Life can be like English spring.

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Funny though it may be, the picture gives a pretty acurate illustration of spring in England – this year being a pretty extreme case!

While chuckling, I thought life can be like that too. After a long “winter” the sun finally appears only to be eclisped a few days later by a torrential downpour of problems and sorrows. Slowly it picks up again, the clouds of doubt disperse as it grows steadily warmer. Then again the cold hits etc.

My son, with the manifest wisdom of a thirteen year old, once told me when I felt overloaded with problems. “It’s like the tide, the waves come in and then withdraw but each time they reach a little further and after a while though you don’t see it so much the tide is in.”

Spring here is like that too, each time it gets cold again it’s a little warmer than last time, each time the sun shines it lasts longer. Life is like that too. Seldom do we advance steadily toward our dreams. It’s more often two steps forward and one back. It’s important to bare this in mind and keep our minds on the progress or we can get discouraged by frequent set backs and throw in the towel just before it’s time to launch into the depths and swim.

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Choose to live.

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For me, the best New Year quote was given in the movie Braveheart. He says, “All men die, but not all men truly live.” Many go through life chained to circumstances, living according to “the pattern” of expectation, quenching their dreams, sweet childhood racing hearts reduced to spiritual poverty, disabled by fear.

To truly live demands courage. One might meet an untimely death! At best we stand to fail sometimes, become a target for gossip, have our “friends” desert us. I’ve trod the path, I know.

The alternative to embracing life, is to live a humdrum existence, to “arrive safely at death” dreams stored away lest you fail. I did this at first, till at 17 I exploded, unable to contain it any longer. I hurt some people (especially the boyfriend I no longer wanted to marry). The truth can hurt, but I would have hurt them more in the long run…

I cracked the – 1960s council estate, London suburbia – mould, getting a job in downtown London, I pursued my talents, eventually earning a fine art degree and being ostracized by former friends and neighbours for my audacity. I questioned everything, began to travel, to teach, and best of all (after a great many adventures and going through hell for a while) discovered God was real. From that point on, though there have been battles to fight, I led an enchanted life of total FREEDOM!

During this time, I was continually told these things were impossible for me, a poor girl from a council estate where no one could dream of more than shop, office or factory work, scarcely knew other options existed. Even my school advised against my staying on to take GCSEs (I was dyslexic – a condition unrecognised then) so I left school and started work at 14 years old. I see in retrospect God always had a hand on my life.

Well, that’s my story and it has repeated itself in my children, each conquering “the impossible” in their own way. My advice to anyone with a burning fire? If you hate your life, be brave! Step out on the water like Peter. Sure, he sank when he looked at the waves and the wind, (as we often do) but Jesus lent a hand and together they walked on the water. Peter, a simple fisherman, is remembered while the richly endowed of his time are forgotten. Not for his intellect, talents or wealth but due to his courage to risk everything. So, step out, pursue those dreams, but, if you’d be wise, take God’s hand you may need it sometimes.

feeling comfi? Watch out!

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I don’t know how it came about
It slowly crept on me.
This comfi cozy feeling
Of sofa, bed and tea.
It came upon me slowly
Just take a break it said,
“Rest a while, you’ve done enough”
Resounded in my head.

And so I took it easy
As my life began to dim
I’m getting older gracefully
I said to doubts within.
I lost my sense of purpose
The thing that egged me on
‘f I’d continued with my dozing
My life would soon be gone.

As so this year I’ve promised
Something to myself,
If I think a thing I do it
Not put it on the shelf
To come back to it later
While the time is passing by
There’s so many other options
to do before I die.

What is success?

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What do you picture when you think of a successful person? Media prompting – we’ll most likely picture a well healed business man/woman dressed in the best money can buy, or maybe a celebrity living the high life in a palatial mansion. I’d challenge that concept though.

Firstly the notion of success first requires a choice of what goal you desire to be successful in. Talking to young people, I’ve noticed an alarming trend to simply accept the goals promoted so often in the media (as stated above) without conscious thought or choice, often not even perceiving there are other goals. This is a mistake, not only because not all are fitted for these particular callings (thank God!) and may feel discouraged and lacking when they can’t attain them, but also the ones who do succeed have a tendency to be the saddest, most miserable of mortals.

There’s a great saying – “Before you climb the ladder of success make sure it’s leaning against the right wall!”

I like my son’s goal – to marry and make a happy family (sadly he’s yet to achieve that one having discovered you need a woman with the same goal – his ex being a bit of a gold digger!) Then there are my daughters’ goals. Some went for financial goals and succeeded, (it came at a price though – it always does). One choose ethical teaching ( succeeding and becoming a successful business woman as a result, without compromising her integrity). Another wanted to help her autistic son realize all he could of his potential (I honor her choice highest of all.) She’s succeeding miraculously but there was a lot of sacrifice involved. My youngest wants to leave something of value behind in the way of literature (she’s still setting out.) Even in my own family goal can vary greatly.

I have a second reason also to challenge the accepted notion of success. As a Christian (and human being) I believe in the end we are rated on our degree of love, humanity and integrity. Whether you believe appraisal will come in a look of pity and disappointment by an all loving God or the legacy you leave behind in the way of fond (or not so fond) memories.

I somehow don’t think most financial high fliers and celebrities are going to score high on those ratings. I rather see the struggling, single mum, the street sweepers who greet everyone with a sunny smile on the rainiest of days, the relief worker who cries himself to sleep under the weight of care for others, these are the one’s I see who are the real successes of life, who bring a radiant smile to the eyes of God, who are treasured in the lives of others.

So don’t feel bad if you don’t see yourself as “successful” maybe you score higher than you know!