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Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Ways to Destroy the Family

New guidance lines are being promoted by the United Kingdom Government, produced initially by the homosexual lobby group Stonewall and officially launched yesterday by Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, in which teachers are being told, amongst other things, that they should not assume that pupils in their charge have a 'Mum' and a 'Dad', but that schooldchildren as young as four-years of age should be made familiar with the concept of children coming from a same-sex relationship background as opposed to the conventional 'Family' background and therefore refer only to 'Parents'.
The suggestions continue along the lines that when discussing marriage with secondary school pupils, the teachers should also ensure that they promote the concept of same-sex civil partnerships and the adoption of children by homosexual and lesbian couples.
The advice to teachers is to challenge every derogatory use of the word 'gay' in order to help avoid homophobic attitudes. Of course, if you come from an era in which the word 'gay' meant 'happy and joyful' then you would already see the current popular use of the word as being derogatory in one sense. In fact I have personally always wondered why the use of a word meaning happy and joyful should be applied to a section of the community which is so often far from it for a variety of reasons. After all, I do not think that seeking out men for casual sex in public toilets, for example, could possibly be described as gay in the original sense!
For too long people have been bullied by the minority into a forced submission of accepting habits which are aquired rather than genetically inspired. Sex is one of the most powerful urges known to mankind, and the more that a person of either sex experiments with it then the more they can develop habits which are devaint to the generally accepted norm.
Of course, this post is totally politically incorrect, but then it seems that the truth invariably is these days. Let me make my own stance patently clear. Every person has the right to live their live in the style and manner which they choose to do, provided that it does not impinge on the chosen lifestyle of others, particularly in a manner which might be construed in any sense as threatening. This means that, as far as I am concerned, those who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle must be free to do so, and their choice should command exactly the same level of respect due to anyone else. After all, I expect my choice of lifestyle to be respected, so how can I expect that for myself if I am not prepared to promote it for others too? However, I believe that we should live according to God's laws, and so that is my lifestyle choice. Nobody should berate me in any way for making that choice. Part of our choice as adults, particularly as parents and grandparents, is to ensure that our children grow up learning about the norms of human society. Once they are older then they will be able to make carefully investigated choices regarding any deviations from those norms.
If homosexual or lesbian couples wish to enter into a civil ceremony in order to define their relationship for legal purposes then that is their right, and it can be seen as a good thing. However, to pretend that the civil ceremony is a marriage is ridiculous. Marriage is God-given, that a man and woman be joined together for the purpose of the procreation of children. The physical union of two people of the same sex cannot produce a child.
To promote the dispensation of homosexual and lesbian lifestyle literature to children is, I believe, totally wrong, and is totally against the Christian ethos of marriage and family relationships.

Last night at the movies . . .

Yesterday evening Gill and I went to see P.S. I Love You, starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and I have to say that I enjoyed the film a lot. I'm a sucker for that type of film admittedly! Gill had read the book previously, and agreed with those who had said that the film was not as good as the book. Notwithstanding, she still enjoyed the film, and neither of us agreed with the critics who had panned it. I guess that, just like everything else in life, it all depends on what you like as an individual!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dreaming of sunny beaches . . .

I've just seen the weather forecast for the next few days and, dear reader, I wish I hadn't bothered! Although the sun is shining at the moment, the forecast is to get wetter and colder, turning to snow by Friday. Now, having been in a state of somnolent semi-hibernation for a while I had started to move to the front of the cave as the sun showed itself more and more. With the latest forecast I need to creep towards the back of the cave once more, where I can let the rest of the Winter pass me by a little!

In reality that's impossible to do of course, for there's too much to be done! However, one thing that I can do is indulge myself a little by thinking about warm sunny beaches. Two kinds come immediately to mind; firstly those from my aeons-ago childhood, and those that I would like to go to before total decrepitude takes over (in other words, before I'm too old to appreciate such things!).

Of the former, I can recall family holidays spent year after year around the Bournemouth/Boscombe area of the south coast. There are many memories of those times which spring readily to mind. I recall the joy of the first glimpses of the sea as we neared our destination, rushing to the beach as soon as I could after we'd arrived, beach picnics which always seemed to contain sand somewhere in the food, and woollen bathing suits --- one-piece --- that stretched as soon as they were wet! I recall too much time in the sun without cream, and the price that would be paid for it (now that's a painful memory), ice-creams that were melted by the hot sun before you managed to eat them, and endless treks between the hotel and the beach. In the mornings the trek between the two seemed to go by quickly, yet not quickly enough for our eager little bodies, but when it came time to turn round and go back to the hotel at the end of the session, OH! how our legs seemed to ache from what seemed to be the longest haul in the WHOLE WORLD!!! The two weeks seemed to be endless at first, but as our bodies browned in the summer sun and we moved into the middle of the second week, the last few days seemed to rush by far too fast. How blessed we were, and yet how little we realised it at the time. I thought that every child had more or less the same sort of summer holiday, and it was only as I grew older that I realised just how tremendously privileged we had been. That realisation makes the memories of those holidays all the warmer now, for I realise that they must have been arranged at great cost, especially when all seven of us siblings were taken along.

It's one thing to look back of course, but it's good to look forward at the same time. That way you avoid getting trapped in the past. Recently my attention was drawn to the lovely beaches and seascapes of North Carolina, and I must admit that I hope to be able to visit at some point in the future to discover the delights 'skin-to-sand' so to speak. Anyway, to conclude this morning's blog, here's a few pictures of great beaches that I would welcome as future memories!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Night?

This is a fun book by Bruno Hachler & Birte Muller, with really adorable painted illustrations. I loved the fact that the bear did everything that the little girl did. It’s cute. It was a fun, cute book. It gives you a glimpse into the world of the most adorable companion that any child can aspire to. The book is published by Penguin Young Readers Group (ISBN 0-698-40029-1)

Just Another Day . . .

'Oh well, it's just another day!' I wonder how often you've heard that said, or perhaps said it yourself without thinking what the implications are? You know the scenario I'm sure. You plan to get a whole pile of jobs done and then get a fit of lazy-itus, the end result being that, though you might actually start several things you don't actually finish anything. The problem is two-fold: firstly, you probably don't actually want to get them done, and secondly, you are disorganised in the way you set about it anyway! After all, it's just another day --- and there's always tomorrow!

The problem is, of course, that one day there won't be any more tomorrows. You'll have come to the end of the journey and the road will have finally run out. Not attending to the things that need doing when they need doing places you in a fool's paradise. Sure --- leave things until tomorrow and today you'll have that much-needed leisure-time to do something that you'll really enjoy. Unfortunately, for a wide variety of reasons, the problem is, that amongst the things you leave until tomorrow, you will most likely find those leisure activities included as well!

It's so important to make sure that everything is as ready as possible if you want to meet every occasion head-on. When I lived in Africa I worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company as one of the management team, and there was always a GIGANTIC list of jobs to be completed, so it was important to organise each day properly. I used to have some forms which were headed 'Things to Do TODAY!' which were filled in before I left the office each day in readiness for the next morning. The first items on the list would always be anything that was left from that day, thus ensuring that everything got done in sequence, according to its priority. There was always the last-minute things to allow for, so it was important to be flexible.

Sometimes we would be notified that one of the Company 'bigwigs' was to be expected. Usually we would know not only the day but also the time of day that they would be arriving, so there was plenty of time to ensure that we were ready for their arrival, and that everything that needed to be done was done. Occasionally, however, they would surprise us and arrive earlier than expected, perhaps by as much as a few days. It was not good to get caught out in this manner!

Constantly, in our private lives, we face the same need to make sure that we are ready to receive any visitors who might surprise us. Imagine the situation if a relative or friend --- (hopefully the relatives are friends as well!) --- surprises you with an unexpected visit. When they ring your door-bell do you need to have a quick sweep around the lounge to make sure that everything is okay before you can open the door. Or perhaps you need to apologise that 'It's not always like this, just that I've been soooo busy lately . . .'

One day the Lord Jesus will come calling for us. We need to make absolutely certain that we are ready when He does! There won't be any time left to get the things done that have been left 'until tomorrow'. We don't know when He'll come. The Bible tells us that not even the angels in heaven, nor Jesus Himself knows the answer to that question. Only God the Father knows. That means that our lives absolutely must be in order now, TODAY if we don't want to get caught out!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Custodians --- Just for a while

I grew up in the countryside of Wiltshire, which is one of England's great farming counties, and so it's not that surprising that one of my literary 'heroes' was the farmer/broadcaster/author A. G. Street. I often pick up one of his books which contain so much about farming methods that prevailed when I was a boy. He speaks of times when farms were communities rather than the modern lonely places often being run by a farmer with the help of his wife and perhaps a part-timer. I remember Harvest Time especially, when the farm was alive with helpers as we all worked hard to get the harvest in before rain came and brought all the problems that it was capable of.

One of the lessons in life that I learned from A. G. Street was that we never own the land. We are merely privileged to be the custodians of it for a while, charged with caring for it and improving it. Farmers vary in the way that they carry out this duty of care. Some discharge it so well that the land rewards them handsomely, whilst others stand guilty of neglect. Many today, with the financial constraints on their hiring of the necessary labour, fall in between, not by choice but by circumstance. Whatever the position there is one constant and eternal truth, and that is that they will never own that for which they are responsible, yet they must do all that they can to ensure its perpetual fertility.

It's rather like everything else that we think we own. We don't really! We might own the use of something for a while, even for the duration of our lifetimes, however long or short that may be, but when God deems that our life-span is over we have to give up our ownership, however firmly we've gripped onto it.

A few years ago I was helping a friend --- a retired antique dealer --- to move into her new home. One afternoon whilst I was fixing some shelves up in the hall and she was taking another helper back to their home, I heard a tremendous crashing sound. I rushed to the lounge, not knowing what to expect, but everything was okay. It was when I opened the door to the passageway that led to the bedrooms that I discovered the cause of the noise. A whole wall of shelving that had been badly put up by a previous 'helper' had collapsed and the contents of the very full shelves lay strewn across the floor. It was TOTAL DEVASTATION! On close inspection it was easy to see what had happened for the screws that had been used to fix the brackets to the wall were only half the length needed, and the weight of everything had done its worst.

Lying there in the hall, amongst the general melee of books, was the remains of a 16th Century glass bottle, some Victorian china and a few other antique remnants. I was HORRIFIED! How would my friend react when she returned home? How could I break the news to her in the gentlest way?

I soon found out, for it was not too long before she returned home. When I took her through to see what had happened do you know what she said? I'll certainly never forget it, for it taught such a valuable lesson. She simply said, "Oh well, I've enjoyed having those things for a while, but I guess that their time with me was over". Then she went to make a cup of tea!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dirty Window-Panes

Sometimes, when we are seeking to find the answers in life, it's as though we are looking through the glass of a dirty window-pane. We have a question in our mind and we know where to find the answer, yet when we go to look for it somehow it's obscured from our view. Tantalisingly, we can catch a glimpse of what we are looking for, but that's all.
For some, when they try to find the answers in Scripture, that's exactly what it can be like. Now I grew up in an era when the best way to clean the windows was using old newspaper to dry them with after washing them down. Just washing, using a cloth was not enough for really dirty glass. The water, muddied by the dirt, left the glass with smears. You could still not see through it clearly. The secret was in the newspaper, which firstly soaked up the excess water and secondly polished the glass because of the oils in the inks. The result was a window-pane which sparkled, and let the light come flooding through.
Now it's interesting, isn't it dear reader, that the secret of letting the light flood through came from the printed word on that old newsprint. Little by little, as you rub away at the misted and dirty glass, you start to see what lies beyond it, until eventually the whole thing becomes clean and clear, sparkiling with life. With a little perseverance, what was once muddied and unclear, sparkled with light and life. Once you persevere with the Word in the holy Bible you will find that the Light comes through, bringing clarity, understanding, and, above all, life-changing knowledge.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two Minutes on ANY Subject!

A friend of ours recently attended an interview for a job in Sales, at which, for part of the interview, they were asked to talk for two minutes on a given subject. The sort of subjects chosen are usually things like 'Wood', 'Glass', 'Rock' and so on. I'm sure you get the idea, dear reader! Nothing easy such as where you went on your last holiday or stories about your sporting prowess --- or lack of it --- during your schooldays.

Then this morning, when I went to have a look at Lindsey's Just Enjoy the Journey Blog spot, I read her post for the last couple of days, in which she comments that she wasn't feeling particularly creative at the moment. Understanding exactly what she meant, I posted a comment to commiserate with her, and it was that which reminded me of our friend's recent interview.

Maintaining a Blog can easily become a somewhat onerous task, and it's easy to feel GUILTY if you have left off posting for even ONE DAY! You worry whether people like you, dear reader, will continue to visit, or whether you'll decide it's no longer worthwhile.

Anyway, this business about going on for two minutes about something like 'Wood' reminds me of another occasion, many years ago, when I was in my teens. Several of us were discussing, pondering, and procrastinating, on the subject of matchsticks. The question was set, with a box of matches in front of us on the table, 'What do you see when you look at this box of matches?' The others came up with a variety of answers, mostly about either the production of the matches themselves, the matchbox, or the shops that sold them. When it came to my turn, which was thankfully last, I had managed to have time to think laterally instead of horizontally. 'NO', I don't mean lying down! Just approaching the subject from a different angle.

When I looked at the matches I found myself looking through the eyes of a poet, and I saw the forest where the trees had stood. I smelt the fragrance of the pine-needles as I disturbed them, wandering as I did amongst the trees. I looked upward and saw the sun shining down, breaking into the forest's denseness, dappling the ground around me. I saw the lumberjacks cutting down the trees and heard in my head the screams of the saws in the lumber-yard as the fallen trees were sliced into the planks from which the matches would ultimately emerge, freed through man's efforts as though they had been destined to remain trapped in the tree's trunk for ever.

Finally, I thought of the journey that the finished product would take, perhaps the final destination being to light someones pipe thousands of miles away, releasing the fragrance of their favourite tobacco. That thought transported me back to the forest and the fragrant perfume of the pine-needles on the forest floor. I had travelled the world and come full circle, and all because of a few random thoughts about a box of matches!

I hope you enjoyed the trip with me, dear reader!

There's a Song in the Air!

It's very early in the morning as I sit at the computer to write this Blog --- and when I say 'very early' I mean very early still in the dark! As often happens with me, I woke up in the middle of the night and my grey matter started to get to work on something, which in this case happens to be another new song. That's the way it goes! It's a strange thing, this business, for I end up having to get up at a time when I'd much rather be asleep in order to get rid of the words that fill my head. When I sit at the computer I have absolutely no idea what is going to spill out onto the screen until I have typed it. But there again, considering that I am convinced that the real work of creating is done by the Holy Spirit, I guess that's not too surprising. All I ever really see myself as is the delivery-man. I shall share what I write this morning on another occasion, but in the meantime here --- as the saying goes --- is one I wrote earlier. I hope you like it! It is sung to the well-known tune All to Jesus which you can hear by going to this link. Why not sing along to the tune. In fact, why not get it sung in your church? That'd be great!

Saved for Glory
Tune: All to Jesus

Saved for glory by the Saviour,
Christ is all in all to me;
I will tell the wondrous story,
How He came to set us free.
Saved by Christ alone!
Saved by Christ alone!
Saved for glory by the Saviour,
Saved by Christ alone!

He came down to bring us freedom,
From man’s own self-righteous law;
Came to grant us free salvation,
Tell it out from door to door.

Christ, the one Son of the Father,
God incarnate came to earth;
When you claim through Him redemption,
Through God’s Spirit get rebirth.

You can claim this glorious blessing,
You receive the bounty free;
You can sing the Saviour’s story,
Tell it out aloud like me.

Tell the world you’re saved for glory,
That in heav’n one day we’ll meet;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
We will worship at their feet.
© Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bigotry & Political Correctness

If there's one thing that's certain to make me a little hot under the collar it's the idiocy of political correctness. We've had more than enough nonsense spouted from various petty officials over the past couple of decades to last the world a lifetime! yet still it goes on, as one after another, someone comes up with more of the nonsense. Often it seems something just to laugh about at first, but it's much more sinister when you start to scratch under the surface.

One area that seems to come under fire with great regularity is that of our children's Nursery Rhymes --- little stories that tell tales that have delighted children for generations. Suddenly it becomes politically incorrect to sing about Baa, baa, black sheep, for we're told that it has racial connotations. What about Jack & Jill then? In the current climate should we be singing the way that some would have us be teaching, about Jack & Tom or about Jill & Mary?

The latest idiocy in this genre is reported in today's Daily Mail, and is about a Newcastle-based company called Shoo Fly. They have dared to publish a story called The Three Little Cowboys, which is based on the nursery rhyme of The Three Little Pigs. The judges of the annual BETT Awards, which recognises excellence in educational technology, have labelled this award-winning CD-Rom as racist because it creates 'concerns about the Asian community in relation to the reference to pigs', the result of which meant that they could not recommend this product to the Muslim community.
The judges also told the company that they objected to the use of so-called stereo-typing in the story which depicted builders as cowboys. They questioned whether it was true to say that all builders are cowboys (which the story does not), whether they get their work blown down, or whether they are like pigs, none of which are claimed in the age-old story, but which must be in the imaginative minds of the politically-correct judges!

You can check the company, Shoo Fly, out and see for yourself.

These are a few of my favourite things!

No, I'm not really about to compete with Julie Andrews and burst into song! I was just thinking about some of the things that I like in particular and in general, so here they are:
  1. Misty September mornings. I think that walking across a field when the grass is wet with dew, the mist is rising as the day wakes up, alone with your thoughts, is absolutely magical.
  2. Paintings by a fabulous artist called Geoffrey Key. He is part of the Northern School, hailing from Manchester, and I have several of his paintings. One of my favourites is called Setting Sun, and it's the picture at the top of this Blog. I love the rich colours!
  3. I love my vocation! I cannot think of any other work that would give me so much pleasure. Pretty well everything that I am involved in is to do with the ministry that I've been called to, whether it's the work that I do with my church and denomination, my hymn-writing or The Voice magazine.
  4. When I want to retreat and get closer to God, nothing can beat walking in the Welsh mountains for me. Some people might think that you would be lonely, but I find that you are enveloped by the surroundings in a most indescribable and wonderful way. Before moving to my present home I lived in a tiny hamlet situated on the edge of a mountain range, and it was a wonderful place to be.
  5. What could be better than waking up in the morning next to the person you love! I love looking across at Gill as she slowly comes alive in the morning.
  6. There's an expression that 'Sad movies always make me cry'. Well that may be so, but, adapting the saying a little, 'Old movies always make me smile'. I guess it's another of those things where familiarity is comfortable, but I still get as much pleasure from watching re-runs of favourite movies as I did when I first saw them.
  7. The sound of children laughing is one of the best tonics that you can get. If you're feeling a little down, just walk past a school playground at a break-time and hear the sounds of the children playing. You don't need to see them even, just hear them, in order to lift your spirits. I guess that it's the sound of people being happy!
  8. Talking about laughing, I can think of no better way to make you feel better all over than to have a really good laugh, you know, one of those laughs that has tears rolling down your face! I laugh at the simplest situations. I love some of the situations in TV programmes like Only Fools and Horses. Every time that I see the episode with the chandeliers, where The guys are waiting below a chandelier to catch it in a blanket when it's knocked out from the room above, only to discover too late that they are waiting under the wrong one, my sides ache from the laughter.
  9. The pleasure that we get from our little dog, Sam, is priceless. He understands a wide vocabulary, which means that you have to be careful about using certain words or expressions in his hearing. I love the way that he seems to be fast asleep and yet you only have to say the word'DO' in a certain questioning tone for him to be bouncing around your feet, expectantly waiting to see his lead materialise from the ether, no matter what time of day it is.
  10. Last on this list, but by no means least, is the pleasure that I get from writing my blog. I try to maintain your interest, dear reader, with a variety of subjects approached from different angles. I guess that the fact that you give a little of your precious time to share my journey means that I'm successful to some degree!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The path to Heaven

Recently, following a morning service as the visiting minister, a member of the congregation commented that, "after hearing your message this morning, you are obviously someone who believes what the Bible says." It was not said as a compliment, more of an observation. This gentleman's argument was that he found it difficult to believe that the millions of people who follow religions other than Christianity would not go to Heaven, and that he found it too difficult to accept what he referred to as my 'fundamental Christianity'. Interestingly, this particular man had been an accredited Lay-Preacher for many years, although age had now generally got the better of that pursuit.

We discussed the issue at some length --- amicably and without rancour I might add! I have never been an outstanding theologian, nor pretended to be, but I do have an implicit belief in Scripture, and I do believe that it is the inspired Word of God. I have no trouble n accepting the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in John 14.6 when Jesus addresses Thomas: Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me. ..." I've always noted that Jesus ensured that He spoke quite plainly and with no room for any misunderstanding. He did not suggest that He was one of the ways to the Father, but rather stated boldly that He was the only way. That's good enough for me!

So what about non-Christians going to Heaven? There are genuinely good people to be found in every faith group, so what about them. Some claim that God will punish people who reject Jesus Christ, but this is not Scriptural. God's punishment is for your own sin. We are taught in Scripture that you cannot find salvation through good works --- read the book of James! We are saved by grace alone, and we go to Heaven by the merits of Jesus Christ, not our own good works.

The Bible is quite clear in its teaching with regard to salvation. Salvation is made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. Apart from Christ and what He did, there is no salvation. (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; Luke 10:22). Non-Christians can, at least in principle, perceive God’s righteousness and their need for His mercy. (Romans 1:18-20, 2:14-16; Acts 17:28). However, although this is possible , I think that it is also rare.

I do not think that God would ever willingly turn people away, even if their knowledge of Him is shaky. I do know from the Bible that every Christian is tasked with spreading the good news of salvation through Christ, and I believe that if this command was adhered to then knowledge of His saving grace would soon be known by everyone in the world. One thing is for certain, I would rather have Jesus speak for me on the Day of Judgement than have to stand before my maker on my own merit!

To clarify then, this is not a policy of universalism, for that would go against Biblical teaching. I do not believe that God required a 'Plan B', because Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. But I do believe that He is the only way to the Father. What do you think, dear reader?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top Ten LIES!

Leonard Sweet, in his Soul Cafe newsletter, included this list of "Top 10 Liars' Lies":

  1. We'll stay only five minutes.
  2. This will be a short meeting.
  3. I'll respect you in the morning.
  4. The check is in the mail.
  5. I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you.
  6. This hurts me more than it hurts you.
  7. Your money will be cheerfully refunded.
  8. We service what we sell.
  9. Your table will be ready in just a minute.
  10. I'll start exercising (dieting, forgiving … ) tomorrow.

— Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Last Word

Here I am, back from a busy weekend with lots of travelling involved, thankful for journeys completed safely, and with YOU, dear reader, on my mind. 'What can I serve you up today', I thought. After all, today is reputed to be the most dismal Monday of the year, so I thought that something to smile about would be a good start to my journey this week. I found the following, headed 'The Top 10 ‘Last Words in Your Church’, from a submission to Leadership magazine.

Sometimes words have to be eaten. Other times, they turn out to have teeth that bite. From an unscientific sampling of a few contributing editors, Leadership offers here the most frequent phrases in ministry that become preludes to a fast farewell.
1. I think I've earned the right to say this.
2. Thank you for the unanimous vote of confidence.
We'll incorporate a seeker sensitive approach into our present worship service.
4. In ancient Israel, the people danced before the Lord.
5. Recently, I've been reading about the importance of publicly confessing your own sins, so today …
6. I'll show the church secretary who's boss around here!
I'm sure I can trust you to keep this confidential.
8. Then there are no hard feelings, right?
9. I'm sure Mrs. Jones will agree that she's been our organist long enough.
They need to realize this kitchen belongs to everyone.
— Ken Westphall, Leadership, Vol. 14, no. 2.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Long Journey Ahead . . .

Yesterday I posted about a little sunshine. Tomorrow I'll need it! We travel a couple of hundred miles for a family lunch, meeting all my brothers and sisters that I rarely see. The problem is that it means travelling down South, which is where all the flooding is.
These pictures show the town of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, near which we pass! We would definitely appreciate a few prayers for our travels!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Little Sunshine

Here's a little sunshine to brighten your life!

What on earth are we doing?

I am both saddened and disgusted by so much that happens today. Some time ago I was privileged to attend a meeting at The House of Lords regarding these issues. So many people and organisations are against these things and yet our government in their (lack of) wisdom seems to be determined to push them through. Is this, I ask, all part of the insidious move to destroy the concept of family life and further entrench the nation into being a totally secular society? Certainly, at the very least, it flies against God's laws, and so I question how we, as a nation, can expect to benefit from God's protection when we allow such things to take place!

Tuesday’s votes in the House of Lords
On Tuesday 15th January the House of Lords voted against on a ban on the creation of animal-human hybrids for research purposes. A proposed ban on embryo selection for ‘saviour siblings’ was also lost. Further issues, including the child’s need for a father and abortion, are due to be debated and voted upon in the Lords on Monday 21st January. Then the amended Bill will have its 3rd Reading before being sent to the Commons for further debate.

If the Bill is not amended in the Commons it will become law that embryonic stem cell researchers will be allowed to mix animal sperm with human eggs or human sperm with animal eggs, in order to create a hybrid embryo. This embryo can be experimented upon and then must be destroyed within 14 days. The UK is alone amongst Western democracies in allowing such research to take place. This legislation, which holds many other worrying provisions besides hybrids, is attacking the very core of who we are as a society, what we value as human beings, how we view the unique dignity of humanity and the lengths we are prepared to go to in perverting nature for our own selfish and often misguided desires.

If the nation is still capable of being shocked, then this Bill – if its contents were more widely known and understood – would certainly do just that. It is the church’s responsibility to speak up for God’s intention for His creation, and in the absence of a wider understanding of the Bill it falls to the church to speak on behalf the nation, to act as lookouts in the watch tower warning of the approaching dangers. Please continue to pray and tell your friends about this Bill, and read on to find out what further action can be taken...
To read the debate in full, use the link below

Animal Human Hybrid Embryo vote
Lord Alton’s proposed amendment to the Bill that would have banned the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos was defeated in the House of Lords last night by 96 to 268. These hybrid embryos are now referred to in the Bill as ‘human admixed embryos’ due to a Government amendment.
Several peers spoke in favour of a ban, arguing that such research was both unnecessary and crossed an ethical boundary.

Lord Alton stated “As Parliament is dazzled with misleading claims about therapies and cures, there have been none anywhere in the world... If we permit the creation of these predominantly human interspecies embryos and full hybrids, we will be crossing an important ethical line—crossing human and animal. But for what? For the sake of a technology that we know will not be the future.”

Lord Tebbit argued “Once we get into the business of creating entities which are halfway, or somewhere along that spectrum, between animal and human, we have a deep ethical dilemma... I am also worried about the attitude of the scientific community which, while it is always willing to accept that there should be limits placed on it on ethical grounds, always seems to assume that the limits should be somewhere just beyond what is scientifically possible and what it wants to do and those limits keep moving.”

“The matters we are discussing are more of ethics than of technology. Because it is scientifically possible to do something does not mean it should be done. Because it might bring great benefit to particular people does not mean that it should be done. If we accept arguments of that kind, we are essentially accepting the argument that the end justifies the means.”

To view the part of the debate covering hybrid embryos, click below and scroll down to Column 1202, Lord Alton
To see how each Peer voted, click below and scroll down to Division Number 1
BBC news: ‘Embryos challenge fails in Lords’

Embryo selection for ‘saviour sibling’ vote
Lady O’Cathain’s amendment to ban embryo selection for saviour siblings was sadly also defeated by a vote of 62 to 180. This practice involves destroying healthy embryos because they do not match the tissue type of an existing sick child in the family, and implanting a matching embryo (if there is one) in order to create a child who can provide healthy spare part tissue for the existing child.

In moving her amendment Lady O’Cathain stated: “First, there is the question of potential harms to the parties involved, most obviously the harm inflicted by the destruction of unsuitable embryos. Secondly, at the very centre of our ethical thought—both religious and secular, deriving from philosophy as well as tradition—lies the principle that one may not degrade an individual human life by treating it as an instrument for the benefit of others rather than as something to be regarded and respected in its own right. If we deviate from that principle, we have no fixed grounds on which to stand in resistance to other claims to create and manipulate human life for various beneficial ends.”

“The designed child, for the duration of its life, will be witness to the intention of the designers and will always be vulnerable, both physically and psychologically, to further demands on its body. To manufacture a person in this way is to offend against the respect that is due to the integrity of that person, no matter how compelling the goal of trying to cure. I am therefore convinced that the right decision has to be total opposition to the deliberate creation of children as tissue donors for others.”

Lord Patten argued that “Children are children and not organ banks”, and Lord Winston warned “There is a real risk that children might be used, and therefore abused, with this technology, so we must consider this very carefully.”

To view the part of the debate covering ‘saviour siblings’, click below and scroll down to Column 1267, Baroness O’Cathain
To see how each Peer voted, click below and scroll down to Division Number 2

Monday, 21st Jan: votes on fathers and abortion
The House of Lords will continue to debate the Bill on Monday 21st January, when they will be voting on the 'need for a father' in IVF treatment and an amendment on abortion for disability. Lady Masham, who is disabled herself, laid the abortion amendment.

Currently the law permits abortion up to the point of birth if a child is diagnosed as disabled. This has been the point of some controversy in the past, as it has allowed the late abortion of foetuses for such minor conditions as a cleft palate (Joanna Jepson case). It is also argued by many disability rights groups that the law is discriminatory and eugenicist. Lady Masham’s amendment proposes that abortion on the grounds of disability be repealed and therefore brought into line with the rest of the abortion law. The deadline for all amendments to the Bill is tomorrow and currently Lady Masham's amendment is the only abortion amendment that has been laid in the House of Lords.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'Soylent Green' & all that!

Some years ago I watched a Sci-fi film called Soylent Green which depicted a futuristic world wherein the problems of over-population versus food shortages had been resolved by encouraging State-controlled euthanasia, with the bodies being converted into a food product named 'Soylent Green'. Not a very nice thought! In fact it was a film about the unthinkable really. After all, what it really depicted was a sort of State-inspired cannabalism.

So what brings this film to mind, you might well ask? Well, after all the protests about GM crops and the concerns of the millions of consumers who are NOT SHAREHOLDERS in company's such as Monsanto or Novartis, nothing should surprise us too much about the latest abomination of cloned animals that are going to enter the food chain. It's well worth reading the report by the Center for Food Safety about this subject.

Do you have to eat these things? The answer is a resounding 'NO'! You, dear reader, are an intelligent, individual, human being, and, as such, YOU are one of the people for electing people into Public Office who are there to serve the needs of their public --- and that means YOU! The more that you can grow yourself, either at home or as part of a co-operative, the better. The alternative to home-produced food is to support Farm Shops and Farm Co-operatives where all of the food on sale is organically produced, guaranteed free from the various Sci-fi factors that our governments seem so ready to support these days.

Why do they offer such ready support to these projects? i guess that the answer is the age-old answer of plain greed. There's so much money involved, and I'm sure some of that is used to grease the paths of easier and greater profits.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A real BLAST from the PAST!

Here's a real BLAST from my PAST for you to smile over!

We start with a photo of little Master Innocent, sitting with my sister, aged I would guess about 3 - 4 years old.

Older now, and I hope a little wiser, here I am aged 24 with the brilliant poet Richard Ball.

This photo was part of my modelling portfolio when I was 30! In those days I still had hair!

And here's a shot from those distant days!

Then there's been quite a few Plays that I've enjoyed performing in over the years!

This is a scene from 'Lloyd George New My Father' by William Douglas-Hume

And this, which I promise is the final pic in this quick look backwards, are some of the cast from 'Night Must Fall' by Emlyn Williams

Hope you enjoyed the show dear reader!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Comments about LOVE!

  1. I love the way that animals show their love towards you, often asking nothing in return.
  2. I love the warm feeling of knowing that someone special loves me.
  3. I love that feeling you get when you love someone else, and you want to make the world a better place for them.
  4. I love knowing that God loves me. Although He asks for nothing in return, what a blessing you get when you give your life to Him!
  5. I love to share God's love with other people, knowing that each time I talk about Jesus to someone I'm doing just that.

Things I LOVE!

  1. I love settling down with a good book.
  2. I love the challenge of creating a garden from scratch.
  3. I love doing a really 'busy' 1000 piece jigsaw.
  4. I love spending time with God.
  5. I love my work, especially when I know that I've helped to change a life.
  6. I love the company of our little dog, Sam, and our cats, Smokey and Felix.
  7. I love exploring new places of interest, especially old buildings, Art Galleries, and the like.
  8. I love the feeling I get when I hear a new song of mine sung for the first time.
  9. I LOVE my wife Gill in more ways and for more reasons than I could ever count!
  10. I love a really good 'Family' movie, especially if there is a lot of comedy in it.

Things I don't love!

  1. I hate to see cruelty of any sort, especially towards children and animals.
  2. I hate any form of bullying, whether it's physical or mental.
  3. I hate to see people wasting their lives away 'cos they're too lazy to make the effort to change things!
  4. I hate it when something that I've said or done causes someone unhappiness, even though I never meant it to.
  5. I hate to see the land being raped for greedy profit, such as the stripping of the Rain Forests.

What about YOU, dear reader? What do you love MOST or LEAST? Why not leave a comment and let me know.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some GREAT Pics!

They say that every picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, here are three thousand words for you! Seriously, though, I love these pictures and the message they give, and I hope that you do too!

Friday, January 11, 2008

What of YOUR dreams?

A e-friend of mine wrote about the American Dream on her blog yesterday, and it set me thinking about my own dreams and aspirations. Dreams may be ambitions, yet not all ambitions are dreams, are they? Or is it simply that the ambitions that remain so-far unfulfilled are dreams, whilst those that we have fulfilled we regard as ambitions that have been achieved? Now, there's a point to ponder on dear reader.
What about your dreams and ambitions? Have you still got plenty that you want to achieve, and do you want it enough to ensure that you will achieve? Do you change or re-design your ambitions along the way in order to make them more achievable, or do you just keep plodding along in the hope that they will all come right in the end?
Perhaps you have one GREAT DREAM that you have followed throughout your life, achieving it bit-by-bit as you have travelled on life's journey. Whatever the answer is to these questions, the one thing that is really important is to set yourself real goals in life. I was going to qualify that statement by inserting the word 'achievable' into the sentence, but then I thought to myself that EVERYTHING is achievable if you are really determined to succeed.
One of the things that I often think about, (possibly my job has something to do with it!), is mankind's mortality, and of course that includes me. I guess that one thing that is common to the vast majority of people --- if not all people --- is that they want to be remembered after they have passed from this life to the next. For me that thought is definitely a strong driving force. If I'm remembered for something that I have achieved then it will prove that I was here, and it will mean that my being here mattered. Since the boy that I was started writing poetry as an 8-year old I have always striven to produce work of a standard that will speak to people and be meaningful in their lives. I have been fortunate in that I have had a lot of my work published over the years, and so it has been read by a broad and varied readership. However, I know that this will not necessarily mean that I'm to be remembered for it. After all, there are hundreds of others who have written far better work than I have over the years, and yet who are now largely forgotten. Yet knowing that, and considering that I may well join their company one day, acts as a spur to me to keep on trying. I guess that that's what is so special about the spirit that drives us from within, that we are driven by challenge, and the harder the challenge the more we are driven.
When I look back at my life I have been blessed continually by experiences that, although often not very pleasant at the time, I was able to learn from and thereby benefit. Those same experiences have been invaluable in my ministry as I have striven to help others overcome problems in their lives. They have also helped to point me to what I consider to be the one most important discovery of my life, and that is the fact of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In retrospect I can see that I have never been left alone, even at those times that I perhaps thought I had. I have been watched over, guarded and protected, continually. I truly love God, and am grateful for his continual providence, especially for the wonderful gifts that I've been blessed with. That's why I try my best to give back to Him what He has blessed me with through the medium of the worship songs that I write. Perhaps then, these will be what I'm remembered for in the end. Yet having thought long and deep about it all, I think that the best way to be remembered is simply to be remembered as someone who worked hard for God. Yes, I think that, in the end, that will be more than sufficient to be the fulfilment of ALL of my dreams!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sing, little donkey, sing

I want to recommend this great bit of music to you, written by Linda M Price. Linda writes with me, composing music for some of my hymns. Sing, Little Donkey, Sing is a great number for singing at Christmas, but you don't have to wait till Christmas to practise it! If you'd like a PDF version absolutely FREE-of-CHARGE, simply email me at and I'll be happy to send you a file to download.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Word of Testimony

As I get older so I wake up in the morning more often with the odd aches and pains that come to remind us that, despite what we might try and kid ourselves about the subject, we really are getting older each year. yet my reaction to them is to consider that they are a reminder to me of God's grace and goodness demonstrated in my life, and I thought that I'd take the opportunity to share the reason why.
Following many years of back problems, which were often very acute, and during which time I often seemed to almost live on pain-killers, one day as I was driving along the main road between two of the main cities in what was then Rhodesia, I lost the use of my right arm. Periodically over the years I had experienced problems with my limbs but had been told that there was nothing wrong. This time the loss was much longer than on previous occasions and I went to my doctor the following morning. As a result I was sent to a consultant and ended up in hospital with a spinal tumor being diagnosed, which thankfully turned out to be benign. This resulted in a long stay in hospital with my condition worsening due to the pressure on my spinal cord, and ultimately I was operated on to remove as much of the growth as possible without causing further damage.
The surgeon advised me regarding the success rates of the operation, telling me that I would probably still be left with mobility problems to some degree, and also that there was no guarantee that my problem would never return. As, by this time, I was experiencing severe mobility problems, I was left with little choice in the matter!
When I was first admitted to hospital I could not understand why it had to happen to me, but my prayer was that God would show me why He wanted me in that place. I soon found out! I was able to witness to so many people there and every day my early morning exercise was to visit every bed in my ward, either praying for or (whenever possible) praying with the others in the ward. The Lord blessed my time there, and one of the greatest moments was when one elderly man accepted the Lord Jesus into his life. This was such a glorious blessing for the man in question passed away about three weeks after making this momentous decision.
That was in 1982 and in 1984 I left Africa after 12 fabulous years and returned to the UK. I was often in pain and my mobility was about 70% of what it should have been. Over the next few years the positioned worsened tremendously and not only did my mobility problems increase until often I could barely walk, but I was in tremendous pain for much of the time. By 1991 I struggled to get do much work at all and my spiritual life was suffering badly. My prayer life was reduced eventually to only praying for release, and my Bible-reading was virtually non-existent. It seemed that the pain had become a barrier between me and God. I was placed in the care of a consultant at Gobowen, which is a specialist orthopaedic hospital near Oswestry. I was advised that I needed two major operations, the first to strengthen my spine to hold me up and the second to sever the nerves in my legs that carried pain messages to my brain. However, I was also warned that I might be left with even greater pain as a result of the operations,which nothing could be done to alleviate. There was no choice, however, and so I was to go in March of that year (1992) to arrange the date for the surgery.
God, however, had other plans! In February I went to visit someone who was advertising some chairs for sale. and to my surprise I discovered that his wife was a lady who I knew slightly from the church that I attended. She invited me to have a cup of tea with her and said, "I was going to ask how you were now, but I can see for myself! You look awful!"
I sat with her and drank my tea slowly. She told me that she had been praying for my healing ever since she saw me arrive and saw the problem that I had even moving about. Then she looked me straight in the eye and asked me outright, "How is your spiritual life?" Somehow, the way that she spoke told me that she knew it was a great problem. As I looked at her, with tears coursing down my cheeks, I confessed that I'd not been able to read my Bible for the past six months. Then she asked me about my prayer life, and I admitted that on the odd occasion that I prayed it was only to ask that God would release me from life altogether. "Sit there for a moment," she said, "I just want to make a 'phone call." When she returned she said that she had contacted a healing prayer-chain and that within the next hour or so there would be over three hundred people praying for my healing. She also told me about a retired doctor who was very active in the healing ministry, and asked me if I would consent to her contacting him on my behalf, which I readily did. It was arranged that I would go to see him the next day. Before leaving some time later, this lady gave me a list of Scripture references and asked me to promise her that I would look them up once I returned home. She also gave me a Golden Thoughts spiritual calender, and the verse for that day was so appropriate. It was Jeremiah 3:22, Return to me and I will heal your unfaithfulness.
Going home I got out my Bible and hungrily read the Word, starting with the verses that had been given to me, but unable to stop, such was my hunger. Within hours I was aware that the pain was receding and I knew that God's healing power was blessing me. The following day I went to keep my appointment with the retired doctor, and he led me upstairs to his prayer-room. I had such difficulty climbing the stairs, but at least the pain was not such a problem! We sat down and talked about all that had led me to that point, going back over the years and covering all the pertinent ground. After a while he asked me if I was now ready and I said that I was. He asked me if I would like prayer for the healing of my back and legs, and then I stopped for a moment, considering everything that I was experiencing. I looked up at him and said, "No. I need healing for my soul first. That's much more important." He prayed over me with such compassion that it felt as though Jesus Christ Himself was in that room with us, and in fact I believe that He was.
From that moment on my life started to come together once again. A few days later I returned and climbed the stairs to receive prayer for my physical healing, and two weeks later I climbed onto borrowed bicycle and cycled around Lake Vyrnwy, a lake next to where I had my Candle-maker's Craft Shop, and a distance of almost twelve miles! It was the first time that I had been on a bike for over thirty years, yet although a little saddle-sore, I managed without a problem. As I cycled along so I was praising God for the wonderful healing that He had blessed me with.
Since then, although I have problems on odd occasions caused by arthritis, I have been well. Of course I never needed the operations which were scheduled for the March! When God heals then it's the best possible healing of all. One thing that I'm certain of though, the most important aspect of my healing was the healing of my spiritual life. What point would there be to be physically healed yet leave your spiritual life in tatters? No, when God does something he does it the right way, the way that blesses the recipient and glorifies Him.
Since that day I have dedicated my life to serving Him. Even though I was a committed Christian before then, I think that, looking back to those times, it was often true to say that I was at the centre of my life. Now, and ever since my healing, I have made sure that my life is Christ-centred, for that's the only way that it should be.
I pray, dear reader, that my being led to share this word of testimony with you today has been, and will continue to be, a blessing. TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!

"Penny's worth of dolly-mixtures please!"

As a small boy, probably about eight years old, I would look forward to Saturday morning especially, because that was the day that I got my pocket money. At that tender age it was threepence a week, which was enough to get my chubby little legs running down the main street in my home-town to visit Watt's Sweet Shop. Even as I write this blog this morning I can still conjure up the shop in my mind. Although they sold all sorts of bits and pieces of stationery I had eyes only for the rows of sweet jars that crammed the shelves, and the range of chocolate bars that were arrayed on counter display units. And the perfume! Oh, what a wonderful scent filled the air! Once your nose learned to discern between the different smells you could pick out things like liquorice allsorts which had a very distinctive perfume. I would stand there for a few minutes, gazing at the shelves and wondering what gastronomic delight I could have to tickle my taste-buds, almost oblivious to Mrs Watt's voice drifting from somewhere behind the counter, asking me what I would like. Like? Well, that was easy! 'I'd like them all,' I wanted to shout. But of course I didn't say a thing, too awed by all the wonders and the promise that lay before me. At last I would speak, "A penny's worth of dolly-mixtures, please Mrs Watts." Of course she already knew what I would ask for because my answer would always be the same. You see, you got more individual sweets when you asked for dolly-mixtures! Then she would reach for the jar and carefully tip out a few sweets into the tray on the scales, putting one or two sweets back into the jar if she had over-estimated the measure. Then, looking at the anticipation on my face, she would pop one of them back onto the tray, taking the weight a fraction over. I would hand over my threepenny-bit, together with the oh-so-precious sweet coupons (for we still had rationing from the War years), and with my change in my pocket, I would leave the delights of that glorious shop behind for another week. More often than not, by the time that I'd slowly walked the length of the street back home, the little triangular bag which my sweets had been poured into, was empty; every sweet safely in my stomach in case I lost them to one of my brothers or sisters once I got home!
Sometimes it's good to wander down Memory Lane, back to childhood or to special times in your life, reliving the moments all over again. The fact that you can do it, in full technicolour and with smells and sounds accompanying the memory, shows the amazing capacity of the human brain. In today's world we do what I'm doing at this very moment without a second thought --- turn on the computer and work away on it, writing blogs, searching for information, and so on. For the majority of people in our world it's a natural and normal daily activity. From the days some years back, when the average person did not have their own PC, and wondered in amazement at the cleverness of anyone who actually knew how to work them, we have moved into a society where most households have at least one computer. We have three in ours; my own and one each for the boys, and we are certainly not unusual in that.

Yet, wonderful though the computer is, it still needs a human being to operate it, and so it can be used for good or evil. It's capacity is mammoth, yet not so great as the human brain, if only we knew how to use our brains fully. Thinking about this turns my thoughts to our Maker. How wonderfully made we are! Isn't God great!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The prayer of St Francis

This is such a beautiful prayer to pray at the beginning of each new day as you step out in faith to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, seeking the privilege of serving God for another day.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it's in giving that we receive,
it's in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Have a go at this quiz

I've reached a time in my life when I really need to exercise my grey matter to stop it atrophying! In other words, I'm increasingly aware that my memory is not as good as it used to be, which is a bit scary! Amongst my relaxation hobbies I enjoy doing crossword puzzles and playing around with words. These things help to improve the vocabulary as well as sharpening the mind, and so I was particularly pleased to find this link: You can have the opportunity to improve your vocabulary while helping to feed the hungry? At the site you can play a word game (basically a multiple choice test to see if you can identify the right synonym for each word they give you). For every word you get right 20 grains of rice are donated to a UN food program. Give it a shot. But I warn you - it's highly addictive!

I had a go and donated four bowls of rice in a few minutes, but I have to confess that I certainly didn't get every answer correct. There were several words that I'd never heard of previously, some of which I was able to work out correctly, but others which got a great big X! Still, dear reader, it's good fun and only takes a few moments to do a little good for others as well as stretching your mind a little, so why not take a vivit to the site and have a go today.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Musical Diary of Greg Scheer

The Musical Diary of Greg Scheer

A Long Time Lonely

I've just received the completed sheet music from Greg Scheer for the latest song that we've collaborated on. It's a honky-tonk number called A Long Time Lonely, and you can check out the sheet music and hear a slightly cheesy 'Finale' version of the tune on MP3 on the musicblog section of Greg's site. Why not press the button, have a listen and then let me know what you think! To make it easier, I've posted the link direct to Greg's page as a separate post.

Greg and I have written a lot of songs together, including loads of worship songs, many of which are now available on CD. Our first CD of
ROMANTIC SONGS is due out very soon, and the CD (which I blogged about a while back) of the Russian Ensemble, LYRA, is now in the final stages of being mastered.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday was wet and grey; the day before was wet, very cold and dark grey; and now today we've got the sunshine once more! What a difference a day makes! Dinah Washington sang a song with that title and the opening lines were:

What a difference a day makes,
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain.

Thinking of this made me recall that great little piece on the value of time, so in case you've either never heard it or have, but have forgotten it, here it is.

To Realize The Value of Time...

To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute:
Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when you share it with someone special.

Time may well be a luxury in this busy world that we live in, but it's a luxury that none of us can do without! The BIG SECRET is to plan your day in advance as much as possible, and that way you should find that it's easier to manage the time that you have. DON'T waste time on needless things! Aimlessly surfing the net or sending text messages because you're bored is a poor use of time, so DON'T DO IT! For every way that you find wastes time you can find another way that makes valuable use of it. Spend QUALITY time with the people you love and less time with the people you don't need to be with. And, more than anything, realise that sometimes it is really beneficial to simply STAND & STARE!
DO spend a little time in the day to realise just how important you are to others and especially to yourself. The more you learn to love yourself then the more you are able to love others. YOU ARE SPECIAL! All you need to do is to realise it.