I’ve been talking about you

In my work I regularly meet with people such as church pastors over coffee or a meal. We talk about a range of matters but one of the topics that seems to come up again and again is family. My wife and my children are incredibly important to me so it should be no surprise that they are always in my thoughts and conversations.

Recently I was chatting to a pastor and once again our conversation turned to our families. We both shared stories of how incredible our respective children are, how quickly they’ve grown up and how proud we are of them.

That conversation about our children reminded me of a time long, long ago.

My dad worked on a ship travelling up and down the Western Australian coast. He was away from home a lot.

I still remember, one day when I was quite young, visiting the ship dad was working on when it was docked in Fremantle. I’m the youngest of five siblings and for whatever reason, on this day I was there with my eldest two brothers.

A man who also worked on the ship walked past and a conversation began. Once he was told we were ‘Tom’s kids’ he said something to the effect of, “You must be … “ and then mentioned our names. “Your dad talks about you all the time.” He gave us the impression that our dad was very proud of his children.

Wow! That was a revelation. Dad talked about us.

I would never have thought that when he was away from our family for weeks at a time that one of his popular topics of conversation would have been his children.

I don’t know why I found it so surprising but I did. It meant that I might just matter to dad.

All of that got me thinking.

Do my children know that I talk about them, endlessly?

Does James know that earlier this week while talking to a group of people about him someone mentioned how I immediately puffed out my chest with pride? They caught a glimpse of how much I love James in my facial expressions and body language as well as the words I was using.

Would Emily ever think that I often talk about how incredibly talented she is and that I’m so proud of her? Would she know that the picture I paint in others’ minds of her is of an incredible young woman who I love so very much, because that’s exactly how I see her?

Do both Emily and James know that even though I’ve had some amazing highlights in my life, they top them all? Do they know that even in the busyness of my life and work they are never far from my mind and my conversations?

Emily and James, you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you …. your dad talks about you …. all the time.

If you’re a parent, do your children know that you talk about them to others?

Do they know that when you’re away from them and you can choose to talk about anything in the world, you talk about them? Do they know that you’re always on your mind and in your heart? Maybe it’s worth telling them today.



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Life Happens

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
– John Lennon

For some reason, I started thinking about that line from John Lennon’s song Beautiful Boy recently.

Life is what happens to you? Really? Are we passive players in the whole process of life?

There are things that happen in life where we have no control but there are many more times that we are given the privilege of choice. It’s at those times we need to learn how to choose well.

I’ve met many people in developing countries who don’t have the luxury of choice. They don’t have options. That’s a big part of poverty. That makes me appreciate the opportunities I have for choices in life all the more.

Choosing to choose.

Sometimes we simply need to choose to choose. We need to choose to decide on the options in front of us knowing that if we choose not to choose, there are many other people ready to step in and make decisions for us … and their decisions probably won’t be for our benefit.

Choosing isn’t always comfortable.

On Monday morning my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m.

It was a public holiday. Outside it was dark, wet and so very cold. In my bed, it was warm, dry and oh so lovely.

I had to choose to take hold of the day rather than letting life happen to me.

I got out of bed. I tried to move around quietly so that I didn’t wake my wife. Our cats thought I was mad. They were probably right.

I put on my cycling gear, including my rain jacket, and headed out the door to ride.

The rain bucketed down. I rode. I met with some other cyclist. We rode together.

There’s something about being drenched to the skin, covered in sand and pushing hard against headwinds that lets you know you’re alive.

Sometimes choosing to stay in bed and catch up on rest is the choice we need to make. When the weather gets too wild it’s dangerous to be out there on a bike and so the choice to stay home makes more sense.

But sometimes we need to choose to take the hard way. Sometimes we need to step out of what’s comfortable into what we know we should be doing.

I have a six-day ride coming up in a few weeks and I need to be trained and ready. I need to choose to do what it takes to be fit enough to tackle a week on the road.

This time next year I’ll be halfway between Perth and Newcastle on a four and a half week cycling journey across Australia. I’ll have to choose the hard road many times in the months leading up to that adventure.

Refusing to make choices is a choice in itself.

If I don’t choose to train, I won’t be ready to achieve what I want to achieve. If I don’t choose to watch what I eat and take other steps to get fitter, I won’t be able to ride into Newcastle next year knowing that I’ve conquered the challenge.

Sometimes our choices are between comfort or challenge. Sometimes we choose between good and bad and at other times we choose between better or best.

Do we want to live passively or proactively?

Every day we need to make choices. Those choices let us know that we’re truly alive.

You can make a choice right now.

You can choose to let life happen to you while you’re busy making other plans …. or you can choose to decide what paths you take.

I pray that you’ll choose to choose.

What choices do you need to take today?



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This Time Next Year

Are you old enough to remember what you were doing 30 years ago?

1987 was the year Michael Jackson released his hit album, Bad. It was also the year Microsoft released Windows 2.0. And in 1987, The Simpsons cartoon first appeared as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.

On this day 30 years ago I was in the middle of Australia. I was cycling from Perth to Canberra. It was the first of my five crossings by bike.

So far, I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, thirties, and forties.

This Time Next Year

On this day next year, the 15th of September 2018, I’ll start pedaling from Perth, Western Australia towards Newcastle, New South Wales. Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will be my first attempt at cycling across Australia in my fifties. I’ll be riding with around 30 other riders for a common cause.

We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Tuesday the 16th of October, having cycled around 4300 km. There’ll be 28 riding days and 4 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be 150 km. Our longest day will be just under 200 km.

If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.

You can sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

The other way you can support my ride is by making a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

Registrations for the ride close soon but if you’re interested in joining me on a bike or as part of the support team, head to the Ride for Compassion website.

I need to get fit. Really fit.

I used to keep a moderate level of fitness by cycling to and from work each day but my job hasn’t really allowed me to do that for the last three and a half years. Over the next twelve months, I need to get myself into better shape than I have ever been. I’m going to have to be strategic and focused if I’m to drop a bunch of kilograms and put plenty of kilometres into my legs. I’ll need to be able to ride around a thousand kilometres a week for just over four weeks.

Taking part in the ride will take a huge effort.

But every effort I make to be part of the ride will be worth it because some things are unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty. Next year I’ll put my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.



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The New Temptation

Did you wake up today feeling like you’re missing out on something? Are you tempted to book your place in the queue for the revolutionary iPhone X?

I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The latest iPhones have been launched and once again they offer newer, better, must have features. So we now have the iPhone X, available from the first week of November, as well as the iPhone 8 and 8+ which will start selling before the end of this month. If you believe the hype, the new versions almost render the previous versions obsolete.

Apple has rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has described as, “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

The new iPhone features include wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. – ABC

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest.

Each upgrade or redesign is calculated to make us feel that the device in our hand is no longer worthy of our complete adoration. It’s time to move on to the next big thing and the next big thing is a shinier version of the last with features you didn’t know you needed until it was pointed out that you don’t have them.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. Just in case you think I’m just pointing the finger at others, I’m on the treadmill too. I don’t have the very latest of every ‘gadget’ but my eye is caught by the non-stop advancements in technology and a lot of the technology I own comes from the Apple factory.

I love music so I use my iPod Classic every day. I won an iPhone 6+ some years back and it’s excellent for both work and personal usage. (My phone battery died recently and I did the unthinkable. I paid to replace the battery rather than upgrading the phone.) I also regularly use my iPad at home and for work.

Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed packaging.

My ‘old’ iPad, iPod and iPhone don’t cease to be functional when each new generation is released. They’re all several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, they still do what I need them to do.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions.

We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away. The strange thing is that when the next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version. Strangely enough, we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

So whether it’s the latest car, fashion, technology or anything else, make sure you know what you’re buying. Purchase what you need but don’t buy the hollow promises and distractions that inevitably come packaged with them.

We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.



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Unlocking Potential

When he was just eight years of age his father was murdered in front of his mother. That moment forced Richmond, his mother and his five siblings out of their home and into one of the world’s largest slums. Life had changed in an instant.

I recently had the honour of spending some time with Richmond Wandera during his short visit to Perth. His life was changed by a tragic event. His life was changed again when he was sponsored through Compassion.

During the many years I worked in radio I had the opportunity to meet a lot of inspirational people. I don’t think any of them were more inspirational than Richmond. His is a powerful story teller and he has a very powerful story to tell. He has suffered malaria more than ten times, experienced extreme poverty, scavenged for food and seen things a child should never have to see.

Life now is very different. Richmond is a pastor and the founder of the Pastors’ Discipleship Network in four African countries.

The amazing thing is that while Richmond always carried that potential if it were not for the decision made by a fifteen-year-old girl to sponsor him, his life would look very different today.

Watch this video and hear Richmond tell some of his own story.

There are hundreds of thousands of children around the world who need someone to step up and help release their potential. You can be the person who brings change and hope to the life of a child. Please sponsor a child today through Compassion.



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