Thursday, May 31, 2012

31st May 2012

No matter how lost we may feel, if we open our eyes there’s always a way forward. The path is always marked. Although I’ve certainly not been busy, today has been a very full day and I haven’t had time to begin to process how I feel about returning home. The Lord has touched my heart in a very special way over the past week or so, and I need to keep hold of that good work. I cannot allow myself to return to being an emotional wreck again, I remain determined to let go of Jane. But returning to my house with every room filled with memories of our life together is always going to be a challenge. And somewhere along the line I still have her wardrobe and personal office to deal with. I know that the Lord is journeying with me but right now it’s hard to gauge exactly where I am; there are things I’d like to be doing and I’m a little hesitant about ignoring my grief journey to start something new. Am I really ready to move on? It feels weird, almost miraculous but I have to say a big yes… emotionally I truly am a changed man.

I’ve been a committed Christian for almost 30 years, I know my God. I’m totally secure in my walk with him and can look back to countless memories of his intervention in my life. Not the least of which is the grace upon Jane as she lived through the trial of terminal illness. And I’ve taken time out to read and understand the Bible, an amazing revelation of the work of God in our world and life enhancing in so many different ways. Even today. I have complete confidence in Jane’s current whereabouts and my own eternal destiny… I’m on my way to heaven because the Bible tells me so! Yes, the Lord has been with me over the decades in a wonderful way; and my future is secure… so how could I doubt my journey through life today? I don’t. God is with me and working for good as I walk with him.

1 John 5:11-13 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

30th May 2012

 I'm back in Allestree, remembering my holiday…
My reason for visiting Deal was firstly to do business with God, on the anniversary of my wife’s death; and secondly to enjoy my retreat from everyday concerns. At the pier entrance is this great sculpture of a fisherman grappling with some enormous fish. It’s called Embracing the Sea and created by Jon Buck. For some unfathomable reason it reminded me of Jacob and the Angel, an alabaster sculpture in the Tate Britain; and then a consideration of my own struggle to do business with the Lord this past week. I’ve decided that before battling in prayer with God the initial hurdle of actually starting to pray is where I most often fall down. Am I the only one who finds getting down to prolonged prayer really, really difficult? Overcoming my own distractions, tiredness, wrong priorities and all the rest of it is a major challenge.

I had a great walk along the cliffs to the South Foreland Lighthouse and that reminds me that Jesus is the ‘Light of the World’. For sure I needed to meet with him and he has opened my eyes to see a way forward as I begin to progress beyond my journey through bereavement.

In some ways this may be a rather plain view, across the beach and out to sea, but nonetheless it is my favourite. I just love to sit and think in a place like this, with absolutely no distractions. Call me odd, but I once bought a cd of a recording of the surf on this actual shingle beach. Ostensibly to help me sleep when dealing with tinnitus, I simply find it quite therapeutic.

And this has to be my number one favourite location for blog writing/posting. It’s within a few hundred yards of a cell-phone tower, so pretty much 3g data connection guaranteed as I sit in my home from home motorhome! For creative inspiration there’s the glorious Dover Castle in one direction, a walk along the cliffs in the other, and behind my van is a most wonderful view across the English Channel… 

I’m not sure if my camera really does justice to this glimpse of France, it sure doesn’t look very far away at all though. And it’s as though the world, the whole world is really within a stone’s throw… hey one short ferry ride, then ignoring visas and the circumvention of trouble spots, I could be driving all the way to China!

Family tradition insists upon a walk along the pier, though at one time that also encompassed breakfast after an early morning car journey. But I can’t imagine eating out on my own, it’s just no fun. Deal is always so very sunny as well…

I was woken around 4am one morning with numerous fog horns sounding within a few miles of my campsite. I felt a little bleary eyed all day. There’s no escaping nature and no matter the closeness of our walk with God there’s certainly no guarantee of immunity from any of life’s great challenges.

But no matter the barren rockiness of our journey through life the Lord always reveals his beauty. Yes flowers such as these are pretty much scattered all along the shoreline.

Hosea 12:3-4 ‘Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God.  Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him’ (NLT)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29th May 2012

All good things come to an end. Or do they? Well my holiday’s about to finish, as I need to return home tomorrow. But that’s ok as it’s been the longest I’ve been away from home for a number of years, and I’ve had a really good time. I was rather unsure about making this trip, considering the obvious focus upon the anniversary of Jane’s death. And I’ve very much been hoping that after a year of prioritising my grief journey I might begin to move on which is a big ask for sure. So my photo today was actually taken right at the beginning of my break, and it obviously features a fishing boat. A working vessel in what for many is seen as a holiday destination, though Deal is certainly not a tourist hotspot by any stretch of the imagination! My point is that even though I’m certainly on holiday and enjoying the relaxation, I primarily came here to meet with God; to step away from my normal surroundings, and do business with the only one who can truly mend my life again. And I reckon he’s doing a good job…

I suppose I ought to be feeling lonely, as aside from brief conversations with my campsite neighbours, the only other people I‘ve  conversed with, in Deal, have been the supervisors at the self-scan checkouts. I always seem to break them. There have been lots of mobile calls though with mixed news from back home. So my son was told last week that his work contract would definitely end in about a month, then this week they’ve informed him they now have funding until next February! But I do seem to remember having a few words in prayer on the subject. And my eldest daughter also successfully interviewed for a new job as well, so that’s all very good. I like good news. And so I really don’t feel at all lonely, despite being alone for 12 days now, the Lord truly is my close companion and he is changing my heart as I spend time with him. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess I’d say that I just feel more complete as a person. More than at any time in the past 12 months for sure. Though still some way to go I’ve made progress and that’s good. And I don’t want that to end either.

Psalm 16:8 ‘I know the Lord is always with me’

Monday, May 28, 2012

28th May 2012

I love it when my world is at peace. Perfect sunshine and not even a sea breeze, so the English Channel is almost like a millpond. Yes, I’ve had another beautiful walk, this time heading north along the coast, and I’ve discovered these coastal walks are called the Saxon Shore Way. I suppose they might as well call it something to add a cultural flavour, though Harold lost his eye some distance away in Hastings. But there’s a sign close to Deal that claims Caesar landed his Roman army somewhere near there. And of course Henry VIII built a chain of castles to defend the coastline. I quite enjoy history even though I get muddled up, but there’s certainly plenty to engage with around here. At this moment I’m looking over the Dover cliffs and can quite clearly see France, though I cannot imagine what my dad went through living here during WWII when enemy guns were firing from the corresponding cliffs. We live in a privileged place in the world at this time in history when today’s news is filled with stories of atrocities in the Middle East and suchlike.

But though we may escape armed warfare in our homeland for a season, life still has it’s challenges for us all. God willing I seem to progressing through my bereavement journey and for the first time can see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a tough few years, and I’m so grateful that the Lord is with me, no matter what I face. His peace means everything to me, no matter what my circumstances. And this holiday has done me the world of good, I feel like a different person, though returning home will be the real test of course. Back to my decorating project and gardening. All very mundane, though I am booked into a church conference run over a few days at the end of this week. It’s a prophetic school entitled ‘Knowing the Voice of God’, so that should be a good refresher!

John 12:28 ‘Then a voice spoke from heaven’ (NLT)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

27th May 2012

Some days we really do get hot and tired… but not too grumpy! Not today anyway. Yes it’s been another scorcher, too hot and sunny to spend much time outdoors anyway. Sunburn just isn’t part of the plan for any holiday of mine, much as I enjoy being outdoors. But this week is the first time my knees have seen daylight this year so that’s good, even if they almost instantly began to turn a little red. I feel really relaxed and it’s great being able to sit outdoors of an evening, I’m convinced the Lord is changing me as I spend this time with him. I almost feel happy. Though if I’m not careful I begin to sense a little guilt at even saying that… aren’t I still a grieving widower? Maybe God is truly doing a new work in me and he’ll enable me to begin to move on. I’d love to see that happen! I know I keep saying it, but the message needs to be received by my heart, not just my head; Jane’s doing fine in heaven, she’s moving on quite nicely thankyou very much. Now it’s my turn.

It’s been an interesting day actually, starting with a walk into Deal when I decided to attend a church I’ve never been to before. It turns out today is Pentecost Sunday; I had no idea as I’ve not been raised in the sort of church which remembers dates in that way. And it was a very unusual meeting as they talked of the birth of the church, even choosing to sing Happy Birthday to one another. I didn’t quite tune into that one I have to say and I’m not really sure about the message either. But when the preacher revealed a large electric fan to illustrate his point on the wind of the Holy Spirit I felt much more connected. A lovely cool breeze across the pews was most welcome! Nonetheless I was full of admiration for how this quite elderly congregation accommodated and encouraged a group of folk from a local residential home. Yes, maybe a couple of dozen had very obvious mental health problems with very few inhibitions. I loved it. Every church should have a few folk prepared to engage in a running commentary with the meeting leader, at least in a polite and encouraging way as most were. Almost Pentecostal I reckon. But it did feel a little strange though having one person literally growling, quite loudly from the back, and the elderly guy in front of me continually talked to himself. Half way through the message he stood up just a few rows from the front and continued his muttering. An attendant carer spent a long time trying to persuade him to move to the back of the room though he wasn’t very happy about that. Don’t blame him I suppose as there was a crying baby back there! Any church that cannot welcome those who for whatever reason are different from the norm should shut up shop and close down I say. A well-presented and orderly preach is always going to be of secondary importance to caring for the needy. Hey, of course I include babies as well; every forward looking church should welcome them.

Psalm 69:33 ‘For the Lord hears the cries of the needy’ (NLT)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

26th May 2012

In God’s strength we can overcome every obstacle. Yes, this morning my pathway was somewhat obstructed after a cliff fall. But there were warning signs everywhere advising caution because of the danger of falling rocks. And I’ve had another fantastic day, with perfect weather and a great walk, though my initial route took me along the cliff top so when the footpath seemed just a little too close to the edge I turned back. I suffer very slightly from vertigo and decided I might as well walk where I felt more comfortable. Apart from the rather messy chalk, a simple scramble over the rocks enabled me to resume today’s ramble, though this section of my walk is not that exciting. It’s owned by the M.O.D. and is a rather derelict Royal Marines firing range with lots of collapsing concrete everywhere.

The Lord is being really good to me as I spend these few days on my own, I feel totally at peace and I’m actually enjoying myself. I just love being outdoors in sunny weather and am quite convinced it’s beneficial in recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And I’m even getting used to pretty much being on my own which is surprising, as the only people I’ve talked to all week are my immediate neighbours on the campsite. This afternoon had some potential for embarrassment though, as after parking up on my pitch I wandered across the back of theirs to plug my electricity cable in… let’s just say I caught a not quite so young lady sunbathing continental style! She didn’t bat an eyelid, so neither did I and as us Brit’s do, I simply made brief remark of the wonderful weather. Ah well these things happen, but I think I’m old fashioned or something. Maybe Godly, but it’s certainly not for me to judge.

As I spend this time walking with the Lord I can begin to feel the pain of bereavement easing. Now and again I think of Jane and instinctively run through her experience during the final few days of life, wondering what she was thinking and feeling behind the confusion of morphine sedation. But unlike in even the very recent past, my thoughts simply do not progress beyond a couple of minutes. If that. It’s as though the Lord is saying enough is enough, I don’t need to torture myself with these memories any longer. He’s preparing me to move on with the rest of my life.

Psalm 147:3 ‘He heals the brokenhearted’

Friday, May 25, 2012

25th May 2012

What a wonderful day to be alive, and what a beautiful place to spend it. Yes, as I write this I’m in a car park on top of the White Cliffs of Dover. Hey, I get 3g here so why wait until I get back to my rural campsite and it’s time consuming data connection? So then, I’ve had a great walk along the cliff top and it’s not that far to reach the South Foreland Lighthouse; apparently the site of the world’s first international radio transmission. The partner station was in Wimereux, France. Nonetheless, as often happens in this area, when I approached said Victorian lighthouse I received a text informing me that I was now in France and to be aware of my change of tariff. Maybe that invalidates Marconi’s world first claimJ. Really though, I guess mobile signals have yet to find a way to reach through a cliff face and the French signal has no such limitation, albeit over 20 miles away.

I enjoyed my walk, it was great, but life still feels very strange. As though I just don’t belong anymore. No matter the pleasures set before me they pale into insignificance compared with the treasure of heaven. And of course I have complete assurance of my place there… but so have many, many others of rather different belief system. Last week I spent an evening helping a friend who is running an Alpha course, and so I sat in on one of the sessions. It’s a long time since I’ve been on this course and I always find it stimulating. What struck me was the fact that there we were, half a dozen people in a 21st century lounge, discussing a man who’d lived and died 2000 years ago. I can’t imagine any other man who’d create such interest after so long; especially as similar groups to ours would be meeting, running the exact same Alpha course in many nations of the world. Right now. He split history in two, BC/AD, and made complete the Holy Bible which has it’s own incredible history. With time and space I could say a lot more on this subject but suffice it to say I put my trust in Christ alone when it comes to my place in eternity. And I seek to live by his word… the Bible.

2 Timothy 1:12 ‘for I know the one in whom I trust’ (NLT)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

24th May 2012

We all deal with loss in our own way, as losing a loved one is a very personal thing. Along the seafront in Deal are dozens of sponsored benches and occasionally there’ll be one with flowers and a maybe a child’s painting attached, presumably to remember a birthday or some such special date. They all have little memorial plaques, often with little verses designed to put a smile on faces and they’re great, even though I often shed a tear as I walk by them. So far I’ve not felt particularly inspired to look into such a thing to remember Jane, but maybe another year, as Deal was a very special place for us both. Yes, today is the anniversary of Jane’s death. And I’ve spent the day thinking of her, in particular her final days and hours which I obviously find very distressing. It’s been a weird sort of day, walking a lot and sitting all alone on the beach…

But somehow I have to get past remembering Jane as a cancer patient. She was my teenage sweetheart and we shared 40 wonderful years together building our home and family; so I have a lifetime of beautiful memories and have no need to remember the bad stuff. Just a few years ago we stayed at a very small farm campsite near Deal which had the serious advantage of being a few hundred yards from the village pub. The last time we went they had live music and the soloist surprisingly had an identical guitar to mine and it sounded great… it’s a quite rare limited edition. Jane would drink red wine and I’d drink an ale or two before we giggled our way back to the motorhome. We were happy, in love and the kids were 200 miles away. The world was ours for the taking! Whatever the future holds for me I can never complain that I’ve drawn the short straw as it were. My whole adult life has been filled with love and that has never been more true than today. My kids and grandkids are wonderfully caring, I am truly a blessed person. And then this morning my phone filled up quite nicely with ‘thinking of you’ texts… I’ve just received one from my daughter in Loughborough, apparently they set off colourful sky lanterns today with their kids, in memory of Jane.  She’d have loved that.

I’ve now spent a year grieving and intend seeking the Lord for my new life in a more determined way now. Of course there’ll still be tears at times, but somehow I need to make a step in a different direction. I cannot stay in this place any longer. Time to move on.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

23rd May 2012

There are some things that money can’t buy, and some things you really shouldn’t buy. When I came across these two little beauties earlier today, that got me thinking. It sure could be fun to own a small boat like one of these, having complete freedom to wander up and down the coast and who knows, on a calm day maybe dodge across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and visit ‘La France’. Or not! Yes, I saw the Top Gear special and learnt how not to cross the Channel as an amateur. I know absolutely nothing about boats, other than that I’d probably get seasick rather quickly. And I once had a conversation with a guy who’d just passed his first stage qualification as some sort of seaman; so looking at all the different types of buoys floating just of shore, you can pretty much guarantee I’d hit a wreck, or get stranded on the Goodwin Sands within an hour of setting sail. Ah well, nice idea, I’ll stay with my motorhome for a bit longer.

I’m not a particularly affluent guy, having been forced to retire at 47 and no inherited wealth has come my way either. But I did work hard and now own some stuff, like my house. And of course I’d give it all up and start again if I could have Jane back. No brainer, but that’s just not going to happen any time soon. Likewise, when we were fighting for Jane’s life if the right treatment had been offered I’d happily have sold up and found another way of living. Some things are just not for sale though. Likewise love. True love; the joining of two lives, becoming one, and sharing in both the pleasures and troubles that always come our way as we journey through the years. We enjoyed a wonderful unity… made all the more complete as we shared our lives with the Lord. Truthfully it was the love of God that knit our hearts together, firstly with him and then with each other, in a way that we could never have imagined. So, there were many times Jane and I would find ourselves arguing, yes we really did, but always the Lord would pour out his love into both of us and before we knew it, his joy would surface and we’d find ourselves giggling at the silliness of our ‘little’ differences. I sometimes found that annoying as always I wanted to win the argument, but I was always so very grateful that we never ever let a day end without making up with a hug and an apology. To one another and to God. Then we’d have another pretend argument as we each tried to take the blame…

Romans 6:23 ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22nd May 2012

It’s amazing how beauty can, not just survive, but actually thrive in the most inhospitable of environments. A pebble beach with not a single bag of carefully selected potting compost in sight, and I was under the misapprehension that saltwater was not exactly good for most plants either. But it’s all so neat and orderly as well which makes me wonder where I’m going wrong with my rockery back home. Maybe I should dig that up and replace it with low maintenance shingle? Anyway I’ve had a really nice day, walking up and down the seafront for some hours. Ok, I did also spend time sitting on various benches, just thinking about things. And I realised how blessed I am when a middle-aged lady passed on by a couple of times during the afternoon. She was in a wheelchair, being pushed by her carer and quite obviously very seriously disabled. I doubt if she could even communicate as her problems were not just physical. But I felt so sorry for her, wondering what she was feeling inside, locked away from any sense of normal life. People who care for folk in that condition are absolute heroes. Jane suffered her own serious infirmity, but for only for a relatively short time. And I cared for her in every way imaginable; I had no choice as she could do absolutely nothing without help. But to live like that long term, as some do, is tragic for sure. Still, I’d like to think the lady I saw today enjoyed her couple of hours on the seafront, even though it’s unlikely she could even say thankyou.

I wake up most mornings feeling quite normal. And then I remember. Yes my bad dream is not just a dream, it’s my new reality, there’s no getting away from it. Jane’s not coming back into my world any time soon. At times the world feels a very cold and inhospitable place without the love of my special woman. Yet, throughout this past year, every time I begin to sink in the stormy waters of grief, the Lord stretches out his hand and walks with me back to safety. No matter the torment in my broken heart he reaches even deeper inside to bless with his perfect peace. So as I walk along this rocky road, journeying through bereavement, I see it as completely barren with no sign of new life. And still the Lord speaks hope into my heart, no matter the apparent bleak future set before me, he will transform me with his beauty and my life will have purpose once again.

Isaiah 35:1-2 ‘Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!’ (NLT)

Monday, May 21, 2012

21st May 2012

Maybe I should jump on a ferry and go live on the continent for a time. I’ve always enjoyed France and the Spanish are wonderfully friendly as well. Before I lost Jane I pretty much decided that would be my best option; a few months in the sun, out of season to avoid the crowds of course. And I’d sort myself out, on my own, far away from home. So far though, I’ve wanted to remain closer to my family and still hesitate to just disappear for much longer than a week or so. But, for me, there’s always been something quite exciting about spending time in a totally different country. Stepping outside of one’s normal surroundings is a good distraction from ongoing problems anyway. As yet it’s just not felt quite right, especially as I found driving a couple of hundred miles to get to Deal rather tiring. I can’t imagine how I’d feel trying to tackle a couple of thousand on my own, even in stages. Jane and I always shared long distance driving, so we’d quite happily take turns every couple of hours and drive all day.

I’m ready to do something different though. I could do with a little adventure, something I’ve not done before. I keep thinking that there’s a whole new life waiting to be lived, and a world waiting to be explored and seen from a totally different perspective. Of course everything has already changed, now I’m on my own without a partner to share anything with. But if I’m not careful all I see is emptiness and loss. I’m too focussed upon the past and all that I’ve lost, and not paying enough attention to that which lies ahead. I have much to gain if keep my eyes upon the Lord and allow him to direct my paths. There is no greater reward than hearing the Lord say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’. Over the years, on occasion I’ve been set to task on all manner of jobs which have caused a certain amount of heartache. Yes I’ve sometimes worked really hard for no apparent personal reward, not even a hint of thanks from those I’ve served. That’s fine really as we all get busy and distracted at times. But the Lord is not like that. I can remember a couple of times when I felt quite exhausted, beginning to feel a little down, when the Lord showed me something. I saw my heavenly Father smiling at me and simply saying ‘Thankyou David’. Yes, there’s no greater reward than knowing the pleasure of the living God. I need him to show me the way forward, I will walk with him. And everything will be alright.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.’ (NLT)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

20th May 2012

Loneliness was never part of God’s plan. Even though it was my choice to come away, I’m really struggling just being on my own. Of course I miss Jane, immensely, but truth be told I’m missing everyone at the moment. I’ve spoken to absolutely no-one today. Not a word, so far. And I don’t like it, I feel rather lost; I’m not talking about leaving home to come here, I know that was the right thing to do, it helps me think. No, it’s everything I have to face, gaining my new sense of purpose, having to start all over again without a partner to share life’s pleasures, troubles, successes and failures. I have no idea what I’ll do without Jane. We were truly one, sharing absolutely everything together. Yes, I know the Lord is with me, he’ll direct my paths, but right now I don’t know where he’s taking me. It’s as though I’m sailing all by myself across the deep blue sea, sails set to catch the wind, but not totally in control of my immediate destination. I’ve never been in a boat quite like this before. It’s easiest just to go where the wind blows, why fight it?

It’s possible the Lord may show me I should spend more time remembering Jane, that my year out was not enough. I hope not though as I’ve had enough of feeling upset all the time. She was the sole focus of my attention for my whole adult life; I loved her so very much and never had the slightest interest in any other woman. I almost feel guilty even considering letting her go, saying goodbye to my whole life with her by my side. But I have to; she’s moved on with her new life, now it’s my turn. And I need to keep saying that again and again until I get there. I lived and worked with a great passion for 40 years, building my marriage, raising my family and serving the church. Today, aside from a few passing tears whenever the needy cross my path I’m struggling to care very much about anything. I have no responsibilities, other than as a grandad and parent to adult children. I have no role in my church, no job… nothing. My life is an open book waiting for the next page to be written. I can’t wait. Yes, I really can’t live without something or someone to care about… with Godly passion!

Genesis 2:18 ‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”’ (NLT)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

19th May 2012

Look the wrong way and you’ll miss it. Yes, I’ve been distracted all day, trying to play with new technology and not thinking on the Lord. Oh dear, maybe he’s been saying all sorts of things and I’ve missed connecting with him. But internet connectivity is also becoming increasingly important to me, so when my campsite decided to start charging for wi-fi I chose to economise and live with 3g. Problem is, 3g in a little country village is a rather hit and miss 2g. A frustratingly slow connection and time consuming, especially playing around trying to tether my mobile. Then this morning I spotted a double value deal at Tesco using my points. I’d forgotten I even saved them, so anyway £30 cash bought me a PAYG Samsung Galaxy Ace, and now I have a rather more up to date mobile to baffle. Nothing comes with an instruction booklet anymore and I’ve never played with Gingerbread OS. At the moment it’s perched rather precariously in an overhead locker, obtaining the best signal I can achieve, and generating a very, very slow Wi-Fi hotspot for both my laptop and iPod… some of the time!

I’m being blessed with the weather again and had a great walk into Deal. I’m still wondering about going to a church meeting tomorrow as I do like to attend when possible, but I really don’t feel inspired. Probably because my head’s full of Android. But as I was out and about I spotted a guy who attends a church I’ve been to a lot. I caught him up, thinking he’s bound to invite me along tomorrow, but although we had a friendly enough chat that was the one thing he didn’t do. So back to square one as to where I could go. I’m determined to walk with God, so unless he leads me rather more clearly I’ll probably pass. I did have a great time playing my guitar this morning… that’ll maybe do tomorrow as my act of worship.

Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do’ (NLT)

Friday, May 18, 2012

18th May 2012

Sometimes we really need to take a break. So now I’m back camping in Martin Mill, trying hard to relax after a four hour motorway journey. It felt more like fourteen though, really boring on my own, and I felt so tired after the first hour I even stopped for an early lunch. But there you go, I made it, and all I have to do now is… nothing. For at least a week, maybe longer. Yes, my plan is to seek the Lord, to wait on him as it were. This is a challenging week, not just for me but also my children. It’s just not easy for any of us and I’m so grateful they ‘allowed’ me to come away to find space. Back home I’m carried along by their love, 200 miles away I have no plans to meet anyone, though that could change. Basically though it’s just me and God. Time to pray, time to listen, time to heal.

I still feel nervous, wondering what the Lord might do as I give him this time. Maybe nothing obvious, nothing tangible, nothing easily definable. Or maybe everything, a new direction for life, a new purpose, a release into his calling, whatever. It’s not for me to determine what the Lord should do; my role is to seek him and then respond to whatever he sets before me. But I am absolutely confident that as I reach out to him, he reaches out to me. He never leaves us empty handed.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.’ (NLT)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

17th May 2012

It’s time to say goodbye and move on. I just hope I have the strength to do it; yes my love for Jane burns as fiercely as ever, no matter the passage of almost a year since she died. But there’s nothing to be gained by holding on, she’s gone forever from this life. And now having spent 12 months with tears in my eyes nearly every single day, enough is enough. I just have to find a way to let go, she has no place in my world any more. My love for her has to be locked away permanently, never to see the light of day. Love, every love, needs to be expressed in some way; it has to have focus. And for me that focus has to be towards the living, not the dead. Jane’s legacy is to be seen all around me; in our children, our grandchildren and in who I am as a person. Her influence was massive. Her daily input is ended. I cannot live imagining she’s still with me, encouraging, comforting, rebuking… whatever. This morning my Loughborough daughter phoned for a ‘chat’. Sunday was her husband’s birthday and they went for a picnic with good friend who was close to full term pregnant with her first child. A few hours later the baby had died… a lovely day turned so unexpectedly to tragedy. Where was Jane when such a horrible thing happened? Sorely missed when facing such an upset and I’m not sure if telephone hugs work the same from a dad. We cried together, maybe that was enough. But I cry at just about everything nowadays.

Even 5 years ago, I was rather a different person. I’ve been through things I could never have imagined would happen. Another 5 years and I suppose I’ll be as different again. But my memory of Jane is forever frozen in time. She can never change, in one sense she’ll always be with me but I will change. I have to. 2007 I’d sit with Jane, hold her hand a lot, and have fun. 2012, this evening, I sit alone with my Kindle for company and truth be told my latest sci-fi novel is genuinely laugh out loud at times so I still have fun! But I’m expecting a lot of these next few days as I’m planning to travel to Deal tomorrow, for at least a week this time. I’ll spend time with the Lord, in a way that works for me. I need a different environment, maybe at least say hello to some different people, whatever; I just need to step out of normal life, there’s too much happening at the moment. Too many people dying as well… my daughter’s friend’s baby, then 6 young children apparently killed by petrol bomb as they slept in the night, and finally a well-known brave little 7 year old with cancer. Oh yes, my son has just been told his job will almost certainly be ending within a few weeks. And this lunchtime I broke a tooth… no pain, but no appointment available for a couple of weeks. I need to focus upon the Lord, all this other stuff is too much right now.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16th May 2012

Climbing my mountain, one step at a time. Yes, I have been feeling completely overwhelmed with the workload set before me, too much decorating, too much gardening and somehow I need to get my head around some quite major work on my house. It ought to have a new roof and replacement windows before I even think of renewing the rendering. But you know what… right now, I feel quite chilled about it all. I’m walking with God, I have absolute confidence that he is with me, directing my paths and providing for my every need. In the last 4 years or so I fitted a new kitchen and had a bathroom suite installed. That was good. Everything ground to a halt as Jane became ill, but then last summer I had a new driveway laid. That was good. I have absolutely no reason to be frustrated at the amount of work that still needs doing. My house may be showing it’s age but it’s completely weatherproof, warm and snug surviving whatever storms come along. As long as I keep progressing through jobs, large and small, all will be well. Until today I’ve completely ignored even simple mowing for most of my land and couldn’t bear to leave it when I travel, hence today’s feel good job. I’m about ready to go find a motorway.

Obviously owning an older property means there will always be something that needs doing, and for sure my home has enjoyed quite a bit of attention over the decades. But all of that pales into insignificance compared with the work that needs to happen in me as a person. I’m also getting older, a bit worn out and ready for renewal. As always it’s a question of priorities. I have to spend time away, seeking the Lord. My heart needs healing, as does my body. I believe that the Lord has purpose for my life and that as I engage with that he will give me everything I need to fulfil that call. Including health and strength, but more particularly an open door to walk through with clear direction. Of jobs around the home there will be no end, but there’s more to life than that. It’s people I care about, not bricks and mortar or any other stuff I own.

Proverbs 24:27 Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15th May 2012

This past week of sickness has been the most special of my life… I’ve spent most of it just resting, which in one sense is completely boring and totally unproductive. Except it wasn’t. I’ve enjoyed the presence of God in my home in the most wonderful way; he’s truly with me and without the distraction of my normal busyness I’m learning to reach out to him in a new way. My guitar has remained in it’s case since last Tuesday, when I played at my Church Home Group, and instead my iPod has really come into it’s own with internet radio Apps. I’ve been listening to a number of Christian stations which of course don’t always hit the mark… we all have different tastes. But, nonetheless, at times I’ve been absolutely staggered with the Spiritual presence often revealed in tracks that I’ve been familiar with for some years. And I’ve flagged up a few pieces of music to have a go at playing myself so that’s something to look forward to soon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in the midst of my physical brokenness I met with God. He touched my heart with his wonderful love, I called out to him and he answered with a gift of peace.

And for the first time in almost a year I’ve begun to pray again. I mean really pray. For a long, long time I only had one very simple prayer whilst on my own… ‘Lord, please don’t take Jane from me’. Since she died, my solo prayer became rather shorter… ‘I love you Lord’ has been my tearful cry. Yes, what I’m talking about is the cry of the heart, not a prayer list of needs to work through in a structured way. Of course, at different times and in different ways I may pray for family, friends and whatever; that’s not an issue. A big part of my heart was filled with love for my wife and she was my number one concern so I prayed for her; today my heart is being healed as it is filled afresh with my love of God, so I worship him. That’s where my new life begins. I’m well aware that mentally I could condition my thinking to deal with bereavement and pick up on life again, that’s not a real issue. The real need though is for me to walk with the Lord and allow him to bind up my broken heart with a heavenly seal. The love I shared with Jane was a gift from God many years ago, but now that most beautiful of treasures must be locked away for the rest of my earthly life. Only in the safety of eternity can it be opened. In the mean time I’ve begun to pray for others again Short prayers, but heartfelt nonetheless.

Hey, I was wondering if maybe we all get to walk on water when we get to heaven… not just Jane!

1 John 4:8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.’ (NLT)

Monday, May 14, 2012

14th May 2012

No matter the challenge I’m gonna cling to hope and move on. I glanced out of my conservatory window this evening and realised that my camellia had a couple of flowers on it. Actually it was Jane that bought it a couple of years ago, not me. And really it was our fourth attempt at growing one of these colourful plants, as year after year they either failed to flower or simply died on us. Jane always persevered and kept trying different locations and different varieties, as well as making sure I planted them in special compost; she would have enjoyed today’s sign of hope. The severe winter of a year ago damaged many of my garden plants so this is still not exactly healthy… but it has flowers on it so that’s a good start.

I feel challenged to persevere with my journey through and out of grief. I’m determined to shed every tear that needs to be shed and then take hold of my new life with enthusiasm. I’m particularly nervous about this next week, the 1st anniversary of Jane’s death, as I believe the Lord will speak to me and show me a clear way forward. All I have to do is set time aside to spend exclusively with him; so I plan to travel down to Deal as soon as I pick up strength, maybe in a few days. I’d love for the weather to brighten up somewhat and allow me to live more outdoors though. So of course I’ll make a heart on the beach to remember Jane, but then I need to say goodbye to my lover in a much more determined way than before. I have total confidence that one day we’ll meet again; the Christian faith and my Bible both make that very clear. Beyond all doubt. Right now she’s doing whatever the saints do in heaven, yes she’s already moved on, though no way has she forgotten those left behind. Indeed the whole of heaven must surely be focussed upon the Lord and his imminent return to planet earth.

The Lord has gifted me a year to grieve, I’m not sure what he has for me next but for sure my focus has to change, I have to move on. In the same way that my camellia’s flowers bode well for it’s future, I also need a specific sign of hope. Maybe I’ll meet someone, as I did back in March, maybe the Lord will speak revelation to my heart, or maybe he’ll do something I can’t imagine… I don’t mind, I just know that I need to meet with God. He is the only person who can truly help me let go of Jane. I need to get busy again, serving the Lord according to his call upon my life and I have to shed every hindrance. Bursting into tears several times a day is no way to live long term. I’m ploughing through my West Wing box set and engage emotionally at the slightest fictional distress portrayed there! I need to get my stiff upper lip back soon…

Romans 8:19 ‘For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.’ (NLT)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

13th May 2012

By lt:User:Algirdas (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
From here

There’s no easy fix for the pain of bereavement. All year round there are regular reminders of Jane to deal with. And every one is a challenge. Another week or so and it’ll be a year since she died. I’m not looking forward to that, truth be told I feel quite wretched already. Yes I’ve had another upsetting day. Then again I'm still recovering from sickness, so I’m weak from not having eaten properly for 5 days, and I have a migraine.  I know I’m gonna have to find a way to move on but it’s really hard, and I just feel like giving up. This morning was painful as I just had to get outdoors and managed a 200yd walk to the local shops again. A particularly close friend of Jane’s was also there and it was so sad just to share even a brief conversation about Jane. We both shed a few tears and truth be told I nearly gave up on my little shopping trip. It gets too complicated walking around trying to find stuff and then deal with a checkout when I’m crying. I only went for cornflakes…

Many years ago, I spent a lot of time with a business client who’d been bereaved after a long term marriage. I visited every couple of weeks or so for some years, sharing the Lord, praying with them, to try and help find a way forward. I resourced books and audio teaching to encourage, but maybe 4 years after their loss there was still very little progress. Indeed, this person told me that they would only get out of bed to meet with me, and as soon as I left they would return to hide under the sheets, totally unable to face life. It was so sad to see someone trapped in such a way. But it’s only now, after all this time that I really understand what this person was living with. At times the pain of loss is quite unbearable. I’ve decided that I will not allow myself to get into such a mess. Somehow I will persevere and trust in God to show me a way forward, one step at a time, and one day at a time. He has a plan for my life, and bereavement will not thwart it. Indeed I believe that God will always work for good, no matter the measure of difficulty we walk through. After all, it was he that called Jane heavenward whilst she suffered so very much with ill health. That was the route that the Lord chose for her. At this point in time he has a different plan for my life.

This evening I spotted several rooks in poplar trees near the bottom of my garden. I’ve not seen them for several years. Great big things they are, and for a moment they reminded me of the giant eagles portrayed in Lord of The Rings… a favourite movie! So anyway, at one point, a couple of characters have faced down an impossible challenge only to be left with no way home. Their imminent demise is obvious, being stranded on a rock surrounded by fast flowing volcanic lava. Suddenly these giant eagles arrive to pluck the unconscious heroes high into the air and back to safety. Now I can’t see that happening to me any time soon, but for sure I’d welcome any sort of rescue right now. Yes I’ve had enough of tears, I need to move on.

Psalm 34:19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.’ (NLT)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

12th May 2012

Sometimes it may be good to go without, but at others it's very painful and not so good. Yes, I’ve not eaten for 4 days now, not a solid food meal anyway, just tried a slice of toast on a couple of days. And given my ongoing indigestion that’s certainly been a good idea, though not one of life’s richest experiences. I’m fed up sitting about trying to recover health, so though I’m making progress after catching whatever bug it was, it seems rather slow. I started reading a new book early this morning, and come my non-existent lunchtime I’d read the equivalent of a couple of hundred pages. That’s not really a good use of time as, managing CFS, I work rather slowly anyway. The chores are backing up in my home and garden for sure. I’ve had enough milk, energy drinks and soup, thank you very much. I’m ready for fish and chips or a nice curry or whatever… not today though.

Living without food for a few days is no big deal and in a week or so will be completely forgotten. Yes, this past year there have been many, many, far more important things I’m learning to live without. And they all revolve around one person… my wife. I can never tell her I love her again can I? I tried to do that several times every day for many years. It feels weird when I’m out walking not to have her arm looped through mine. Then today I heard of a call to prayer for a 7 year old local lad who has been fighting a very brave cancer battle for the past 4 years. Right now he’s been admitted to hospital and is not expected to survive very much longer… maybe my tears and one line prayers are enough, but I sure miss my wife as prayer partner.

My photo? Of course I miss the very personal invitations to Jane’s occasional art exhibitions. This one was followed with a request to use some in a local wine-bar which earned her a few pounds. But I still have most of these stored safely, though it’s sad to think that there’ll be no more. I managed a very slow walk to the nearby shops this evening and once more struggled to imagine a future without my wife. Every dream, every plan always involved shared activity. I just can’t get my head around doing things by myself, it just doesn’t feel right. I really don’t like it.

Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ (NLT)

Friday, May 11, 2012

11th May 2012

Yes, here’s an example of ‘never say die’! This evening saw me take the biggest excursion for 3 days as I managed to walk 50 yards down my garden to take this photo. I almost wish I hadn’t when I recognised the serious need of tlc it all needed. Anyway, this is one of my apple trees, the oldest by far, and it was actually recognisably aged when we moved here 33 years ago. Truth be told though, at least from this angle, it doesn’t look much different from all those years ago as it’s still loaded with early blossom; and should frost and wind prove favourable I expect it be heavily laden with fruit, one more time. Back in 1979, though, and for a long time afterwards it was a very different tree. It was actually 3 trees grafted together, producing 1 eating and 2 varieties of cooking apples. All clever stuff. And many years it produced maybe half a ton of fruit which was far more than we could ever use. We baked, then made cider and wine in 5 gallon barrels, and still filled every storage place we could find after giving as many away as we could find a home for. It may have been squirrels or old age, but first one major graft and then another died. I had great fun pruning 12” diameter branches to make the thing safe for a young family. Today I’m left with 1 type of cooking apple and the evidence is that it’s just as vigorous as ever.

Part of me died when I lost Jane. I spent 40 years learning how to live with my wife and though she’s not here to contradict me, I reckon I got good at it. I must have been doing something right for us to stay in love for all that time. Then again so was she! Today the lessons I’ve learned about being a husband can only be of value to the occasional younger husband who inadvertently crosses my path… they’re neither use nor ornament to me anymore. My life is basically fruitless in that branch of my life. It’s died and been lopped off. So that’s why I find my apple tree encouraging, as far as I can see it’s just as healthy, just as fruitful as it ever was. According to it’s original design as a single variety anyway.

But I still wonder if it’s possible to graft another branch to partner it again… that would be fun!

Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.’ (NIV1984)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10th May 2012

And the man is still horizontal… apparently I’m one of 12 who succumbed; all of us around 24 hours after attending my sister’s retirement party. Some had not eaten anything at all so I guess it’s a bug somebody inadvertently walked in with, though my sister and husband feel unnecessarily guilty about it. Ah well, but the upside is the Lord is with me through sickness and in health. I had a wonderful time reaching out to him this afternoon. A very special heart to heart, telling him how much I miss Jane. He’s there for me, right here with me; and I want to be there for him! I feel blessed out of my socks, just knowing the Lord’s presence in my life means everything.

Now I’m a guy, right? So about this man flu sickness thing… my head hurts, my throat hurts, I have lousy indigestion and I can barely stand I’m that exhausted. Oh yes I’m starving hungry as well, but my one piece of toast earlier today only made the indigestion worse. Whenever I got sick Jane was always there with me to look after me; wasn’t she? But not once did she ever even listen to one of my complaints, totally without sympathy… we all get sick at some time or other, don’t we?  But she was brilliant at puffing up my pillows, producing soup and all the rest of it. I once spent 4 months totally bedbound with a back injury and she really looked after me marvellously. And she endured horribly toxic chemo herself without a hint of complaint. I remember when we first were married we both had a 3 week bout of the flu; we were basically stranded in bed for most of that time, struggling to survive on soup. Part way through Jane left me alone, ah poor Dave, to walk around a mile to the driving test centre. Of course she passed, first time, before returning to her sick bed. How do women do that? Or am I being sexist?

So then, how do I see myself? Sick, incapacitated or as in my photo relatively healthy and building a suntan exploring the Costa Brava. That was Jane’s recovery choice after her first major operation and cancer treatment. Yes, she spent her time in hospital dreaming that one up. Somehow I will see the good in life; I will keep sight of everything that is worth living for… and that I will pursue. Now I’m even more ready for a holiday myself.

1 Corinthians 10:10 ‘We must not complain’ (GNT)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

9th May 2012

Ah well, I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, I took to my sick bed last night and basically haven't moved since. My best guess is that it's some form of food poisoning. I'm beginning to recover, but no way can I sit at my laptop for more than a minute... yes back to bed! Roll on tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

8th May 2012

Some days are just perfect. Why can’t they always be like this? I suppose I’d call it a ‘Big Sky’ day, beautiful and sunny with a scattering of fluffy white clouds. Yes, I enjoyed this lovely pastoral scene as I walked around Kedleston this morning. And for the first time in ages I had company, in the form of a friend out walking his dog. We even indulged in coffee and cake at the nearby garden centre, and that was an activity I’d considered consigned to history! Then this afternoon I had a great time just playing my guitar, sometimes I really love to do that. Especially with no audience in mind, just me playing to enjoy myself. Then a couple of phone calls from two of my daughters ringing just for a chat rounded things off quite nicely. I even found time to play around with a new song sheet for my church small group this evening where I normally lead a short time of worship. Yes, all is well in Dave’s world today…

Or is it? Truth be told the sky was not quite so blue for the whole of our walk. Although it stayed dry, at times the sky was certainly rather more overcast. And in places our walk was not just extremely muddy but actually partly flooded. Now my freshly laundered walking trousers are covered in mud. We found a dead rabbit on the path, still warm. Back at home I worked out how, yesterday, I’d ended up with paint on my hands despite it being a decorating free day; I was busy at a retirement party for my sister. It seems I’d unthinkingly sat at the bottom of my staircase to tie my shoes, and then grabbed hold of the rail to hoist myself up. My nicely applied paint needs stripping back and reapplying to repair the major bodge. Ugh! Oh yes, I’ve also had a bad head for most of the day, and I feel seriously exhausted as well.

So what is it to be, a good day or a bad day? I have a choice. The facts are the facts, what happened, happened. I guess it’s up to me to choose, and without hesitation I choose to call it a good day. The best I can make it anyway, though as always it depends upon your point of view. I’m not interested in the tiny hassles of life, they come and they go; today I have a photo of a lovely blue sky to enjoy. That’ll do for me.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances’ (NLT)

Monday, May 07, 2012

7th May 2012

I need to learn how to fly. Not as a pilot or even in a plane, I just want to be able to fly; anytime I choose. A bit like the birds in my recent photo. The slightest perceived threat and up they go; no hesitation. They’re away! And just recently we’ve been reading of the remarkable satellite tracking of the cuckoo, as it journeys from the UK to the Congo on a 10,000 mile round trip. A different season, a different continent… all under their own steam. I’ve occasionally immersed myself in historical novels, fleshing out the realities of life in the Middle Ages, and the idea of long distance travel before the advent of modern transport is highly impressive. When I was a teenager a friend of mine undertook to walk from Derby to London, maybe 125 miles, and that took him the best part of a week. He slept rough, in churchyards and the like and he sure looked a mess when he joined me for the MAYC church weekend in Westminster. So I cannot conceive how medieval armies walked all across Europe, living off the land, even though a little pillaging was commonly part of warmongering. Birds make it though... pretty much every year. Then again my Bible says that the Lord watches over every single one of them.

I need to migrate. I’ve been living in a place that is no longer healthy for me to remain. I’m not necessarily talking about a physical relocation, though I can’t rule that out yet. Never say never. But, for sure I have to live in a completely different way from my experience of the past few decades. My wife has died, I’m now a single bloke looking to work things out in the best way I can. Unfortunately I still feel married, Jane is completely part of everything I am and everything I do. Her influence upon the way I think, the way I talk and even what I believe is massive. She taught me gentleness and encouraged perseverance; at times she was so very bold in the face of my instinctive caution, I’m a different person from the teenage lad she first fell in love with. And so was she! Being part of a totally committed marriage, working out the challenges of many differences of opinion, we fell deeper and deeper in love. And that was a particularly secure place to live. I have to stretch out the wings of new life and leave my marital ‘nest’ to learn to fly as a single man. I have to stop thinking and behaving as a married man. My journey is now to be with the Lord as my sole companion, and I’m quite confident that he has places for me to go and things for me to do. He’ll keep me busy, no doubt. Jane was a gift from God, far more than I deserved. To expect another relationship like that as I move through my own middle age would be presumptuous and I cannot allow myself to keep hold of the thought of being married again. It may never happen. I have to learn to accept being single. That feels kinda weird!

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.’ (NLT)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

6th May 2012

By Lviatour (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. From here 
I heard an amazing story today. And I just love it when the Lord blesses us with little gifts. Life feels so much better when things go right. But just this very minute, I thought I’d go look for a picture of a red deer on Wiki Commons in order to illustrate said story. I’d clean forgotten I took some myself a couple of years ago. Anyway, I thought it was good when I opened their homepage to find the above snap as their picture of the day! No digging about to look for a better one for sure.

So then, a couple of days ago the Lord gifted me a gentle reminder that I still need to complete my grief journey. It’s not hard to think about Jane and how much I still miss her and though it may be a little upsetting, it feels like a very natural thing to do. For the first time in many weeks, as I sat in church this morning, I imagined Jane was still with me… and I shed a few private tears thinking about her and the decades of spiritual oneness. Later in the morning I returned home and spent time continuing to decorate my hall. Little and often is the key… but the amount of woodwork to be painted is particularly time consuming, and I remembered the last time when Jane and I shared the workload. It was so much easier with the two of us, and much more fun than me continually trying to wipe up a deep red paint which was supposed to be non-drip. And isn’t. Christian internet radio helps somewhat, but it’s not really enough.

Then this afternoon the Lord came to visit. So there I was, minding my own business, reading a somewhat nondescript sci-fi novel, simply trying to relax and recover strength after my morning activity; when all of a sudden I had an overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence. My heart was filled with the most wonderful joy and I just had to throw my book down and stand and spend time giving thanks to God for his wonderful goodness to me. These past few days, particularly, I have enjoyed the most special times of personal worship imaginable. I just feel filled with the love of God. My life would be completely meaningless without my faith journey and having the experience of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is simply mind blowing. I cannot understand why he pays any attention to me whatsoever, but he does and I’m so grateful.

Mustn’t forget my story now, this morning I received a text from my daughter, she’s been attending a friend’s wedding just over the border in Scotland. A particularly unusual wedding as they’re taking the whole weekend to celebrate by going Glamping; a particularly luxurious form of camping apparently. It may be a tent on the outside, but certainly not on the inside, with all the fixtures and fittings you’d expect in a real house! So this morning my rather athletic daughter decided to go for a run along the adjacent and quite stunning beach. The sun was out and her route took her through a wood where she was amazed to have wild deer, not only run across her path, but then choose to actually run alongside her! Wow, it may be a common experience for some, but I’ve never heard of anything like that before. Life is a privilege and at times really rather beautiful. I’ll have some of that please...

Genesis 1:25 ‘God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.’ (NLT)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

5th May 2012

On days like this I spend my time dreaming of heaven. Yes I’m missing Jane; my life is so very empty without her. I try to keep busy, thinking positive thoughts and focussing upon the Lord; it’s just that my heart is filled with love for this special woman and I have no way of sharing it with her. I can’t buy her flowers, give silly little surprises and no more whispered sweet nothings. I’m not sure if I was ever any good at any of those things, but I tried. I miss her beautiful smile. And Friday nights are rubbish… for decades Jane and I would enjoy our ‘date night’ every single week, almost without fail. Every night is the same nowadays.

I wonder what graduation day in heaven will be like. I’m so glad I walk with the Lord and have complete assurance of my place in eternity. Anyway, a few years ago I enjoyed a special encounter with the Lord, one of many, and on that occasion I was crying out to God for his mercy and a healing miracle for Jane. There were angels present and one spoke to my spirit. I was given very clear instructions to leave Jane in the Lord’s hands, as she belonged to him. I guess that, understandably, I was trying too hard to save her life. I’m glad I did, but ultimately Jane belongs to the Lord and never to me, and he is sovereign over all. My task was, and is to seek his purpose and pursue his pleasure. Today he has rewarded Jane with her prepared place in heaven, but I’m so grateful that he allowed me to share my life with her for almost 40 years first.

So when my day arrives and I take my own step into eternity I have complete confidence that Jane will be part of my reception, though truthfully, my focus will remain totally upon the Lord Jesus. Meeting him face to face will be truly awesome! As for Jane, well like any really close friends who’ve been separated for some time I’m quite sure we’ll simply pick up where we left off, as if we’ve never been away from each other. How are the kids? Did you look after Jacob (the cat) properly? I hope you put some serious colour into the hall when you decorated! Now tell me about your new friends… anyone special I should know about? Oh yes, she says, now I have a whole queue of my friends waiting to say hello… here’s your grandad for starters. My oh my, doesn’t he look young!

1 John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.’ (NLT)

Friday, May 04, 2012

4th May 2012

By Alexander Hüsing [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
From here
I sometimes always find the faith journey a challenge. Pressing forward, overcoming every obstacle to fulfil it’s call, despite the evidence of our eyes, is a make or break deal. Do we raise our game and go for it, or give in to the whisper of doubt. Confidence grows as actions mature through the habits of a lifetime, despite the hurdles jumped being continually raised. This morning Wayne Rooney made the national news and though I never normal pay any attention whatsoever to football, this got my attention. I think he won some sort of vote for a best goal, and actually it was a quite spectacular overhead kick shown on the video. So here was this guy, with his back to the goal and the ball passing at shoulder height in front of him. He didn’t hesitate and simply went for it, even though he couldn’t see the goal behind him. He was certainly sure of what he hoped for and totally confident in his ability to perform the deed. I’d say that was quite literally a mighty leap of faith, though totally dependent upon his personal skill to produce the desired result. I find it wonderfully reassuring that my faith journey in Jesus Christ is not at all dependent upon my personal ability to produce results. It’s all about him. So success or failure, my life belongs to God and my goal is to simply walk in obedience, allowing him to work his purposes out through me. The funny thing is that my idea of failure is often turned on it’s head to become a God success story. So did I fail when I fought so very hard to save Jane’s life, by facilitating every medical intervention and prayer that stretched around the world? No! Sometimes God has a plan for our lives that is bigger than anything we can see, it’s all about his glory.

Anyway it wasn’t really the football that caught my attention as I watched the morning news. It was the Lord. He gave me a little gift… a reminder that I have not completed my season of grief. He’s called me to exclusively grieve for 12 months and to write about that journey. I’d love to have a different agenda for this blog and producing a meaningful, or even truly lucid, page of words every single day is obviously beyond me. But I persevere and as often as not manage to ramble my way through. Ok, I digress, back to the football. So there I was, thinking about the athletics involved in scoring such a goal, when an overwhelming sense of grief simply poured over me. Nothing to do with Wayne Rooney; everything to do with losing Jane. Other than the Lord gifting me that reminder to engage and fulfil my need to grieve, I have no idea what would have triggered such an emotional response. I certainly was not thinking of Jane in any way shape or form. Perhaps I should.

Faith asserts my firm conviction that the Lord is asking me to complete a year saying goodbye to Jane, ending in 3 weeks. Faith has a hope that I’ll then be able to begin rebuilding my life without hindrance. Of course I’ll miss her and there’ll be plenty of tears to come, that’s not the point. The point is that the blessing of Jane’s loving friendship for 40 years cannot be allowed to become toxic… losing the love of my youth will not define my next 40 years. God will. And he has plenty of love for me to share as I move forward.

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ (NIV1984)