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Faith Featured Articles Observations

Face the Fear

Update: September 2020 and what goes around comes around! Over the last few weeks I have been migrating blogs and hosting to a new location. In the process I have cleared out some blogs in preparation for a new season of writing.

Today I found this draft blog from 2014. I had glanced over it a few times in my list of 84 draft blogs, seeing the title and thinking that was all I had written. Today I opened the post and saw I actually had an unpublished, pretty much finished blog of that moment in time.

Thankfully six years on, “Facing the Fear” has meant settling back into Australia, a great work engagement with Excite Media, new friends, new skills and some new openings and stability in areas of our life.

Thankful!

Back in 2014:

At the moment I’m having to look myself in the mirror with more focus. We sometimes glance at the face we’ve come to know and because we see it everyday we don’t stop to see or ask how we’re really doing. Right now I’ve had nearly a year since I was made redundant and I’m facing a new opportunity that is both exciting and keeping me on my toes because it means moving my family back to Brisbane. For me its causing me to face the fear.

Over the last few days I’ve been doing the SWOT analysis in my mind and working out the ‘to do list’ that will need to be played out and there are some natural and understandable fears that will need to be worked on. Today has been a good day with great encouragement from both work colleagues and the friends I’m staying with. I lingered just long enough at the mirror to remember what I can do and how much I’ve learned along the road.

I don’t want you to think I’ve suddenly ‘got it together’. Nope, I’m having to face the fear, walk slowly, try not to over-think the situation and most of all come back to God. I’ve been encouraged from the most unlikely of places. I’m using Micah 6 v 8 as a guideline and have found  so much I can relate to in the book of Job. Reading 15 chapters by the pool on Sunday morning was good therapy. I want to keep moving forward but have an open conversation with God where ultimately he gives me the ‘big picture’ on his sovereignty and the grandeur of who he is. It’s this picture of trust when you know the God of the universe has his thoughts towards you that helps you take more baby steps in our weakness and His grace.

Today I came home and a friend that had been praying for me showed me today’s reading from The Word for Today by Bob Gass. I read the previous day and today’s reading and began to soak on what it had to say. It was the reminder I needed, the encouragement I wanted and a picture of the strength I want to grow. To face the fear we need to draw on something and its in rejuvenating the spirit that we will find the best results. My ‘reserves’ have been diminished and I need to refill the tank. I shouldn’t have let it get this low so this may take some time to get back up to full steam.

I leave the reading I was given for you to consider and I encourage you to sign-up for your own email or paper version here www.thewordfortoday.com.au

Dealing with Adversity (2)

Monday, 24 February 2014

‘…God led you through the wilderness…to prove your character…’ Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT

God led the children of Israel through the wilderness: ‘to prove [their] character, and… find out whether or not [they] would obey His commandments.’ They could choose to perish there, or trust Him to bring them safely to the Promised Land. One author writes: ‘How many times have you changed courses in life, rather than pass the test and get through the tough stuff to the promises of God? He wants to know if you are worthy of the blessing that awaits you on the other side of the Jordan. Do you have the courage to face the challenges, or will you go back and settle for second best? If you’re facing a challenge that stands between you and your promise…look at Joshua 1:9 and Daniel 10:19 for courage. Ask God to give you the courage to face whatever hurdles stand in the way of your claiming what God has prepared for you.’

The landscape along the USA’s Florida’s Everglades is dotted with wiry, primitive-looking trees known as Caribbean Pines. They thrive in a rugged environment, can withstand fire, prolonged periods of drought, and hold their own against the fiercest hurricanes. In fact, if you plant them in a cultivated setting they usually shrivel and die. Joni Eareckson Tada says: ‘Like Caribbean Pines, our souls usually don’t thrive during good times. Our hearts grow complacent, our need of God becomes less urgent, our hope of Heaven dims, and our prayer life dries up…in a beautiful setting with our needs met and every resource at our fingertips…our soul shrivels… We need an occasional blast of storm or fiery trial if our faith is to mature.’

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Featured Articles Observations

What do you want to see in your selfie?

Do you enjoy having your photo taken?

How often are you placed in that awkward situation where someone utters the word that sends shivers through your cute little dimples? “SMILE”!

I know that I’ve found the solution. Run to the other side of the camera and become the shutterbug. It takes away the angst and puts you back in control until someone says, “let me, we don’t have any photos of you!”. At that moment you feel betrayed, caught out. Or someone reminds you of the camera’s self-timer so you set the frame and do what feels like a 100m dash to the group, then have to turn, pose, and “SMILE” with no trace of breathlessness to be seen.

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Featured Articles Observations

Your Life Paints a Canvas

If you think of your life as a poem
what will your verse be?

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Observations

Dad Confession: One Direction

This is my “Dad Confession” for the day.

So I had a moment this morning that should remain private. What happens in the car when you’re alone should remain in the car. Right! Here I am innocently driving my car to work when I hear the local radio station doing live crosses from the local school. Its cute, they play the school choir and everything seems right with the world. But then in a moment of weakness it happened. I don’t know what it was, maybe the first few bars of the song, the sweet production or simply a neuron relapse in the left back lower quadrant of my frontal lobe?

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Featured Articles Observations

Nelson Mandela’s Fork in the Road

 

Its noon on the 6th of December 2013 (New Zealand time) and I’ve just heard that Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95. I turn to my friend in our office and we talk about the calibre of the life lived and the life given that has impacted not just a country but a world. How could a man from a land in many ways disconnected from the rest of us become a leader of peace and the opitmy of what we desire in a statesman. Like a master craftsman such as a great silversmith, he was an imperfect man that desired to create something greater than himself. In Nelson Mandela we found a man who has now impressed his hallmark on the chalice he left for others to drink from.

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Featured Articles Observations

Father of the Bride Speech

Father of the Bride

Today I will have just given this speech at the reception of my eldest daughter Abbey’s marriage to David White. It’s been an incredible time as a Dad for evaluation of life, family and what is pure and important. Enjoy the speech and feel free to read the poem “White Wedding Faith” I wrote which is linked at the end. If you think about it you will realise it was a ‘White’ wedding in more ways than one.

Thanks

Family and Friends thank you for coming to celebrate this once in a lifetime occasion. You are here at a point in history where Abbey Pitchford and David White have become the soon to be famous Mr & Mrs White.

John & Jenny, Lesley and Tim thank you for the son you have raised who has captured my daughter’s heart. Cheryl and I have appreciated getting to know David and seeing how he values, cares for and loves Abbey.

Father Heart

A Father’s heart is a mystery to many. While we are there for a hug, a kiss or a snuggle during a scary movie, we can sometimes appear distant or disconnected. We may seem uncaring and yet we value our role as protectors over the family we love.

At times we would rather be quietly guarding the door rather than partying on the inside with everyone else. It’s this protective love for a family that takes on a new level when it comes to our precious daughters. We want the world to stand back and admire their beauty from a distance. In our perfect world they are to be appreciated but not touched, never borrowed and always loved and protected.

In Proverbs 18 we read; “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.”

In my daughter I see a beautiful young lady of incredible gifting and determination. She has experienced the perfume and the thorns of life’s rose and continues to grow as she learns to know herself and the world around her. Her grandmother’s smile will open doors and encourage many as she builds a home with David.

Like her mother I see in Abbey a soft heart for the hurting and a focussed heart on injustice. She has the same creative spirit her Mum brings to our family which will ensure she and David enjoy a warm home together. David will need to ensure he keeps a strict regime on exercise if I’m an example of what a lifetime of Pitchford healthy meals can do to a once taught buff body.

For a Dad this time of handing the mantle of responsibility to someone else who will be the one who loves, cares and protects your daughter is a serious decision. In both your mind and heart you pray the groom has a love based on the same values, that they don’t take marriage lightly and they view the role of protector with the same vigilance.

In David I have both peace and confidence he will love, value and esteem my daughter. When David first asked to take Abbey out on the date that would start their relationship I had a speech prepared that would talk about Love, Integrity, Honour and Protection. Somehow Abbey came into the room just as I was getting started and only one word had come out, ‘Protect’. That’s the hallmark I leave David with knowing that he has a love for Abbey, he is a man of his word and he honours Abbey with his actions.

Great communication is the super-glue legendary love is built on. Cheryl and I pray that as Abbey and David get to know each other they will share clear communication of their hopes, dreams and desires and that this will strengthen the love they planted here today.

In Philippians 3:13 there is this great verse which encourages us into the future.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Now I would like to read a poem that I hope captures some of Abbey’s thoughts as she went through today.

White Wedding Faith

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Featured Articles Observations

White Wedding Faith

White Wedding Faith

White Wedding Faith

Dedicated to Abbey & David

Today I’m absorbed by White
Taken away to this Wedding Day
Built on Faith and clothed in Hope
Prepared by time and drawn by Love

Moving slowly,
With my nervous smile
Dad, my escort down the aisle

Keep calling, calling me,
Drawing me from shadows
Keep loving, loving me,
Holding me under cover
Be the one who calls my name,
Loves my name
Halt my breath with love
Start my heart with love
Be the one

Hear my heart
You’re timed to turn
Waiting breathless for your Bride,

His head turns to see my face
Days of patience transformed
From a glimpse into a glorious creation

Keep calling, calling me,
Drawing me from shadows
Keep loving, loving me,
Holding me under cover
Be the one who calls my name,
Loves my name
Halt my breath with love
Start my heart with love
Be the one

Live this life and serve the Lord
Enjoy His favour through pleasure and pain
Still serve each other, Love each other

With each year a milestone
The path is paved with celebrations
When we’re old or if love feels cold
We can enter back through the glow
Of our white frosted frames of
Life’s sweet memories

This union of our two
Is now complete as one
What began with a Wedding
Beats strong as a Marriage
You are the one
For me

Andrew Pitchford
November 2013

To read the Father of the Bride Speech that came before this poem click here.

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Featured Articles Observations

Dads Rocking in Cradles

Dad and Son

I need to act more on my inspiration. It’s a failing to keep holding back and let the flame reach the end of the match before I reach out to light the candle. The last two days I’ve been thinking of a story concept for a movie script. The idea is strongly built around the lifelong relationship between a Father and a Son. Today I decided to step a little closer to the candle and write some notes for this movie. I know fear will hold me back and pride could trip me up but I want to get a little more daring and start this journey. I’m not too old and definitely not too young so the day seems to be about right.

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Inspiration Observations

Resurrection Year – Sheridan & Merryn Voysey

Resurrection YearBook Review: Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey

I made a mistake. I picked up Resurrection Year at 11pm one winter’s evening to read the opening chapter so I could decide whether I would enjoy reading this book with such an enticing title. At 3am I really had to put it down knowing I had work the next morning. The story of Sheridan and Merryn Voysey’s journey towards a Resurrection Year is deeply moving, personal and full of grating anguish. While I had a hint of knowing what was in store, it can’t prepare you for the way in which Sheridan rolls out years of stumbling steps towards a broken dream.

The story connects with all of us who have suffered loss or driven down a one way street thinking it was the short-cut to the ‘highway’. I had just recently suffered my own dead end street and I was reading ‘Resurrection Year to find the answer I had missed in my own journey. I thought Sheridan might have a magic answer. I hoped he had found the 12th step in some program where I’d only found 11. The reality is that Sheridan takes us through the heart-break of a journey that doesn’t as much go around the mountain as it instead goes up and over mountain after mountain experiencing the valley floor and then the pinnacle view, only to head to the valley again.

Sheridan’s writing takes you visually through their experience in a journey that travels around the world taking in the life of this Australian writer and broadcaster in his land down under before a trip to the romance of Europe and then embracing the life that a little flat in England might offer on the edge of Oxford University. As he looks for hope, Sheridan absorbs any possible hint of beauty in nature and architecture. It’s a picture of someone hungry for their dream and yet in the hopeless void of darkness still recognising the hope and beauty that is beaming through a crack in the experience.

Sheridan and Merryn Voysey

This is a story that many husbands and wives should read. Sometimes our dreams are known and realised and sometimes they were squashed a long time ago by an experience or layers of life’s silt that gathered. I believe Resurrection Year will be a catalyst for couples and individuals to talk about a journey that may have been placed on hold and may need a new itinerary for a new journey.

Through Sheridan’s writings we hear the heartbeat of his wife Merryn as she struggles through the pressure and pain of their desire to embrace parenthood. I most of all connected with Merryn’s determination to ‘get back in touch’ with the God she loved and believed in yet felt she was on the ‘do not call’ phone list of heaven.

Here we have a story that helps us understand the faith issues as a young couple seek to honour God in their life experience, yet having to evaluate what is their own role and what is God’s. The conundrum of looking at the prayer and practice of chasing a deeply seated desire is very clearly laid out as they recall events where seeking God seemed fruitless. You will probably relate as you read of prayer meetings where friends and strangers offered heartfelt prayers and advice that don’t seem to carry you any further towards the goal.

Resurrection Year will help rebuild hope, touch-up the faded picture of God’s heart in your life and most of all give us a framework on which fresh purpose can be designed.

Listen to Sheridan’s Interview on OpenHouse with Leigh Hatcher: Podcast Link

Sheridan’s Blog can be found here: SheridanVoysey.com

Buy the Book:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Koorong Australia
WORD Australia
Manna New Zealand

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Featured Articles Observations

Getting Married – Flying on the Trapeze

Pitchford Wedding

Today many couples say that they want to ‘try out’ the relationship first before getting married. Their rationale is that by living together they want to ‘try before they buy’ so they don’t make the mistake of marrying the wrong person. On the surface it seems logical. After all, why not measure twice and cut once? But what is lost in the equation is that they’re losing sight of the difference between flying on the trapeze with a safety net and flying without. It’s a unique aspect of life that kicks us into a higher gear where we perform with greater commitment and our brain, stamina and heart lift to a higher level. I don’t know if you’ve seen the cartoon with the pig and the hen. The hen is telling of its wonderful eggs made available to breakfast plates of bacon and eggs everywhere when the pig jumps in. He cuts to the chase saying, “Huh! For you it’s a contribution but for me its total commitment!”

In my work in the media we can now pre-record audio and video before we broadcast the production. Somehow in the brain that lets us off the hook as a presenter to make a few mistakes, delete the recording and do it again. I know from personal experience, whether on stage or behind the microphone that I’m actually better when its live. You know its got to work and you draw on all your training and creativity to make it a success. The one thing I’ve learned in our marriage is that it’s not a dress rehearsal, its a live performance.

These days it seems we’ve scared a lot of people out of the joy of marriage by the horror stories of divorces gone wrong and mismatched personalities. Sadly they’ve had more publicity through TV soaps, movies and the 6 o’clock news than the successful stories of loving marriages. Why do we only hear about marriage success if a couple makes it to 50 or 60 years? One thing I love about our church is that every Sunday you can go up the front for a free Crunchie chocolate bar if you have something to celebrate from getting your driver’s licence to the arrival of your first grand-child. Every week married couples go up celebrating their wedding anniversary. I love hearing that a couple are in their 14th, 29th or 40th year of marriage and then to see them go up and walk back hand in hand. We seem to have a generation that thinks they will last longer in marriage if they wait till they’re older and yet I would say I’ve seen a majority of young love marriages be the ones that last to say they started strong and finished stronger.

Cheryl and I have known each other for 24 years and we will soon be celebrating our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. This year we are heading away for a weekend at a beach. We probably can only afford to do this kind of thing every 4-5 years but it’s always worth it. I know that through those years we’ve had moments where we wondered how we could keep going. Sometimes it was a big problem but more often than not our pride stumbled on a small stone in the road. I’ve often found we can resolve the issues pretty quick its the part where we have to humble ourselves that actually is the hardest piece of the puzzle.

The best advertisement for marriage is marriage. The photo above shows my stunning babe on our Wedding Day when she was 19 years-old. We still speak of her as my ‘China Doll’, she looked so stunning. We’re a happily married couple with four beautiful kids who we love dearly. As our children are in the 13 to 20 age-group we are starting to enter a new phase of life as we have more adult life experience conversation with them. This is adding to our marriage and giving us a great privilege as Mum and Dad to be involved in our kids life decisions. This is also a pivotal year as our eldest daughter is engaged and preparing for getting married later in the year. What an incredible opportunity for us as parents. We can be inspired by their young warm smitten love and at the same time be able to grab the moment to model a marriage worth pursuing.

We are so proud to have brought them into this world and as I look at the photos around our house of our lives together I can see what value there is in a marriage built without a safety net. We haven’t relied on divorce as an out, or a prenuptial agreement as an exit clause but instead we’ve flown high on the trapeze. We’ve enjoyed the view and the thrills knowing that we need to keep our eyes on God as our ‘catcher’ for this amazing experience. I know we have friends and family who have had to walk through the pain of divorce and we know it isn’t a path they wanted to choose. The life lesson that has kept me honest to the man in the mirror is that I can’t let myself have an out if I’m going to be the best husband, lover, Dad and friend to my wife and family.

Tell your family and friends about what has inspired, taught and challenged you as your marriage has grown. You never know who is looking on and thinking of getting married. And guys, lets not leave it to the ladies to tell the romantic stories to the next generation. A happy bloke is a husband who feels secure with his wife and isn’t afraid to sneak a kiss in front of the kids.