The Postcard Challenge – Final Presentation

Well folks… here at last is the link to the video regarding The Postcard Challenge held at Vernon Road Library, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The event ran from April 24-27 2014 as part of the Scarborough Flare Festival.
Before viewing the presentation on UTube, if you would like more information about the event please visit all or either of the following:
My last post’s report
For now, let’s enjoy the breath-taking moments from Scarborough Flare’s Postcard Challenge whilst relaxing to the beautiful background music. (Surely you can spare 20 minutes to simply relax?)
Hope to see you all again soon…


Dithering on the edge of decision steals precious time

Still sort of facing a blank page with regards to my devotional book in progress, with many of the resources I’ve written branching off in different directions. The conclusion is that there are more things happening here and it is in danger of spiralling out of control – if it was ever within my control to begin with.

I have written enough material to cover various aspects of devotion to fill a filing cabinet… and am toying with ideas on how to proceed in weeding out irrelevant stuff and stuff that I’ve not repeated elsewhere. Hands up if you know what I’m even talking about. Ah, you must be a writer!

Do I concentrate on creating this work for an elective audience, i.e. the church I attend, or do I aim for a broader elective audience, i.e. all churches in the circuit, or do I make it secular?  Every time I look at the content of what I’ve written I feel it could be adapted to fit all three of these. And, most importantly, the emotional aspects need to be separated too, ie, personal experiences and insights, a broader view and a still broader view for the differentiating needs of the potential readers of the three options.  Maybe I have answered my own dilemma through talking it through with you on my blog?  I have three separate projects.

I know in my heart this is what is hindering progress. I’m trying to work on all three simultaneously. This is me and my creativity in a frenzied mind game… my need of the stimulus that several ongoing projects feeds me yet also the need to focus on completing something.  I could be in for a long haul.

Maybe I should stop singing ‘one day at a time, sweet Jesus’ and instead sing ‘one thing at a time…’

Community Spirit in the Face of Tragedy

The events in relation to this reflective thought for the day may be old news now but with a stretch of imagination you can relate the analogy to anything of a similar nature.


There’s something about a tragedy that can bring a community together in a way that nothing else can. Two separate events recently perfectly highlighted God’s love for humankind in relationship to this.

The first illustration came from the fictional TV drama, Broadchurch, which had us gripped to our seats for its conclusion.  It was revealed to us that the person responsible for the murder of a young boy at the beginning of the series was a member of that close community.  

As part of the eulogy during the boy’s funeral, the vicar relayed to the small island community the message that God loves every one of us, and he talked about how God demonstrated this by sending His only son to pay the price for our sin. He said that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us, and even though forgiveness seems impossible in these circumstances we owe it to God to at least try. The final scene was set on the cliff top, above the beach where the boy’s body had been found, and the mother of the boy, surrounded by family and friends, lit a bonfire as a final farewell to her son. We were left with an image that was not one of tragedy, but one of hope, when householders along the shore line lit bonfires in succession, as a declaration of support for the family.

In the same week as this episode was shown, a second illustration to underline the message of God’s love came via an email. It had been sent as a round robin throughout Scarborough, North Yorkshire, as a response to the fatal stabbing of a teenage boy the previous weekend, the outcome of an alleged pre-organised fight. Nine teenagers had been taken in for questioning in connection with this. The email was sent in the wake of the aftermath, and offered a common place for people to gather to focus prayers of healing and peace for the victim’s family, friends of the murdered teenager, and also to pray for the young people involved. It was an open invitation to the whole town to come along and light a candle on the beach from a set time, near the place where the murder had occurred.

This simple act of lighting a candle (or a bonfire) as an act of prayer can serve as a reassurance of God’s presence in our times of trial. We do need be aware however that God is not responsible for the evil that happens in the world, and that he is there with us to help pick up the pieces when its consequence affects us. This is proven time and again through those He chooses to send as angels in our moments of need. In the two examples here, the angels were in the form of the fictitious vicar (via the writer of the drama series), and the sender of the email.  Both events portrayed hope, fictional and factual, through the action of one person who utilised an opportunity to instigate an idea. An idea that helped to bring a community together through an act of prayer, mutual support, and provide a way forward towards healing and, perhaps eventually, forgiveness. 

Psalm 147 verse 3 tells us that God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. But God also wants to save us from ourselves and therefore in Colossians 3:13 we are told to ‘bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (NIV) Sometimes, that means forgiving ourselves too.

Seeking revenge should never be an option

© Julie Fairweather

Christmas Blessings

After my last blog bemoaning my agony at Christmas because of estranged family relationships, I feel honour-bound to counteract it in part.  I am taking the act of counting my blessings more seriously to turn the negative aspects of my Christmas expectations into positivity, by simply saying that through an act of kindness shown to me by a friend I have my mojo back.  Having someone rooting my corner at Christmas makes all the difference.  And the best thing is this friend isn’t just for Christmas.  Having a friend in my life who is there when I’m down and there when I’m not down is the one constant that I can depend on.

You’re probably thinking I’m talking about Jesus and, in one way, I am.  This type of friend is a great example of how a Christian should behave.  She imitates the love of Jesus through her compassion, empathy, her kind and caring ways, and her willingness to help with anything, no matter what, without judgement of me or others.  I think we can all learn something worthwhile from that kind of behaviour.

Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest examples of how to show the love of Jesus Christ to others.  In one of his many speeches he said:  “(we are) born to make manifest the glory of God within us because by doing so we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” (based on an idea from ‘A Return to Love: Reflection on the Principles of A Course in Miracles’ by Marianne Williamson 1992).

I’m enjoying reading a children’s book at the moment by Jostein Gaarder called The Christmas Mystery that manages to capture the history of Christianity in simple terms.  It’s about a magic Advent calendar that tells how the story of Jesus was spread throughout the world.

A young boy called Jochaim tells the story in the present day, through the writings contained behind each day’s window of the old calendar.  His story is about a young girl called Elisabet who travels back in time to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus.  The picture in each window portrays a character who joins the pilgrimage through the writings that day.  Every day, after each window is opened and the story progresses, Jochaim discovers the whole picture has changed – as he learns more about the mysterious stranger who made the calendar and of a young girl who went missing on Christmas Eve 40 years ago.

It’s an interesting narrative technique and the story contains many thought-provoking analogies to the Bible’s relevance in today’s real-life terms.  I am discovering some amazing insights into my own faith that I never thought about before.   The book has taken me on a personal Advent journey of rediscovery…  through the eyes of my child-self.   An added bonus is that the Advent calendar’s images bring back a happy childhood memory for me that I’d almost forgotten about. Clever stuff eh? There is so much in it to discover.  (If you know me personally and want to borrow my copy after the last window’s been opened – 24th December – please let me know via a comment on this post.)

A taster example: the wording at the onset of Day 17’s window… “many things have been done in the name of Jesus that Heaven is not very happy about…” (sound familiar?).  And the final paragraph ends that day’s adventure with Joachim saying to his parents:  “A Good Samaritan should have come to help them. Jesus wanted to teach people to help one another when any of them needed it.  For peace is the message of Christmas.”

It was this message that reminded me of the friend I spoke about earlier and encouraged me to count my blessings rather than dwell on things in my life that I (and Heaven) am not very happy about.  I aim to be more like my friend to others by being an imitation of Jesus through my actions… and thoughts too – because it’s thoughts that can drag us down sometimes and Satan really knows which buttons to push to test our faith once we’re down there.

To say I’ve been inspired by things I’ve come into contact with since my last blog is an understatement when I compare where I am now with where I was then.  I’m really focussed on Jesus and prepared for Christmas.  I’ve even bought a Christmas tree!

Just one thing remains for me to say and that is:  May you all have the kind of Christmas you’re hoping for.

Come Lord Jesus, come. 

The world is waiting for a love like yours.


Is that the time already?

Time’s whizzing by and I’m dizzy trying to keep up with everything – including this blog.  I’ve not even told my friends about my site yet and a month’s gone by already.  Taking too much on does that to a person.  In my day job I work as an administrator for a Methodist Circuit, and I’m currently collating info for the next preaching plan which covers December 2012 to February 2013.  NEXT YEAR ALREADY!  Working and thinking in advance like this feels like I’ve already lived the time before it actually arrives.  Christmas will be over and done with by the time it gets here.

Two weeks back I stood in a queue waiting for the number 13 bus to take me to where I thought I wanted to go.  There were 13 people in front of me and 13 people behind me.  Queues are orderly and a natural state of things.  It sometimes helps if you have a defined surname in the order of things as it determines where you stand.  I had a surname beginning with S when I was very young so was used to waiting in queues.  Then I was adopted and became an L which was in-between waiting and attaining.  Now that I’m married to an F you’d think I had it made.  But when the bus arrived it said NOT IN SERVICE.  The driver didn’t know where he had come from or where he was going.

I love writing because of its possibilities.  As a writer, I can reunite and reconcile my family as characters in my fiction and enable a happy conclusion to our lives.  But sometimes when I write I hate it – especially when a memory pops in my head and I’m not expecting it.  It’s like a small regret piercing my heart.  A realization that a wrong decision has set someone up for an ending no-one wants.

We are what we think we are.  I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said that once.  She said that our thoughts become words that become actions.  Our actions become habits.  Habits form our character.  I think that’s why she reached that conclusion of the statement: we are what we think we are.  I thought about this when I pulled all the flowers out of a garden in a story I was writing last week.  It was to stop my father picking them for his secret love. Then I thought that at the end of his life a big sin could count against him in the same way as a small sin because the judgement will probably be the same.  A little white lie is still a lie when all’s said and done.

It must be true then.

 All Text Copyright © Julie M. Fairweather, 2012.