It’s getting near that time again…

It’s almost the end of the year and I’ve decided this year to choose a single word to guide me through 2014. This word will have the power to nudge me in the direction of faith, and help me to let go and let God, and so set me free from all that holds me to the past.

To choose my word, I thought about what I needed, what I’m currently working on, and what I need to let go of. As always, my writing project ambitions are lined up for the coming year and January is extremely busy on that front. But I’m organised on that score… I know this because I’ve written a schedule out in my new diary to keep on track with deadlines, etc. Everything is lined up and ready to go and I’m looking forward to it.

An ongoing personal challenge in my life is my failure to combat the sadness associated with a ten year family estrangement, and this year (as last year) no reconciliation has come to fruition, so I already feel overwhelmed at the thought of carrying the heavy burden of hurt with me into 2014, and beyond.

Therefore, the word I have chosen for this exercise is ‘serene’ and to help me with this I am using the Serenity Prayer by St Francis of Assisi and a breathing exercise:


‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

the courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.’


Or to put it another way:


‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.’ (Proverbs 3, 5-6)


Although I have carried the Serenity Prayer in my diary for several years I neglect it sometimes and cause myself a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish. I am hopeful that In 2014, I will simply say the word ‘serene’ and it will prompt me to read it – at least once a day as well as each time I begin to feel maudlin, melancholic or plain old miserable about the situation. After saying the prayer to myself, I can then breathe in the breath of God and breathe out the negativity that’s causing suffering to my soul.

I suppose it’s a sort of New Year’s resolution, which are famous for being broken, but this is one I intend to keep – for the sake of my sanity – and how wonderful it will be for God to hear my soul singing with joy in 2014 instead of lamenting in despair.

With love and prayers to you all for a happy, healthy New Year.

Is there ever any good news?

I got to a point where I was almost ready to share a recent example of how being a Christian has changed me on the inside when the Flowers scandal erupted. It so disappointing and damaging to the church when people in powerful positions hit the headlines with their personal trash and weaknesses. Immediate judgement is cast upon the church (and Christians), as a whole, through the actions of that one person. It’s the same with any group. For example, how quick we can all be to judge homeless people as being drug users or alcoholics who, as I’ve often heard it muttered, ‘bring it on themselves’, and simply because we have seen examples of this being demonstrated by one or two homeless people. Tarred with the same brush is the cliché I’m looking for. Unfortunately, it is rare for any positive acts by Methodist Ministers, or homeless persons, to hit the headlines – because it doesn’t sell newspapers. 

If, as a people, we could read newspapers that tell of good news and glorify it in the same way as bad, we would counteract the forces of evil at work in the world to create a more positive balance; this could go a long way to knocking the devil off all our shoulders before he can get a foothold.

Oh, the example I was going to share about how being a Christian has changed me on the inside?

I found a purse outside a charity shop a couple of weeks ago. It had 6 x £1 coins and £95 in notes inside. My gut reaction was one of excitement about finding some money. A split second later I counteracted that response by asking the question, ‘what would Jesus do?’ 

There was a piece of paper tucked inside the purse with a bus pass (so it was a pensioner) with a phone number on it. I rang the number – as it had the same name on it as the bus pass – to say I was on my way to hand the purse in to the local Police station. 

The joy on the elderly couples’ faces when I walked into the station lit up the room. The lady whose purse it was gave me £10 because she was so thankful to get it back. It wasn’t necessary and I tried to return it to her, unsuccessfully. The warm glow in my heart at having turned the money in set me up for the rest of the day. Honesty really does have its own reward, though I have to say that I did enjoy spending the unexpected £10 windfall.

I’m using this incident as a small example of how I know that being a Christian has changed me from the inside because there would have been a time when I may have kept that money, especially if I’d been as skint as I was that day, but just by thinking about what Jesus would do, and knowing the answer in my heart, I couldn’t do anything else but hand it in.

I’m telling you this good news because it probably won’t hit the headlines: Jesus really has made all the difference in my life.