Monday, 30 April 2018

Looking Back

How good a writer are you? What do you worry about? Are you good enough?

Whatever your literary experience, chances are you've had a relatively negative answer to those questions.

There are two things to remember when assessing yourself:
1) Those who are supremely confident of themselves are rarely talented.
2) Compare how long you've been writing to how long you've been alive.

Looking at the first statement, it becomes clear that those who over-believe in themselves are not commonly accustomed to introspection or to critquing of their work. No one can know everything about writing and we all learn new things every time we start a new chapter, novel or work of non-fiction.

All things in life are unknown until we learn them and it is unlikley we will know everything about writing after a lifetime spent learning our craft, even if it is all we do.  Not only because language changes, but markets change, styles change.

Be gentle with your doubts and accept that they open you to the knowledge that you don't know it all and are willing to learn.

As for the second, how long have you been writing? A year, two, twenty? Compare your ability as a writer after five years and ask what kind of human you were after five years. Were you good at being a human? How good a human were you after twenty years? Experienced?

I doubt it.

However old we get there is always someething to learn about life, ourselves, and those around us. If you've been writing for a decade, then you are still the equivalent of a primary school child when it comes to writing.

Give yourself a break. Look back over what you've achieved and compare what you know and can do now with what you were able to do last year or five years ago.

Feel better?

You should.

Doubt shows you're aware of your shortcomings, but it should never be used as a hammer to hit yourself with.

You ARE good. You just not perfect.

Sunday, 29 April 2018


Image Credit:  All images are via Pixabay

I know the saying states cleanliness is next to godliness but writers should have clarity beside it instead.
Clarity - should it be next to godliness instead of cleanliness?  I think so!
I’ve recently discovered the joys of the Plain English Campaign’s “goobledygook generator”.  You click the relevant box and actual examples of gobbledydook come up.  See and have fun clicking the box!

“It's time that we became uber-efficient with our knowledge-based logistical paradigm shifts.”

Would anyone care to translate this garbage? It is not the worst example either. 

How about “It's time to revamp and reboot our optional incremental programming.”?

Something needs rebooting here. I would say whoever came up with that needs reminding (and often I suspect) that the primary purpose of language is to communicate clearly. How do we get through to the culprits more words does not necessarily mean better communication?
Clarity of thought should lead to clarity of expression
So we should say what we mean to say in as clear a manner as possible then.  Jesus’s parables are wonderful examples of storytelling and there is no doubt as to their clarity! Keep it simple is a good guideline to help achieve clear writing.

One advantage of writing flash fiction (which is my other writing “hat”) is it teaches you to write succinctly as there’s no room for anything not crucial to the story.  Having to write to meet the demands of flash fiction carries over into other creative work, which is no bad thing. I’ve found it has shown me what my “wasted” words are.  Mine are “very” and “actually” and I will be going through this piece carefully to make sure there are none here, other than those obviously!
Editing is a vital tool in the campaign to be clear.
You would think clarity would be a “given” for anyone working with words, but the fact the Plain English Campaign exists proves otherwise, unfortunately.  Punctuation and grammar are key to making meaning clear.  Ironically, it is dreadful examples of those things which show this point up the most. It is nearly always those who are trying to "beef up" their communications who are the worst culprits.

My favourite recent example of grammatical inaccuracy was on social media and showed a magazine headline claiming “X loves cooking her family and her pets”.  No commas, whatsoever.  Should X invite me to dinner, I’m turning it down.  I would suggest you do the same or pick X’s vegetarian option!
Love the idea of a new world emerging from what we write but it must be clearly set up!
Oh, and to finish, how about, “This is no time to bite the bullet with our facilitating modular matrix approaches.”.

Of course it isn’t.  There is never time for biting the bullet with cliches and what someone thinks sounds important but is just nonsense.

There is a place for nonsense writing and for me that’s in the wonderful verse of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and the like.  Those great writers knew what they were doing and were happily playing with words, which is a joy to do.  The contributors to the gobbledygook generator are merely mangling and crushing all meaning out of the words they are using.  Shakespeare would turn in his grave.

We can follow no better example than our Lord's when it comes to simple, clear storytelling.

The world is becoming smaller due to technology but this makes clarity even more essential

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Who, or What Is Your Avatar? by Trevor Thorn

So this is me and my Avatar - prepared with a programme that gave no opportunity to introduce lines in the face nor a varied complexion! (At least, I found no provision for such changes). So my Avatar would almost certainly not be recognised by my real-life friends. And it is those, and far more radical differences in some people’s Avatars that gave rise to this poem.

When you get to the line about your parents, please recognise that is a question for everyone - not just  children and young people.

Who, or What Is Your Avatar?

Who, or what is your Avatar?
Does he, she or it bear your name
Or another: and whichever the case
Do you use it for many or just for one game?

Would your parents like meeting your Avatar?
Would they recognise you in the traits
Of the character you have so carefully built
To be ‘you’ in gaming forays?

Does your Avatar look at all like you?
Perhaps round the mouth or the eyes
Or have you formed a creature or person
With deceptively cunning disguise?

Is your Avatar weaker or stronger than you?
Does this other-self have mighty powers    
That you really desire to reflect in yourself,
But are only for internet hours?

Does your Avatar lead a clan or a guild?
Or follow when ordered or told
To fly, leap or jump from dizzying heights:
Is your Avatar always ‘The Bold’?

Does your Avatar kill whenever it can?
Or is mercy a part of the game,
With gentleness, thoughtfulness, love for another?
All so crucial in life’s real domain.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Power in Prayer Writing by Tracy Williamson

Sometimes I struggle to know how to pray.  My thoughts are jumbled; I may feel anxious or full of hope. I may simply want to worship or need God to transform a particular situation.  How can I move from  vague yearnings to prayers that grip hold of God's amazing grace and love?
For me the answer is writing.  In my journal I jot down something I see in the news or experience in my daily life; I jot my sadness for a friend in trouble, my sense of inadequacy or my overflowing joy. Odd words, half expressed longings, glimpses of truth and pain ...and slowly what I feel and long for begins to emerge and then the sense of God's answer and suddenly I have my prayer, expressed and real.
Recently I found such a prayer written in an old journal.  I was staying in a city, very busy, crowds of people.  I felt a longing that I couldn't put a name to, so I got out the notebook and jotted down all that came to me. 
This is what emerged, it still moves me and compels me to pray again:

Can you reach into the city Lord
With so many passing by?
Can you touch the striving money makers?
Can you hear the weary sigh?
Of the people, so many people
Those in business dressed smart
But where is their joy?
And see the homeless, there yet  apart just like discarded toys.
Can you feed those in the city, Lord
With the bread that will satisfy?
Can you see the one in a mass of faces
Can you hear the lonely cry?
Of the people
So many people
Living together
But their lives are ripped apart.
Children crying, women dying -
Giving their bodies but not their hearts.
Can you still the craving of drug abusers
As they desperately seek a high?
Can you calm the dread of the lonely aged
Scorned and left high and dry?
By the people, too many people
To care about the one
Only the strongest will survive -
Those who have their lives together
Who cares about the other 95?
Yet you long to reach into the city Lord
For that is why you died
To pour your rest into striving hearts
To heed the weary sighs,
Of the people, so many people
Massed together,
Yet you came to save them all
In high office or on the streets
In the workplace jail or home -
Not one person can be exempt
From the passion of your call.
Help me gaze into the city Lord
With your understanding eyes.
To see the one in a mass of faces
To respond to the weary cries
With your love, Lord
So much love, Lord
Pouring from within your heart.
O Lord fill me with your power
In this day and in this hour
To bring your hope of a brand new start.
No one like you Lord
Whose love will never end,
You who warms the frozen heart
Who comes to be a friend.
No one like you Lord,
Who calls me to share a part
Of your passion to touch and mend
Every wounded heart.

Tracy Williamson is an author and speaker working together with the blind Gospel singer Marilyn Baker in the itinerant Christian music and teaching ministry MBM Trust.
Tracy shares a home with Marilyn in Kent together with Goldie, Tracy's Hearing Dog, and Saffie, Marilyn's Guide Dog.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Wood between the Worlds, by Eve Lockett

The Wood between the Worlds

I and my granddaughter are reading The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis, at her request. She is reading aloud to me, but we are definitely experiencing the story together and we are equally excited to know what happens next. In my case I have read the book before, but that doesn’t seem to take away the thrill – perhaps because I am sharing her excitement as the story unfolds, perhaps because I don’t have a good memory.

One of the most powerful images in the book is the Wood between the Worlds; a strange, almost hypnotic place where nothing much happens, there’s a kind of lethargy that comes over anyone who enters it, and it is difficult to measure the passing of time. The wood is a connecting place for many worlds, accessed through pools, one of which leads to our world.

I have been wondering about the metaphor of the Wood between the Worlds for us as writers and Christians. For instance, it can be a place where all the potential of our lives lies around us and we need to make a decision and act on it; choose a ‘pool’ and enter it so that we can live life to the full. And it can equally be a place of refuge, of withdrawing when we are too wounded to participate and need time in neutral.

The wood has its dangers: for some of us it’s all too easy to inhabit a limbo where we dip our toe in here or there, take time to make a move, have no sense of urgency and imagine that we will eventually get around to trying this or that. Again, there are some who leap on impulse and dive in without considering beforehand how it will turn out or what cost is involved. Whichever sounds more like you, I wonder if you wish you were more like the other.

Another comparison might be the pools as communities or relationships. Sometimes we hover on the brink of entering the life of another person, and we are aware of the need to step forward and commit to our decision. At other times, having moved house or changed our circumstances, we may have yet to find a church or join a community and we need to know which pool to choose.

And, of course, as writers the pools can be a picture of our writing projects and creative opportunities, and the wood is a time of waiting, praying, seeking and selecting.

Prayer is perhaps the most appropriate activity in the wood – prayer for wisdom, discernment and trust as we step into the unknown; and prayer that he who made all the worlds, who is sovereign over all, will go with us whichever choice we make.

I bless God for the Wood between the Worlds as a place where the cogs can stop whirring, where sleep and peace are offered, and time is not a burden but a gift. I bless God for the chance to make new choices, to discover fresh worlds, to aim for new horizons. He goes before us, he is with us, we follow him, we seek him and he is our final goal all at the same time. All worlds unite in him. He is all worlds in one. In him we find new life and rest for our souls.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

I'd Like to be a Writer, by Fiona Lloyd

I’d like to be a writer,

And hide myself away in a garret

(Whatever one of those is)

With only a pristine notebook

And a quill-pen for company. 

It sounds so romantic:

So peaceful, yet I suspect –

After the novelty wore off –

I’d be lonely.

I’d like to be a writer:

What is it they say?

“We all have a book inside us.”

Only, they never go on to tell

Exactly how you get it out.

It sounds so inspiring,

Except mine’s deeply buried,

And trying to find it

Might be painful.

I’d like to be a writer,

With shelves full of my words

Dominating every bookstore;

And people would queue up

To acquire my latest tome. 

It sounds so alluring,

But then … those reviews!

Public humiliation

Could destroy me.

I’d like to be a writer:

I’m planning to start, just as soon

As I’ve trimmed down my workload

(Or – better still – retired)

And I have a few hours to spare.

It sounds so idyllic:

Just me and my laptop

And only the internet

To distract me.

I’d like to be a writer:

A weaver of magic, whose words

Set visions and dreams in the mind,

So the reader is lost

In a fantastical world.

It sounds so enticing –

Enough of excuses!

I shall sit in my office

And write.

PS. I’ve loved being part of this blog over the last few years, but feel it’s time to let someone else have a go (and my Diary sequel is feeling neglected!). Thanks to all who’ve encouraged me by reading and commenting on my posts – I’m looking forward to seeing what others have to say in the future.

Fiona Lloyd is vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers and is married with three grown-up children. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, was published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona has also written for Woman Alive, Christian Writer and Together Magazine. She has a passion to encourage others to grow in relationship with God, and to understand that they are loved and accepted. Fiona works part-time as a music teacher and is a member of the worship-leading team at her local church.

 Twitter: @FionaJLloyd & @FionaLloyd16

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Mini Inklings and Synchronicities

A sort of writer’s playtime used to take place in our house. We have a professional writer-cum-journalist friend, John, who used to visit this city from time to time to attend an editorial meeting. He combined this with a spot of research in the university library. And he used to stay a couple of nights with us.

Once he got in of an evening, the three of us would settle down in the sitting room with cups of tea, English breakfast or mint, and some biscuits, lift the lids of our laptops (yes, we kept one eye on our screens as we chat), and launch off into a discussion of our visitor’s latest piece of writing and all kinds of literary and publishing themes related to it. It was like a mini Inklings. Some new line of enquiry that John had begun led to discussion, then Googling, Wikipedia-scanning, dictionary look-up, and further discussion. More tea (for John) and then we began to stumble off to bed.

Not long ago John was working on some papers and chanced on a reference to a minor British philosopher named Douglas Fawcett. He was a mildly interesting figure who started his career by writing a science fiction novel in 1893: the story of London being destroyed from an airship by dastardly anarchists—very much the vogue for science fiction at the time. He also became a Theosophist and helped Madame Blavatsky with one of her books. Later he drifted away from Theosophy and took up serious philosophy, publishing at least one article in the prestigious journal Mind, and several books. His particular take on the truth was called ‘Imaginism’.

He had a younger brother Percy who also got initiated into arcane cultism but stayed with it. In his lifetime—the early twentieth century—he was probably better known than Douglas. He was an explorer of South America, and in 1925 he set off with his son, a friend, and two dogs to search for the lost Atlantean city that he believed was hidden deep in the interior of Brazil. Like in one of Rider Haggard’s thrillers, there was an old Portuguese manuscript describing the city (you can even read it on the web). The three explorers were never seen again. Subsequently about a hundred people went on expeditions to find them, and (as any reader of romances might expect) there were many rumours of sightings and random discoveries of belongings of Fawcett’s.

Neither John nor we had ever heard of any of this before that evening (12 April 2017) when we talked about this. So you can imagine our surprise, as we pursued our quest on Wikipedia, when we discovered that not only had a film just been made about the disappearance of Colonel Fawcett, but this film, The Lost City of Z, was due to be released in the US on 14 April 2017, two days later. Strange coincidence!

Meaningless coincidences—what Jung called ‘synchronicities’—continued to beset me. The day before this conversation, I had come across a quotation from a book called The Reign of Law (1867) by a now forgotten nineteenth century philosopher, the Duke of Argyll. It is surprising to hear of a nobleman writing serious philosophy books, but George John Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, was a Liberal politician, a writer on science, and, among many other things a founder member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He also wrote Primeval Man: An Examination of some Recent Speculations (1869) and The Unity of Nature (1884). Anyway, during our enthusiastic investigations into the Fawcett brothers I started reading a few extracts from that SF novel by Douglas Fawcett which I mentioned earlier, Hartmann the Anarchist (1893). Blow me down, there was the Duke of Argyll being quoted, on the subject of aeronautics. So then, on the trail of Percy, I was investigating people who believed in Atlantis. This led me back to the seminal work by Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: the Antediluvian World (1882). It’s quite amusing reading cultic things like this, as long as you don’t take them too seriously. Anyway, there in chapter 24, ‘Atlantis Reconstructed’, was a long quotation about early civilization—from the Duke of Argyll. Three appearances on two successive days by a philosophical peer of whom I had never before heard seems rather a lot. But quite meaningless. And all in the context of our mini Inklings evening.

Oh, and incidentally, in 1890 the abovementioned Atlantis theorist Ignatius Donnelly also wrote a futuristic novel (Caesar’s Column)—and it’s about the destruction of New York from the air.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Upon sticking your head above the parapet - by Helen Murray

Not for the first time, I've read a blog post by Deborah Jenkins and she has inspired me to write my own post. Not for the first time, this little nudge has come at exactly the right time; and not for the first time, it's been when I've been feeling very much in need of a bit of encouragement.

I make heavy weather of things, I know. Life in this 'season' for me is definitely more like a slog than a gambol and writing, while very precious to me indeed, is regularly elbowed out by the mundane and the immediate. When time and head-space are both acutely limited I have to make sure that I read the Bible daily and spend some time writing in my journal because I have found these to be life and sanity savers. For long periods it's the only writing that I do, but I've kind of made peace with that. Anything over and above is a bonus.

I got something written a few months ago. I was pleased with it. When it was all finished I knew that it wasn't perfect, but so much work had gone into it that it was as good as it could be. I was satisfied. I was happy to say that it was mine. Every writer knows how difficult it is to let the world in and risk what they might say or think. It's very hard to be so vulnerable.

I showed it to a trusted friend. 

She didn't think much to it, and said so.

I don't know how to categorise her words. Thoughtless, maybe. Harsh? Unkind? I don't know. Maybe just 'honest'? Either way, I was crushed. 

I still am, I think, though I know what I need to do and I'm trying to get on with doing it. I am moving on, sticking with my assessment of the project and not hers. I have given it all to God (more than once) and I am working on both forgiving and asking forgiveness myself for the hurt and resentful things that I have thought and said about the situation. 

I am still writing, though I don't feel much like showing people things at the moment. 

It occurs to me that I have received criticism before, but it has never cut as deeply as this. I have never been so wounded, so discouraged, so mired in confusion and rejection. It all seems over the top. Then I process that I have never tried anything so ambitious before. This really mattered to me.

I write about Jesus, about God, about life as a Christian; my purpose in writing is to point my readers to the One who can heal. To say to them, 'Come here, listen to my story. Check Him out. He's changed my life".

So I add the two together and I realise that in my tiny way, what I write has an eternal significance. Whenever I send out into the world a little piece of my heart, the Holy Spirit goes too and where He goes amazing things can happen. He can make something beautiful out of the raw and broken. Maybe one person somewhere reads my ramblings and thinks, 'Me too,' and He is right there, doing the healing and the restoring. 

So this is perhaps why it hurt so much - because my writing in general and this project in particular are very personal to me, and I was absolutely not expecting to be shot down so comprehensively, or indeed by this person. My defences were down and I had not thought to prepare or protect myself. It came from out of the blue and it was a direct hit. I'm still feeling the repercussions weeks, months later. I hope things will return to normal but they haven't yet.

Some good things have come out of this whole nasty experience, however. One is that I've realised once again the connection between stepping out in faith and getting knocked flat. If you do one, you'd better expect the other. Remember that bit in Ephesians about putting on the armour of God? I am a slow learner but I have realised afresh that I'd better do as it says. Then maybe when the missiles come, I can slice them away instead of sustaining injuries.

Another good thing is that when I offloaded my hurt to other Christian writers they closed ranks around me with a level of empathy, gentleness and reassurance that took my breath away and made me cry. I felt uplifted and loved, even as I licked my wounds and wondered how to rebuild some confidence. Thank you, every one of you. 

I know that each of you will have your own story to tell about criticism that hurt, fair and unfair. About recovering from setbacks, remaining single-minded and focused and being true to your calling and determined to steward gifts well. 

I know that a thick skin and resilient self belief are essential to make it as a writer, and this is demonstrably no different if you are the author of mainstream fiction, journalism or devotional material. If we say we belong to Him, the other guy simply doesn't like us much.

So to conclude, a few thoughts. 
  • As Chumbawamba so eloquently said, 'I get knocked down, but I get up again. 'Ain't never gonna keep me down'. * Yeah.
  • Words are powerful and nothing is more powerful than the word of God; even the hard or unfair words that we find ourselves on the receiving end. I need to use His Word in my defence more often. I need to make sure that I'm in the safest place: close to Him. With my armour on. We're at war, aren't we?
  • So to come back to Deborah Jenkins' lovely piece on encouragement: I need to remember how it felt to be supported by people who understood and were gracious enough to offer their own experiences of hurt and rejection in order to reassure and encourage me. 

We never know what sort of day people are having. Sometimes when something bad happens a flamboyant writer might explode onto the internet saying, 'I'm never going to write another word!' but others might just unobtrusively place their precious manuscript in a drawer or softly close the lid on their laptop and that's it; all the gifts and potential abandoned to gather dust. We can never tell if a word from us might one day encourage them to fetch it out and smooth out the pages, and the next CS Lewis might emerge to bless the waiting world. 

Timing belongs to God. A word of encouragement when all is going well and it wasn't particularly needed is just a nice thing. When things are going wrong, in His hands, it might be a defining moment. Let's just be generous with our appreciation and encouragement and let Him decide.

* 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawamba, 1987, EMI Records

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims, breeds Aloe Vera plants and collects ceramic penguins.

Helen has a blog: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith.

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray
Twitter: @helenmurray01

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Not A Drop To Drink by Emily Owen

“Why didn’t she say sorry?”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ to one child or another, but last week was the first time I have ever been asked why Goldilocks didn’t apologise to baby bear for eating his porridge. 
“Why didn’t she say sorry to him for leaving his bowl empty?”

In Numbers 20, the Israelites are moaning. Verse 5:
 “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

And there is no water to drink.

Water is almost an afterthought here, and yet water is the essential for life.
When I’m lying in hospital, I may dream of milkshakes and cups of tea, but it’s water that is always left available for me.
I can live without cups of tea (possibly).
But water is essential for life.

Jesus, our Living Water, is essential and yet, like the Israelites in Numbers, perhaps we make him an afterthought when we look at things we don’t have?

I don’t have inspiration.  I don’t have a publishing contract.  I don’t have any comments on my blog.  I don’t have many followers on Facebook. No one liked my tweet. I don’t have time to stop being busy.  I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time not to write. I am useless at writing anyway.  Why do I bother. I don’t think I can do this.  Oh, and I’ve not been drinking from the Living Water.

According to Google, one of the symptoms of severe dehydration is ‘confusion’.
We have the essential for life – all of life – readily available and yet, the more we forget to bring Jesus in, the more we forget He’s there, the more dehydrated we become.
The more confused we are, the more we lose perspective, focusing first and foremost on the wrong things.
And the Living Water is tagged on to our list of disillusionment.
By the time we’ve got through to the bottom of the list, our bowl is empty.

Where?  Where’s Jesus in this?
My bowl is empty.
I’m not drinking from the water of life.
I’m not bringing Jesus in.
Why am I leaving my bowl empty?
Water is the essential for life yet
I don’t drink it.
It’s an afterthought.
Sometimes an after afterthought.

In no way am I entering the plastic bottles debate, but I came across a slogan for Highland Springs, who do sell bottled water.
‘When you’re fully hydrated, you let nothing get in the way of your day.’

Things do get in the way of my day.
Maybe that’s because I’m not fully hydrated.

Why didn’t she say sorry to him for leaving his bowl empty?

Good question.
Maybe I should apologise to myself for times I leave my bowl empty.
Times I’m not hydrated by the Living Water.

Emily, I’m sorry for leaving your bowl empty.
I’m sorry for getting so distracted,
that I forget to drink the Living Water.
I’m sorry for the times I don’t stop when I should.
When I let the water drain away.
And then, empty of Water, I wonder why you dry up.
I’m sorry.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

A time to be planted out

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord 
and on his law he meditates day and night 
He is like a tree 
planted by streams of water 
and whose leaf does not wither 
Whatever he does prospers."

                                  Psalm 1:2-3

I felt these pots had significance and the Lord highlighted this scripture. It's time for God's people to no longer feel pot bound, but be planted out.  I read recently, “This is the most exciting time to be alive since the dawn of creation.  It is time to live in boldness, faith and confidence. Daniel 11:32 says,  ‘…those who know their God shall do mighty exploits’. To truly know God, to spend time in His presence is to be changed and empowered, so we can be those “who have turned the world upside down.”

I’d like to turn the world upside down by my novels their aim to romance the soul soul and spirit. of those who don’t know how much God loves them. I feel I’ve been planted out, I can straighten and stretch my roots, I sense they're growing and I am prospering in a place of peace and preparation. I’m working in rest, and delight in the simplest of things.

We are entering the greatest time in history, the evidence is daily before us. Biblical prophecy is becoming reality.  Matt 24 tells us to watch for the signs.  When God dropped His seed of salvation into our hearts it was because we have a part to play.  He's carefully potted and plotted our lives.  I started in a safe environment with boundaries so I could be nurtured and grow.  But He didn't want us to stay potted, watered and fed by others, but planted out so we could grow in His Word and Spirit to be  the person we were called and created to be.

Young or old, our lives have mindsets, behaviours and attitudes that come from man, not God.  Whatever our age, we need the Holy Spirit to nourish and renew our minds so we have the ability to view life from His positive perspective enabling us to think, speak, write and declare His love to all peoples.

Retirement today is not a pot in which to shrivel and die, but a release from earning a living and know refirement with fresh goals and visions that will prosper us in old age.  The Lord can, and will use us beyond our expectations and imaginations for He desires us to be oak trees of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of his splendour’. (Isa.61).

I live in Bristol which recently was named as the drug capital of our land. I asked the Lord how could that happen?  For forty years His people here have been calling upon Him for our city and our land’s revival.  I wrestled with that until I was able to speak with His revelation.  Darkness calls to darkness, light calls to light.  Darkness appears to be succeeding, but light will instantly counteract darkness.  Many Christians in our city have grown over years into ‘power’ plants, unseen and unknown.  The day is coming when they will be released as transformers, bringing light to others so powerful it will wipe out the darkness in much the same way as Paul experienced on the Damascus Road. Why?  Because who could be better empowered and change the face of our nation than those who have come out of great darkness into His marvellous light?

Wherever God has planted us, let’s prepare to talk, write and sing of His amazing love to change atmospheres and release the light of His love, peace, hope and the joy which is our strength. 

                                                                        Ruth Johnson