Beyond the Horizon

I recently went to see the 2022 film Fablemans directed by Steven Spielberg, who co-wrote and produced it with Tony Kushner. He uses the film to reflect upon his own life (known in the film as Sammy) growing up with his Dad Burt, mother Mitzi, siblings and an ‘Uncle Bennie’.


In the film he portrays two extreme aspects of the shared life of his mother and father, having spent decades trying to appreciate their own points of view and he completes the film with clarity rather than spite.

Towards the end of the film, when he was the tender age of 15, he was introduced to the famous film director John Ford who asked Sammy to look at three pictures and tell him what he saw in them. The pictures included people and various scenes from life and that’s what Sammy conveyed back to the director. However, he was asked to look again at the pictures and note where the horizons were. In replying to Sammy, Ford was annoyed and expressed his view that “if a horizon is at the top or bottom of a picture it is interesting. If it is in the middle it is boring”.


The point John Ford was making, was that life and film making is all about perspective and how we see and interpret what we experience which can and does offer different conclusions and memories for each one of us to ponder on!

A physical horizon is a point of contact between the sky and the earth’s surface and it can seem as though the sun rises into the beyond!

Many years ago Job from the Old Testament, declared how God had: ‘marked out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness’ (Job 26: 10).   

In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is acknowledged to be present in the creation and order of the world when ‘the horizon was marked out on the face of the deep’ (Proverbs 8: 27).

Thanks Sime

Beyond the Horizon

A metaphorical horizon represents a limit of a person’s knowledge, experience or interest. For example, a person wants to leave their family home because it compares to a boring middle horizon! They want to broaden their life experiences and interests that represent a high or low horizon!

In the seasons of life we travel from one horizon to another, graduating from nursery, to infant/junior and then senior school. We move up to higher education and then aspire to enter into a long and fulfilling working career. We experience many seasons that require particular levels of change and adjustment. In the third season of life we have to mysteriously navigate crossing over that eternal and everlasting horizon.

Often we feel that our life horizons are limited to the extent of what we want or not want to do. There are also many things that we may or may not be interested or involved in. In looking to explore new horizons we can expand our roles and actions and enthusiastically embrace them. At whatever age and seasons in life we are in at the present, it is good to think about the possibilities of going beyond the horizons we see and perceive.

There are a number of horizon business models that can be applied personally as exampled below.

  1. In the area of business, work and our personal lives there are various growth strategies that can maintain and defend a core business and personal life style.
  • It is important to nurture emerging business and personal aims and goals.
  • We can genuinely create new business and personal opportunities that may help us to move forward in life.

What do you see?

I’m sure you have heard it said: “What do you see, when looking out to the sea and the horizon”? The reply given is: “I see no ships only hardships”!

In the film the difficulties of childhood and relationships were clearly felt by Steven Spielberg and his various perspectives shared and concluded.

Thanks Drew

As we look into this New Year 2023 and beyond, we may be asked as to what do we see and want to see that might be interesting or boring?

  • So what areas in life do you want to broaden and expand upon?
  • How do you interpret the situations in life you have experienced and see with perspective, clarity and without spite?
  • How can you benefit from the wise words of John Ford when speaking to Sammy about interesting and boring horizons?

As we gather together our thoughts and perspectives may they help us to go beyond any ‘glass ceiling’ that might be holding us back and act as an interesting, rather than a restrictive or seemingly impossible horizon to focus on! Any stability, growth and organic reflections for our minds, bodies and spirits can be worked on and coordinated, even if they happen by chance or with those expectant eyes of faith.

Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)


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Tsunami Wave!

On the 26 December 2004, a major earthquake erupted off the coast of Sumatra Indonesia. As a result a tsunami wave of up to 100 feet, struck local communities around the Indian Ocean with a loss of over 227 thousand people in fourteen countries that devastated all the infrastructure in its way.  

Over Christmas and New Year my wife and I travelled to Thailand and stayed for a while on the beautiful island of Phuket. One morning when I was out running I was shocked to see a sign that read: tsunami hazard zone and realised I was in an area that had been affected by the tsunami in 2004.

In conversations with the locals we heard a story about a group of snorkelers who left the island they were on and whilst snorkelling experienced strong under currents. When they surfaced to their amazement they found that the island they had left had been completely swept away by the tsunami wave. We spoke to a driver who had lost his taxi due to the disaster and had to replace it and eventually recovered from the ordeal. Hotels, shops, homes, fishing boats and factories were also destroyed but with the help of government funding and a strong sense of communal will, the tragedy was acknowledged and plans to recover and move forward were put into place.  

During special times of celebration and expectation, Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023, there often emerges unexpected situations that get out of hand and individuals and families fall out and the results can be similar in part to a tsunami wave.

During one evening in the hotel we stayed in, we were shocked to hear a wave of hurtful and violent words that erupted and were exchanged between two individuals in the hotel room nearby. The words were hateful and full of incrimination, accusation and anger. The only time the arguments subsided was when another neighbour, also hearing the noise, knocked on their door which helped the people to come to their senses and eventually calm was restored.

In life we say a wrong word intentionally or unintentionally! We act or don’t act in a way people expect from us! Offense is taken and given! Things that have been said and done are not forgotten! A particular narrative becomes real and has to be defended and situations grow all out of proportion. The issue of truth over relationships dominates and there is no room for reconciliation to emerge based on mutual forgiveness to overcome the unexpected tsunami wave.

On the last night of our stay in Phuket we witnessed a beautiful sunset and a person close by expressed their appreciation of the calm and joy that was felt by all the people watching the sun set on another day. He shared “how can people fight and be out of sorts with each other locally and world-wide when we see such a beauty and calm that the natural world offers to everyone”.

Following the morning of that tumultuous tsunami wave a sunset would have taken place in the midst of a relative calm after the disaster and people would think about what had happened and how they could recover from it.   

In this blog we can be reminded about the importance of relationships over truth and pride. We may feel that we are right and others are wrong and in the midst of it we lose love, respect and future friendships. All relationships at home, work and socially have the potential for harm or good. As we enter into this New Year 2023 things will be said and done that hopefully bring an encouragement for daily living in exchange for those harmful words and actions that destroy.

Having left Phuket we spent some time in the busy but lovely city of Bangkok and then reached out to the calm of Chang Mai in the Northern territory enjoying a visit to an elephant sanctuary. At one point we shared a mud bath attempting to put mud on their backs that would be later washed of in a local stream.

It is said that an elephant never forgets and mud does and can stick inadvertently. When we fall out with somebody unexpected or planned mud is shared and sticks! It is important that we try to forgive, amend and hopefully forget and move on to that place where the mud is washed away and a relationship restored and enjoyed again.

The disciple Peter asked his teacher Jesus: “How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” The answer was unexpected: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” When that offending tsunami wave flows over us we are asked to forgive and forgive and forgive and to share some form of olive branch that keeps any differing feelings and emotions connected with a hope for true reconciliation and forgiveness  

If we do not forgive those who have wronged us then it is unlikely that we will be forgiven by others who we have offended. When a tsunami of wrong washes over us we want justice and revenge. Often the better way is to try and understand what has happened and why and then seek some common ground as how best to overcome the situation and move forward together to reclaim the effects of trauma and retain the relationship.

There is a spiritual forgiveness that we may find in a forgiving God or we may be fortunate to find people around us who are willing to forgive us and even forget our short comings. It is never easy and it takes hard work and effort but peace is possible. Forgiveness is a worthwhile goal and can be gained

In conclusion, the Life Guards on the beaches throughout the Indian Ocean give an indication when it is safe to surf the big waves and enjoy them. They tell us when the waves are settled and calm and we just relax with them. They will warn us of stormy seas and violent waves but they did not anticipate the tsunami wave of 2004.

Thanks cottonbro studio

Try to assess and anticipate where possible the waves that are coming your way today and in the year to come. In terms of human relationships if you feel there is going to be a problem, move just like the sign tsunami hazard zone prompts us, to rise to a higher ground, to forgive, not to be offended and to be gracious in being understood or misunderstood. So may you be filled with joy and peace in all your relationships and life experiences during 2023?

Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)


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Leader of the Pack! – “Encouragement for Daily Living”

In the first of a series of three blogs, Sharing is Caring, we made reference to the boy whose loaves and fishes were the basis for the provision of over five thousand people. In the second blog, Follow the Leader, we sought to understand more fully the value of being a dedicated follower and realised that in certain situations we are leaders as well as followers.


When we are in positions of leadership it is vital to understand the exact role and responsibilities required from us. It is then important that we perform to the best of our abilities as a leader, through our actions and intentions.

Thanks Jehu for the photo

In the memories and reviews of the late Queen Elizabeth II what came out strongly was her understanding of leadership in the context of service to her country and subjects. Principally, she was there to serve her subjects in her official capacity of being served unto.


There are many different types of leadership models that range from being Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-faire. For a moment think about your own experiences of being in positions of leadership at home, work and socially. Then compare how your leadership blossomed or faded with or without any structured leadership model or supervision! It might be helpful to review your experiences and conclude in what ways you could have improved your leadership practices?

  • Positions of leadership?
  • Leadership models and training?
  • Review of leadership?  Good – Poor – Indifferent?

It is interesting to note how we assess our own leadership style and worth as opposed to those under our guidance who will critique our impact and effectiveness in a different form? In accepting a position of leadership and endeavouring to give it our best shot it can be beneficial to embrace other forms of leadership models and training for our self-improvement.

Also if we are confident in our leadership at certain times and places then we will be happy to receive both praise and constructive comments that will improve our ongoing actions, intentions and outcomes. 


When we are called to be a leader there is attached to it a responsibility to implement certain rules and regulations that seek to ensure the work we are involved in is safe, secure and successful. How we model and action our leadership will determine the level of relationship we have with those under our charge and how we ensure they are implemented in areas of discipline, supervision, personal development of staff and any termination of a person’s contract of employment.


The actions of any individual arise from their intentions that may have been brewing for awhile or are instantly acted upon. Rules are important to live and work by but it is of greater value if our actions arise from the intentions of the heart and mind that sit alongside certain processes and procedures that are in place to help and enable rather than simply enforce.

An example of such actions and intentions may be observed when a person wants to steal something from someone, which is a result of their intention to steal. The same can be true if a person wants to be kind to another, they we will have a heart and mind that intends to be kind rather than hurtful. The difference between the two may be how we respect or have a love or no love for the person we are thinking about and approaching.


In our role as a leader it is important to understand the relationship between intentions and respect. If we are more intent on executing laws at the expense of any meaningful relationship of respect, then we should not be surprised that there will be different outcomes. People respond to a particular leadership model they experience and will act in a reciprocal manner based on how rules and relationships are conducted.  

Photo by Krakenimages

Any environment that has at its core an appropriate respect and love for those they are responsible for will find that there exists a healthy atmosphere wherein both rules and intentions coexist and produce successful outcomes. People in their places of work will be happier and more willing to contribute as an individual and within the confines of a team for the purpose of getting a specific task completed that pleases both the leader and the followers.


There are different types of leadership models that will be defined and organic and change in the course of time as required. A leader that is not in sync with what is required for the present day will find that they will fall behind in what is expected and will eventually lose their position as a leader.                

I’m sure you are very much aware of different leadership models, styles and theories which can enhance your current and future roles in leadership. Take a moment over the next few days to consider what areas of leadership you are formally and informally involved in? Identify your areas of strength and weakness and try to improve them to become happier in how you apply them intentionally and relationally. 

A Model of Leadership

My own core leadership model is based on the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount where he says “do to others as you would have them do to you.” This Golden Rule with intention to love and care for our neighbours, families and friends can also be applied to our work and leadership positions.

The late Queen modelled her leadership on the example of Jesus who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” In serving her nation and commonwealth she wasn’t perfect in any way but overall I think she did quite a good job that lasted for 70 years and would have ticked a lot of the boxes found in the plethora of leadership models we may be aware of!

Thanks Markus Spiske

In concluding this series of three blogs, we find that Jesus was a strong leader who humbly cared and instructed his followers to approach the innocent boy, with the intent of feeding the hungry crowd, which acted as a test of their faith and generosity. May we review and understand our own gifts and abilities and be confident and willing to share them as followers and leaders.

Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)


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Follow the Leader!

When I left school at the tender age of sixteen, my first full time job was an apprentice Heating and Ventilating Engineer for Robert Heyworth Company Chorlton Manchester. I was assigned to work with different engineers on both industrial and domestic sites and sought to follow their instructions and learn from their knowledge and expertise as well as attending college to complete my relevant qualifications. One of the most important tasks I didn’t want to fail in, was making the brews and getting the orders right for breakfast and dinners!


Thanks Markus Spiske

Follower and Supporter

Many would express that when they grow up they want to be a leader rather than a follower. However, I believe that to be a successful leader we have to learn how to be a faithful follower!  It can be argued that many people will follow an unofficial leader who has a moral, spiritual and compassionate heart than an official leader who may exhibit quite the opposite.

We may define a follower as a disciple, adherent and partisan. In reading this blog it might be helpful for you to think about what it takes to be a good follower of a leader and then in the course of time, if it suits you, how to become a leader?

Ideas and Movements

A follower is a person who supports and admires a particular person or set of ideas. They are people who move or travel behind someone or something and will give full loyalty and support to a cause and each other. An example of one who follows can range from those who support certain political views, fashions and trends, having a religious faith, those who follow opinions, teachings, ideas, and movements, intellectual and artistic trends.

Character and Actions

To be a follower requires certain attributes such as a control of personal egos to show loyalty even in the face of opposition and try to be humble in areas where the follower might believe they have a better action plan or point of view than the leader. A follower should be willing to work hard when asked and have a courageous spirit in whatever is being expected from them. To be able to listen and follow instructions and where required be tactful and show wisdom, guile and to be able to network successfully.  

Team Player

A supporter should be able and willing to work within the confines of a team, pursuing that collective goal and mission which is headed up by the leader. Where required a follower should not just take a passive role but should be willing at times, for the good of the whole, to speak out so that a better decision and outcome takes place than if nothing was said. A good follower has more of an intense and individualistic focus in seeking to achieve what has been assigned to them which compares to an entourage that makes up many followers as exampled at a sports or music event.

Online Follower

Thanks William Krause

We may follow various people and activities online and have our own followers who we appreciate known or unknown and sadly various trolls that may try to unsettle us. A different follower may be classed as a Voyeur who watches or follows a person or setting without them knowing and that person can easily transform into a Stalker who would be categorised as an unwelcomed follower and may intimidate and cause an individual to become fearful and uncomfortable.


A follower who has a broad perspective will appreciate the present in the context of what is possible or not able to be accomplished. They try to convey to people what is important in terms of attitude and actions for the good of the individual and the group and to lay aside that which is negative or unimportant. Such a supporter flies a flag that encourages a mind-set of trust for all to see so as to promote increased awareness, trust and communal strength. There are many life situations where at one moment we are a natural leader, say within the family, and in other cases a formal or natural follower and supporter!

Be Happy and Content

It is important to stress that it is acceptable to be a happy follower rather that a begrudging leader who might have been pressurised into leadership from their parents or community. The world needs leaders but it also requires followers of leaders to complete successful and shared targets and goals.

As previously mentioned if one is a good follower then that can act as an adequate training ground to becoming a leader. If that is the case for you at this moment then highlight what is required to take that path towards becoming a leader.

  • Increase your personal development and self-awareness.
  • Embark on specific training to acquire new skills and confidences.
  • Be willing to take a step of faith into the unknown and become a leader in your own right.
  • If it does not work for you then you can be certain and happy in continuing to be a dedicated follower of successful leaders.

In my last blog I spoke about Sharing is Caring and made a reference to the boy who shared his loaves and fishes willingly or by transaction and had no idea of its impact upon future generations. In that same story (Mark 6) we note the role of the disciples who had been instructed by Jesus to distribute the bread and fishes for the hungry and share the baskets of food left over.

If the followers did not listen and respond to the leader’s instructions at that time then lots of supporters would have been left very hungry and dissatisfied.   

Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)


“Encouragement for Daily Living”

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Sharing is Caring! – “Encouragement for Daily Living”

I’m sure you are aware of the phrase Sharing is Caring! The question may be asked does our ability to share come from the character that is formed within us or are we taught by example to share and care within the family and that is reflective of the culture and traditions we live in?

Recently I was in the company of a loving Grandad talking tenderly to his grandson and complementing him on successfully completing a particular task and affirming him as a big boy. The grandson paused and looked up to his Grandad and calmly replied “I’m not a big boy, I’m a small boy.”

Thanks Mikhail Nilou

The Grandad initially did not know how to respond but acknowledged what had been said and gently replied “yes, you’re a very special small boy.” The grandson was happy with the response and both continued to enjoy the rest of the day’s activities together.

Last week I spent time with my eldest Grandson Oscar and we agreed that making some bread together, with the help of a bread maker, would be a good thing. We followed the recipe and added the flour, sugar, salt, butter, water and yeast. Occasionally I have forgotten to add the yeast and we all know what the outcome would have been! Rejection! Then the dough thrown straight into the bin and we then go back to adding ingredients again according to the instructions!

The timer was set and then we waited for the dough to be ready, proved and then cut into eight buns ready to go into a hot oven. I congratulated Oscar, remembering the words I had heard about the big and small boy previously and when the bread buns had been baked and cooled we sat down to eat the bread in our own way and then shared the rest with the family. One of my favourite’s ways is to eat a freshly baked sandwich with best butter and a slice of mackerel on it. My perfect small loaf and half a fish!   

A story is told about a boy, whose age we are not informed of, being out and about with a certain amount of food in his possession. When a baby is weaned after about six months, it begins to eat solid food, crawl, walk and gradually grow into a toddler and then into an older girl or boy.

The ages when a boy or girl becomes a man and woman will vary from one culture to another and what responsibilities they are given. In certain cultures a boy would be recognised around the age of 13 just before his bar/mitzvah and then a man from the age of 14 – 15 and then fully aged 18. For a girl it would be before her bat/mitzvah about 12 and then considered a woman from the age of 12 – 13 and then fully 16.

Thanks Ketut Subyanto

As the boy travelled, a large crowd had formed in close proximity to him and one of the teachers and leaders attached to the crowd came over to him. They began to engage in a conversation with the outcome being that the boy gave the food to the leader knowing that it would help, in a small way, the large crowds that continued to gather.

The story does not detail what happened to the boy after that encounter! Did he stay to observe how his food was to be used? He might have been in a hurry while travelling and so didn’t stop but continued on his journey to later explain to his parents or employer what had happened to the food? It may be possible that the boy had been given a generous amount of money to cover his costs which would help him to explain the loss of the food. He may have been congratulated on completing a successful deal and even being called a ‘good boy’!

In dwelling on this story I have considered a few things that are worth thinking and acting upon.

  • Identify your gifts and abilities as represented in the food the boy was carrying?

Often we are not fully aware of our talents and haven’t had the opportunity to develop them. It is true that so often we hold on to those abilities we are comfortable with and are not willing to take a risk in trying new experiences which might give opportunities for latent gifts to emerge.

  • As you develop your gifts and abilities are you willing to use and share them?

Some of us are very happy to share our gifts and abilities because we care and are confident that in sharing we will gain from it in unexpected ways that we would not be fully aware of? Many feel that if we share that which we have we may lose something valuable and be taken advantage of. However, if we do not use and share what we have we will eventually lose them!

  • Are you confident that your talents are valued without knowing there impact?

It is wonderful to see people confidently and without fear sharing their gifts and food with a generous spirit. As we share we know that in a special way they will be a blessing, encouragement and source of nourishment to those in receipt of them.

I’m sure you have sussed out by now that that story of the boy and the food he was carrying relates to the miraculous feeding of the five thousand as found in John 6: 1- 13.

Thanks Ruslan Khmelevsky

The young boy is known and famous worldwide but in the story only plays a small part. He would have never known the importance of that exchange of food that included loaves and fishes.

He also would not have been aware that such a seemingly insignificant sharing of his food would go on to feed thousands upon thousands of people on the day. It’s an amazing example of the fact that we should never minimise the day of small actions that can grow into large and very influential consequences.

What is our take away?

  • Recognise the latent and up front gifts that you have and use them as your loaves and fishes.
  • Be prepared to share your gifts and abilities as an exchange for income, leisure and pure enjoyment trusting that they may grow and be maximised beyond our wildest dreams whether we are aware of it or not.
  • Be confident in using your loaves and fishes quietly or loudly and happy to explain fully their use as a current investment or ones for the long term.

Enjoy this fun Kids Learning Song to brighten up your day and remember Sharing is Caring.

Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)


“Encouragement for Daily Living”

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We’re going on holiday!

During the recent Covid pandemic one of the many questions I heard asked was, when can I take a holiday such as a Staycation or Vacation abroad? Once it was lawful to arrange a holiday, there was the daunting task of completing the relevant Covid tests and travel documentation. Subsequent talk was then about the chaos and time delays at airports, train stations and sea ports.   

For me one of the joys of going on any holiday is the planning and the anticipation of visiting a place that is being booked. Once arrived at the chosen destination there is the delight of embracing the familiar or totally brand new surroundings and activities.

Thanks Massimo Virgilio

In an article by the Oxford Royal Academy A brief history of the English summer holiday it outlines the development of a holiday in five key stages: Holy-days and pilgrimages: The Grand Tour: Beside the seaside: International travel: Staycations!


The origin of the word holiday comes from Holy-day or Saints-day as shared in the Christian calendar, and was important in medieval life. Most of the Holy-days took place on a Sunday but included other festival times such as Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide. Taking a Sabbath rest in the Christian tradition is very important as it encourages believers to focus on worship to God and human friendship on a Sunday/Sabbath after a period of work, so as to experience spiritual and emotional refreshment. Rest helps to recalibrate body, mind and spirit from all the stresses and strains that have been encountered in a domestic and working week which will be different for each one of us.

Purpose and aims

At this moment in time think about what would be your priority when thinking about arranging a holiday?

Destination? Who you travel with? Activities? Price? Dates and timings? Other ……..…?

During a time of rest it is beneficial to try and slowdown from the fast pace of everyday living and take some time to have extended periods for sleep that will recharge our mental and physical batteries.

It is also important to enjoy taking a leisurely breakfast, dinner and evening meal and to stretch our legs during local walks. Any shared entertainment with family and friends that brings fun, joy, laughter and even frivolity is very much welcomed.

Thanks Eugenia Basyrova

Changing experiences

For many years a holiday represented a pilgrimage to a Holy place or, for the wealthy, taking a Grand Tour of Europe and being enthralled by new experiences that have influenced culture and architecture in the UK and beyond.

There has long been a tradition in some parts of the UK where companies would close down for a week or two and all the employees would travel to popular seaside towns such as Blackpool to enjoy a Holiday Week. Organized activities developed such as the traditional Donkey Ride, a Pleasure Beach, Bingo Sessions and Theatre Shows on the local pier or in the city centre. Recent holiday changes include weekend breaks to a nearby city or town enjoying the entertainment and the local culture and history.

New Buses and Coaches were made for people to travel on and Train Lines were introduced and expanded. Cruise Liners were built to travel to America, Australia, the Far East and Africa. Towns and countryside grew to accommodate Guest Houses providing Bed and Breakfast. Luxurious Hotels were established and amazing Camping and Caravanning sites were formed.

Thomas Cook branch in the Strand London

The oldest Package holiday was an excursion organized by Thomas Cook that included Tea, ham sandwiches and a brass band and was the beginning of mass tourism. In 1949 Horizon holidays were formed and later many post-war packages were organized to Spain. Today specialist holiday companies arrange Safari Trips, Archaeological Digs, Golfing and Cycling events. The chance to climb a mountain in summer and ski in winter and lots of other activities that appeal to the interests of certain groups.


Many people work to live and enjoy a break away. However, such experiences are not without their troubles and disappointments, for example delays at the airport, vehicles braking down, ships engines failing and trains crashing. We experience arguments with those we travel with and have to eat humble pie and say sorry. We get into debt trying to keep up with the Jones (our neighbours and friends) and their fabulous holidays. I am a great advocate of a mini holiday that can give equal excitement and rest over a shorter period of time.

What is the point of a holiday?

It is often said that after a busy holiday what we need most of all is another holiday! The benefit of any form of holiday may be found in three forms as outlined below:

Spiritual As the name suggests a Holy-Day is for spiritual rest and renewal. To stop and ease the spirit and to pray and express gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of life we are given. To meditate and contemplate and find spiritual nourishment from the Bible, other Holy Scriptures or Wisdom Literature that strengthens our spiritual life.

Physical On holiday we have an opportunity to recharge our physical batteries. When I worked as a Postman for a couple of years I remember a lovely man called Paddy who seemed to work every hour God gave him. When he retired at the age of 65 it was only a matter of six months before we were told that he had died and had been denied a well-deserved rest from his labours. It seemed that his body had been so exhausted over the hard years of working, that he wasn’t able to recover from an unexpected illness he incurred. It is often quoted that it is very important to take adequate times of rest after physical work, so that our bodies may recovery from whatever level of exhaustion it has encountered.

Emotional It is also important to rest our emotions and minds. Social media and all that we have to think about, plan and prepare does take its toil upon us. We may be resting physically but our minds and emotions can be racing ahead and expending lots of energy that makes us fatigued and emotionally exhausted. I remember speaking to someone who took pride in saying that they had never taken a sick day from work over a period of nine years. However through a series of events both at work and home the person became unwell emotionally and ended up having over a year off work whilst recovering from mental exhaustion.  

So enjoy planning and looking forward to your next holiday or Holy-day. Give thanks for all the memories and moments from previous holidays and remember that we are body, mind and spirit and if we neglect one over another then it will create an imbalance in our health overall.  


‘Encouragement for Daily Living’

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Graduation Day 2022

It’s a beautiful July day and I am taking time to write my new Blog and Insights that I’m publishing this month. I am sat in the same area where I was as an undergraduate reading Theology and Religious Studies at Manchester University some 32 years ago.   

Looking down from the Ryland’s library window I can hear and see many students with their families travelled from the Great Hall, where their Graduation ceremony has just taken place, to the university quadrangle where the Celebration Marquee is housed for everyone to enjoy a Celebratory Drink. There are lots of photos being taken with the students smiling and laughing whilst proudly wearing their Graduation garments for all to see and appreciate.

Human life is full of different stages to navigate and graduate from and to, until our final graduation when we take our last breathe. In a very general sense we can say that there are three stages in life. Formative Years. – from birth to around thirty years. Mid Years – from thirty to around sixty years. Retirement Years – from sixty to the day we die.

Think for a moment where you are within those stages of life? Are you on an upward 10% gradient or a downward 10% gradient?

Formative Years 

It’s wonderful to observe a new born baby and see the different stages they go through. From the breast they are weaned to eat solids and then progress from the nappy to the potty to the toilet, alongside crawling, walking and talking and sleeping. They become more demanding and ask why all the time!

They graduate from nursery, infants, juniors and seniors and beyond. They are baptised, christened and take their first communion. They fall and get scratches, bruises and broken bones.  

As adolescents they become cheeky and sleepy, alert and disinterested, they are loved and learn how to love others saying sorry and not being so self-centred. The big wide world is equally scary and wonderfully engaging. They become body conscious and compare themselves to others trying to understand their own character and personalities. They learn how to spend and save money, to buy clothes, exercise, read a book, listen to music and play the latest video games.

Exams are failed, passed and retaken. Negotiating the driving test and initial job interviews that reject or confirm life skills and abilities cause them to shine or feel a bit jaded. Sleep-overs, all night parties, negotiating with parents and learning how to recover. First kiss, first love, rejection and loneliness. Settlement, contentment, faith, no faith, thankfulness and resentment for parents and carers and experiencing independence in the modern world. We find our perfect place to live being on our own, married or living together. There is planned or unplanned pregnancies, raising children, divorce, separation and renewed love.   

Such a lot has happened in the first thirty years of life. We make a self-assessment on how we have graduated giving ourselves a first, second, third, pass or fail. Pause for a moment to give thanks for your formative years the good, bad and the ugly and forgive those who didn’t treat you as they should have in ignorance or with malice.

Mid Years

At this point life may feel quite settled or still in a period of flux either trying to accept the status quo with thanksgiving or regret. We continue to work hard to provide for all our personal needs and family responsibilities. We support our parents, siblings, children and wider family members. We seek to create and celebrate many life achievements with party’s and special meals together. We are quietly content in our lovely homes, confident at work whilst negotiating promotions, one to ones, disputes and preparing for the long haul towards retirement with a planned or interrupted pension.

We enjoy ours days in the home, on holiday and coping with various health issues that affect us. They all seem at times like a 20% uphill or downward gradient.

Photo by Robert So

We adapt to increased waistlines whilst trying to maintain some form of exercise regime. Loss, bereavement and confusion, in many forms, challenge us to the core but we are thankful for long term friends and family who make that continual difference. 

We move and settle into a different home creating a place of calm or chaos! We aspire to own that dream car or environmentally friendly rusty bike. We live hand to mouth or have excessive amounts of cash in the bank for personal use only. We hold on to friends that we have known since school days or realise they are few in number and it’s hard to establish new ones.

In all we begin to look back and forward wondering what if! As with those formative years seek to accept the good, bad and the ugly and forgive those who didn’t treat you as they should have in ignorance or with malice.

Retirement Years

I have known many people who have been fortunate to take an early retirement from around 50 – 55 years with a full pension. Many though have had to retire early due to ill health or difficult circumstances with only state benefits to live on.

In both cases it can be very difficult to adapt from a life of organised work to a life of change wherein we have a freedom to organise our own days, apart from the demands our loved ones place upon us and any financial constraints.

Sunset. Thanks Noaa             

However, life continues with beautiful children being born and many opportunities to care for them, remembering those formative years from a different perspective. We downsize, take it easy and seek to enjoy life in a different way. We think again about why we were baptised, christened and the importance of sharing Holy Communion. Brother and sister pain, comes to visit us and we become regulars at the doctors and local hospital. It seems like we are facing a 30% uphill or downward gradient.

Silently or out loud we prepare to meet our maker graduating to some place that we haven’t fully researched or accepted, concluding that any eternal theory or fact is irrelevant to daily living. We look to make up with those we have fallen out with or just accept that no reconciliation will take place.

We complete a ‘last will and testament’ for the estate we have accumulated to be distributed to those people and charities we love. Life is one long graduation combining different gradients that go up and down with ease or great pain.

Recently on LinkedIn it has been great to read the stories of the Graduates saying thanks to their family, friends and lecturers who have helped them during their studies and all their aspirations for a bright future.

As with those formative and mid years may we accept the good, bad and the ugly and forgive those who didn’t treat us as they should have in ignorance or with malice.

Our bodies and minds change and decay and we see the chequered flag of life emerging. But as a Christian Minister and person of faith I believe that there is a wonderful hope that one day we may be in the very presence of our Maker and Redeemer.

In that new and eternal life, there may be more plateaus than gradients, but having such a hope and aspiration, it offers me a strength for today and a bright hope for tomorrow.

Selah (pause to think calmly on what you have just read)


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Can’t do it! Won’t do it! Can do it!

Can you remember a time when you were wrestling with a situation and the simple conclusion was: I can’t do that! In fact I won’t do that!

One of my biggest challenges was running the London marathon for the first time in 2005. I said to myself and friends I can’t do that, it’s too much and I won’t do it. Eventually I submitted my ballot application and applied to run for Shelter.

To my shock and horror I was accepted and embarked on a four month period of mental and physical preparation for a five hour run. I successfully finished it, apart from the cramp which I usually get around 18 – 21 miles which I experienced again completing my twelfth marathon April 2022 in Manchester. Can’t do it! Won’t do it! Can do it!     

What is the difference between something we think we cannot do, a decision not to do it and actually doing it?

I think the influence of people around us affects us greatly. One group will aim to get to the top of a mountain by any means and methods. Another group will decide that climbing a mountain is a rubbish idea and not even entertain the thought, never mind any action. A further group will talk about a desire to climb a mountain but do not have the confidence and determination to follow through on such an idea.

We are mid-way through 2022 and I wonder what you would like to achieve in the second half of this year and beyond?

During the late 1980s I served as a Minister of Religion in a church in Pensby on the Wirral with a congregation that was around thirty plus. After four years the number of people attending rose to around 80 plus. After much discussion the membership felt that the church building needed extending and refurbishing to meet its short and long term requirements. We talked and dreamed and eventually came up with a plan designed by a church member, who was a professional architect. The drawings were submitted, an estimated cost was calculated and then we waited.

We succeeded in getting permission to build and decided to go ahead in faith trusting that all the finance would be met by the church members and every aspect of the work would be completed to a high standard. It was a very exciting time with many offering their skills and abilities that ranged from Bill, a professional brickie, laying the foundational bricks to those who helped in clearing the grounds and later painting walls. Whenever I return to visit the church I see a beautiful building that is fit for purpose.

At some point we all thought that we couldn’t do. Some didn’t want to do. Hallelujah, it was eventually completed and paid for by many generous freewill donations.     

The interplay between our Minds, Spirits and Actions.

The mind is very powerful and can dictate our moods, thoughts and actions. It’s important to be able to share with a friend, family member, mentor, coach or counsellor. It’s vital to place any negative or intrusive thoughts in a junk section of our minds and concentrate on positive thoughts and feelings so as to fully engage and embrace all the beauty and exciting challenges life brings to us.

The spirit is very intuitive.  As a Christian I try to enter my day in a spirit of prayer with thanksgiving as I to seek God’s presence that can bring guidance and inspiration for daily living in all decisions I have to make.

A course of action. Intentions and actions can be miles apart and become very frustrating. In settling on a plan it can help us to think further as to how we may want to proceed or not. In regards to any intentions it is important to be prepared to start, not to turn away or get distracted, or even give up. To ‘just do it.’

Living the Dream

A long standing friend of mine has had a full life working and socialising. He has had many plans and successes and there has been various unexpected events that have forced him to lose jobs and relationships. Financially he has gained and lost a lot but thankfully over the last thirty years has been comfortable.  

After a long illness he lost his wife but together they shared a dream and  plans to buy a property abroad and live there with one in the sun and the other under the shade. For the past twenty years he has been living their collective dream albeit on his own.

So in this year 2022 identify your dreams, calling and gifting. Share it with your loved ones and see what they think. We only have one life to live that may last for a long time but can be quickly taken from us. Be confident in your thinking. Find spiritual inspiration, peace and guidance and then go out there and just do it!

Can’t do it! Won’t do it! Can do it!


(Selah: take time to consider what you have just read)

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The Intrigue of Integrity

A question: what does it mean to be integral in all relationships and activities? I think a starting point is to try and recognise where your root of integrity is based and then how it will, in some measure, determine the fruit of integrity in your place of work and in all your relationships within community.

Roots of Integrity

It always amazes me to see how a tiny seed when placed in the ground can grow into its intended plant having strong and deep roots that will go on to produce lots of fruit and flowers. The roots of our own integrity may stem from a deep and personal faith in an integral God. You may have developed a firm trust in a humanistic philosophy that offers you a required moral code and ethics to live by.

In the country we reside in it will exhibit a unique culture and national identity that seeks to uphold the importance of being integral. You may feel that you have a strong self-identity that gives you a personal strength and pride to be the person of integrity you want to be. If we seek to live a life with integrity then people will trust us and rely on us to stay true to our word and intentions evidently shown in all our actions.

Fruits of Integrity

In my research around the value of Integrity I came across this article from Minimalism Made Simple that outlines ten reasons why integrity is important in life and I share them as follows:

1 We are known as reliable. 2 We become a better person. 3 We have a good reputation. 4 We enjoy feelings of peace. 5 We show confidence to all we meet. 6 We are able to forge good relationships. 7 We enjoy sound sleep. 8 We are admired. 9 We become a natural leader 10 We are inspirational to people we meet. 

There are other aspects of being integral which can be added to the above and may overlap slightly. We have the quality of being honest and seek to uphold strong moral values and principles. We are described as a person of complete integrity, shining out consistently in a world of constant change. We hold on to principals that, in some settings, may otherwise be quickly compromised.

If we are integral we will want to be accurate, honest and truthful in the pursuit of one’s ambitions. It is also very important to keep our promises, pay our debts on time, uphold confidentiality and be trustworthy and dependable. It is valuable to align our conduct to what we think is a higher and excellent way which will help us to be open in our character and relationships. Lastly at this juncture we will want to develop and maintain a good reputation and to have a clear conscience in all matters so that we gravitate to become natural and inspirational leaders to many.

If we exhibit integrity it will enhance our relationships which in turn will build up any national and international characteristics such as honesty, truth, respect, appreciation, generosity, kindness and a lack of prejudice.

Little root and fruit

Another way to understand what being integral is and is not, is to compare contrasting people who have different roots of integrity and will by default produce a different type of fruit. At this point we must be generous, because for all of us ‘to err’ as the saying goes ‘is human, to forgive (and understand) is divine.’

Those who lack integrity are prone to being very direct in speech and manner. Many are not clear in what they are communicating and this gets tied up with intended plans and produces in people a propensity to waiver in speech and actions. Another indication of those lacking integrity is a willingness to quickly compromise in given situations and like to brag about their achievements and in the process are found to be rather rude and not reliable. They are also prone to being defensive and not willing to say sorry or take accountability for their actions.

The testing of integrity

Job in the Old Testament was a very wealthy and successful man and during two times of testing he lost many livestock, family and workers. Then he encountered some personal health issues while expressing his complaints to friends and to God. However, his wife asked him why he was still holding on to his integrity? You should curse God and die! Job told his wife that she was talking foolishly and reminded her that personal integrity should be upheld during both good and troubled times in life.

There are times in our own lives when we feel we are being severely tested on many fronts and may find it hard to survive and thrive. Our relationships with those close to us become frayed and things said with emotion, require forgiveness and a reset of heart and mind.

For a moment take time to identify any areas in your life where you are being tested and looking for positive change and encouragement?



Personal health



Purpose in life

Other ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 

May we be thankful for deep roots that produce wonderful fruit and spectacular flowers enabling individuals, families and communities to flourish with the intrigue of integrity?


(Selah: take time to consider what you have just read)

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Acceptance with thanksgiving!

The phone rang and a good friend asked me if I wanted to join him on a day’s ramble in the Peak District. I took a moment to think about the invite and then kindly accepted and finalized further details about timings and preparations.

Easter Monday Ramble

A big part of Easter celebrations include the dark day of Good Friday and the bright Easter Sunday, remembering the resurrection of Jesus. Then often on the Easter Monday many would travel to the countryside to take part in a robust or leisurely ramble.

Choices and Impositions

Midway through the walk with my friend, we were asked if we wanted to follow a low and easy path or ascend via a more difficult and higher route. We chatted and agreed to accept the challenge of the higher way. In life there are many choices and impositions that come to us whereby we have to decide how we are going to act and react in respect to directions, emotions and relationships. 

Photo by Kelly L

Acceptance with thanksgiving

For the past few months I have been thinking and meditating on the topic of acceptance with a spirit of thanksgiving. In psychological and theological terms the concept of acceptance is comprehensive and may relate to the following points.  

Self-acceptance. Do we value or devalue ourselves?

Personal relationships. Do we give freely to others or look to take from people?

Faith or no faith in a God. Faith gives us a hope and joy beyond ourselves. Without faith we act as our own God!

Daily living. How we relate to acceptance and none-acceptance will determine our characteristics!

If we are able to accept the actual daily circumstances we find ourselves in and be thankful for them, it will strengthen our minds, bodies and spirits.

None-acceptance with complaint

The contrasting thought to the above is an attitude of none-acceptance with complaint. We may live daily in a state of none-acceptance and complain about what is happening to ourselves and our relationships get complicated. We are ignorant and angry towards a governing God or Divine being that seems to allow troubles on earth. We carry with us a sour spirit that everyone around us can sense. It is however important to recognise where we are not happy and register our complaints so that it helps an ongoing attitude of acceptance with thanksgiving! 

Bereavement and Loss

Twelve years ago I was asked to take the funeral service of a local lady who had lost her husband. It goes without saying that she did not want to accept his loss but within the service and the intervening months and years she was able to record a wealth of thanksgiving for that which they had shared together. There was also lots of none-acceptance and complaints as to how his absence affected her quality of life and incurred many hours of sadness and tears.

Any bereavement may include a loss of relationships, a job and a measure of health. Also an ability to earn and maintain a certain level of wealth. I have continued to visit the lady and together we have shared our own acceptances with thanksgiving and those areas in life that challenge us with none-acceptance and complaint.

None-acceptance with thanksgiving – Acceptance with complaint

During the last two years, as is the case with so many, lockdown has severely affected her confidence to re-engage with ‘normal’ life and has accepted that she is unable physically and emotionally  to travel outside her home again. It is so special that she has excellent home carers and support around her that makes her confided life more than bearable.

It might be an interesting exercise to think about: None-acceptance and thanksgiving and attaching acceptance to complaint! You might be pleasantly surprised as to what impact it will have upon you?

Accept the day and circumstances given to us

As we continue to ‘ramble’ with friends during summer and autumn walks, we will accept or reject certain challenges that come our way. We will make good or bad choices and try to work through impositions placed upon us.

Photo by Johannes Plenio:

It takes more energy to frown than smile. It takes a lot of effort to lie than tell the simple truth. When we constantly complain, justified or not, we create an atmosphere in which people do not want to linger in.

The book of Psalms in the Old Testament records the experiences of many individuals who have registered their complaints and thanksgivings in the midst of accepting and rejecting the life circumstances they find themselves in. Psalm 121   encourages us to “lift our eyes to the mountains” and asks the question. Where can we find help to make good choices and cope with impositions?  The answer is to consider “the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth,” who watches over our comings and goings.

So today register your none–acceptance and complaints so that your personal wellbeing is not diminished. Firm up your acceptance of what today brings before you and be thankful. May we all ‘roll with the punches’ that life brings, with an acceptant smile on our faces? 


(Selah: take time to consider what you have just read)

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