Lessons from lockdown

  • Don’t take things for granted

There are so many things we take for granted. From the basic necessities such as air and water to the fundamental things such as freedom and justice. The lockdown highlighted to us the value of the things we missed. Human contact, coffee with a friend, meals out. Enjoying our hobbies, sports travelling and so much more. I hope now that as we slowly return to these things, we may have a renewed appreciation for everything.

  • Slowing down and silence is essential not just a luxury

The lockdown forced us to spend much more time at home. Although this has its drawbacks, there have been benefits too. Some have enjoyed really nice moments with their family. Some have learnt new skills and enjoyed new hobbies. We were forced to slow down from the busy world and realise that rest is essential for our well-being.

  • There is always hope ahead

The vaccines were developed at remarkable speed and promises hope now. But it’s not just the vaccines. People all around the world have been united in this pandemic in their suffering. However, despite their suffering, many people have shown kindness to others. They have volunteered, donated, prayed and united together against this pandemic.

  • Love will always be stronger than fear

The pandemic has been a fearful and anxious time, there is no denying that. But like I said, it has been an opportunity for people’s generosity and kindness to shine through. We have kept each other safe by adhering to the rules and restrictions. We have helped each other through this ordeal. Ultimately, I hope this pandemic serves as a reminder that love will always be stronger than fear.

Inspiration poem

Each day rolled into the next
All the same, all the same
But are they?

Some days seem brighter
A little bit lighter
But are they?

The darkness sets in
Everything in despair
But are they?

New beginnings
Seem full of promise
But are they?

Babies, sunsets, pillows
Seem like everyday miracles
But are they?

All I know is this
All I know is this

Each day, each experience
Inspires me to go on

Each battle, each survival
Inspires me to go on

Each act of kindness, of compassion
Inspires me to go on

Each memory, each scar
Inspires me to go on

Each suffering, each endurance
Inspires me to go on

All I know is this
All I know is this

I find inspiration in my desperation
And that is all I can hope to do

Ethiopia Appeal

APPEAL INFO 

“Dear friends, in recent weeks you may have heard something of the grave news from Tigray in northern Ethiopia. An armed conflict between the federal and regional governments has escalated into a shocking humanitarian crisis. We are hearing harrowing reports of tens of thousands of families fleeing from their homes and that as many as 4.5 million people are without access to basic food, medical and sanitary supplies across the region! The UN has described the humanitarian situation as ‘very severe’. Mary’s Meals has been working in Tigray since 2017, with our trusted partners normally serving daily school meals to more than 24,000 children there. 

We are now working with that partner to respond to this crisis and provide support to the children and families affected by this situation. Despite all the obstacles, we are determined to maintain our promise to the communities we serve and to show the Tigrayan people that the world has not forgotten them. 

To find out more about this appeal please visit https://www.marysmeals.org.uk. If your parish or group would like to host a virtual talk from Mary’s Meals or would like to share our short appeal video message, please contact fran.lawson@marysmeals.org. Thank you.”  

Lent 2021

Lent is a time when Christians can separate from the world. It can lead to a deeper exploration of the faith and is based on the pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 

Lent is a shortened version of the Old English word ‘lencten’, a word which means spring (the season). Over the years, the word Lent came to be linked to the Christian tradition of fasting before Easter, which always happened in spring.

One of the important features of the time period is that immediately before he began his years of travelling, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and preparing for his ministry.

In most Christian denominations, Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. This is signified by placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance to God.

The official colour for Lent is purple. Usually, churches that celebrate Lent choose the darkest shade of purple for this season. Purple is the colour of repentance for sins.

Mother’s Day is actually a part of Lent. The Sundays of Lent are special for Christians everywhere. In the UK, the fourth of these Sundays is known as Mothering Sunday. Mothering Sunday was originally all about returning to your home (or ‘mother’) church, and eventually it became a celebration of motherhood.

Having a reason to reflect and do something different to our usual routines can be extremely beneficial for our personal growth. Often, we may not realise the need for reflection and taking things slowly especially in a busy world. We fail to see our faults and failings but there are things we can change about ourselves if we wish to form new habits.

Dedicating time to prayer, fasting and almsgiving also helps to nurture the goodness in us and helps others in need.

However you choose to spend this time, I would like to wish you all a fruitful season of Lent.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Flower through the cracks

Dear you,

When looking at this image, we may be struck by how unusual it looks. The ground looks dry, hard and cracked. It is not somewhere we would expect a bright and beautiful to bloom from.

However, this can happen in our lives. From seemingly difficult and hard situations, growth and hope can occur.

In the dry ground, the crack provides an opportunity for the flower to bloom. The conditions aren’t favourable, the flower could grow much easier in compost. It would grow better somewhere with more sunlight and water.

We often fail to see the opportunities for growth in our life because we are looking for something better, something easier. Our conditions don’t look favourable so we blame our circumstances and use that as an excuse.  

The endurance of this flower has given way to its beauty. Good things can come out of difficult situations. When negative things happen, we can be tempted to give up. But perseverance can lead to beautiful results.

This flower didn’t give up because of its seemingly hostile environment. It didn’t give up because the ground was hard and dry. When tough times come, we too must not give up immediately. There is more at work than we can imagine. Going through difficulties teaches us valuable lessons and shapes us.

I hope despite the difficulties of your current circumstances, you grow forth and bloom.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and Being Beautiful

Judith was looking in the mirror.

There was barely anyone in the whole wide world who would dislike being called beautiful. Sadly, most people would deny they were beautiful as though it was some unattainable goal they could never ever possibly achieve.

What is beauty, she wondered.

Was it a certain colour of hair, a certain number on the weighing scale, a certain body shape? Is it six pack abs, a thigh gap and eyebrows on fleek all leading to numerous likes on Instagram photos?

She knew a lot of people thought it was and made many efforts to achieve certain standards. She herself had fallen into that trap.

Dear you,

So .. what is beauty?

There are some things that contain beauty in and of itself. So many different facets of nature – sunsets, stars, waterfalls. Being in the presence of these things, we can truly savour the moment and appreciate ‘beauty’.

But to actually possess the characteristic of beauty when you are a human being, that is different.

Feeling beautiful means that we feel good about ourselves. Unfortunately, people try and try to fit into another person’s definition of beauty. But in chasing that other person’s version of beauty, you are losing your own. Beauty doesn’t rest on another person’s ability to recognise it, it just is.

In the day and age of cyber bullying and trolls, it is painful to acknowledge but there is an ugly side to beauty. Young girls are body shamed and made to feel inferior about their appearance. Having no particular means to change aspects of themselves, they succumb to the hatred and plunge into the depths of self-destruction.

Back to beauty…

Beauty is gentleness, beauty is kindness, beauty is vulnerability.

These characteristics are not loud, they are not in your face and apparent. They lie beneath the surface. In fact, unless you look really closely, you probably would overlook them.

These characteristics take courage and guts, it is much easier to digitally alter your appearance, that’s for sure.

In a world of over seven billion people, there is absolutely no one way to define ‘beauty’. But I do believe that it is tied intricately to our very essence of being a human being. The things that make us truly us.

The trick is to not get overwhelmed by the never ending demands of acquiring the ‘beauty’ that society imposes on us. Instead, be the best version of yourselves and you’ll soon find that you are able to appreciate yourself and the beauty within you.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Fleeting Feelings

She always had high hopes and expectations for what she wanted her life to look like. But the reality did not match up.

She was feeling particularly flustered after hearing some bad news from a family member. She was also stressed about her finances. There were many problems at work.

For years, she had vowed to always remain positive. As much as she could. She thought that once she got to a particular age or a particular position in her job, she would be happy and settled.

However, she was realising that it was not that simple. Happiness was very fleeting. She could be happy about one thing but ten minutes later, if one little inconvenience occurred, she could feel completely different.

She realised her mood and temperament was based on fluctuating changes in her life. She had no control over these and when they came, she was really affected by them.

What was the way to combat this, she wondered. Was there a way of achieving true inner peace?

Dear you,

2020 came and went. It was a really difficult year for many and we looked ahead to 2021 with hope.

However, as most of us will have realised, just because the calendar year has changed doesn’t necessarily mean our lives have changed.

The issues and frustrations of 2020 have carried onto this year. There’s been more change and uncertainty.

It’s very easy to get discouraged and lose hope when we are easily affected by what goes on around us.

When we hear the news or about certain things, it’s natural to have an emotional response. But the problem comes when we dwell on these things and let it control our lives.

Problems and frustrations are always going to be part of life. We can spend a lot of time wishing this wasn’t the case. We can ignore problems and distract ourselves with other things. However, this usually makes things worse.

When you have true inner peace, your life is anchored and grounded. You aren’t constantly tossed about by the waves of life.

How do I achieve that, you may be wondering.

There is no simple and straightforward answer to that. It is a lifelong journey of learning more about ourselves and the world. For me, it is my faith that helps.

When we learn to accept our circumstances and be grateful for what we have, life gets a lot easier to handle.

So if there’s a lot going on right now which is affecting you adversely, please be assured that these circumstances will pass too.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Short story publication

I’m delighted to announce that a short story of mine has been published in an anthology!

This is available in paperback at:

And also available as an E-book at:

This is a crime story which I really enjoyed writing. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in my writing 🙂