Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Wonder and Beauty

Here’s to the next 40!

What an incredible 40 years it has been! 🙂 I don’t even know what I am going to say here or how to start – but I need to document this, I need to capture it! Actually, I do know where I want to start:

Thank you Jesus!

My friend, Darren gave me the idea of writing down 40 things for 40 years: introspections, ideas, lessons, pearls of wisdom. I will also add; places, people, pictures and one other P too: presence.

In no particular order, here I go, enjoy the journey:

1. I love birds. (Weird one to start with I know.) Maybe it comes from my opa or my dad or my Scout days. Yesterday, I got a bird feeding station. I call it Hotel Wingphoria (Glenn Frey would have been proud, perhaps?). Just today, I have been keeping an eye on it. At one time there were aboout eight birds darting all around the feeder endulging in the seeds, fat balls and even a drink of water. I spotted a Blue Tit, some sparrows, a robin, a Dunnock, a Blackbird, a Collared Dove and some sort of Thrush. (I’m still learning to identify the Birds here in the UK.) So, why do I like birds so much? Firstly and simply, they’re beautiful and so full of life! I think God enjoyed creating them. Speaking of God – what a privilege, I have to share the planet with His creation. If we think about it – it’s incredible, that we get to inhabit this earth with these wild and wonderful creatures. Wow! I am always reminded of the sermon in creation: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1: 20) The glorius birdsong of the morning. Their darting to and fro. Their colours – all pointing to the Creator. (So that was number 1. What’s next?)

2. “What you look for you will find” Rob Bell
I discovered this quote many years ago and it has stayed with me since. There is that saying: “you are what you eat.” Likewise, with your thoughts: “You are what you think.” And that relates to the verse above. If you want to be negative – there is a lot that you can find to be negative about. And if you want to be positive – there is a lot to be positive about. WHAT YOU LOOK FOR YOU WILL FIND. Proverbs 4: 23 says: Guard you heart for it is the wellspring of life. (There are probably going to be a few scriptures references in this.)

3. When Geography came alive – Egypt
I love travelling. I have been to 20 countries so far. Okay, I added Lesothu in that list? 😉 (And I’ve split to the UK into the three countries I have visited: England (home now), Wales and Scotland. I still need to visit Ireland.)
Botswana
Iceland
France
Argentina
Mauritius
Wales
Italy
Belguim
Mozambique
Scotland
Switzerland
Poland
Lesothu
England
Germany
Egypt
Namibia
Czech Republic
Netherlands
UAE (Dubai)

However, number two was actually about the Pyramids.

I always enjoyed Geography in school. I wasn’t very good at the exams but I remember the things we learnt about: Stonehenge, White Cliffs of Dover and the Pyramids – just to mention a few.

So in 2010 I flew with Air Egypt and the change over flight was in Cairo. At 6am as we approached the runway, I remember the morning hue of the sunlight shining on the Pyramids. It was stunning! There below me as we were landing was one of the seven wonders of the world. I made a promise to myself that on my next trip, I’d plan a few hours in Egypt to visit the Pyramids. Thankfully, that opportunity came the following year in 2011: I got to ride a camel, see and go inside the Pyramids and visit the Sphinx too.

I am grateful for the combination of those Geography classes and my dad for planting the wanderlust in me.

4. I once lived in France
So I have lived in three places: South Africa, England and France.
The Tignes gig, I just stumbled upon… and it was incredible! For five months I lived in a winter wonderland. As far as the eye could see, I would see snowcapped mountains. And I got to snowboard on them! Epic! Those five months were packed with a lot of vivid and surreal moments. I can still hear the snow below my board as I raced down the piste. I could feel that glorious chill in the air. I recall the French Mass at Christmas time. I can taste the mulled wine. I can hear the laughter of my colleagues.

I lived with these three English guys. What a fun unexpected life chapter! 🙂

5. People along the way / friends
The danger here would be to list my people – the friends and connections I have made in these first forty years. I have so many shared experiences with many people. In each town, I have lived and served – I have met people who have stayed in my life. I am truly grateful for that! With some, I speak regularly. With others, we speak occasionally and yet some we speak very sporadically – but when we speak it feels like no time has passed.
I have had some hilarious moments with my friends. Some moving and profound moments too.
Some people have dropped pearls of wisdom in my life.
Simply, thank you God for all the people you have put in my life.

6. Being grateful
A lot of my youth, students and friends that I have journeyed with will tell you that these two questions are my favourite to ask:
i) What two things are you grateful for?
ii) What two things are you looking forward to?

I don’t take it for granted! Life is a gift. The whole mix of it. “The blessings and hard times” (To borrow a lyric from Third Day)
Without a doubt, I know if people asked themselves daily: ‘what two things they’re grateful for?’ – their perspective / their stance to life would change. Certainly!

If you have made it this far, how would you answer? What are your grateful for, today?

7. “John Mayer the moment”
I am giving this to my friend, Darren.
He came up with this – and it has stayed with me, ever since. (Refer to the profound conversations in number 5 above)

I have shared this phrase with so many people since.
The phrase is inspired by John Mayer’s 3×5 song:

“Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when
I’m in the mood to lose my way
But let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
It brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside
No more 3×5’s” John Mayer

How good are those lyrics?
Go ahead and listen to the song HERE

Too many people spend too much time behind their phones (cameras) at gigs and other things.
Sometimes in life one needs to “John Mayer the moment”
I am still learning this – but am most certainly on the way.

8. Words – Markus Zusak
I love words. I love reading.
I always think in lyrics (that will come up later) – here is a song from Jimmy Eat World “Well theres lots of smart ideas in books I never read, when the girls come talk to me, I wish to hell I had” (Big Casino)

I always like to have a book with me.
I don’t read too many teaching (non fiction) books. Mainly novels. I like fueling and growing my imagination.
I try to carry a book with me all the time. And I prefer the feel of an actual book than a Kindle. (I love the honesty libraries scattered all around England
– those red phone booths converted to a mini street side library.)

“My arms are killing me. I didn’t know words could be so heavy.” Markus Zusak (Just Ed, is carrying books out from a library – trying to find the next clue)

Words can be heavy.
They can hurt.
They can inspire.
Use them wisely.
(And the English dictionary is vast! Venture in and learn and use new words.)

Back in 2018, one of my gap year students (Jonty) said this to me: “Use your words.” (Not sure what inspired him to say that me.) But those three words made such a profound impression on me.

9. My Dutch Roots – Holland with my dad
(I am thankful for my EU passport.)

A few years back (the first time, I lived in the UK) my dad and I planned a trip to Holland. It was amazing! Was good to share that adenture with him. It was also good to go “see my roots” in a sense. That was most certainly an eventful trip – seeing the Keukenhof flowers, meeting Oom Jaap, cycling to buy milk and my dad & I sunk a boat – not planned, of course!

10. Quotes
I love a good quote!
I am always sharing them on Twitter or Whatsapp and sometimes Facebook.
(How does one keep a quote to themselves?)
Having favourite quotes is difficult because I find quotes can be seasonal. But that being said, these I’ve liked for awhile:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because, what the world needs, is people who have come alive!” (Wild at Heart)

“Fairy tales don’t exist to tell children that dragons exist. They know that already. Fairy tales are there to tell children that dragons can be defeated!”
GK Chesterton

“You don’t need to attend every argument, you’re invite too.” (This was shared with me in 2017) – I linked that up with this scripture: “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 11, 12

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (The Little Prince)

CS LEWIS has amazing QUOTES too

11. The chief end of man – Westminster
I once was told about a plaque in Westminster in London that reads:
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

How profound is that?
I tried to live that out. Glorifying God in my life: actions, words, thoughts, attitude and posture to the world. (I’m still in learning.)
And then, that second part: people seem to have forgotten.
God’s invitation – to enjoy Him.
Yes, please!
God delights in us. When you’re at a gig or appreciating a glass of wine or carving on your board. “The playfulness of God.” 🙂

12. you are a human being not a human doing
I was first introduced to this by Rob Bell. Brilliant!
People try live to earn approval. Of others and God.
We can’t earn that divine love.
Also some people “measure their worth” in what they produce?
I don’t believe that approach is healthy.
(You may disagree. But remember, this is my list of forty things: lessons, etc)

13. My brother and our trip to Holland
There are not enough words (and this would make this blog suuuuper long.)
My brother is awesome! My best friend.
He once said this to me and I have thus claimed it myself. “God’s grace being the number one gift in my life, my brother is number 2.”
He has fought for me. He has encouraged me. We have had such fun times together.
A lot of our lives – have been separated by miles – however we remain close.
He’s a talented and creative man. Brilliant dad and husband. So good with people. Amazing musician and singer.
We had this epic bro time in Holland last year (January 2019). That trip was so dear to me. I remember a whole lot of it so vividly.

Thank you bro! 🙂

14. On running
I don’t know how I stepped into running. I can’t remember when it all began? I do remember my earlier runs of running along the country lanes near Herstmonceux when I worked for PGL.
But I do enjoy it.
I had a goal to run my first marathon before I turned 40. The official event was cancelled but I still managed to run the marathon distance in April. Stoked!

15. On being ordinary
Isn’t this piece from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold fry, wonderful?

“And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the things they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday.” Harold Fry (#RachelJoyce)

Life is full of ordinary moments. But one can do extraordinary things throughout the ordinary. We can be present. We can be joyful. We can be more “the glass is half full” or “grateful to have a glass in the first place” – being all of these in the ordinary.

Not all of us are going to invent things. And that’s okay!

This POEM says it well. Or if you didn’t realise you can click on the word POEM, then CLICK HERE

I like how she says it here:
“I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.”
AND
“I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.”

I am pretty ordinary. But at 40, I am okay with that.
I try not to be a jerk. I try not to leave a footprint. I try to make a good impact. I try not hold grudges. I try to be positive. I have achieved some things. Messed up with others. But it’s all part of this beautiful thing we call: LIFE.

16. the yardstick
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Most of us have this destructive habit of comparing our lives to others.
There is always someone’s life who appears better than ours?
(But also, there are people’s lives that aren’t as good as own?)
BUT comparing is harmful and not helpful!

I have struggled with this a lot.

And the problem is I have been trying to measure my life with a certain yardstick that is not the one I’m supposed to be measuring with?
If I look at others who have the general 9 to 5 life: marriage, two or three kids, a home, investments, successful careers – I would fail miserably.

But then it dawned me – why does one (me) with a nomadic nature measure with that yardstick? My life went on a different path.

But come to think of it.
Why not snap the yardstick. Why are we measuring?
As a believer, maybe we need to revert to what I said in number 11.

17. being content is not the opposite of being restless
I have been restless for a lot of my life.
I always use to think it was a problem. Like there was something wrong with me.
But my friend and mentor suggested to me:
Why not befriend that restlessness?

He suggested that maybe God has given that to me as a gift. A gift to challenge the status quo. To remind people to not “stay stuck” in something. To push people to step out. Etc, etc.

That advice has stayed with me.

18. some influential songs
There are so many amazing songs that have shaped or moved me in some sort of way. It’s really difficult to select a top 5. But I did think of five that made a big impact in my life.

(At this part you may want to pause. Put the kettle on. Make yourself a cuppa. We’re not even half way yet. 40 years is a lot of life to capture)

i) Thousand Foot Krutch – Puppet

(I never knew Christian music could be so cool! I met a guy named Dennis in Ladysmith. His parents were missionaries there. He introduced me to this whole new world of rad Christian music.)

ii) Alanis Morissette – Citizen of the Planet

(This song is so powerful. I love the lyrics. I am not bound by one country or one citizenship. I belong to the world. As Psalm 24: 1 reminds us “the earth is the Lord’s and everything it it.”)

iii) Blindside – Pitiful

“But I know as they hammered those nails
Into your beautiful hands
Your eyes they tried to search for mine
But I look away
Now your eyes are the only thing that can save me”

There are so many reasons why I dig this.
This is my kind of worship song! A “grab me by the throat and wake me up” song!
They’re Swedish. Their English lyrics are probably far better than most bands. (Go give this band a listen. If their songs don’t move you – then I don’t know!)
I once interviewed Christian, the leader singer on a radio station in East London (South Africa)

iv) Jeremy Camp – Understand

My brother discovered Jeremy Camp before “all the rest of the Christians did.”
When I heard this song – I saw how scripture could be used in songs. Now I can’t help spotting scripture sitting in songs. (that’s a lot of S’s in one line!)

v) Switchfoot – Restless

This one is obvious!

19. what Ken said to me
In 2006 to 2008 I worked with a minister named Ken Carr. What an amazing man of God!
I remember a incident that made yet another profound impression on me.
Context: My brother and mom had come to visit me. They drove down from Durban. A seven hour trip.
So, I was upstairs in my office, planning something for youth.
As Ken leaves, he shouts “goodbye” to me.
Then I hear his footsteps heading to the back door (the exit).
They stop. He turns around. Then Ken calls for me.
I come out of my office and look downstairs to him. He asks me:
“What are you doing here?” I replied that I am doing a bit of this and bit of that (ministry stuff).  He replies to me “Go home and be with your family. They’re not always around. Ministry can wait.” (Something to that affect.)
Wow! I even get goosebumps writing it down now.
I learnt that value of family and the right place of ministry.
(I don’t believe that ministry should come before family. That’s my opinion.)

ANOTHER WISE VOICE – I need to also share what Andrew once said to me. (I worked with him in Hillcrest.) He said to me: “Darrel you need to use both your head and your heart.” That statement really shook me! Sometimes I may “not feel it” BUT I must still do it. (Faith and life is a matter of the head and heart. Gut, spirit and brains!)

20. my favourite verse
Recently, I discovered that I so often say to the youth or others “this is my favourite verse.” The amount of times I have said that makes it sound like my list of favourite verse is in the hundreds already. And I am proud of that.
Over the years of being a child of God, my spiritual memory has grown. Verses have stuck with me. Sunk in to my being. Scriptures remind us of the nearness and reality of God. Here are some that I can think of today. (on another day, I am sure the list would be different.)

Acts 17: 28 For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Psalm 118: 24 This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Galatians 5: 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set you free…

21. The Swiss Alps
Who knew 2020 would go this way?
Before this whole virus thing put us inside and created an international #lockdown I had the utmost privilege of going snowboarding for a week in Lauterbrunnen region of Switzerland. This trip was amazing for many reasons:

– it was a new country for me to visit
– i absolutely loved the group of people, I was with. was so cool to be with friends for the whole week. (as a loner, this was a real treat!)
– i got to snowboard again. The last time I went was 9 years ago. So being on the slopes again was a mixture of nostalgia, appreciation and finding my feet again.
– the views were breathtaking! My soul felt so alive!

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22. Of marriage and forgiveness
I was married in 2015. We split up and got divorced in 2018.
It was shit! It was a tough time. But it was the right thing for us.
My simple prayer at the time was that Catherine and I would be friends in due time.
And I am glad to say, now in 2020 we are friends and can chat and have no hard feelings. (Prayer answered.)
I battled with the label “divorced” for a long time. I still do at times.
But I am dealing with it. Growing from it.
Like I said, approaching 40 – once begins to not fret about things too much.
Life is a big tapestry of things!

23. A warm island and a cold island and the list
My brother said to me the other day “that I am a list person.” I agree. I have lists of things I want to do, see and a achieve. A lot of them are once off things. But that’s how I roll. (EG. Some would do one marathon and then end up doing loads more. I will (have) do (done) one and then just considered it ticked off.)

On that list is the Northern lights. 10 years ago, I wanted to go see them.  So I head to Iceland with some friends.  Unfortunately, it rained for three nights in Iceland and so the visibility was poor.
Nature does what nature wants. We’re guests on this wild and unpredictable planet.

But I will see those lights in time (God willing) – here are some pics from that cold island: Iceland

“By the way, Reykjavik is a pretty coastal city.” (he says nonchalantly)

Then last year, in 2019 I got to visited a far warmer Island:

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Mauritius was a kiff family holiday!

24. my dad
My dad had a stroke back in 2007. You can read about his stroke and other things on his website

My dad inspires me for how he continued with life, after his stroke.
Even though life is a lot slower, a lot harder and one sided for him now –  he keeps going.
He decided not to play victim of his circumstances but rather victor.
Yes, he will have his down days.
But my dad really is remarkable!
(I am glad to be living in the UK now, closer to him – and able to work on our relationship.)

25. the five love languages
Gary Chapman came up with this idea many years ago.
You would need to do more research and answer the questions to work out what yours are. But here they are:
Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Physical Touch
Gifts

Each of us express love in various ways. Once we know what our “love language” is and that of our partner, that helps us in identifying how love is expressed in our relationship. This theory works with family and friendship relationships as well.
Once I discovered what my dad’s was and he discovered what mine is – then our relationship started to improve.
So I am an advocate for this idea (theory) of Gary Chapman – because I’ve seen it work in my own life.
What do think your love language is?

26. DJ DAZZY HOFF and Blindside
Back in 2007 and 2008 I was a DJ (radio presenter) on a radio station (Link FM) in East London (South Africa) – speaking of achievements – that’s pretty cool!
I co-hosted a Monday night youth show called: Youthology (Monday Night Rocks)
A highlight for me was getting to interview the lead singer of Blindside when they touring South Africa. (One of my best gigs ever, too, all of us rocking out in a jam packed venue in Durban. the sweat, the rock, God – it was epic!)

PS. The DJ name was just something funny we (my friends and I) came up with.

27. Thinking in lyrics
I have noticed this pattern in my life over the years. I think in lyrics. In most situations a lyric will pop into my head.
Could God use lyrics to draw us to Himself?
Yes! I like how in Zephaniah 3: 17 it says “He will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Wow, God sings over us!

28. I choose joy
I have noticed that quite a few people can live with a gloomy cloud hanging over their lives. Where did that negativity and gloomy approach to life come from?
What gets too much attention in your life?
I noticed when I arrived in the UK two years ago… that Mental Health was a BIG topic. it got a lot of attention!
And I know at first, I kicked against it.
Now two years in, after listening and understanding – my approach to it has changed
HOWEVER…
I agree Mental Health awareness is super important.
Everyone on this planet has mental health.
But the rise of those who have poor mental health is alarming!
Mental health illness is a real thing. (Yes, I get that)
But my worry is that people use the label as a crutch or an excuse.
At one stage, mental health seemed like a trendy topic… (Oh dear sheep of society)

Back to title above:
I choose joy.
I believe joy will save the day. God will use joy. He already has and continues to do so. Look at the scriptures. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE. Or what about the JOY of the Lord is my strength. Or REJOICE, again I say REJOICE. I wish the gospel writers captured a laughing Jesus.
Essentially, what I’m saying here is: what gets the most focus in your life?
There are bits of joy in each and every day.
I refer to number 1: What you look for, you will find?
(By the way, this doesn’t only refer to mental health – it’s for all sorts of things.)

29. Living with wonder

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

On a recent ride, my friend highlighted how I am like many South Africans who show so much appreciation for the quaint villages here, the country lanes and surrounding fields. He mentioned to me about a lady who has lived here for over fifteen years and still feels like a tourist. I liked that!

I choose to live with wonder.
So many things are fascinating! I want to continue to live with that fascination.
There are small things that fascinate me. There are incredible big things and moments that fascinate me too.  As Albert suggested: everything is a miracle! I like that!

What do you find wonderful? Or wonder-filled? (This is the part you interact – in the comments. Go for it!)

30. A German Tale
I’ve been friends with Michi for 11 years now. (I am grateful for the long friendships I have)
This trip to Germany was significant for me – because it was one of my first solo trips across the channel.
I love wandering the streets of Cologne, sipping beer next to the Rhine, the Lindt Choc factory, making my way across to Michaela – our bike riding and exploring local forests and little towns together.

This trip also felt connected to my upcoming SA trip at the time – because there was a lot of promotion for the upcoming FIFA World Cup of 2010. (Perhaps, that’s the role of the previous hosts of the WC tournament?)

31. God
I grew up in a Christian home. I am thankful my parents took us to Sunday School.
Those Sunday School lessons were so formative for me – I started learning scripture – all the way back then.
Then at 16, I got confirmed in the Methodist Church.
I simply decided that “it’s not a fairy tale that God is near, He is real, He hears and sees me – it’s all a reality! And I want to live out that reality.”
I do look at how my theology has evolved and grown. Just look at my first few SACRED SPACES and you’ll see how “childish” some of it.
I love God
We do wrestle a lot.
I’m not into titles “being an Anglican or Methodist or any of that malarkey!”
I am a child of God. And He is my Father.

I can’t live in this world, not believing that God is real.
I’ve seen too much and sensed too much to not know the touch of God.
Besides, how can one live in such a gloriously created world and not want to know the Creator.
Creation is always the loudest sermon in my life!
“Put me in a church for 100 minutes and I will tell you 10 things about God.
Put me outside in God’s garden for 10 minutes and I will tell you a 100 things about God.”

A simple invitation: God is good. Try Him.

ETERNAL THINGS…
I wanted to add this. Humans, we have a fearful view of death. Jesus tell us, death is not the end! It does not have the final say. There is so much hope and comfort in that. (Well, I feel that?) So it helps me view my earthly age differently. I am 40 years young. In the light of living forever, I am just getting started…

32. my mamie – cheers!
I am so thankful for my mom.
We are so similar. And she is so perceptive and reads me well.
I am thankful for her support and kindness and care.
She reminds me to smile. 🙂

20190709_165516

There is ongoing joke about how many pics there are of her and I and beer.
For me, the essence of those pictures is Quality Time. (Refer to no 25.)
But yes -we do love beer! Cheers!

33. my achievements
I put this here because I wanted to unpack this in my own life?
What have I achieved?
I’m (still) busy writing a book of short stories. (watch this space)
I ran a marathon (unofficial) earlier this year – does that count?
I got a diploma in theology? I did a certificate course in short story writing?
But do these accolades matter? Maybe? Maybe not? (Again, it’s not the yardstick of my life)
My life hasn’t been about physical achievements.
But simple wish and prayer is that in all the communities / churches I have lived and served in – I have in some way pointed people to the reality of God – and the full life He offers (John 10: 10)
I hope my list of achievements would be:
the people I have helped some way.
(I don’t know who they all are – what impact I had?)
But I don’t want to count them and display them as if they were trophies on a mantelpiece.
Me, being a good brother, uncle, son and friend.
Me, being a good citizen of the planet.

34. the good example of Lee
When I was a youngster, Lee was my youth pastor.
Now we’re both a lot older. Lee and his family have been in the UK for a long time. But for as long as I can remember wherever I have been – either previously in the UK, or in South Africa and now back here – Lee has called me without fail, at least every two months – sometimes once a month. Just to check up on me – to see how I am doing.
Seriously, what an amazing example of continuity, loyalty and support. Thank you Lee!

35. some vivid travel memories
Most people asked me: why the UK? (Am I being like other saffas running away) No ways! I came here to explore. The English countryside is magical and Europe is on our doorstep!
Besides, I love the UK. You can ask my friends, when I got back to SA in 2012, I kept speaking about the UK (At least once, a month).  I love this place! There is a freedom I feel here. (Difficult to put what I feel in words)  I knew I would be back and am grateful, I am home.

Speaking of Europe here are some travel memories that come to mind:
Swimming out to a barge in the Mediterranean from a little beach in Sorrento.
Seeing the snow on the beach and then hearing the crunching snow below our feet as Darren and I walked alongside the sea in Gdansk (Poland)
Early morning runs in Buenos Aires (Acassuso area) alongside La Plata River
Sipping on wine, looking at the street entertainment in Rome (the Piazza Venezia)
Canal boat trip in one of the cities of Belgium. (Was it Bruges?)
Michi and I, sitting in a church (I think it was Lemgo) – we were walking by and heard the most beautiful music playing inside. We slipped through the doors and just soaked it all in.
Swimming with goggles with Emily in Mauritius pointing out all the colourful fish (Okay, this is not Europe)
Eating chicken curry farata by the vender truck looking out to the sea, sitting among the locals. (Flic en Flac, Mauritius)
(There are so many more. Thank you Jesus!)

36. being an uncle
I was privileged to be living near Warren and Chane’ for the birth and early years of Emily and Seth.
(I am so thankful for how life worked out like that.) For those formative years of my niece and nephew – I was nearby.
I got to form a good bond with both of them.
Heck, I just want to say it’s an honour to be an uncle. I have had some unbelievable precious moments with both of them.

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37. Dave Matthews Band
I feel like this bands needs mention.
I love this band. Seen them live, three times. Twice in the UK and once in SA.
One of my scout leaders introduced me to DMB back when I was 16 or 17. It was the Crash album. Songs like Two Step, Drive in Drive Out and Tripping Billie grabbed my attention. Then in 1998, I purchased my first DMB album – Before These Crowded Streets. The album with the coffee cup stain on the cover. (How creative!)
My friendship with Darren, started when we spoke about this band at D-Camp around 1998 or 1999.
Dave Matthews, another talented musician who thinks a lot about what he writes.
Some things about the band.
They NEVER EVER play the same set. Even if you saw them on two consecutive nights or saw them on the same album tour. They don’t rob their fans by repeating the same setlist. They have a vast selection of songs to play. And most often, they change some of their songs – keeping it fresh and unpredictable. Sometimes a studio version of the song can be 7 mins and then live they could play it for 21 minutes.
Also the song Two Step often has a made up pre-verse to the song that Dave Matthews make’s up live on the spot.
I think I like this band because of the passion and joy of the band members – they’re talented and you can see they love what they do.
They’re also multiculturaled and of various ages – the bassist (Stefan Lessard) being a lot younger than the rest and yet he has been with the band since the start.
With everyone I meet, I will at some point introduce them to DMB. Here is a list of 10 songs for you to explore, if you like:

i) The idea of you
ii) Don’t drink the water
iii) Do you remember
iv) Gaucho
v) Drunken Soldier
vi)Dreamgirl
vii) Old Dirt Hill
viii) Funny the way it is
ix) Time Bomb
x) All along the water tower (Their version – yoh!)

See their passion here with some guest musicians:
(Another thing, I like about them too – is they often include other musicians to join in on the party)

38. South Africa in 2010
It felt like South Africa was on its best behaviour during the world cup 2010.
I was living in the UK in that year, but for the whole month of the world cup tournament, I was back in SA – I was between jobs and the privilege of getting to experience a phenomenal moment in South Africa’s history.  Thank you Jesus
Even the criminals seemed well behaved. (Crime was on an all time low.)
The vibe along Durban beachfront was epic. To hear the various accents: German, Dutch, English, etc. What a delight!
South Africans were so proud and hospitable to welcome in foreigners.
Getting to watch a few live games was amazing! I was supporting two teams. SA and the Dutch. The Orange made it to the final…
Such a good time enjoying the tournament with my brother and good friends.
It feels cool that a part of my 40 years – the year I turned 30, I got to part of something so amazing! Sport can really unite a nation!

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39. Less is more

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40. Ask better questions
My friend, Clint inspired me into this.
We were sitting on a rooftop at a hostel in Sorrento.
There were some other travellers up there too and we started chatting to them.
I noticed the different and interesting questions Clint was asking them.
What refreshing and engaging questions!
Then some lads came up and joined us and sadly brought the level of converstion down to a stupid worldly territory – you could hear that they were only looking for a holiday score.  However that encounter on the roof top (before those lads arrived) inspired me:

Ask better questions!

Thanks Darren, for the idea.
It was good to take stock and put this all together.
(If you have made it right to the end – well done!)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Don’t rush this!

Yesterday, my friend and I went looking for a place to swim.

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The search took us two hours.
The humour of it is the full circle we did. Check out this map:

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We started at Tyringham. I have cycled passed a few times recently. On one glorious day, I saw a whole bunch of people sitting alongside the river. And I think one or two were in the water?

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(Thanks #GooglePhotos for sprucing up this picture)
It’s a beautiful spot. But we saw a sign saying “private fishing entry.”
So we decided on obeying that.
So drove on.

I knew of a great place where I had cycled along the Great Ouse River.
But to remember where it was – that was trouble!
Looking back on my Strava app, we had a general idea on where to go.
But both ways there were blocked: road works.
Sigh, the long way round would be exactly – too long to get to that…

Thankfully, a friend sent me a link to a blog – by someone who had found this “sandy” spot to swim.

Refer back to the map up top where I wrote END. That’s where we found it.
Probably about two kilometres from the very stop of the day.
So having left the house at 11am. Driving for just under two hours – then walking across two fields we found the spot:

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Don’t rush this!

Now, usually, in a day I try and jam many things into it.
But yesterday, we were just there.
There was no need to rush it.

We lay in the sun.
Swam in the river a few times.
Jumped in.
Dried out.
Had lunch.
Basked in the sun.
It was perfect!
No need to rush away.

What a rad day!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

My favourite piece of land

I cycle and run past this piece of land every so often:

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I love it!
(And this picture doesn’t do it justice!)

Some days, there sun shines so bodly on it.
Some times I have seen horses grazing there.
Those flowers, that spring up greeting the world.

I am not sure, what it is that I like.
It might just be the open space.
It might be the fact, that just near my neighbourhood (that can be congested) is this open spot.
It might be that in winter, I ran past this and there was this magical mist that hung over the land.
Maybe it’s that each time, I go by I am reminder of the beauty in the world.
I often, don’t just go by – I actually stop briefly. And take it in.

Whatever it is, this is my favourite piece of land.

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

A relationship is not that linear?

This morning I read this DEVOTION (Under Construction) from Our Daily Bread and I felt a thought brewed up in me:

I don’t entirely agree with the message!
Hear me out:

Yes, in our relationship with Jesus we grow in maturity, we grow in holiness, we become more Christlike – and that’s the point.

As the post suggested: “we’re under construction.”

But I got the sense that makes life very linear…

And that’s what I want to challenge?

Does life and does our relationship with Jesus need to be that linear?

I love the word: journey.
But if it becomes too linear…
Too predictable
Too box-able

Have we then missed the point of relationship?

I am definitely no expert!
But I like the idea of life not being so linear…
(Yes, we all do follow the same timeline: birth, taxes and death…)

But be careful to not have your relationship with Jesus in such a linear fashion.

It’s not a “how to programme”
It’s not “climbing the success ladder”
It’s not “10 habits to make you highly effective”

RELATIONSHIP is multifaceted.
It’s vibrant!
It’s entwined.
It’s passionate!

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Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Why I blog, etc?

OF BLOGGING

Firstly, I discovered this quote in the last few years:

One doesn’t learn from experience.

One learns from the reflection of experience.

I like that!

Also, thankfully God didn’t make me shallow!
I’d like to think I have depth.
I am a hundred thoughts per minute kind of guy.
And I love it!

But basically, I live solo! (Hoping to meet that someone someday…)
But I share thoughts here…
Because, maybe someone would benefit from them.
Maybe they would encourage someone.

If I had a spouse, I’d probably share them with her more often.
I would share with my friends – but they have their OWN lives. They’re units of 3 or 4 or 5 which are their main priority… understandably. 😉
I don’t want to bombard my brother (he has his own family too) or my parents with all my thoughts.

So I blog.
Read if you like.
If you don’t, it doesn’t bother me. My blogging is like putting my thoughts on the shelves of the library of my mind.

OF INSTAGRAM

I love the saying “A picture paints a thousand words.”
That’s inspiring!
I don’t care for likes. (I never get over 50) so I am definitely no influencer (as my friends have once joked…)

I live with these two verses close to my heart:

Psalm 118: 24 This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad.
John 10:10 I have come to give life and life in the full.

So in sharing my photos.
And they’re not famous landscapes or buildings or it’s no travel account, that’s for sure!

It’s just daily life.
Life through my eyes.

I’d hope people get this one thing from my account:

Appreciate every day. It’s a gift. There is joy each day! Be thankful.

That would be cool! if that’s what people got from it…

I truly despise. Wait that’s a strong word,
I dislike the word: bored.
When people are bored.
There is so much more to life…

OF WHATSAPP STATUS-ING

One of my young people from my church, said to me “you change your whatsapp status a lot.”

My first thought was: If you could see the people I have as contacts. They’re changing their status far more than me.

But that being said:
I love quotes
There are such pertinent verses too.
There are incredible songs and clips that people need to see.

So I share them.
And the awesome thing is. From 3 or 4 very different people; I got a message saying:

Thank you for your status updates. A lot of them as so encouraging or so spot on… for the thing I’m going thrpugh!

Amen! That’s what I am talking about!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Your pockets are deep; generosity can be contagious…

HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY CAPTAIN TOM!

I read this, this morning:

“If you haven’t heard, Captain Tom Moore, a veteran of the Second World War, wanted to raise £1,000 for National Health Service charities here by walking a hundred laps of his (25m) garden in the days before his 100th birthday. He’s now raised nearly £30 million, been promoted to the rank of colonel today by the Queen, and become a national hero.”

I was reminded about generosity.
Generosity is contagious!

Remember the boy in the scriptures who came to Jesus with 5 loaves and 2 fish? (Jesus feeds the 5000.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not discounting from the miracle…
Jesus, feeding 5000 people is amazing! Wow! Miraculous!

BUT I ONCE HEARD THIS “TAKE” OF THE PASSAGE (And have’t been able to shake it)

What if another miracle of this story is that generosity born within that crowd?
Jesus is preaching
People want to go and here him.
They set out (who sets out for a journey or the day, with lunch?)
Lunch time
Stomachs grumble…
The boy offers his lunch.
“Jesus, this is what I have? Can it help?”

Such kindness!
Then others see the sweet and generous act of the boy. And think:
“Well, I guess, I can share my packed loaves with those around me.”
And that is a collective thought of many.

Generosity is contagious!

You see. Tom set out for a £1000.
He did something very commendable. Walking at his age around his garden is pretty darn amazing! So maybe

Inspiration is contagious too!

But people’s pockets are deeper than they think.
There is some money to give.
Look, a whole lot of people put their hands in their pockets…
Grabbed some kindness and generosity
And gave a little £some each.
30 million later!

Same with #RunForHeroes
Run 5km
Donate £5
Nominate £5

(Their original target was £5000. Now they’re reached over 5 million.)


People are generous!
People are kind!

And dear stingy people, shame on you. Dig deeper… you’ll find something spare to share…

I end off with the words / image from Charley Mackesy:

kind

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Purpose or Value from work?

I am always willing to learn. To relook at things and unpack them and explore in a new light.
I preached on Sunday. Which was an honour! Via FB Live. (My first time doing it that way.) #lockdownlife

A friend, challenged one of my statements afterwards. So I wanted to disect it further:

“Notice that your worth comes from Whose you are and not what you do.”

I went on to say something like: Your purpose shouldn’t come from what you do.

So here are MORE of my thoughts and understanding on that:

When lockdown started and some people had to stop work or were furloughed. A lot of people battled with that. To be at home. They felt bored. They felt purposeless. They felt restless. Even annoyed.

I get the plus side of that feeling:
It’s great to hear how people enjoy their jobs.
Enjoying their work.
Finding purpose in what they do.

But when no work (because of this Pandemic) makes one feel frustrated and bored and restless. That’s an interesting and concering place to be in.
One can believe that “without work I am nothing.”
That’s not true!
Or when one is labelled a workaholic. Is that an aspiring label to have? I don’t think so…

I always remember and hold onto what Rob Bell unpacked a few years ago when the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt had to make bricks each day.
There worth / value came from how many bricks they could produce in a day.
Nothing much seems to have changed over the years, sadly?
We’re still “producing bricks” for approval and worth…

Is it right?
Is it a good way of living?
I’m not convinced.
I love this saying:

being-not-doing

Your value should not come from your work.
BUT YOU CAN PUT IN VALUE IN THE WORK YOU DO.

Your worth should not come from your work.
BUT ADD WORTH TO ALL YOU ENCOUNTER.

In the start of one of the gospels where Jesus is baptised a dove comes and a voice is heard. God speaking:
“This is my son whom I love and am well pleased.”

Jesus hadn’t preached yet.
Jesus hadn’t healed anyone yet.
He had done any miracles yet.
But His Father affrims his worth before He starts.

I like that!
Jesus knew His worth came from His relationship with His Father.
The same should be with us.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

If I hadn’t looked up…

12 April 2019
(Thoughts from a train.)

Truth is, most of us have a love/hate relationship with social media.
We like to share our experiences with our friends and family so that’s why we share our stuff. But the online world… can suck us in.

I was aware of this on the train up to Harrogate (In Yorkshire.)
The countryside is going by… and I look away from my phone. Put it aside and just be present in the journey.

If I hadn’t looked up… I would have missed:

The bunnies hopping in the meadow
The pheasant bird sitting proudly in the woods
The checkered board farms below. Little square farms bordered by rock walls. Looks picturesque.
The moors spreading out as far as the eye can see
The little birds darting to and fro
The sheep grazing on the hills. The lambs taking in their new surroundings
The greenery

I am learning to not necessarily share as a I go along. (But to share after the adventure…)

(I decided to schedule this post for a year later, as a reminder of mini adventures and just because it’s my blog. I can do what I like.)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Zooming in, Zooming by and Zoomed out

Turns out, Zoom has been around since 2011. (But I bet it’s sales and downloads had a great increase over the last few weeks.)

Been finding, in these “new normal” I have had to spend a lot of time online.

Isn’t ironic… how for many years before we (church and adults, etc) teach and tell people that we should not live our lives online…
Now, we have had to turn to the online world… and live from there…

But that being said, a healthy balance is critical!
We as a church started this project “SMB Catch Up” where I have had the joy of interview various folk from our church – hearing their story and recoridng it.

it’s a great way for the church to get to know one another. We have been posting that “interview” each day at 4pm.

It’s pretty cool how God can step into our lives with an unexpected call.

A few interviews in… I felt God say… “this is not just about racking up some interviews.”
I am calling you to be a voice of calm, encouragement and optimism in this time.
I like that! I replied: count me in, Lord. 🙂

So in Zooming in:

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It’s nice to listen. 🙂 and encourage where need be.

Zooming by: is not helpful either.
We HAVE TIME now to be FULLY PRESENT in various moments. Came across this, this morning:

“Thich Nhat Hanh advises about the small matter of a cup of tea: “Drink your tea slowly, and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing towards the future.”

Then, at the end of the day… I feel Zoomed out:
(the replacement of “feeling peopled out”

it’s good to give to attention.
It’s good to tune in and listen.

But we need to zoom out too…
Get away from our screens
Get away from the noise
Get away from BBC (oh, how negative news sells and sucks people in)

Thrilled that that did a positive piece here: PAINTINGS OF SPRING

After all… we need filter what we feed into our hearts and souls:

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I am hoping to keep to the pattern of using Thurs mornings to briefly go online and post any of my blogs or vlogs (as the cool kids call it). But let’s see how that goes. As my housemate jokingly called me “a creature of habit.” I swear I am trying to stick to structure…)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Musings from #Lockdown (Week 1)

1. The sounds of lawns being mowed fills the air

2. Nature seems chirpier at the moment. The blue sky hanging over England in the first week of lockdown seems to be breathing easily and smiling.

3. The fun #stayathomechallenge with the toilet paper rolls is hilarious! And it’s branched out to other creative tasks and challenges people are doing at home.

4. My quiet times don’t seem so rushed anymore.

5. Having lunch in the sunshine is wonderful! So grateful!

6. I have been video calling and calling more people. A basic form of communication has made a return!

7. Creativity is on the rise. (Made, in the image of a Creator God, remember?)

8. I saw this lovely picture on Instagram of a mom and daughter sitting on the roof top at their house basking in the sunshine. What a beautiful image of quality time. People are doing more things like that. I love it. Just sitting. Just being.

9. I can imagine creative types struggling to be inside. But at the same time – they’re on the verge of doing wonderful things. Loving how loads of musos are doing little intimate gigs from their homes for their fans.

Truth is music brings healing. (Another of God’s good ideas!)

10. The phrase “Reset button” keeps coming to mind.

11. Charities have been set up looking out towards the elderly, hungry and vulnerable. Food packages are being sent out. Humanity, you are doing beautiful acts of kindness! Amen!

12. Social distancing, lockdown, wash your hands, covid19, coronavirus are all going to make the dictionary soon. Those buzz phrases are swarming online media… (Brexit, what is that?)

13. Don’t spend too much time on Facebook and BBC. There is a lot of negativity out there. (Yes, there are good posts too) – But I just think “being online” too much… saps the life out of any soul…

14. I am also mindful of how many of us are saying how nice it is to HAVE TO SLOW DOWN and deal with a new normal and enjoy LOCKDOWN – there are people who are SUFFERING big time with the coronavirus and they would rather be “enjoying” lockdown…

15. Watched a preacher, Tony Evans on YouTube the other day – he suggested we call it “physical distancing” not “social distancing” – I liked that. Amazing, what a difference, one word can make. Use your words, wisely.

16. Last night, at 8pm… people of the UK started clapping for the NHS #clapforNHS
It was so moving to see all the videos online capturing this.
An example of solidarity among people.
Humanity, you can be so beautiful! Keep it up!