Leadership or Authority?

leadership shows care

Many people have authority over me – but are they leaders? Are they showing effective leadership?

Some people try to take authority over me – to lead me, or to try to make me a follower, or fan.

Authority and leadership are two vastly different things.


The Meriam-Webster Dictionary definition on this narrow interpretation of authority…”The power to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.”

This would accurately describe many people we encounter under the guise of leadership. Currently Australia is approaching a federal election. Candidates for office want the leader’s position. Do they want to run the country – or do they want authority. Sadly, from what I see – and it is only a small part of the picture… from news items and unavoidable advertisements, the majority of people seeking public office are obsessed with self, and their own promotion.

That’s not a leader. At least not in the area of effective leadership.

What is effective leadership?

Someone who cares for the people he leads, someone who finds ways to make it easier for them to achieve their goals. Sound unrealistic? Probably is in this day and age – but there are still some people like that around.

A memory from my childhood comes to mind – seeing sheep being moved to another field. The shepherd followed them. His dogs ‘worked’ them to the gate and along the lane. So who was the shepherd? The  shepherd had the authority, he had trained his dogs, but if you look at the principle that leaders are the ones who ‘go first’, who make sure there are no dangers or obstacles in the way – I guess one of the sheep was the leader.

Contrast that with – “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
John 10: 27 (Berean Study Bible).

Did you ‘catch’ the last phrase? – “and they follow Me.”

Guess that means that Jesus, the Leader, leads. He goes first, making the way safe.

So – an effective leader…

  • Inspires others
  • Serves the people he is responsible for
  • Creates an environment where trust can grow
  • Takes care of the people in his or her charge

And, like Jesus and His faithful followers –

  • Puts the lives of others before his or her needs.

Leadership is service.

A leader can be a mother, or father, a husband or wife, neighbor to a widow or widower.

Leadership is service

You don’t have to be the person in charge of a large company, or group… wherever you are, you can lead.

Take an interest in those around you, visit your neighbor, email the person you are too far away to visit, give some of your time to make a phone call.


Leaders CARE

If you want to be an effective leader, start with the small ways you can demonstrate care. In time it will become a habit, and when you do end up with responsibility for the people in your charge – caring, creating an environment of trust, and being respected by those in your care will happen.
A good leader will make a positive impact on someone else’s life. Aim for that!

Just thinking,


I chose the featured image along the top because it suggests the leader is encouraging those behind, not marching on to be first.

Christmas through the ages

Christmas and Mithraiism

When I was a young child in Scotland, Christmas was not celebrated. My mother, by then a lone parent, went to her work in a textile factory for her usual twelve hour shift. Remembering back, I looked it up to see if my memory was correct. Yes, it was. Christmas did not become a public holiday until 1958.

“A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of “Yule vacations” illegal. England, under Oliver Cromwell, also imposed a ban on Christmas at around the same time. Despite the repealing of the Act in 1686, the suppression of Christmas in Scotland effectively lasted for 400 years, with December 25 only becoming a public holiday in 1958.”
Several sites record this, including https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/christmas-and-new-year-traditions-in-scotland-1-3226062

Yule, Christmas past
Yule, Christmas past

Christmas in the new American colony

An early law book of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reads as follows:

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

They also felt that due to the holiday’s loose pagan origins, celebrating it would constitute idolatry. A common sentiment among the leaders of the time was that such feast days detracted from their core beliefs.

A look at the history of Christmas

Bilble, open

The Bible records the birth of Christ but never any annual celebration not even after His death as Saviour.

So, looking to history – when was the first recorded celebration of Christmas?

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Ah, Emperor Constantine.

Was he indeed the ‘first Christian Roman Emperor? Or was he merely trying to unite his vast empire with its many religious beliefs?

Roman beliefs

Emperor Constantine merged the cult of Mithra with that of Christianity, a ‘cult’ that was developing rapidly.

He declared himself a Christian but at the same time maintained his ties to the Mithra cult. He retained the title “Pontifus Maximus” the high priest. On his coins were inscribed: “Sol Invicto comiti” which means, commited to the invincible sun.


Mithra, the slaying of the bull

Christmas in the 19th Century

With the appearance of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church, a revival in the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide occurred. This ushered in “the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival” as well as “special charities for the poor” in addition to “special services and musical events”.
Historian Ronald Hutton believes that the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday, spearheaded by Charles Dickens, who “linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation”.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate Christmastide in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy.”

Modern celebrations of Christmas include more commercial activity in comparison with those of the past.

Christmas in the U.S.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum contends that the modern celebration in the United States was developed in New York State from defunct and imagined Dutch and English traditions in order to refocus the holiday from one where groups of young men went from house to house demanding alcohol and food into one centered on the happiness of children. He notes that there was a deliberate effort to prevent children from becoming greedy in response.
Christmas was not proclaimed a holiday by the United States Congress until 1870.

There is a lot more I could write but this post is long enough…
Christmas is an invention of men, not a Biblical fact.
I suppose that is justification for the rampant commercialism of Christmas today. In saying this I also have to say there are many people who celebrate the 25th December as the birth of Christ.
I do not, but respect your right to keep this date as a celebration. Allow me the same right… to NOT celebrate what I see as a pagan holiday.

Whatever you do, be safe. Statistics for this time of year are depressing… suicides, accidents, and family fights, to name but a few.

God bless you and keep you safe,


P.S. The header image is a mithraeum (a temple-cave dedicated to Mithras) found in the German city of Saarbrücken.

The Gorilla and the Grasshopper


Who is the gorilla and who is the grasshopper? Well, in my post the gorilla is Amazon and the grasshopper is me. I figure I am less in the sight of Amazon than a grasshopper but the connotation of mites is not pleasant.

Why do I make this comparison?

Because my exchanges with Amazon customer service have been frustrating, when I managed to find them, and without resolution or reply to my question. I also understand that to them I am not important.

The Gorilla

Like many victims of the Gorilla’s algorithm I lost many honest reviews. Some were from people on my mailing list – and I didn’t tell them to leave 5-star reviews. A few might have, but I do not know who had left them. All I knew was that the review total dropped. What I did notice a few weeks ago was a puzzling notice when I clicked to review in order to put a direct link into the back of my latest novella..

Amazon, the gorilla stomps

So, I checked my books and novellas.
Hold the Faith – has the notice.
Grow in Grace – has the notice.
Light of Truth – has the notice.
Keep the Flame – has the notice.
Hell Shall Not prevail – you guessed it – has the notice.
After the Thirty Days – has the notice.
No Evil Shall Befall You – has the notice.
Clash of Faiths, now also has the notice.

Apostle John Fiction and spin-off novellas, cover images
Amazon gorilla gatekeeper

Shock, puzzlement, annoyance, and then another doze of bewilderment set in. Because every one of my books had that notice, and still have, I had no choice but to brave the gatekeeper and contact Customer Service.

I say ‘brave the gatekeeper’ because the few times I have tried to contact Amazon customer service the ‘hoops and pages’ to go through are daunting. Then ‘Contact Us’ requires choices from a series of drop-down choices… none of which have ever fitted my query.

The Grasshopper

Well, I went through the hoops and reached a chat option. (Email was not an option.) After reiterating all that I had put in ‘Other’ in order to move forward, the person asked me to wait while he/she checked.

I did.

Thew grasshopper

When the person returned it was to tell me that someone would contact me by email within twenty-four hours.

That didn’t happen. Another day later, I jumped through the hoops again and spoke to another operator – who did the same thing… asked me to wait while he/she checked. This time the reply was slightly different. “The reason for the delay is that there is an issue. I promise it will be sorted within twenty four hours.’

Truly – the person said ‘promise.’

email icon

Well it was more than twenty-four hours, but an email finally arrived.


This is a copy of the text.


When we detect unusual reviewing behavior on a product, we place limits on review submissions. We may limit the submission of all reviews or limit reviews to Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. We place limits on reviews to preserve trust in customer reviews.

While we are unable to determine when the limits may be removed, customers are free to try submitting reviews later.

My question had been ‘Why is there a notice on each of my books and novellas saying, ‘We are currently unable to accept a review for this product.’

However, I now had an email address so didn’t need the customer service hoops, so replied to the email and said that the reply did not answer my question… and asked my question again, with some additional, appropriate information. Also, what is unusual reviewing behavior?

The next reply was even less relevant.

Customer Reviews are removed for the following reasons:

• The review violates our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
• A customer can decide to remove their own review.
• The review is on a page that incorrectly links multiple items. We remove these reviews when we separate the items.

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not share information about specific reviews with anyone other than the customer who posted it.

Stomped on by the gorilla. I did try in the Amazon Facebook group and they sent me an address, but all that happened when I used it to ask my question was a similar ‘off-topic’ reply.

Susan M B Preston, author

I am glad that my writings are not ‘exclusive’ to Amazon. If their algorithms do this to many people, Amazon might find it is a monkey in the room, not the gorilla.

Stomped on but not squashed,


Covet Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters

you covet my parking space

This week I have had to venture on the roads. I would rather miss driving at this time of year, just as I would prefer to miss going to shopping centres. Whether on the road, shopping centre carpark, or the shops themselves the absence of consideration is obvious. As I thought on it, a strange ‘light bulb moment’ went off in my mind. On the road, other drivers covet the space your vehicle is taking; in the shopping centre carpark where parking spaces are hard to find you might find a line of vehicles whose drivers covet the space you have.

Covet is an old-fashioned word

What does it mean?

“To desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of other:
Example: To covet another’s property.”


The definition by the way is less than 140 characters, including spaces. I checked.

covet, character count

Now I will expand on that definition in more than 140 characters.
(Twitter has increased the character limit to 280 but I will go over that.)

In the Bible covet is mentioned in the tenth commandment. “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour.” (Abridged version.)

If you want a New Testament version, well, I think Jesus’ summary of the ten given in two commandments covers it.
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 12:31

Covet is a strange word for lack of consideration.

Well, covet has another meaning in the dictionary “to wish for, especially eagerly: 
Example: He won the prize they all coveted.”


When it all boils down to a basic set of words, it is self-centeredness.

Why would I say that? Because if you peel the layers back like an onion, you might find it is putting your needs before those of others.

like the layers of an onion

If you leapfrog in and out of the traffic to get that little bit ahead. Chances are I will join you at the next set of traffic lights.

My nerves will be calmer.

If you are charging at me with your shopping trolley expecting me to get out of your way quickly, I won’t be able to.  I have to take a portable oxygen concentrator when I go to the shops, we cannot dodge a ‘speeding trolley.’

I will stop and hope you see me.

So, do not covet the space on the road, the carpark bay, or try to intimidate others out of your way in the shopping centres. Love your ‘neighbour’ as yourself.
We are all on this planet together, so we are neighbours.
Slow down, it might save your life.

Thinking again,



Does Your Listening Pass The Test? 7 Things You Can Improve On Today

In our busy world ‘listening’ is becoming a casualty. Could it be we are being trained to have a very short attention span?

Maybe so.

For example…

There are ‘tweets’ – 280 characters,  which includes punctuation and spaces.

Text messages instead of talking on the phone

Facebook – ‘Like’ instead of commenting.

The trouble is not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook (or Pinterest, or Instagram etc.)

Do you know, actually know, if your friend (or relative) is going through a tough time? Hard question – are you really interested? Sometimes we are not, so be honest. Say – kindly – I don’t have the time at the moment. Or, if you are preoccupied with one of your own matters, tell the person that, rather than only half listening.

Blocks to Listening

  • You are thinking of something else
  • You don’t want to hear
  • You only hear some of what is said
  • You listen to respond, not to hear what you are being told
  • You have already concluded what they are talking about
listening ear

You want to listen and understand?

Here are those 7 things you can improve on today…

  1. Pay attention
  2. Focus on what is being said
  3. If you are unsure – ask what they mean
  4. Be patient if the person you are listening to is having difficulty explaining
  5. Try to see what they are saying from their point of view
  6. Observe the non-verbal signs – also consider the volume, tone of voice, and expression of the speaker.
  7. Be patient. Don’t assume a pause means the speaker is finished.

And another important one –
Watch your own ‘non-verbal’ response to what is being said.

It can encourage or put a person off.

1 response to listening

Listening is a skill that is vanishing.

In our busy lives we have many pressures to deal with and tend to be self-focused… or focused on our own problems.

If you have the time, take the time – to listen. You might be the only person the other feels will understand.

Listen to the crying person

During my recent stay in hospital I met other patients who only needed someone to listen. They did not need solutions or suggestions, they were inundated with those from doctors, nurses, and other staff members.

Speaking to someone who listened helped them clarify their own thoughts.

Thinking again,


Saturnalia synchronized

Temple of Saturn, Rome

What do I mean ‘Saturnalia synchronized?’ 
Well, at this time of year the custom of Christmas is loosely based on the ancient festival of Saturnalia. I discovered a great deal about this pagan Roman festival when researching the background for one of the books in the Apostle John Series. So, let’s build from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia and go from there

Roman Saturnalia

Originally celebrated on December 17, Saturnalia was extended first to three and eventually to seven days and ended on December 23.

  • All work and business was suspended.
  • Slaves were given temporary freedom to say and do what they liked
  • Certain moral restrictions were eased.
  • A mock king was chosen (Saturnalicius princeps); the seasonal greeting io Saturnalia was heard everywhere.
  • The cult statue of Saturn himself, traditionally bound at the feet with woolen bands, was untied, presumably to come out and join the fun.

Sounds remarkably like what I remember hearing in school history lessons. The medieval ‘Lord of Misrule,’ so I looked that up too.

Saturnalia, and lord of misrule
Engraving :The Illustrated London News :Scanned by Terry-Lynn Johnson, Lakehead University. This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose

In England, the Lord of Misrule – known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools.

The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying.

Sounds like Saturnalicius princeps revisited.

Saturnalia to Christmas tree

One of the earliest stories relating back to a tree for Christmas is about Saint Boniface. In 722, he encountered some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He cut down the tree to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew up at the base of the oak. He then told everyone that this lovely evergreen, with its branches pointing to heaven, was a holy tree – the tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of His promise of eternal life.

Next step… In the 1840s and 50s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree in England. Prince Albert decorated a tree and ever since that time, the English, because of their love for their Queen, copied her Christmas customs including the Christmas tree and ornaments.

Next addition to Saturnalia

Over many centuries and through many cultures the fantasy of Santa Claus (in various names) has evolved and become part of the Christmas tradition.

It began with St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Catholic bishop of Myra, (Roman province of Asia Minor, now Turkey) His parents died when Nicholas was a young man, leaving him with a healthy inheritance.

Santa at nativity
Santa Claus was never at the manger

Legend of Saint Nicholas

Determined to devote his inheritance to works of charity, Nicholas discovered a destitute father who had three daughters. It was impossible to find husbands for them because of their poverty.

To save the father from giving his daughters over to human trafficking, Nicholas provided bags of gold for each of the daughters. Using the gold as a dowry, each of the girls were married in due time. This inspiring story resulted in Nicholas being recognized as an example of generosity for all people, young and old.

And on it went...

Devotion to Nicholas spread from the Middle East into Greece and Russia, where he is still recognized as the patron saint.
In time, Nicholas began to be honored also in Europe, and then in England where 400 churches were dedicated in his honor in the later Middle Ages.

Following the Reformation, Protestants abolished the veneration and traditions associated with saints. Only the Dutch Protestants preserved the ancient tradition of a visit from St. Nicholas on Dec. 6. They referred to St. Nicholas as Sinter Klaas.
Newspaper article

'Chinese whispers'

In that game, the phrase at the end is different from the one at the start. Likewise with Saturnalia’s synchronizations.

Saturnalia was a festival honoring the pagan Roman god Saturn. Like many other ‘festivals’ over the years it was ‘Christianized.’ However, there is nothing Christian about Saturnalia, nor any of the additions which were absorbed, or synchronized into the pagan celebration.

More musings,


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Body, fearfully and wonderfully made

I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic; my uncle was a communist, and God had no place in our family. When I was young I sometimes wondered if there was a ‘god,’ but no one I knew believed in Him. So, I muddled on, in charge of my own life – then something happened. During my nurse training I had the opportunity to see a post mortem. The brain, the innards (large and small intestine) and major organs were checked for the cause, or causes, of death. The way everything fitted together made me think – this could not have been caused by accident. During the course of our lectures, as student nurses we had to study in detail the structure and function of the human body. Every system is interdependent on another system. Truly, as the psalmist says, we ‘are fearfully and wonderfully made.’

So, what is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made?’

a baby is fearfully and wonderfully made

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 13 – 16

Then, as we go through life we expect our bodies to respond to what we want them to do. Most times they do. When they do not, we search for a cause. Many times it is an illness, some are short, some long-term. It does not change the fact we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but we usually have to make some adjustments to our lives.

Reaping what we sow

This is not always the reason for illness or disease, but often it is.
So, a comment from one ‘old lady’ who is living on oxygen to any young people – be careful what you do to your body. Be careful who you trust to drive you somewhere.
you see, it is not always what you actively ‘put into’ your body, sometimes you reap from someone else’s mistakes. But, trace it back. Was there a decision you made – to stay a bit longer, to trust someone you did not know, to not take proper thought for the consequences?

What will you reap?

Just thinking,


Cooking now, then and way before then.

cooking, assembling spices

Cooking is now quite a challenge for me. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. This means being organized. Assemble everything beforehand, turn off the oxygen and light the gas. That is what I was doing earlier this week, a bit miffed that I could no longer multi-task and continue my preparations while the gas burner was lit.

As I was working, I was thinking.

Cooking a curry

Now – I buy ground spices. (I used to have a small grinder, but now I buy the spices.)

Then – In my mother’s day, I don’t remember eating a curry, but if curry flavoring was needed, this is what was on option.

Way before then – I doubt the Biblical cooks made curries, but they certainly made spicy meals. 

spices for cooking curry

They would have had to walk to the market, buy what they wanted, bring it home and grind it… probably with a hand mill. Spices were expensive so only a small quantity at a time would be bought.

Cooking Then

Growing up in the cold climate of Scotland, my meals as a child were starchy. Bread, bread rolls (they were a treat) and potato soup. (It was made with root vegetables, primarily potatoes.)

(Now, if I am able to keep the oxygen off, there are a lot more options.)

Cooking way before then

I did a great deal of research about this so that my books were as accurate as possible. Primarily, people of the New Testament ate vegetables, usually cooked in a stew, and often flavored with spices.

Most people probably ate meat only a few times a year, generally when animals were slaughtered for religious sacrifices, weddings or other special family celebrations or visits.

(In Hold the Faith, the celebratory meal after Benjamin’s baptism was chicken. What was left over was added to the next day’s vegetable stew.)

Cleaning and preparing the vegetables.

They were washed, but homes back then did not have indoor taps. Water had to be fetched from a well, so people would have been ‘water-wise.’

When vegetables were cleaned, they were cut, or chopped and put in a clay pot. Meals were generally cooked in clay pots in either clay ovens, or ovens made from earth. The most common way of cooking food was by boiling.

ancient cooking pot

Cooking was time consuming

Bread was a staple food.

It took possibly 2-3 hours of hard labor every day to make enough to feed a family with five. (In Hold the Faith there were six adults living in the home.)

Once the dough was made, it was cooked in different ways. One way was to cook it on the hot stones of a cooking fire.  Then there was the ‘jar’ oven.’ This was a huge clay pot that was smaller at the opening in the top; a fire was started on the inside to get it hot, and the dough was put against the outer part to cook. The pit-oven was a pottery lined hole in the ground that was heated with a fire that was put aside, and the dough was baked on top of the hot clay.

cooking bread in jar oven

Cooking now

So, by the time I pondered all of this, I realized how blessed I am. I have a gas cooker, a refrigerator and a freezer. I also have a microwave.

All of these, plus a telephone (even a land-line one) would have been very useful to warn of unexpected guests being brought home. (Again, as happened in Hold the Faith, and other books in the series.)

More musings


Hold the Faith is the first in a series of five Christian, historical fiction novels. They are set in the late 1st century AD and are followed by four novellas, (only three finished.) The novellas follow the lives of some of the ‘side’ characters.

I am asking people to buy, or recommend these books as I am currently fundraising for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Please ignore the Amazon review status. Many of my reviews have fallen victim to the unknown bot that Amazon uses to remove what they consider reviews from friends, family, or purchased reviews. Some people who have told me their reviews have been removed, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet them. Still, I think even Amazon does not know how this algorithm of theirs works.

Link to the fund-raising page, so that you may read about my current setup and my goal.

Thank you.

Fund-raising page for POC

A Season of Losses

Loss and loneliness

A dear friend and I had an afternoon out recently. As we walked and talked she summed up our discussion by saying, ‘It’s a season of losses.’

We were not talking about the loss of important people in our lives, although that is a consideration.

What was she summarizing? Read on…

Perhaps you recognize some of these losses?

Loss of speed

The days when you could speed through whatever you needed to do are gone. Just one of the losses.

You might have lost your mobility, or find it greatly reduced.

Feeling no longer needed?

Where once you might have pushed a baby pram, now you push a shopping trolley.

Loss of function as we age

Or… you walk alone.

loss of memory

Do you struggle to remember things?

I have heard jokes, “Over the years I have stored so much in my mind it’s hard to recall it.” (Or a variation of it.)

If you are older, or left behind by technology, you are not alone.

Some things are not losses.

So, you cannot use a ‘smart phone’ – or perhaps computers leave you confused. That’s fine, you have skills that the people using the smart phones and computers probably do not have.

If you are older…

Did you ever make your own clothes?

Did you knit, or crochet?

Can you cook a roast meal from ‘scratch?’

What about baking? Do you remember beating the butter and sugar as the start of a cake, then adding the rest of ingredients?


baking skills

You might not do it now, but it was a skill you learnt when you were young.

Visibility losses

Your eyesight might not be as good as it used to be, but that is not what I meant.

Many older people remark, “It’s like I am invisible.” When you are young, you are likely to be noticed, even attract attention. When you are older it is like you are slowly greying out.

Turn the losses into pluses.

Enjoy the fact you do not have to rise night after night to attend to a baby, then cope with that same baby during the day.

Appreciate all the knowledge you have accumulated over the years. Yes, there is a vast amount of information on the Internet… but guess what – you have to have a computer, iPad, or smart phone PLUS electricity to find it.

You have ‘life experience’ not something you learned from a book, or an online course. Such learning does not give you practical skills.

You are a living history book.

It is possible a school or library would appreciate you sitting down talking to children or answering questions.

What about teaching someone to knit, sew, embroider, bake, cook – or just be someone who listens, or smiles at strangers. (They usually smile back.)

Losses are individual – and for some the loss of health is a huge challenge, but, do a ‘stock-take’ and see what you can still do. You might be pleasantly surprised. If not, change your expectations of yourself and do another stock-take. Every one of us has value.

Musing on a friend’s comment,


Rocks of Trouble or Stepping Stones?

rocks of trouble

I recently read a church newsletter and the phrase ‘that the rocks of trouble are actually stepping stones of growth caught my attention. Thinking about the ‘rocks of trouble in my life, I can see it has been true, although it is often a challenge to see this, at least at the time.

What are rocks of trouble?

They can be different things to different people – but a good general description is ‘adversity.’

Adversity is defined in dictionary.com as…

  • Adverse or unfavorable fortune or fate

A condition marked by

  • Misfortune
  • Calamity
  • Distress

There would be few grown-up, or nearly grown-up people who have not experienced some of the above.

rocks of trouble into stepping stones

Some people are able to quickly change those rocks of trouble into stepping stones of growth, but most of us take longer. Some never change them, but many succeed.

Those rocks of adversity are trials, and they can either defeat us, or challenge us to grow… and I must add, sometimes we have to sit in the trial before we can see how to move forward.

Our rocks of trouble might be…

  • Loss of health
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a spouse
  • Loss of a child
  • Loss of a parent or special family member.

Yes, those are all losses. But what if your rock was being bullied or discriminated against? In some ways that might be harder. With the losses, we either stay down the hole, or eventually find the ability to make a new reality. With bullying or being discriminated against it might be more of a challenge, but there is help available.

chipping away at rocks

Each of us must find it within ourselves to ‘chip away’ at our rock of trouble. Never let what happens to us ‘define’ who we are. Never let what others think of us define who we are either.

Personal challenges:

This year has (so far) been the worst year for me since the year my husband died. As mentioned in a previous blog I ended up on oxygen 24/7, and living at the end of an eighteen metre oxygen tube…. (which has made my home a very great trip hazard.)

A short drive to the local shopping centre to post a letter – well, that turned out badly. I tripped over tree roots that were not visible the angle I was approaching from. I have to say it was a blessing that I did not break my leg. All these weeks later the bone is still painful to touch. (Bruising is finally fading though.)

Then my cataracts finally needed surgery so I was unable to drive and became housebound.

My stepping stones

Through the learning curve of adjusting to all that had changed for the worse, there were…

Three good friends who Skyped me regularly. Other friends who emailed and encouraged me.


There are times we all need support, and sometimes for longer than others.

And by the way, what we learn in these rocks of troubles can help others at a later date.

None of us are left ‘dangling’ permanently. Few people like to remain in the adversity.

dangling from the rock

Just thinking


P.S. By the day after cataract surgery – felt great. I have been very blessed and prayed for by many of those supporters who knew how much I dreaded it.