Monthly Archives: January 2012

Journey 1 Day 31 – Creativity and Suffering

The final day of January, My Journey is a Month old, and its not therefore that long until Journey 1 will become Journey 2! I’ve begun to think quite extensively about my Journey 2 theme of simplicity in relation to food consumption (and reducing it), Car use (or the lack of it) and cutting spending (at least on ‘luxury items’). Some more ‘creative’ thinking is needed but it proves to be quite a challenge and quite a journey. I definitely will have some helpful resources to inspire me in the form of the Tearfund Carbon Fast and the Breathe

Ok, I’m stalling and yet further delaying my exploring! I’ve deliberately ignored exploring the relationship between suffering and creativity. But feel its a theme I can’t completely ignore. I want to embrace the reality of life in yes the good times but also in the pain and the struggles.

Its a theme that picked up in Rob Bell’s brilliant live tour and booked entitled ‘Drops Like Stars‘.

“We plot, we plan, we assume things are going to go a certain way and then they don’t and we find ourselves in a new place, a place we haven’t been before, a place we would never have imagined.”

Suffering does that – it hurts, but it also creates.Rob Bell’s brilliant work explores the endlessly complex relationship between suffering and creativity.

Its hard as thinking through the suffering of friends, family and in my own life, although it has built character and empathy, its so hard to go through and see others go through that it leaves big questions of why, and very often seems to bring a feeling of emptiness and struggle rather than creativity.

And yet out of great pain, anguish and injustice can come such hope, healing and change. It seems that so often the drive and movement for change comes from a time of suffering. Ending Apartheid in South Africa, The Arab Spring and many other movements have come from that deep rooted sense of restlessness and discontent.

I saw a truly moving and beautiful film today as part of the Inside Out Course. It’s the story of Patsy Mckie. Patsy had the truly awful experience of losing her beloved son in a shooting incident in 1999. Incredibly, although not all all easy, out of this pain came the amazing story of hope. It was particularly inspiring to me as I myself was held up at Gunpoint back in 1996 in the same area of South Manchester.

I’m inspired by these stories and inspired by the support I’ve given and received in times of struggle. I’m also challenged and humbled by the importance of being able to ‘cry out’, be honest and be raw and for that to be ok, for questions, doubts and struggles to come to the fore. Life is messy, faith is messy and to be able to embrace that, walk in that and see somehow, often in almost miraculous ways, new approaches and new paths found is simply amazing.


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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Journey 2


Journey 1 Day 28 – Autumn Days (In Winter)

Friends, Family, Good Food, George wearing a silly hat, Norwich Winning, A great time in the Local Library, Playing in the Local Park, Reading stories, Reading Tim Keller, Home made Pesto, A Drumstick Lolly,  Fabulous Sunshine, Deep belly laughs, Amazing Apple Juice, (My Autumn Days Moment of thankfulness and Gratitude as an ode to my day).

Sometimes I am so aware of how I can make things overly complicated. Complexity, shades of Grey and deep pain and anxiety are things that I embrace and acknowledge are a part of life. I’m mindful of family, friends and distant connections who are all embracing pain and difficulty at this time. I acknowledge that and stand with them in this.

However I also want to be real about the joys, simplicity and brilliance of life and feel that today is one of those ‘Autumn Day’s’ moments!

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Food, Journey 1, Play


Journey 1 Day 26 – Inspiration and Possibility

Its been one of those days….. no, not the kind that can leave one feeling down in the dumps and questioning your value and existence, but one that has reignited joy, hope, possibility, the chance to dream and to be freshly inspired.

It started with Anne Atkins thought for the day on being a committed, loving, don’t hold back amateur and also some brilliant early morning conversations at work over Coffee. Which included a very interesting tip about an ancient book called The Gift.

People, projects, possibilities have also all contributed to making this a day to be thankful for.

London School of Theology has also really inspired me today. First and foremost through their brilliant and updated magazine called Insight. The latest edition is full of some great articles and it been brilliantly (re)designed. They have also inspired me with their approach and flexibility with course modules and seeking to draw a wide range of people into being part of a community to share life and faith together in dynamic and creative ways.

Then tonight I’ve been inspired my preparations for speaking on Psalm 34 and also challenged by this rather stop you in your tracks film about destiny and living a truly fulfilled life. I’m not sure I agree/resonate with all of the language and perhaps even approach of all of it, but its pretty inspiring and humbling stuff. I love the stuff about The Well and also the sheer diversity of approaches taken to bring hope where there is hopelessness.

Inspiration and Possibility…. words…… but also creating the possibility of life being lived in all its fullness. Psalm 34 talks about being ‘delivered from fear’ (v4), that we can taste and see that the Lord is good (v8) and that whatever our ‘cry’ (v15) God is attentive to it and can redeem and restore us to a newness and fullness of life. Life is never going to be easy, always fun and always good. However, even in the midst of pain and anguish there is hope and reason for enabling us to trust in the goodness and love of God.

Inspiration and Possibility. I’m in for the ride! I’ve only got 2 weeks of this Journey left and so far I’ve not created that much in the sense of songs, poems and outworked receipes…. But I have created space to think, explore, reflect and it takes me back to one of my original posts and comments that Creativity can and must be reimagined and cannot be boxed into just producing things but also its to be seen in a much wider sense!


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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Work


Journey 1 Day 24 – Consumer Detox An Invite

Although I am still embarking on Journey 1, Journey 2 (Simplicity) is not far off and I wanted to flag up a great opportunity (which enables some creativity and community activity)

This is an invitation to take part in the 2012 Lent Consumer Detox.

The Detox blog and  details are available here. It includes:

  • Creative and challenging small group activities, with Bible discussion suggestions
  • Inspiration from a daily Lent blog and online talks
  • Or read through Consumer Detox by Mark Powley (Zondervan 2010)
The Lent Consumer Detox has been compiled by Breathe, a Christian network for simpler living ( The aim is to help people live simpler, richer, more generous and less consumerist lives. This Lent we would like to invite you to go on a Consumer Detox, or to consider letting others in your church know about it.

 “Consumer Detox tackles one of the most important challenges facing Christian discipleship in the west today. If the church took this agenda seriously, it could make a big difference.”

Dr Graham Tomlin, Dean of St Mellitus College, author of The Provocative Church

Hope you can find a way to join in.

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Change, Journey 1, Journey 2


Journey 1 Day 21 – Celebrations

Today its my amazing and beautiful wife’s birthday. It has provided some great opportunities to express some creativity in terms of plans, celebrations and presents.  There is also the opportunity to create quality time as an immediate family and time with family and friends. Our younger son has become very taken with Wallace and Grommit so it was great to be able to make a Grommit cake (with some key help from Hazel) as part of the plans for a birthday tea!

Having completed the Rice and Beans Challenge it was also nice to have that freedom to be able to make choices again about what to eat. Something I know all to easily I take for granted… and to be honest have already started to take for granted even after this week. However I did approach todays choices with a definite sense of gratitude and thankfulness that so often I easily forgot to really do!

But today is a day not for so much reflection but celebration and gratitude for family and the many blessings and joys of life.


Journey 1 Day 19 – Unexpected Clarity

One of the unexpected outcomes of my Rice and Beans challenge this week has been the clarity and focus that it has brought to a lot of my thinking. Mainly because at times my energy levels have been quite low!!

I think it actually began for me last Friday when I watched Rob Bell’s Nooma 18:Name. A brilliant and profound reflection on Identity and the importance of living and being as our true self. It was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks.  It highlighted for me how much I can struggle to live out of that true identity. The film and this week has also challenged me about what is really important and where do I get my significance and fulfilment from. Its inspired me to explore this a lot more during my 2012 Journey.

We were reflecting as a team today about the Rice and Beans Challenge. We talked about how in reality we have no real idea of what it really feels like to be hungry. This challenge has impacted us in many ways. A small insight into people’s everyday living. A greater sense of gratitude for what we do have. The amazing generosity and support we have received in donations and encouragements. Thanks to people how have given and encouraged!

Another bit of clarity hit me today. Life is also about celebrating and cherishing what we enjoy. Today I read a simple bio of someone and it finished by saying they Loved Curry, The West Wing and Knitting. It might sound strange but it really impacted me. There is a reason, a deep and profound reason, why I Love what I love…. I need to celebrate that and enjoy that more. Life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

I’ve then come full circle on this issue of identity by being stopped in my tracks with a blog post from a colleague at work who was simply sharing a brilliant piece of writing by Henri Nouwen from his excellent book ‘Bread for the Journey’. These words are so incredible. Now I need to explore living them out!

“Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now. We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!”

Amen to That!


Journey 1 Day 18 – Creativity and Change

A lot of news reviews on 2011 are saying was an epic year. So much seemed to happen as depicted by this brilliant Google Video. The movements that created epic changes often started from the grass roots and online. So it seems fitting that today many sites are creating a blackout in protest at the potential of these creative movements being in jeopardy. Movements for change can be incredibly powerful and important. History and also the present highlight so many people, groups and movements who have stood up to the status quo and in doing so have brought significant winds of change in enabling a good and better, more just society.

I recently discovered an excellent and thought provoking blog post titled 30 things we need and 30 we don’t. For me it was both profound and provocative. The post is challenging the fast paced, information driven, fill our time way of being way of being we live for. Juxtaposing things in this way can be a very powerful thing. It highlights the possibility of change, of the power of saying no to one way of being and Yes to another!

The challenging thing about the comparative list is that whilst I want to embrace the column that says we need more of this, its not as easy as that in the everyday reality of life. But that should not be my excuse to just say, oh well that mountain seems to hard to climb so I won’t bother. A lot of creativity, change and transformation is not just about inspiration (but that is an important ingredient) but also perspiration!

Having had the inspiration to do both this journey throughout the year, and the rice and beans challenge this week, I’m finding myself having to really persevere and its not easy, and I’m right now not feeling that creative. The Rice and Beans Challenge is definitely causing me to reflect and be grateful for what I have and what so many people do not have. Our teams efforts are going well and we have managed to raise quite a bit of money for Tearfund’s work.

I am taking heart because I know that a lot of great songs, books, organisations, movements and relationships have often gone through a tough process of struggle and difficulty before the good really comes to the fore. This week may be about surviving but over the course of this journey I am seeking to be thriving!

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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Change, Journey 1