Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith



It’s never too late

This week my Mum was promoted to heaven.

She was 95 years old and until her final days was active and healthy.  In fact, her last week saw her attend the Lifeline Brass Blokes Awards night (pictured above) as well as her great grandson being dedicated at Church.

If I had to narrow it down to what I am most thankful to my Mum for, it would be her lasting eternal legacy.  Let me explain.

She made some brave decisions at age 54.  After separating from my Dad, I remember how hard Mum would work to find cleaning jobs at night while offices were closed and even got her driver’s license, something she was proud of her entire life.

Not only that, but that was when she started a relationship with Jesus and became a Christian. This new life gave her hope, strength and joy.

I can remember Mum sitting for hours with her Bible, a notebook and studying with the help of audio teaching tapes and various resources.

Raising a teenage boy without his Dad in the picture, Mum knew I needed to have healthy male role models and she started taking me to Full Gospel Business Men’s breakfasts, prayer meetings and Church services.

It was at those meetings Mum introduced me to Christian men who were successful in their careers, had healthy relationships with their family and were not addicted to life controlling habits.

As a single Mum, she was laying the foundation for my future and it is because of her selflessness and courage, her commitment to Jesus, and even her ability to reach out and find help in her time of need, that I am who I am today.

If Mum had not been the brave person she was, I would not have met my wife Lenore at Church or raised my two beautiful girls in a healthy family environment.

Yes, my Mums’ legacy is having generational impact.

When I look back and realise that my Mum was my age and older when I was in my teenage years, I’m amazed at her energy, stamina and zest for life.  Right up until her last week, her life was full of blessing.

Mum made me who I am today because of the choices she made to raise me in the right environment.  She courageously turned my life around for the better.

What we can all learn from my Mum’s life:

It’s never too late to make a change for the better;
We need to do what we can and leave what we can’t to God;
Jesus never leaves us;
We need the help of others and we need to be a help to others;
God’s Word is life changing;
To live today with as much enthusiasm and energy as we have and get up tomorrow and do it all again; and
The last half can be the best half.

Thank you Mum, until we meet again.


When pain goes unseen

My grandson Lucas is now six months old.  Lucas is one of the happiest little babies I know.  He hardly ever cries and his smile is constant and infectious.  However, lately Lucas has been crying more and his mum tells me it’s from his teeth forming under the gums.  It’s not the pain from the teeth breaking through the skin but an unseen pain under the surface.

It made me think about the people we do life with who have learned not to cry but still carry unseen pain either physically or emotionally. On the surface they look good, they look together, but there is an unravelling on the inside, a deep pain that is real and relentless that others do not see.

Living with Motor Neurone Disease, and having many friends with disease, I have experienced this first hand.   It can be a physical pain but also the pain of experiencing your body shutting down, symptoms either quickly or slowly worsening, and the pain of adjusting to a new version of the future.

Neal and Janine are friends living this journey.  When Neal was diagnosed with MND less than two years ago, he was a strong miner.  However Neal can no longer walk without assistance, eat food or speak with clarity.   Janine, his wife, told me how frustrating it was in the early stages of the disease when even some of the medical profession didn’t take Neal’s disease seriously because of appearance.

I wonder if it’s true and there are people in our world living with unseen pain every single day, do we allow their appearance to distract us from our response?   My personal conviction is that however messy or painful someone’s story may be, I will give them the chance to honestly share it.

I will be ready to listen, understand and offer comfort.

Once I knew Lucas, my grandson, was in pain, it immediately changed my countenance towards him.  I had compassion.   Some people I speak to with MND are physically exhausted before they have finished dressing for the day.  These are courageous men and women who go out and face the day regardless.

The compassionate person acknowledges the courage, strength and energy it takes someone in pain to look somewhat pain-free on the outside.

I consider myself blessed to have some very close friends and family who have looked past my appearance and asked, “How are you going?” They don’t answer before I can finish.  They give me space to be honest, they inspire me with faith, they are fearless and I thank them.

If you know someone who is in a tough situation, a trial of sorts, I encourage us all to have the courage to ask how they are and then take the time to listen to their response. Learn to see with your ears.

Looks may not be the whole story.


Every six minutes

A little distracted  (Photo taken on a family trip in Istanbul, Turkey last year)
A little distracted
(Photo taken on a family trip in Istanbul, Turkey last year)

If you are what’s considered an average smartphone user then you check your phone 150 times per day. That’s every six and a half minutes.

We are wired, habitually and socially, to connect with others from all over the world at any moment in time through media forums like facebook, blogs and email. In fact, right now I am speaking to you through one of those.

I just wonder if this type of conversation, now normal, inhibits us connecting with others beyond surface level and with God in a deep way. Perhaps, we have discovered how to be partly tuned into everyone while becoming less connected or tuned into anyone.

We have all become experts in the act of multi-tasking, that is, doing lots of things at once, but how good are we at “uni-tasking”, doing one thing at once?

How do you go focussing on one thing or one person and keeping out all the other noise?

A good way to gauge this is to think of whether you allow your phone at the table when you sit down to a meal or if you allow alerts to interrupt quality time with family and friends. Maybe it’s time you put measures in place to try some uni-tasking.

While there’s no doubt that conversations with one another are important to connect us relationally, the way we converse with God is perhaps the most important conversation of them all. I know it is in my life.

My conversations with God are allowed to be raw and real as I expose my heart and feelings with Him. To talk with Him is to acknowledge His presence and power whilst revealing my need for Him and ultimately my trust in Him. It’s simply prayer.

If you’re not sure how to pray today, Jesus shows us one way to have a conversation with our Creator recorded in Matthew 6: 9-13 as “The Lord’s Prayer”. This prayer gives us a blueprint for one type of conversation we can have with God but it is not the only kind. The important thing is that you are communicating with God.

Prayer inspires my very real, present day, dependence on God’s grace. I depend on God for strength to rise above daily challenges, confrontations and tragedies.

I have found that I never leave these conversations without hope. If I invite Him to, somehow, God communicates to my spirit and soul things that encourage and strengthen me. It’s personal. It’s tangible.

If you’re a busy parent then don’t fret, you can talk to God while feeding or washing kids. A business person can talk to God in the middle of a board meeting or travelling to and from work. I have even spoken to God when signing important documents or while doctors are inflicting painful tests on my body.

Conversations with God can take place at anytime and anywhere.

I encourage you, in light of the number of conversations and frequency of conversations we are all engaged in, let’s not neglect the most important conversation of all.


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