Wish I’d Read Much Earlier

“Answers to the Most Important Questions About the End Times” does what it says on the tin. Each chapter deals with a specific question. I’m really glad I received a free copy of this to review from Bethany House. I loved the way the author explained passages in Revelation or Daniel that I hadn’t completely understood. My only note of caution would be to check any unfamiliar Bible-verses against several translations.

Having said that, I really would recommend this book. The author’s explanations are thorough and uncomplicated. Whether you agree with his precise beliefs or not, he makes it very clear where his views have come from. Even those who aren’t Christians themselves but have Christian friends or relatives might find this interesting. I’d like to heartily thank the author and say I wish it had been available much earlier in my Christian life.

day 4 – mud, sweat and tears

Nicki’s doing very well on her walk from Bath to Cardiff. From this post, I think you’ll be able to see why I admire her so much. Please donate to her JustGiving page if you’d like to:

a dog called Chelsea

I hate three things with a passion!
Olives, bad-mannered people, and as of yesterday, the A48 to Newport!
I did all the right things to make sure my foot and ankle would be OK for the next day’s walking.
I put ice on it, slept with it raised up.
But when I got up my foot was very sore.
Mum put a protective dressing on it, and I used one of my knee supports on my ankle.
We started off at the Chepstow garden centre – and for the first two or three miles my foot was fine, I didn’t feel much pain at all.
However when we got on to the A48 cycle path things became incredibly difficult.
It was incredibly overgrown, muddy, very uneven and quite narrow.
I mentioned in a previous post how psychologically draining it is to listen to instructions, try and think about where you’re…

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A Lesson from Louisiana

I don’t often write a blog-post about a blog-post, but I read this and it touched me deeply.

Karina is from Louisiana, where they’ve had the flooding recently. Her home was affected and some furniture lost; her car was damaged, and not only that, her church has multiple campuses, three of which also flooded. Phew! And then she said she was single, with no close family. The enormity of the whole situation really hit me.

I’m privileged to have family nearby. If anything happened to my flat, I’m sure they’d have me to stay in a heartbeat. Karina hasn’t got that, but she has her church, and she has the Lord. Here are some quotes from her post:
“I have experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God unlike ever before”.
“I have felt His presence”.
“I will grieve because my possessions were valuable, but I won’t value them above the Lord”.

I went to church a day or so after reading this. During the worship-time, I could not stop thinking about it. I didn’t feel like singing; sometimes I don’t. That time for me is a time to be close to God, which sometimes means asking Him questions and seeking to get His take on things. I understand we all go through trials, but someone who’s so devoted having to lose so much … I kept wondering why the sovereign God – the One with everything under His control – would allow that to happen, until Jeremiah 29:11 (my favourite verse) came into my head. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I felt God say: “It hasn’t harmed her spirit,” and I realised He was right. She may have lost a lot in the natural, but in spite of that, she’s still able to say that God is good; she’s able to be close to Him, and choose to put Him first in her life. I think Karina’s a pretty special person – a reminder to us all to keep our spirits strong, whatever we might have to go through.

If she can say God is good, so can we.

“Jesus Talked to me Today” Book-Review

“Jesus Talked to me Today” is a collection of over 40 short accounts of God moving powerfully in children’s lives. I was very glad to review this for Bethany House; there are some lovely stories in here. My favourites are the ones about the giant angels and the pink vanity set, but if I read it again, I would probably change my mind!

You’ll like this if you’re the sort of person who’s uplifted by other people’s stories of what God’s done for them. As you read, you could feel one of two things: Thankful and encouraged to ask God for similar displays of His power in your own life, or sad and discouraged about your situation. This book leaves the impression that even at your most broken, God is willing to come in at the eleventh hour and turn things around.

A Book About Men Written by a Man: “I Wish he had Come with Instructions” Book-Review

You don’t have to be married to enjoy reading books on marriage. I’ve always liked and found them helpful. Sometimes you’ll see titles on how to please your husband or how best to pray for him, but Mike Bechtle’s “I Wish he had Come with Instructions” is different. It’s a book about men written by a man, so you can be fairly sure he knows what he’s talking about. I appreciated his clarification at the beginning that it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all book. Every man is unique, and this ‘Understanding manual’ was written as a starting-point. I liked Mike’s use of storytelling to connect readers with his message.

I would recommend this whether you’re single, married or preparing for marriage. Perhaps like me, it’ll be a conversation-starter with your male friends and you can see who’s the exception to the rule!

a big thank you – but more help needed

I wanted to share this post with you all because Nicki’s a friend of mine, and one of the people in this world I most admire. She’s walking from a road named after her recently-retired guide-dog to one named after her new dog, and would love to raise enough money to name a guide-dog puppy in her dad’s memory:

a dog called Chelsea

I can’t believe how quick the time has gone since I last posted.
Heaps has happened since then (more in further posts)
Things are going well regarding the long walk I’m doing in September.
I’m exceedingly grateful for all the help I’ve received so far.
The Plumtree pub in Canton has allowed me to do a quiz there, and I’m hoping it will be some time in August.
I’m looking for local businesses in Cardiff to donate prizes to a raffle, so if you’d like to help me I’ll pop the details at the bottom of this blog.
I’m also looking for training partners, I’ve been walking round the Orme in Llandudno, plus numerous traipses round the local parks, but I’d like to do something a bit more adventurous before the event which starts on the 4th September from Chelsea road, Bath.
The biggest thank you has to go to…

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Playing with People’s Lives

Can anyone who voted remain tell me, with any certainty, what the EU’s going to be like in 2059? 43 years from now? They say: “Perhaps is not good enough when you’re playing with people’s lives,” but they don’t seem to see that staying in is just as much of a risk. Look how the EU has altered in the last 43 years, and think double the number of changes in the next 43. When I voted leave, I voted for freedom.

We expected some financial instability to begin with, but leaving the EU is about more than money; it’s about not being weighed down by every law they might want to impose on us. Let’s ride the storm and once we’ve come through it, I think we’ll be relieved we got out.

Louis

A curious boy – his name is Louis,
Born 1809, just east of Paris;
His father a tanner, Simon-René,
Whose workshop becomes a place to play:
Off Louis toddles as soon as he’s walking,
To the place where his father makes tack for the horses.

Quick as a flash in his three-year-old fervour,
He picks up the awl to puncture the leather;
Drives it down hard – his gaze intent,
And yelps with a sudden stab of pain:
The tool he’d played with so many times
Had struck him a blow; he was blind in one eye.

A child leaving home – his name is Louis,
His parents have far outdone their duty;
His father the tanner made canes for a change,
Walked round the village and taught him the way:
But to further expand his ten-year-old mind,
A school in Paris – the first of its kind.

Every pupil with aspirations –
All of them blind, they craved education;
The school’s founder, who saw the need,
Had a system in place to teach them to read:
He gave it his name and called it Haüy;
It talked to the fingers in the language of the eye.

Raised print on wet paper, pressed against wire –
Though helped by the books, you’d quickly tire;
What they contained was scant at best,
And how could a blind person write for themselves?
Surely a better system was plausible,
And Louis determined to make it workable.

A youth with a purpose – his name is Louis;
From his own words, we can tell he’s displeased:
“We don’t want to be patronised by condescending sighted people,
We don’t want to be reminded we’re vulnerable”;
He yearned for the blind to be treated equally
And in his mind, communication was the key.

Through the news or in person we can’t be sure,
But Louis learned of an officer
Whose ranks of soldiers, there on the ground,
Could talk to each other without light or sound:
Just dots and dashes indented on paper,
That’s all it took to share information.

From that time on, the idea was sparked;
Now he had something to make a start:
Twelve dots became six, and he worked on the shapes –
Ten different ones, from A to J;
Add an extra dot for the following set,
And another to end the alphabet.

A Catholic by profession – his name is Louis;
I see the Bible there in his story:
All works for good to those who love their God;
The same tool that blinded him was used to make those dots:
In 1824, at just fifteen,
His very first prototype came on the scene.

A Frenchman with a legacy – his name was Louis …
Louis Braille.

Something New from Something Old

Have you ever done something because you thought it was the right thing to do, but soon discovered it wasn’t workable?

I love the Bible, and as a young Christian, I thought the best thing to do with that love of God’s Word was to go to Bible-college. As a blind person, I was relatively slow on the technology front; I hadn’t even graduated to Email or the Internet. There were no eBooks, and no accessible devices enabling blind people to read them. I needed my books in Braille or audio. My Disabled Students Allowance got me a laptop, and a Braille embosser (a large machine that converts text from the PC into Braille) for the college to keep.

The college had never enrolled a student who was visually-impaired, so they misunderstood what Braille was. Braille comprises 6 dots. Different combinations of those dots make up the letters of the alphabet. Brailing a book requires someone to type or scan text into a computer, and send it to the Braille embosser (like you would send a document to a printer). However many times I tried to explain, staff saw Braille as akin to another language. They weren’t happy with non-Christians brailing any part of a textbook, in case something got lost in translation. This meant no one from outside of the college could come in and do the work, so it would fall to staff or students.

While we waited for the Braille embosser, some students spent a couple of hours a week reading textbooks onto cassette. Mum did some reading too, back at home, and sent tapes through the post. In my first lectures, we were told how to write an essay. I would have to cite the page-number for every quotation I wanted to use. There were none on the cassettes which had already been made, and from that point on, whomever read aloud would have to remember to say the number every time they turned the page! I had to listen to everything and couldn’t scan-read as a sighted person would, so the college agreed to a more specific reading-list for each essay, but lecturers would promise said list and never actually come up with the goods. I realise lecturers have their own commitments aside from Bible-college, but that doesn’t help the student. After a couple of months, the logistical nightmare proved too much. It wasn’t just doing the course; it was getting the support I needed in order to do it. Some people are far better at banging the table to get what they want than I am!

More recently, I thought about going to a different Bible-college nearer home and trying again. Because of my previous experience, I had a far better idea of what I needed. The college were very gracious and said it was possible to do the first year of a degree course online, but in order to do the entire degree, I would need access to books that were only available in print. Having that information first time around would have saved a lot of heartache. It’s only thanks to God that I can say I don’t have any regrets.

While I was at that Bible-college far away from home, representatives from the charity CSW came to talk to us about the persecuted church. Their words about North Korea stayed with me. A year later I wrote this song, which ended up on my first album. God never wastes anything. I was a mess; everything seemed to have crumbled, but out of that came such a special song – one that made me think: “I want this to be heard. I want to raise awareness of what these people are going through.” If it wasn’t for “North Korea”, I wouldn’t have made one album, let alone two and one-on-the-way. Aren’t you glad God can take something old and unusable, to bring out of it something new and worthwhile?

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Compassion’s partnership with CardFunder inspired this post. Click here to see how they can use the leftover money from your old gift cards to meet the needs of children in poverty.

“Finding God in the Hard Times” Book-Review

Bethany House gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but it didn’t have as much oomph as I expected it to. I respect Matt Redman for his song-writing and I love to hear his shouts of worship to God, but a good songwriter doesn’t always make for a good author.

Matt and Beth Redman look at how we relate to God in times of suffering, but I found it a bit longwinded. My favourite parts were the personal stories – how Beth coped with miscarriage, or how the couple met. These could definitely have been expanded on, but maybe they’re just private people.

Having read and enjoyed Matt’s book “The Unquenchable Worshipper”, I was disappointed that a couple of the stories are repeated here. I don’t believe you should write a book unless you have something new to say, and “Finding God in the Hard Times” didn’t feel very new. The guide at the end was helpful though, and cleverly, all the chapter-titles are lines from the song “Blessed be Your Name”.