Thursday, March 7, 2013

Jesus Loves Me....

Most of my blog entries are for myself and my family, but I will be posting this to a few close friends.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago I hit a spiritual brick wall. I'm not going to explain what exactly, but not the usual world issues, very much a me and God issue. It left me feeling unloved and not understanding what was going on. The close relationship I have had with God, especially over the last year, was shattered and half of me felt like walking away.

I am sorry to Karen for having to deal with my silence, not wanting to talk about it etc. and to Sarah, who may or may not have noticed her Dad was not his usual self. My thanks to Keith for his wise guidance and suggestions.

So why am I writing this blog entry. Well during this I realised that some of my friends were also struggling with their own issues and I am hoping a little of what I have learnt over the last couple of days may help them.

I was stuck in the endless loop of not wanting or being able to talk to God, because I felt he didn't love me etc. I didn't read my bible for 4 days, something I have loved doing with Bible In a Year. I eventually started my daily readings again, but couldn't engage with God. A bit like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, I made myself keep doing the daily reading, going to church etc. but still none of it was working. Normally I can think my way out of these situations, but I couldn't. I sought Keith's wise guidance, and I am sure he said many things, but the thing that struck me (and this is how I remember it not what he may have actually said) was about looking at God's love from a different viewpoint. Going back to the beginning and God loving me so much that he sent his son to die for me.

So today I went for a walk on the Ridgeway (it is just one place I can be alone and spend time with God). I shouted a bit, but I also just laid how I was feeling before him. I said I didn't understand, and today wasn't about understanding, but about getting our relationship back to where it should be. I realised how much God was part of my life, and that however much I hurt, I still wanted him there. I could not imaging life without him.

One of the things I did was listen to Peter Grieg's talk from New Wine last year, and whilst he talked about Hope (Romans 15:13) During the talk he has a story and the song in the story is this

Jesus loves me this I know
For the bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak, but He is strong
Yes Jesus loves me!
Yes Jesus loves me!
Yes Jesus loves me!
The bible tells me so

Sing it to yourself. I make no apology if for the next few days it is going round in your head.

There were many moments like that today.

Are things back to where they were? No
Has it made all the hurt go away? No, but it is not as raw as it was
Are things heading in the right direction? Yes

I still don't know the why etc. about what caused the hurt, or understand it, and I know at some point I will need to delve into that.
What I do know though, is that no matter what, I want God to be at the centre of my life, and even when I don't feel it (or as I was doing feel the opposite) God does love me.

Telling God that I don't understand, and not trying to, accepting that that understanding will come later. Changing my perspective and focusing on the things I do know and understand. Going back to the basics of the Gospel message, that God loves me so much He sent His Son to die for me.

To my friends. I am sorry if I have not been around to talk. Or perhaps you have felt like me and not wanted to talk to someone as you felt your problem would make theirs worse. What I will say is that I am here if you want to talk.

To my body, I am sorry for making you walk 12 miles today when you are out of shape and not used to it, but the pain was worth it :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Intimacy with God

In some ways life has been tough over the last few months. Although I am very aware compared to some others, my life has been relatively easy. Being away so much of the last few months, feeling very tired, not knowing what I should be doing etc. etc. all add up.

So much as I could have spent today shopping, I didn't (sorry Karen, that means no diamonds!), instead I took time out to spend time with God. Something I have tried to do in recent years is to have a "quiet day" (albeit usually only 4-6 hours) once a term. But with being away etc. not really having the time, as when home I need to try and do all the things I normally do but in a shorter time I was feeling more and more that I needed to really get one in. So what to do in a foreign city with no car? So I decide I would visit the Cathedral in Seattle, not like UK ones that are tourist attractions, but at least it would more than probably be open and I could be quiet. Also if that did not work out there was a park close by. I decided to walk there (very British, not at all American!) which in itself was interesting, walking through different parts of Seattle, some a bit run down contrast with the last road with larger houses although not millionaire (or anything like), it was a contrast.

I spent a great time in the Cathedral, reading, praying, listening to worship, as well as a couple of talks. Both from New Wine 2007 (yes we really have been going that long!), the first "Consider the Poor" by David Ruis, and it reminded me of where my heart is on this journey I have been on for the last 6 years, which start around that time. I love Street Pastoring, getting out and meeting those in need. I am involved with our Prison team, although not sure this is where I should be long term, it is for now.

The second talk was "Intimacy with God" by Rev Martin Saxby (no relation to my brother-in-law), and I was struck by how far I had come in the last 6 years. When I originally went to the talk I felt very distant from God, really struggling spiritually, and here I am 6 years on, an what I want more than anything is to spend more time with God :-) I love reading my bible (I can recommend Bible in One Year), I want to have my quiet days, and wish I had time for more. I want to do more for God, although I wish I knew what. In some ways I wish I could afford to give up work and just do things for him.

So having spend most of this week, really not wanting to be here, not sure I really wanted to carry on with my job, I now feel totally different having spent some intimate time with my best friend (God). I didn't want to leave the Cathedral, but as (unusually for a Cathedral) there was going to be a funeral I thought I had better! I feel refreshed and in a much better place. I still don't know what I should be doing for God! but I am happy he has it in hand. I can see he has been working a lot on me for the last 6 years, and also feel that the time is soon, as it feels like the close of a phase. Although I am aware God still has more work to do with me! as Martin Saxby says in his talk (quoting someone else), "God has given you your ministry, not for what you can do for Him, but for what he can do in you"

Tomorrow I am also spending time with God :) I am going to a church with someone I know over here. He used to work with me at Microsoft in the UK, and now works for them in the US. He wife is on a Women's Retreat, so we may also hang out a bit as well.

Spending time with God is great, perhaps I should go away more often, only kidding Karen!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Road to Maturity....

Peter having blogged about his last year ( I thought I would add my side to his.

Both my children have taught me a lot over the years and it has been a pleasure to see them both grow up. I have no favourite I am especially fond of them both!! But because of Peter’s blog this is mainly about my journey alongside his.

Peter taught me a long time ago that my ambitions for him may not be his. This being Olympic year is a timely reminder of that. When he started rowing was around the same time as they were looking for youth his age as potential Olympians. We used to joke about it, and I think the joke wore a bit thin on him and he did point out that my ambition may not be his. He rowed because he enjoyed it, and not to train x times a week to go to the Olympics.

Why do I mention this, because it was just one step on him becoming his own person. As a parent you want your children to be healthy and happy. You also want them to achieve the things they want to achieve. As a Christian you also want them to have a faith and it to be an essential part of them. I know many of my family and friends whose children may not have done all that. I feel blessed that mine are very much on their way to this, but I don’t take the credit, much is down to others who have helped along the way.

I still remember one of the first times Peter spoke at an evening service. It was the day after one of the youth in his group had died in an accident. I still don’t know how he managed it, I don’t know that I could have. I also remember when he spoke at the evening service before he went off to University. I was very impressed, and thanked Andy (the youth worker at the time) for changing my boy into a man.

So when Peter talked to us at the start of the year that he was thinking of going into ministry I was not totally surprised. He was also showing maturity in that he planned to finish his degree (although not the Masters).

When after Easter he was thinking of giving it all up, you can imagine that initially as a parent I found that hard. But as I said to Peter at the time, I didn’t know if my uneasiness with it was a natural parent reaction or God.  Was he meant to stay in a difficult challenge and lean on God, or step out in faith? I prayed (as did Karen) that if it was right I would have peace about it, and that if not he would have someone in Southampton to give him good guidance. God answered both prayers!! Within days I was at peace about it, and that has not left me, and Graham (his vicar) provided him very wise council.

When Peter got his results, some might want to say his work was too little too late, but I very much feel it was God’s hand. God could just have easily made him pass, or perhaps just fail and need to do some resits, but that was not really an option. The fail was such that it was clear (to me anyway) that this was God’s plan. I felt then and still do at peace with it, which given the other stresses in my life at the moment is very surprising.

God is even working on the plans for Peter for the coming year, in how to pay for his house etc. Not that I should be surprised by this.

To me Peter has been very mature about this along the way. Seeking God; seeking guidance from wise people; knuckling down to some hard work etc. To me he appears to be mature beyond his years. God is really leading his life, what more could a parent want. Well I had been hoping that he would become a rich engineer and keep me in my retirement!!

I have used the name Peter not PJ deliberately. God even had a hand on the naming of our children. Peter means “rock” and as it says in Matthew 16v18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t have favourites. I have also seen Sarah grow in maturity to a wonderful adult, but that is another story. Sarah means “princess”, anyone know how I can introduce her to Prince Harry? :P Although I have a feeling she may be more Elizabeth “God’s Promise”.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thank you Lord

Those were my first thoughts this morning.

Yes yesterday wasn't the day I wanted it to be. I did try and follow Karen's advice (FROG) and to an extent it worked. Lunchtime I felt like giving up, everthing had gone wrong. I even text Karen to say please pray. I did though spend the 30 minutes lunch break, listening to worship music and talking to God. By the time I went back in I was much calmer, and yes I still didn't pass, it's not the end of the world, and I also listened to worship music most of the afternoon whilst completing what I could of the lab. God was with me, and given my first thought this morning was "Thank you Lord" says I am really in the best place.

I also thanked him this morning for my wonderful wife. I don't know how she puts up with me. Odd phone calls at the end of the written exam and then again last night (for me, early morning for her) when I got back from the meal/drinking session with the rest of the class!

Now just about packed and ready to come home, for which I can also thank the Lord :)

Kicking myself

I failed the qualification lab :(

I am kicking myself, I spent almost 4 hours on the first part (of 5). I ended up down a rat hole, not sure why things wheren't working, eventually spotted it. In all this meant I ran out of time. I was over half way through part 4 by the finish, and everything else went relatively smoothly. Yes there were problems to solve etc., but not things I felt I couldn't handle, or got particularly stuck on.

Overall only 3 people passed the qual lab, out of the 14 of us. People get stuck in different places. Rumour is that Thomas (another consultant in MS I know, who has taught part of the course, he is an expert on one of the areas) also got into the same rat hole, he was retaking his qualification lab this week, and passed, which does help a bit.

Most people came unstuck somewhere, just shows how tough it is.

At least I can look forward to coming home and seeing my family :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

1 down 1 to go

Well somehow I managed to pass the written exam today. It was a lot lot tougher than I expected, which is perhaps a good thing as I really had to rely on God. 4 hours 80 questions and I only just finished in the time. Normally on these things I finish with plenty of time to spare. I felt utterly exhausted afterwards. I hope Karen forgives me fot the quick non-sensical (I think that's a word) phone call I gave her immediately afterwards. I just wanted to share with her that I had passed, but everyone was coming out trying to find out who had passed and failed, so it might have been a bit odd from her end. Only 7 out of the 14 of us passed. Fortunately that includes Tim who is sharing the apartment.

Had a quick(ish) lunch, and then went to a  gigantic electrial store (Fry's) with a few others. Really just something to do to try and chill out. Back to the apartment for a bit of TV time and then out for an evening meal. The qualification lab (8 hours!!) is tomorrow and there is really not any revision to be done for it, so it is just trying to stay calm, get to bed at a reasonable hour - No I will not be staying up to watch England :(

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lessons over

I can't believe the time has gone. We have reached the end of classes and labs, and not just study and exams left. Tomorrow is a full study day, I will go into the classroom like everyone else so I can access the labs to check things out I am unsure of etc. As with last time, I know it will be just as intense as any other day. I am sure we will also do some group study, which can also help.

I am still worried by the exam and qualification lab. I am sure deep down that I know it somewhere, but can I remember it. I have been going over some of my notes this evening, and it is surprising how much just from last week I had "forgotten". When I say forgotten, I new it really, I just had forgotten that we had even covered it.

Please pray for me (and the others here) that we will remember all that we have learnt. My exam is 9am-1pm (PST, that is 8 hours behind the UK) on Friday, and then the qualification lab starts at 8am-4:30pm on Saturday (8 hours plus a 30min break for lunch).

On a separate note, the sad passing of Steve Jobs. I know Microsoft and Apple are seen as great rivals, but there is actually a lot of respect for each other (unlike some other competitors). Competition is a good thing as it helps drive innovation, and for all there may be things I don't like about the way Apple do some things they have been great at innovation. Steve Jobs was key to that success and he will be sorely missed.