Advice/opinions wanted, please.

Fellow readers and writers, I need your opinions please.

I need to be clear about the intended audience for the book I am writing. This is both so that the book can be found by those who need to read it and also so that, as the author, I can communicate clearly and directly into the needs of the potential readers.

My intention is that the book will instruct, inspire and give guidance and understanding for others to follow – therefore I understand that a ‘self-help’ genre and style is maybe what is required.

But is it ‘self-help’, or is it ‘health and well-being’, or ‘personal growth’? How is best to classify it?

The other question is: ‘Self-help’ for whom?

I had informally categorised the target audience as those ‘in recovery,’ or those working with people ‘in recovery’, as this was how I described myself. However, I think I now need to be more specific.

Earlier this month, I put out a small informal survey, on social media, asking what ‘in recovery’ might mean to people.

Some people mentioned multiple associations that came to mind from the phrase ‘in recovery’ – my overall analysis of the responses shows that:

Over 90% of the responses associated ‘recovery’ with addiction (mainly alcohol and drug/substance abuse).

Approx. 30% associated ‘recovery’ with physical illness/surgery/cancer/accident.

Approx. 20% with mental health/breakdown/stress

Approx. 16% with trauma/abuse

A further 25% of responses covered relationship breakdown, loss, grief, co-dependency, negative thinking, adverse circumstances in life, widowhood, life-problems, identity, emotional growth.

Of course all of these responses are correct and appropriate, and other responses were also possible. I am very grateful for the feedback, as it shows that I need to be more specific. The intention is not that the book is aimed especially at people in addiction-recovery, although I do think it is very useful for such people.

As people have pointed out, there are many types/causes of trauma on a person’s life. These can be relational, as mine was, but can be physical – like a stroke, or environmental – such as war/ tsunami, or mental – such as ‘burn-out’. The trauma may be buried deeply in the past, or it may be a very recent wound.

Trauma, however caused, if suffered in silence and untreated, at worst, can result in serious life-issues of ill-health – physical or mental – and often leaves the sufferer turning to and clinging to ‘quick-fix’ solutions and addictions of various kinds. At best, it can leave the adult burdened with emotional limitations and stuck in ways of thinking and behaving that are not as helpful or fruitful as could have otherwise been possible.

My own journey of healing and recovery were from the wounds of childhood trauma and included the journey to recover the authentic voice and memories of my young self. My own quick-fix was alcohol, to anesthetise the pain, and my emotional damage played itself out mainly in particular sorts of relationships.

The book I am writing shares the strategies and processes that enabled me to recover my voice, acknowledge the damage and the issues and to get well.

The intention of the book is to help you to find strategies that you can use to begin to process your own trauma issues, to listen safely to the wounded inner self, to grow in resilience and to progress in your own journey to emotional well-being.

So my questions are:

1 – How does one classify a book best? There seem to be categories and sub-categories!

(It is non-fiction/ health and well-being/ psychology/ personal development/ trauma recovery/ self-help, or self-improvement)

2 – What would you expect in a ‘self-help’ book?

3 – Would I describe it as ‘for people wanting to recover from any kind of personal trauma’?

(That sounds a bit clumsy though?)

Any other considerations and all suggestions gratefully received.

World Watchlist 2022

This morning, I wrote a post about the danger in the Western World to the right to free-speech.

I wrote it acutely aware of the a very real and actual present danger of severe persecution, discrimination and threat to human-life for some 360 million Christians throughout the world. Add to that the number of severely persecuted Muslims in China and other places and, in other countries, countless minority religions deemed unacceptable to the state.

I also wrote it reflecting on the path that authoritarian governments tend to slide along. Firstly, restrictions are made on those issues about which a majority of people perhaps even agree and about which people are offended, or about which they have no opinion – perhaps the freedom to express certain opinions, or to live a certain way of life, perhaps being politically correct, or the removal of privacy laws? But little by little, power is taken and freedoms are eroded in a way which we no longer support, but about which we perhaps no longer have control.

This authoritarian power has caused great persecution and suffering to enormous amounts of minority religious and cultural groups throughout the world. This has been made much easier by the technology now available.

Last Thursday, 19th January 2022, in the UK Parliament, 96 MPs gathered for the launch of Open Doors’ World Watchlist 2022, where those places are highlighted, in which freedom of religion is most dangerously threatened and forbidden.

I had been awaiting this launch and had joined the campaign to encourage local MPs to attend the launch. Where there is awareness, there will be compassion and a possibility for positive action and sensitive intervention.

That evening after the launch, there was an online gathering – a prayer webinar – for anyone to attend to pray through all the issues involved. I include a link to the webinar and encourage you to check out the many great resources and information produced by Open Doors.

For a great many years, North Korea was at the top of that World Watchlist, but although the situation in North Korea has continued to worsen, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has made Afghanistan now the most difficult place to be a Christian. Indeed it is reported that the Taliban have a list of names of all Christians in the country and are systematically seeking them out and executing or imprisoning them. Many who can, have fled, but some brave souls have decided to stay and encourage the church, in face of their persecutors. I cannot imagine how terrifying this must be.

I also read a story of a lady in North Korea who was sent into exile – into a life-time of forced labour – for owning a Bible. This lady successfully attempted the dangerous crossing into China, where she was encouraged and built up by secret believers in China. She then chose to return to her exile in North Korea in order to strengthen her secret church. Such courage makes me weep with joy at such faith and with repentance for my own weak resolve facing my relatively petty concerns and injustices!

These are our fellow brothers and sisters, our family in the church.

As Christians, we follow our Lord, whose path took Him to the cross. We know that being willing to suffer for our faith is part of the job description! He did it ‘for the joy set before Him’ and we know that the Peace, Love, Joy and Hope He gives is more than enough. But we live in a ‘civilised’ age, an age of ‘human rights’ and protection laws, so I ask you to help wherever you can to stand up and be counted against the erosion of these rights and fight for freedom in the way you respect the rights of those who differ from you.

I ask you to pray for the whole church and to support in any way those who are suffering at this time. If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.

Support freedom and justice in any way you can.

Freedom of Speech threatened?

As a Christian, my understanding is that God created us with the gift of Free-Will. Some of us may question the wisdom of this from time to time, as most of us have made choices that we regret, but freedom was so important to God, that in His great love, He required that our love was also freely given. This gift He gave at great personal cost to Himself and great sacrifice. He gave Himself for this Freedom.

The consensus of democracy and good government has always been the exercise of this freedom – especially held dear in the Western World. Freedom to agree or disagree; freedom to hold one’s own beliefs; freedom to express those beliefs; freedom to practice one’s own religion; freedom to protest and demonstrate.

Of course one must not break the law of the land in the exercise of these freedoms. Though this is where the ground can become a shifting foundation. There are necessary laws against violence, hatred, discrimination, inciting hatred and other crimes against a person or a group of people. The key to safeguarding the fundamental human right to free-speech is in the interpretation of the charge of ‘inciting hatred’, or ‘hate-speech’. As a Christian the over-riding rule is always the law of love and mercy.

Today, Finnish Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen will face a criminal trial because she tweeted a Bible verse about marriage and sexuality in a 2019 tweet, on a radio-show and in a 17 year old church pamphlet. The Bishop who published her pamphlet also faces trial.

According to an article by ADF, Räsänen is officially being prosecuted for the crime of ‘ethnic agitation’, under the section of ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity’ in the Finnish criminal code. A total of three criminal charges of ‘hate speech’ were brought against Räsänen in April 2021 by Finland’s Prosecutor General.

This is the government threatening prison and punishment for beliefs held by a large group of people. She could now be sentenced to two years in prison.

Does this disregard the fundamental right to freedom of speech?

Of course some people might be offended by Räsänen’s views and some may disagree with her choice of words. But is it about whether you agree or disagree with Räsänen’s statements? There are a great many viewpoints, opinions and beliefs held and expressed in the media, in literature and in human discourse that I find quite repulsive, offensive or some other negative reaction. But I vehemently defend the right of people to have and express those views in a free-society!

Is it not important that we have each a right to have our own opinions and to express them. If minority view points are offensive and punished, where are the safeguards against complete censorship and totalitarian control by powerful leadership?

Could any of us be confident that every sentence we have ever written, or recorded, was inoffensive to somebody? Is this censorship, or cancel-culture, something to be concerned about? Should we be silent or ‘politically correct’ for fear our truth may offend somebody, somewhere? Am I allowed to disagree with the government, or with popular opinion?

I include a short – 6 minute – explanation of the main points of the right to Freedom of Speech, made clearly by ADF, who say it more succinctly than I can.

five points made in 6 minutes about the importance of free-speech

I encourage you to defend the right to freedom of speech and freedom of belief and of religion. Please also pray for justice in our governments. Pray that we will all speak the truth in love.

Please feel free to disagree!

I include some links to other posts I have written on this subject: Speak Up The Sun Still Shines

Leaving Bethany

Book and Blog review of ‘Leaving Bethany’ by Susan Sutherland

I have always been curious about the relationships between Martha’s family in Bethany and Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Personally, reflecting on the gospel account of Martha buzzing around and fretting, whilst Mary sits at Jesus’ feet (having chosen the better way), I always identified more with Martha, and in my 20’s, I took the name of Martha as my confirmation name.

The home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, attracted Jesus and has always attracted me.

When I heard about this book by Susan Sutherland, it was one I had to buy and put at the top of my pile. And I have loved it!

The author, like all good historical fiction writers, takes all that is known from Biblical, cultural and historical documents and colours it in with life and credibility. It was exquisite to explore Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethany with Martha and to get to know Mary, Lazarus, Jesus and his followers, and even some of her neighbours. I loved the ordinary beauty and details of every day life, which brings depth and personality to the life behind the scenes of the gospel accounts.

It was especially wonderful to continue Martha’s journey, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to follow her and the other disciples as persecution forced the early Church to scatter and spread throughout the neighbouring lands.

Susan’s writing is moving and thoughtful and I found myself jotting down some beautiful and thought provoking imagery, painted with her words. Such as this, immediately after the death of Lazarus, when Martha said “A thousand sensations shattered the silence.”

No wonder Jesus wept.

I cried, I laughed; I became enraged and enamoured and like Martha, I did not want to leave Bethany.

I am delighted to learn that there is also a sequel coming, so I can find out what became of Martha, her family and the other followers of the way.

Thank you Susan for bringing these beloved characters – even Jesus – to life for me in a new way.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book……

The book can be bought from Yorkshire Publishing Direct–YPD02537.html

Or via the author’s website page –

Susan Sutherland also writes a fascinating blog in the form of ‘interviews’ between a ‘Roman journalist,’ Aemilia Metella, and female characters of the New Testament. This is a similar style of narrative non-fiction to ‘Leaving Bethany’ – where the bare-bones and spirit of all we know of factually and historically is fleshed out into a very plausible and probable narrative.

I include a link here to her latest ‘interview’ with Phoebe, who was a benefactor of Paul and delivered an important letter from Paul to the church in Rome.

Open Heaven for simple people – reblog

You must all know how much I’m leaning about prayer over the last 12 months and how amazed I am at how God hears our prayers and answers even mine!! Yes, me. He listens to me!

Dear Jennifer, at ‘Feeding on Jesus’ blog, has produced a short audio ‘devo’, as she calls it, on this subject that has captured my heart.

Please listen and be blessed with the truth in this message.

Thank you Holy Spirit for giving Jennifer this truth to share so beautifully with us.

Click on the link below and listen for 10 minutes.

Highlights from 2021 and gratitude for December.

What are your highlights from 2021?

As I considered my own, my thoughts went straight to my answered-prayer book, where, since February 2021, I have persisted in writing out prayer requests, following up on progress (in areas for which I’ve been praying) and then writing down my thanks for each answered prayer.

This was new to me.

Before I began this practice, I have to admit that I would often pray for pressing requests, for myself and for others, and then, when the urgency was gone, forget all about it!

Since keeping a log of specific requests, following up and saying thank You to God, my prayer life has been a delight! It really has become, as the old hymn says, ‘a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.’

My other highlights of 2021 have included several small holiday breaks in the UK, with family groups and friends – times to just cherish one another’s friendship.

Church family relationships have been another highlight, with growth, baptisms and new connections being formed, despite all the restrictions and the ever-changing territory.

In that new territory – a highlight has been the possibilities of zoom to keep us connected and to form friendships and connections over the airwaves. I’m so thankful for those possibilities and opportunities to connect across countries and continents, like never before.

My last highlight is God’s unfailing faithfulness and provision, this year as every year. I never cease to be amazed at how faithful God is in providing all that we need!

Some of you will know that on a monthly basis I publicly give thanks, here in my blog, for the prayers I know have been answered over the preceding month.

I now give thanks specifically for the answered prayers throughout December 2021:

For ‘A’ s baptism

For invitations to several wonderful celebration gatherings for Christmas and birthdays this month.

For material support and reassurance for ‘R’.

That ‘K’ and ‘M’ have been refreshed in their family and their income

That ‘J’ was released from hospital for Christmas and recovered

That ‘I’ was out of hospital for Christmas

That ‘S’ is ‘in remission’, could have the transplant, and was home for Christmas

That Mrs W recovered her serious illness and went home

That ‘S’ got new diagnosis and medication and has renewed hope

That everything at the Carol Concert was perfect and God was there

That ‘A’ had a successful first term in teaching

That my family were able to connect with scattered loved ones using technology and had many reunions online

Finally my thanks for all those answers to general prayers – for protection, inspiration, friendship, love, growth and ongoing blessings, that build incrementally, such that we only see in retrospect.

In addition I learned 2 important lessons.

1) About 2 weeks into December I was bemoaning the lack of entries in my answered prayer pages for the month. (As I admit it, I sound very cheeky and audacious!) As clear as spring water, I heard in my Spirit, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” I saw that my specific, intentional praying had lapsed a little, so I set to praying in earnest once again and with that came immediately a surge of joy!

2) After looking at highlights of the year gone, I prayerfully looked forward to my own hopes or visions for the year ahead. I also asked and wrote down the hopes and prayers of loved ones for 2022. And I sensed a weariness. Some prayer requests are ‘carried over’ from last year. Some have been carried over for many years! The words, ‘Though it tarry, wait for it’ came to me then. These words have become like an ear-worm in my spirit, to encourage me to persevere in prayer for the things laid on my heart to pray for. I don’t understand why sometimes we need to ask over and over for the same thing, but we do. It will surely happen, the Scripture says, if we tarry (linger, persevere, stay with it) and wait.


This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:3

though it tarry, wait for it.

Did you learn any valuable lessons you can share?

Epiphany: In Wonder I Kneel at the Stable

My Nativity tableau

I’ve had my Nativity tableau for 25 years now. (It has lost a few shepherds and candle-wax adorns a lamb or two!) I bring it out of its box on the first Sunday of Advent every year, and return it to its box after the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, when we remember the Magi coming to worship and offer their gifts to the baby born King of all the world.

As I knelt and reflected on all of this, I wrote the following poem:

In Wonder I Kneel at the Stable

To the shepherds and the cow shed

– Lord You came;

There is nothing that You wouldn’t do

– to take away our shame.

To the hopeless and the rich, or poor,

– You showed Your face,

So even those in filth and rags

– can receive Your Grace

I was messed up, poor and filthy

– but to me You came;

You loved every little bit of me

– and removed my shame.

You washed me in Your Holy blood

– and made me new and free

To be with You and You with me

– eternally!


In wonder I kneel

– at the stable,

– at the cross,

– and before Your heavenly throne


You came for the wise and wealthy too

To those far away

By a light You led them to the new-born King

A light to the gentiles

and to those gone astray.

I was far away, gone astray,

but to me you came.

I was wise, in my own eyes,

but you loved me all the same.


In wonder I kneel

– at the stable,

– at the cross,

– and before Your heavenly throne.


I worship You with a thankful, joyful heart,

for what You have done for me

– What I could never hope to do have done,

Which You knew when You created me.

And I kneel before You in the stable,

with the shepherds and with the wise men,

and worship You for Who You are

– Almighty, ever-loving, merciful Father.


In wonder I kneel

– at the stable,

– at the cross,

– and before Your heavenly throne.