30 May

“14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Matthew 5:14-16, extracted from Jesus’ enlightening Sermon on the Mount, highlights the transformative influence we, as believers, can exercise. It identifies us as the “light of the world,” compelling us to shine resplendently, living our faith in a manner that mirrors God’s unwavering love and glorious splendour.

In this scripture, “a town built on a hill” and “a lamp put on its stand” are poignant metaphors for the visibility and influence of a believer’s faith and actions. Just as a town on a hill stands visible from afar, and a lamp is set on a stand to radiate light extensively, so should our faith be—visible and impactful. Jesus urges us through these metaphors that our faith shouldn’t be concealed; instead, it should be lived out openly, influencing those around us akin to a city skyline or the warm glow of a lamp.

Our actions bear substantial weight in glorifying God—they are the visible manifestations of our faith and the transformative power of God. As we carry out acts of love, kindness, and integrity, we effectively disseminate God’s light, guiding others towards His abundant grace and bringing honour to His revered name.

A former neighbour of mine, Chris, vividly exemplifies this concept of “letting your light shine”. On a harsh winter day, we noticed an elderly man struggling to shovel his driveway. Despite returning from a demanding day at work, Chris stepped in without hesitation, dedicating over an hour to clear the snow. His spontaneous act of kindness not only aided the elderly neighbour but also ignited a chain of kindness on our street. That day, Chris was the ‘light’ on our street, his noble act mirroring God’s love and compassion.

Can you recall a moment when your actions or words positively impacted someone?

The key to applying this scripture in our daily lives lies in our awareness of how our actions can reflect God’s, eternal love. Small yet sincere acts of kindness, such as assisting a neighbour or sharing words of comfort with someone in distress, can demonstrate our faith. By becoming positive role models in our communities and workplaces, we can ‘shine our light’ more expansively. Finally, openly sharing our faith through words and consistent, loving actions can stimulate inspiration in others and glorify God, truly encapsulating the essence of being the ‘light of the world’.

What does being a “light of the world” signify to you?

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

“Gracious Father, we humbly seek your strength and courage to allow our lights to shine brightly. Assist us in being bold, in demonstrating your love through our actions and words, enabling us to reflect your glory in all our deeds. Inspire us to be beacons of hope and kindness to those around us, and guide us to use our lives to light the path leading to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.”

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29 May

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust is something I have wrestled with throughout my life. There have been times when I struggled to trust people, hesitant to be vulnerable or ask for help when needed. Other times, I trusted the wrong individuals—those who proved untrustworthy and took advantage of my faith in them. In essence, my trust-o-meter has been out of balance. Recognising this, I’ve realised that I cannot discern who is trustworthy and who requires caution. Equally, I have learned that no human being is one hundred per cent reliable all of the time, especially me. We are fallible human beings with our struggles and brokenness. Therefore, placing too much trust in myself or others will inevitably lead to disappointment, hurt and dejection.

This proverb offers a solution to my dilemma. Trusting in God is very different to trusting human beings. Relying solely on my understanding is insufficient, but I can trust the Lord; he has never let me down. Allowing God to guide my life will reveal whom to trust and with what. He will teach me how to establish healthy boundaries and direct my steps. As the proverb states, embracing this approach will prevent me from getting lost.

“How do I know this? It’s because I have experienced it firsthand. Let me share an example. At one point, I was applying for two jobs and had interviews scheduled for the same week. The first interview was for a position in business marketing. The interview went well, and I was offered the job. However, as I prayed about it, I sensed God saying, “Wait, there is more to come.” 

It was immensely challenging to decline the job offer. It didn’t make sense to me; as the adage goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Turning down a secure job offer seemed irrational! Then came the second interview, this time for a role in public relations. The arduous interview left me feeling like I needed to perform better. I began to question my belief that God was instructing me to wait. Dejectedly, I returned home, thinking I had made a colossal mistake. However, the following day, I received a job offer for the public relations position, and it turned out to be the most fulfilling, engaging, and enjoyable job I have ever had. 

On a subsequent day, I encountered the person who had been given the business marketing job. She confided in me about her constant boredom, expressing how she often had nothing meaningful to do and felt she wasn’t making a significant impact. Then, I realised God had guided me away from a job that would have left me discouraged and directed me toward a role that filled me with joy. I then saw that if I had used whether or not something was easy as my guide instead of listening to God, I would have missed out on this incredible opportunity.

I sometimes get it right. Sometimes, what I perceive as God’s leading may not be Him at all. Yet, I have discovered that God is incredibly patient and gracious with me, gently steering me in the right direction when I surrender my will and life to Him. Who knows what incredible adventures await us if we pause and listen for His voice?

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, thank You for being the God of wisdom and kindness. Our lives are secure in Your hands. We surrender ourselves to You. Lead and guide our every step so our paths may be straight, and we can confidently follow You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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The Poor in Spirit: Embracing the Kingdom of Heaven

Welcome to the new blog series, “Blessed: Exploring the Sermon on the Mount.” During this journey, we will unravel the profound wisdom and guidance of Jesus’s timeless words during the Sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew, continues to inspire and challenge people across generations. Within this sermon, Jesus presented a revolutionary perspective on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. The Beatitudes, in particular, serve as the foundation of this extraordinary sermon, encapsulating a series of blessings that offer a pathway to true joy, inner peace, and purposeful existence.

This blog series will look at each Beatitude in turn. We will examine its meaning, explore its relevance in our lives, and seek practical ways to incorporate its teachings into our daily routines. Together, we will reflect upon the profound wisdom hidden within these simple yet profound statements, seeking to unlock their transformative power and apply them to our journeys.

Whether you are a long-term believer, a curious seeker, or someone drawn to the universal wisdom found in these teachings, I hope that “Blessed: Exploring the Sermon on the Mount” will be a journey of self-discovery, spiritual growth, and personal empowerment. May we all be blessed and enriched by the timeless wisdom the Beatitudes hold.

Embracing the Kingdom of Heaven

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught profound truths that continue to resonate with people from all walks of life. The verse “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” holds a special place among His teachings. These words invite us to reflect on the profound wisdom behind Jesus’ message and discover the transformative power of embracing a humble and contrite spirit.

Understanding “Poor in Spirit”:

To grasp the true meaning behind being “poor in spirit,” we must delve beyond the surface-level interpretation. This phrase does not refer to material poverty but speaks to the disposition of our hearts. It signifies our utter dependence on God, acknowledging our spiritual poverty and humbling ourselves before His majesty. In a world often consumed by pride and self-sufficiency, Jesus reminds us that true blessings come to those who approach God with humility and a longing for His grace.

The Paradox of Blessedness:

In a paradoxical twist, Jesus presents an alternative perspective on what it means to be blessed. He turns our conventional understanding of happiness on its head by declaring that blessedness does not necessarily correspond to worldly success, wealth, or power. Instead, it emerges from a deep, personal relationship with God. The poor in spirit experience an intimate connection with the divine, finding solace and joy in the presence of the Almighty.

Embracing the Kingdom of Heaven

By acknowledging our spiritual poverty and surrendering our lives to God, we open the door to the kingdom of heaven. This invitation is not limited to a distant future but encompasses the transformative power of God’s reign in our lives here and now. Through our humility, we invite God’s grace to fill our hearts, leading to a profound inner transformation. As we seek His kingdom, we discover a new perspective, eternal values, and the abundant life Jesus promised.

The Liberating Power of Humility

Choosing to be poor in spirit liberates us from the shackles of pride, self-centeredness, and materialism. It redirects our focus from ourselves to God, allowing His light to shine through us. In humility, we acknowledge our need for redemption and invite God to work in and through us. By recognising our limitations and weaknesses, we become vessels of His love, mercy, and compassion to others, enriching their lives and our own.

The Way of Transformation

Embracing poverty of spirit is not a one-time decision but an ongoing journey of spiritual growth. It requires deliberately surrendering our ego, desires, and will to God, seeking His guidance and conforming our lives to His teachings. This transformative process involves a daily renewal of our hearts, a constant reliance on God’s grace, and a commitment to live out the values of the kingdom of heaven in our interactions with others.

In the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus extends an invitation to a life of deep spiritual richness. By embracing humility, acknowledging our spiritual poverty, and surrendering our lives to God, we experience personal transformation and become agents of God’s kingdom on earth. Let us heed this call, allowing the grace of God to flow through us and discovering the true blessedness found in a life lived in communion with our Creator.

Gracious and loving God,

We come before You with hearts humbled by the profound wisdom of Jesus’ teachings. Help us embrace the blessedness found in spiritual poverty, recognising our utter dependence on You. Fill us with Your grace and transform our lives so we may become channels of Your love and mercy to the world. Guide us on the path of humility, that we may always seek Your kingdom and live according to Your will. In Your holy name, we pray.


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Unlocking Creativity

Overcoming Blocks and Embracing Inspiration

Creativity is a powerful force that resides within each of us. It can shape our experiences, solve problems, and bring beauty to the world. However, we may sometimes face creative blocks that hinder our ability to tap into our full creative potential. This blog post will explore strategies and techniques to unlock creativity, overcome those blocks, and embrace inspiration. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or simply seeking to foster creativity daily, these insights will help you reignite your creative spark and unleash your imagination.

1. Embrace Curiosity and Exploration

Creativity thrives on curiosity and a sense of exploration. To unlock your creativity, allow yourself to be open to new experiences and ideas. Engage in activities that pique your interest, whether exploring nature, visiting museums, or trying new hobbies. Embrace a mindset of curiosity, asking questions, and seeking out new perspectives. The more you expose yourself to diverse experiences and ideas, the richer your creativity will become.

2. Create a Supportive Environment

Your environment plays a significant role in fostering creativity. Set up a dedicated space that inspires you and reflects your creative aspirations. Keep it organised, clutter-free, and filled with elements that spark joy and inspiration. Surround yourself with artwork, books, or objects that resonate with your creative vision. Additionally, seek a supportive community of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement, feedback, and inspiration. Collaboration and discussions with others can ignite new ideas and push the boundaries of your creativity.

3. Embrace Failure and Learn from It

Fear of failure often hampers our creative expression. However, failure is an integral part of the creative process. Instead of being discouraged by setbacks, view them as learning opportunities. Embrace that every mistake is a stepping stone toward growth and improvement. Allow yourself to take risks, experiment, and learn from the successful and unsuccessful outcomes. Remember that some of the most significant creative breakthroughs are born from embracing failure and persevering.

4. Engage in Mindfulness and Reflection

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or journaling, can cultivate a calm and focused mind, allowing space for creative insights to emerge. Take time to quiet your thoughts, breathe deeply, and be fully present. This state of mindfulness can help you tap into your intuition and access deeper layers of creativity. Reflect on your creative process, celebrate your achievements, and identify areas for growth. Regular self-reflection will deepen your understanding of your creative patterns and enhance your ability to overcome blocks.

5. Seek Inspiration from Various Sources

Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. Expose yourself to various influences, including art, literature, music, nature, and cultural experiences. Explore different genres and styles to expand your creative palette. Visit galleries, attend performances, read diverse books, and listen to various genres of music. Engage with different cultures and perspectives to broaden your creative horizons. By seeking inspiration from diverse sources, you’ll find unique connections and ideas that can fuel your creative endeavours.

Creativity is not a finite resource but an infinite wellspring within us. By embracing curiosity, creating a supportive environment, learning from failure, practising mindfulness, and seeking inspiration, we can unlock our creativity and overcome any blocks that stand in our way. Remember that creativity is a journey; each step brings you closer to realising your full creative potential. So, let go of self-doubt, trust your abilities, and embrace the boundless possibilities that await you on your creative path.

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Transformative Dialogue

It feels like the entire world has become like cats involved in a staring competition with everyone wondering who is going to blink first. We have dug trenches in our minds which we will fortify at all cost, as we engage with others with the sole intent of blasting them into the next century and gaining as much ground over them as we possibly can. I have never known a world so divided, so full of rage, and so crippled by fear, suspicion and paranoia.

Engaging in transformative dialogue is the only way we will ever grow in wisdom as a planet. But to do this a number of things need to happen.

Blinking First

Someone has to begin the deescalation, and it may as well be me. If I insisting on waiting for the other person to go first, then it simply perpetuates the stalemate. Blinking is not a sign of weakness. In the animal kingdom it sends a message to the other creature that we are friendly, that we are not a threat. When engaging in transformational dialogue, we must begin by being friendly and non-threatening. We must send signals to the other person that we are not about to pounce on them as soon as we catch them sleeping.

Active Listening

If we spend our entire time thinking up what we are going to say next while another person is speaking then we are not engaging in active listening. Practicing active listening where we do not plan what to say next can be extremely difficult at first, but, when mastered, it can make an enormous difference to the way in which the conversation goes.

I once had problems with a member of my church. I had clearly upset him but I didn’t know why. He would do things like book the roofer to come and work on the vicarage at seven in the morning on my day off. I had recently finished a course in active listening and decided to put my new-found skills to the test in trying to resolve the problem.

I invited him into my office. I was so nervous. I think he probably was too. He was probably expecting a fight. He sat down and I simply said, “talk to me.” Then I waited. It felt like an uncomfortable age before he began speaking. But once the flood gates opened he was able to tell me all the things that were bothering him. It was painful for me to hear them, but not half as painful as having to let the roofer in at seven in the morning on my day off.

When he had finished speaking, I thanking him for his honesty and vulnerability and suggested we go through his grievances one by one and see what we could do to resolve them. By the end of our conversation we were both beaming. I then asked if I could pray for us both. At the end of the prayer he was crying. He stood and hugged me. My relationship with that paritioner was transformed that day, and all because I blinked first, and actively listened.

Common Ground

I am always deeply moved by the stories from the trenches in World War I in which the Germans and the Allies all sang Silent Night and then got up and played football together on Christmas Day. Finding common ground helps us to humanize one another. It reminds us that in our humanity we actually have more in common with each other than we think. One only has to look at DNA to see that. I share 99.9 percent of my DNA with the rest of the human race. It’s only the 0.1% that makes me different from the rest, and yet that’s the part we tend to focus on the most. If we spent more time focussing on what unites us rather than what divides us, imagine what collaboration could happen across the globe and how far we as a planet could evolve!

Mututal Respect

Because of the relitivisation of the truth, everything has become so much more personal these days. We have a much more personal investment in the outcomes of our encounters with others because so much to do with our core beliefs, identity and self-worth is riding on it. But while we continue to vilify people who have a differnt opinion to ourselves, especially an opinion that we might assume is a rejection of our core selves, it might, perhaps, be helpful, to remember that we are arguing over the 0.1% of ourselves that is different to others. Fundamentally we are still the same.

Not only that, we are all sick and doing the best we can with what we’ve got. No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws and growing edges, and that includes me. If I become willing to recognise that, it becomes a lot easier to sit down at table with those whose opinions I disagree with. It also helps me to focus on principles before personalities. I am debating the issues, not whether or not the person with the belief is a good person. We need to begin from a position of mutual respect.

Open to Transformation

This is easier said than done. There are all sorts of things which may stand in my way, but at the heart of it all is fear. If I go in open to being changed, then the other person may bulldoze me, my feelings may be ignored, my beliefs may get blown out of the water. If I open myself up to tranformation my truths, which I have clung to so tightly for so long, may end up scattered to the wind. What will I have left to hold on to then?

Being open to transformational dialogue takes an enormous amount of courage and a bucket load of prayer. I certainly cannot engage in it in my own strength. If I do, then my ego kicks in and self-reliance helps to redig all my trenches. I have to ask for help to be open to transformation, to have the courage to engage, and the strength to hang in there.

Aristotle once said that “the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.” When we engage in transformational dialogue, something magic happens. When we come open to learning something new, seeing something from a different perspective, we leave ourselves open to the possibility that collective we might discover something that is above and beyond what any one person is bringing to the table.

Imagine that applying in the world on a macro-level. Imagine transformational dialogue taking place where wars are raging, or where migrants are fleeing, or where climate change is impacting. Imagine it on a national level when seeking new and better ways to provide healthcare or educate our children. Imagine it on a microlevel in resolving disputes amongst neighbours or an estranged member of the family.

What areas of your life would you like to experience transformational dialogue? Are you willing to blink first, actively listen, find common ground, recognise we are all sick and be open to discovering something bigger and better than anything you could possibly have imagined before?

If you say yes to the above, then why not begin today, one conversation at a time and let the transformation begin!

2 thoughts on “Transformative Dialogue

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  1. I’m always willing to open a dialogue with anyone who genuinely wants to resolve any problem that may have arising.
    I’ll blink first every time if there’s a remote chance of resolving a problem big or small. Fortunately, I know of no problems that require resolution.

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My Favourite Queen Bee

You’ve always been here from the break of day,
On breakfast cereal carried in on a tray,
On the stamp that I place in the corner spot,
On postcards sent from places hot,

On the coins that I drop in a charity box,
On the royal barge that is seen at the docks,
On passports that carry me near and far,
On the side of my favourite marmalade jar,

On the note I hand over in the corner shop,
On an advert shown at my local bus stop,
On shiny plaques from ribbons cut,
On the sign that’s outside the local scout hut,

In song that is sung at a sporting event,
To a birthday card that is proudly sent,
On the silver and purple underground lines,
All over the country the black-backed signs,

Declaring you’re gone, the flag at half mast,
On the telly we’re watching a special broadcast,
Announcing your passing, it all seems surreal,
A light that’s gone out, a sting to be healed.

You’re there in my heart, but you’re here no more,
Who will I turn to, who shall I look for?
But wait, here’s your son stepping forward to serve,
He will be constant, he will preserve.

That sense of safety that we all crave,
The familiar around us that keeps us brave,
The anchor, the harbour, the rest from the storm,
The one thing that gives us a sense of the norm.

I’ll raise the flag, and I’ll drink my tea,
To the one who follows my favourite queen bee,
Your majesty, now I look to you,
To uphold what is faithful, deliver what’s true.

Your presence is felt, come what may,
From the setting sun to the break of day,
My prayers are with you at your behest,
May your darling mama find her true rest.

2 thoughts on “My Favourite Queen Bee

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  1. This is truly beautiful; a beautiful wonderful accolade to Her Majesty, May She rest in loving peace
    Thank you Olivia

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The Relationship Between Epstein Barr, ME/CFS and Long COVID

Why Mononucleosis / Glandular Fever Might Be The Cause of All My Problems

When I was sixteen, I got glandular fever. Some countries call this mononucleosis. Until then, I had been athletic, active, engaged and energetic about life. I was delirious for two weeks with a fever of 104°f (40°c). I was swetting so much that the sheets on my bed had to be changed twice a day. For months afterwards my body felt weak, diminished, deflated. No matter what I tried, I just didn’t seem to be able to recover the stamina and concentration levels I had once had. Not only that, I started to get migraines. Some were so bad that they lasted for days. They always made me violently sick.

As life moved on, I got used to the new normal. I adapted as best as I could to my new energy levels. I rolled with the punches as I found myself catching pretty much everything that was going around. This included numerous bouts of sickness, including bronchitis, swine flu, and shingles. Then, in early 2006 the bronchitis became pneumonia.

I was living in the US at the time and so dragged myself to the out of hours doctor who prescribed Levofloxacin. I did not know this at the time but I am highly allergic to it. It made me very ill indeed and I was rushed to hospital. I narrowly escaped with my life.

But once again, I just didn’t seem to recover from what turned out to be viral pneumonia. I was still sick a couple of months later. My primary care physician did some blood tests and then informed me that I had mono. Not again, surely? It turns out, yes, you can get glandular fever (mono) more than once. The Epstein Barr virus lies dormant in your bloodstream and the trauma my body had been through re-triggered it. So there I was battling pneumonia and mono at the same time.

The lasting effects were even greater than before. It is difficult to tell which symptoms have been caused by the viruses and which by the allergic reaction to the medication, but here is a list of what it is like during a flare up.

  • Stamina – greatly reduced, like a battery that never fully charges overnight and seems to drain more quickly, sometimes in huge jumps.
  • Sensory Overload – an inability to take in multiple pieces of information at once when in the past this was something I could do with ease. Light and sound sensitivity.
  • Concentration – Varying levels of compromised concentration.
  • Other Physical symptoms: Frequent feelings of swollen glands and sore throat and general achiness.
  • Weakness: Noticably diminished physical strength during flare ups.
  • Migraines and headaches: Sometimes resulting in nausia.
  • Muscle, joint and nerve pain: This is above and beyond any other conditions such as arthririts.
  • Immune System: Noticably compromised with a tendancy to catch things that are going around.
  • Digestive Problems: Such as Nausia, constipation and IBS
  • Sleep: Poor quality sleep, tossing and turning all night and find it hard to reach deep sleep.

I was eventually diagnosed with ME/CFS. I can tell you what didn’t work – graded exercise therapy or pacing. My body refused to cooperate on a neat gradual curve. It was much more boom and bust. The physio I received didn’t help and nor did the counselling. I was left feeling frustrated and guilty that my body would not comform to their expectations. My mind was willing but my flesh was weak. I would have flare ups and I would have days that were more bearable. The only way I could possibly cope with that was to find acceptance and work with what I had.

Then, in March 2020 I almost certainly had COVID. I had a fever, cough and breathlessness for twelve days. It was unfortunately in the time when there were not enough tests to take them at home. Only those being hospitalized were being tested. In the aftermath of this I developed a rash that would come on suddenly and affected my ears, scalp, hands, elbows and feet.

Then in April 2022 I definitely had COVID, with a positive COVID test. Symptoms started two days before the test was positive. It began with a sore throat, a blinding headache and fever, then the cough came on and with it the shortness of breath. I also lost my sense of smell and taste. I was sick for two weeks, but even now, a month later, I am still struggling. The rash is back, my stamina is through the floor, I get breathless with minimum exertion and I am basically back in the middle of another ME/CFS flare-up. Long COVID is basically the same as ME/CFS in my experience.

So this leads me back to the purpose of my writing this article – Epstein Barr. On numerous occasions over the years I have had blood tests and every time my lymphocytes have come back high, indicating that I am fighting an infection. Could it be that Epstein Barr is the source of so many problems that have followed? Could it be that ME/CFS and Long Covid are connected to the presence of the Epstein Barr virus in a person’s body? Has anyone asked this question before? If so, what can be done about it?

It is my hope that this article reaches patients and medical professionals alike and that it starts a conversation or finds its way into the midst of an existing conversation of which it can become a part. I am hungry for answers. What is the relationship between Epstein Barr, ME/CFS and Long COVID? What can you tell me?


2 thoughts on “The Relationship Between Epstein Barr, ME/CFS and Long COVID

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  1. When I was sixteen and had exactly what you describe ~ my Mum had to get the doctor to come out in the middle of the night give me an injection as I was completely delirious. Six weeks in bed over the summer holidays. Since then similar outcomes to you. I realised long ago I had to avoid colds as it was never just a cold for me. I think I might have had a very mild dose of Covid in mid March ~ fully taxed and boosted. I still feel under par. I stay at home and wear a mask when out. I find Covid quite terrifying ! Go Well

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It’s Never Too Late

A Short Story

Gretchin Williams clutched the Golden Globe in her hand as she looked out at the sea of familiar faces. The applause died down and she placed the statue on the lectern in front of her and began unfolding a piece of paper, her hands shaking as she did so. Squinting at the type, she cursed the fact that she had left her glasses on the bedside table. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and screwed up the paper.

“It is never too late,” she began. She looked directly at the camera. “If you are sitting there at home right now thinkinging your life is over, it’s not. A year ago I was sat where you are right now, abandoned by the world, nothing to look forward to, all hope gone. But you are not alone. I see you. I am you. And tonight I am handing the batton on to you. It’s your time. You’ve got this. I believe in you!

Whatever that tiny glimmer of an idea is that is percolating in the darkest recesses of your mind right now, let it out, and let is shine! Give it wings. Let it fly! Just do the next right thing, keep it in the day and your tomorrow will be like mine – beyond your wildest dreams!

Thank you all. God bless you. Goodnight.”

The room errupted in thunderous applause as everyone stood and cheered. Job done, Gretchin turned and left the stage.

In a pokey living room in Hertfordshire, England, Sophie grabbed a tissue, wiped her eyes and blew her nose then padded through to the dining room where a small, rickety desk stood in the corner. She picked up a pen and began to write…

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Reasonable Limits

I was in a conversation with a group of people earlier today in which we discussed the concept of reasonable limits. We asked ourselves what it might look like for us to set reasonable limits in various areas of our lives. I smiled ruefully when this topic came up because I know that in my world reasonable limits simply do not exist. I am utterly incapable of setting reasonable limits on anything. For example, I cannot set reasonable limits on how much I volunteer. Left to my own devices, my hand shoots in the air as soon as someone else utters the words, “would anyone be willing,” often before I have even heard what I am being asked to do. Thankfully, so far, no one has asked me to jump out of a plane or work in the reptile house at London Zoo, but regardless of where my compulsive volunteering takes me, one thing it inevitably leads to is overload.

This is true in terms of my food intake, the hours I work, the amount I spend, and the number of people I try to stay in touch with. Piece by piece I overload my literal and proverbial plate to the point where it is impossible for me to hold it together. My bank balance suffers, my body starts to break down, my mind starts to crack up and my spirit starts to isolate. It is a collective recipe of toxicity and drama that can lead to ruin.

So, what’s the solution to all of this? I can tell you what it’s not. I cannot just pull myself together and get on with it. I am completely powerless over any attempts to moderate my life. That doesn’t mean I have no will-power. I have a very strong will indeed. It’s just that it doesn’t work when battling my compulsivity. I have found that the only way to find any kind of balance in my life is to rely entirely on the God of my understanding and have God set the reasonable limits in my life. It’s not for me to decide what I put on my plate, which volunteer positions I put myself forward for, how I spend my time and my money. Rather, I need to discern what God knows to be good for me. Sometimes, this means I need to cut things out completely. For example, I have largely cut out sugar from life. Sometimes it means I need to build in a pause button that forces me to wait before doing something. I now never say yes to volunteering for something immediately. I always pray it through with God first.

How do I hear God? Through readings, prayer, meditation and conversations with friends. How do I know it is God’s voice I am hearing? If it increases the fruit of God’s Spirit in my life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control then it is likely to be from God. If it robs me of any of those things, then it is quite possibly not from God and not good for me.

Without God, there are no reasonable limits in my life. With God I can find moderation, abstinence, clarity and hope and above all peace, knowing that even though I am completely powerless, his power is made perfect in my weakness.

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