Now where was I? Oh yes, serenity…

I finished work at 1.30pm today and walked through Scarborough town feeling at peace with the world.  Why?  I have no idea. In the midst of my life’s busyness I found myself smiling, hardly noticing that we are almost at the end of the first month of the year and still there is calmness at the central part of me. It could be that I have just recovered from a hacking cough I thought I’d be saddled with forever, or it could be that I’m on target with my current writing projects (always worth an act of kindness or two to myself), or it could be that the Freedom in Christ course I’m attending is actually working for me. Delving deeper each week (4th session last night) I end up with more questions than answers (as is usual when I attend these things), but I’m feeling pretty good with the journey that is my life, my writing and my faith.

I’m inclined to be bold and state that I’m walking on air in comfortable new shoes whilst reciting the serenity prayer. It’s working better than any other New Year’s resolution I ever made (see previous post).  


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.

God’s Grace

This time last year I experienced a period of unrest and I wasn’t sure if it was related to a mild form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or simply that a special November birthday was almost upon me (I’m not telling!).  It could have been either of these reasons as both lend themselves to melancholy. Same thing now… with the dark mornings due to kick in, I’m overwhelmed with tiredness at having to get up for work when I could easily stay in bed, especially as I’ve felt I need more challenge in my work-based role lately. But then – once more – a birthday is also looming… so here I go again. I feel I haven’t done enough with my life and the older I become the quicker it seems to roll away – a bit like when the end of a toilet roll unravels itself near the end and you have to catch it quick before it hits the floor.

This mood spread itself into my time of worship at church last Sunday and I suppose I was feeling sorry for myself really when I said to the person standing next to me, ‘I hope we don’t finish with sharing the words of the grace. It feels false, like it’s forced upon us, especially as half the people in church don’t even say hello to the other half.’ Needless to say, we did finish with that… but the preacher stumbled on the beginning of it by misplacing a word – twice. So it was third time lucky that we spoke the words in unison. I knew this was no mistake. It was a lesson for me – from God. That may sound strange to those who don’t have a faith but you may understand where I’m coming from if you read on. (It’s about me not remembering that God is with me when I’m in the midst of these negative mood phases, and therefore failing to acknowledge His grace.) Thank goodness that He doesn’t give up on me, and sends angels to rescue and remind me, as he waits for me to ‘catch on’ again.

Angel number one arrived later the same day. I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while who is a fan of my writing. She inspired me to continue with my current work in progress – the devotional book I’ve spoken of in my blog recently after I disclosed to her that I was at a standstill with it. I told her I want to revisit an experiment that has worked for me previously ie, creating prayers from sketches but I’m not good at drawing. I can’t seem focus on listening to God in the meditation method I use for simple sketching (well, I always know what my sketches are meant to be even if no-one else does!). My friend reminded me of my past experience with this in one of her art workshops and how I’d created a painting and subsequent prayer from that by simply letting myself go with a kaleidoscope of colour as I listened to God through music. This connected to a story I’d written the previous night about a kaleidoscope of colour and I felt inspired to use her advice as a way forward with the book. I went off to top up my supply of charcoal, oil paints and linseed to make a start on the blank canvas I’ve been keeping at arm’s length.

The next day angel number two stopped me in the street and we went for a coffee and a catch up – another friend and fan of my writing who, after deep therapeutic discussion about family estrangement and work related apathy (she is a trained counsellor by trade), inspired me further to continue with my devotional book project by saying my writing was a gift from God that I can utilise to inspire others. The off-loading was mutual, I hasten to add. She also had a few demons to exorcise.

The third day brought me angel number threea fellow writer and member of the Writers’ Circle who said she was looking forward to hearing my Kaleidoscope of Colour piece as she delights in my poetics.  

With these three cheerleaders in my corner how can I fail to make progress?

To top it off, I attended a New Wine event this weekend on ‘healing emotional wounds and memories’ (more about this another time) with two members from church. Another example of the grace of God that even with all my negative remarks about sharing the words of the grace in church, He still provided me with angels from that very place. 

And there’s more…

Just when I thought it was all over… my work-role related grace came after I’d been brought to my knees because my computer decided to die and its black screen took my files to its grave. I asked God to forgive me for not being grateful for the job I had, for not thanking Him for the angels He sends to lift me from my myriad of moods, for not thanking Him for providing me with all I need, and for not thanking Him for the gift of each new day of my life. You may not believe it but I swear it’s true – I prayed for fifteen minutes and about an hour later a chance conversation with a work colleague during a phone call connected me to someone who had software to rescue my files. I contacted him immediately and was merely talking on the phone about the problem when the computer screen came to life of its own accord – my files had returned and I was able to drag them onto a pen drive before it completely packed in. Coincidence? Answered prayer? Miracle? I believe it was a grace of God incident.

I’ve decided not to feel that I haven’t done enough with my life because I believe it’s the journey that’s important. Taking time to appreciate those unexpected moments of joy and small acts of random kindness that flow through our lives constantly is what makes it worthwhile. And what more can we ask of that journey but that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us this day and for evermore?

I’ll be sharing the words of this special blessing prayer with gusto in future because grace is a soul-thrilling concept and must be deeply appreciated.


They think it’s all over

I didn’t actually give anything up for Lent this Easter to show how serious I am about my faith – apart from writing on this blog (though as I have been too busy to even think about that, giving it up for six weeks counts more as a blessing than a hardship).

One thing I have done is work through the Gospel of Luke via Lent for Everyone by Tom Wright, which doesn’t finish until this Easter Saturday. I found it quite challenging facing The Passion, as I read the scriptures and the reflections each day, to look honestly at my behaviour in relation to my faith, and how I show Jesus to the world through that. Imagining myself as one of the disciples, or one of the crowd, in the situations portrayed in the book (as suggested by Wright) gave me a new insight into how God understands everything we go through, in real-life terms, because of what he did for us through Jesus Christ on the cross.

The whole experience has enabled me to link it in to current situations in my own life, especially decision making and choices as reactions to personal events, and how these relate to the story and the scriptures.

I have become closer to God this Lenten period and throughout Easter, knowing that he understands everything I am feeling at any given time or situation, because He has already experienced everything I have faced, am facing, or will ever have to face.

There was a beautiful explanation in the book about the Ascension of Jesus to Heaven. Put simply it is this: that Jesus goes up (to Heaven), the power (Holy Spirit) comes down, the kingdom (God’s) gets going.

God’s kingdom is about God running the world in a whole new way. We as Christians can’t just tell people about Jesus so they come to faith, we need to be receptive to the presence and the power of God so that we can be the ones through whom God’s kingdom comes.

‘There is an old Christian tradition that God sends each person into the word with a special message to deliver, with a special song to sing for others, with a special act of love to bestow.’ (John Powell, Through the Season of the Heart).

I pray that many more people have found themselves in God’s presence and power this Easter, and are ready to deliver their own special message to the world, for the coming of the kingdom.


New Year’s Greetings

Facebook is a procrastination to my life as a writer but it has come into its own for me this Christmas.

I had made up photo albums for my son and daughter as Christmas presents (with real printed photos!) and Facebook was there to appease some of the disappointment at my son not receiving his in the post. (I swear I’ll never post anything to the Czech Republic again if it doesn’t turn up soon!)

I had planned using my official time off from work over the festive season to complete the final edit of my short story collection, ready to send off to my proofreader friend prior to publication.  But with these photos not arriving for my son, I spent precious writing time sorting through and uploading JPEG versions of some of the photos onto Facebook.

It turned out to be time well-spent because not only could my son view them but the whole of my virtual family and friends could too.  It has been lovely to catch up with what everyone is doing over Christmas and read the comments the photos have attracted, thereby bringing alive shared memories from the past.

Now that I have travelled the nostalgic path of the past and got it out of my system (for another year), I can look forward to a New Year’s Eve that will not see me wallowing in the wine of self-pity.  Instead, I will be celebrating with a final read through of my short story collection before sending it off to my proofreader friend prior to publication.

Wishing you all a blessed New Year.


My First Official Blog Post

I decided to create a website because it’s time I started blogging to an audience as well as writing my thoughts in beautiful notebooks.

So here it is then, my first ever online blog post.

I am prepared for any reader’s onslaught of disgust if they do not like what I write (I sometimes use a pseudonym so it’s all hers) and I’m prepared equally well for any reader’s onslaught of admiration if they do (I sometimes write as myself so it’s all mine).

My pseudonym writes pieces that would startle anyone who knows me (or thinks they do) if they even suspected I had thoughts along the lines of what I’ve written.  The name I use is a magical mixture of my sister’s Christian names.  Perhaps I should warn her in case she picks something up to read and sees her name all over it.  She may sue me; a sister could do that if she felt that way inclined.

And with that thought, I will announce here and now that anything I write (in any name) that is classed as creative fiction is indeed fictitious and even a slight resemblance to any persons living or dead is absolutely, utterly and undisputedly, a COINCIDENCE (unless otherwise stated).

I have put a sample piece of my work on here as a taster – for potential readers – before I suffer enough rejection to discover if writer’s block is a myth or not.

I feel inspired by the thought that my having a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing means I’ll never be too old.  Being a writer is ageless.  Priceless!

I must upload this blog instead of writing it to myself.   Make it real.  After all, it’s what I write about – real life.   Can you tell the difference between what is true and what is not?   I challenge you to try and figure it out.  Read from my collection in progress in the Writing Extracts section of this site if you feel like it or come back to it later(see addendum).  I’ll be pleased to hear from you if you like it and, if you don’t?  Well, just be gentle with me.  I’m really quite fragile underneath the bravado.

All Text Copyright © Julie M. Fairweather, 2012.

NB: A collection of short stories (where the previous reading extracts section is now housed) was published in 2013 – see publication page for details.