jurisdiction and the UK is constitutionally responsible for its defence. It is self-governing, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems, and the power of self-determination.

It's situated off the coast of Normandy, and as such is closer to France - 14 miles (22km) - than England - 100 miles (160km). The island's official language is English, and the cash machines dispense sterling - yet the streets are named in French. The island is a fascinating mix of English and French culture, and that makes it such a fascinating place to visit. Places to visit include the Durrell Wildlife Park and the Jersey War Tunnels, a former World War 2 underground military hospital...

9 August 2016

I is for Inverness

Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands, the northernmost city in the United Kingdom. It boasts a number of historic buildings and a good selection of shops in the town, the Victorian Market and the new Eastgate centre.

Dominating the City Centre's horizon, Inverness Castle (see picture) is impressively placed on the hillside, with the River Ness flowing immediately below it. There's been a castle on this site since the 12th century. The present castle is in fact used as a courthouse.

8 August 2016

H is for Harrogate

Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire. For centuries, visitors have flocked here to experience the local spa waters, a fact that has contributed significantly to the wealth of the town. Today, many also come to experience the local tea rooms, the scenery, the art galleries.

Something is obviously special about the place. Apparently, opinion polls have consistently voted the town as "the happiest place to live" in Britain.


7 August 2016

G is for Greenwich

Greenwich has played a significant role in the history of navigation and astronomy. The town was originally the site of a royal palace and was the birthplace of many Tudors, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The Royal Observatory that was established there in 1676 was commissioned by King Charles II for the special purpose of “rectifying the motions of the heavens and the places of the fixed stars and in order to find the desired longitude of places in order to master the art of navigation.”

The place gives its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and consequently to Greenwich Mean Time. The whole site is now maintained as a Heritage Centre and tourist attraction.

Being a mere 5.5 miles (8.9 km) from the City Centre, Greenwich is now a suburb of Greater London.

6 August 2016

F is for Fort William

Fort William is a major tourist centre in the Scottish Highlands. The town gets its name from William of Orange, a British king who ordered a garrison to be built here for the purpose of controlling the Highland Clans.

The town is a centre for climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. It also claims to be the UK's ‘Outdoor Capital’, boasting many long-distance hillwalking routes, woodland and canalside walks. It even has a downhill mountain bike track.

5 August 2016

E is for Enfield Town

Enfield Town started out as a small market town in the county of Middlesex. It was on the edge of the forest, about a day's travel north of London. As London grew, so did the town, and it has subsequently become a residential suburb, with fast transport links into central London.

The town is situated close to the A10 road (known locally as the Great Cambridge Road), that runs from London City Centre all the way to the Norfolk port of King's Lynn. Adjourning this important thoroughfare are a number of large retail outlets and a multiplex Cineworld cinema.

4 August 2016

D is for Dudley

Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands of England, 6 miles (9.7 km) south-east of Wolverhampton and 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Birmingham.

Dudley is sometimes known as the capital of what was known as "the Black Country", as the area was one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution, developing as an industrial centre in the 19th century with its iron, coal, and limestone industries. One of our favourite local attractions is the Black Country Living Museum, pictured above.

3 August 2016

C is for Canterbury

Most schoolchildren in the UK will be aware of Canterbury because of the city's reputation as a place of pilgrimage - many of us still remember struggling with Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as part of our English Literature studies...

Today, the Kentish city is still alive and bustling thanks to a variety of international visitors. It's less than an hour from both Central London and the Channel Tunnel. It boasts four universities, a modern theatre (named after local playwright Christopher Marlowe) and an art museum, plus so much more....

The jewel in the crown is of course Canterbury Cathedral, which dominates the medieval streets within the city walls. Today, the Cathedral is still an active place of pilgrimage; nearly 2,000 Services are held in the building each year, in addition to countless private prayers made by private individuals.


2 August 2016

B is for the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons is a beautiful and rugged area of  South Wales. It's a tremendous place for walking, with some spectacular views across the countryside.  The highest peaks in the area include Fan Brycheiniog to the west and Pen y Fan in the centre. The whole area is steeped in folklore - the Lady of the Lake legend from the story of King Arthur is said to come from Llyn-y-Fan Fach, the lake below the peak of Black Mountain, to the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. One the biggest draws is due to the fact that the whole area has been granted Dark Sky Preserve status. 

Due to the relative remoteness and harsh weather of some of its uplands, the National Park is also used for military training. UK Special Forces, including the SAS and SBS, hold demanding selection training exercises here.

1 August 2016

A is for Africa Alive!

Africa Alive! is one of our favourite zoos.  Formerly known as Suffolk Wildlife Park, it was purchased in 1991 by the owners of Banham Zoo, and both sites now form part of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, a registered charity.

The idea was to create an animal park close to the original zoo, without having to transfer animals over too long a distance. There are lions, giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, hunting dogs and many more animals and birds, all from the African continent.

It is situated off the A12 at Kessingland, 2 miles (3 km) south of Lowestoft, in Suffolk. The park is a firm favourite with my family.

31 July 2016

A-Z: Places To Go, People To See

It's that time again. August is just around the corner, and that's when I finally get a chance to drag myself away from the computer keyboard.

I always strive to allot some quality time to be with my family during this summer break. So, rather than not post anything, I like to use this opportunity to set myself a challenge - during August, to post an alphabetical listing on a particular topic. A, through to Z...

This year it's a list of memorable places, all of which are dotted around the United Kingdom. These are all places that I've been fortunate to visit over the years, to see with my own eyes. I hope some of these may be new to you, places well worth visiting

Have a terrific summer. I've got places to go, people to see...

27 July 2016

Don't you know that you're toxic?

Some people seem to be blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have. Or perhaps, they do, and they simply don't care.

They spread chaos, seemingly going out of their way to upset others, to 'push their buttons'. It's a laugh, they say. But I don't find it funny any more. Get me on a bad day, and I'd be quite vocal, I'd tell you that I'm quite fed up with it.

There's a name for these sorts of people. They call them toxic.

However, on pondering this for a while, I've come to the conclusion that it’s not actually that the person is toxic. And labelling them that way isn't helping...

It's the way they behave, their relationship with you that is the problem. It's the way that they seem to create drama, to manipulate or control others. Their choice of words, of actions

God give me wisdom, to deal with these people appropriately... and lovingly.

6 July 2016

Why Are You Angry?

I'm afraid I have to come back to that horrible subject again.
The subject? Anger.

And I keep asking myself the question - why is it that I keep finding myself coming back to this topic so often in this blog? What have I still to learn? What piece of the jigsaw have I yet to find?

Now, I know that some people think anger is simply a violent and explosive outburst.

Not usually for me. In my experience it's more inwards, a seething caldron of negativity. It festers, it lies there dormant, just under the surface. If I blow, it's usually after a few hours (even days!) fuming quietly to myself. How apt is the phrase, "The straw that breaks the camel's back." How horrible, if you're the one laying the straw...

I read the following quote today:
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
There’s a truth here.

So what am I angry at, at the moment?

* The tragic loss of a young life
* people who I know well who have lost their jobs in a recent reorganisation. I'm sad for them, going to miss them... 
* my own experience of what must be "survivor's guilt" as I still retain my job
* strong negative comments posted on Facebook from some close friends which threaten to pull me down. Why do they post such hateful things?
* thoughtless acts by people who should know better...

One way that people have recommended that I deal with this sort of anger is to "detach yourself from the emotion of anger itself... switch off and wait until the anger dissipates...."

Sorry, that doesn't work for me. I've tried it. It just leaves me numb. To all feelings, pleasure or pain...

I need to rid myself of the anger, not just the feelings. Praying into this tonight...

22 June 2016

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
(song by The Clash - written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones)

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, also known as the EU referendum, is scheduled to take place in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on 23rd June 2016.

That's tomorrow.

It's not my job to tell you what to vote. That's entirely up to you.

However, I would encourage you to read up on the facts, and not necessarily follow other people's opinions. There's plenty of opinion to be read out there. And not all of it is informed opinion. Some of the stuff we've read and heard is simply bickering, some of it even hateful or divisive propaganda. And I am afraid to say, some of it has been half-truths and even downright lies. Make your own mind up.

If you have a vote, please use it .. and use it wisely.

20 June 2016

Don't Mess With Mr In-Between

"You've got to accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
But don't mess with mister in-between"
(lyrics by Johnny Mercer, published in 1944)

Why is it that I always seem to come back to this old song?

Particularly today.

(Sigh)

2 June 2016

Controls

How I'd love to have a Fast Forward button ... one that will control my day.

You know, when everything just seems to move too slow. Why can't we just do it, get it done and out of the way? Why is it that others don't seem understand the urgency, the need to move quickly?

And yet... sometimes I need a Pause button.

When everything is going far too quickly, I need something that will give me a chance to stop, take a breather, and think it through. Take stock, make good decisions and not simply 'knee-jerk' reactions...

And then, I suppose, while I am thinking about it, I'd like a Rewind button.

It's so I could go back to a situation, and do it differently (somehow). Or perhaps I'd simply go back and experience it all again, but knowing what I know now...

But I don't have any of these controls. And life unfolds, one day at a time. We have one life to live.

Lord, give me wisdom.

Psalm 1: 1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

20 May 2016

Time For Myself

It's been an intense and busy week. Plenty happening, plenty to keep me buzzing, and one or two alarmingly long hours to boot. And busy is OK, once in a while.

But it's been a little too busy for the last week or two, to be honest.

It's Friday now and I'm feeling physically and mentally drained. The grey matter is definitely in need of a reboot!

I'm looking for a few minutes (if not hours) of some precious me-time over the weekend.

Which is something we all require from time to time. And I desperately need it now. Time to stop.

Here's a few quotes on the subject...

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It's like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That's a triumph.” - Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer

“Just five minutes, God, I chant like some hostage negotiator on the brink of a resolution. Five minutes alone. Please, please. Please.” - Shannon Celebi

“We need quiet time to examine our lives honestly and openly ... spending quiet time gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” - Susan L Taylor

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” - Mark 6: 31-32


18 May 2016

So Annoying

Let me tell you a bit about last Thursday.

The day became a bit of a battleground, I must admit. At the start of the week, over a hundred different problems stood in the way of me getting the following Friday off work.  You'll never make it, the little negative voice in my head said. I was suitably defiant.

By the time Thursday arrived, the barriers to getting my own way were down to a mere handful. The day was still far from easy, and definitely 'shots were fired'.  Nevertheless, I stood my ground, determined to see it through, ticking off one by one the urgent jobs that I had to get done; swerving the distractions and people who sought to derail my precious to-do list for the day.

Why did I need Friday off? Because it was the funeral of a very dear friend. I had feared that I was going to have to cry off, but I knuckled down. I went the extra mile and worked past my normal clocking-off time during the week so I could make it happen, as it was becoming increasingly clear to me that I should be there. I was so chuffed to leave my desk clear as I went home.

I raced home, and quickly changed so I could go out again and give blood. The donation session was booked at least 4 months before. No problem, no great concern, the day had been planned around it.

But the donation didn't happen. There wasn't enough iron in my blood. I mean, not anything to cause me medical issues, just not enough for the nurse to approve me to donate.

They measured it precisely. For anyone whose medically trained, apparently my Haemoglobin level needed to be 135g/l or over to donate.

It was 134. Argh!

No big deal, you might think. And you'd be right.

But it was so annoying. One point. One!

And I swear I could hear a cackling laugh in the background as I left the venue to drive home...

29 April 2016

Inside


I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

26 April 2016

Truth or Intuition?

I've just woken up from a rather fitful night's sleep.

There were so many images in my mind, many of them flashbacks from things that I had experienced the day before, but these were interspersed with all sorts of new things. Feelings, images.
  • Extrapolations on a theme?
  • My mind just wandering?
  • Or genuine intuition?

I can't say at the moment. I certainly can't tell you what was in those dreams...

But what was revealed was certainly enlightening. And disturbing.

:(

22 April 2016

Clickbait!

It's been quite a reflective week for me. And one where I've come to a couple of quite disturbing conclusions.

And it all started when I began to take a closer look at other people's blog posts and Facebook accounts, in order to review them for what we now call clickbait.

It's an internet term which is defined (Oxford University Press) as: content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.

Now, the idea is to drive traffic to your website, blog or even your Facebook wall by saying something deliberately outrageous or controversial.

The writer wants your reactions, because he wants you to click on their link or go to their site to read more; he wants you to make more and more comments. This all feeds into the stats to their site.

The problem comes with the fact that it's a form of manipulation. You're being played, enticed to learn more in a way that benefits the site owner. Any means is fair game, just as long as it works. Benefits may even be financial... some website owners get quite good money from advertising revenue from their website (I don't. I dislike advertising so don't want it on my blog).

However, I've discovered that it doesn't end there.

You can apply that same sort of thinking to other aspects of life.

In the past, I used to listen to a lot of talk radio, until I got so fed up of all the negativity that I used to hear. But now, I realise that many talk-show hosts are doing the self-same thing. Stirring up controversy just to build up listenership... 'clickbait' on the radio...

And I suppose that you see it on the front pages of the popular press, where controversial headlines are placed on the front page to increase readership. It's what they used to call 'yellow journalism', where a good headline will always take precedence over legitimate or well-researched news... or even the truth.  Anything just to sell papers. (sigh)

And today was the saddest realisation of all.

I realised that one of my colleagues was doing the exact same thing to me. Deliberately saying outrageous and offensive things to try and goad a reaction from me.

He didn't. However, it all came out tonight in a massive ball of rage, which I'm trying to channel into this blog post to get it out of my system before I go to bed tonight.

20 April 2016

Remedy For A Heavy Heart

Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Do you know what it's like to have a heavy heart?

A heart that is weighed down with problems, with the cares of this world. I'm reliably informed that the use of the term 'heavy' in the sense of 'weighed down with grief or sadness' has been around since 1300.

That's a lot of anxiety, over the years! And that's a big deal - because doctors believe that a high proportion of illness in our society is directly caused by anxiety.

And yet - 80% of the things that we worry about never, ever come to pass.

So, let's be encouragers, wherever and whenever we can. Sharing the weight where we can, lifting the burden with a kind word at the right time.

We've already got enough negativity in the world as it is - without adding to it.

(This is my thousandth post in this blog. Better make it a good one!)

14 April 2016

Target Setting - part two

(This is a follow-up of a post that I first made a while ago. Actually, it took me a bit of time and effort to find the earlier entry in this blog. Not surprising. I found out that it was, in fact, practically four years ago now. Wow! Here's the earlier post.... to save you guys having to look back!)

Four whole years have gone by ... and I notice that I ended the first post ... "There'll be more on this shortly."

Here's a follow-up.

It's a little late. I know... however, there's a good reason.

I got one huge nudge this week.

Here's what kicked this off, an ad at the railway station that I found...


And something resonated inside me. Pretty strongly. So much so, that I just had to blog this... linking it back to my previous post. It was all somehow connected...

Psalm 17:6-9 (NIV)
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.


11 April 2016

Walking Humbly

Micah 6:8 (NIV)
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.


'Nuff said. :)

4 April 2016

Putting It Off

I'm awfully good at finding things to do. However sometimes it's not that one job that I have to do.

That really can surprise people. Because I can be very productive when I turn my mind to it. When I'm 'in the zone', so to speak.

And there's the problem. Sometimes I really don't feel like it.

The best way that I can explain this is to go back to the ancient idea that inspiration for great work in the realms of literature or the arts only came from heaven. Try and force your way through a particular job without receiving a degree of divine inspiration - and you're sunk.
  • Sometimes I can't find my 'zone', no matter how hard I look for it.
  • If I am 'in the zone', then I need to start work now. Get it done, if it's a job around the house. Or, if it's writing, get as much of it down on paper/laptop as I can before it fades; before I lose it.
  • If I can't get into my stride when I'm 'in the zone', then pow! Suddenly, I've lost it.
  • If I can't get others to buy into what I'm trying to do when I'm 'in the zone', then my enthusiasm wanes because they don't feel like it - so therefore, it soon rubs off on me, so I don't want to do it any more...
  • And if I'm drained - emotionally or physically - there's very little I can do. It's just too much. All I want to do is rest, and wait for that inspiration to descend once again. Wait until I'm back 'in the zone'.
The problem here - when I read this all back - is that I see that the problem here is feelings. I don't feel like it. Or others don't feel like working when I want to..

There's also an assumption here, of course. It's an assumption that really productive people are always 'in the zone' - that positive, energetic frame of mind that impels them to start and carries them through all the way until completion. I'm afraid that this is not so.

It needs a bit of willpower as well. An understanding that there are going to be hard times, frustrations, and setbacks along the way. And I guess sometimes that it's my fear of these hard times - and of encountering the people who'd rather muck about than get down to some hard work - that creates some of the biggest hurdles in my life and prevents me personally from staying in 'the zone'. If they don't bother, why should I?

So, sometimes it takes a bit of a push to get me back into 'the zone'.

That's where the following quotes resonate with me:

Rita Emmett, in The Procrastinator’s Handbook, came up with Emmett’s Law:
"The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself."

O’Connor’s corollary:
"It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you finally get down to work."

Just a few stray thoughts today. That I had to get down. Or else, lose them completely... :)

31 March 2016

Walking Through Life ... With Others

I've been reminded today that scripture frequently compares life to a walk. You can find a few of these references here.

Quite understandably. Life is a journey; one that lasts a lifetime. Like it or not, you're never sitting still for long. Enjoy the splendid views that you see, because circumstances will soon change and you'll be moving on again... Endure the rocky paths and harshness, because it's only for a short while. You'll soon move on.

And I get it. I am reminded that I need to walk every step of the way with my Lord. He will never leave me, or forsake me. Walk as He did. Tick the box - got that one.

However, the person whose blog I read today assured me that I'm also told to walk alongside other people.

And that's where he kind of lost me. Where I turned off the computer, and moved on.

Yes, it was the reference to the other people.

Yes, I know that it's safer to walk with others. It's scary to walk alone at night or down a lonely country road. So, if you are in a scary place, taking comfort in companionship through those difficult times surely is the right way. But I often feel unsure of others - until I really, really, get to know them. And that takes time.

Yes, I know it’s supportive. Walking through the problems of life with others keeps you going until you get to the end. But I often feel that these others aren't genuine - that they are using me somehow.

And yes, I know it's smarter. I can learn much more by being on the same path with others. They keep me on the right path, cheer me on when I'm flagging, even giving me a chance to help them when they have problems.

So, here's the bottom line.

Why do I find it difficult to trust others?

Because some of them have hurt me before.

I feel sad tonight.