Tag Archive: inspiration


i had this idea for a stream of consciousness kind of Spoken Word vibe but written down with no edits and so what i am going to do in a moment is ask Facebook for a word to get me started – i will pick the third word suggested, whatever it is, and then come back here, write down that word as the heading and then flow a written piece with whatever comes into my mind and try and catch the rhythm of a spoken word piece and publish whatever comes out. No pauses. No edits. You’ll have to take me at my word on that, but here goes with Writken Word, first attempt:


Consider this if you will, as you open up the refrigerator of your soul and realise that there right at the back somewhere far in the distance, in places that you cannot even see any more there is the smell of something slowly and softly making its way towards you. As you peer more deeply in you are suddenly hit in the face by a giant wave of pungent odour that knocks you down, leaving you bruised and breathless as you lie there pondering what just happened on the floor. Could that strong smell be emanating from me you ask yourself but before you can reply there is the sound of a reverberation that begins within and threatens to force out the very expansions of every tendency within you to want to make sense of what just happened. You decide to wait, knowing that waiting brings with it the anticipation of the opportunity to try and make some kind of sense, find some meaning stop the dreaming that this must be. This can’t be real but yet you start to see the congeal that is setting in around the edges of your mind and you start to know, this is real. This is happening, this is now. And you are powerless to stop it or even to contain and so you let out a refrain with every process in your brain scrambling to undo that which has already been done so long ago and cannot be stopped now. You stop. And wait. And think. And listen. And suddenly the smallest smile appears at the edge of your mouth as you realise that this is not a powerless state of being, this is simply the past and it is vast and it stretches seemingly infinitely out, but as you turn around you see that the space in front of you is empty and ready and waiting for you to act, to live, to breathe, to create, to do. And so so leaving what is past and what may have been a disaster and what is trying to drag you back with its stenchy smell you set out anew on a new journey which is undiscovered country waiting to be a road less walked upon but by you. This is not a story that has already been written and is waiting to be rewritten. This is a new opportunity to paint to climb to fly to breathe. To be. And so you will be. And you will NOT be held back by what has already been not matter how badly it smells to you. No, you are going to seek out new smells, create new fragrances, be new perfumes to those you encounter from here on out. You will not forget the past, but you will NOT be contained by it.

[Word supplied by Jamie Rogers Gibson randomly on Facebook]

To fully appreciate it, i think it might help to speak out the words or at least mouth them silently to yourself as everyone in your office is starting to stare…

[For the next one i did titled COWBELL,  click here]



So this is a little awkward… but i was never one to shy away from awkward…

Today while i was out in town i got an email which i checked on my phone and it was from my friend and Improv guru, Megan Furniss, and simply subjected, ‘a little thing i wrote’, and so i read it and it made me a little emotional sitting outside in Long street in the middle of Cape Town at a coffee shop called Lolas…

Shortly after, another short email came through which said this:

‘I hope you post it as one of the ‘people in SA who make me hopeful’ series. It is meant for public.’

And so [anyone knowing Megan Furniss will know the last line disclaimer to be completely 100% true] this is this week’s story of hope in South Africa:

‘There is this guy I know, Brett Fish Anderson, and he is one of these people that make my feelings complicated, in a good way. I disagree with him on the most fundamental of issues, because I am a proud and outspoken atheist and he is a loud(ish) Christian. I am diametrically opposed to religion of any shape or form and would be happy to wake up to a world without it, in the same way that Brett would love to have a raisin free world.

And yet, for the most part, or in fact, for all the other parts, I think that Brett and I share the world and our view of it, and the people in it. And Brett is one person who gives me hope in South Africa.

Here are a few reasons why.

Brett went to America and learned stuff. When he came back he kept asking the right, and important questions. And mostly they tackle the issue of race, and white privilege head-on. This is vital. Brett is clear about understanding, or at least trying to understand, poverty. This is vital. Brett doesn’t take being white personally, even though he is. There are very few people that I know of that can get over themselves enough to be honest, outspoken and truthful about white privilege. He picks at the scab, and has to be pretty strong about what comes out. Often it is the stinky, white pus. He is brave, and clear, and diligent and consistent here, and he gives me hope, and direction in this regard. I am a hothead and I get hysterical. Sometimes I need Brett’s more gentle and ironic voice (even though I pretty much hate every pun and silly spelling departure).

Brett is an improviser, and we improvise together. This means we share the improv (and life) philosophy of YES. This makes us those people. We see possibility. We see a story unfolding. We see characters come alive because of the positive. This is vital in South Africa.

Brett can rhyme. This is vital, because I love rhyming.

Brett has written a book called ‘i, church’. I might not read it because I have no interest in the subject matter. But I love Brett and his mind, and his way in the world, and in my South Africa.

Disclaimer: He did not pay, in cash or anything else, for these words.’

[And speaking of words, Megan is an excellent writer and improviser and her first novel, ‘Green Margie and the Starlight’ is now up on Amazon and you should totally buy it and read it and share it around cos it is that good – and nope, she definitely didn’t expect me to do that!]

[For another story of someone who gives hope, this time Jason Woolf and a way of revitalising SA culture, click here]

[For other South African stories of people giving us hope, click here]

Lachlan new 1

I’m a quadriplegic, not an inspiration

By Lachlan Nicholson

Fresh off of my twenty-fourth birthday and living with a condition known as spastic cerebral palsy, I consider most things in my life to be causes for joy and gratitude. After all, I have a full-time job, several good friends and though severe, my disability is not in any way degenerative.

However, one thing which has become a major annoyance, particularly since entering adulthood is constantly being labelled “courageous” or “inspirational”. Considering that I’ve been disabled from birth (brain-damage due to complications during labour), you might think I’d be used to it by now. The fact is that I’m not. You see, calling someone courageous tends to imply that they had a choice in their situation, like a fireman running into a burning building or a police officer taking a bullet to save a civilian.

Well, I hate to break it to you (no, not really) but had I actually been given the choice, I doubt very much that I would willingly have confined myself to a wheelchair for my entire sojourn on this little blue planet.

As for being an inspiration, people who say this to the disabled – usually with a quiver of sentimental reverence in their voices – are undeniably well-meaning, but none of them seem to realise the pressure such a statement carries.

If I were to attempt to live up to this classification, I would be unable to admit that there are days when I’m painfully reminded of my limitations and trust me, at times like those, my attitude is anything but “inspirational”.

This may seem stupidly obvious, but the most important thing to remember about people with disabilities is that even though some of us may look like human-vehicle hybrids, we are human and our personalities comprise far more than the challenges we face.

As a simple example, think about the following scenario; you head to a restaurant one night to enjoy a meal with some friends. Among those gathered is the new girlfriend of one of your mates. This is your first time meeting her; she’s smart, bubbly and attractive, except for a large, unsightly mole on her cheek. Now, unless you’re a complete social cave-dweller, it’s highly unlikely that the first words from your mouth would be, “Hey, nice to meet you. I’m really sorry about that awful thing on your face.”

So, what’s the point of this little rant? I guess it is my humble effort to remind anyone who happens to read it that disabled people are ordinary folks just trying to get by like our bipedal counterparts, perhaps just a little more slowly.

[To meet Uel Maree who had an unfortunate diving accident, click here]

[To return to the start of this series, click here]

This has been one of my favorite verses amongst favorite verses for the longest time.

It comes from my favorite psalm, psalm 34, which I enjoy so much cos almost every single verse is really great and powerful (seriously, just go and read the whole thing if you don’t know it!).

But verse 34 is a very special one: The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Now, I don’t know about you, but for me those two descriptions seem to speak into the lowest of the low places a human can fall to:

Having your heart broken.

Having your spirit crushed.

I’m not sure it gets any worse than that?

If you have ever really loved someone and they loved you back for a time, and then something happened, and they stopped returning your love, but yours continued to burn at the same, or even greater intensity, then you will likely understand what I am talking about. Your heart did not literally break, but it might as well have, because the intensity of the pain and brokenness you felt, and maybe even still feel, sure made it feel that way.

In a similar way, if you really felt strong love for someone for a long period of time, and it was never reciprocated, then you will likely have some understanding of what the psalmist is referring to. Especially the moment when you heard that person had decided to give their love to someone else.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.

And what about having your spirit crushed? My mind immediately goes to someone who has been tortured or in prison for a very long time. Where through extreme pain, or possibly extended isolation, your spirit, your life and passion and emotional energy and very will to live, is very slowly and methodically stripped down, piece by piece, until there is really not much left at all.

But most of us will not go through a spirit-crushing that extreme I imagine. For many people the crushing of a spirit can happen gradually over time, as dreams remain unrealised or expectations are dashed; as relationships are seen to break down or perhaps seem like they are beyond repair; as one or both parents remain out of work and are getting beaten down by unsuccessful job application after application; and more…

The Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The message of this psalm, and specially this particular verse, is that God is bigGER. And maybe more importantly, God is there. The message of the bible is seldom that God will take away the crap or hardship in your life, but that He will Presence Himself in it, that He will come alongside you, that He will not let you fall and abandon you. God is there! When your heart is breaking. He knows and He loves you and wants you to find your refugee in Him. When your spirit has increasing pressure weighing down upon it, Good is right there, within arm’s reach and He invites you to crawl into Him.

God knows and is there and He loves you and He is mighty to save.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; and save those who are crushed in spirit.

[For my next favourite verse, click here]

[For the growing list of all my favourite verses, click here]

It feels almost like a daily thing now where I am tweeting or facebook-sharing or blogging about some latest idea of immense creativity [and often remarkable simplicity] that has blown my mind yet again and caused me to direct the question to the church [of who i am a proud member – well, to the body of active Jesus-followers for sure, the greater collective of people-who-call-themselves-christian-but-live-lives-that-completely-don’t-reflect-it i am a lot more nervous to associate myself with] and also to the world of when are we going to catch up?

this morning it was 14 year old Zev from Natick, Massachusetts, who is responsible for these incredible creations:

self-portrait by Zev, shared from article on demilked.com

self-portrait by Zev, shared from article on demilked.com


Last week is was the Coca Cola company and this creative piece of engineering, viral marketing and political and human unification:

And last night it was this revolutionary new clothing fabric that you can spray on a person from a can and watch it turn into a t-shirt:

Which is all very good and well for art and product placement advertising and fashion design…

But more and more as I see inspirational creative designs, ideas and programs that different people are doing around the world my eyes go to the church [we do claim to follow the God who breathed the Universe into existence in a single breath or word] and have to ask, when are we going to get more creative with our creativity? 

We serve the God who is able to do “Immeasurably more than all we can hope or imagine” [Ephesians 3.20] and yet too often we seem to be content with hoping and imagining for really small things [like a bunch of people to come and meet in a building week after week]. Now don’t get me wrong – very often Christ-following people have been on the forefront of radically creative inventions and innovations in fields like healthcare and home-building and water purification and so many other areas and so it has happened and is happening… but this call goes out to the rest of us, and especially those who have identified exceptional talents in themselves of writing and photographing and creating and bringing together and so on, to perhaps consider using our talents in the direction of things like poverty and homelessness and trafficking and racial segregation and war…

One such idea involved a really broken woman who ran as a means of finding some sense and sanity in the middle of a really messed up life, until something beautiful was birthed out of that…

And I’m not saying you have to be a Jesus-follower to do this and so this call extends to the whole world of course, but with our claims to be connected to the greatest source of creativity the world has ever known we should at the very least be there…

The creativity is in here… how about we get it out there..?

instead i got to hang out with my buddy Uel Maree for about an hour, catching him up on my story for the last two years and getting to hear some of his.

Uel Maree

Just over a year ago now, Uel Maree, helping out a girls group on an adventure camp, dived into a river in a spot he knew well as one where they launched canoes regularly, but this time something was different. He has dived hands first, but whether it was a rock or a sand bar, something pushed his hands to the side and he took a direct impact to the head. Paralysed from the neck down and lying face down in the water, not able to do anything about it [but fortunately having taken a big breath] he told me he was filled with incredible peace as his friend who was a life guard was 20m away and would soon see what was wrong and come running. He did, and Uel was carefully taken out of the water and later helicoptered to the hospital where he was given a rather negative prognosis that there was like a 1% chance he would not be completely paralysed from the neck down. Uel and his family chose to think differently and with a huge network of support, much prayer and a fair number of miracles along the way, has physically come to a point far exceeding anything the doctors could imagine… and continues to push through for small breakthrough after small breakthrough.

i guess i was a little nervous arriving at the house and being ushered in by his dad [who first pretended i had arrived at the wrong house to really ease my nerves] as i didn’t really know how the visit was going to go. i had camped as a leader with Uel a couple of years before, but only really knew him through the facebook group that was set up after the accident and so had followed updates there and seen some of the progress and been so hugely encouraged by the amazing network and community that exists there. i had witnessed how the group and Uel had been an encouragement to so many other people besides Uel and a place where people and faith and needs had met up regularly.

so in some ways, i was anticipating hanging out with a crippled guy in a bed or maybe a wheelchair. but as i turned the corner, from the moment of laying eyes on Uel, what i encountered was life to the full. Uel was completely animated and positive and full of humour and just so much life, it really was such a joyful encounter. He started off all interested in my journey and what Val and i have been up to and it was a while before i was able to jump in and direct the conversation to him and his journey and some of what he had gone through.

and it was just completely encouraging and uplifting. having spent just an hour or so with Uel i walked away thinking that i know more crippled people than Uel who have full use of their bodies. i got to ask about the bad days and the times of frustration as well and there certainly are those, but for the most part it feels like Uel, faced with a potentially life-ending scenario, absolutely just chose to make the best out of every part of it and has stubbornly refused to accept any restrictions places upon his body by doctors and specialists as to how far he can go to recover.

what impressed me was how he spoke about God and how it took something like this to happen for him to really understand having a need for God and needing to rely on God and so his faith has increased immensely. a lot of people in a situation like this would no doubt end up feeling sorry for themselves, whereas Uel is going to be co-leading the home group that meets at his house every second week, he is working on pushing his wheelchair around [with specially enhanced door stopped bits added around the edges so he can grab hold of the wheels] and he is a machine on his iPad keeping up with his facebook group and the latest news and happenings.

what a legendary time and what an example of the ‘life to the full’ we are called to in Jesus. thank-you Uel Maree for fitting me into your busy schedule and for showing me a vibrant faith and attitude for really embracing life.

[If you want to read the piece Uel wrote on Sharing Dreams, click here]

[For Uel’s piece on Living with Disability where he shares some more of his story, click here]

stumbled upon these video clips of spoken word from a guy called David Bowden which i thort were too powerful not to share…

this is the first one…

and this second one on scripture i think is even more powerful

Take ten minutes and enjoy and be inspired and challenged.

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