The Lighthouse (Faith over Fear)

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

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Bitter / Beautiful Cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Family First

It’s that time again, no not that one. Or that one. But the end of January. Unlike our other office breaks this season is not a public holiday and is, perhaps, the least understood.

It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch for the outside eye to think I’m slightly lazy or part-timer for taking a break so close to our recent Christmas break. But, in reality, I’d like to suggest it’s quite the opposite.

You see, when it comes to business, most shut down over the Christmas break. But because our businesses are so diverse, we power-on through. So in reality, even though our offices are shut over Christmas – we aren’t really on a break at all. In fact we were often chasing orders, replying to emails and preparing for the year ahead.

So, even though it’s a challenge for most to go back to work after the Christmas, I’d perhaps argue – we are less rested than most. Our kids are savvy to this also. While we are able to give them 100% over Christmas Day and the few surrounding days, anything more than that is a bit of a luxury for us (and them). With that in mind, we have January.

The last two weeks in January are very special for our family. Not only is it my birthday, but it’s the time that we set aside especially for each other. We enjoy each others’ company. We go out to places during the days. And we make up for all the time that we are otherwise busy.

It may not be ideal timing for everyone who has to wait until we come back to work on February, but I thank-you for understanding. For me and my business, it will always be Family First.

So please don’t judge us for taking time out, we’ll be back in full-force on the 4th February to take on 2019 head-on. Thanks for understanding.

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Driving HOME For Christmas

After what feels just shy of a millennia, today is a very special day. No, not the fact that it’s Black Friday – although it is a purchase. In fact, I can safely say this is the largest item I have ever bought on a Black Friday, or (actually) ever. And yet, this is a purchase that I won’t get told off for making. Black Friday 2018 finally saw the completion date for our house. We finally closed the deal and purchased a home!

The relief is perhaps so palpable in light of the efforts and tribulations that we endured along the way. Nearly a full month after I posted the (what I hoped the be) full story, the conclusion has finally arrived. Not without its’ own mini-dramas, of course. Even today, on completion days, I still had a few curve balls that needed batting out of the park. But no more. It’s complete. No chance of undoing it now.

If you missed it, you can read the full story of the journey we’ve been on- titled ‘The Battle of Mort Gage’. Told as an epic battle between us and those trying to stop us, it poetically reflects how long and painful the journey had been for us. While the story couldn’t include every detail and battle we fought, it certainly gives you a taste. You can read it here.

Whether you read my previous post or not, I’m sure you will have gathered by now that this was a beast of a journey for us. One that so many people have to walk through in order to gain ownership of their home. It’s a sad reality of the age we’re in. And I am SO thankful to God for pulling us through – but also for the people involved who had the power and ability to help us where we needed. They know who they are. This victory, perhaps, proof that if God can do it for us – then He can do it for anyone! I had the lowest credit score, the biggest debt and I’m self-employed.

My hope from this journey is that it will show other people in the journey that they aren’t on their own. That other people that have, and are, walking through this incredibly long and -at times- painful battle can see it does end. That you do come out the other side with a victory that is monumental. My other hope is that the lessons I’ve learned through it will inspire me and my family to remember how blessed we are and perhaps that some day, we too could be the ones with the power and ability to help others complete their journey to property ownership.

Over the battle, I ended up formulating a playlist of songs that I found myself listening to regularly as they depicted the season really well. You can listen to them, if you’d, like here:

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McDonalds Monopoly 2018 Winning Tickets Wiiiin!

Without further ado – here’s the quick way to check if you have a winning ticket at this years’ McDonalds Monopoly.

  • Brown – Old Kent Road
  • Light Blue – Euston Road
  • Pink – Northumberland Avenue
  • Orange – Marlborough Street
  • Red – Strand
  • Yellow – Coventry Street
  • Green – Bond Street
  • Dark Blue – Mayfair (obviously)
  • Stations – Liverpool Street

What I do find interesting is that this is largely unchanged from last year. The only downside? They aren’t stickers anymore, so have a roll of tape handy in your car!!

Also, this year, save 10 of any stickers to get yourself a NOW TV pass. That’s just good sense. In fact, arguably, that’s a better prize than the food. Upon claiming your first NOW TV pass, there is a limited of four per person, but no limit if you sign up in different names.

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Rise

I realise that this blog lacks a certain level consistency. I’ll start a theme and leave it open-ended. I’ll talk about heart-felt inner battles and follow that up with a sarcastic review of my latest cinematic experience. Like I say. Inconsistent. But perhaps it is, always, honest and it is in keeping up with my life. Perhaps equally inconsistent. Perhaps not.

But as we enter into the Easter Bank Holiday, it’s something I really wanted to talk about. My past inconsistencies and failed attempts at success. I make no apology for drawing parallels to the Easter message of Jesus. The true meaning of Easter probably needs no further elaboration for you to complete the analogy. While Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his brutal crucifixion three days prior, I think so too, our past dreams and failings can rise. And I think that Jesus’s supernatural return, could actual be part of the catalyst to bring our dreams back into play.

Jesus will have about as much an impact of your life as you’ll let Him have. And while there are countless claims to ultimate success and ultimate peace out there, I really don’t think any of them can actually compare than that of what Jesus can do. And so easy as it is to put Jesus into pictorial, historical and theoretical scenarios logically, there is one arena that Jesus branded out of place. And that’s today. Society says Jesus is historical. Jesus says “I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. His friendship, his resurrection skills and ultimately his eternal ticket out of h-e-double hockey-sticks.

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