He turned my mourning into dancing!

July 29, 2012

I cannot relate to August 1st this year as it is a Wednesday. For me that awe full day will always be a Saturday, the day Mike should of been up and at work, the day I was off work, the day after a great Friday night video and snacks. So I go into this period not really knowing which day I want to “set aside” and then I don’t know if I want to do that anyway.

One of my favorite rides, Keilder Water Forrest, 26 miles x 2!

So this week could of been a real sad one but in fact its been fantastic. Kathy said something very kind and encouraging yesterday as I came off a 6 hour bike ride, twice round Keilder Water Forest. “I’m very proud of you, you could be sat at home in a drunk stupor, instead you are out there on your bike”.

As I “sit in the chair” this morning I am very grateful to Father God for the reality of His presence. In His presence is Joy; The Joy of the LORD is our strength. I have failed Father God often in these past months and I have not always been excited to greet Him in the morning in the chair. But the fact that I can enjoy a bike ride around the lake is because of Him, nothing to do with me. Even though I fail, He does not and His love to me, His gift of grace and mercy, to take my pain and give me Joy, is AWESOME!

The week started with the safe return of Laura from the USA. She has been gone a month and spending time with her “guy friend”, who after 5 years is now officially her “boy friend”! Wow as the world seems to be more liberal than ever, my little girl is more conservative than I ever was! What Joy to have her around and listen to all her stories, see her lying in bed with no need to revise for exams, go to school or have any other pressures in life. Its so nice to watch her and Akila interact and see Akila spoiling her rotten. I observe the impact of loosing Mike and their purposeful approach to their relationship.

And then I have been visiting the City Council, County Council, Library, Tourist Inform

Laura arrives home from USA

ation and shops to try and get posters up for Mysterious? The bottom line is there are not so many places to display posters. Officials have been very kind and taken posters to display on public notice boards in the town and very little but helps. I was bold over to see a huge poster of Mysterious? had been made by some creative individual and placed in the window of Mike’s Church. It was a former cinema and has a great frontage on the main street where all the clubs, bars and restaurants are situated. Many will walk past that daily. I smiled and thought how Mike would love to have seen his silhouette there for all to see!

So in the words of King David who said to the people who were gathered, “Praise the LORD your God”

Mysterious? banners on main street.

“We give back what you gave us”

July 27, 2012

Is what I have because ‘I’ acquired it? Take for example the story of a famous 18th century organist who traveled around giving recitals. In each town he hired a boy to pump the organ bellows. After one concert the boy followed the organist back to his hotel saying, “We certainly had a great concert tonight didn’t we?” “What do you mean we?” said the great performer. “I had a great concert ; now go home!” The next night half way through a magnificent fugue, the organ stopped dead, the great virtuoso looked stupefied. At that point the little organ-grinder popped his head up, grinned and said, “We ain’t havin a very good concert tonight, are we?” Although this story is often used to demonstrate team or interdependency on others, it also reminds me that unless God breaths life into us, there is nothing.

“Did He take Mike or did I give Mike?” Kathy and I were confronted with the issue, did we feel robbed by God for taking Mike? In those early minutes of finding Mike and seeing his body there with no life, it struck my sub-conscious that unless God gives us breathe every day, we are just a corpse. Kath and I also recognized that Mike was not ours, he was on loan and so we “gave back what He had given to us”. That was a very important decision and I believe was key in those early moments as to how we were going to deal with Mike’s death.

But this attitude, belief, perspective or whatever you want to call it, is true for all that we own and have. Do I go through life with my hand fist shaped or open? Is my heart one that recognizes everything I have, my health, my possessions, my skills even my family etc are because He gave them to me in the first place. They are not mine, they are on loan from Him.

Drizzle again!

July 25, 2012

Why is it the middle of summer, down south are rejoicing that tomorrow will hit 29 degrees and as I look out the window its grey and drizzling? It is amazing for the past three years this has been the case and it reminds me that when Mike’s life at 18 1/2 should of been “in the middle of summer”, this out of the normal “grey and drizzle” hit our lives.

Grey and Drizzle every year at this time!

The other day I looked out in the evening and there over the drizzle and grey was an awesome rainbow over the house behind us.

Its too trickle to say “don’t worry, the grey will pass, a rainbow will appear”! That sort of talk drives me nuts, BUT then I think about what does the rainbow signify. To me it signifies God’s faithfulness and promise of Hope. It does not mean the circumstances will change, that all will return to how I want it, that the pain and loss will vanish, that the order of life or at least how I believe the order of life will return. No, it tells me “He is God, I am not and He knows what He is doing”.

Promised Hope

It reminds me like the 12 memorial stones I wrote about yesterday, that God has not just been faithful in the past, but He promised to walk with those who walk with Him, to welcome us into His presence when we pass through this life and into the next. It brings me great comfort to know that I will not only be with Father God but also meet up again with my buddy!

“Hope which was lost now stands renewed”

12 Memorial Stones

July 24, 2012

When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan they collected 12 stones so as to be a memorial for the Children of Israel forever as to the goodness of God.

As we go into this period of “crossing the Jordan” I have been looking at photo’s of Mike’s last week with us. I am so grateful to God for an awesome week we had. In fact it was a week of fun in the  chores; decorating the lounge room, cutting back climbers, buying a new TV system, sitting around a fire. It’s important to stop and remember, not only about Mike, but about Father God’s love to us as “He lead us through the valley of the shadow of death”, through a river that could of consumed and overwhelmed us but did not.

August 1st this year is on Wednesday and I cannot relate at all to the day. For me Mike died on the Saturday and it will always be that day that I associate with as I draw aside and be quiet.

And so we are forward focused, living in the present, looking forward to the future but recognizing God’s miracle mercy to us in the past. This is what gives us hope for the present and future.

Our last meal out on the previous Sunday

Break-out or break-in

July 23, 2012

How many of us want to break-out? We are caught in a cycle of behaviour, an unwanted circumstance or may be even an un-healthy relationship, but try as we might we cannot break-out of it. We have tried endless times, had success for a while and then find ourselves back there again. Or we are locked in a paradigm that wont allow us to view a wider vista of life.

Mark Stibbe, the previous vicar of St Andrews, Chorleywood said “it’s a revelation our children need”.  Eric Mataxas in his outstanding work on Bonhoeffer wrote “Thus the philosopher-and the theologian who operates on a philosopher’s assumptions-chases his own tail and gazes at his own navel. He cannot break out of that cycle, but God, via revelation can break in”

The amazing part about God’s revelation is that so often it’s a simple change in perspective not a change in physical circumstances. Jesus claimed to be “The Way” “The Truth” “The Light”. What I want more than anything is for God to reveal Himself to me. To do that I invite Him to break-in to my mind-set, my activity, my life……and then I wonder, do I really want that. He did that when He took my son, the pain for the gain is great. I want Him to break-in, I want to experience His love, grace, mercy, glory in tangible ways. I want the power of that break-in to be so strong that I no longer need to break out because I recognize “if the son sets you free, you are free indeed”. That’s my passion for those attending Mysterious? on Sept 8th.

The question is what price am I willing to pay for Him to break-in?

The death of a son

July 18, 2012

As soon as I read about the death of Silvester Stalones son, my heart broke, for both the pain of the son in life and the pain of the father in death. We are painted a picture of their relationship by the tabloids. It would appear it wasn’t a close friendship.

I have been re-reading the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. He is quoted often for “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die” and “all is vanity”. As I sit in the chair in Mike’s room and take time to contemplate, something I have only started since Mike died, I am confronted with the fact that we are so temporal. Who gives a rats about the empire we have built or the money in our bank, or the things we accomplished? Within a few years of our death, life moves on, family adjust to our death and within a generation no one really knows much about us except for what may have been written down. Grand children may have been influenced by us but great grandchildren?

Possessions, dreams, relationships  that were important to us because we worked at them are discarded.

So what is my point? I think its to be a good friend to those we care about. The impact of that rubs off on generations as a powerful demonstration to the next generation. What does that look like in practice? The impact of the father is monumental but I believe many of us dad’s miss it. I will never forget 19 years ago being at a  hotel as a family not far from Carlisle for a weekend of support for the families of hearing impaired children. As I sat there listening a voice in my head said “For God so loved Akila………”. You see life had been all about me. The family moved to where I had work, but I recognize at that point that maybe I needed to review my attitude to life and realize what  I may have to consider Akila and her needs into my equation.

“Better to live in a shack on a rock than a castle on the sand”

We all experience grief.

July 10, 2012

I continue to find reading about grief very helpful. I stumbled across some helpful comments by Joseph Loconte in his book “The Searchers, A quest for faith in the valley of doubt”.

  • Of all the experiences common to the human condition, it is the experience of grief that denies us the luxury of being spectators, aloof and uncommitted. Romantic love, intense hatred, paralyzing fear – many of us might navigate through many years of our lives without these experiences or, at least, without knowing them in any enduring sense. Grief is different. Here there is not possibility of evasion. Grief comes to every human life because grief is intimately connected to the brokenness of the world around us.
  • We dont make much time for grief in Western society. We dispatch small armies of “grief counselors” to schools or businesses devastated by tragedy, but to what end? We give sorrow timelines. We provide mourners with medications. We have stages and strategies for grief. And yet we do everything possible to distract ourselves from sadness that has invaded our orderly lives.
  • Who is not touched by the heart breaks and tragedies of life, be they large or small. Even children know what it means to mourn, when a favorite pet dies or a best friend moves away.
  • Rather than walking in grief with their neighbors they often stand above it all, certain they know the ultimate purpose of suffering.
  • The bible does not offer us a sadness shield.
  • Perhaps this is the greatest temptation on the experience of grief, to feel abandoned, either by God or the universe or whatever force it is we believe makes life worth living.

We hear the term “overcome by grief”. I am so grateful that my family have not been “overcome by grief”. As we have been hit and buffered by grief, Father God has given us the grace to daily face what that day emotionally brought our way. I wonder what is the best way to prepare for grief if it is such a common and regular occurrence. My own conclusion is to keep walking with Father God, keep reading the scriptures, thanking Jesus for the compete work of His Cross. It is His love, mercy, grace  and wisdom revealed that leads us through this life, whatever comes our way. In the mean time, I believe more than ever the words of Solomon to “eat, drink and be merry” and “to enjoy the woman of my youth”!

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