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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting Through Difficulty the RIGHT Way

Many people we can safely call “resilient,” but not all of these persevere through their difficulties the right way.

Not all people care for themselves appropriately.

When pressure mounts there’s a whole raft of responses; many are those that turn their anger in on themselves in unhealthy ways... this isn’t the right sort of resilience; we can’t welcome it.

Not all people care for others when things get tough. Some steamroll the mass, or the unassuming person in the way, to get where they need to go. Anyone can be flippant in their approach to life, shrugging their shoulders as they laughingly thumb their noses without a care for the consequences of their behaviour on others. This isn’t the sort of resilience that’s becoming.

Not all people care for their wider environment, or for God, as issues climb above the sensible. And life’s untenable so often.

So, what’s the right way to get through difficulty?

Holding All the Important Balls in the Air Simultaneously

The key skill in life is handling difficulty with resilient aplomb.

That is, to be able to caringly despatch the right amounts of certitude whilst dealing with difficult situations, all to achieve good outcomes.

It’s hard to achieve all this—the treatment of issues and the right way of dealing with them. But it just won’t do to ‘handle’ the difficult issues without care. If we did that we’d create even more issues—we’d just shift the problem.

Instead, we’re to achieve both the handling of the issue, though skilfully, through the exercise of discretion and foresight for induced risk.

In other words, it’s best that we keep all the balls in the air simultaneously—the visible issue-related balls, as well as the see-through balls of appropriate care; those discerned fittingly for the occasion. We cannot ignore our duty to care and expect things to land well.

Our goal is to handle all our issues sensitively; appropriately. That’s the right way.

Wisdom is the perception, acquisition, and delivery of the right way. Folly is the short cut ignorant of needs.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Attractions Lead to Affairs

Lewd acts of unfaithfulness—affairs bring out the worst in our humanity. Reeking of perfidious secrecy, those party to the betrayal are in awe of the excitingly evil power they wield—some are thrilled by it, whilst others are shocked scared of it, though enticed all the same.

But what is not seen, or attended to, is the foresight of what’s coming when the news of the affair breaks.

For many people, however, their attractions never reach any level near that of an affair, but the potential is always there.

Affairs happen, as do the thoughts that get people to making their forlorn decisions—assuming here that affairs are foolish and full of inherent danger. Nobody ever wins out of an affair situation, not on the relational level or moral count.

The science of the affair can be understood as a process: made possible with attraction, commencing and developing with interest, and consummated by intentioned decisions to go that way. Sin is a process—from initial fleeting deceit, to more obvious signs where foolish justifications are made against the directions of truth that should otherwise prevail upon a sensible mind.

Affairs Are Made Possible with Attraction

These days it’s easy to see social-networking affairs happening. People might be half a world away, yet the attraction is generated, some communication is noted as interesting, glances are swapped, and given an ongoing mutual interest, who knows where from there.

More locally, the showing of interest to people who have something missing in their lives—those who are therefore looking—is likely to ‘hook’ interest.

If we don’t want to engage in an affair we should show no interest.

Affairs Commence and Develop with Interest

Showing an interest in something or someone is a deliberate act—one we decide for. No one tricks us into this.

An affair situation cannot develop if the attraction is left where it is—acknowledged, owned up to, and left behind. Equally it’s a decision, or a series of them, aligned with a morality adhering to truth. That is, to disembark from the forlorn vehicle.

But at some point one decision is made to act on a fanciful idea. Perhaps it’s seen as an exciting risk; one full of potential new and wonderful experiences to be had. If we’d go that way, interest is now the way to it.

Seduction commences first in the mind, well before the bedroom.

What has to be set in process is the detonation—as in a bomb—of a pattern of decisions; one decision propagating those flowing from it—one made in order to go all the way there.

Affairs are Consummated by Intentioned Decisions

Nobody ‘finds’ themselves in bed with someone other than their life partner by accident. It’s a series of decisions—a pattern of immoral allure—that got the person there. They’re maybe torn by many different flickers of emotion which only confuses their situation.

Emotions feature against sensible thought at this point.

From initial attraction to sin-made-real-and-undoable is a succession of informed choices. Where the information comes from, however, is in no dispute. Truth doesn’t take us there; only a lie—the wrong information—does. The mind is seduced to the wrong information; a fairytale—one never ending well.


It’s easy to be attracted to someone else other than our life partner.

The world is full of beautiful and charming people. But tarrying interest that catches up upon the attraction, and denials of attraction, are our danger signs... now to flee.

Wisdom is not getting anywhere near the interest-showing stage.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Steve Baccon photo, courtesy of smh.com.au.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Coping with Guilt After Irredeemable Loss

Let’s face it, most loss is irredeemable. That’s the fact that makes it impossible to reconcile in the shorter term—that we can’t do anything to ‘fix’ this now. We cannot go back to undo or redo what was done.

What we have to understand, however, is this is a normal human condition.

It’s both normal to not reach our potential, making mistakes and occasionally upsetting people, and to want to repair things post-loss. To be left hanging and not able to do what we’d love to have the chance to do can be torture.

The Goal of Adjusting to Loss AND Guilt – Acceptance

Even though the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle ends in acceptance—the person experiencing loss finally accepting life has changed—it’s not a straightforward linear process getting there.

There are shards of anger, denial, bargaining intermingled with splinters of stability, promise and testing as the process of adjustment turns cyclic—without predictability as to what’s coming next.

But acceptance is finally reached—and never before time. We can actually become prone to thinking we’ve reached acceptance when it’s a mirage of same, particularly if we’re expecting to be at acceptance stage.

For guilt it’s the same, provided we have a logical premise to begin with: that is, guilt is not what we should be feeling, despite its presence.

Here we’re simply applying the Grief Cycle to the guilt we might feel—that is to understand a logical starting point is necessary, and then allow the mind to slowly come to accept this logic.

But sometimes we can struggle to attain an image of logic to fix onto.

Whatever Was Done Was Done With the Best We Had At the Time

Getting to a conscionable place in terms of dealing with guilty feelings is our first and biggest challenge.

This is where counsellors help. They get you to share your story and then they apply a logical outsider’s perspective on what they’ve learned of your story.

To an outsider, we’re never as ‘guilty’ as we think we are. Our hearts, morphed by God in love, cannot help feeling guilty, for we could’ve done better. We can all do better. Not one day goes past when any of us gets life perfect. Mistakes happen, and so does sin. Perfection is a tool the enemy uses against us.

We don’t always operate with full faculties, be it tiredness, irritability from pressure, hormonal fluctuations, adjustment to change, or simply the baggage we carry through life.

We’re predisposed to thinking badly on occasions and this ripples into the lives of others.

Accepting we did what we did with what we had at the time is the maturity of acceptance, the disposition of humility. It’s a blessed place that everyone can inhabit.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The ‘How’ of Forgiveness

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

~1 John 3:14 (NIV, 2010).

The ‘Why’ of Forgiveness motivates the how; it shifts our thought onto making it work for us because there’s a purpose to the action. Whenever we want to know how to do something, the reasons why will point our way there. Simple intuition will provide the intent to search.

But the ‘how’ is also about process. There must be some understanding of the steps to be taken. The following are some considerations:

Take Note of the Enticing Effect of Offense

Defusing resentment is an obvious key allowing the floodgates of mercy and grace to release and wash us with compassion, opening up within us the forgiveness we’re extending to the perpetrator or the transgressions in question.

Just knowing the nature of offense is good. It’s an enticing thing, to become offended by something someone does.

This knowledge is power. It helps us to go back to the events in question and understand where and how the conflict started. Despite what they did, there is never as much malice intended as we thought there was.

When we now consider the important ‘why’ of forgiveness (from the linked article above) with the theory of hurt that creates conflict lacking motive for forgiveness, we can begin to see the discreet steps toward a lasting forgiveness are taking shape.

The ‘How’ of Forgiveness is Simple

From here, forgiveness is simpler than we think it’s going to be.

As we note the nature of hurt and our temptation to hold a grudge, there’s a better understanding of our role in this concept of relational restoration.

Acts of forgiveness are very action-oriented. Thought is brought to bear on the issues, as mentioned above, and then the act of forgiveness—a decision taken or the act of words said or written—can take place.

The act of forgiveness is keeping us to account. It’s not just us that know we have to do it; it’s preferably shared with revered others.

If there’s a commitment made to forgive someone, and there are others that know such a commitment is made, it becomes more real in our mind and heart. Suddenly we’re holding ourselves to account—and being more honest with ourselves—for there’s fear that if we don’t hold ourselves to account, someone else will.

John’s proclamation at top is simply this: if we refuse to forgive when we can—and we always can—then we do not love, and therefore we remain in spiritual death.

It should only be life that interests us.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


“Could be worse,” was the beautiful thought of the man still grieving the loss of his wife.

They’d been married twenty years.

He wakes from his slumber, just like every other morning, and the miserable pain of reality again sets in, as he considers his moment, sitting on the side of their bed. The terror of déjà vu is all too real.

Yet, he knows so keenly now that the world limps along with him. There is so much suffering. His anguish has been the ironical patch of blessing, bridging the scarred layers of his heart, to be open to it, and to be open to the pain he sees all around.

He sits vacillating between two vastly different poles: self-pity and peace. But the burgeoning movement of his heart is ever toward the latter; that’s the truth he clings to now.

It could be far worse. To this he is uplifted to live out his day with integrity and compassion, connected to a humanity that needs him as much as he needs it.

He trusts God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When Nothing Awakens Us to Something

Anxiety is such a quiet and unassuming nemesis, manifesting itself as if it weren’t even there. When we think we have a handle on it, up it pops to say “Yoo-hoo, here I am!”

When all’s not right at home-base, we’re forgiven for concern; intuitive creatures given to dilemmas are we.


Lord, why is it so that ‘this’ can awaken,

The sense of fright within that’s hardly even there?

A stimulus that resembles a shop-front break-in,

Warrants the justice that awakens with a blank-held stare.

Reminders plunder the basis of reason,

Come back to them we must each and every time,

For without logic we clamour for a season,

No matter how we conquest by manner or rhyme.

Anxiety’s treason is a hard-understood blight,

Leaving souls out to dry – indiscriminately so,

Without cause to even remotely suggest flight,

Stammers the predilection for the person to grow.


How do we sympathise with such an invisible enemy—one that the ‘sensible’ believer amongst us doesn’t even validate (revealing them to be a sort of false teacher)?

There is no easy answer to anxiety—the predilection to consumed thought, or maybe the presence of shy awkwardness, or a physical symptom or the like.

Halting Anxiety’s Stammering Flow

Even though logic and reason appear quite forlorn in the presence of anxiety, they still bode us well in combating it.

We go without defence when we fight anxiety without these portents of the sound mind. We must come back to sense and good commonly-held rationale, and often. It needs to become a trained instinct.

This is often how the minutes are managed, however fatiguing that process can be.

The final hurdle is empathy—oh, and how so timely!

The Importance of Empathy

The more confusing states of being get, the more people get to thinking they might be mad. It’s ironic that a sense of reason prevails to get them to this place of self-assessment.

What a wondrous skill it is to develop empathy with ourselves... that is, to take our problems seriously enough, but also be able to listen to and understand the reverberant spirit.

This is a skill worth mastering.

At its core it is self-care for self-preservation, and beyond it, deeper still, is the love of God known within by the soul that simply stands tranquil enough to trust.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Point Is, They Won’t Care

We all struggle with an elementary fact of life: many people will refuse to care about what is important; to us, to life, to others, to God. Indeed, spun inwardly, it can be seen, we’re our worst enemies—so often we fail to care when roles are reversed.

Accepting this gargantuan truth; that is our task. Then life—as God would have us live it—can commence. From there, we’re afforded the grace for proper contention. We need this in responding to the things that would ordinarily hurt and disappoint us. This is the Ministry of the Right Response.

The Grace of Proper Contention

We know in our hearts that we must contend. But what for; what do we fight for in this life?

Love fuels whatever contention we offer to our worlds, not fear. Fear would light up contention in an ‘eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’ way. That clearly isn’t grace.

Yet, we do have this fighting instinct in us. So the point is not to fight against people and situations; it’s to fight for people and situations, injecting care.

Another more important point... God cares.

We draw our energy to contend properly in grace because inwardly we’re growing day by day. It’s because we know that God cares even though we see our world often doesn’t.

A Better Point Is, We Can Care

It’s beside the point, the swelling, overwhelming evidence to the contrary—the negligence of the world, including those in positions of authority discharging their duties irresponsibly (in our eyes).

The main point we can care. Advocacy can be our byword.

The fighting instinct raised earlier alludes to a path with a fork in the road—either we’ll fight badly and complain about the lack of care we see, or we’ll take up God’s cudgels and fight the good fight of advocacy.

It’s the weapon of moral value that we wield, for we believe it is right, and ‘right’ is imperative to us.

Against the world that lives ‘happily’ in a pit of varying morality—finding excuse not to care—we care anyway. And when we see others caring we salute them and join their ranks. When that fork in the path is taken we shall see more evidence of others fighting with the grace of proper contention, and bonds will form between us and them.

That is the Church.

We will care when everyone else doesn’t—and there is such a place and circumstance. We need to be on the lookout for it. This is our mandate from God.

Let’s not be fooled by thinking the world should care. We should care.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Peace is Your Place

Choose today to never be held captive to a heart of want or need of anything other than God. Peace is your place.


Climbing and wandering and ceasing give way,

Times as they bear themselves over us,

Peace is our place putting at bay,

The warrant of a flow against that to cuss.

Moments before us too stilted to move,

Bodes us to accept life with a care,

Peace is our place with which to approve,

Taking it as it is – a good thing to bear.

Quiet times seem beyond rattle and hum,

Above the clamour of glare and despoil,

Peace is our place – of want to come,

Plans like this present a quandary’s foil.


We can go all places to look for peace, when it was in our backyards all along.

Moods of different varieties are tried and still peace is not found by it; seems so elusive.

Yet, try this.

Still. Sit. Breathe mechanically. Re-focus. Obtain bearing for the present moment. Yes, it’s the same as the one just gone, and the one coming. There’s a homeostatic rhythm to life we just don’t see when life’s a flurry. The bizarre thing is, it never changes. It’s been like this since time immemorial.

Look statically around you. What do you notice? With noise emanating from neither head nor heart, the whole world slows. (It’s never against us like we might’ve imagined.)

Now you’re here...

Get used to the fact that the rest of the world around you will rip itself apart in chaotic conquests at times, and you’ve no need to follow them on such a fancy of madness.

Peace is your place, finally.

You earned it. Nobody can take it from you.

Now, thank God for it, hold it, and be responsible for it.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Do You Stay in Love With an Unhappy Spouse?

It’s a remarkably common circumstance; trying to make the best of a marriage where one partner is unhappy, depressed, or living in some sort of hopelessness. Indeed, it could even be seen that all marriages feature such seasons, with both partners having their turns.

So this is not so much about putting a blinding spotlight on the despondent partner.

But, the longer these seasons last, the more we’re perhaps tempted to question our love, or their love for us. And the longer it goes, the more frequent these questions can bear themselves over us.

Sure, we can soon get to a point where panic sets in: “What if things don’t change?” or “What if I don’t love him/her anymore?”

First, Don’t Panic

A longer term view is always advised when the polarity of love reaches present-held extremes. The more we think certain ways, the more those ways become the way we see. Our perceptions adjust and these shifts are not always healthy.

Our unhappiness at their unhappiness—and lack of response to our love—is beginning to unravel our commitment, for we begin to see that our love mightn’t any longer be ‘good enough’ for them. But usually it has little to do with us directly.

Besides, panic can be a good sign. It’s love that pushes us to action; to restore the imbalance.

Yet, whilst panic might compel us to consider acting, it can soon find us making erroneous decisions. At some point we’re advised to switch from panic to reason.

Remember Your Collective History

A couple’s history is tantamount to their world—the epicentre of their lives together. History is the meaningful twine that ties couples together in both good times and those not-so-good, but it can have an affect, too, in polarising us.

Comparisons are quickly made—“he/she never used to be like this”—and these, from a bad place, are not productive.

It is better to appreciate the history, just being plain thankful for the good memories. These were the best times of your lives.

There are most probably good times like this, and better ones, to come. Indeed, reflecting over your history can reveal other not-so-good times that you got through together.

Understanding the Ebb and Flow of Life

No couple goes through difficult times without reason. Likewise, not one couple ventures through their lives together unscathed.

Moreover, the successful negotiation of tough periods of marriage characterises that both ‘stuck it out’ when it might’ve been easier at the time to quit. They didn’t, so they both know just how much the other is committed. That’s marital gold right there!

De-Romanticising the Marital Relationship

“Staying in love” with an unhappy partner is not so much about romantic nuances—for the romantic phase passed long ago—as it’s about empathy.

Empathy has no time or reach limit. It doesn’t quit and it doesn’t add burden for burden, for when we’re invested in our partner’s life so much as to ‘become them’ the timeframe and level of empathy we show isn’t really the point. Does love have a limit?

This is the test of love: how much will we sacrifice for the other?—recalling Christ’s sacrifice for us had no limit.

Answering the Question

We started with a premising question: How do you stay in love with an unhappy spouse? The answer is perfectly simple.

Create a reasonable and realistic vision of what life will be like on the other side, cling to it, and create a process to patiently support them all the way there, in spite of the forgivable rough days that must just be endured.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Resentment Wins Few Favours

The phenomenon of resentment occurs with frenetic routine in the workplace, just as much as in the family. Decisions are made, often without ‘enough’ consultation, or to the dissatisfaction of those on the receiving end, anyway, and casualties are left strewn over the canvas of the relational boxing rings of life.

For such a pathetic life response—to resent—there is a remarkably powerful temptation to engage in it.

I don’t care how ‘mature’ you are, or how vibrant the Holy Spirit is in your life, temptation to resentment is a thing you’ll never overcome, not in the ultimate sense, in this lifetime.

There stands a quantum spiritual challenge.

Resentment is a spiritual challenge borne of pride; humility is the only way to combat it.

Wary are the Humbly Blessed – Blessed are the Humble Wary

The very feature of humility—the paradoxical champion of the spiritual life—is its honest ability to admit its limitations.

The mature person has no problem noting the threat of resentment; they see it ever present, mainly because those who love have to care. They owe life that much. Maturity carries with it the ability to accept responsibility, to maintain trust to the delivery of those responsibilities, and to be kept accountable. (Resentment is not something aiding any of that.)

The humble are inherently blessed because they’re wary. This is one indicator of the fear of the Lord: to know just how close sin is and to avoid same.

Bridging the Gulf of Resentment

If we understand, then, that resentment is both ever-close and a vast folly, we can imagine a metaphorical gulf between the presence of problems causing resentment and the spiritual freedom to let them go.

Bridging distant realities is our spiritual task; one simple with wary humility, but made incredibly difficult in pride—wanting our own way.

Whether it’s a workplace matter or one in the family, including marriage, it bodes us well to remember resentments win us little favour. They send rapport into the sour depths; things can’t end well from there until the resentment’s dealt with.

Better to not arrive there in the first place! Prevention’s better than cure.

Change ‘Speaks’

The idea behind all resentments is change.

The quicker we appreciate that life will change, that potential resentments will come, and that we can’t win them all, the better we can accept the unacceptable in life.

It can be seen that God is arranging and re-arranging the deck chairs of life, such to compel us to grow in the humility that will achieve, for us, the agility required for maintaining spiritual equilibrium.

That’s both maturity and wisdom.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Jack Briant’s “My Life After AA” blog.

Imitators of God in Our Relationships

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

~Ephesians 5:1-2 (NRSV).

There is something perfect about the love of Christ as symbolised by the embellished memory of the cross.

So far as love is concerned, the Father and the Son have shown us how, and how much, to love—that is, voluminously, cavernously, copiously; more than can reconciled within our minds and hearts.

Yet, to love like God loves is not hard, but it does require discernment, and the holy kind of sacrifice, out of a heart poised for others’ good. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve consistently, and to that end, it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

As God’s Beloved Children

We’re designed, and therefore destined, to love; as God loves. Our destiny is to live in love, to live by the code of love, not more so compellingly than via the mode of living in eternity.

Our model of love, here in this shattered world estranged to the concept, is the sort of sacrifice we see in Christ’s “fragrant offering” of love on the cross—for there are many forms of sacrifice that aren’t motivated by love.

We are to learn this mode of sacrifice—against the tending of our hearts toward the selfishness we’re so tempted instead to live. This sort of cross-bound loving sacrifice, done with consistency, it is argued, is impossible without the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable it.

Imitating God

As God’s beloved children, we’re kin. Whilst we live here on this earth, we’re bound to the life of sin—despite our redemption status—as much as we’ll think in selfish and self-protective ways.

But, we’re God’s kin—Spiritually endowed, per our acceptance of the incarnation in Christ, the mission of Christ, and finally, his act of redeeming humankind on the cross, and his eventual ascension to be with the Father.

If we’re family, and we have a family identity to uphold, we model ourselves off the family model. We speak, walk and engage with the world along family lines.

Imitating God, then, is about dwelling in the moment of Jesus’ hanging on the cross, drawing on the sheer magnanimity of that love, and bringing it home into the body and person of ourselves—into our situations.

We will not be crucified, but we can allow our fleshy desires to be crucified to warrant others passage. We can refuse to fight for our rights, making foolish the aberrantly twisted legal system (so far as petty litigations are concerned, for example).

Many conflicts are hence stopped in their tracks—they’ll become limp and lifeless.

We can depose the selfish want of things, and the bending of relational moments to our own way—allowing others that privilege.

Time spent envisioning the cross will bring home many manifestation of Christ’s sacrificial love. All we need do is go there.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: KandLe – Kildare & Leighlin Diocese.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When a “Maybe” Can Mean “Yes”

On a recent excursion to grumpiness I muttered some things under my breath that I would later come to regret. As I approached my wife she could tell my mannerism and she asked if I was sorry. I said, “Maybe.”

But this “maybe” was really a “yes” because all my body language, my eyes and my guilty, forlorn look indicated it was more than a “maybe.”

Funny, isn’t it, how we hold back at times. This particular time it was humour that the “maybe” was couched in—partly to break the ice and partly to make it a comfortable experience for me to say sorry (though I don’t find apologising hard).

Grace for the Moment

Partners reconcile when one does more than their best and just allows the other person back in, despite the transgression. This, despite words, is the act of forgiveness.

Forgiveness has to be action-oriented.

The truth is, all partners will find themselves on the side of the aggrieved and transgressed; just as they’ll occasionally be the person aggrieving or the transgressor.

Grace for the moment is letting people back in; it is trust when trust may not be warranted, so in that, it’s a chance—a risk—a good one to take.

This sort of response—the generous issue of grace—is most important in dealing with imminent shame. As I’d reported above, my humour was veiling a sense of shame, and propagating shame (if my wife was to have done that) is never a good thing. It’s not biblical. Upon a repentant heart, we’re commanded to forgive (which does not always mean “trust”).

Don’t Just Go On Words

So many people communicate in language deeper than words. Gary Chapman discusses this in his book, The Five Languages of Apology.

It’s a mistake to need the words to be said. It’s saying that we can’t believe the body language and many other action-related indicators of repentance.

Words are part of the story, but they’re never the full story.

Forgiveness Helps Us More

When we issue grace—and the more unconditional it’s given, the better—it helps us more than it does them, though they need it.

We’re blessed of God because we get to feel, for that instant in time, like God feels for pardoning sin. This is a prized gift. It can almost make us want to be transgressed in the future, for this visceral blessing is not like any other.

Even though it helps the person we forgive—so they can get on with their lives; their guilt or shame dealt with—we stand most especially blessed. Not by them, but by the direct hand of God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.