Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith



I need help

When I was 13 years old my mum and dad separated, leaving my sister and I living with my mum in a tiny apartment. Each Friday I negotiated between mum and dad a weekly support sum given by dad to mum to help raise us. I hated it.

I clearly remember sitting with mum on one side of Epping train station in Sydney while dad sat on the other.  I would walk across the footbridge between them, back and forwards, communicating the terms of how much money mum would get for the week ahead.

At the age of 13, it seemed like dad was only providing for us, not out of love, but because of an unwilling obligation forced on him by mum. And I was mad at my mum that she couldn’t speak for herself and put me in the middle of them.

It’s only after decades have passed that I can see that I had drawn childish conclusions about both my mum and dad at that time. Those conclusions influenced reactions in my life, not only a fear during the early years of my marriage that Lenore would leave me suddenly, but also a difficulty in accepting help from others.

I grew up struggling to believe that when people did help it was out of love, not obligation.

I wonder what childish conclusions you may be living with to this day?

Today as a 55 year old who needs to rely more and more on the help of others, I now realise it was unfair of me to assume ill motives on others. There are people who are neither unwilling or under obligation that want to help and do help. I was the one with the issue.

Maybe like me, you need to acknowledge your own false conclusions.

What I now know is that my dad did love me and my mum was not using me. They had stuff going on in their lives that had nothing to do with me. My dad’s tough negotiating, for example, had more to do with his need for money to feed his addictions and pay his bills, not to mention his anger over mum leaving.

What about you? What childish conclusions about life and relationships are you living with?

Have false conclusions in your life stemmed from disappointments, from past experiences, or just incorrectly processing information?

Are you like me, reacting or responding to people and their actions from a dysfunctional mindset built upon false understandings and conclusions that have framed the way you now think?

You see, not only as adults do we need to put aside childish behaviours, but it may also be time to put away seeing life how a child sees life – recognising, there may be more to every story.

There is so much potential for our lives as we mature, not only in age, but in actions, and in how we perceive the world. I leave you with this verse today, 1 Corinthians 13:11:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”


P.S. If you want to help me end MND / ALS, visit

Help, I need somebody!

Lifou, New Caledonia.  March, 2014.
Lifou, New Caledonia. March, 2014.

Help, I need somebody, Help, not just anybody.”  They are great lyrics from the well-known Beatles song, Help.   They became a reality for me last week.

The picture above was taken after conquering a hike through thick rainforest to swim in a freshwater cave.  I was glad I had taken my walking stick, but even happier that my two son-in-laws and nephew were there to help me on this adventure.

I realised I would not have been able to traverse down or up the steep inclines without their help.  Without them I would have missed so much and never would have experienced swimming in an underground cave, taking a leap of faith and jumping into the black swimming hole.

With my legs and arms weakening from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (read more via the “About MND/ALS” tab at,  I have come to rely more and more upon the help of others.  This experience has highlighted that all of us need the help and togetherness of others to achieve things we could never achieve on our own.

As a leader of a Church, pre-MND days, I had no hesitation in asking for help and working together with others to achieve goals and vision that were for the benefit of others.  However, asking for help for myself was, and is, a different matter.  I have always found it easier to give than to receive.  How about you?

I have realised that not being able to receive help is not only a bad character trait but is also indicative of a very limiting and dangerous attitude: pride.  Living a life trying to cope all on your own, “She’ll be right mate”, or “I’m OK”, suggests that I don’t need your help or anyone’s help.  I have come to realise, I do and we all do.

None of us can achieve anything big, courageous or challenging without the help of others.  Confident and courageous people need help and need the togetherness of others to experience life to the max.

One thing I noticed, when those three strong young men took a slower trip down and a very slow trip back up from the cave, is that even though I was a physical burden to them, they found pleasure in helping me achieve what I could never have achieved on my own.  In other words, not only do people want to help you, but they are also encouraged by the process of helping.

All the way up the track, I had to pull myself up by holding onto a strap secured to a Shannon’s back while Kaiden pushed me up from behind (literally pushing on my behind).  This left Josh carrying two heavy bags up the incline.  All the while I had a cheer squad in Glenda, Rachel, Chloe, Belinda, Rebecca and Jessica encouraging me on.

I could have said, “Don’t bother with me, I will just wait here at the top until you return.”  However, I would never have the memory and all those who helped would never have had the joy of helping someone do something they could never have done on their own.

The Bible says, in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “By yourself you’re unprotected.  With a friend you can face the worst.  Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”  Maybe today you could lend a helping hand, or maybe you could ask for one.

We all need somebody.


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