Making peace with the “Re” in our lives that does not happen!

March 10, 2015

The paramedics tried to Re-suscitate Mike ,they could not.

I wanted to Re-count to a family of 5, we are 4

Can I not Re-turn to having a son, I have 2 daughters

The “Re” is the desire to go back to a previous state. We use words like rebuild, restore, redeem, return and renew to articulate that desire. But what happens when the “re” does not happen? How do I move forward in a healthy way? How to I transition from where I was,  accepting the loss and now finding I am at a new place, more often than not, not by my choosing?

Oh and then we say have faith, pray more! Well the divorce went through, the business collapsed, the cancer continued, the redundancy went through. The Re was absent! I don’t have an answer here, sorry. All I can do is cry with you and walk with you as you look at the new landscape after the storm has wash away what was norm.

My story with regard to Mike is a little different. I can honestly say that today, I do not want to return to that place. How an earth can I say that? Well it has to do with my faith and hope in the Redemptive Story. I believe the words of Paul in the Holy Scriptures that says

 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. “ 2 Cor 5

Mike has been Re-stored, Re-united and Re-turned in completeness. He is with His Heavenly Father. Whilst I am missing him, I know he is in the best place I could want for him. If he were to have been Re-suscitated he would only have to die later anyway! So within the Redemptive Story I can say 5 ½ years on “I do not want to re-turn” to having a son present, I do have a son, its just he went on ahead!

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When focus stops me seeing the changing world around me.

March 9, 2015

Developing on my process of where I am 5 ½ years after Mike’s death, let me chat about “what do I focus on?”

Whilst I was spinning out of emotional control, trying to make sense of life, trying to get a bearing, I found great comfort from grief & pain. I know, that may surprise some of you but it kept me close to Mike. Whilst I was doing that, it could have prevented me from seeing the evolving Redemptive Story. At that point, I would say that is natural and not denying my humanity. To be focused on the Redemptive Story would have shown emotional instability. Of course the very first words I said to Kathy was “I don’t believe they will find anything wrong with Mike, God took him!”. If you have not read Kathy’s book “Breadcrumbs in the Storm” then please get a copy. There you will see in the proceeding months how God revealed Himself to us through “amazing God-incidences”. Here for my integrity I have to add, some people were concerned in the first few months that we were too “spiritual”, i.e. in denial. Our good friend and founder of our organisation, George Verwer, heard about the concern and asked to have a day with us. We so enjoyed walking along canals and eating good food with him. At the end of our day he simply said “I believe you have the gift of faith”. I had no idea what that meant so over the next year I did a study on faith. I brought my many pages of notes down to one statement: “faith is believe with legs on it!” Faith is very much linked to focus.

Scientist have come to the following conclusion after some tests. “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.” I would suggest, that a dramatic event is “clutter”, it occupies our minds 24/7.

Watch this short video and hopefully you will see my main point.

Now it does not have to be a significant event in our lives that stops us seeing change around us. The point here is that what I focus on is what I see. If I focus on the bad, I see bad. If I focus on the good, I see good. If I have filled my life with “clutter” or an event outside of my control brings “clutter” then I will most likely miss change around me. This is why its important to “Jump out and look in”.  We may not like taking time to be analytical or reflective, but it can allow understanding and if we choose, course correction. So we mentally jump out of our current situation and ask simple enquiry type questions. As I did that and continue, I see a larger picture being revealed, I see His Story coming into view, I see the positive, in fact jaw-dropping good events in people’s lives happening. Of course I also saw and see new pain and heart ache in other’s , but that too was/is positive as I stopped focusing on self.

The reality is we do tend to focus in and we miss the change around us, only to wake up one day and wonder why the world around us in unrecognisable. So whilst I focus on one aspect, it does not correlate that other aspects are not changing in front of my eyes, its that my brain is not processing the change. Hence the feed back is not there and I lack cognitive enlightenment and then I may well of missed some amazing God Story. Its also true that over the years we allow “clutter” to build up. Unfortunately it often takes radical change to clear it out, incremental change does not motivate us!

So 5 ½ years on, I see some wonderful changes, growth, new beginnings, levels of new maturity, opportunities and on and on, in people’s lives that have had contact with Mike’s story through our story but all in the context of The Redemptive Story. How can I focus but not miss seeing that change that is simultaneously happening? There are the two realities, the human story and the Redemptive Story. I cannot tell you one in isolation of the other, that would lack honesty. There has been swearing and praise, sadness and joy, tears and laughter, confusion and clarity, fog and blue skies.


Where am I today, five and a half years since Mike’s death?

March 8, 2015

Over the past months, I have been trying to make sense of where I am today, five and a half years on from that life altering event. My difficulty is that I have been afraid that what I say may both hurt my family and not be understood. So my blog has remained untouched, but I want to start again processing my thoughts through writing.

Today I want to grapple with a topic that in many ways is so hurtful and yet it’s a verse from the scriptures!

I don’t know about you but I have heard, read and had it said to me “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Rm8:28 For 20+ years I have grappled to understand this verse. I find it one of the most hurtful things to say when there has been tragedy! It makes my blood boil, but why?

Some years ago when I was studying business, I came across the word synergy “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects”. This was a great help at that time to be more at peace with this verse. Individually, an event can be bad, but combined with other events, the sum total can be good! Of course we are talking here about spiritual good. I just could not accept that a rape, murder, death of a loved one etc could be “good” as I listened to some well-meaning but annoying person come out with “And we know that all things……………” Are you crazy? Do you not have an ounce of compassion in your soul? Have you never experienced pain of loss or rejection? These are the type of thoughts I would quietly hold.

I am a huge fan on the topic of narrative or story. I love to ask the question, what is the narrative here? That can be a question for an individual, family, community, and nation. If you want to understand the culture and behavior of Carlisle, you have to look at the story. A city that is on the boarder of England and Scotland, a city that has been invaded and ruled for short periods by non-English. Once you dig into the narrative, you can see the longer term effects that has had on the formation of current culture.

So what has that to do with this verse?

There are four parts to God’s story, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. We are in the 3rd part of the story, redemption. Simply put, God through Jesus has made a way to deal with our wrong and bring us back into relationship with Himself. This is the redemptive story. Mike’s death, someone else’s horrible story only make’s sense, when it is placed within the redemptive story. Outside of that, it remains a terrible event. But when we look at it within the context of the redemptive story, well it changes everything. I witnessed the other week two sisters being baptized as a sign of their relationship with Father God, on the one year death anniversary of their amazing Godly mother. Their mom suffered from MS for many years and was wheel chair bound. “BAD”. But she loved Jesus and had a wonderful active walk with her Saviour. Her life and death had a huge impact on these ladies and God used it within the Redemptive Story to bring these daughters into beautiful reconciliation with Himself.

We have seen God take Mike’s story and use it in ways we could never imagine for “GOOD”, even good in my, Kathy, Akila and Laura’s character. I can only see that now after 5 1/2 years. We only see the “good” as we look back. There is no “good” in the storm!

So I have moved on from accepting this verse in the context of “Synergy”. Today, I can accept that God can take something so horrible, so painful, so bewildering and use it to continue writing His Story, The Redemptive Story. I would still plead with my friends to not speak this verse to people who are going through a hard time. Just love them and be quiet and let God be God and pray He can use a bad situation for good as He continues writing His Redemptive Story. Then years later or as time has passed, look at the narrative and yes join me and say with tears running down “Nothing but good has come from Mike’s death”


July 31, 2014
He is alive! Sun rise Aug 1st 2014 Inchon, Sth Korea

He is alive! Sun rise Aug 1st 2014 Inchon, Sth Korea

A beginning starts with an end. On this 5th anniversary of Mike’s death I wake early before the sun rise here in Inchon, South Korea with the word’s “He’s alive, He’s alive, I’m forgiven Heaven’s gates are open wide”

John 20

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in [a]Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

How important it is to have a body to bury as a part of the process of dealing with grief. There is something special about a person’s body to the family, to those who loved the person, especially mum, dad, brothers and sisters. It’s a time of utter confusion, pain, disbelief, loss, end, death, anger…. I know how Mary found comfort in coming to the place where her son was laid to rest. But to the find the body has disappeared would be horrendous. “Who has defiled my son’s body? How can they do this? I am already in such pain and now they put more on me”

In her pain and tears and grief, Mary see’s a gardener, but that is not who He is. Who do I see in my grief, pain and confusion? What is so loving is Jesus is not indignant to Mary, the one who has just done the unthinkable, doesn’t have an attitude of ego, He says one word and it’s her name, He does not say, “I am Jesus.” Oh my giddy aunt, Jesus say’s Mark, Kathy, Akila, Laura today as he did 5 years ago. That’s all I need and like Mary, I no longer see a gardener but I can say “I have seen the Lord”

Jesus is still in the business of revelation today and calling us by name. When was the last time you heard Him call your name? He loves us and died for us. So today, I rise early on Logos Hope, a name that is both Greek and English. Logos = the living word, Jesus. Hope = a sure confidence, not an aspiration. So my confidence is in Jesus. Mike’s beginning started with an end, death proceeds life. So today, as we in Korea and the girls in England thank God for Mike’s life and celebrate his new beginning, we also thank God for Jesus conquering death and just saying our names. That’s enough for me!


Headline News Just In……Death Penalty has been reprieved

March 24, 2014

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, was caught trying to bring $2.4 million worth of cocaine  into Bali, only for the judge to impose a death sentence. Sandiford, 57, was sentenced to death in January and has  lost two appeals against the decision. The prosecutor was asking for a 15 year prison sentence.

I heard this morning that the death penalty to all humanity, the consequences of our wrong doing has been reprieved by the judge if we take up His offer! He also said that He knew and understood that this was not based on a change of our behaviour, that like Sandiford, we would continue to “smuggle drugs” but it was based on His Son taking our place. He asked that we simply receive this free gift. Romans 6 “Sin pays its servants: the wage is death. But God gives to those who serve him: his free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is such awesome news. What is mind blowing is that He has not pushed for a 15 year life sentence but to be free to enjoy the wide open spaces of His Grace.


My Daily Confession

February 11, 2014

Some years ago, I met someone who had battled with deep depression that had destroyed his life for several years. He had come through and had found some aids along the way. He gave me a copy of his “My daily Confession”. For a year after I kept a printed copy in my wallet and would read daily, but then I lost it and I stopped. I found a copy again on my laptop and realised I need to re-launch the practice. It sooths my soul and encourages me daily to remind me who I am in Christ Jesus, why I am here and what is my purpose.

My Daily Confession

“My cup of life overflows and because of your great Love for me I am blessed in the morning. I am blessed in the evening and I am blessed at night. Lord you have plans for me until I walk through the final valley you will keep me able to serve, counsel me, guide my steps and make my way flourish like a well watered tree. You will daily feed me on good things from your Word and make provisions for my needs. I will be a witness to the goodness of the Lord and I will tell others of my salvation by faith in Christ alone not having my own righteousness. Out of this relationship He creates a life of good works of Grace to be done through me. I am Father God’s child, born anew of the Holy Spirit and part of the Kingdom of Christ; though I may fall I will not be cast down. His refreshing tender mercies are renewed to me every morning. My new creation life that comes from above will bare the fruit of the Holy Spirit and I will do well in my anointed and appointed gifting. With my old life hidden in Christ I have strength and peace. This makes me more than a conqueror over Satan, sin, self and death and because I walk in the light, love and life of Christ nothing touches me that has not passed through Father God’s hands.”


What do I consider treasure and what do I do with my treasure?

October 22, 2013

What do I consider treasure? Is this just in the physical or can it also be in the abstract? I realised that “Mike was my treasure and he has gone on ahead”. Over the past couple of years I have contemplated about life events that are “mile stones” and I ask myself the question whether they define me or ruin me, whether I can use them for a greater purpose or whether they paralyze me. Whether I see them as “bags of gold” and use them to invest or do I just bury them and neither see multiplication or addition.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

As a family we have decided to give our story, our pain, our weakness, our ordinary to Father God and ask Him to use it for His Kingdom. I wonder at times how God can use a simple ordinary family who live in a simple ordinary house in a simple ordinary road. But we have story after story how God has taken our little treasure and given us opportunity for multiplication and addition.

I want to encourage others with their stories and treasures to not be paralyzed by grief and pain but with tears and confusion see what Father God can do when we come to Him and ask Him to use our treasure for His Kingdom.  What gives me such a buzz is to see the way God uses what I consider treasure and use it to help others. What I consider gold, others consider to be worthless, I have seen God take the worthless and make it priceless! Go on get that treasure out!

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