Monday, April 30, 2012

30th April 2012

Bereavement is tough. Though on reflection, I have to say that the past 11 months have been the most important of my life. In many ways completely horrible, of course! But despite the immense personal challenge just to cope with the emotional turmoil, I can see so much of God’s hand of favour at work in my life. He is guiding my steps, and more than that, at the most difficult of times he seems to quite literally carry me over whatever hurdle is set before me. I’m so grateful for his presence on so many occasions… Christmas, family birthdays, holidays and all the rest of it. My confidence in the Lord is growing day by day, month by month. The reality of his grace is self-evident. Without him I’d be a total wreck, but in actuality I feel pretty good and really quite positive about my future… most of the time. I still seem to have some ups and downs, but I’m quite sure that I’m heading in the right direction. Yes I’m becoming a more whole person; the challenges I’m facing are beginning to be more normal after the years of visiting hospital cancer departments. I’ve been meeting a couple of guys who in different ways are still connected with that world and I really feel for them. It’s almost impossible to plan very far ahead, everything is dependent upon the next hospital appointment. But almost is not quite enough. There is another way to live. God’s way… listening to his voice, following his call, his guiding hand directing our paths.

None of us knows what really lies ahead. We have a choice to live in hope or the despair of pessimism. To the very last day of her life Jane lived with peace in her heart and hope in her encouraging smile. She never gave in to the call of darkness, not for one moment. In the midst of the most challenging of days, when all our earthly hopes were crushed by bad results, we still had fun, a laugh… a coffee, a chocolate bar in the hospital garden, whatever. Pretending to escape into a world of daffodils and spring blossom, leaving the world of cannulas, oxygen tubes and the never-ending bleep of infusion machinery malfunctioning. And we still made plans. Yes, Jane’s business plans had to be shelved when she ended up in a wheelchair; so then we made plans for our time together in eternity. When the Lord returns to planet earth, I believe we’re going to be really busy. So Jane and I picked out our new house and talked of the work we’d be doing based there. My photo shows her standing waiting for me outside the gatehouse, which is a bridge over the moat… dreams are supposed to be ambitious aren’t they? Ok plans change, no problem, but at least we have one to start out with and if that one doesn’t fit we’ll get another one!

Psalm 25:5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.’ (NLT)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

29th April 2012

This little scene brought tears to my eyes this afternoon. Yes, this is a corner of my hall that had a special touch from Jane. The two oil paintings were done by my oldest grand-daughters a year or two ago, so as an artist Jane obviously gave them pride of place. I seem to remember she even gave them the paints and canvas to do the deed. And the framed artwork was a gift from my daughter for Jane’s very last birthday… I can’t imagine we’ll be counting our age in heaven, somewhere down the line we’d run out of fingers for sure! It contains a very special craft activity organised for my whole family; we all made a small square felt ‘thing’ with all manner of patterns and shapes. I created a tree, Jane a heart and so on. My grandkids often look at it and remember that special day with Nana, pointing out their own work. I have a video as well. That’s fine, but this afternoon the two little one’s were crawling around trying to put their wet weather gear on and all of a sudden one of them managed to find the little battery switch for the lights. I’d forgotten they even existed. And that made me really sad. The whole ornament thing with curly wood and neon lights was Jane’s project. I never understood it, though I’m quite happy to leave it there, despite regularly knocking it over. My grandkids totally get it though! Somehow Jane was always able to tune into ‘children’s world’, she’d always have something prepared for their visits. Today I felt inadequate as I read ‘Five Little Kittens’ for the umpteenth time. I can’t understand why I’ve only got one suitable book to read to them, but have no idea how to go about getting another. I don’t even know if I need to. Maybe Jane has a hidden supply somewhere. By the time I get organised they’ll be all grown up and not interested anyway. I find it so hard to tune in when they’re not visiting.

But, and it is a big but, we still seem to get on well. I may not be a qualified child-care professional as Jane was in her early career pathway, but I do know how to fill my cupboard with a whole selection of treats. On offer today I had Twix, Kit Kat, Cadbury’s Mini Roll and Jaffa Cakes. Alongside, Kiwi Fruit, Bananas and Strawberry’s… all organic of course. Then their eyes nearly popped out after I gave them a glimpse, just a glimpse mind you of a speciality Swiss Roll made with fresh cream. So after a taste of chocolate, one tackled Pear and Butterscotch the other Greek Style Honey Yoghurt, again organic. Apparently they were quite posh!

Truth be told, I remember last year one of Jane’s final instructions was to make sure I always had something in for the grandkids. I’m trying. Maybe too hard, but they all seem to like calling round and I always make sure I ask mum’s permission before opening my cupboard door. Daft question really, as both mum’s are quite happy being at the front of that particular queue!

Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged’ (NLT)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

28th April 2012

Some days are worse than others and the empty space I live with cannot be ignored. For sure, in general terms I’m getting much stronger and at the moment I feel particularly encouraged, but the pain of loss has not gone away just yet. A bit like my photo edit, my life really doesn’t feel quite right. There’s something missing. All the colour’s gone. And almost all my dreams have died, along with Jane. I feel a little like the old me, looking through a pair of binoculars trying to catch a clear view of something still in the distance. But it seems like only yesterday that Jane and I regularly visited Deal and even began to make plans to move there. In my mind’s eye I could ‘see’ the house we would live in and we began to browse estate agent websites. On a couple of occasions Jane became more pro-active by pointing out specific properties and insisted that we should view next time we were down there. Just to get a feel for the move. I had very clear sight of the new life we would live and became totally enthusiastic about the whole venture. We built a good connection with a local church having a particular emphasis in an area of need that both Jane and I empathised with. Considering our intermittent travelling situation they were incredibly welcoming. For some time both Jane and I determined that we should move, but then the demands for specialist medical attention led us quite firmly towards Nottingham. The dream had to die, no choice. Intensive treatment for a particularly rare and serious cancer needed the clinical trials unit there. And palliative care doesn’t work in a motorhome either.

My problem is that I’m not sure if that particular dream has completely disappeared. Of course in one sense it’s completely gone as I can’t go live in Deal with Jane. And no way do I feel it right to sell up and relocate on my own. Nonetheless somewhere locked away in my heart is a little gem of an idea that says one day I should find a way to spend an extended period of time down there… and just see what God might do. I’m not sure how to go about it, but if I were to find a way to build a new bridge with those living in the area it still might work. I certainly feel unsettled in Derby, but then again I just feel unsettled with my life full stop. Probably nothing to do with where I’m living. Ok, another week and maybe I’ll go find the motorway in my motorhome again.

Acts 17:26 ‘From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.’ (NIV1984)

Friday, April 27, 2012

27th April 2012

By Owain Davies (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
From here

Expect the unexpected. Now there’s a simple dichotomy to ponder on. Anyway, life often has it’s little surprises and today I’ve enjoyed another. Yes, for the second time in 48 hours I’ve had an unexpected visitor. This time, a guy I used to know extremely well, but have had almost no contact with for maybe 17 years. The funny thing is, that almost literally a minute before the doorbell rang I was actually thinking about him. How weird is that? Actually not at all, if you believe that God speaks to his children. Although I can’t remember what I was thinking, I’m quite sure the Lord was helping me ‘tune in’ to my pending visitor. I really do have to be a little more discerning about what God is saying sometimes, though I was distracted by trying to work on preparing my hall for decorating. Once upon a time, in Christian circles, we’d commonly discount all coincidences as being more accurately God-incidents. Come to think of it, there’s not too much wrong in thinking like that. One thing is for sure, the Lord always surprises. And being both designer and creator of the universe, the author of life itself, he certainly is well able to make something new happen.

So my visitor and I played catch-up and it wasn’t long before our conversation turned to the question of why God allows suffering in the world. It’s one of those subjects that gets churned quite regularly I know. Especially when the Lord apparently healed all he chose to pray for when he walked upon the earth, and he commands us to do likewise. Yes, the Bible does talk quite a bit about the Lord’s power to heal through us, his followers. But then again the person of Jesus initially came and worked, with few exceptions, exclusively for the people of Israel. He basically only ever did the work he saw his Father in heaven doing and turned aside from most others. Now obviously that work eventually broadened to encompass the whole of mankind, but nonetheless the principle remains… we need to seek the face of God for his will, day by day, year on year as we journey through life. Maybe the next time I visit the sick he will have shown me his willingness to heal whoever that person is. No matter the condition. Then I’ll pray the prayer of faith and speak a word of healing with complete confidence. In the meantime I’ll keep praying for God’s mercy and grace whilst simply petitioning for a work of healing in the needy. And I should keep a First Aid kit handy as well.

So then, I wonder who’ll come knocking on my door next. Maybe I shouldn’t expect anybody. Or should I?

Colossians 1:24 ‘I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.’ (NLT)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

26th April 2012


By TechGizmo [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
To be content with one’s lot in life is always a challenge. And every marketing managers nightmare… yes there’s a niggle inside me at the moment as I consider the next gadget to add to my collection. Not so long ago my 2G mobile, super-slow desktop pc and absolutely enormous small screen TV met my every need in that department. Then I made the mistake of engaging with the ‘real’ world of technology and learned to understand desire in a new way. Sometimes I think it’s spelt l.u.s.t. and that is an ungodly instinct I find easy to recognise whenever the latest shiny black gizmo is set in front of me. Actually, that is often the only reason I can truthfully find for parting with my several hundreds of pounds, so that helps in deciding what I should buy and what I shouldn’t. So right now I’m thinking about tablets. The only sensible choice is between Apple and the still playing catch-up Android. But though iPads are beautiful to use they’re hopelessly complicated to interact with if no App is available. I’m not sure about playing catch-up so maybe a compromise with a new mobile; they do clever stuff don’t they? I’ve only ever done PAYG, so a contract might open a door in that direction and then I would have options regarding my house phone…

It’s so easy to justify purchasing what is basically an expensive toy. My laptop works fine and my hand me down phone has 3g and wireless now so I needn’t hurry. Nokia Apps are almost non-existent but there you go, I have more important things to think about. Don’t I? Yes, I’ve lost my wife, I’m a widower and I’m lonely. That’s a far bigger issue than any lack of electronic wizardry. I may be progressing with my grief journey and getting used to the idea that Jane has died, but I just haven’t settled to the idea of remaining single for the rest of my life. I hate it! So much so, that I sometimes find myself daydreaming, trying to imagine ways to meet a new special person and then who knows what might happen. I’d be quite happy just to have a friend to talk to right now. But it’s not like shopping for an iPad… you can expect they’ll be obsolete in a couple years and ready to be discarded. Not such a big deal at all. Relationships are far more complicated.

There has to be another way of living. Truth be told I don’t find it that hard to ignore technology, it’s not that long ago that the only mobile phones you saw were Star Trek communicators. And I well remember the birthing pains of dial-up internet access. But dealing with loneliness is not so easy. Somehow I have to persevere and keep my focus upon the Lord, he will guide my steps and open doors that need opening. The last thing I should do is try and make things happen in my own strength. Hey, what about the Galaxy S2 running Ice Cream Sandwich; maybe there’ll be a really good deal when the S3 is released?  

Sometimes I can’t help myself…

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

25th April 2012

This evening I was given a taste of a ‘lost world’… my photo is of Jane and her uni friends in New York. That was a really exciting adventure a few years ago. But I’ve actually been feeling really excited about my future, which is pretty weird as I’ve also had a lousy headache all day! But there’s something in my spirit that’s stirring; a hope of change for the better that’s settling on my heart. I just feel enthusiastic about life again. And I even started a new decorating project, my hall. Yes the biggest room in my house has been crying out for attention for a good year or so, though it only really needs the woodwork painting and I can ignore the walls. But it’s still a big job, for me.

Anyway as I was starting to write this, my doorbell rang and I found an old friend of Jane’s standing there. She and her husband were once neighbours and we lost touch a few years ago; I’d thought about them last year but had no contact details. So ok, I found it a little upsetting having to share about Jane, but pleased that one more ‘loose end’ has now been tied up. I enjoyed spending an hour catching up on both our families and found it encouraging. There’s still plenty of other stuff connected with Jane to deal with though, as I still have her wardrobe and untouched personal filing… not to mention a small mountain of art materials and artwork. Sometime later this year, I guess, I’ll make a start.

I sometimes wonder about a few other people Jane used to know and who’ve also not been told. Funny how even quite close friends somehow disappear as life unfolds. Sooner or later I’ll cross tracks I guess and find a way to share about what has happened, but in the meantime I just have to move on. And I’m still finding my feet as a single bloke trying to connect with the world outside of family. Just a few days ago I bumped into a different friend of Jane’s at the local shops, though this time she’d attended the funeral and was complete in touch. It still felt a little strange, but strangely comforting just connecting with my old life. I’ve not only lost Jane, but also all her personal friends. I guess there’s no way round that, but it’s weird how one minute I’m being fed little snippets of information about any number of people and the next they’ve quite understandably disappeared from my life. I often think about Jane’s recent time at University and during 7 years she made a lot of new friends. I met quite a few at different events and especially during the trip to New York. Then one time we even rescued one after her car broke down on a dark country lane in the middle of nowhere. She was seriously underdressed for the icy weather, just a few miles from the wedding reception we’d all been to. I felt quite gallant offering up my heavy winter coat and then satnav to help the breakdown people find us. Another nice little adventure to remember. I like helping out. Anyway, these lovely people have quite disappeared from my life. They were only friendly towards me because of Jane. I need to make my own connections. I have a new life to walk into.

Ok, I still feel excited and optimistic about what lies ahead; it’s just that I sometimes need to unpack a little on that which I’ve lost. I guess it’s therapeutic, acknowledging loss in a more complete way.

 Psalm 27:14 ‘Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.’ (NIV)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

24th April 2012

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
From here

It’s been a fairly uneventful day. So far! I’m off to my church house group this evening so who knows what might happen there. I wonder sometimes if I should expect more, not necessarily just in a church meeting, but in any part of life. So today I transported Jane’s mum to her old folks meeting and I guess that was simply my good deed for the day. Yes that’s the Boy Scout law still imprinted on me. I then visited a friend and we listened to part of a Nicky Gumbel DVD sharing on church vision at a leadership conference. Good stuff and a valuable way to spend a half hour, being reminded of the importance of living a Godly life.  But for sure that’s easier said than done, and there always seems to be something that catches me out. We’re all on a journey though and whilst we need to persevere in avoiding the obvious problem areas, the only real way to grow in Godliness is by spending time with the Lord. In some mysterious way as we draw close to him, he changes our heart’s desires and that which has always tempted becomes a non-issue. But in the meantime he ‘covers’ over all our failings with his love and grace and especially forgiveness… when we ask that is.

So how do I spend time with God? The Bible is an essential part of my life. For me the message it shares regarding my life is non-negotiable; so the wisest counsel from the closest friend or the most profound message from a Christian minister, if it cuts across any key teaching of the Word of God it simply has to be discounted. God cannot contradict himself, so if scripture reveals the will of God then that is always the higher authority. So every day I read some, often listening to an audio reading as well. Over the years I must have read the whole Bible any number of times and still find it enlightening. Then I believe that worship is the highest calling of God upon my life. And it’s far more than just a musical experience, really it’s a whole of life thing; it’s to do with loving God with all my heart soul and mind, in every situation and every activity, no matter the challenge I’m experiencing. It’s to do with laying down of both my concerns and also the treasured areas of my life and focussing upon the Lord. He is the answer to my every need and the source of every provision. Prayer is a key to intimacy in worship and connecting with the heart of God. As I speak with the Lord he changes my hearts desires by filling my life with his wonderful peace, and soothes my every concern. Then he shows me the way I should go forward, directing my steps that I might serve God purpose.

The Lord has given me a year to exclusively mourn for Jane. It’s been intense. But May 24th I intend to turn the page of my life and begin to move on. I expect I’ll trip over myself at times and succumb to grief but more importantly I also expect God to show up in a new way. My new life begins then. So yes I’m expecting great things of the Lord. And I want to do my bit for the Kingdom of God. Part of that is to do with becoming more like him.

Galatians 5:19-23
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!’ (NLT)

Monday, April 23, 2012

23rd April 2012

Well then, the way I felt today I could easily have stayed home and waited for the hail and heavy rain to arrive.  Then I’d have an excuse to stay in and do very little. But that achieves nothing, and I can’t be living like that. At one stage I watched a couple of episodes of West Wing; I'm working through my box set for the second time now and I quite enjoy it’s political twists and turns. But today I was moved to tears as I watched an act of kindness unfolding. I’m still very emotional and tend to cry at almost anything. I have to get out and do stuff, and for sure, one day I’ll meet someone and my life will change. Maybe I’ll simply meet with the Lord and he’ll inspire me to action in a new way, maybe I’ll meet another person and who knows what may happen then.

So after a few chores and yet one more precarious balancing act standing on a ladder – repairing a security light – I eventually decided to walk around Kedleston. My first visit for a few weeks, and the sun just about came out to brighten my excursion. It was a lonely and empty trail I walked along though, and rather muddy underfoot, but the presence of God was wonderful. 

There were hundreds of these little characters all around the grounds. Every single one a miracle of new life. That’s exactly what I need… a new life. I was thinking again today, just about every dream I ever had instinctively included Jane. After 40 years together I had no concept of life without her, and I just assumed she’d always be with me. In one sense my whole life died with her. I have to start again with brand new dreams.

But one hurdle remains at the front of my thinking. I just don’t like being alone. I’m trying really hard to get used to it… and failing miserably. Pretty much every morning I wake and imagine Jane lying in bed beside me, this afternoon I walked along ‘holding her hand’. Somehow I have to move on, and soon. 

Bluebells… or should I say purplebells? There’ll be an on-line debate about that somewhere I guess. Anyway, year after year they just keep popping up and they produce a great splash of colour to confirm that spring is truly on it’s way. Every now and again I get to recognise the hand of God at work in my life, I’m totally convinced of his presence and his favour. With my human eyes and understanding I sometimes struggle to see anything other than the loss of Jane and that continues to break my heart. But the gentle and always respectful touches of God remind me that he is walking with me into something more. The winter of my life is passing, spring and new life is changing my season. I am moving on, the life I lived with Jane is being left behind and I will live a brand new one. 

Yes this picture is out of balance. There should be someone sitting here enjoying the view, that’s what the bench is for. I cannot imagine the next forty years without the intimate friendship of a really close companion to share life with. But Jane has gone and today I feel a little empty. Tomorrow has to be better.

Proverbs 18:22 The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favour from the Lord.’ (NLT)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

22nd April 2012

Today I did the National Trust thing, after my early morning church meeting that is. So here you see my daughter’s family, and yes I know I’ve been a little emotional all week but it’s lovely to see the four of them walking along holding hands. Family is really important to me and I’m so grateful to God for all my sons-in-law, though especially for the grandchildren they’ve given me. Both sets of parents are doing a great job at building family, and I consider it a real privilege to be invited out like I was today. Although we didn’t travel that far I took my motorhome and that was perfect for a very rainy lunchtime picnic. We all pretended we were on holiday together, though apparently it doesn’t ever rain when they go camping!

I’m feeling a little confused at the moment, specifically about the government’s proposed bill to redefine marriage. In simple terms they propose that civil partnerships be reclassified as marriage. Maybe I’m old fashioned, ill-informed or just plain religious but I just don’t get it. I’m certainly not a bigot though. But I find the whole thing offensive and can’t see why anyone would deem it necessary. It’s plain to see that there will always be a distinctive between a male-female marriage and either a gay or lesbian partnership. To me they all three are different from each other and there are consequences for each life choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very comfortable with those who choose a same sex union; that should be their choice for better or for worse so to speak. I believe all people are of equal value and so, for each of one us are our life style choices. So I don’t have any problem with any financial consideration being made equal relating to any committed partnership either. If a couple commit to join their finances together, that should be taken into consideration upon a break up for any reason. And why not with say two sisters or brothers who live together, why should they be treated differently? Basically I don’t like the heavy hand of state control over personal lifestyle decisions, unless it involves children. The vulnerable will always need protection. No, any finger of judgement I point at another will always be subjective, and can so easily turn back upon me.

It’s just marriage has always been seen to be the joining of a man and a woman; we even have active legislation going back 800 years with that definition. I find it bizarre and perverse that a government with no electoral mandate can almost on a whim seek to legislate to change that definition. For me marriage is precious, especially when God centred. I’ve liked being called father and husband, I don’t want to be called progenitor 1 or partner 1 and legally there’s all sorts of stuff like that down the road. Ultimately though it really feels like an attack on traditional marriage, especially when contractual equality already exists and it’s just a very expensive linguistic exercise. But then marriage is surely one of God’s good ideas anyway and it’s not unusual to find our Post-Christian society trying to remove God and Godliness from our world.

I’m not sure how well I’ve explained myself, so for those interested there’s more information and a staggeringly large Coalition for Marriage petition at http://c4m.org.uk/

Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (NLT)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

21st April 2012

When the storms of life come crashing in, everything seems a little blurred and it’s hard to imagine life being any different. How on earth can I walk along there without getting washed away? 

But sometimes just the passage of a little time changes everything. The sun comes out (it’s always been there really), and the way ahead becomes very clear. Yes, today I feel much better, though somewhat headachy. That’s just part of the M.E. thing so not that important. Hey, I’m no longer tearful and that is a relief! And I’ve had a nice day with the normal Saturday morning visit from my eldest daughter and, this time, both her children. So then I had the privilege of my eldest grandchild sharing her pre-teen angst about secondary school. I think it’s wonderful that she has such a good relationship with her parents and feels able to share this stuff. Her mum’s great! Come lunchtime my youngest daughter and her husband stopped by with all the ingredients for home-made soup and that made me happy. Our conversation eventually turned rather more serious though, as she told of her upset at the death of a guy who once shared a house with one of her close friends. Sounds like some sort of street brawl outside a city centre pub. And the guy subsequently arrested was also well known locally. It’s one thing having school kids fall out but that’s far more difficult to handle.

I’m so glad I walk with God. Whether I’m walking through a storm, or strolling in the sunshine; whether the storm is destined to last for years or blow over in a few hours, ultimately it doesn’t matter that much. The only thing that really matters is that God is with me… in the midst of the storm and in the beautiful sunshine of a blessed and favoured life. I don’t want to live a life of ease, with an excess of pleasure and all the rest of it without the Lord. I’d get myself in a greedy mess for sure. Yes, I’m sure I appreciate the finer things of life far more, having learnt to persevere through suffering. And I’m well aware that the measure of my suffering is nothing as compared with so many in the world. I really do see myself as favoured by God in a way that so many are not. Why he chose and called me into a relationship with him is a real mystery. I certainly deserve nothing, and yet, he gives me everything. Actually the only thing I ever did was to say, ‘Yes, I believe and I give my life over to you Jesus’. Truth be told that’s a prayer I need to make every day even now, as whenever I do things my way I end up feeling rubbish and just get into a mess.

Walking with God is a privilege and he always surprises… so there I was inserting the following scripture just to tie up my post and I suddenly realised my internet radio was playing a track I’ve never heard before, called ‘Your Grace is Enough’. I don’t understand how God causes something like that to happen, but I love it when it does… probably far more often then I realise!

2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is all you need.’ (NLT)

Friday, April 20, 2012

20th April 2012

All is well, I know. But nonetheless I’ve had another really challenging day. Yes, my heart is well and truly broken and I can’t stop thinking about Jane, and how much I miss her. More than that, with every fibre of my being I long to be with her, I need her to be with me. Life feels so very empty. Of course I know it isn’t, and that God has good things set before me, and my life can never truly be empty when the Lord is as close as close can be. But for sure, today it feels like it. And the strange thing is that I believe the Lord has opened my heart to embrace sadness once more for this time of mourning. So I’ve chosen to engage and not resist, with the sure and certain hope that I’m journeying with the Lord. I have to trust that it’s for good purpose and not just an indulgence; yes my hope is that at some point in the near future I really will be able to move on, let go of Jane and take hold of whatever the Lord sets before me. I don’t know how that’s going to work out, but I do know that I will not continue in mourning forever and a day. Jane is fine where she is, living in the eternal presence of Jesus in paradise. She faithfully completed her race and receives her reward, even today. One day we’ll meet up again, but in the meantime I have a new life to live and new stuff to do, new people to meet and new places to go. I have to let go and move on!

Yes, I have complete confidence that the Lord is with me at this challenging time. Whilst I don’t claim the detail to be anything more than my imagination, I have had a couple of repeated special experiences with the Lord over these past two days. During the last couple of years of Jane’s life she took to playing the tin whistle, and many times when I picked up my guitar she would pick up one of her whistles. I loved it. It took me back to the time when my eldest girls sang with me, and in my photo, from around 15 years ago, my son-in-law is also hiding at the back having fun with his bass guitar. A privileged way to spend a Sunday morning. So then, a few months before Jane died she was quite ill with the beginnings of serious problems in her lungs, and I was booked to perform a Christmas song at church. She was almost too ill to leave home, but did, and then at the last minute she walked to the front of the meeting to join me, produced a whistle and we played together in public for the first and last time… until yesterday! So there I was lost in worship, playing a whole selection of songs and I suddenly became very aware of the presence of God. Then the thought came that in some mysterious way I was joining in the worship of heaven, though sometimes I wonder if it might be the other way round. Maybe the host of heaven cannot resist joining in our worship? Anyway, I suddenly had the strongest sense that Jane was in heaven, right then, worshipping the Lord in exactly the same way that I was… only she was playing a whistle.

Hebrews 12:1 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith’ (NLT)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

19th April 2012

By Ckuhl (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
The funny thing is that, over the years so many folk have said how much I look like Eric Clapton that I guess there must be some truth there. I’ve even had strangers approach me in the street calling me by his name! It was easier to spot when I had short hair, I guess, but the guys quite a bit older than me, so I’m not sure how to take it. I do play guitar and even own a very similar instrument to the photo, but unfortunately I’m not quite up to his world class standard and truth be told neither is my guitar. Even so I can play a number of his acoustic style tracks, though whilst they’re recognisable, they are certainly not exact reproductions. But I love playing the blues and appreciate his gift, so that’s ok. I recently discovered something else we have in common… he is a man of faith. I make no claim regarding the form of spirituality that he embraces and have no idea about any recent church affiliation, but apparently his autobiography reveals previously hidden facts. He grew up attending a local congregation of the Church of England and developed a minimalist faith there. Over the years his troubled and particularly tragic life has been well documented but, commendably, in more recent years, he has chosen to begin and end every day on his knees… humbly praying to God, asking for help and giving thanks. When asked why he does all this, his response is ‘because it works!’ I totally agree. And Mr Clapton appears to now be happily married with a family of 3 adoring daughters to enjoy. I’ve been down that pathway, it was great! Ok, it’s reported that he just spent £3million on a special project Ferrari… I’m still waiting for that in my life. Or maybe not.

But we do have something else in common. Some years ago he wrote a song for his Reptile album with stunningly poignant lyrics… ‘All I know is since you’ve been gone, I feel like I’m drowning, drowning in a river of tears’.

That sums up today quite perfectly. I’m missing Jane and the sadness is quite intense. I’ve not really stopped crying all day.

Matthew 5:4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

18th April 2012

Splish, splosh; splish splosh! Yes, the morning sunshine of Great Malvern feels like a rather distant memory this evening. My photo is of the adjacent site to this week’s, which I used to use, and kept strictly neat and tidy. Once upon a time we really enjoyed it but recently I've chosen to change club membership. Of course I'm back home now after my too short break, and I've returned to a rather damp and rainy Derby. The only bright spot was the welcome smile from my son as he arrived home from work. But that friendly smile gradually turned to a cheeky grin as he informed me that, now we’re experiencing the wettest weather for some time, Derby has officially been declared a drought zone! I'm sure the ‘numbers’ add up and he really should know as he works for the local water authority, but ‘way to go’ Severn Trent, nice timing…

I’ve had some great conversations these last few days, and one obvious subject we covered concerned the changes in society which have happened in our lifetime. It’s an age thing of course, even being able to look back at generational change. But I spent my teenage years in the 1960’s, which was a particularly radical time of change for the UK. And I have some great memories of that time, though my life was mostly lived out within the Methodist Church and I really lived for music, playing in rock groups until I married at 21. The Lord quite wonderfully kept me from the excesses of that era, as all around me close friends were using cannabis and LSD. I never touched anything like that, and had have not the remotest idea how to go get a girl-friend. Somehow they always seemed to find me! I never took my eyes off my guitar; that was all I wanted. Until I met Jane. Although I still play all the time, today my focus has very much changed to the Lord… he really is all I want now. I’ve sometimes put my guitar away for a time; once I did that for a whole ten years. I’m still working on the idea of giving up on marriage though as it feels like it’s too much a part of my identity. I’ll get there I guess…

I don’t like the way that Christian morality is continually being removed from legislation, especially in response to prejudice against certain minority groups. I feel like I’m increasingly living in an ungodly country, but I also deplore prejudice against anyone for almost anything, it’s inhuman and wrong. What right have I to judge another for their lifestyle choice? But like it or not the Bible does make quite plain that which pleases God and that which does not. And it also makes clear how we are to use the guidance we find there. I don’t believe we should ever use the Bible as a legalistic weapon, passing judgement to condemn and then pass sentence upon others for their beliefs. It’s always been a radical book, countercultural if you like, but today it is not a book of law, indeed Christ came to set us free from just that. The Old Testament has a full declaration of every law needed to please God and the New Testament makes plain the truth that not one of us can actually meet those demands. Only one ever could and his name is Jesus. And he says that we should treat others the way we should like to be treated. So today I remembered the time on a campsite, when I inadvertently drove the wrong way on a poorly signed road, whilst trying to choose a pitch after a long journey… a warden came running alongside apoplectic with rage, shouting at me and my seriously ill wife. We quickly left the site and I did not renew my Caravan Club subscription last time. In November, at the site I camped on this week, I unthinkingly washed my windscreen down with a hose at the motorhome service point… a nearby warden politely allowed me to finish and then gently explained that it was against site regulations, and it would help if I could avoid it another time. He even spoke to me some time later to make sure I was not upset with his request! So am I happy now with the Camping and Caravan Club? You bet! So then, how should I share Biblical truths with those who are not living God’s way? Surely Jesus asks us to share his Good News, not an impossible list of ‘thou shall not’s’. Yes, much as it might fit my way of thinking, I sometimes wonder about the value of enshrining Christian values in the law of the land… especially when the political tide turns and legislation changes to cut off that which the Lord would say is good.

John 3:17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

17th April 2012

Yes it’s still windy, and I really do need a haircut, though that’s just not going to happen any time soon. We had a great time climbing up to the British Camp this afternoon and the views are wonderful. Though technically they are 15ft over the threshold of being called a mountain I can’t quite see it… they just seem like hills to me. Driving most of the climb helps I suppose, but then again that makes them very accessible for those not quite as athletic as we used to be. Apart from that somewhat energetic excursion though, it’s been a very relaxing day. I’m enjoying having company for this short break, though it’s back home tomorrow. Part of the idea is to distract my friend from his oncology appointment on Thursday when he expects to start his treatment. Life is a real challenge sometimes, probably for just about everyone. And when facing the more serious problems it can feel like everything’s slightly out of control. Certainly out of our control, though we have to trust that any involved doctor’s confidence is not misplaced. I sometimes wonder about serious ill health, I guess most do when so afflicted, why me? Or why my loved one? Usually there’s no answer to that one, unless we’ve spent years as a smoker or some other known cause of serious illness. But understanding cause and effect can never make the journey any easier. It’s always a challenge.

It’s so tempting as a Christian to ‘expect’ a privileged life with no major hassle. Maybe that is the experience of some, but I suspect they are few and far between. So how come, the creator of the universe, the one who forms each one of us in the womb allows sickness, along with many other troubles, amongst his children? Especially when the Bible quite clearly reveals the authority of God over such disorder. Indeed God, in the person of Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to go ‘heal the sick’! And those who follow on continue to not just be his disciples, but to do even greater things. There is always a sense of mystery when it comes to perfect understanding. We just aren’t there yet. Some claim that personal ‘sin’ can always be pin-pointed when affected. I find that claim to not just be simplistic but actually offensive and at odds with scripture. For me there’s a higher principle at work. We live in a corrupt world, where almost all face disorder, and at some point in our three score years and ten we’ll find ourselves connecting with the unexplainable and seemingly insurmountable; at those times we have a simple choice… do we ‘curse God and die’ or do we continue in faith with gratitude in our hearts for what God has done, simply putting on one side the questions about that which he has not yet done. Do we distance ourselves from the Lord and his goodness or do we draw close crying out for mercy and grace to persevere. One thing is for sure, I cannot heal anyone of anything that demands much more than a Band-Aid. But the Lord can. And only the Lord can fill a troubled life with his perfect peace and joy crowned with the hope of an eternity in paradise. I’ve seen that at work at very close hand.

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.’ (NLT)

Monday, April 16, 2012

16th April 2012

So where’s the sun gone then? Yes, I’m back in Malvern and although relatively bright it’s actually rather cold up in the hills. It’s nice to have company though as a friend of mine travelled with me this time. And having just settled down to write this it strikes me that our conversation has not slowed, even a little bit, since mid-morning. But it’s nice to connect with someone who moves in the same circles as myself, so we get to talk about church and stuff all day. I love it. Ok, Elgar crept in somewhere down the line. And maybe, JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis a little bit as well. Nothing wrong with an exploration of eschatology and missiology though is there?

Really though, the most valuable thing about the day is the wonderful sense of peace that pervades as I travel. I love camping, though purists might suggest my fully winterised motorhome with all mod-cons is a bit of a cheat. I don’t care. I like to be comfortable. My travelling companion is determined to sleep in his one man storm tent, alongside my vehicle. I can understand that, been there done that got the tee-shirt… it’s just that I’ve moved on now. I like a real mattress and a heater and a bathroom and all the rest of it! For me peace is everything at the moment. And I'm not just talking about a quiet environment either. Years ago, I can remember, when taking a holiday, I’d always have to go away for a couple of weeks. It would take me a whole week to simply unwind from work pressures; only then would I be able to relax enough to enjoy my time away. On at least one occasion I ended up taking my work with me and spent an hour or so every evening sat in the car with my work books whilst Jane prepared an evening meal. What a rubbish job that made me do that! Maybe I didn't really have to do it, I'm not sure, but I did. Anyway life is so very different now. I seem able to leave the pressure of life back in Derby and just instantly relax.

But really the only true peace I find is the peace of God. And the source of that peace is centred within my heart, irrespective of geographical location or external environment. I am drawing closer to the Lord I know, but learning how to live without succumbing, at least in small measure, to the normal stress and pressure of everyday living is something I still need to grow into.

Philippians 4:6-7 'Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.' (NLT)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

15th April 2012


Now I don’t claim this to be the best photo of a Barn Owl you’ll ever see, but at least it’s my photo. And a privilege to have been there to take it, although this was part of a display and easy to capture. I once managed to catch a few shots of another owl in the wild, and whilst the photo’s aren’t worth reproducing it felt much more exciting, especially when the thing first flew within a few yards of my motorhome. My back garden has the predictable selection of small birds mixed with a few blackbirds, magpies and the ubiquitous pigeons; so I quite like the drama of coming across these rarer breeds. Funny how, quite a few years ago, when Jane and I accidently stumbled across the Bird Reserve in Dunwich, we considered the whole twitching thing to be rather weird and of zero interest. But then, this last couple of years or so we discovered Bempton Cliffs and were simply awestruck with the experience. Yes that was where we saw the wild Barn Owl but I had very limited equipment, only a simple extra zoom digital camera and didn’t even think to take a tripod so had limited success. I know almost nothing about birds and so we took along a Bird Spotting book to tick our sightings off.


We did see Gannets…

Lots of them...

And even the occasional Puffin...

But this is one view I’ll never see again…

Ok, I need to make a point. Apparently maybe 200,000 birds nest on these cliffs each summer, and I can guarantee not one of them sits around worrying about anything. The vast majority seem to find a nesting site and food aplenty, that’s why they’re there. And the birdsong is incredible. If God can take care of them, year after year, I’m sure he can take care of me…

Matthew 6:26-27 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’ (NLT)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

14th April 2012

It’s frustrating and slightly annoying, when I see health continuing to deteriorate and I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing wrong. Today the headaches have restarted, not as bad as it can be, but still barely relived with normal painkillers. I feel very weak as well. A short walk to nearby shops left me feeling slightly dizzy. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is rubbish. I’ve said that before I’m sure, but I’ve also said many times that I’m determined to overcome this condition. And with God’s help that remains my firm intention. One good thing is that I actually feel relatively cheerful and that must help. But this morning I enjoyed my daughter and grand-daughter’s company for an hour or so, and I guess that has something to do with it. I always feel it’s such a privilege that my family choose to come visit so regularly and that’s three days this week I’ve seen this particular grandchild. And she always has such a lovely smile when I see her as well. Nothing to do with chocolate this morning as they brought their own treat… garlic bread warmed in my oven of all things. I’ll have to remember that one. Anyway this afternoon I took their example to heart and visited my own parents. My dad seems fully recovered from his time in hospital, though our conversation spread towards getting a wheelchair to help my mum get about. That’s a sad thought but she really does struggle to walk far.

My photo today is not exactly recent! Yes that’s a particularly slim Dave back in 1975. I don’t want to grow old. Who does? Or remain ill for a day longer than necessary. No-brainer! I know I can be quite stubborn at times. Who isn’t? But at least I can channel that particular character trait towards staying as young and fit as possible. This afternoon, as I was driving home, a young woman halted by the side of the road waiting for me to pass by. She’d obviously been out running, having bright red cheeks with all the gear, and apparently welcomed having to halt and then walk a few yards before restarting her run. I remembered my own running days, many years ago, and could almost feel the buzz that comes from such prolonged exercise. I recall leaving the house at 6.30am, quite regularly, for a short run around Allestree before helping get the kids up. During a different period of my life, when I suffered a serious back injury, I took up swimming and would manage maybe a mile at a time barely using my legs at all. And I did this maybe 3 or 4 days each week until I returned to work. Again, the ongoing glow of strength and fitness was quite addictive. I want some of that please.

Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.’ (NLT)

Friday, April 13, 2012

13th April 2012

Trying to remain strong at all times is just asking too much, and I’ve determined to write this blog honestly. A little muddled maybe, but no false bravado. Of course, as a man of faith there is always an inner strength that enables perseverance through the greatest of obstacles. It’s just that sometimes the journey through bereavement, involves such an overwhelming sense of loss that succumbing to emotional numbness becomes an easy option. Today I feel pretty rubbish again, and quite stressed. I’m missing Jane so very much, but more than that I’m struggling to keep hold of hope for my future. It’s so easy to imagine the years unfolding with little change as I grow gradually older and, yes I’m feeling a little low again. That’s not good and somehow I have to resist these feelings. Only the Lord can help me I know, but if my faith journey is only a spiritual journey, with no practical outworking, then ultimately it has little relevance to the world we live in. And little value in my life. I need to see change, change in me and change in my circumstances. Whilst I understand that the bereavement journey involves ups and downs, that’s obvious, and whilst I can see a progression towards some sense of ‘normality’, I’m really impatient for a more substantial step change. And I still feel trapped in an ill health/bereavement circle where grief exacerbates Chronic Fatigue, which in turn inhibits any sense of wellbeing through normal activity. And such a cloistered life with resultant introspection simply heightens the sense of loss. I’m fed up with my own company. And I’m fed up with moaning…

Yes, I have so much to be grateful for, and truly I am so very thankful for the Lord for all that he has given me over so many years. Not all have been blessed in the way I have, with a fantastic marriage and a wonderful family. And although I do have a serious illness, it’s not life threatening and basically still allows me to do most things I would normally do. In moderation, that’s all. Little and often seems to work, and I even get through just about any household job I ever did. Not so keen on digging a veg patch any more maybe. But today I decided to tackle replacing the wall mounted fan-heater in my shower room. Wonder of wonders, the replacement used exactly the same fixing holes as my 15 year old broken one. A far cry from the plumbing convolutions repeatedly needed, when replacing my electric shower… 4 times in the same 15 years! And the small retailer even gave me an unexpected 10% discount. So today, truth be told has really been a day of favour. I have nothing to complain about. And neither does my dad. He was discharged from hospital early this morning after a successful and simple operation yesterday. Apparently he almost ran out of the place; don’t blame him, though he did rather leave my mum trailing in his wake, admittedly supported by my niece, so that was all right.

I suppose it’s all to do with how we see things. My photo was taken from the British Camp, the Iron Age hill fort near Malvern and maybe I’ll get somewhere near there again after the weekend. But when I look at this view I have a choice… do I focus upon the splendid vista and enjoy the beautiful sunshine? Or, do I consider the stretched muscles in the back of my legs and the initial steepness of the climb to the top? And I mustn’t overlook the somewhat distant cloud cover, threatening to overshadow the day either!  

1 Samuel 16:7 ‘The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.’ (NLT)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

12th April 2012

I've had a quiet day today. Child-minding again, a little shopping and a few jobs around the home and that’s about it. I still feel quite exhausted with little stamina, but probably just slightly brighter so that’s good. My grand-daughters are lovely though, and really well behaved; so hot dogs for lunch and Johnny English on DVD sent them home happy again… maybe the steady trickle of chocolate through the day helped as well! Naughty grandad? Anyway, I do feel rather fragile and could easily sink today, but I’m persevering and having been occupied quite constructively for a good few hours I may well survive the day without tears.

I need to keep my focus upon the Lord, and away from the negatives that can so easily take hold. Every time the doubts start shouting, I find as I look within, that there’s a very small place in my heart where perfect peace rules. And as I focus upon that, it grows, softening the harshness of difficult emotions and becoming the dominant force at work in my life. I know that the Lord is bigger than any problem. I just need to reach out to him. Of course I’m still thinking about how to draw closer. Most of the time it’s really easy to just get on with things and basically forget about the Lord all together. Each day unfolds with activity or inactivity, but whatever, there’s always plenty to be thinking about. So how do I reach out to God for more of him in my life?

Somehow I need to give more time, exclusively to the Lord. And the emphasis is upon exclusivity, not necessarily just more time. Distractions surround me all the time; sometimes my own thoughts and emotions, sometimes ill health, but always the pressing business of the day. And then my priorities get confused. I know that spending quality time with God is the most important ingredient in my day, as he can help guide me through whatever pitfalls lie ahead, but it’s never quite that easy. My heart cries out for a closer walk with God and the mind of understanding agrees completely… it’s just so hard to put good intentions into practise. It’s far too easy to become religious and engage with a routine that becomes repetitive and then predictable, ignoring the creative inspiration of the Lord. I’ve read books, listened to countless preaches and even taught on the subject myself, but maintaining freshness in one’s personal devotional life is always a challenge. I still feel totally disorientated having lost my prayer partner, so of course I have an excuse. A good one? Never! My relationship with the Lord should never be dependent upon another person; enhanced maybe, but not dependent for sure. At the moment it’s just me and the Lord and I reckon that’s not a bad thing… for a season.

Matthew 7:13 ’You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

11th April 2012

For the past week or so I’ve been thinking about how to move on with my life. My woodland walks may be thoroughly enjoyable and even important, for a season, but there’s more to life than just walking. It’s always too easy to think of Jane at the moment as here for example is a photo taken on my normal route around Kedleston, but a couple of years ago. She’ll never join me on that walk again. Anyway, my thoughts are increasingly focussed upon some ideas I began to develop on my last trip to Deal. Specifically concerning hearing God and living continually in an awareness of his presence. So then, all the time I’m faced with decisions, both small and seemingly inconsequential and also large with more obvious long term consequences. Some decisions are no-brainers, as for example, today, my mum had asked me to give her and my dad a lift to hospital. Simply for a planned follow up, a quite small op that my dad needs to have done, hopefully to conclude the problems he had a month or so ago. As I say an easy decision. Then next week, I’m planning on taking a friend camping with me for a couple of days. Not too far as he’s recently had an op himself. So again not a difficult decision and sometimes circumstances transpire to make our choices quite clear.

I’ve been wondering, though, how to live at a completely different level. I believe the Lord directs our paths at all times, so yes he watches over us, guarding and guiding our way; but there is a sense in which we need to respond to him as he leads. I suppose it’s all about timing. When the Lord suggests, and it usually is only a suggestion, that I go to a particular place or do a particular thing; then surely it’s better if I engage at an early stage, rather than wandering around doing my own thing for who knows how long. So again, for example, all along I’ve determined to engage with bereavement in a purposeful way, by researching the challenge and seeking wise council. I could have just got on with it and not concerned myself with understanding the process at all. But instead I’ve chosen to engage with it as a journey, with a clear end in sight. Grief will not define my life forever. And I have to trust that the Lord has led me to walk this way. I’ve seen those who put on a mantle of grief that is totally overwhelming and that lasts for many years. Totally life destroying. There are others who seemingly ignore it completely and just carry on as though life has not changed at all. I’m quite sure that is simply postponing the inevitable, as the tears of grief are a gift from God, to be shed with him as a companion in life.

Anyway, whatever I do I want to do with the Lord as my closest companion. I don’t want to go wandering off down some blind alley, trying to work things out for myself. I might have said that at any point in my Christian life of course, it’s just I feel called to a deeper level right now. I suppose, ultimately, I want the miraculous in my life, I want the hand of God to be clearly seen. I want to make a difference; I want my life to mean something, I want to fulfil my potential whatever that is. I’m not looking for recognition from man either, as I just want to please God. And that means learning how to hear his voice rather more clearly than I do at the moment.

Matthew 25:23 ‘The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10th April 2012

Tortuous. A challenging day, with little respite from the pain of a heart so completely broken. Yes, I’m still missing Jane, she was always there in everything I ever did. My photo was taken not that much more than a year ago and yet in some ways it feels like many years, the separation is so unbridgeable. So given no more pressing concerns, and no activity able to distract, I had no way to avoid the upset of today. I can’t really put my finger on what started it, though my day has been blanketed with an overwhelming sense of loss. Of course, I also feel very lonely. And I’ve been fighting a mild headache all day, which often seems to happen when I get upset. But it seems like I’m on a perpetual merry-go-round, with very little to be merry about. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a long tunnel. How to survive, and persevere to get through the pain, is the order of the day.

I ‘enjoyed’ a very personal and quite special God moment this morning. I was changing the sheets on my bed, a chore that Jane always instigated and which, when I was around, we would make light work of by doing it together. She loved to have clean sheets on a freshly made bed and I started to think of how much she appreciated just about everything I did around the home. Whether it be chores, repairs or major projects she was always grateful for whatever I did. I miss that, but even more, I actually need that appreciation. Whatever I do now is pretty much guaranteed to go unnoticed by anyone. So whether it be the ‘poor old me’ thing or grief it doesn’t really matter, I just got really upset thinking about Jane not being there and started crying out to God. And he answered in a very particular way…

All day long I listen to music, usually CBN or UCB internet radio and as I was praying a song came on which spoke as clearly as if the Lord was standing over me. A worship leader I’ve not previously heard of called, Lex Buckley, was singing ‘Heaven Rejoices’. You can listen to it on YouTube here. The song speaks to those who wait faithfully; no matter the pain, the wounds, and the storms of life… God sees us as precious and heaven rejoices as we rise each day. The Lord sings a song of joy over us, he will breathe new life, heal our wounds and he wants us to know he loves us. His ways may be hard to understand but his plan is greater than we can imagine and he’ll never leave us no matter the darkness. Indeed, he crowns our life with immeasurable beauty… what a song and what a God, who loves us in such a way.

Isaiah 64:4 For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!’ (NLT)

Monday, April 09, 2012

9th April 2012

What a dull day. And I’m not talking about the weather, though it has been rather cold, dark and damp… in Derby anyway! No, I’ve been trying to be sensible by doing absolutely nothing all day. This last week has been far too busy and not at all good for managing Chronic Fatigue. But just sitting around all day is seriously boring and doesn’t suit me at all. At least I was successful in persuading my son to tackle a fairly strenuous cleaning job that I would have struggled with, especially today. So that was good. And I have had my Kindle to keep me nicely occupied as well.

Yes, the world of e-books has opened up a whole new enthusiasm for reading. Many years ago I had a sizable collection of books, mostly sci-fi, but there came a day when I decided to get rid of them all. There were very few I’d re-read and they occupied too much space. I now have over 70 books stored on a device the size of a very thin paperback. Currently I’m reading a couple of books a week and after extensive exploration of different genres I’m back in sci-fi world. So today I’ve been wandering around the galaxy exploring a very different and distant future, involving bizarre creations such as gene manipulation of cats transforming them into talking creatures of high intelligence. And artificial flat disc worlds supporting populations in the billions. All quite light hearted nonsense to help me relax.

I wonder what the future actually holds. There’ll be a day when those who belong to Christ will step into an eternal life with him. There’ll be plenty of time to explore, plenty of time to create and plenty to enjoy I reckon, but one things for sure… the creative power of God will always surpass the greatest work of fiction. The beauty of our planet is staggering, from the amazing life found in the deepest ocean to microscopic life forms revealed through the microscope we see the hand of God at work in new ways day by day, year by year. On a clear night, a short journey away from city lights opens up a window into the universe that is quite awe inspiring. From botany, biology and zoology to geology, physics and chemistry we have barely scratched the surface of understanding about planet earth let alone the infinite world of astronomy. And I’ve observed one interesting evidence of the existence of God and his work… with only a very few debatable or explainable exceptions, everything we see is quite beautiful. The whole of nature, indeed the whole of the universe is quite magnificent! Even the ugly evil to be found at times in mankind, should always be balanced with the intrinsic goodness and yes, beauty, to be clearly seen in almost everyone… given the right surroundings of course! Yes, despite the greatest challenge at birth and subsequent exposure to whatever life brings along, we’re all made in the image of God. It’s all explained right at the beginning of the Bible anyway. It’s called the fall of man, which of course affects everything as we were given ‘stewardship’ of our world by the Lord. It’s quite a challenge, messing up the perfect beauty of God’s creation but we’re giving it our best shot it seems. One day he’ll put us and it to rights though.

So then, with careful inspection of my Deal photo you’ll observe a small part of an enormous offshore wind farm. It’s barely noticeable, even on a clear day, and without a zoom lens it's easy to ignore. Some might say that is an ugly intrusion into a beautiful seascape. I’m not that sure... given the seemingly permanent cloud cover over nearby power station cooling towers, I know which I prefer.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’ (NLT)