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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

Loving with Our Senses

Dad and Son

I’m sitting outside in the cool summer breeze of a Kiwi evening thinking of all the love I’ve experienced today from my family. What occurs to me is that I’ve had to be awake to loving with our senses. If I hadn’t paid attention I would have missed the power of love and it’s intoxicating inspiration.

You may be wondering what I’ve been drinking with these philosophical comments but the only motivation was life and the only drink on the table is water. I’m caught up in this moment hearing my daughter sing like a diva in the background and remembering moments through the day when I saw, tasted, touched and heard love. It was easy to absorb, gentle to miss and powerful to behold.

Let love present its reckless offers and let my senses be ever open, always receiving from their passionate assault.

Let me tell you how I woke up. It wasn’t early, it wasn’t like waking to the chirps of a trained choir of canaries and yet it was clearly more memorable. My twelve year-old son came in with a tray of a steaming hot cooked breakfast and coffee. And thoughtfulness went the extra mile when a bottle of HP sauce was on the tray with knife, fork and a serviette. My wife later filled in the back-story of how he had eyed up some bacon in the fridge and asked if he could cook it. She gently pushed him that there was enough bacon for him to cook his Dad some breakfast and still have enough left for his teenage appetite and so he took up the challenge.

Accepting a gift is the first rule of love. Knowing how to thank the giver is the second. Loving with our senses can involve the taste of a morning breakfast or the touch of a huggable friend. My son loves hugs and the time they take to be near each other. It’s a great response to his generosity to wrap my arms around him and thank him. Now my son’s morning cooking was wonderful and perfect but love can eat a burnt breakfast or salty muffin and still receive the best part of the gift. If you didn’t know your heart has taste buds, bite in again.

Once everyone had shaken the night from their eyes the family went out to enjoy the heat of a cloud free summer’s day. We had family visiting so we took them on a tour of some of the volcanic mountain viewing platforms that surround Auckland. As part of the trip my oldest son brought his newly acquired longboard so we could check with the shop if it was working properly. After going to the shop I complemented him on how well he had handled the visit and the preceding phone calls. He had dealt as a customer with a complaint and yet handled the issue with firmness and humility. I was impressed and didn’t miss the opportunity to tell him he had done well.

A short time later, as we drove to our first destination, he said three softly spoken words; “Love You Dad”. Most fathers will know the power that comes when an 18yo utters those words. It belies a deeper heart, a relationship of love and strength. I buckled a little like a warrior in space hit by an unseen force that buffeted him backwards through the vacuum. My hearing isn’t what it used to be but somehow I am always tuned in to hear these words whenever they are uttered. It doesn’t matter whether they are given in the most quiet delivery or amongst the mish-mash of a loud and crowded room. Listening had made me vulnerable to love, to hearing words that can change a relationship, build a bridge and more importantly melt the walls of a heart. Loving with our senses needs to be intentional, to absorb the love that is happening and emanating around us.

I don’t want to miss the whispers of love, the glimpses of generosity or the feather like touches of care and concern.

Later that day I experienced the joy of love by simply watching. Our eldest son had not always enjoyed the outdoors or sports but his new longboard had given him a zest to get out and ride. The skills were building and he’d been inspired by YouTube videos of experienced speed riders. Today I was inspired as he rode his board around a city park and then near the wharf. His joy was obvious and the pleasure was simple and infectious. Who wouldn’t want to balance their way on a board that put more breeze in your travel and speed under foot.

At one point in the day he shared his board with a three year-old relative and the passion and laughter in sharing was also present. After a walk around the crater’s edge of Mt. Eden he kicked back and lay in deep dry waving grass at the summit. His pleasure is my pleasure. We wanted to take photos of him laying amongst the dry wheat like blades of grass but in doing so he asked for a camera to shoot what he saw. From his position he could see the majesty of sunbeams glancing through tree branches and he took a few photos to remember his moment in the grass. Today I enjoyed loving my son by simply watching him enjoy life, family and the simple thrill of a skateboard.

Over the last few days our visiting relatives have been caught out on at least three occasions thinking the sound coming from one room was either the radio or another music source. On each occasion it was our 14yo daughter delivering an incredible vocal performance of either a cover song she was practicing for a busking adventure or working on one of her own creations. She has a powerful beautiful voice and it can fill a room when she belts out a song.

I may find my senses become dulled to the crystal clear sound of a life filled with wonder.

A problem for love is taking talent or good behaviour for granted. It could be a wife who daily cooks with care and thoughtfulness, a husband who keeps to time and tells you what he’s doing or a child who does a chore without being asked. Monotony of excellence should never be an excuse for the spectacular to become the blasé. As I enjoyed several moments this afternoon I realized how blessed I am as a Father and a listener to be hearing my daughter perform her singing in our home. Loving with our senses meant I had to be aware that at any moment I could receive a royal command performance intentionally or otherwise meant just for me. Listening to her sing in one room while practising, then at the dinner table as we jokingly sang, drummed and beat boxed together allowed me to hear love, feel love and be loved.

Today I resolve to be awake to love. I don’t want to miss the whispers of love, the glimpses of generosity or the feather like touches of care and concern. If I am so engrossed in my own world that I am cocooned from love I may find my senses become dulled to the crystal clear sound of a life filled with wonder. I don’t want to be safe where my misguided perception is that a closed quiet room is better than leaving my bed to enjoy the warm embrace of a friend. Let love present its reckless offers and let my senses be ever open, always receiving from their passionate assault.

Originally written January 5th 2013

Categories
Featured Articles Observations

Little Signs with Big Meaning

Seeing Signs in Life

God shows us signs all around but if we are too busy looking for what we have predetermined is ‘the sign’ do we miss every other signpost on the road? Sometimes we’re so focussed on the huge that we miss the little signs with big meaning. Men are notorious for driving ahead almost blindly looking for something they remember. They are living in hope they won’t have to humble themselves and ask their wife or a stranger for help. Hopefully they can rely on their own resource and recognise something from a previous experience to point the way and then “we’ll be right”.

Signs don’t have to be about just direction. They can be reminders of God’s presence or the past seasons of faithfulness, fruitfulness and joyous memories. One thing I’m trying to train myself to do is look for the beauty and the positives in every situation. A friend of mine gave me an interesting illustration a few weeks ago. He pointed out that some of us spend our time expecting or wishing to move from a ‘valley’ to a ‘mountain top’ and in doing so we miss the beauty around us. Our life may be living with family, friends and those who live with us in a desert of plains that have seasons of beauty.

Does the person who lives in the cold and ruggedness of Scandinavia or the deserts and mountainous regions of North Africa pine for the beaches of Tahiti? It seems we could erode a life of potential by spending its precious minutes looking over a fence to a grass that is only greener for one month in the year. Does the villager on the idyllic beaches of a Pacific island cry out for the inland plains of the Australian wheat fields while in the midst of a cyclone that dumps months of rain in a day destroying crops, homes and memories? There is no doubt that a season in life can destroy and lay waste the work of a generation. That event doesn’t predetermine our future. It was an event. It is past and the future is in how we see with our eyes the signs of a new season dawning.

Even in the jungle the light penetrates the darkness to deliver small message beams of hope that tell us we are heard.
A Pitchford Passing Thought

Sometimes a simple lesson happens in your own backyard. Yesterday I was tired after we’d had a few guests over and the heat of the day had caused the afternoon siesta to kick in. A few of us retired to have a rest but I felt the inside of the house was too stuffy so I grabbed my headphones, iPhone, pillow and a blanket and headed to the back lawn under our beautiful backyard tree. The heat was still there but a breeze created the right ‘heat to cool’ ratio that made the atmosphere relaxing and refreshing.

Signs in Backyard Sun Beams

While listening to my Sanctus Real Pandora station I started to appreciate the peace I had in my own backyard. Looking up into a tree is always a great revelation of life, growth, stature and seasons. I loved seeing the light beaming through the green dancing leaves. There were times that the light could hardly be seen and then a breeze would blow the branches in such a way that a bough would bend in just the right way to let the light bounce through. It was a reminder that God is always there its just sometimes life, our judgement or the cloud of one day can block our connection. Thankfully we can train ourselves to see the signs so that we recall that as surely as day follows night He is there and his faithfulness will continue to lead, sustain and protect us.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations
Deuteronomy 7:9

Every time I’m taking an evening drive with the family I love to point out God’s gallery in the evening sunset sky. If an unusual cloud formation paints a picture I like to sit back and see the design and texture. Life offers more beauty than the best galleries of the world and more drama, romance and comedy than the Oscars of Hollywood could produce.

Walk through life with your eyes open to see Little Signs with Big Meaning.

I’d love it if you shared this on Facebook or Twitter and left a comment below. Many thanks for reading this post.

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Featured Articles Observations

Waiting for the Curtain

Queen of Hearts

Many of us have sat in the audience waiting for the curtain to open. What we may not realise is that behind the hanging tapestry or velvet barrier a hive of activity is taking place. Its the preparation for the performance to begin that sees make-up artists applying the final powder and eye lines, orchestra pits full of musicians are checking they have the score in the right order and the stage manager is knocking on the door of the lead actors yelling “Five minutes to curtain”.

Right now I’m having to remind myself which side of the curtain my life is on. I’m not in the audience balancing a popcorn and coke, I’m backstage waiting in the wings for the curtain to open. I know that years have been put into the rehearsal and that the writer of this script has seen it from beginning to end but when will this chapter begin.

So this is a cathartic journey asking God what he wants from me and trying to still put my little hairy hobbit feet one in front of the other. I know that I’m in God’s ‘company’ and that provides the fellowship and encouragement one needs. A hobbit should never travel alone whether it be with a company of dwarves or a fellowship of hobbits, elves and men.

I’m currently ‘between performances’. Doesn’t that sound cute when I could simply say “I’m Waiting”. What I’m saying is that one door of my life seems to be closing but the next door hasn’t opened yet. I’m asking ‘what next’ and also trying to improve my strength, skills and stamina so that when the curtain does open I’m ready. After all who wants to be caught on stage with a forgotten line or worse with their ‘fly’ down. I sense that God is firmly at work making sure that the stage is set and that all is in working order before the curtain rises.

I’m encouraged that along any journey two rewards seem close to the journeyman. The first is the sense of a new dawn. As you imagine a young traveller waking from a tired slumber it happens as the dawn rays glisten through deep dew ridden grass to gently rouse the sleeper. As the cool of the ground gives way to the warmth of the radiant beams a sense of expectation soaks into the heart. A desire awakens to see new lands, fresh relationships and to embrace what was once foreign as family. It refreshes the eyes, increases the heartbeat and becomes a diet of excitement devoured over breakfast.

The second reward for our traveller is their growth in stature. Many a young tourist has started out with trepid feet and lowered gaze. The eighteen year old on the gap year excursion very quickly realises that Mum won’t be in their suitcase to be the alarm for a train schedule or the washing machine for a clean pair of underwear. We quickly move through levels of independence lifting our gaze and increasing our gate as we walk forward more confidently. As the muscles are stretched we grow upwards and inwards. Our mind finds solutions, our body conquers crags and crevices and our heart learns to stay the charted course when fatigue and passions both seek to sway our resolve with distractions.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

Its in these moments when we rest at a pinnacle’s view that we realise we are more than we once were. The journey our creator has taken us on has taken a cutting of possibility and produced a life of productivity. I have always enjoyed the sense that God hasn’t finished with me yet. Like the tourist who becomes an adventurer we leave much behind on the path of destiny. There will always be the superfluous dross of fat removed through hard work and toil but there is also the cutting away of things we once thought as wisdom now seen as arrogance. The traveller who is ten days into a mission or is now packing for the umpteenth departure will pack more tightly, stringently and with rigorous intent. Why carry the consumer’s weights of a selfish past? Why move the problems of arguments forgotten to the residence of a future peace?

So I’m waiting, not with fear and foreboding but instead with hope and a sense of anticipation. The senses of my heart are open to hear, feel and see the signs that the stage managers hands are on the curtain rope. A gentle tug, a changing of the lights and a quiet comes over the audience. The best curtain opening of all is at the break of dawn when a new day opens on fresh mercy and grand potential.

Like this song Before the Morning from Josh Wilson; I DARE TO BELIEVE!

Can you leave me a comment below and tell me about the times in your journey where you learned through waiting.

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Featured Articles Observations

Strong Enough

Time and Slumber

Forgive me if I’m wrong but this looks like more than I can do on my own.
Lyrics – Matthew West ‘Strong Enough’

There are times in our life when we meet faith head on. I’m walking that path now. My gut says “hang on” but the tear ducts yell “run away”. It’s where all the things you’ve learned about yourself and the God you love meet at a crossroads of decision.

I know that I want to come through this having learned new levels of faith and strengthened muscles I probably didn’t know I had. I want to be ‘Strong Enough’ and not weak. One thing about crossroads is that they sometimes seem to be like a cloverleaf freeway on-ramp of possibilities. More than one decision faces you and the traffic seems heavy and fast. Its at these times that you need focus and good visibility.

This last weekend I wanted to find a quiet place to ‘hear’ more clearly. It wasn’t about the sound proofing of the closet, it was about finding time for me and God to hangout and talk things through. Thanks to an understanding wife and children I was able to have Saturday to do just that. For me the best place to think is a ‘drive’. So come Saturday morning I woke with only the concept of heading out for the day with God, my steering wheel and a tar sealed centre line.

Just before leaving home I had the idea of going to a wonderful beach spot a couple of hours away where 22 years ago my then girlfriend and I went to seek God on the whole idea of marriage. We were deeply in love but we didn’t know if this should go to the biggest commitment of marriage. We drove to this beach and together as well as individually we sought God in prayer and through His Word for  an answer. I think the greatest result of that day was the peace we received walking into our life together.

One of the things that set the tone for this day just past was checking my phone and seeing I had the entire Keith Green collection on it I set the playlist to ‘shuffle’ and let God drive the conversation through the music. The lyrics of the music brought me back to some home truth’s on my own commitment. Keith Green would have been the Lecrae of his time and it was just great to be back in sync with youthful passions through the music in the car. I remember at one point just asking the Lord to be with me in the car. I looked at the passenger seat beside me and saw that I had my shoulder bag and water bottle there. I felt they needed to be moved if Jesus was going to have a seat next to me so I took them off the seat. It was my way of inviting the Lord into that space beside me. I know this may sound slightly irreverent but for me it then felt I was on a road trip with Jesus. We were talking when we talked and listening to the Keith Green tracks as we went. Jesus, Me and Keith; it was quite a trip.

After a drive around the beach, taking photos of an aero-club meet and spending time overlooking the cliffs at an old Children’s Bible Camp I went to as a child, I then drove another hour to see my parents. My Dad was out so it was just Mum and I. Sometimes you need one on one time with someone close. Mum later said she found it a blessing that we were able to be together to talk and pray as just the two of us. Often my family and Dad are around and it was so it was just unique to have time with Mum. Her caring heart, wise counsel and spirit-led prayer were anchors in the day.

Although it was now late afternoon I didn’t feel it was time to go home so I set the GPS for a new destination on the opposite coast of New Zealand to Bethlehem, a small coastal town north of Tauranga. I knew some old friends were there but they didn’t answer their phone. I started the drive anyway as it is an enjoyable scenic drive. On arrival I felt to contact these old Youth Group Leaders and after a couple of calls connected with them via mobile. While they were an hour away from the direction I’d just come, they encouraged me to go to their house which they told me how to enter, and make myself at home. This was a blessing as I had an hour of total quiet to sit, pray and read. Here I demolished Philippians and was saturated with encouragement from Paul’s letter.

When my friends arrived I was falling asleep. Thankfully their smiles and conversation reignited the coals of my energy level and we spoke for about three hours. God speaking through friends who let go of their agenda and display God’s is powerful. They didn’t tell me what to do, they shared with me God’s heart for me, my future and my family. One of the best pieces of advice that was dropped into that conversation was to think on the attributes of God and His character. It was a drop of refreshing salve on the parched skin.

My drive home was a great time to finish the day singing in the car just out of a heart of gratitude for every aspect of the day. It was just before 1am when I walked through the door to a much needed bed.

The crossroad is still before me but I’m not driving alone. The words of Matthew West’s song ‘Strong Enough’ emphasise that journey.

 

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Media

Media Prayer Day 2012

Media Prayer Day 2012

I just caught hold of this initiative coming up for the 5th August and thought it was worth dropping into your lap for you to think about. Media speaks and because of this it has an opinion. Sometimes its the voice of the presenter, the agenda of the organisation or the heart of the writer but it will always have ‘a’ voice. What we can lose sight of are the people, the individuals who make up ‘the’ media.

When it comes to mass media we would be right to say that a lot is driven by profit margins. Many are businesses who are accountable to shareholders. That being said we are the audience who choose and so the media folk are always trying to keep one step ahead of our life and aspirations so they can meet us in our space. They are trying to understand us as much as we try to ‘get’ them.

Whether you think of media as the person in front of camera, the voice on the radio dial or the journalist behind the article, for a moment think about their life and pray for them. They live real lives with challenges in the same areas as you. We may think they’re “rich and famous” but take away the echelon of celebrity rich and all media people deal with the same things as you when it comes to family, health, career, children.

Get your church behind Media Prayer Day 2012 and connect!

Some great ideas including this video are on the website www.mediaprayerday.com

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Observations

Up to Heaven

Up to Heaven

I wrote this when the father of a family I knew passed away. It was hard to see a soft quiet godly man die and yet you knew he was going to be with His Lord and Saviour. Sometimes words fail to express what is being felt inside.

Up to Heaven

I knew a man, so strong with silent features

Quite a man

He loved his own so dearly and even me

Quite a man

It’s hard to understand why God led him by the hand

Up to Heaven

But deep inside we know it was a better place to go

Up to Heaven

 

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Categories
Observations

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time is measured by the once
but pleasure by the pound
We forsake the hour's warning tide
Sit back with men feeling warm inside

Did Christ enjoy social expense
Or sit in critique at a neighbour's fence 
His time was ours he spent it well
Used healing hands to salvation tell

Why do you slumber instead of march
Is this gratitude, limbs stiff as starch
Accept what yours, forgiveness free of charge
Heaven's transport flown, not a deathly barge

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Categories
Observations

An Attitude of Better Days

An Attitude of Better Days Ahead

Just might bend but I won't break as long as I can see your face.
– MercyMe (Move from The Generous Mr Lovewell Album)

Every now and then we face a road block, an unwanted waiting room or the injury of heart, body or mind that brings us to a grinding halt. I'm facing that right now and I, like you may have at one time or another, feel moments of confusion and to some extent like I've had the wind knocked out of me. A gratefully appreciated friendship over coffee has reminded me of the passion, direction and vision that still beats within me but I'm still 'on hold' so what's gone wrong at the 'telephone exchange'? I don't feel connected to God or His direction for my life. There doesn't appear to be any communication coming back down the line. I feel like I'm on one of those dodgy Skype calls where my own voice is clear to me but the voice on the other end of the line sounds quiet or under water.

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Media Observations

Pushed Around but Not Over

Self Harm

Photo Credit: John O'Nolan via Compfight

I can still remember the day five ‘hoods’ ganged up on me as I was walking home. At around 8000 people, Te Awamutu wasn’t a big town but like any place on the face of the planet it had its ‘bad element’. It still astounds me because I had walked those streets at all times of the day and night and really hadn’t felt unsafe or in danger. Sadly on that day, a Saturday afternoon around 2pm, I became a target. No one likes to be bullied and a bully is a coward but what happens when there's more than one? At first it started off as a few taunts from guys on bikes, then came the circling vulture tactic and finally I was cornered against a wall just away from shops on SH3 leading into town.

At first I wasn’t afraid, just annoyed at the wombats that were trying their macho stuff on me. I think I was about 16 and they seemed slightly older. For a small town I didn’t recognise any of them. They thought they knew me though and the tirade of abuse started. Then the threats. At that stage I felt scared. They wanted my wallet and my clothes. Great, what a feeling this was. I looked up and down the street for help. Nothing. Then I tried to convince them my father was on his way to pick me up. That seemed to get traction. OK, lets build on that. I told them it might be that car, or that one but they better let me go. Ultimately they stopped enjoying their sadistic scare tactics and rode off. I walked and then ran home.

2 Corinthians 4 v 8 says;

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair

Today you may feel like the vultures are circling but be strong. Tell them your Dad is coming to get you!

This latest release from Manafest called “Pushover” caught my eye today. I pray it gives you courage.