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 Books / Reading

Delightful You

I met You in a Red Box
The ones that use to allow people to dial a friend
You stood among the other books
Waiting in line for the grasp of a human hand

There you all look so pleased.
You allow a person to see the world, from the comfort of their home
You unlock imagination with your brilliant literary ease
A novel, a non fiction or a poem

Your name attracted me
Yes, I did judge a book by it’s cover
But you lured me
Like a wondurous lover

As you read me to sleep
Or as I awake at the start of day
It’s into your lines, into your world, I sink so deep
Your delight tugs at my heart, it’s with you, I want to stay

I am so thankful for how you landed in my life
Oh how you have helped many on the way
I just can’t get enough
Will you wait for me, is that okay?

I hold you in my hands
These words aligned in perfect display
We journey with you, to foreign lands
Allowing the authors, to have their say

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!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Dear “Potential” carrier

Dear “potential” carrier,

As I run by and as you walk towards me, we step aside widening that gap?
Social distancing ourselves as if we were lepers…
But all for a good cause – just in case.

That lingering idea or possibility that we may “carry” the virus…
We would not want to infect others…
or spread the disease…

Speaking of being a “carrier”

DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE YOU CARRY?

You are a carrier of encouraging words
You are a carrier of kind deeds
You are a carrier of being a present parent to your children
You are a carrier of being a better husband and wife to your partner? (Maybe the busyness of life before Covid19 didn’t allow the proper time you need together.)
You are a carrier of throughtful messages and phone calls.
You are a carrier of a warm smile. Don’t forget to wear it daily!
You are a carrier of God’s image. (Oh how fearfully and wonderfully you are made…)
You are a carrier of hope – share that hope
You are a carrier of grace – give it away
You are a carrier of creaitvity – get creating
You are a carrier of potential – what is the potential that has been lying dormant in you? Time to awaken it…

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Poetry and Prose

Reset Button

It feels like the earth can breathe again
The birdsong sounds louder
The trees seem happier
The sky looks clearer

This all feels so surreal
It’s like I’m in denial
One of the stages of shock
Have we woken into a bad movie?

The AUS fires and Brexit
Seem like a long forgotten history…
Like selfie,
Will #socialdistancing and #coronavirus
Make it’s way into the Oxford dictionary?

I ran by, and your social distance
Side step, made me wince
We are lepers to one another now

There is a strange sense of solidarity
Knowing that this things stretches
Across oceans and cultures
Humanity, is fighting on the same side, for a change…

Will new humanity get better after this dilemma?
Or will we settle for the same old…
There is a new normal
That should be birthed from this.
Let’s not abort it please…

An “unknown enemy” invasion has landed upon our shores
Sleep with one eye open
Or
Rest well tonight
Which chalice do we get to drink from?

It’s as if a reset button has been pressed on the whole world
Is this lockdown a time for the world to slow down?
Today, I sat fully present
To a 20 minute podcast and a cup of coffee.

Fighting the urge to go on my phone,
But I resisted.
And realised
Now I can have weightier encounters of each moment:

More present in prayer
More present in conversation
More present in exercise
More present in basking in the sun

And while “we” figure out
How to fill the days?
To do a ministry that involves people
Without the people

I pray for those in the labs
The scientests and doctors
Who are researching a cure
A vaccine, an answer…
May wisdom, patience, endurance – be theirs

Down with the sickness
Down with the selfishness
Down with the negative media
Down with the hysteria

I hear of neighbours who haven’t spoken in years
Are now throwing words of conversation over their fences
Neighbours in whatsapp groups
Being in community, looking out for one another

It took something as dramatic as this
To get humanity do start doing beautiful things again
You see, you and I,
We can be better!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

The world seems a little upside down, right now.

Tonight, I got to preach in church. Usually, when something big goes down, I turn to writing to try make sense of it all. This is my journal entry that I shared with the church:


14 March 2020
Dear Jesus,

I feel like I have woken up in some strange film.
Things seem very surreal.
I don’t usually battle to put together a sermon… But this week I can’t seem to formulate the words that I am meant to say on Your behalf.

The topic appointed to me is Optimism.
I love that topic! I love living out your invitation of John 10:10 “I have come to give life and life to full.”

But all that the world is talking about and listening out for is the Coronavirus.
It’s everywhere!
There are two camps of people. Those who are nonchalant about the whole thing.
And then there are others who are overly cautious – who are petrified and so fearful!
Actually, there are more than two camps of people.
There is another – asking: God, how do we deal with this? How do we navigate through this?

How are we as Children of God supposed to act and respond and think and live?

The interesting thing is that this hasn’t caught You by surprise. Did You see this coming? For many, that poses some volatile questions towards You?

But I find comfort from Isaiah 55:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We only now see in part. You see all of “this” holistically.
Lord, grow our trust in You in these times.
But at the same time, I pray for all those who need to lead us, to make incredibly important decisions, research etc. Give them wisdom. Give them discernment.

Give us discernment too. Social media is rife with fake news and unnecessary chatter. Everyone has an opinion. And a lot of those are harmful!

The hysteria and paranoia that fills our community – we pray You give calm and clarity.
Where people are fighting over toilet paper.
Where people are being selfish and panic buying.
Where the disadvantaged are being disadvantaged further by the selfishness of others…?
The world is a little upside down right now…

This verse hovers over my soul right now:
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14)

I pray this peace saturates the lives of believers in such a real way…. And that this peace would be “contagious” to the world around us.

May people see in us, that we will not be shaken!

I am reminded by the lyrics of a song that is 29 years old:

“There’s a place in your heart
And I know that it is love
And this place could be much
Brighter than tomorrow
There are ways to get there
If you care enough for the living
Make a little space
Make a better place
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the livingMichael Jackson

God, I am also confused. The world of social media seems to choose what it wants to highlight and talk about.
I read a recent (ish) article (from last year) stating that 10000 children die a day in Africa, of starvation… why aren’t people fussing about that?

So, God, you see I am full of conflicting thoughts and feelings in me.

But one thing that I know – that has no conflict in me; is that:
I CAN TRUST YOU.

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

A swiss story (Pistes and a weird fondue)

Once there were six friends: Ross, Chandler, Joey and… (oh wait, that’s another story…)

But this one is also about three guys and three girls:
New friendships formed;
And also, friendships deepened and strengthened 🙂

That’s what God can do using the Swiss Alps and it’s incredible views and wonderful moments. This is my attempt and unpacking of our magical week:

A few months back, Charlie invited to go on this Oakhall holiday. I decided it would be a rad adventure in my 40th year. 🙂
So I signed up. And I am so thankful for that! It was such a incredible time!

Sat 15th Feb, was a day of travelling. I love living in Europe… (oh wait, England is not part of that anymore… 😦 )

I wrote about how I find it fascinatng that Saturday morning started with us in Milton Keynes, and then that evening found us in our room in Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. The joy and wonder of travel. See my thoughts HERE

So from a lift in a car, train trip, flight and then transfer mini coach we get to our destination.

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After putting our bags in our room and unpacking. Us 3 go to get our boards and boots.
Our room was a cosy little room with 4 beds and a view onto to the river running outside. It was so pleasant and dreamy falling asleep to the sound of the river outside. (Were we in a fairytale?)

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The accomodation block is comfortable. I liked the communal dining area. Our evening meetings where there. That’s where we ate our meals and made our lunch.

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So a general day on an Oak Hall Holiday looks like this:

06:30 we woke up
07:15 prayer in the bomb shelter (yes, there is one of those, haha!)
07:30 Making our lunch for the day and breakfast
08:00 we headed out to the bus that took us to the slopes

We “milked those mountains” (A phrase my friends ripped me off about.)

17:00 Arrive back sometime after that
18:00 Supper
20:00 Worship and talk
21:00 Group activity. One night we did a quiz, the other night we had a dessert fondue and the Thurs Night we headed to Wengen to have our evening meeting in a church.
22:30 Bed time

By the time the day ended we were shattered! But a good sort of tired. After pushing it for a whole day on the slopes, that sleep is welcome.

I did chuckle to myself by day 3 after having to get up “so early” – it felt like a school trip. BUT NOT!!! It’s wasn’t like we were forced to get up to go do something SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME!!!

I managed to get to three of the morning prayer sessions. The trip was a gift from God – and how can one be in His magnificent creation and ignore the Creator Himself.
Was good to pray for others.
The verse that came to mind:
“This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118: 24)

Each day, we had to make our own lunch. That was kinda cool. (That we took with us for the day. What a waste it would be to come back to the chalet / accomodation during the day.)

Each day, we had the most incredible scenery accompanying our lunch breaks:

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Plus we had one or two Apres Ski moments:

apres ski

A beer that high up is always a winner!

At this point, I am going to switch from a daily journal approach to a highlights reel:

The photos I have shared don’t do justice but it was absolutely breathtaking drinking in those views. The snowcapped and snowcovered mountains for as far as the naked eye (haha, an expression that will catch on) can see.

It was an invitation to God’s back garden that we accepted.
The backdrop of the blue sky. And on the last day, from Bond World (a 007 museum) we were above the clouds. The clouds blanketed the valley below.

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How can one not believe with those views?

The lyrics from Dustin’s Kensrue “What beautiful things”

“I lift my eyes to the the azure skies and sing.
Oh what beautiful things I see”

The first day; it was a Sunday – Arran and I were seperated from the group… so we just hung out.
At some point I turned to him and said “This is my kind of church service.”

I remember during the week, sitting on the chair lifts and just looking across to the mountains. Words were not needed.

Arran and I were lucky to see a artic fox sitting so still in the snow. A rare sighting indeed.

And if anyone knows me well they will know I have a thing for birds. Each day we were greeted by those sweet little creations:

Romans 1: 20 comes to mind:
“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.”

Oh yes, I just remembered. One of the peaceful highlights in the morning and afternoon were the train trips up and down the mountain. Just sitting in the train peering out the window, look at the scenery pass you by.

(Again, the video doesn’t do justice)

When last have you just stared out the window of a train?

On the Thursday we got to do the Thrill Walk.
That was epic!
A walk along the side of the mountain and one can see the drop below their feet.
There was a glass section to walk over.
Some netting too.
Love that sort of “playing with heights” thing 😉

Of Snowboarding.
The craziest thing was taking out my ski goggles after 10 years. They’ve travelled with me to South Africa and back. (Always in my suitcase. On call for one day… when the slopes would call me back.)

So after 10 years, when I started on that first run… I was nervous.
And as the day went by… it all came back to me.
And can you just imagine after 6 days…
I found my feet again.
Doing little ollies. Attempting little 180 ollies.
And just carving and leaning more and picking up my speed.
That sound of the snow racing below the board…
Amazing!
The sun hanging overheard cheering you on.
And on one day, I boarded with a sountrack featuring Jeremy Loops and Biffy Clyro.
It was truly epic!

There is a banter in my office about me going on and on about mu holidays. (Oh dear! haha!) So on that note:

From drinking gluhwein next to those flame heaters, to laughter on the chair lifts and around the table. Seeing mountain goats skipping on the mountain above, the sound of the running river, walking in the graveyard on Tues night. Singing This is Our God in a church in Wengen. Eating a cheese fondue and a chocolate one too. From Evelyne throwing wine on me, so classic! Playing darts. Sipping on that refreshing lager on Sunday afternoon. Being fully present on those slopes. Going offpiste – hearing that powder sound. Being above the clouds. Sitting on a chair lift whilst a snow storm hovers over the mountain. Drinking Swiss Hot Chocolate. Playing Curling. Eating those world-famous apple cakes with vanilla sauce at Bergrestaurant Brandegg. What a treat last week was! Thank you Jesus! Thank you Oak Hall.

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Of the weird fondue:
So I almost forgot about the weird fondue night. Wednesday (a week ago today) us six headed for dinner. Swiss themed…

Hilariously we end up in a place called Pasta and More. How Italian!
Then Kiki comes out. She is our waitress. Very forward and almost forecful… making the decisions for us.
I ended “following the crowd” abd ordering fondue too.
(But i knew it was all wrong when it arrived at our table.)
Bread pieces and potatoes.
That’s it! No meat. 🤦‍♂️
I was devastated.
I couldn’t stop laughing…

I should have looked further down the menu…
I’m sure there must have been a meat option.
Then to top it off… there were pictures of cows on each wall of the restaurant:
It’s like they were teasing me: “You should have ordered something with meat.”

From England, from Canada, From South Africa,
Three guys and three ladies who became friends. 🙂

(If you got this far, thank you. I like writing. I like capturing moments and memories.)

Looking at my photos of this past trip I can see I was really beaming in a lot of the photos. Was truly happy! I felt like my soul was truly alive! (Not that it isn’t alive in ordinary daily life.) But this trip was just the cherry on top. So so thankful! 🙂

I once heard this saying: “One doesn’t learn from experiences.”

“One learns from the reflection of experiences.”

Posted in Travel & Explore, Wonder and Beauty

Of here and there

I needed a place to just jot down my thoughts.
So I thought I’d awaken my blog.

This morning, I sit in a little neighbourhood in Milton Keynes.
Before the day ends, I will be in a little cabin (dormitary type thing) in the Swiss Alps.
A little place called Lauterbrunnen.

The wonder of travel.
I am truly thankful.
(I make an effort to count my blessings regularly.)

A lift in a car to the station.
A train trip to the airport
A flight from London Gatwick to Basel, Switzerland
Then a coach (bus) trip up the mountains.

A long day of travel.
But filled with fun.
Looking out the window.
Conversation with friends.
Reading.
Anticipation.
Stunning views.
Meeting new people.

Thank you Jesus!

Sometimes, people who have lived in a first world country all their lives take a lot of things for granted.
Like Public Transport.
I am so thankful that one can get to most places in the UK either by bus or train.

I have not been to Switzerland before,
So I am glad to add another country on my list.
It’s been 10 years since I have snowboarded.
Amped!

Posted in Poetry and Prose

Joy will save the day! (Advent 25)

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
The angel said:
I bring you good news,
that will cause great joy for all people!

They were overjoyed when they saw the star

…because of joy and amazement
Rejoice always!
(Let) My joy remain in you.
This is the day that the the Lord has made:
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
For the joy of the Lord is your strength… (what were you relying on before?)

(As Mr CS Lewis said)
Joy is the serious business of heaven.
Joy will save the day!
Joy > anxiety
Joy > despair
Joy + Jesus = It’s Christmas living!
Joy to the world, the Lord is still here.

(You see scripture is filled with joy? Only the last 4 lines are my addition.)