Friday, September 30, 2011

30th September

I suppose today has been an ‘all right’ sort of day. I am feeling just a little bit more in control emotionally, but not physically, as I’m quite poorly with M.E. although I’ve decided to persevere and battle through the fatigue for a change, rather than simply resting. I’m not totally convinced that’s the right approach but I’m a bit fed up with feeling ill so I’m tackling it head on, and we’ll see what happens. So this morning I finished my 4 day project. I’ve painted my large shed and it took 30 minutes a day to complete the 4 sides and that was really  enough work for me. It’s a bit sad having to manage my activity so strictly as I am by nature a bit of a workaholic. I love work and hate sitting around trying to occupy myself, but maybe that was part of the reason I became ill in the first place… 55 hours a week as a financial adviser plus maybe 10 hours working for the church. And then I had 4 children and a home to look after as well. At that time I remember having a week off work to do a partial attic conversion… suspended floor, roof window and partitions, plus worktops to provide me some office space. And the nicest thing about that job was having one of daughters at home on A-level study leave and she came and sat with me for hours and hours. We listened to a new Eric Clapton album over and over… wonderful memories of a different life.

The autumn colours are changing my walk through the woods. Here and there it’s turned the track into something like a golden pathway. And that set me thinking again, no not the Wizard of Oz thing… I’ve never ever seen that, not once. It reminded me of heaven and the Bible description of the New Jerusalem coming down from there. So I suppose that’s where it is now and maybe Jane’s paid a visit to it? I wonder what it’s like living in such an amazing place, where the gold which we value so greatly is deemed only fit for making pavement!

It’s funny when you think about how we spend so much time accumulating possessions, working for a better life. Looking for promotion maybe to boost our income stream and facilitate a newer car, a bigger house, more stuff… and yet we’re all gonna die one day, and the only thing we can take with us into the hereafter are our relationships, hopefully with our loved ones but more importantly with the Lord. And yes there will be rewards in heaven for the good we do in this life, but for sure none of the material wealth we accumulate on earth will mean a thing then. Indeed we ought to be using that which we have now with our eyes firmly set on God purpose for our lives. Jane was really good at giving to the poor and needy through so many Christian ministries, so I guess she’ll be enjoying her special reward right now… I’m not sure how good I am at giving to others, now I’m alone.

Revelation 21:21 ‘The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.’ (NIV)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

29th September

Well today has been a scorcher. Most unexpected but none the less very welcome weather at the end of September.  So I managed my walk around Kedleston Hall again today, although I have to admit I struggled a little physically even though in general terms I'm much fitter and stronger than I was a couple of months ago. But I am really fed up with M.E. and for sure it’s time I got better, I’ve got enough on my plate without feeling so ill all the time. But I’m trying to ignore it and carry on as best as I can and the biggest problem I suppose would be relating to people in anything like a stressful environment. So I chill – yes even with the weather today – and get out in the open air lapping up the sunshine… I love it.

Here and there around the estate there were sheep and birds sheltering from the sun underneath trees, and that got me thinking. When the heats turned up we all need to find shelter. And I’m finding this period of my life is way too hot, the fire of grief is burning into every part of every day, there’s no getting away from it. Today was quite typical, and saw me once again fighting the battle against tears as they keep exploding from deep within. And I’ve had enough of them. This is no way too live. I have to move on I know, but how? It seems almost impossible when emotions are so high… I really need to find shelter. But where do I find a ‘tree’ suitable as a shield against extreme grief?

There’s one good thing at the moment and that is that I’ve spent more time on my knees crying out to God than ever before. There’s something about adopting a posture of abasement which is a little uncomfortable. It’s not normal to kneel before someone; it makes you feel quite vulnerable if not a little silly. It’s not something I’ve ever done much before, aside from the few minutes of prayer on the quite rare occasions I’ve been to an Anglican or Catholic Church. For me it’s a bit of a lost art. The contemporary church meetings I’m used to encourage us to worship freely without constraint or conformity and whilst that includes kneeling it’s still relatively rare. Anyway today I need God, and I spend time on my knees before his throne of grace and mercy. You see, that’s my chosen shelter… I choose God. I will seek him with my whole being, I will pray without ceasing, I will give thanks and I will praise him with my every breath.

Revelation 7:15 ‘And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

28th September

Today has been simply a day of survival. Just one step in front of the other, keep breathing in and out, I can do this, I can get through this, and it will not defeat me. In God’s strength I will not sink, I am blessed and privileged in so many ways with how I live and with the family I have.  But it’s been another tough day and yes I do feel like I’m weakening. Somehow I need to take the attention of myself and look outward as there are always those who are worse off, but that’s hard…

But God is on my side and for sure he’s working for good in me and through me. I just need to keep my eyes on him and persevere through the tears and pain, and all will be well. I’m always amazed at how the Lord speaks, reminding us that he is with us, he has not forgotten or forsaken us. Indeed that is never going to happen to those who seek his face and reach out to him in repentance and humility. And I believe God did break through my inner torment with a word today. I’ve often found comfort in blues music… yes I know it can be rather ungodly but as a genre there’s a lot going for it, for me. So today I was listening to an album featuring Eric Clapton and BB King working together. And they have an arrangement of a song I remember playing in a band 40 years ago... we mostly played gigs in the Methodist Youth Clubs, Scout Huts and Schools of Derby. But today one line leapt out as if the Lord was speaking directly to me… ‘When the day comes and you're in doubt, in a river of trouble, about to drown. Hold on, I'm coming.’

I took this on one of my walks, and if this tiny thing can hold on… so can I!

So my Lord, I am always surprised at how you choose to speak to this messed up man. And really I’m amazed that you bother with me at all, I do not deserve your goodness and patience. Lord I am so unworthy of all that you have blessed me with. So my God I simply say thank you, and I receive your word and I believe that you are going to come into my life in a new way. You will rescue me from the pit of despair I so foolishly throw myself into and you will raise me up once again to that place of victory where I might once again serve the purposes of God. I love you Jesus and give my life afresh to you and only you… amen!

Isaiah 43:2 ‘When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

27th September

Well today’s been a good day really. But only because I’ve been distracted for most of it and so I’ve just about managed to keep a check on my emotions. A couple of times I came close to tears when talking to people and it’s obvious I still need time out to work things through some more. The whole thing is so very intense; and it’s a pretty horrid season of my life which I’m so glad I’m just passing through. My grief is here for a period of time, it is not a destination, it’s simply a way for me to say goodbye to my wife. One day, obviously, we’ll meet again and spend as much time as we want together. But that cannot happen in this life. It’ll be in heaven, either when I die and take my place there or when the Lord returns to transform planet earth with his heavenly touch. I know that I have to allow grief to run it’s course, I have to let Jane go and in one sense I have to keep saying goodbye until I can give myself permission to move on with my life. It’s hard though when every part of my life since I was 19 was shared with my wife. But it’s not too hard. Not with the Lord’s help. And I know I’m going around in circles at the moment, going over and over the same lines of thought. But that’s how it is with grief. It has to be expressed; it’s an emotional event that has to be lived with until brought to a healthy conclusion. And after I’ve finished saying goodbye I trust the Lord will bring renewal into my life and I can start saying some hello’s… to new activities and new people. And who knows where that might lead me.

So today… it was my son’s first day in his new job, his first full time work at age 24 and he’s a changed man. He enjoyed himself and seems confident in what’s required of him so that makes me feel really happy. Unfortunately he only has a 3 month contract and it’s uncertain what will be available after that, but it’s a great opportunity to get valuable experience given the unemployment in his age group. And this lunchtime I travelled to nearby Loughborough to collect my daughter and grandson for a visit to Jane’s mum who now lives in Melbourne. At 97 she’s been struggling to cope with losing Jane, who was also her primary carer, but today I can report that she’s beginning to pick up a little. Having her 3 year old great-grandson running around asking to be tickled probably helps though! This evening I took on board the role that Jane had for many years as a stay at home mum… I cooked a sweet and sour meal and had it on the table as my son arrived home from work. Aren’t I the good dad then? But then I had to rush out to my church home group. And yes I have had a busy distracting day. But the tears are never far away…

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.’ (NLT)

Monday, September 26, 2011

26th September

I feel relatively peaceful today, although it feels like there’s a bit of an internal battle going on. I reckon someone’s been praying for me and that’s the peace thing taking hold; but at the same time, barely at arm’s length, there’s a tension waiting to ignite into irritability or worse. I haven’t a lot of patience at the moment and there’s always stuff happening that niggles, even though it’s nothing to do with me. But I don’t really get angry… ever. For some reason it’s just not there inside me; but I certainly can get a little ratty at times and so tend to lock myself away as I don’t wish to fall out with anyone. I guess it’s partly due to being an M.E. sufferer and the tension headaches that are never far away. But I am determined to walk into the Lord’s healing and remain encouraged by managing the condition. I continue to avoid stress, wherever possible, and surely, now the years of battling for Jane’s life have come to a conclusion, finding a level pathway should be far easier as I can now refocus, at least in part, upon my own needs.

When grief strikes at it’s fiercest, it’s like a flood that totally overwhelms, leaving a pathway of devastation behind. Well the flood level has dropped today so now I just have to deal with the devastation. And that’s a challenge in itself. At least I have my woodland walk to enjoy again, though it was a little muddy today. But still enjoyable and noticeably easier striding through just over 3 miles compared with a couple of months ago. I can get around in about 50 minutes on a good day which is not too bad considering the small hills involved. I’m getting there I know, and it really feels as though the Lord is with me as I walk. That’s my starting point for rebuilding my life, simply walking the hills seeking the Lord, his pleasure, his purpose, his presence…

Song of Solomon 2:8 ‘Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.’ (NIV)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25th September

I think I made a mistake. I left home last week, quite spontaneously on Saturday morning feeling totally overwhelmed with grief. I simply had to have a break and chose to travel to ‘my special place’… I guess we all need one of those don’t we? Somewhere we’re comfortable, a place with good memories, and basically a safe harbour when the storms of life become a little too strong. My safe place is found away from home, living in my motorhome, preferably visiting Deal. When Jane was alive and fighting her cancer battle this is how we spent a lot of time. Of course the only really safe place is in the shelter that God provides, but often the challenge is in getting ourselves into the frame, as it were, where we can to meet with him. The voices of this world shout so very loudly and it’s not always easy to hear the Lord as he speaks with his gentle conviction to our hearts. The greatest privilege we can have is when Almighty God, the all-powerful, all knowing creator of the universe pays attention to our small lives and actually speaks to us. But quite rightly we have to put ourselves out by laying aside the things of this world and focussing upon him and only him. The Lord is in one sense a gentleman, he will never interfere with our free will and if we want to hold onto our personal ‘baggage’ that is up to us. So by travelling I sidestep the call of household disrepair, the frustration of unemployment and personal ill health, as well as concern for so many people I care about. And my time is the Lord’s and only his on my spiritual retreat.

Oh yes, the mistake… I’ve returned home too early. Although I’ve begun to feel a little better over the past couple of days I needed more time to finish meeting with the Lord. I started out for home and barely travelled 30 miles before I realised the tears were beginning to well up. I have too many memories to deal with and my love for Jane was total. Our time together over the past months and even years was intense and eventually almost 24/7 whenever hospital treatment allowed. It’s all too much again. I distracted myself with talk radio for a couple of hours and made it half way up the M1 before the tears started again and had to slow down then stop for a short break. Somehow the journey turned out to be in record time for my motorhome though, but after arriving home I broke down completely. All it took was the F1 racing, Jane always rooted for Lewis Hamilton, I have high regard for Jenson Button and today I almost turned to her to pass comment on the race… long time habits are so hard to break. My son was out for lunch and I was left alone with my memories once more and it hurts so very much even when concerned with a totally unimportant TV programme. Downton Abbey tonight won’t be the same without her by my side either. But nothing will, until I can move on, I have to keep saying goodbye to my lover though it still feels as though a physical chunk of my heart has been wrenched from inside me. I’ll have to get away again before the forecast early winter sets in and finish doing business with my God. I am determined to rebuild my life, I will be whole, and I will honour the Lord in every way I can. I’m far too young to call it a day and could easily have several more decades as an enthusiast for his Kingdom.  But I miss my closest friend so very much today.

Proverbs 18:10 ‘The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’ (NIV)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

24th September

Hard as I try, I feel absolutely nothing about the place. Today I watched the F1 qualifying live from Singapore, quite spectacular under the artificial track lights… it was 10pm local time. But it was also my birthplace, though a vastly different country in 1952 and I did have my first birthday back in Deal, and that I do feel something about. I’m not at all sure about ever living here although I wouldn’t rule that out, but for sure there’s nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. Certainly not Singapore, and although one of my sister’s just been passing through there for a mini-break, I’ve never been back as it’s not on my heart… yet. But today Deal is, and I have to trust that that is something the Lord has placed within me. This is where my roots are. They need a little cultivation right now, so I’m here digging for personal victory in what was once a wartime bomb alley.

And I feel quite a bit better, although it’s been a bit weird. Having a break has done me a lot of good; maybe I shouldn’t leave it quite as long before the next one. Once more I took myself off for a long walk along the seafront and onto the pier to sit and read and think and pray some more. And then Christmas came early! Without thinking I had my MP3 player set to ‘play all’ in my worship music folder and of course eventually it found it’s way to Chris Tomlin’s albums. One of them is an excellent mix of traditional and new Christmas compositions all with his very contemporary arrangement. So there I was humming my way down the pier full of Joy to the World and it’s kin. It made me feel really happy. My favourite thing in the entire world is worship and Christmas can be a real fun time!

Then I passed a row of fisherman’s working sheds which always forces a wry smile...

Nehemiah 8:10 ‘Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!’ (NLT)

Friday, September 23, 2011

23rd September

So then I thought I might share one of my holiday snaps taken earlier today…

Yes, I went into Deal, for an extended time today, walking along the sea front and to the pier again. I have to park a little out of town due to the size of my vehicle but the walk is always engaging, I love the view out to sea here. It’s always stimulating, reminding me that there’s a big world out there waiting to be explored and I’ve really seen so very little of it. I find the sound of the sea, particularly on a shingle beach, to be quite relaxing and almost therapeutic. It’s my way of taking hold of the peace of God, clearing out the clutter from my mind and listening to his voice. And just like the Lord I suppose the view I saw today – ignoring the yacht – has not really changed since the dawn of time. But I have. My life changed in a major way this year when I lost my wife, it can never be the same again I know. It’s a bit broken at the moment. But it can be mended. My Father God once suffered bereavement himself as his only son was killed; he understands the sense of loss that I feel completely and their relationship had a perfection, an intimacy that no earthly one could ever aspire to. I know for sure that there is a way forward and that way is to be found, for me, only in the purpose and provision of God himself. So whatever it takes, wherever I need to be I will seek his face, his peace and his plan for my life with the sure hope that he will never turn away from me because his love is perfect. Always has been and always will be.

And Deal is a small unspoiled town, though maybe a little run down at the moment, but it is steeped in history. Some of that history belongs to my family which I know very little about but I have relatives who lived here and are now buried in local graveyards. It was my father’s childhood home and although I’ve only ever visited the place on holiday, I find it a great place to think and dream. I have to start somewhere and this is where my roots are… and where I find the peace of God at the moment.

Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ (NLT)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

22nd September

Well today I felt well enough to move from my campsite and so drove into Deal for a few hours. And the sun came out as I walked along the sea-front to find ‘my’ seat on the end of the pier. I sat there for quite a while thinking, praying and then reading my Kindle… nothing very intellectual, just some good old fashioned science fiction, but nicely escapist which is what I need right now.  There’s loads of free stuff available for download by unknown authors trying to tempt you into buying more of their work, which I’m happy to do if they’re any good. One day when I’m feeling stronger I may even have a go at writing a novel myself. Perhaps some sort of near future ‘fantasy’, a story of a world about to end, a world of demons and angels; of a global darkness seeking to destroy the latent goodness that’s inherent in all mankind by feeding the lust that so easily persuades. And at just the right moment, when all seems lost and the whole world is seemingly controlled by pure evil, the power of goodness, carried as a bright flame of hope by a saintly people, arrives to conquer and banish every shadow of darkness to a pit of hell. But only for a season, as after the world is rebuilt and remodelled in the likeness of perfection the dark forces are released from their captivity to wreak havoc once more… but not for long.

Oh well, I guess it’s been done before, maybe as a best-seller, maybe as the greatest and best-selling book the world has ever known. But it might be fun to flesh things out a bit with 21st century technology and I could create heroic characters bravely taking their stand against wrong doing and injustice. There’ll be widespread famine and poverty of course so help will be needed there, and the corruption of government and business will need some sort of attention. Not to mention the perversion of mass media encouraging a twisted morality of many. Maybe the children need a change in the way they’re educated and something really ought to be done to help marriages to work a bit better. Wouldn’t it be good to see an end to all war? There’s certainly a lot to think about.

But how to start writing such a story? I suppose I have to do a little background research, maybe in some small way start by being a hero to one needy person. Then another, and then another and then who knows where I might end up. And it goes without saying that I have to start carrying a beacon of hope around as well as living like a saint… there’s a challenge! Perhaps my novel would end up in the non-fiction section… if I ever find time to write it.

Revelation 20:1-3 ‘Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21st September

Well the season is certainly changing. Autumn is well and truly on it’s way and aside from a handful of visitors the campsite is completely empty. There are still a few European and English visitors using the site as they do the cross channel hop but it’s very different from last month when I came here with my family. But this is exactly what I need right now… some space to relax and recover. I stayed on site for the third day and the only person I’ve spoken to down here was the receptionist as I booked in again until Sunday. She was very kind as always after I shared my situation with her a few months ago, so I feel quite at home now… sort of.

I wonder how long it takes someone to settle into heaven. Jane’s been there for four months now and I wonder what it’s like. I know everything’s perfect there, the presence of God must be incredible and his grace immense but I can’t imagine she isn’t missing me as much as I miss her. Of course she will have an understanding of God’s purpose that I have to wait for and all her personal suffering will have ended as she was made perfect in his divine presence; but I know she will still be concerned for me even whilst resting in the perfect peace of God. She was the most compassionate person I ever met so how much more would she be caring about my well-being now?

But although Jane may be my personal cheerleader in heaven, stirring up prayer and rooting for me in every possible, I know for sure that my present well-being, my ongoing happiness and my future destiny are completely outside of Jane’s ability to help. Indeed even basic communication is never going to happen. My life, both now and into the future is determined solely by my relationship with the Lord Jesus. Whatever comes my way, whether it is blessing or trouble is vetted by him and I have little control over that side of things. What I do have though is control over my response to whatever is set before me. So in every situation I must pray with thanksgiving in my heart. And I will seek the Lord whilst he can be found. And I will keep hold of his peace. And I will confess that Jesus is Lord and in control of all things.

There’s a big, big world out there and my personal problems are so very tiny compared with the billions living in poverty, in famine conditions, with no clean drinking water or living with horrendous persecution and without anyone to tell them how Jesus can change their lives as much as he has changed mine.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ‘So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20th September

Well yesterday I did almost nothing and today I've done less as I haven’t even driven off the campsite. I’ve seen no-one and apart from a short walk I’ve gone nowhere, spending the day mostly reading. I really need to rest and that’s what I’m doing; a complete crash from normal life. And I guess that’s what I have to have right now; time out, switched off from all concerns and almost all activity. My guitar had an airing and it was good to sing to the Lord even if I struggled to get through a song I was trying to learn, but there you go, no big deal as I’ve done worse with a sizable audience! But then I’ve been wondering about the host of heaven and how some of them may well be watching me, maybe I do have some sort of audience. I have a feeling then whenever we worship the Lord, indeed in whatever way we honour him there is a stirring in heaven releasing a complimentary act of worship there. Truly the angels join in every song we sing to God and I suspect our loved ones may know something of what we’re up to as well. Certainly the Lord watches over my every thought and deed, and every day of my life it seems is written in one of his books… today may make rather boring reading I suppose. And I do have the sense that there are those in heaven cheering me on… “Come on Dave, you can get through this! You have a life to live, things to do. A life mission to accomplish, don’t give up, don’t give in. God is bigger than your greatest need; he is your all sufficient one.” And I can see Jane at the forefront saying “Stop messing about, you know everything’s all right. I have things to do right now in heaven and you have things to do where you are. Focus upon the important, the Lord is returning soon. Do your bit and serve him and him alone!”

But I did have a few texts and phone calls bringing and sharing good news. My son has a new job starting next week and that’s great. Now it’s my turn for God favour…

Hebrews 4:9-11 ‘So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labours, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.’ (NLT)

Monday, September 19, 2011

19th September

I’m reminded of a rollercoaster ride. The long hard slog to get to the top of the hill and then the downhill fall. But my ride is not that much fun and the continual alternating of heaviness followed by weightlessness would be much better confined to the adventure park. The last few days have been a real slog, but today you might say I’ve breached the crest of the hill when you begin to feel lighter. I suppose I still feel completely empty right now though, but certainly the heaviness has lifted. Emotionally I’m drained, there are no more tears in me and I guess now’s the time when I need to meet with the Lord. I need to be filled afresh with God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of hope and joy and power to live a life of abundance with God purpose. One day my tears of grief will cease, my soul will no longer be downcast; indeed I will throw off the cloak of discouragement and put on my garments of praise embracing a lightness in my spirit and a joy that knows no limit… and I do not have to wait for my own visit to heaven as God is with me now, and he is well able to deal with all despair.

And today? It’s been a quiet day of doing almost nothing. A lot of reading, a walk along the sea front with a long time sitting on the end of the pier simply staring out to sea… and thinking. But as I say, no tears and I don’t even feel particularly sad either. Just empty.

Isaiah 40:31 ‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ (NLT)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

18th September

Another challenging day, a real downer. The pain of loss is immense and I’ve never cried this much before; but I’m glad I came away as I have to work this out somehow. And being alone with the Lord is what I need right now. I tried visiting a local church this morning but struggled to connect... I suppose I’m too focussed upon my own needs. But the sun shone for most of the day which was most welcome and I was able to go sit on the beach and gaze across the English Channel, dreaming of another life I once lived. I remember one evening a couple of years ago watching the distant French coast light up with a whole chain of fireworks on Bastille Day. Today I could make out the cliffs where Jane and I walked whilst waiting for the return ferry. We had quite a few adventures driving across France and a return visit to Paris was high on our list of must do’s. As an artist Jane really wanted to experience the lavender fields of Provence in early summer… she never did, though she did paint sunflowers growing in the vast French farms elsewhere. Last year, within walking distant of the campsite I’m now on, she had us chasing up and down the lanes trying to catch the light on a field with a scattering of poppies in one corner. We missed it unfortunately and it would have made a great painting I’m sure. I usually have my camera at the ready but unlike Jane I tend to wait for the shots to come to me rather than chasing after them and I miss the thrill of that hunt…

I miss far more than that though. I’m struggling to stay positive and it seems as though my whole life has come to an end. In one sense I reckon it has, but somehow I have to press into the future which is so very hard to even think about right now. Everything feels rather pointless, there’s nothing I really want anymore; and I don’t feel as though I’m needed by anyone other than my immediate family. I feel pretty useless in this state. I will sort myself out I know, but right now I need God to help me… and he will for sure because he always does when I ask him.

Cognitively and in my spirit I know that the way I’m feeling is totally wrong, it’s a deception and a diversion from God given purpose. I know that God has a plan for my life; I know that I will prevail with his help and I know the world is filled with needy people who need what I have to offer. At the right time I will engage and go do and all will be well again. But not today, as my emotions seem to be overruling common sense and I’m pretty wound up with grief. I’ve never done this before and never want to again so I don’t know the ‘rules’ of what’s ok and what isn’t. I can only tell it like it is. Emotions are a gift from God and whilst I refuse to allow them to control me, I will give myself permission to express them at this difficult time… it felt good finding the quiet spot on the beach where we’d scattered Jane’s ashes in the sea and I let the tears flow quite freely.

Job 27:11-12 ‘I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal. You have all seen this yourselves. Why then this meaningless talk?’ (NIV)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

17th September

Right then, Smoked Haddock Gratin with Broccoli and Leeks cooked as an 18th century Welsh Rarebit recipe… sounds good doesn’t it? But it’s still just a Sainsbury’s ready meal despite the packaging blurb! It tastes quite nice though, ignoring the abnormal salt content, and yes I’m back camping again doing as little as possible to live as well as possible. And I really don’t enjoy hotels, much preferring the outdoor life. Yesterday was absolutely impossible for me and I knew I needed time out from ‘normality’, so this morning I threw some clothes and my gadgets into the motorhome and drove the two hundred miles or so to my special place… we all need one of those don’t we? Mine is on the south coast, a campsite near Deal, but my motorhome is a bit of a cheat when it comes to camping as it comes with all mod-cons and I’m as comfortable as I am at home. Which being truthful was not very comfortable at all. It’s almost four months since Jane died and that’s really not long enough to move on from the forty years we spent building our lives together. I’m still massively heartbroken and so is just about every close member of my family. Not just my children… today I had my eldest sister and my parents all crying on the phone. And Jane’s 97 year old mum is still in complete shock. I know I have to be brave and walk through my loss. I know that what I’m dealing with is common to most if not all of mankind in one way or another. But it’s so different when it’s personal, this is my loss and it hurts so very much.

My faith journey is the only thing that makes any sense at all at the moment. It makes clear why sickness and even death exists. So then the food chain is primarily driven by profit not health, everything is geared towards ‘acceptable’ standards to maximise production. And the air we breathe, the water we drink, despite regulation, can never be described as 100% toxin free. Our workplaces, often our home life and other relationships are often stressful disordered arenas challenged by all manner of failings. And many times we chase after that which has only the most temporal value; we don’t measure true worth until often too late leaving only a sense of disappointment to deal with. I guess I’ve just described my life, at least in part, so it’s no wonder sickness takes a hold. The Bible calls this disorder sin… basically doing things our way rather  than God’s; we usually make life up as best as we can without reference to the one who created the world and everything in it. And every single one of us lives with this as a problem from the moment we are born. We all start life separated from the Lord because of this inbuilt tendency, and only as we decide to turn our back on our own ideas and seek him for his truth can we make a start on changing our life. But when a society, and most of the world, basically turns it’s back on even ethical living or any definable morality it’s no wonder we get sick.

There is an answer to this problem though. And that answer is to be found in the Lord Jesus who came to ‘take away the sin of the world’. I’ve found that the more I turn my back on so called worldly ways the more I find peace and complete assurance that all is well with my soul. Grief is God’s gift to those who’ve lost a loved one, helping them to process and progress into a new future. The Bible makes it clear that in this world we will have many troubles, but God is bigger than any of them.  And he created heaven as a place to enjoy perfection living with him. That’s where Jane lives and I intend to join her there by walking as closely to the Lord and living his way as best as I possibly can.  The Bible has a story of a family tragedy and shows how Jesus shared in their grief…

John 11:35 ‘Jesus wept.’ (NIV)

Friday, September 16, 2011

16th September

Today has been almost unbearably painful again. I feel so very sad and lonely and although not much was planned it still didn’t go as expected and that makes me feel even worse… my son is repeatedly being given wrong information about a new job he’s hoping to start, and though it may still turn out ok, it’s rather confusing at the moment to say the least. There’s more I could say but I won’t as it would turn into a moan… and I mustn’t do that!

But really my frustration is nothing to do with my son’s problems, much as I care about him. I’m just very emotional and the slightest extra burden is simply too much. On my walk today I listened to a great song written by Charlie Hall called ‘On the Road to Beautiful’. I’ve only reproduced a few lines as I can’t work out the copyright thing but the lyrics are freely available on his website anyway. And they sum up exactly how I feel today.

Father come to me and hold me up cause I can barely stand
My strength is gone and my breath is short and I can’t reach out my hands
But my heart is set on a pilgrimage toward heavens own bright kin

I feel totally at the end of my own ability to cope with bereavement and I’ve really had enough of feeling like this. But only the Lord can help me I know, as I so much need his grace, his strength, his power, his guidance, his favour, his comfort, his provision and to know his arms of love sheltering me from the storms of this life. One day all will be well… I suppose I should see that as today, but it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Psalm 68:19 ‘Praise the Lord; praise God our saviour! For each day he carries us in his arms.’ (NLT)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

15th September

I just about made it through the day without tears. But it had it’s challenging moments as I spent time first with my elderly parents and then my youngest daughter who are all still really grieving quite badly. And after a little retail therapy my daughter joined me on my woodland walk; and that’s her third time, a real treat. My little girl hadn’t been to the gym all week and thought a walk in the countryside would help compensate but it turned out to be rather more rural than anticipated… open toed sandals weren’t ideal with the mess a flock of sheep leave behind, not to mention the equally unsanitary geese. And she was surprised to see her dad having to ‘persuade’ a small herd of miniature cows to move aside and let us pass on the narrow trail through the woods. She’s quite tough really as well as being good company and it was good for us both to comfort one another for a couple of hours.

Grief is so personal and in one sense maybe as different as the differences in the relationship with the one we’ve lost. But although I was obviously closest to Jane being her husband, her soul-mate, her lover and best friend, I perceive the attachment of a loving daughter or son to a caring befriending mum is just as strong; and the pain of loss is immense for each of my kids at the moment. We need each other so much and I’m so grateful we get to spend time to talk and hug a little… and also talk of wedding plans. I love the creativity and independent thinking of my children so it’ll be a really good day next month and completely different from my other two daughter’s weddings. She certainly has one particular idea that’s a little unusual… she’s refusing to change her surname and will remain Ms. So I suppose that’s one more thing she and I share, I didn’t change my name or title when I got married!

Revelation 2:17 ‘To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

14th September

I feel as though I’ve achieved quite a lot today. I managed to get to the 7am prayer meeting for the third day in a row but I wasn’t half tired. Then an earlier walk today meant I could travel to nearby Loughborough to visit my daughter there… and my youngest grand-daughters just started year one at primary school so I had the privilege of joining mum to go bring her home. And the highlight of my day was seeing her face when she spotted me waiting in the playground… we had a lovely hug and then she chattered all the way home about her toy cats. She’s an amazing story teller for a 5 year old, but her younger brother got a little worried when we were trying to work out where the elephants were hiding on the way home… because they only come out at night when no-one can see them!

I suppose I feel like a little child sometimes what with all the crying and I still keep getting upset. It seems my daughters are all suffering as well at the moment which is predictable. We were all extremely close as a family and Jane was far more than just a mum… she was a close friend to each one of them. And she also had vast experience after raising four children herself, together with professional training, which meant she could encourage in so many ways over the years. I’m not the only one who feels a little adrift and in need of support.

Unfortunately I now have to grow up a little, stiff upper lip and all that. I don’t know if it was caused by stress or too much crying but earlier today I felt a sudden sharp pain in my eye. It stopped hurting immediately and I thought no more about it until my daughter mentioned how bloodshot my eye was. I guess it’s a burst blood vessel and unless it gets worse it should heal in a few days, but it might help to stay a bit more cheerful for a bit… maybe if I get my camera out tonight I might get a shot of the Allestree elephants when they go walk-about in the dark. I’ll be able to tell my grand-daughter where they hide then!

I suppose I did learn something from Jane’s psychotherapy studies… apparently Sigmund Freud observed regression to an earlier stage of development is used as a defence mechanism in order to avoid handling unacceptable impulses in an adult way. So let’s be a big kid and after a good cry everything will be all right. Oh and I need a hug as well…

Nehemiah 8:10 ‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ (NIV)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

13th September

Ok I’m back on track today then; I’m talking about my afternoon hike through the woods. And although there was only minor damage from the high winds, some of the branches that came down could easily have spoilt my day if I’d been under them when they fell. I really enjoy my time outdoors and especially the feeling of being close to the Lord. Although I know that the Lord is totally with me wherever I am, whether it be at home, in the car, or walking through the woods there’s something important about responding to the Lord’s prompting. And he wants to meet with me on my walks.

But before that and despite waking with a headache, I made it to the church early morning prayer meeting  and felt so much the better for it. And again, I have to say that I was there because the Lord wanted me to persevere through the discomfort of a bad head, and turn out to meet with him. So I did… after a 6am shower followed by a couple of painkillers.

Later this morning I chose to support my son by driving him to a nearby town where he needed to fill out the paperwork for a new job he’s expecting to start next week. It would have been easy to leave him to find his own way there; but I’ve learnt that putting myself out, to spend time with my kids, really helps to keep a good relationship going. It’s so easy to fill the day up with all manner of solitary activities and a car journey is a great place for a chat.

I suppose it’s like that in our relationship with the Lord. If we want to get to know him we have to put ourselves out and spend time with him. And the first time I walked through the woods all I saw was trees, but after a few visits I realised that God was truly with me. Prayer meetings are the same… I remember years ago spending an hour watching the clock go around ever so slowly for my turn in an all-night prayer vigil. This morning it felt too short as there were prayers I felt stirred to pray but time was going and I felt I should allow some of the quieter attendees space to contribute.

Isaiah 55:6 ‘Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.’ (NLT)

Monday, September 12, 2011

12th September

So today, as cautioned, my woodland walk was off limits due to excessive wind and the alternatives don’t really do it for me at the moment so I stayed in. I could have walked from home as I live in a nice ‘leafy’ suburb with open countryside barely a ten minute walk away. And the local park has it’s own ancient woodland a similar distance from my house. But there’s something about being where the Lord wants me to be, and that’s at Kedleston Hall walking around the woodland trail there. I can’t explain it any better than that, as the walk is very repetitive after visiting almost every day for a couple of months. But it’s never boring… I love it.

I did make it to the 7am church prayer meeting this morning and it was great. I only managed a couple of days last week before succumbing to a mixture of exhaustion and grief. The church only programmed this as a single week of prayer, though they were intending to add a regular early Wednesday morning meeting to the other normal weekly prayer events. But it seems to have become rather exciting, so we’re going for a second week and see what happens then. I love corporate prayer meetings as the spiritual dynamic is so encouraging and I long for a breakthrough in prayer, as a local church, so that the presence of God would move amongst us without hindrance. Over the years I’ve visited all manner of churches where the presence of God is manifest in a special way, and I’m convinced it’s the foundation of prayer that releases the Lord to touch our lives with his mercy and grace. One special meeting I enjoyed was at Times Square Church in New York and although the worship was very different culturally, I was really challenged by observing and participating in the extended open prayer time before the meeting. The resultant service was amazing and powerfully blessed with the presence of the Lord. And at a number of other church meetings in the UK I’ve witnessed exactly the same result from prayer… it works. I don’t know why I don’t do more of it.

And now I’m thinking about where the Lord wants me to be… step by step day by day. My whole future is like an empty book and I need to start writing some new pages. Every dream, every hope I’ve ever had included Jane by my side, supporting and encouraging me. I reckon now is the time to begin to grow in my ability to hear God for myself and I have to trust him more than ever before.

Isaiah 30:21 ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (NIV)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11th September

So today I was cautioned to be careful on my daily walk through the woods at Kedleston Hall. And the wind was certainly beginning to pick up a little, though no problem with tree falls just yet. But tomorrow they reckon the tail end of Hurricane Katia will be more severely affecting the UK and reception staff say they may have to close the park to visitors. The claim is that some of the trees there are maybe a thousand years old and are rare remnants of ancient native woodland… walking there is my favourite activity at the moment. It may be a heavily managed estate and certainly not a wilderness but the route I walk makes few demands physically and there’s plenty of space to be alone on even the busiest of days. It truly is a haven of peace where I meet with God in the midst of my personal storms.

Whilst there today I met some old friends who were out walking with their son. He must be in his thirties and is very severely autistic, completely incapable of speech and with limited response to any communication. His behaviour can be rather weird to say the least… he likes to stroke people’s hair which is awkward with those who don’t know him. Given his lack of inhibitions it’s fortunate he has no interest in girls and indeed doesn’t even appear to know what they are. Years ago I remember that though he was quite able to make a pot of tea he would insist upon eating sink plugs and they had to hide them from him. It’s a difficult condition to understand for sure. My friends are true heroes. They’ve sacrificed decades of their lives to care for and show immense love to this severely challenging son who is incapable of acknowledging their attention and maybe their existence in any meaningful way. But he always seems to be such a gentle person so their love is having an effect for sure.

Over the years I’ve met a number of people who have comparable challenges with their children and have given themselves willingly to care for them. My heart goes out to them. And also to the Lord. I am so totally thankful for the way God has blessed my life. I enjoyed forty incredible years with my wife as both lover and best friend, she was truly my closest confident and we shared absolutely everything, good or bad, there were no secrets. I have no complaints about the Lord taking her home… she deserves God’s best and in heaven she is now fully healed and restored in the presence of the Lord. It hurt so much to see her suffer physically for so many years. And the Lord has given me four healthy children, a couple of sons-in-law until next month when my youngest daughter gets married and I get another. And so far four grandchildren who are more and more becoming friends… I’m even learning to play games using texts with the eldest who’s now eleven.

Anyway I feel like I’m rambling and what I really want to say is that despite losing my wife prematurely and despite having a long term battle with M.E. myself I am really the most blessed person who has ever lived. My heart is filled with God’s love and his favour is and always will be towards me. In the midst of every storm there is a haven of peace and joy to be found in God. His grace is always sufficient to cover over any challenge that life can bring our way.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (NIV)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10th September

I feel completely at peace today. I’ve started to take my eyes off my own needs and focus more upon the Lord and all that he has been and always will be for me. Just thinking about my future destiny in heaven is incredibly exciting, though I know I must finish my earthly race first. And whilst I do dream of all that awaits me, I’m well aware that nothing I imagine or dare to dream of can possibly compare with the true wonders of heaven. And so many questions will be answered when I get there. The mystery of a new life with no separation between man and God, that’ll change things for sure, but what about the billions queuing to meet Jesus… how does that work? And my idea of heaven with a life in the country is quite different from the average big city lover… can we have both? I used to like a cold snowy climate, but not anymore so what will the weather be like? Also there’ll be no marriage in heaven, that’s what my Bible seems to say anyway, so what will my relationship to Jane be then? And what about children… it doesn't appear there’ll be any if there’s no marriage which will keep the place nice and tidy don’t you think?

It’s easy to speculate and try and work things out but I don’t suppose many will come close to the reality and I do find it encouraging to look at Old Testament prophesy concerning the first coming of Jesus. At the time there were very few who immediately recognised him as Messiah, indeed religious leaders used scripture to try and prove he couldn’t be. But the Bible is God’s infallible word and sometimes needs a deeper level of understanding to work out what he’s really saying. So when we look at the present expectation of the coming King and a future life in eternity maybe there’s a lot more to Biblical understanding than first meets the eye. Maybe I’ve got it wrong and you’re ideas, whatever they are, will fit better. One thing’s for sure though… it’s gonna be good in heaven because Jesus lives there!

1 Corinthians 2:6-12 ‘Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.’ (NLT)

Friday, September 09, 2011

9th September

I have a dream… of a new world, a place to live in peace. Perfect peace. And completely safe with no possibility of intentional harm or hurt from anyone or anything. Maybe a few scrapes and bruises for the more adventurous days, but that’s allowed, though certainly no more ill health. And I’ll be young and strong again; middle age for me will become a thing of the past… though some might say I’ve never really grown up anyway. Work will be a pleasure and I’ll be able to do exactly the type of work that suits me. I expect to enjoy it so much I’ll be quite exhausted needing a good sit down to recover each evening… though not for too long as there’s a life to be lived.  Perhaps with a few lessons I could really become skilled as a musician, and with voice training the singer song-writer route sounds right up my street. But I’m not sure I want to live on a street again. Farm life sounds good, so maybe I should spend my working hours growing exotic foods, or flowers. And I quite fancy a shed filled with development technology. A place to experiment creatively with new ideas… let the inner engineering scientist out as it were. How about reinventing the wheel? Or pollution free transport? A garden with a babbling brook and sculptures and flowers and birds and a view across open countryside having hills within easy walking distance. And a special garden room for writing my latest work of fiction…

And I love the smell of hay so maybe folk music with country dancing would be fun in the barn. It could be sound proofed for my heavy rock days. Of course there would be friends of like mind to enjoy making music, creating theatre and works of art unrestricted by established convention. Let’s live outside of any box. Maybe story telling could be resurrected… I don’t imagine having much use for a telly. Though others might and I love to rise to the challenge of solving the occasional computer game. After a swim across the nearby lake we could return for badminton in the barn. Our neighbour would then happily share the wine he produces from his extensive vineyard, whilst we plan our next travel adventure photographing sea eagles in the north of Scotland.

I have a lovely vision of Jane and me eating out at a seriously posh restaurant. We’ll be wearing our best bib and tucker and I’ll tell the story of how my life has been since she left me. It’ll be a wonderful story of hope fulfilled, of joy made new and a life well worth living. Then I’ll hear the sound of heaven in her voice once again as she shares something of the treasures that still await me. And there’ll be a guy playing violin coming to play at our table. I’ll stand to take Jane by the hand and we’ll hold each other close in a slow dance that may last for all eternity...

Revelation 21:1-7 ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.’ (NLT)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

8th September

Here we go again, another trip down memory lane. And now I’m remembering the beginning of a walk across the Yorkshire Moors, with all four of my much younger children still living with us and on holiday together. We didn’t get more than a few hundred yards along the bridleway before my youngest daughter and I both decided that was quite far enough and we hurried back to the car. And this evening I had the exact same experience, except I was minding my own business sat indoors, working playing on my laptop. Of course I’m talking about bee stings, and this time all I did was brush my hand against a slight tickle on my neck… but it was most confusing, as well as a little painful for a few minutes, whilst I tried to understand why there was a shooting pain in my thumb. I suppose I must have collected it on my walk through the woods this afternoon, but it was a tiny little thing… made even smaller after I whacked it with my shoe!

Whilst that kind of surprise is not exactly welcome I do generally enjoy the spontaneity of more favourable surprises. And there have been many over the years. But the best for me have always been when new people came into my life, especially those who become special friends. Jane was like that from the day I first went out with her, we got along wonderfully. And although neither of us was a committed believer the main topic of our first conversations was about the existence of God. But it took a further 11 years before we did anything about it and started going to church. I have four children and have also been surprised by every one of them on many occasions. Watching your kids grow and develop into caring sensitive adults with quite different personalities is such a special privilege. I’m not quite sure how it happened as it’s certainly a surprise to me when I consider that, at least in some small way, I had something to do with how they turned out.

The biggest surprise of my life though was the day I met God. I’d sort of considered that church was basically just a safe and quite healthy social group and I enjoyed it a lot through my teens. It also provided a moral foundation to my education, certainly compared with what was happening elsewhere in the 1960’s. But basically I could see no evidence of the certain existence of God. So I decided that if God did exist, one day he would reveal himself to me, and in the mean time I could do nothing about it so I just got on with life and ignored the problem… and God. And that wasn’t really a good idea as before long I stopped attending church completely. But when I started going again, many years later, it only took the Lord 6 weeks to reveal himself to me. And all the lights came on… I understood what it truly meant to be a Christian and boy was that a surprise.

Luke 24:31 ‘Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

7th September

Ah… that’s better. A relatively quiet day, including my walk through the woods and I reckon I’ve ‘bottomed out’ on the present downer. I still feel really sad but no worse than yesterday which is helpful. And the tears have dried up as well, which makes it easier to relate to other people

But… I’ve been thinking again about doubt, working through some pretty fundamental questions regarding the nature of God and how we journey with him. And dare I say it, even thinking about whether he actually exists. Now there’s an admission from a man who has wholeheartedly dedicated the past 29 years to serving Jesus who is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. But my faith journey has to be robust enough to handle the toughest of intellectual challenges, as simply ignoring or simplifying them is no answer.  So has sociology got it right, for example, when it commonly views religion as man’s way of answering existential questions such as ‘what happens after we die?’ And the progression to formulating the existence, with associated experience, of deity is then determined to be an illusion. Am I deluded? Does God actually exist?

Of course he does. With my whole heart and with every fibre of my being I say yes he does exist and exactly as revealed in his word, the Bible. And that is not just ‘wishful thinking’; he has confirmed his presence in my life in countless ways over the decades. I spent the first 30 years of life doing my own thing, which for a long time included going to church, but I was not really a Christian who walked the life of faith… I just enjoyed church. Today I know the God who answers prayers with the miraculous, who changes lives, including mine, in ways we could never dream of. But my faith journey, as with all Christians, has at it’s heart a very real and intensely personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s hard to put into words but there was a day that I reached out to God and he reached down to me, revealing his presence and changing my life with his infinite loving kindness for ever. And that may sound like religion, but it isn’t. Religion is a man-made device for controlling behaviour and belief. True Christianity is a relationship with the person of God as revealed in Jesus. I’ve seen wrong behaviour and deception in the church many times over the years but have decided that were the whole of Christendom to deny or defame Christ, I couldn’t.

Oh yes, and he has made clear that there is life after death, though there are a couple of quite different destinations we all book into. But that’s not the only reason I believe, there’s a lot more to it than that. Right now though I just want to spend my time on earth and then through eternity living with Jesus… wherever that takes me.

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 ‘But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

6th September

I’m waiting for the tide to turn. The waves of grief are still crashing in messing up my day. I say messing up, but really grief is very healthy even if a little too tearful to engage with any ‘normal’ activity. The problem is it leaves me feeling ill and suffering a bad head but it will pass I know. I suppose the lows are not really as low and the ‘highs’ if you want to call them that are getting a little higher. Time is a healer but I believe only as much as I allow myself to engage with the grieving process. I’m getting there I know, but today I feel pretty rubbish. I’ve missed out on my walk for a couple of days now and perhaps that’s more important than I realised. I find it wonderfully therapeutic but I spent yesterday with my grand-daughters and today I was just too ill to cope with battling the wind and rain. Maybe tomorrow.

I travelled to Loughborough this morning to visit my daughter and grandson. He’s started at playgroup every morning so that’s a big change for him and mum. And my daughter’s still suffering from the loss of her mum so we had to comfort one another with a few hugs. I don’t know where I’d be without my family… they’re wonderful at supporting and comforting me.

I just feel really sad and lonely, I want my wife back…

Psalm 56:8 ‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.’ (NLT)

Monday, September 05, 2011

5th September

Well I made it and that was a surprise I must admit. I’m talking about the 7am church prayer meeting. It’s happening every day this week so I’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but today was a good start with a reasonable turnout… it felt a little sleepy though. And church is always an interesting mix of people especially on a work day when we get church pastors dressed in their usual shorts and T-shirts praying alongside a hospital consultant wearing an appropriately expensive suit! The coffee was good as well. I let go of all my church responsibilities to give Jane my full time attention a couple of years ago and have begun to start thinking about engaging again. I still feel rather drained emotionally and have to be careful physically as well but somewhere down the line I have to start doing stuff I know. And there are always opportunities to serve, particularly during the day time when most are at work. I’m sort of hoping that by praying for the work of the church the Lord will touch my heart and show me where and how I should be connecting. We all have something to offer, whether it be a little or a lot, but by giving of ourselves we gain the sense of belonging and that’s what’s missing from my life at the moment. I feel like I belong with Jane and she’s not here… I’ve been really, really missing her today.

Today was my final child-minding session for my older grand-daughters so we had a trip out to Bolsover Castle. Despite the wind and the rain on the journey there we saw the sun come out and even had our picnic outdoors which was a surprise. It feels like the end of summer, especially as the autumn colours are appearing earlier the usual, but I’m beginning to get itchy feet. I reckon I’ll have to load up my motorhome before long and go visit the coast again… at least the campsite will be quiet now the kids are back at school.

Romans 12:4-5 ‘Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.’ (NLT)