2021 and 2022

As 21 chimes to 22 tonight, I want to remember all that I have learnt this year. Not just the 25 things I mentioned over the course of the last month, but this season entirely.

I am a firm believer in fact that everything is a part of a larger tapestry of events. And while I can’t tell if it’s because I’m two years older or because the last two years were a mess – it seems like time moved faster than in previous years. I’ll resist the temptation is to discard ’20 and ’21 with all its’ speedy chaos in favour of remembering its role in my larger tapestry.

I feel like I have learnt more from these trying years than I have in a long time. Of course, there’s so much more to learn, but while saying goodbye to the past – I like to think that the part I still carry with me are parts that will make the future that little bit easier.

Above all else and through all the lessons, I always come back to one fact. The even when I don’t understand it and even when there is no logical explantation to the season I’m in- it doesn’t mean that it’s not all part of the plan. Chaos is never entropy, but rather our lack of insight to the larger tapestry. Say what you will about my faith, albeit smaller on my part than I’d like, my Jesus always pulls through.

No matter what 2022 contains or throws, whether it’s grand or a footnote in the wheels of history – I know I trust a God who holds 2022 and holds me. Not because He has to, but because He wants to. And who am I to question or worry about anything else? That’s more than good enough for me. And in that spirit, regardless of circumstantial feelings, I look forward to the year ahead with a full and expectant heart.

Cheers, and Happy New Year everyone.

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A 2020 Carol

Magic was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourners. Society all but signed it. And Christmas was a further complication for what was already, for many, the most confusing and devastating season in a recent history. The brightly lit trees, brass band carols and clippity-clop of reindeer were a desperately long reach from the current reality. Now, just hours from the start of a new year, even the optimistic were cautious to label 2021 as ‘their year’ or ‘the best year yet’.

Just over a year ago, we all blissfully went about our festive busyness – complaining about the weather and all manor of fickle issues. We had no idea as 2020 prepared to wipe its mucus-clogged nose slowly and painstakingly across the globe.

But yet as this year unfolded there were lessons three to be taught to me. Sure there were many but it was these that stuck, you see?

Disclaimer for those who need it – Let me be clear. I’m not foreign to varying degrees in which this year has effected people. Much like the virus, 2020 affected people in completely different ways. Pushing us all and stretching us all differently. And sure, in hindsight it may all be helpful when we look back on it, but for now the pain is still so very real – in the moment. This is only my story. It’s not better or worse than others, but it’s what I learned. Though dramatised for the purposes of this world renowned blog, with over one viewer a week, the lessons and truth behind it are very real.

You see, it all came by the presence of three ghosts. And by ghosts I mean (mostly) fictitious analogies to represent the lessons I would later learn. And nothing at all like a cheap rip of Charles Dickens masterpiece – A Muppet Christmas Carol.

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The Lighthouse (Faith over Fear)

In the midst of a chaotic and confusing time, Easter remains a constant. This year it may not be shared with family in the same way or celebrated in church buildings like years-gone-by. But Easter itself remains, just like the truth that it pertains to. And perhaps, now more than ever, its message is as life-giving as it ever has been. And to that end, I write this. Not to belittle or ignore the efforts of those around the globe fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic or to overlook the heart and resilience of everyone doing their part by just ‘staying home’. But rather to strengthen my soul in the one fact that remains unturned or unchanged by this, or indeed any storm that clouds our skies…

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Bitter / Beautiful Cold

There’s no doubt, I think, in any of our minds that life gets more complicated as we progress through our lives. Probably with the increase of responsibilities, stresses and pressures expected of us, all coupled with the fact that the world seems to be changing at break-neck speeds and is often hard to keep up with. So, then, it is perhaps no surprise that our situations, decisions and paths-trod become equally complex.

I remember thinking through the journey I took to get me to where I am today – in light of business only – and I almost lost my thought-train several times. All the flip-flops and crazy situations made me loose count. I don’t think I’m any exception either.

Fortunately, in all my understanding of who God is, He’s not scared of complexity. Specifically just looking at Jesus’ arrival. What appeared to be the most complicated and unorthodox baby birth in our written history, God cut through the situation and somehow brought a simple solution. A birth in a barn, a baby in a manger. Probably not the birth story Mary and Joseph expected. But yet, God pulled through for them regardless.

Walking the dog in the bitter cold, and (just imagining) the snow flakes and their beautiful complexity, reminded me that the same heat melts them regardless of their intense and unique designs. In the same way, however complicated my life becomes and however weaving the road I make becomes, the same God doesn’t change. Hope came through the complexity two thousand or so years ago and made a way. That still applies today. Where I see mess and confusion, God sees a way. The only challenge is reminding myself to hand him the reins.

Looking back over the year gone by and then the festivities ahead; I’m reminding myself that there is no comma or ellipsis that hangs-by-a-thread while I stop to rest. Instead, my sentence is already written and the full-stop added by the author and finisher of who I am.

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Rup-a-pum-pum-pum, number one

There’s no hiding or excusing it, I love Christmas. And when it comes to Christmas music, I like to think of myself as a bit of a collector. As my wife found out earlier this year, ‘shuffle all’ on my iPhone is a dangerous game to play – as well over half of my music is somehow related to Christmas. Every time I hear a Christmas track online, on a TV show or just-about-anywhere-else – I’ll be sure to add it to my collection. Why? Because it matters. Come November, I want to have the most epic Christmas playlist. Which, each year, is getting hard to top. That playlist has gotta bring the festive cheer. It’s gotta leave me feeling like it’s snowing outside (even if it isn’t). And it’s gotta be 100% Christmas themed.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great music out there, but it grinds my gears a when the Christmas number 1 (and just about all the other top 20-50) have literally nothing to do with Christmas. No sleigh-bells, no jolly Santa, no mention of a tree and no chance of a bit of baby Jesus in a manager. We only get to listen to Christmas music one season a year, so why are we normalising it to teenage power-ballads or repetitive pop that we get all year ’round? A quick glance at the the number 1 spots since 1952 shows the very mixed top-spots over the Christmas season. I’m not blaming anyone, well, maybe someone with a name that rhymes with ‘primal towel’… So it’s great to see, over the last decade or so, Buble and co bringing out some cracking Christmas albums. This year, an unexpected release from Robbie Williams adds a massive track-list of epic Christmas songs to the runnings.

Honestly, my rant is over and my Christmas spirit is back. Because, let’s face it, music can truly set the mood. Just ask the poor Ikea Customer Services rep who had to deal with me after being on phone-hold for 45 minutes being force-fed Abba. I shudder at the memory.

So without further ado, here is the playlist that I’ve been working on all year. It’s called A Very Decent Christmas Playlist. It’s a mix of all styles, all themes and all feels in a mashup of Christmas goodness. You may not like this sort of thing, but I love it. Feel free to listen.


(Note, Spotify didn’t have all the tracks and won’t be updated through the season. So, the Apple Music one will naturally be a better version…)

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Worth it. (De-Interdimensional Simplified Part 2).

You may or may not have read the last post I wrote this week. Normally I don’t have time to write that much. But there was a certain element of the post that really kept speaking to me. So here is a little extension.

Catch up here: De-interdimensional Simplified.

Pushing past my interdimensional illustration and jumping back to that video. That video gets me every time – twice. Because I see myself in it, way too much. No, maybe I’m not going to shoot myself – but the metaphor of being deep in the crap bed we make for ourselves is so real to me. The first time it slaps me in the face for tears is when ‘I’ drop the gun and run the gauntlet against the odds because I finally see where true peace and love is. Only when I get ground into a million pieces and sometimes it’s a last resort. Which is such an insult to the love that Jesus is still pouring out for me the entire time.

The second slap is more of a gut punch. When running back, the stuff and consequences of my actions, no matter how hard I try I can’t quite make it back. So Jesus steps in. That’s when I often can’t hold back the tears.

And if my first blog post here was about the first slap – this is about the second. It came to my attention that the decision to run full-pelt at the challenges and fights and restrictions and mess and hurts and fears and insignificances won’t always be enough.

For me it comes down to value. So often I don’t value who I am enough. Yet, dare I say it, if we’d be honest to ourselves – the circumstances and obstacles we run through often value us more than we value ourselves sometimes. I know that’s true for my life. Even the crap we put up is sometimes willing to fight to keep me more than I can muster to fight against it. But even if they do value me more and are willing to fight for me more. Jesus loved me so much more first. And stereotypes and cliche phrases can’t water-down the reality of that. So much was his value of my feeble life that he’d take a bullet for it. And did.

Going through this week, physical and very non-metaphorical storms remind me how hard obstacles can fight back sometimes. But open arms and love that surpasses all understanding trump all else and even when my running home becomes a stumble or a crawl – his running is a never ceasing supersonic blur of everything as he joins me where I am and carries me the rest of the way. His value on me surpasses anything else we can imagine. His value on you surpasses anything else you can imagine. No matter what we think stands between us, does not. Not if we’re willing to run to him.

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De-Interdimensional Simplified.

Sometimes I think things are so obvious that it’s stupid. But at the same time, I’m even stupider for not remembering how simple things can be when I need to know it the most. Contrary to the overcomplicated title and seemingly hypothetical opening blurb, this post is the most simple post of them all.

We have our loves and our likes and Jesus was no foreigner to understanding the importance of relevant stories. That’s why he didn’t start his stories with ‘so I was just chilling with the Father, making some epic miracles and shooting out some lasers at devils’. No, he talked in stories relevant to the audience he talked to.

In the same way, here’s the story as I see it. Interdimentional travel is a highly exciting prospect, but until now (and for the foreseeable future), highly fictional. To switch between dimensions and places and spaces is a glorious appeal. And so often I imagine myself breaking through the dimensional divide. But even in those day-dreams – I so easily forget the most important part before going. The anchor. Tony Stark nailed it in Endgame by asking that question before even ‘is it possible’; ‘How would we even find our way back’. Or better put, how will we know where we started. Interdimensional travel is literally infinite possibilities and paths. Great if you want to loose yourself. Not great if you want to come back.

In it’s purest sense, sometimes we just forget that Jesus is everything. No matter what. And sometimes we just let distractions and illusions and desires and fears and failures and politics and semantics and starts and ends and everything else blur that truth. We burst through the pinhole of our reality and get bombarded with the biggest and the brightest that everyone everywhere has to offer. But before long, it all dies out. The initial success breads complacency, the promise of stuff leads to insecurity and the path we were on is somehow more complicated, more blurry, more full of crap that it ever needed to be. Worse still, through it all we forget how we got there.

I have recently been reminded that no matter what dimension I’m lost in, there’s an anchor to that simplistic love that casts out all fear. That destroys wipes away lies and protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Unlike most anchors though, the moment I make up my mind – the anchor changes from a interdimensional pinpoint to something far greater. Think more of a relentless force that will fight and stop at nothing until it has me back in His arms. He doesn’t care about politics or semantics, chaos or odds.

While trying to find a more modern analogy to the story, the truth is – this video says it all perfectly. So I won’t even bother trying to top it. And in case you don’t have time, or you can’t be bothered – we’ll skip to the bit where I remember Jesus is everything. For me, that’s something I need to be reminded of way more often than I should. But every time I do, He fights harder for me than I ever could.

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