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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

Categories
Observations

Sign Here: Parent’s iPhone Contract

Yesterday I found out about Janelle Hoffman, a mum of five who has found a piece of well deserved fame for a blog she wrote on Christmas day about her son’s iPhone Contract. Janelle had soared up the Parental award charts when she bought her 13yo son Gregory an iPhone for Christmas. However her status as ‘Mom of the Year’ probably wavered when Gregory found that Santa’s delivery came with a little legalise in the form of an iPhone contract.

Gregory’s response was probably a sweet and sour reaction summed up in one word “Why?” He had finally broken through his Mum’s defences after a year of stealth ‘nag attack’ and now, just when he had the goal in sight, the judicious disclaimers and rights and responsibilities were thrust into view. What ever happened to a gift being a gift or trust and love?

Now let’s all calm down a bit because what I’ve read of Janell’s blog is a well crafted 18 point document. While Janell’s blog title calls it a contract and that probably gained a lot of publicity, the reality is its a superb set of guidelines. Her wording and points show a Mum who must have a wonderful relationship with her son and the points she has made will form great life lessons for all. Kudos to Janell for a contract crafted with wisdom and love.

The point is made that many adults in both their personal and work lives could do with a phone contract like this. Sometimes we err too much on the side of personal freedom and forget about personal responsibility. Janell has set about one of the most important tasks in parenthood. She has shown Gregory what a trusted and loved son can be rewarded with and helped him understand the old Spiderman hit phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

My favourite in the list is number 14 and one I will be doing more often.

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.

Here is the YouTube video and then a link below to Janell’s original blog post.

Thanks for reading. Please tell me in the comments section if you would give your son or daughter a contract like this.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhP-0rh16GM?rel=0&w=560]

Janell’s Original iPhone Contract Post – Follow Janell on Twitter

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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.

Categories
Observations

Things that should be said

Things that should be said

Things that should be said

There are many things I'd like to say
and there are many things I could
But if all I do is say them
then I guess I never should

You see words without meaning are like
flowers without their petals
or morning without its dew
like a puppy without its soft wet tongue
or me without my you.

I know that I don't own you
You've given that honour to the Lord
All I want is to be your friend
then I can love you to the end

My heart has turned full circle
and twisted like a rung out cloth
Tears fall like rung out water
as I come to face my fear of loss

I've let you down and this you know
but now I lift you up to show
You are my love I'm not ashamed
I'm proud because you bear my name

Your smile has always brought me joy
It helps me remember life's to enjoy
To God I lift my song of praise
Your beauty is defined, there is no more

You've dedicated yourself to Abbey and me
Our little family at this time only three
But I feel it is my turn to make a stand
I love you, I need you, I care for you
Please hold my hand.

Love Andrew

Author: Andrew Pitchford
Written: 1992

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Observations

Written for the One I Love

The One I Love

Written for the One I Love

When darkness fades
And glory shines you open your eyes and hope to find

A starling on your pillow
A valentine in your arms who nestles cheek to breast

You alight from bed to floor
Going to prepare a succulent feast as you tiptoe out the door

Content, refreshed and showered
From the house you leave with love you cleave to crack the open sky

Find a spot, a secluded one
Walk hand in hand alond silk golden sands and learn to dream

Cleanse your soles together
On salty shores reveal your souls to heavens soouthing balm

Talk becomes priceless time
When sipped between friends as a sweet chilled wine

Trust and open "Pandora's Box"
This woven basket of picnic pieces satisfies the prevalent appetite

Singing waters beckon bathers
to soak embracing all of natures reviving good cheer

Stroke the passioned stallion's mane
You fire his heart a firebox of embers, nostrils race with steam

Should one be one alone
No let them come intertwined as love's evergrowing vine

All money spent is lost
when trying to win your love my motives must be clear

The precious memories held
Will note be bought to corrode in life and bring us fear

Today we built a friendship
Intimate in detail, purest of materials, loved in conception and still real!

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Written for Cheryl for Valentines Day 1991. We won a bottle of wine when this was submitted to the local paper, the Te Awamutu Courier when they ran a Valentine Day's competition.

 

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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.

Categories
Observations

Hole in my head

This is a short post for those with strong stomachs. No Photoshop on this baby. Thankfully the pain has now gone but the hole will take longer to heal up.

holeinyahead

Categories
Observations

Wedding Vows Forever

photo_004 It’s often overlooked but Marriage isn’t a contract, its a covenant. If you are considering “tying the knot” with the ‘hunk’ or the ‘babe’ then take a moment to ask yourself is this for ‘convenience’ or ‘covenant’? Many enter into marriage particularly based on ‘young love’ for ‘the benefits’.

The longer I’m married I realise the benefits are on the end of giving not taking. That's where the difference is from a contract to a covenant. In a contract the parties keep taking until there is nothing left to take and then they walk away. Think on any commercial contract, any business deal and the objective is for a ‘win-win’ where both parties take as much as they can as fast as they can for as long as they can. Once there is nothing left to take the contract is dissolved and each party goes out looking for new fields to conquer.

photo_003 In covenant the parties give so that the agreement can last forever. In giving there is sustenance. In giving there is ebb and flow of strength and weakness. In giving there is hope beyond today. I am so grateful for a giving wife who has given in times of my weakness and loved when there was no love in return. Equally I am grateful for the love and appreciation I have for her where I can hold her, nurture her, encourage her and provide for her just because of who she is. Last night I lay in bed praying for her, thinking of 18years of marriage and how beautiful she is today.

photo_002 Today we did some picture hanging that included some wedding photos. One framed piece is of our hands with our wedding rings and either side are printed our wedding vows from 1991. Cheryl had the photos and the vows made up for a surprise Wedding anniversary present for me a couple of years ago. I share them with you today because of their increased significance to me. Cheryl and I wrote our own vows and they continue to show our love, our faith and our commitment.

My Vows;

Cheryl, I love you for your beauty and wisdom. I want all our friends and relations to listen to these vows I make today. Before our loving God, family and friends I pledge: To love you in body, person and spirit,
To provide for a home that we build together
as a haven of love,
To hold you tight when you cry,
To hold you soft as together we lie,
And to hold you high as you try to be all you desire.
I pray that I will lead our home as Christ led the church. Not for power but to secure you each hour. So together we can grow and learn to love each other more.

Cheryl, encouraging and forgiving one another in love, help me see this marriage last forever. I give you this ring as a token of my love. Let it symbolise the circle of family and friends who supported us today.

 

Cheryl’s Vows;

Andrew, I love you more than words can ever express. On this very special day which will always be with us, I pledge in the presence of our loving Father in heaven, family & friends:
That I will always love you no matter what highs & lows we may go through.
I promise always to care for you & meet your needs as our Father in heaven does without fail.
I will always be your companion as well as your friend who you can always depend on in your times of distress & happiness.
I pray that the trust that has been accomplished between us will continue to grow as we travel down life’s narrow road, that our love will grow as we learn to give and take so we will overcome any difficulties.
I know with Christ in our hearts & standing with us at our side our marriage will last forever.
Therefore this ring I give you is a symbol of my love as it signifies love which is unconditional & eternal just as our Father’s love is for us.

 

Please forgive the hastily taken photos off my iPhone. They were a little out of focus from the photos in our Wedding Album. I wanted to put something up here in this blog that reminded me of the significance of the 23rd March 1991. I will get some better resolution photos up in the coming days.

Update: After posting this I thought of the scripture in Ephesians chapter 5.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The people at www.covenantmarriage.com have put together a few challenging and helpful descriptions of the identifiers of a covenant marriage relationship.

Elements of a Covenant Relationship

Covenants are the fruit of a loving, faithful relationship. The vows we exchange at our wedding reflect a relationship already bound by steadfast love and faithfulness. The degree in which these words have meaning comes in direct proportion to the unconditional love that dwells within our heart for the one to whom we are repeating them.

Covenant partners take responsibility for their actions. As partners in a covenant marriage relationship, we are responsible for our actions. An example would be to remain “sexually pure” in our thoughts and actions towards our spouse.

Covenants are based on freedom of choice. Covenant marriages are not built on coercion, deceit, and manipulation. Wives, submission is freely given and grows from respect, not fear and manipulation. In like manner, husband, choose daily to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” You must freely choose to love and honor her in spite of the fact that you may not “feel” like loving and honoring her.

Covenants are rooted in actions based on choices, not feelings. Our feelings are forever fluctuating. Therefore to build a covenant marriage on feelings is to build it on shifting sand, which cannot support the foundation of marriage.

Covenant partners nurture their relation-ship. Our marriage will grow as we build up one another in love. This takes place when we value our spouse more than ourselves. As we experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we are able to love our spouse as He loves us. Covenant partners administer unconditional love, forgiveness, and reconciliation while providing comfort and hope to their partner.

Covenants are based on commitments freely offered A covenant is built on selfless love, freely given and freely received. As strange as it may sound, a covenant marriage is one in which the “tie that binds” the couple together is a commitment freely offered with no strings attached. Paul said it well: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Categories
Observations

Abbey & Ethan

Abbey & Ethan Gotta love my oldest and youngest This photo was taken on the evening of Ethan's birthday party. Amazing that Ethan has turned 7 and Abbey turned 14. My time flies when you're having fun. Both of these kids have great artistic streaks running through their veins. I love seeing the creative side of them come out. With Abbey it might be her art or writing and for Ethan it can be a smile or a mimic that shows the performer inside.