Category Archives: Guest Blog

Step 11 Is A Step You May Either Love Or Hate

Step 11 in the 12 Step Recovery tradition brings some challenges.

For many people who try to follow the 12 Steps, Step 11 is a step they either love or hate:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Perhaps “hate” is a particularly strong word; yet some followers of the Recovery program have some difficulty getting in touch with the spiritual side of Recovery. Continue reading

Flow Motion

Flow Motion

You know those moments?
I think we’ve all had them

Those moments
When you are caught unaware
Those moments
When you least expect it
Those moments
Of inexplicable lucidity
When you slice off a sliver of time
And hold it gently
In the palm of your hand
For a single, solitary
Flow-motion second

You know those moments?
Those bullet-time moments?
I think we’ve all had them

Where you catch your breath
And swallow your heart
Those moments
That reverberate
Through every hollow and strand of DNA
Those fundamental moments
That resonate
In sympathetic vibration
In harmonic excitation
Through every fibre of your very being
With the ebb and flow
The hum and thrum
The suprarational rise and fall
Of the divine Song

You know those moments
Those sweet, afterglow moments
I think we’ve all had them

That awaken the senses
And linger on the tongue
Like the tremulous thrill of your first kiss
Those transcendent, translucent moments
When you feel so alive
So uninhibitedly free
Those glorious manifest moments
That venture
Beyond the borders
Of intellectual propriety
With childlike curiosity
And dauntless, clarion faith
Moments where you expand up, up, up
On your tiptoes
Stretch your soul to the Sun
Arms outstretched to the fringes of the horizon
And plunge headlong down the rabbit hole
In the most exhilarating, electrifying free fall
Animatedly suspended
Upon billows of bliss
Within a sliver of Immortality

For a single






— Mac, 2013

Mac Mackenzie

Mac Mackenzie is a folk singer, musician, poet, essayist, penny philosopher, slow life advocate & emerging minimalist. He speak’s English & Gaelic. He likes to dream and tell big fish stories. He like’s God & God likes him. You can read more of Mac’s work at his Blog Diary of an Arts Farmer and follow him onTwitter and Google+.

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Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Aristocrats-hat via Compfight cc

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Poetry as a Safety Valve for Mental Health

Safety valves

We all need someone to confide in. A listening ear. Sympathetic company. Though some things are too close for comfortable sharing. Too painful to pass on to another.

They can remain hidden deep inside. Buried, to all intents and purposes. Or we choose to release in a different way. We vent. Rage. Cry. Or maybe express the inexpressible in a different form.
8390224546_ed3665c006_o Poetry as a Safety Valve for Mental Health

When adult life crowded in demandingly for me as a child, invading my mind and body with things it was far from ready to receive, I poured out my heart in words. Diaries locked with a key only I possessed. Journals. Notepads. Imaginary tales to escape into as I scribbled out stories with happier outcomes than mine.

Books became my safety valve. As I retreated into other worlds in my head, the one I inhabited in the flesh lost some of its power to cause me pain.

Poetry spoke to my soul. A balm to soothe a fretful heart. Here was understanding. Empathy. Every human emotion laid bare. An unleashing of feelings from another that brought a degree of healing to my own.

For many years, my personal poetry and prose remained hidden from prying eyes. Private. No entry. Until God began a deep work unearthing all the dark material to bring about emotional healing from childhood emotional and sexual abuse and the mental health breakdowns they contributed to.

An unfolding was precursor to my soul unfurling toward the warmth of God’s Light again and a grateful return of this prodigal daughter to her heavenly Father’s loving embrace.

Now, I read for pleasure and interest rather than escapism. And I write out my heart in poetry and prose in a way that helps release the pain of challenging circumstances in order to bring a light of recognition in another’s eyes.

Those “You too?” moments and sharing of woundedness are a comfort to others and a huge blessing to me too.

I have a great desire to support those who may be hurting emotionally from a painful past pervading the present or challenging circumstances.

My goal is to help set others free by sharing my story and how God is still in the process of deliverance and restoration.

We don’t have to live chained lives.

We can break free.

We can come alongside and support each other in our journey toward healing and wholeness

Poetry helps me so much. It blends the prosaic with the profound as a poet draws from observation of their own external and internal reality to present a deeper, universal truth hidden within.

As I write, spilling words on a page, it is undeniably cathartic for me, as well as a means to pave the way for those who read it to find release too.
I hope and pray that you will find some “Me too” moments as you read the poem below.

Safety valve

Sometimes our pain
gets buried
deep inside
locked up
in a safe place
where we hide
our true selves
from prying eyes
yet wounds will
fester when left
unattended over years
and seep their poison
through our systems
releasing more
anxiety and fears

We need an outlet
safety valve to
vent within constraints
a catching-place
for leaking holes
where what is
heard is veiled
yet has intent
I express myself
through poetic lament
to pour forth
words as water
releasing mercy drops
that may hit
the spot for other
thirsty souls

This is a guest post from Joy Lenton. Joy is a wife, mother, M.E. sufferer, avid reader, poet, blogger, communicator and full-time follower of Jesus and lives in Norfolk, United Kingdom. Discover more about Joy at her page

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Consider sharing it with others by using the Social Networking sharing options below. Thanks8390224546_ed3665c006_o Poetry as a Safety Valve for Mental Health

Barry Pearman

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Photo Credit: Sergei Golyshev via Compfight cc

Passing By

 Passing By

I pass her by everyday.
Tired eyes
And a weary smile
Are her only adornments.
She looks toward me,
But, quickly, I turn the other direction.
I speed the pace of my walk,
Ignoring her cries for help, and
Her pleas for mercy.
“She deserves this,” I tell myself.
“She brought this fate upon herself.”
Suddenly, I hear a voice from heaven say:
“The Kingdom belongs to such as these.”

Kevin Walker

You can read more of Kevin’s work at his Blog or by purchasing his book These Moments Pass

Barry Pearman

Image by Stephan Geyer Creative Commons Flickr

Blogger Labels: adornments,direction,pleas,mercy,fate,heaven,Kingdom,Kevin,Walker,Blog,Moments,Pass


4425488530_c72397ca33_z Birds

English Budgie vs. American Parakeet By PuppiesAreProzac




I keep small birds for pets

I love every one of them

Even when I’ve stopped talking

It seems that their conversation never ends


They take the food I offer

Eating every last seed

Sometimes their mates outside the window

Are still talking tweet tweet


An on-going war

You could probably say

Rages in my house for territory

Both night and day


But I love the little critters

each and every one of them

Throughout their mindless gabble

They see me as friend.


Mark Wilde

Image by Puppiesareprozac Creative Commons Flickr

Hidden Treasures

2870844569_0d50c4ce07_b Hidden Treasures

               Fractured by Tim Bouwer

Hidden treasures


A thing of beauty was once formed,

with love and care and gentle arms.

Coveted by evil spawn, and looked

upon with spite and scorn.


Soon this beauty, cracked and torn,

is shattered into multiple forms.

Pieces flung both near and far,

and hidden, lost in deep despair.

Fire and ice, pain, terror was there,

but thin lines of hope, albeit threadbare.


Small tugs on lines, felt everywhere,

pulled with love and gentle care.

Starts journeys through great thunderstorms,

that rail and scream and try to scare.


Gathering those multiple forms,

all those shattered, broken and torn.

Slowly something begins to form,

a shock to those who spat and scorned.


For out of all that pain was formed,

a beauty trialled, tempered and strong.

A pearl that can withstand any storm,

a hidden treasure, in it’s final form.

Gathered together with love and care,

a face, a smile and gentle arms.


– Vanessa Taylor, 20th March 2011

Image: Tim Bouwer Creative Commons Flickr

Death is No More


5175511671_8c7229baa2_b Death is No More

Death is no more


Pause and consider

Contemplate leisurely

What it is that breathes

Meaning through time

As time unravels


Breathing through the deadness

People seek to adhere to

Comes poetic infiltration

Many would reject


Life has brought to life

Death has fled to grave

Burying itself in rush

To hide hidden

From life supporting life


Stuart Scott

Image: h.koppdelaney Creative Commons Flickr
Blogger Labels: Death,Pause,Contemplate,People,Comes,infiltration,Many,Life,From,Stuart,Scott

The Scourge of Pop-Stars

113453239_3469ffcef4_b The Scourge of Pop-Stars

Recently I was at a conference where one of the keynote speakers was the internationally acclaimed photographer, Tom Ang. As part of his talk Tom described the change that has taken place with the digitization of photography, and the proliferation of photo sharing websites.
The result of this is that all pictures, even the very good ones, struggle to gain an appreciative audience through the sheer volume of photographs being taken and disseminated. This of course, isn’t limited to photography – it is true for any creative endeavour – music, film, fine art, poetry – all competing for an audience.
What results is that creative endeavours are no longer able to stand on their own merits, and need some sort of “point of difference” to make them rise above the crowd.
Particularly in the entertainment industry, this point of difference inevitably ends up being the secondary attributes of the artist, such as lifestyle or relationships. An example would be Lady Gaga. Although she produces pop music of a typically high standard consistent with current trends, what Lady Gaga is best known for is her outrageous persona and attention grabbing antics. Subsequently Gaga is not so much a musician or singer as an entertainment package encompassing music, drama and performance art – both on stage and off.
Other figures in the entertainment industry are known for their aberrant behaviour or dysfunctional relationships, gleefully reported by a mainstream news media that is increasingly indistinguishable from trashy tabloid news vendors where credibility and accuracy have taken a back seat to titillation.
The saying “all publicity is good publicity”, appears to be true for many people who have garnered the dubious title of “celebrity”. Inevitably creative endeavours are high jacked by commercialism, where focus is more on the person, and less on the creative work they produce. The songs, or the movies, or the artwork in whatever form becomes a vehicle for the ego of the artist.
What does this mean for us in the community of followers of Jesus?
Believe it or not, “pop stars” have always been a part of the Christian landscape. Jesus of course, fully deserves every bit of attention and devotion we can lavish on Him – that’s not the issue. But right from the beginning of the early church, believers were aligning themselves with pop-stars.
In 1 Corinthians 1:12 Paul writes

“What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

In the 19th Century, Charles Spurgeon was a pop-star preacher – regularly attracting Sunday service crowds of 6,000 people to London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle to hear him preach. Throughout Church history there have been numerous people who have enjoyed (or maybe endured?) immense popularity.
This hasn’t always been a bad thing; many of these people have managed to harness their profile to achieve great things for God. The problem comes when people begin to believe their own publicity, and start seeking attention with a motivation that isn’t paying due deference to Christ.
Maybe rather than pop-stars, another name that works would be “idols”. Of course, an idol, in its truest meaning, is anything that claims allegiance that rightfully belongs to God.
Since the charismatic renewal of the 60’s and 70’s, there has been a much greater emphasis on experiential worship, most obviously in the form of music. There has been a trend towards “doing music” in a manner consistent with secular trends, which results in a fairly common formula of a band of musicians on stage, facing the worshipping congregation. In itself, this is amoral – nothing wrong with it. In the secular world, the message of a band on the stage is “look at me and what I’m doing”.
However, in a church music worship setting, the role of those leading is not to draw attention to themselves, but to point attention to Christ, and to serve the congregation by facilitating their singing songs of worship. This clash of purpose has resulted in what must surely be an oxymoron: the pop-star worship leader.
There seems to be a trend whereby people tasked with facilitating the congregation’s expression of worship, are assuming the trappings of pop-stars – or idols.
We see this in promotional material describing “today’s hottest worship leaders”. We see worship albums with carefully cultivated image and accompanying music video.
As a worship musician and sometimes worship leader of quite a few years’ experience, I don’t feel the need to cultivate for myself a point of difference. I don’t feel a need to make myself stand out from the crowd, and I certainly don’t want to be guilty of seeking for myself allegiance that rightfully belongs to God.

In this age of rampant consumerism, who is the “customer” when it comes to corporate worship? Is this right? Who should be the “customer”?

Tim Page
Image: Lars Kristian Flem Creative Commons Flickr
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Blessed are the Poor

39202863_d107edee64_o Blessed are the Poor

Over the years I have been involved with a group of people who are at the poorer end of society. Although not rich myself I have sometimes felt guilty about the level of financial resources I have available to me compared to others.
At times in my life I have struggled to balance budgets and even gone through periods where I have been under-employed. Sometimes this has been by choice as I have chosen to do voluntary work or study. Other times, in the early 1990’s I found it difficult to get full time employment due to a recession. During this period I admit to feeling sorry for myself and was very grateful to get back into full time employment.
But on the positive side I know I have the education, skills and health to earn a reasonable standard of living. Many of the people I have been involved with don’t have these options. They have health issues that keep them on a benefit or limit them to part-time work. For them being poor is not a temporary state of affairs, it is a lifestyle. From limited means they need to find accommodation, food, clothes and pay medical bills. Heating is often a luxury.
Compounding this problem can be addictions to cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. In some cases these addictions can lead to the dropping of basic essentials. I choose not to judge as I know how hard it is to give up these addictions. I don’t condone but I try to understand. Mental illness can make it difficult to stick to giving up behaviors.
Giving support to people can be tricky. It’s important to encourage people to do what they can for themselves. However we need to balance this with mercy. . In Luke 16 in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the rich man had a good life on earth and did not take note on the poor man at his gate. After death while thirsty in Hades he asked for Lazarus (the poor man) to comfort him.

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. (NIV Luke 16:19-31).

I’m not sure about other implications of this passage but it’s clear that helping the poor is high on Jesus priorities.
The other thing that comes with poverty is powerlessness. This can be a subtle thing. Do we include the poor with problems in leadership? How important is it to us that the man with the nice voice but poor clothing joins in the worship team. Or are we more focused on image? Do we involve all members of the community in decision making? Do we listen to their concerns? Or do we take the attitude that we know best or worse that anything will do for them?
James says

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? ( James 2:1-13 NIV)

I don’t know if there are any easy answers to how we treat people who are poor. The reality in our society is many of those who are poor tend to have disabilities which mean to be included you do have to take special effort. Often they are not a glamorous cause. There is a certain appeal about a short term mission trip to India or visiting an inner city project in the United States. This is not a bad thing to do. But do we feel the same pull to deal with someone who has more mundane problems and at times can be difficult. These are the questions we need to ask ourselves if we are disciples of Jesus.
Janine Blackburn
Image: Marina Wajnsztejn Creative Commons Flickr
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