Mike and My Story

August 31, 2011

Mike and I had such an awesome friendship. I wanted to capture some of the highlights and stories. Its taken me a long time to get it all down.

Click here for Mike and My Story

Everything in life is there for a meaning……. we were meant to meet!

August 30, 2011

Some one said to me the other day, “I believe everything in life is meant to happen to us, we were meant to meet this person”. Well that totally depends on where your belief, philosophy or understanding comes from. I have to say over the years I have struggled with well-meaning people who have rather quickly in my opinion quoted a verse of scripture when something bad has happened. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life…..” Whilst a verse may be in the Bible, our interpretation may be thwarted. We see dimly now, we understand in part. Jesus is truth, He is the only one who knows without error. Now you may say, well that’s because you believe the Bible, but I believe the Koran, or Buddha. And that’s where we part company!

Was I supposed to meet you! God is the Alpha and the Omega, He knows the beginning and the end. Whilst He knows all things, He does not manipulate all things. Does He know I will meet you? Yes. Did He arrange for me to meet you, may be and may be not! If I am walking daily in submission to Him and asking Him to guide me and living by His teachings, then I believe He can and does bring people and circumstances into my life. If on the other hand, I am living in disobedience to Him, living my own life, then I believe I am responsible for the people I meet and the events that happen to me. God doesn’t force, He allows.

The danger in all honesty is that we use this line of thought to justify a behaviour, bring meaning to something we dont understand and in a deep way, play God. Can we except what another friend wrote” it is what it is”?

Did God want me to go through the pain of loosing Mike? Did he want that event in my life? Those questions start out from my position. Lets now look at Mike’s position, Did God love Mike so much He wanted him in His company? Was God taking Mike to reward him and remove him from the pain of this world? Is everything in life about me and my interpretation of how it affects me?!

Now I can understand why you should meet me!!!!!

Will you miss her?

August 29, 2011

I have been asked several times whether I will miss Akila when she goes to Australia for 1 year. My honest answer has been no! We are so used to her travelling away from us, first when she got her own place at 17, then university, then the ship. Its been so good to have her here these past 22 months. We have leant to celebrate when she is here and make the most of every opportunity.

I was cleaning the house yesterday after we had said our farewells at the airport and realise just how emotional I was at her going! Kathy was in tears from stripping the bed and washing the sheets. It brought back memories of Mike’s bed after he left us. Mikes departure was permanent, Akila’s is temporal. I cannot jump on a plane to see Mike, Akila is only 28 hours away. But still there is something missing, her presence, her stuff dumped all over the place, food utensils used and not washed up, food left out on the bench, music from her laptop…….

We have known about her departure for 1 year, that gives time for emotional preparation. Mike’s was sudden and totally not normal. Akila has arrived at the sector in her life with degree in hand, she is now a registered Social Worker, she has her driving license, she is healed up from Mike’s death and it was time to leave the safety of ‘the castle’.

I am very happy for her and know its an awesome opportunity, I’m just a little surprised at the emotional gap I discover!

Leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again.

Tell your story

August 26, 2011

Tell your story

As I sat on a bench in town yesterday talking to Bryce, an Australian who has recently moved to Carlisle  from Australia with his South African wife after working many years in Japan, I encouraged him to tell his story to others.

What is our story? What are the chapters, the events, the drama’s, the scenes etc? I have begun to realise that our story can help others on their journey as they too walk and experience similar hardships. It’s good to know we are not alone. I want to encourage us all to tell the story.  As a person who tries to follow Jesus teaching and even obey it (better some days than others!) it’s very reassuring to know that Jesus said in Jn 14:6 “I am the Way”.  My story is a sub-plot in His-Story, I cannot tell you my story without telling you His Story and its such a cool one.

As I sit on the bench and talk to people, old, young, male , female, I hear similar themes, a life than has not worked out as planned, seeking something better or greater, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of relationships…….in fact it’s very depressing! BUT then I tell my story, which reflects Him and He gives hope, love, grace, mercy.

I grew up and worked near London. To this day, Hyde Park Corner is known for the freedom people have to go and speak about any topic. One day there was a crowd listening to a man promoting the benefits of socialism and as he was speaking he looked out and saw a tramp, a man in very ragged clothes and looking like he had not cut his hair for a long time. He said “Socialism can put new clothes on that man”. In the crowd was a small Welshman who had experienced the love, grace and mercy of God many years before in his life and had walked with Him ever since. He could not miss the opportunity, he jumped up on the small podium and said “Its true, Socialism can put new clothes on that man, but Jesus can put a new man in those same clothes”! The man continued to tell his story of how God had radically revealed Himself to the man and subsequently brought about great positive changes in his life.

Tell the story…..



August 23, 2011

Gathered – dispersed, together apart, brought in – sent out. On Feb 22 nd of this year I blogged about the incredible time Akila, Laura and friends spoilt Kathy and I by taking over a Scottish Castle, Fenton Tower, for a long weekend. It was a surprise 25th wedding anniversary. At that time I pondered over the attributes and reason for building a castle. I remembered thinking how Kathy, Akila, Laura and I had gathered together in the ‘safety of our castle’, our home, and healed up afer Mike’s death. I had a sense that weekend that it was time to start to disperse again, that to remain in the castle was not in line with any of our life goals.

This past weekend has been another incredible memory making one, with our friends coming together for a “sending out” party for Akila, a time of celebration, of coming together and then dispersing. She leaves on Sunday for Australia, the country where she was born, where her mum is from and where God is leading her for the next chapter in her life.

We had gathered together to heal, to process, to make sense of it all and to understand the new DNA of our little family unit. During this time we have identified our core values, enjoyed each other, processed as best we could who Mike was, become purposeful in friendships and life………

So today, on my 51st birthday, I sit here with a heart full of contentment that I can “send out” Akila with my blessing, knowing that she will take with her the “Knight Banner”, Eat, drink and be merry with friends because tomorrow you live and along the way, tell everyone you meet about The Father’s love!

Another day in the calendar that is in danger of being over shaddowed.

August 17, 2011

Our family calendar in August has now several dates that we mark and acknowledge. One of those is today. On August 17th 1988, in the Royal Brisbane Hospital, little Akila was born. When she popped out, she had so much hair, by the afternoon Kathy has a little ribbon in it!

For many years, like this year, Akila is never home on her actual birthday. She is on holiday in Holland with 100+ friends at a camp called MTO. Its one of the highlights of her year and she tells me she never wants to miss it. Both Mike and Laura said the same.

Now with her brother’s death anniversary on the 1st, his burial on the 12th, my birthday on the 23rd and her being gone on the 17th, there is a danger of us not celebrating well her birthday. I don’t want to let it be just one day among many, I want to stop, focus and take time to thank God for the day she was born, to look back at the past year and either be glad its over or think of the milestones of the year and celebrate, and then to pray for this coming year.

She will be leaving for Australia on the 28th for around 1 year. As she launches out, I am so grateful that she moved back in with us almost 20 months ago and we as a family had time to process Mikes death as individuals and as a family unit. Akila has done that well, she has also passed her Social degree, passed her driving test and strengthen family relationships. 

Its been really fun, although that fun has been mixed with anxiety! to watch what God is doing in her life the past 20 months. 

Love you heaps Akila, wish you were here, Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Akila

Continuing to accept adjustments

August 15, 2011

Some times we make adjustments in our lives, it’s a purposeful decision, other times we learn to accept the adjustment forced on us. I am aware that many families are all female except for the dad. So the dynamics, expectations and doing life together are what they are. Sometimes we do not know what we had until we lose it. It’s not that we necessarily take it for granted, it’s just we don’t know any different, that is life in our experience. In my case, I had my buddy as well as the girls. For 18 years “the boys” lived life doing boys activities. In most cases, the girls enjoyed the end results of what we were doing but did not really want to be involved in the process. So it we were having a barbecue, Mike enjoyed collecting the wood, making the fire and watching and waiting until the coals were suitable to cook over. The girls would just turn up for the food!

Mike and I also enjoyed removing new items from its packaging and assembling what ever it was we had brought. I have blogged before about the week before he died how we purchased a new TV/DVD/Surround Sound and glass table to put it all on. We had much fun as we put together parts in the wrong way, then saw it didn’t work and finally found the correct way. When Mike was clearing up all the wrapping he came into the kitchen and said “dad, look at this”, he had the instructions in his hand, now we had used them but they were simply pictures and not very detailed at all, but he then turned the paper over, only to discover detailed instructions on the reverse side. We stood there laughing together.

The weather for the past two weeks has basically been rain every day and the forecast for the coming week is no better. With 40+ people coming for Akila’s party, I started to wonder how an earth will I look all the food on a wooden barbecue down the garden. I decided not to take the chance and knowing many stores are offering 50% of garden furniture I decided to buy a gas barbecue. The large box was 60KG without the gas bottle and so Kathy helped me bring it onto the conservatory to assemble. In my mind, as I started to unpack the box, I said “Mike, I’m going to read the instructions and get this one right”. Kathy had tears in her eyes and I realized this was the first box I had brought into the house since Mike’s death that needed the contents to be assembled. She was missing her boy.

Well as typical with me, even though I read the instructions, I hadn’t gone far before I saw I had panels on the wrong way etc, I smiled when I realised and could hear Mike up there saying “how’s the getting this one right going dad!” He had such a dry sense of humor and would have loved to see me getting it wrong, simply as I had said I would get it right!.

And so I continue to accept the adjustment of putting together household equipment without my buddy and all the fun and banter that went with it. I am grateful for the many happy memories I have of the times we did spent together and from his young age experiencing his excitement of opening the box.

Miss you buddy!

Sitting at the bar with strangers or sitting around a fire with friends.

August 14, 2011


This coming weekend we will be celebrating Akila’s 23rd birthday and her farewell as heads to Australia. I am so excited that our best friends are flying in to share this time with us,  wonderful family friends from the area and Akila and Laura’s friends will all be together. As is traditional, I will have a fire going where people can sit around and chat.

This week I phoned another local friend and within an hour he was round for a coffee. As there was no rain, i made a fire and we sat and chatted for a couple of hours. As Paul got up to leave as the fire was dwindling he said “this has been a great time, i came a bit down and i leave a bit up”.

My point, its so nice to sit around a fire with friends than to sit at the bar with strangers.  Some of my favorite memories include friends and family around a fire.

“Some times God is not nice to us”

August 12, 2011

My Muslim friend in India wrote to me this week and said “Some times God is not nice to us”. Is this Truth? Two years ago today, August 12th, I with my family and friends lowered Mike into the ground. It was one of the most horrible emotional experiences anyone can have. It brought emotions of betrayal, lack of love, walking away……..

Kathy has used for many years a daily Bible reading plan and on this day the reading is from Lamentations 3. We have lost the practice of lamenting in the West.  We watch both Muslims and Jews lamenting when there is the death of a loved one. The lamenting process, a song of grief or mourning is a great way to externalize what is happening internally.

Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations said

 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 
 for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”

 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD.

I do not agree with my Muslim friend, not only does the Bible tell me of God’s daily love and mercy, but I and my family have experienced it over this past two years. We are always in danger of looking at the photo of the moment, but that is not Truth, we must watch the whole movie to understand Truth. Jesus said that He was Truth. The world has been watching England in these last days and asking “where is their moral compass”? The problem is not with God, its with the heart of humans! If you don’t believe me, just look at your own!

God is good all the time.

God’s perspective is crucial

August 9, 2011

August 1st 2011....two years on.

My perspective on life, and death, is limited. Two years on from August 1st 2009 I see and understand more than I did in the confusion, turmoil and disorientation of the initial aftermath. I still don’t have clear precise answers but I have “more light” than I did two years ago.
I view life through my lenses, from my perspective, but as I have walked with God this path, as I have read His words in the scriptures, I have seen, although through scratched lenses, His perspective. At first it was hard to focus through the tears and pain but as time has passed, emotion settled, the picture He paints becomes clearer.
God has walked Kathy, Akila, Laura and I through the shock and grief of Mike’s passing. He has revealed to us new truth’s about Himself, ourselves and His eternal purposes for Mike. His perspective is vital. If I did not believe that, then I too would wear black to the funeral, I too would see Mike’s death as such a tragic event.
So as I take the principle to see God’s perspective, I ask what, not why God. I look at th e longer term Kingdom unfolding of events. My best mates business going into administration does not make sense, when he his brother and wife have given so much money away to brilliant causes and individuals. Yes there is the reality of the business environment, but would not God want them to keep pouring funds into so many charities! His perspective and time will reveal the bigger picture, although we may have to wait until heaven to see it!  Both the apparent good and bad are all used to bring out His purposes.

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