How many children do I have?

May 31, 2011

At present I am visiting the Logos Hope Ship in India. Its so wonderful to meet many friends whom I have worked with during the past 30 years on one of our ships or another.

Family is very important in Indian culture and in many respects it is central to society here. In many of our cultures, the emphasis is on the individual. So a common question here is about my family and how many children do I have, even in shops, people are interested in your nationality and family. So the reoccurring question is, “How many children do you have?”.

Today is 22 months since Mike left us. So whilst I have had to grapple with this question on occasions in the UK, here in India I have to grapple with it several times a day. I am totally frustrated that I do not know how to answer. The easiest is to say I have two girls, but then its not true and I feel every time I am rejecting and dishonouring Mike. But if I say I have 3 Children and they start to ask more questions, it now gets more complicated to answer. Its not all bad because more often than not, it opens the door to talk about spiritual issues and the question of what we believe will happen to our souls after we die. I am passionate about that topic and so accept the painful bridge I walk over to move from family to eternity.

Bless God or Blame God

May 21, 2011

I spoke this morning with a man whose wife has been battling breast cancer the past 12 months. I told my story and he said “I wonder if there really is anyone up there”.

As we talked I realise we have two responses to God when crisis influences our lives, we can either Bless or Blame God. If we don’t really know God, I suppose it is natural to blame Him, however misguided that is.

Blessing and Praising God have so helped Kathy, Akila, Laura and I to transit through this turmoil, I highly recommend it to all!

Death or near death experiences make us re-evaluate our priorities.

May 18, 2011

You will see through my blog’s since 1 Aug, 2009 that my world was turned upside down and inside-out. There have been many activities, drivers, passions, goals etc jettisoned and a clear re-thinking of values, priorities and relationships.

This short video of Elias who was in seat 1D on the plane that landed on the Hudson River articulates this very well.

Its very sad that often it takes a dramatic event in our lives for this re-evaluation to take place.

I appreciate love but do I love?

May 15, 2011

‘Mr Independent’, yeah that’s me at the core. I like to be in the driving seat, to be in control, at least of my own life and the environment and situations that directly affect my life. I have been very ready to help others, but I did not need help!

Akila had planned a 12 hour sale at our house last Saturday from 9am-9pm. Over the day 60 people dropped in, had coffee, cake and purchased some of her items. In the afternoon our friends Colin and Rachel phoned and offered to bring over a lovely big curry for both our families. How kind is that.

Mr Independent learnt through Mike’s death and the initial days after to not just accept help but embrace it. So many people expressed love though practical acts of kindness. We felt so loved by God and man. One of the main ways God expresses His love to us is via His Body, the family, other Christians.

But a big question for myself is; ‘Ok Mark, you like to receive love, from God the Father, Kathy, the girls, friends etc but how do you show that love back, especially to the Father’? Does my independence say “blow it Kath, I know you dont like me doing that but I am doing it anyway’? or do I express love which says ‘yes I have the freedom to do it, but I also choose the freedom not to do it’. An even bigger question is ‘do I love God through what I dont do as much as what I do’? Is my love to the Father expressed by being obedient to what He has said in His word. We all want more revelation of God but I wonder if we dont already have all we need, what we need is to express love to him through obedience.

Enjoying Tottergill this week.

When external circumstances either stop or hinder what you want to do.

May 13, 2011

We make plans, we have goals, we have ideals and we behave in a manner that will bring us towards those. Then circumstances external to our control come crashing in like a tree fallen across our path. We stop! We alow the emotion to manifest itself, to go from shock, anger, sadness, joy, loss, acceptance. So what is next? Decision time. Dangerous time, we are in no-mans land, not where I was, not where I want to be. How do I find a new path? I dislike the wait. I am out of the driving seat, I’m disoriented, I’m not in control. I lose motivation, forget all those plans, ideals and goals. Just exist. Sleep, block out the world.

Now take off the old glasses and put these ones on.

Live from the inside out,  life is mostly external. Slow down….there is so much more to see. Bring to the forefront relationships. Walk with God…..dont just visit Him! Its ok to be quiet. Cherish the moment, create the moment, dont take the moment for granted. What was insignificant is now significant. Go deep not shallow. Do less but with purpose. Embrace the seasons. Listen and look…..learn.

Did I loose or did I gain!

Is it the loss of Mike, getting older or just more balanced!

May 12, 2011

“Two sausages please”, is what I heard the posh accented lady say at the butchers in Chorleywood, the village where I grew up. I was 21 and had just returned from 2 years voluntary service on M.V. Doulos in Sth America. I was blown away at how this ladies world appeared to be around 2 sausages. Of course it wasn’t, it was my perception of her reality. I had seen street kids in Brasil trying to survive, gun wielding drug barons in Colombia and poverty that most of us would not experience. The stark contrast between that and the lady wanting 2 sausages was overwhelming for me.

I remember at that time also wondering why my dad was spending so much time in his garden. To be honest, I was a horrible judgmental person that thought we should all be out to save the world. For the next 30 years, my whole life was absorbed with a global perspective and with passion and zeal that absorbed most of my day.

Since Mike’s death, I sit, I look, I am local. My world has become small. I have no passion, energy or desire at this stage to run around the world. I enjoy sitting on the bench in town and chatting to people about Mike, his life, his death and eternity. I receive great pleasure from seeing the blossom on the crab apple tree in my garden, keeping the grass nice and short, walking in the park and spending time with local friends.

I suppose I have become “Glocal”, a person who thinks globally but acts locally. I so appreciate all the work OM does around the world, the Logos Hope is still one of the most exciting programmes in Church history that I know of and it is such a privilege to be a part of that. I think it took the loss of Mike to also see what was under my nose, to slow down a bit to be able to see and to practice both a local participation in life as well as a global one. (Don’t worry I am not leaving OM Ships!)

“In the nick of time”

May 5, 2011

The phone range last night at 21:15 with an excited Stephen the other end, “Steph has just received her visa via email”. Only a few hours earlier, sitting around the fire pit at home, Kath, Joyce, Stephen and I had prayed for God’s leading and peace for Steph as she had not received her visa to enable her to volunteer in Canada for 1 year. Yesterday was the last day for it to be issued in the UK before her flight on Friday. When the visa was not in the post, who would have thought the Canadian issuing authorities would use email!

Lloyd, the Project Director for Logos Hope, introduced us to the term “in the nick of time” in relation to God providing finances or skilled people at the ‘last minute’.  There were times when we did not have the funds to pay for the next payment schedule for the work carried out by the ship yard, but the payment date was not due, even so, we wanted the security of knowing the funds were there!

Psm 107

Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
      looking but not finding a good place to live,
   Half-starved and parched with thirst,
      staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
   Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
      He got you out in the nick of time;
   He put your feet on a wonderful road
      that took you straight to a good place to live.
   So thank God for his marvelous love,
      for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
   He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
      the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. 

 So why does God show up in the “nick of time”? Actually He does not, that’s an ego-centric statement! His timing is perfect. If I understand His ways, if I acknowledge His sanctifying process in my life, if I accept His tutelage in faith building, if I believe “they that wait upon the LORD will renew their strength”, if I am in a position where if He does not show up then I am screwed, if I know that when the result I need or looking for comes from Him……… So I know His involvement and provision which causes me to thank and praise Him, when the tough times come I can look back and see His hand of involvement in my journey, others close to me can see God’s involvement and help them to support my journey, other dynamics are taking place in other people’s lives that I am not aware of, for His “miracle mercy” to be displayed…….wow, why would I want to miss out on all that and for life to progress as I think it should!

Think about Simeon and Anna in the Bible who waited such a long time to see the answers to their prayers.

God’s grace……memories

May 1, 2011

Callbeck....Lake District

This morning I was up at 6:00 and on the golf course enjoying the awesome sunrise and serenity of the moment. Last evening, Kathy, Laura and I went up to Callbeck, a beautiful area about 20 minutes drive to watch the sun set over the Solway estuary. It brought back many memories of family and friends, especially awesome times with Mike. The turmoil of the pain of emotion has past and the peace of God is more real than ever. Its only God’s grace that allows the beautiful memories of life to the forefront of my mind. In Galatians 5, Paul writes that when we walk with God and allow His Spirit into our lives, its like an orchard tree that produces fruit, the fruit of serenity.

Why go to Africa when Cumbria offers vistas like this!

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