Monday, 27 December 2010

Aslan, Caspian and Reepicheep

So Boxing Day ended with an impromptu trip to the cinema to see the latest Narnia film, Voyage of The Dawn Treader. Great film !

The closing scene of the film has the main character's at the edge of Aslan's land (paradise) which is characterised as a wall of water next to a beach. Once you enter Aslan's land you cannot leave.

Caspian walks to the edge, puts his hand in the sheer wall of water and returns saying something along the lines of "I've spent too much time wanting what has been taken, and not on what has been given". Caspian wants to enter that land but (somewhat reluctantly) comes back to complete all that Aslan wants him to do.

Reepicheep, the valiant brave warrior on the other hand, throw's his sword away saying, "This is my heart's desire" and runs to the water's edge, jumps into his little boat, then he paddles up the wall of water with a broad smile and clear expectation on his face - and into Aslan's land...never to be seen again in Narnia.

I told the counsellor recently that I felt like I'd walked to the gates of glory....I, like Caspian, had to return; Karena, like Reepicheep, went into Aslan's land....but Aslan (Jesus) was with them both on this tough journey.

I blubbed my way out of the cinema; the parallel's were astounding.
CS Lewis was a genius! I will now re-read the book!

And my favourite Narnia quote about Aslan...."He's not a safe Lion, but He is good"

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Images of Christmas....














Isaiah 9 : 6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..."

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The first Christmas...

I've been trying not to do too much "This time last year...." stuff but it's really very difficult...I naturally remember dates and events with my "Captain-Logical" brain :-(
The whole situation was accurately described to me today as feeling like you've been taken out of one life and dropped into a completely different life which you didn't ask for or want!

This year, Christmas will be different for us - we will be spending Christmas Day with very dear friends and then meeting up with family on Boxing Day - hopefully there will be lots of laughter, and not many tears. I really just want the children to have a good time really!

But as we approach our first Christmas since the great sadness, I'm reminded of the bible teaching about the first Christmas...."The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling amongst us....". (John 1:14)
When you peel away all the hype, all the nonsense, all the fairytale, all the myth and get to the core of what really happened 2000 years ago, the simple truth is that the God of all things, for whom nothing is too hard, was humbled, he surrendered his glory and was made man, in the most outrageous move he could possibly have made....
I read yesterday...."There are lots of important truths in the gospel, but they all depend on this one. The cross made possible freedom from sin, and the resurrection secured it, but the writing was on the wall the day Mary got pregnant. It is not exaggeration to say that the incarnation - God becoming flesh - is the most scandalous teaching anyone has ever given. More scandalously, it is completely true"
That was the first Christmas....it's totally life changing... :-)

PS : Sorry if you were expecting a Christmas card from us this year - I just couldn't bring myself to write 4 names instead of 5 on card-after-card!.....but....we do wish you a very Merry Christmas , and much love to you ! x

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Nuts and stuff....

Today was visit #4 to Grey Squirrel....
I talked and talked for another hour.....about the future, children, work, and moving on generally.
Today though I didn't have a big agenda like I have done on previous visits. Good to do more splurging through!
Grey Squirrel is truly exceptional at listening and interjecting at just the right point....she really is a square peg in a square hole (and I told her so !)

Yesterday I went to talk to somebody about a part time job working at a drop-in centre in Reading, but have decided not to apply for it, but hope to do some voluntary work there in the New Year (if they'll have me!)... When I was out tho, I also saw a giant wooden cross and was reminded of Jesus' words, "Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple..." (Luke 14:27)
Today I also visited a dear christian couple who are both blind and have daily difficulties - the like of which, I have never experienced. I came away blessed beyond expectation just by being with them for an hour.
I wonder what is ahead in this crazy life??!!.....it certainly feels totally nuts sometimes (I'm sure Grey Squirrel would agree!). Tee, hee !
So.....stuff I'm grateful for today :-
  • The unchanging good news of Jesus Christ (life in all it's fullness - John 10:10 !)
  • My eyesight
  • My children
  • Good friends
  • Central Heating
  • Chocolate

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Footprints of Grey Squirrel

Yesterday it was back to see Grey Squirrel (aka Sonia the counsellor) for session #3.
My plan was to talk about fears....

  • Fears I have for my children
  • Fears I have for the future (what if...)
  • Fear of death (the process)

During all my splurging, I recalled Christmas eve last year and listening to a song with Karena and both crying together in each others arms whilst listening to it sitting in the kitchen.

Grey Squirrel later reminded me of the famous Footprints in the Sand poem. The poem is a fair summary of the last year really....the same Lord who carried Karena through her final days is the one who has carried me and the children throughout this massively emotional year.
When Grey Squirrel mentioned the poem, it suddenly clicked in my brain that the very song Karena and I had listened to that tearful day was 'Footprints in the Sand' by Leona Lewis.

Have a listen by clicking here and let the grace of God wash over you as you do so...it works for me, even if it does make me cry. Go on.....STOP, listen and open your heart up to the living God - it's only 4 minutes of your life!!

Today, I've been out with a dear friend, laughing and enjoying life for a change !

Friday, 3 December 2010

Revisiting Grey Squirrel

Wednesday's visit to Grey Squirrel was visit number 2.
I went armed with some photos and a hard copy of my blog covering Karena's journey to glory.

I read lots, relived tonnes of memories (mostly sad), and cried a lot. Another hour of my life over with.

Am hoping that there is healing in all the tears, otherwise I'm totally wasting my time. For the last 2 days since then I've just felt totally flat, fizz-less, without much emotional energy at all.

My fabulous friend Ellie, who's journeyed this same path, says that it's all very normal. Personally I'm not sure I'll ever be 'normal' again.

Back to Grey squirrel for session #3 next week.

Stuff I'm grateful for today :-
  • The unchanging gospel - without which, there is, quite simply, no hope whatsoever!
  • My counselling 'team'- particularly Grey Squirrel, Ellie, Sean and Tim.
  • My Land Rover in the snow (hill starts on snow and ice just for fun !)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A pinch and a punch.....

So, it's the 1st of December...which means Christmas is just around the corner !
Am trying not to think too hard about last year's Christmas - but the snow brings back an awful lot of memories ('awful' being the operative word !).

I went to see Grey Squirrel again today; last session was cancelled - I like to think it's because I'm too much of an emotional challenge, but actually I think she just had a better offer ! More on today's visit to Grey Squirrel on the next blog.....

So, as it's December, we've been out tonight and bought our Christmas tree, so the children have been busy decorating it this evening, accompanied by some very (annoying) cheesey Christmas music :-)
A few weeks ago I had a bit of a panic about the prospect of having to sort out lots of Christmas presents (In all previous years , I've only bought for one person !!), so I decided to start Christmas shopping early!...I then got quite focussed and have now managed to buy all presents, and have even wrapped them all (including stockings)....so I thought a smug blog was called for...tee hee...all presents wrapped, Christmas tree up, outside lights on (first in the street!), and we even made mince pies tonight (my first time ever !). Am feeling ever so prepared ! I must've forgotten something !

Shhhh - I thought I heard sleigh bells.....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Comedy moments....

So the birthday was OK in the end.... after eating gigantic tortillas from "The Mexican" in town - stuffed with meat and beans and sour cream and sauce etc, we came home and watched Harry Hill on dvd with popcorn and chocolate....and laughed a lot ! Was glad when the day was over with tho !!

A couple of months ago No.3 daughter found a piece of plastic in her dinner - it's origin was a jar of pasta sauce (it was a rush meal !!) - so I phoned the company (Mars) - they requested that I send them the piece of plastic and the bar code from the jar - which I did. Their first letter received after a month advised, "I have started to investigate the incident; however it may take some time to complete. You have my assurance....."
I forgot all about it until yesterday's post arrived......another letter following their detailed investigation which reads, "After analysing the sample you returned we have positively identified the material as being a piece of plastic."
I was thinking I might apply for a job in their forensic science department :-)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Just another day....

Not sure what to write really....it's Karena's birthday.

Getting out of bed was a struggle.

Tonight we're going out for dinner. I know Karena would have wanted us to enjoy ourselves so I will go through the motions and try to muster up some enthusiasm...but the blanket-like weight of heaviness that hangs from my heart sometimes feels totally overwhelming; today is one of those days.

A good friend reminded me this morning of Rom 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Gonna try to cling onto Jesus today as best as I can....in memory of my wife, I will start with cappuccino....

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Introducing Grey Squirrel...

So yesterday was counselling day....never been to a counsellor before so another first experience! The counsellor is a lovely Christian lady who I will call 'Grey Squirrel' (just because it's all 'confidential' and I'm silly!).
I took along with me some photos & Karena's diary.....

Spent an hour talking through memories, pain I have for my children, the journey, the future, and all that I know God is doing in me and speaking to me about....tissues were in ample supply !!

At the end of the (very long) hour, I came out with a headache but felt peaceful knowing that I'd offloaded, and I also knew that the Healer, the Holy Spirit, was very much present in our time together.

Having listened to my story, Grey Squirrel told me, amongst other things, that I was very special (always good to hear !) and that God has big plans for the future! :-)

Back for some more splurging next week.....

Nehemiah 8:10 "...for the joy of the Lord is your strength"

Monday, 8 November 2010

Resting in the shadow....

So the clocks have gone back, the evenings are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the shadows are lengthening.....

This morning I went for a long run in the rain, and as I did so I was reminded of a scripture which went over and over in my head.....about resting in the shadow....not any old shadow - but resting in the shadow of the Almighty. I knew I needed to speak to a very dear friend about it....but as I've reflected, I know it's also so very true for me and my family too- the only shadow I really want to lengthen in our lives is the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91 : 1-2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty,
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust".

So it's time for rest - which means dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and resting in the shadow that only He can give me - a shadow of refuge.

Monday, 1 November 2010

a father's love...

I have always been careful not to write on here much about my children and the journey that they are each on - because, as their father (with all my flaws and failings) I love them dearly and am massively protective of them, and their journey is private to them, and to anybody they choose to share parts of it with.

In some ways I can cope with losing my wife and best friend because of the confidence I have in where she is. My biggest ongoing frustrations and tears are for my children who also have to walk this road which can so often be filled with overwhelming emotions and unexpected sadness. My struggle as their father is that I can't take the pain away from them. I would willingly take all their pain, all their tears, all their sadness if it meant that they didn't have to experience it. Unfortunately I just can't do that and so - when they hurt, it hurts me so much that I literally ache inside.

Today has been gut-wrenching for me for this very reason.....walking around town struggling to put one foot in front of the other, continuously wiping away tears because of the pain of one of my children...and my mind inevitably turns to God The Father, and I wonder at His pain at seeing his one and only Son suffering and dying on the cross at Calvery....
.... and I'm utterly undone as I realise that my aching love for my children is just a poor reflection of the aching love of The Father as He watched His Son Jesus take the punishment that we deserve. That's the love of The Father.

1 John 3:16 "This is how we know what love is : Jesus Christ laid down his life for us"

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Turn your eyes.....

A dear friend told me recently that we safely delivered dear Karena into the presence of her saviour....I do know that she's really home now and having a fabulous time in the presence of Jesus.
For me, I can't get this song out of my head for these last few days and the desire to gaze upon the face of Jesus is stronger now than it's ever been I think; everything else certainly pales into insignificance and into proper perspective in light of the glorious gospel....

Please join me today - whether through laughter or through tears - and let's turn our eyes together.....

Hebrews 12:2 : Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Song Lyrics :
You said all that follow You may find
Comfort and pain, blessings in hard times,
Were I to leave, where else would I go ?
The words of life and truth You hold.

All I want is love,
I confess to this
I will take it Lord,
All You have to give.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things on earth
Will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.....

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Another first....

Yesterday it was 8 months since 'The Great Sadness"....

On Monday I had another first....this time, one which took me very much by surprise....we had a good friend over for dinner and I set the table for six......it wasn't until I brought the last plate of food across to the table that I realised that the four of us and our friend already had plates in front of us and I was holding one spare portion ;-(
Looking on the bright side I suppose, we all got some extra chicken ;-( A bit sad tho !

Have decided to try and arrange some Christian counselling particularly in light of the tsunami-type problems that I have....talking about it all can only help !

Have a lovely day ;-)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Tsunami !

I really wasn't expecting it....the Tsunami, that is...
...but then again, I think it's been building for a little while.....and it arrived yesterday, and seemed to build in magnitude as the day progressed, before the tide seemed to draw back again today !

Poetic language maybe, but that really describes how it all happened in terms of the overwhelming emotional onslaught of the day.....totally awash with tears, awash with painful memories of watching my dearest friend slowly die, awash with memories of conversations, awash with shatterred hopes and dreams, awash with desperation over what my children no longer have....totally and completely overwhelming - an emotional tsunami !
I didn't even have the energy to pray; thankfully tho my dearest friends will listen, will cry with me, and will pray for me when I don't feel able.....

It's said that grief hits you in waves - well almost 8 months down the line, it was an absolutely huge one; hopefully it won't return in the same way again !!

It's really well described in the words of a song I have been listening to today (listen here)....

...and in the words of a dear friend, "I have been praying for you this morning, for healing and comfort that I just can't give you myself, but that God can..."

Today is another day, thankfully !

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Live Strong....


I've been thinking a lot about strength over these last few days....
Lance Armstrong has coined the expression "Live Strong" for his cancer charity, but living strong is a clear bible theme through both good times and bad times....

After a disastrous time, David (1Sam 30:6b) "...found strength in the Lord his God"...and...

After a successful time, David sang (Psalm 18:1-2),"I love you, O Lord, my strength...the Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer...my God is my rock" (Wish I knew the tune !)

And some other favourites...

"The Lord is the strength of His people" (Ps 28:8)
"Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." (Eph 6:10)

With that in mind I'm toying with thoughts of trying to find some suitable part time work. I was originally planning to leave it until next year but think it would be good to do sooner rather than later.....there's a finite amount of dog walking, shopping trips and house cleaning that a man can stand !! Guess I'd better start praying then.....

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Another gaspathon.....

Well...the big race took place on Sunday - my only Olympic-distance triathlon this year (I was just warming up and the season is ending....doh!)

Sadly I didn't finish in the top 10 (!!) but did manage to finish in the top 100 (!) with a reasonable time (considering the amount of training put in) of just under 2hours 45mins - but it was the most enjoyable race I think I've done simply because I did it alongside my great friend - and we worked hard all the way through the swim, bike and run legs...all the way to the finish line...together !!
There's a few photos on the internet here if you're interested !

As I completed the gruelling 10km run at the end of the race I had 2 scriptures on my mind (whilst gasping for breath !!) -
1 Cor 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize"
1 Tim 4:8 "For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
We made it to the end of the race - alive !!

Yesterday I couldn't get out of my mind that God is a "consuming fire" (Heb 12:29) and through tears I was reminded that He wants all of me, my passions, my desires, my hopes, my fears, my time, my energy..... after all that's happened over this last year, life can never be the same again and the call to follow Jesus, to take up my cross, and to live for His glory and for His purposes, feels stronger for me now than it's ever been.....
Let's face it, based on Sunday's mediocre performance, I'm never likely to win a triathlon anyway ;-)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Back to school....

....Thank goodness for that !!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Just to be with you, I will give everything....

This is one of my top favourite songs at the moment - you might like to listen here !

My Spurgeon bible reading notes this morning are absolutely spectacular :-

Isaiah 65:19 "I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress"

Spurgeon writes :
"In heaven the glorified do not weep, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor unfulfilled longings in heaven. Poverty, famine, danger, persecution, and slander are unknown there. There will be no pain to distress us, no anxious thoughts of death or bereavement to sadden. Those there do not weep, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are faultless before His throne and fully conformed to His image. Well might they stop mourning since they have stopped sinning. They do not weep, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They are safe in a city that will never be taken; they bask in a sun that shall never set; they drink of a river that will never run dry; they pluck fruit from a tree that will never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity will not be exhausted; and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall endure with it. They are forever with the Lord. They do not weep because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything that they do not have. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgement, imagination, hope, desire and will - all the faculties are completely satisfied...they bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite blessing. That same joyful rest awaits us. It may not be too long before the weeping willow is exchanged for the palm branch of victory, and sorrow's tears will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss."

What a confidence!
What a calling!
What a hope!

Truly, Karena has arrived home. Wish I was there too.

Friday, 13 August 2010

I am His and He is mine...

6 months on....

Song of Songs 6:3 - "I am my beloved's and He is mine, he grazes among the lillies. " (ESV)

Matthew Henry commentary describes it thus :

"Christ's church is a garden, enclosed, and separated from the world; he takes care of it, delights in it and visits it.....When Christ comes to his church, it is to entertain his friends. And to take believers to himself : he picks the lillies one by one, and at the great day, he will send forth his angels to gather all his lillies, that he may be forever admired in them. The death of a believer is not more than the owner of a garden plucking a favourite flower; and He will preserve it from withering, yea, cause it to flourish forever, with increasing beauty. If our own hearts can witness for us that we are Christ's, question not his being ours, for the covenant never breaks on his side. "

Jesus is emmanuel; God with us. I'm so glad ;-)

Friday, 30 July 2010

Hold me in Your arms....

I had a song buzzing around in my mind yesterday (Check it out here) as I once again recalled the events of Feb 12th with tears in my eyes, as I wandered through Reading town centre.
Aside from me, I am aware of so many other people with life-challenging situations - alcohol addiction, grieving the death of a precious husband, work related stress, bad news about an unborn child.....

What's the answer to all of this ?
It's in the God who never leaves nor forsakes us - the answer is in that precious relationship which has been made available through Jesus' death and resurrection. So glad He's with me through every step of life.....I marvel how anybody can do life without Him?!
When everything else is stripped away, when all else fails, when credit cards can't buy the answer, when people can't meet the need, when bereavement happens (as surely it will), Jesus still remains....the same yesterday, today and forever....a rock, a fortress, reliable, dependable, faithful, caring, loving, healing....

Song Lyrics :

I long to know You
Only You can satisfy
I long to touch You
Only You can heal my life

I can't find peace in the things I do
I need to see Your kingdom
I can't find peace as I strive for You
I need to see Your face

Hold me in Your arms
Don't ever let me run away
Hold me in Your arms my Father
Say You'll stay, say You'll stay.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

People, people, people....

Yesterday was utter madness....a ferry to the Isle of Wight nice and early and then 64 miles / 4 1/2 hours later and Sean, James and I had circum-navigated the Isle of Wight on our rocket-bikes. For more details, on our epic adventure, see the Green-boy's blog

I was thinking that we must be clinically insane (we probably are!) - but it turned out to be an enjoyable day :-)

I ask myself sometimes why I do these things - and when it comes down to it, it's not really the 'thing' that's enjoyable, it's doing the 'thing' with people that I love that really makes the big difference....these last months have made me appreciate the importance of close friends and family more and more.

So today, I bought some sunflowers for myself and some for a family that I love dearly, just because they are a radiant example of God's creation, they made me smile, and because life is all about knowing God's presence and is also about people, people, people....

In better words than any I can muster up, Jesus said it this way..."Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, AND... love your neighbour as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39)

My challenge to you today is to tell those closest to you that you love them - they probably know it already - but tell them anyway face-to-face if you can......and why not phone a friend and tell them the same thing. It'll brighten their day, your day and I'm sure God will be smiling too :-)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Race for Life....

Photos from todays Race For Life featuring lots of friends running in "Team Karena...." (the dalmation is nothing to do with it but is just quite cute!!)....














Everybody who ran in Team Karena did really well - a fabulous team effort!!
If you still want to sponsor the team, please do so.... here






The Race For Life per Heb 12:1-2....
"...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God"

Saturday, 10 July 2010

"I do..."

10th July 1993 probably isn't that significant a date to most people....for me though it was a life changer....I really landed jam-side-up that day !
17 years later I'm still so glad that Karena said "I do" because she totally changed my life in the process. This year of course there are no anniversary cards, & no hopes for our future married life together...in their place there are just shatterred hopes,shatterred dreams, tears and sadness.

In my bible reading notes this morning I have been reading about the goodness of God from Psalm 34:8

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that takes refuge in him"

...and the commentary notes read as follows :-

Some people misunderstand the idea that God is good, and take it to mean that bad things will never happen. Then, because of the results of the Fall - things like death and sin and sickness and abuse and earthquakes - still happen, they get angry with God....but in verse 19 the psalmist makes the remarkable announcement "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" which is the exact opposite of what many people today would think. Even with a good God who is sovereign over everything and has the power to do whatever he likes, good people still suffer. The punch-line comes in the next phrase though..."but the Lord delivers you out of them all".....and "no-one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him" (vs 22)

My theology is clear, but I still feel sad most of the time ! So....exactly 17 years after saying "I do", I will cling onto the most important person that Karena introduced me to just a few months before we were married - Jesus - He alone is my Helper, my Comforter, my Hope, my Salvation, my Rock, my Fortress & my Song....
...and when He asks "Will you follow me wherever it leads and however hard it is?"...
...through tears, I reply "I do".

Thursday, 1 July 2010

It's all about the journey....


Two weeks ago I cycled to Windsor Great Park to the place where we scattered Karena's ashes. What struck me when I got there was how high the grass had grown - about a metre - of course time has marched on and, if left unattended, grass tends to do that type of thing. There I prayed and told God that I knew it was time to move on....

Yesterday I fancied a long bike ride so headed back towards Windsor - but this time I didn't stop at the Great Park but stayed on the road and raced all the way into Windsor then back out in a big loop around the route of the Windsor triathlon and then back home. It felt a little strange to stay on the road and not stop as I passed - but Karena isn't there anyway, she is with Jesus in a far more beautiful place and will certainly never be forgotten by everyone who loved her.

I was quite chuffed with the cycling - for the saddo fitness fanatics like me, the stats are : 76km, 2hrs & 33mins, 30kph average speed, 67kph max speed (on the road into Windsor - it's downhill and I was pushing hard !).....I was quite tired at the end of it all ! After 'working' so hard I decided to go out for a lunchtime panini - it had scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, and ketchup in it and was a taste sensation! ....but I cried going there in the car and over lunch too as I keep reliving parts of life's recent journey ;-(

In a few weeks time I'm planning (weather permitting) to cycle around the Isle of Wight with Sean and James - will look forward to that but the boys are going to struggle keeping up with me ;-)

In my bible reading notes today I read (based on Jer 32:17)...."Nothing is too hard for the God who created the heavens and the earth". I'm sure that includes healing a heart which is still very very bruised...
The good news is, tomorrow it's my birthday - 42 !

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Take off your sandals.....

Am sitting in the garden at the start of a new day reflecting on the events of the last two... The weekend I have been on was entitled "A Different Journey" and intended for young bereaved people who have lost their husband or wife. I arrived on Friday night with zero expectation after sorting out the children, the dog, the cats and the chickens......

There were about 20 or so people all united by one thing-grief. Each person with a different gut-wrenching story of a loved one who had died, some with young children, some with older children, some with none at all - but everyone laden by hurt and pain. Tissues were in ample supply as tears flowed, memories and emotional pain were discussed, unfulfilled dreams were mourned and much much more.
The thing that totally undid me more that anything was answering the question "What lives on in you that you received from your loved one?".....and I relived the days afresh back in 1992 when Karena introduced me to Jesus, and my life was to be forever transformed by Him. She's not here now but Jesus still is, and unmistakeably in the weekend through all the tears, through brokenness, I also had an overwhelming sense of the Comforter's presence and a sense that I was in so many ways '...standing on holy ground.'

Driving home at midnight last night I listened (very loudly) to my latest favourite song, this one is by Third Day - check it out here
So it's off to the sea for a long swim now....no idea why really.....

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Father's Day +

What a fabulous day....children brought me a cup of tea in bed so I watched the highlights of yesterday's football whilst supping a brew in bed ! It doesn't get much better ;-)

Then we had church which is always full of life as you get re-focussed afresh on what life is really all about...then church bbq, footy match against the youngsters, and tea with family. Feel pleasantly tired tonight ;-)

So the result of the image poll was quite convincing - of the 33votes cast, over half seem to think that I should stay free of facial hair and wigs. So this week I have grown a beard ;-)

And so to the week ahead....
On Friday I am off to "A Different Journey" weekend organised by "Care For The Family" for those who have been bereaved early in life. Not sure if I'm looking forward to it or not really....but will take my bike just in case I need to get some space!!
This last week I have been more tearful again...so no idea how the weekend thing will be. I guess it can only help...
Unfortunately though (being an airhead like I am)...I have actually double booked myself for Sunday - I have also booked myself into the Bournemouth pier-to-pier sea swim in aid of the British Heart Foundation - just decided to do it for a larf really (is it fun????)....so I'll be swimming with about 1000 other people for 1.4miles on Sunday whilst being bashed by waves ;-) I can hardly wait !! Children will be watching from the beach at their mad father.
If you fancy sponsoring me, please click here.....(and thank you !)
Training in the lake has been good though so I am as ready as I am likely to be. Bring it on....

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A new image.....

The question is - what do you think of the new image - it's still in development at the moment and I'd appreciate your preferred option by voting (it's your democratic right) - please vote using the buttons on the right hand side - you can vote for more than one.....
If you look really carefully you might even notice that in one of the photos I'm actually wearing a wig.....

Photo 1-Bearded wonder

Photo 2 - Goatie

Photo 3 - Fumanchu

Photo 4 - Largey
Photo 5 - Shorty

Photo 6 -It's just not nice
Photo 7 - Smoothie

Photo 8 - Something new













Would you buy a used car from this man ?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Ambushed........

I've been ambushed on a number of levels this weekend.....

It started when daughter #1 had her birthday sleepover - 8 giggling teenage girls from early Saturday morning for a mad day of adventure, food and party stuff and then all eventually sleeping in one room (sleeping in the loosest sense of the term!). I was glad when Sunday arrived as the ambush was then over !

A bit less than 14 years ago I was ambushed when I heard a lady called Rachel Hickson preaching - it was particularly memorable for 2 reasons - firstly my (now) 14 year old daughter was a babe-in-arms and she was sick down Rachel's skirt just before she got up to speak....she was undaunted of course and preached a fabulous message which at the time totally undid me - she spoke on the blood covenant of God - with Jesus exchanging his garments of righteousness with my garments of sin... I remember it well because it was another one of those ambush moments when it felt like God pulled the rug from under my feet as I understood afresh the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice for me, and the wonder of the grace that I now live in. I haven't heard Rachel preach in many years but hearing that she was at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell yesterday I made my way there in the evening to 'put myself in the way of God'....

.....and was ambushed again....not so much by the particular message (which was good nonetheless) but simply by the presence of God in the place. On responding to the appeal at the end some dear friends prayed for me and spoke bible truth into me afresh and the tears flowed again at some pace....I just miss Karena so much! Eventually I made it home after feeling that I'd done 3 rounds with Mike Tyson.....

but lingering in my heart today are the scriptures....

(Phil 1:6)...Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...and...

(Jer 29:11) "For I know the plans I have for You," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"


So tonight it's birthday tea which is prawn cocktail, Babotie (a South African dish) and then acres of chocolatey stuff ;-)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Moving on....

The good news is that my Triathlon on Monday was fabulous - the alarm clock spluttered into life at 5.10am - and I got to the registration point in Hampton Court at 6:30am along with another lunatic triathlete friend....

After a long wait for my start, I set off on the swim which was fairly average, then did the bike leg in a really fast time and the run was also pretty good too (for me!) meaning I got over the line with a new PB of 1:09:05, ranked 43/420. Felt great to get a top 50 spot, and felt absolutely magnificent to beat my previous best time over the distances....

At the end, over a bacon butty, my friend said to me that Karena would have wanted us to move on and have some fun as a family. It's fairly cliche I guess but as I thought about it over the following hours I reckon he was, of course, correct...so that's what I plan to do - to be purposeful about having some times of fun and laughter together - needless to say a visit to Shakeaways for ridiculously sweet toblerone/creme-egg/curly wurly flavoured milkshakes with flakes on top featured pretty highly on the children's list of things to enjoy ! Of course we will still have lots of tears at different times but.....for tomorrow at least we are off to the seaside for some splashing, sandcastles and of course....Beach Olympics.....

Stuff I'm grateful for today :
  • Shakeaways
  • Half term holiday fun with the children
  • Chicken No.3 has at last started laying eggs ;-)

Monday, 24 May 2010

10 things....

......that I'm grateful for today -

1. Jesus, the cross, resurrection, forgiveness, hope, confidence, security (that counts as just one cuz it's all linked!!)
2. In the midst of daily sadness, I also have a daily awareness of the presence of God the Holy Spirit - the Comforter, the Helper, the one who is 'just like Jesus'...
3. Tim the Rookester who's personal friendship is second to none....
4. People who sponsored us for our family swim - I handed in the cash to DOKH today - totalling over £475....thanks !!!!!
5. Sam the dog (no, I never really thought I'd say that !!) - he's my only companion sometimes and strangely I'm finding I actually do like him (when he's not being gross, that is!)
6. The school run - walking around the lake, seeing geese, ducks, fish, trees, and a myriad of colours in creation...
7. My rocket-bike who will be put through her paces in my first Triathlon of the season next Monday....am looking to beat last years PB over the distances (430m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) but based on this morning's run, it's pretty unlikely ! ;-(
8. Sunshine
9. My first ever cake baking experience today - Delia Smith, eat your heart out...a birthday cake for No3 - a little belated from January (but I did tell her I'd do it one day!)
10. 'The Beast' aka 'Lindy the Landy'- a simply fabulous piece of engineering....which regularly puts a smile on my face ;-)











Sunday, 16 May 2010

Dunno really....

Well another week has passed....not quite sure what has happened....life seems to be going on around me and passing me by; I feel like I'm looking in sometimes just watching it all....we are still living very much day-to-day at the moment. I am hoping that the emotional exhaustion that I feel is going to start to improve in the nearish future but we will see.... I just feel like I've lost all my fizz.....

My memories of the last year seem to repeat over and over again in my head, reliving conversations I had with Karena throughout her journey, and our hopes, expectations, fears etc. Sometimes I just feel plagued by the memories of it all to be honest - it's all so dreamlike in some ways but when I wake up in the morning the reality dawns afresh every day.

So when people ask me "How are you?" the answer is pretty complex.....and I guess "I dunno really" would be a fairly accurate answer!

The good news is I have sold my VW Sharan on ebay (it was really dull and I hate automatic gearboxes!) and bought a (slightly) newer car - a 10 year old Land Rover Discovery which is really shallow I know but feels like a proper man's car just at the moment! :-)
It sounds like a taxi, drives like a tank, is as aerodynamic as a brick, and as wide as a wide thing in a width contest. At least that's put a smile on my face...taking delivery tomorrow !

On a more important note tho, I keep thinking on Jesus' words from Luke 4 where he says that the scripture from Isaiah 61 is fulfilled in Him....and in there it says that He has come to bind up the broken hearted.....
Am I broken hearted? - Yes, definitely.
Do I know God's presence in it all? - Yes of course, He's not changed.
Do I fear for tomorrow? - No, not really
Do I look forward to tomorrow? - No, not really, it's just another day of struggle
So, how am I? - Errrrr..........dunno really ...

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A time for healing....

It's dawned on me this week just how deep my emotional hurts are on the inside - that might sound like an obvious statement but I guess it's been a dawning reality for me of late just how painful it has all been emotionally.....
It's a similar journey for the children too, and things aren't likely to change quickly I don't think. There are memories which trigger your emotions everywhere you turn....

In Ex 15:26, part of God's character is described as being the God who heals. This is true even though in His sovereignty He chose not to heal Karena physically in this life....she is of course healed now though....in His presence with no pain, no suffering, no tears etc...she is COMPLETELY healed now !

But for me, I will work hard to stay close to The Healer each day... in my heart, kneeling at the foot of the cross of Christ with tears in my eyes once again, arms raised aloft and I will wait for the only one who can truly heal the emotional hurts....it's going to be a long process I think but I'm in the very best of hands......

Friday, 30 April 2010

Mango chutney and the love of God....

This week I have been thinking primarily about two things :-

- How to find Mango chutney....
- The love of God.

For the latter I have been reading and re-reading the following passages :-

Eph 3:17b-19...And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the believers, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The love of God - it is complete, perfect, imperishable, unending, unconditional, insurpassable, and his love reaches into every corner of my life - it is high, it is deep (reaching into the depths of my discouragement, despair and even reaching into my experience of Karena's death). His love is wide (covering the whole breadth and experience of my life so far and into the future), and I cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ (despite any effort I may make to the contrary!!).

This truth warms my weary heart ;-) That's the good news...

The bad news is that I am spending my life hunting for Mango chutney....why do they hide it at the supermarket ?? - I gave up looking for it at Asda on Tuesday after hunting around for an age in the sauces section, the pickles section and also the 'world foods' section - and also being misdirected by staff (I think). Karena used to say that I don't open my eyes - she was right of course - but this particular pickle still eludes me. So my challenge for today is to do my tax return and go mango chutney hunting once again.......

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I'll sing.....

Today has been a roller coaster....I have been told that grief hits you in waves....whoever originally came up with that analogy deserves a prize ! I keep thinking that I'm on the up-slope and then I seem to hit the floor hard again. Chatting to somebody this morning set me off into a tear-laden day, as I recall my wife, the good times we had, her final months, her faith, her hope, her smile and her tears.
This afternoon I've been singing a Simon Brading song.....through tears and sadness, with a heavy heart, it sums up how I feel today. If you haven't heard the song, check it out here.
For the rest of today and tomorrow too, I'll sing to the Lord confident that I'm held in His hand.....

Lyrics are below.....

VERSE 1
You are the rock on which I stand
All that surrounds is sinking sand
Days of darkness may shadow my path
But I know I'm held in Your hand

VERSE 2
Seasons will may change but You remain
Even through drought and tears of pain
Safe within Your truth I'll stay
For I'm Yours, I'm held in Your hand

VERSE 3
All earthly things will fade away
Your promises Lord remain the same
Trials may come from day to day
Still, I know I'm held in Your hands

CHORUS
I'll sing through tears and the smiles
I'll sing through rain or shine
I'll sing of unending grace
I'll sing just to give You praise, my Lord

BRIDGE
A time will come when suffering will end
But until that day
You won't abandon me
Forever I'll stand, held in Your hand

Saturday, 17 April 2010

We made it.....!

Hooray - We made it....we completed our 5km swimathon in a cumulative time of about 1hr 55mins. The children (and me!) felt quite triumphant - It was really great !
We were cheered on by Karena's mum and dad so we had all the support we needed.
If you were able to sponsor us - thank you so much.
And so the school holidays draw to a close. It's been good but I do desperately need to clean the house sometime soon - even the dog is looking disgusted with it - so the kids need to get back to school !
The scripture living with me this week is Ps 25:4-5 :
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.
God is still in control - He always was and always will be.

Haven't cried as much this week.....

Friday, 9 April 2010

Spring has sprung....

Scattering Karena's ashes in Windsor Great Park on Monday went "as well as can be expected"....I read from Luke 24:1-6 (He HAS risen !) and John 11:23-26 :

.....Jesus said [to her], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

We all gave a resounding "Yes" to this question and it summarises the basis for our firm confidence and hope.

Winter, to me, felt like it was going to go on forever - my winter memories include seemingly endless trips to the hospice in the cold and snow...at the time it felt like the season was never going to end...but of course it has - it's now 8 weeks ago today that Karena died, and the winter has passed as well.
And so to a new season....

Today No.1 daughter had a riding competition. She was magnificent (in my opinion). 17 years ago I used to stand and watch Karena compete...now I watch my daughter who loves it just as much as her mum did !

After that we all went for a "Team Mackay" training session down at the swimming pool in preparation for next weekends sponsored 5km swim. Yes, the Crazy Mackays are doing a sponsored swim in aid of Marie Curie and also Duchess of Kent House Charity......(can you guess the next bit ??!!)
We've already got a few sponsors for Marie Curie and we are hoping for a few sponsors for DOKH Charity too... so if you'd like to sponsor us, we'd love to take your cash (!) - please email or text us and we will add you to our list ! (this is shameless sponsorship plugging, I know !!)
;-)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Resurrection time.....

Well it's Easter weekend...and the children have all broken up from school. They're relieved - not sure if I am or not !?!

On Monday we will be scattering Karena's ashes.....but it's Easter time and that means it's resurrection time......

Of course, we live in the good of Jesus' resurrection every day of the year...in Luke's gospel (24:5-6) I have just read what happened when the women went to Jesus' tomb a couple of days after his crucifixion and burial ...they were asked "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is NOT here; He HAS risen...."

When we scatter Karena's ashes on Monday I will read this passage from the bible and we will scatter them with some tears perhaps, but with the full and clear understanding that Karena is with the Risen King, the Lord of Glory, her Saviour. Wow !

For us as a family, this Easter we will stand in awe once again at the resurrection of Jesus - and this year it will have a whole new freshness and wonder.

The dead come alive in Christ....and Jesus is alive today - it's utterly life changing !
Have a great Easter ! x

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Rubbish-Rubbish" or "Rubbish-Good" ?

I was asked today whether I'd had a "Rubbish-Rubbish day" or a "Rubbish-Good day". It kind of sums things up really - every day seems pretty rubbish and my emotions continue to get the better of me when I least expect it.

Yesterday I had a lovely man come and clean our house carpets (1st time for 9 years!!)...when he arrived I was making some soup, and when he asked me if I was the cook in the house I just welled up with tears....here we go again !! That was the start of another Rubbish-Rubbish day....lots of tears - I just miss Karena loads and can't quite get my head around the fact that I won't see her again this side of eternity.

But today was another day and I went out for a long bike ride this morning, and then watched No.3 playing a netball tournament in the rain - and after about 8 matches and getting completely sodden, her team eventually won the tournament. Seeing the look on her face (she actually scored the winning goal but it was definitely a team-win!) was all I needed to make the day special. If Karena was there she'd have been jumping up and down and shouting at the top of her voice, but of course she wasn't there (rubbish!). Then we also had No. 3's play performance at school tonight which was absolutely fabulous. Karena would have loved it but of course she wasn't there (rubbish!)....so all-in-all today has been a Rubbish-Good day!

The only Good-Good thing that keeps going through my mind is that.... "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8). At least that's not going to change, irrespective of whether tomorrow is Rubbish-Rubbish or Rubbish-Good.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hooray !

Along with about 20000 other people, and after quite a bit of deliberation, I did decide to run the Reading Half Marathon today.
I made it in just over 1:45 thanks to Giles dragging me along all the way....and boy, was I pooped after that - and very glad it's over !
Tomorrow will be stiff legs day....

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Running the race.....

I have been into town today doing some shopping whilst listening to a Mark Driscoll podcast on "Trials".....he was speaking about leaving a legacy, being fruitful in life, & dying well - absolutely magnificent heart-warming, motivating, inspiring thumping stuff in true Driscoll style!!...
So there I am crying as I walk down Broad Street - knowing God speaking to me afresh about the future, as well as remembering that Karena has indeed left a legacy in many people, myself and our children included.
The next step in the legacy journey for me will be nurturing my children through the coming years, whilst pursuing Jesus full-on, all the way....in other words to live life in light of 2Tim 4:7 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith....now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day....".
Today and tomorrow are new days in this legacy race...I want to run them well, in weakness, and with tears but run them nonetheless knowing each day makes a difference.....

Speaking about running the race......I have a slight dilemma......I was training for the Reading Half Marathon until December which I applied for before Karena got really ill......so on Tuesday last week I started running again, after a 3 month break - and did 8k, 10k, 14k distances last week, and have also done a couple of swims and plan to go out on the bike tomorrow for a medium distance (to use some more muscles I've forgotten about!). Clearly not an ideal training plan and I am definitely not 'ready' for the Half Marathon which is this Sunday...I would really quite like to do it anyway tho!!
If I do run, my old mate Giles has agreed to do it alongside me (I hope his training has been better than mine!); I'm hoping he'll bring his mobile defib equipment with him (or perhaps a tow-rope) just in case the need arises.....so.... To Race, or, Not To Race - that is the question ?? Answers on a postcard please.....

Friday, 12 March 2010

"Heroes of the Campaign"...

At 8pm, 1 month ago today, Karena went to glory.....

Over the last weeks, aside from planning Karena's funeral and doing practical stuff, I have also been reliving in my mind some of the events of her last days, weeks and months....it was certainly a roller coaster of a journey, and will continue to be so for us as a family for the foreseeable future I think.
In my reminiscing I keep thinking about "Heroes of the Campaign" - those people who played significant roles in loving, caring, supporting and practically helping us as a family. To mention everybody by name would be pretty much impossible (and I'd be bound to unintentionally miss people out !) but I am enourmously grateful for people who have.....
  • been our friends at the time of our greatest need
  • nurtured my children and looked out for them
  • faithfully prayed for us
  • supported us with encouraging words
  • provided great medical care
  • wept with us
  • babysat
  • made us meals
  • cleaned
  • ironed
  • walked the dog !
At the top of my list of heroes though are two people - they are .....
  1. Jesus - specifically for the magnitude of his sacrifice for us, the confidence that we have, the one that we hope in, the one who conquered death and rose again, the one in whose presence Karena now lives, and the only one who makes sense of any of this.
  2. Karena - for her living faith in her living saviour which kept her strong in heart as she faced her death head-on.
I'm grateful to Jesus, grateful to my late wife, and so grateful to you too for your past support + your ongoing support.
You are truly Heroes of the Campaign !

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thanks !

If you were able to make it to Karena's funeral today - thanks so much for coming ! I tried to speak to everybody but inevitably I will have missed some people - sorry!! - thanks for coming nonetheless and for sharing in our memories!

In John 10:10, Jesus said "I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full". I believe Karena lived her life in the good of this - not simply trusting Jesus when the chips were down, but trusting him every day which really is living life to the full.

Why don't you do the same???.....explore the claims of Jesus for yourself. Try Alpha at your local church or come and join us at Reading Family Church on a Sunday at 10am at Reading Girls' School or at 6:15pm at South Street Arts Centre - just pop along and say hello!
Thanks again for coming....much love to you x

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Funeral arrangements

Karena's funeral arrangements are as follows :-

Thursday 4th March :-
  • 11:15am - Private cremation at Easthampstead Park Crematorium (by invitation only due to space limitations).

  • 12:00 noon - Celebration and Remembrance of the life of Karena Claire Mackay at Kerith Community Church, Church Road, Bracknell. - All are welcome.
    Car parking is very limited at the church building and therefore we would request that it is reserved for family, elderly and disabled only. Local parking is available at the Charles Square Multi-Storey Car Park.
    There will be some light refreshments after the service - all are welcome to stay.
Karena's desire was that her family and friends were 'relaxed' at her funeral. It will be a very sad time with the heartache of loosing somebody who was so special and who we loved so much....but it will also be a time filled with hope and confidence in Karena's sure salvation and her resurrection to eternal life with the Lord Jesus. She is having a fabulous time right now !

Consequently, I will not wear a black tie to her funeral but will be colourful, and so will our children! I would like to invite you to do the same if you are comfortable with that - Karena was so colourful in life, let's be colourful too as we remember her life and celebrate her certain future. (If you feel more comfortable wearing black, please also feel free to do so).

Family flowers only please.

If you would like to make a voluntary donation in place of flowers, this can be done either online to Duchess of Kent House Charity, or by cheque made payable to Duchess of Kent House Charity but sent to AB Walker Funeral Directors (up to 4 weeks after the funeral date).

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through me"

Friday, 12 February 2010

Through gates of splendour....

Karena Claire Mackay
15.11.61 – 12.02.10

Ps 139:16 “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be...”

Karena died at 8.00pm this evening - she went confidently into the presence of her saviour, Jesus.

I’m so privileged to have helped her on her final journey to her permanent home. She was a magnificent wife, an exceptional mum and she was my very best friend.

As a family we are totally devastated by our loss, but also full of assurance that she is with Jesus now where there is no pain, no suffering, no tears. We will see her again one day.

Appreciating your ongoing prayers for our family, and for her parents, sister and nephews for the coming days.

Funeral details will follow.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Almost home....

Karena's breathing has become significantly worse.
This afternoon we all gathered at her bedside. We have all said goodbye.
Her heart is still very strong though so she may even live for another day.
Looks like another sleepless night....
So the sleeping bags are out and we're camping here again.

Psalm 99:1 "The Lord reigns...."

Perhaps tomorrow's verse will be :
Job 1:21 "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;may the name of the Lord be praised"

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Waiting for Glory....

So Sunday's DVD night came and went. The nurse told me then that Karena's breathing was quite variable and that she may well die in the night. I lay awake for most of the night just listening to my wife breathing in the peace of the room. I talked to her quite a lot and snuggled close to her, telling her what a wonderful wife she is to me and what a magnificent mother she is to our children. I was pretty gushy to be honest through the long hours of the night....at one point in the early hours I was talking and crying close to her, she lifted her legs and her arms both together and made a gentle noise. She truly could hear what I was saying - it was a moment that will always stay with me. Actually knowing Karena, she may have been saying "Do stop, I'm trying to sleep!" ;-) She's such a babe !

Yesterday morning, the nurse told me her breathing had stabilised and she may live another couple of days; as her heart is still very strong (emotionally as well as medically I reckon!)
Monday night was quiet : just me and Karena together, just like the old days! She was restful and peaceful through the night.
So today is another day....and my strength is renewed...let's see what it holds....

Isaiah 40:28-31
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Laughter and tears....

Karena has now lapsed into unconsciousness....but we are told that she can still hear us so we have been chatting to her and reminiscing at her bedside over some of the crazy things we have done as a family. There's been some tears but also some laughter at some of the things we have recalled.
It's very peaceful beside her; and I can only conclude that the Lord has her cradled in His arms, ready to take her home.
We have all said goodbye, and told her that she is free to go with our blessing as soon as it's time.
The Lord will call her home quite soon now.
In the meantime it's sleepover night again so the DVD is on and the sleeping bags are out.....

Psalm 62:1-2
My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken

Friday, 5 February 2010

Scared about today ?

No, I don't think so......

Luke 24:1-6 "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!....."

1Cor15:54-55 "...Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where o death is your victory? Where o death is your sting?"

Phil 1:21 "For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain"

Deut 33:27 "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.."

Karena's condition is worsening day-by-day. Her breathing through the night seemed really very shallow (I didn't sleep very well !!). Had another jolly good cry this morning.

It won't be long now before she meets Jesus face-to-face. Knowing Karena, my guess is that she will run into his arms at full speed......

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A change for the worse.....

Well, not sure what to write really.....whenever you think it's bad, it gets worse !

Yesterday Karena had some energy and was on form for at least a few hours in the day, and she slept really well last night. Today however she has had very little energy and has been sleeping for 80%+ of the time. It seems like a sudden drop in energy levels just within a day. It's very tough even though the medics told us this would happen! So whilst the children saw her after school and all evening, she didn't have a lot of beans to be able to interract much with them.

Appreciating your ongoing prayers for Karena...today seems like another step change for the worse.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Quick update....

Karena continues to deteriorate medically. She is again weaker and sleeping a lot more. Today she has slept most of the day, only waking for her shower and for a half hour or so (until 5pm that is - hopefully this evening she will have some more beans). This is how the doctors are expecting that she will finish her days - just drifting off quietly into increasing sleep until she breathes her last breath....
....on the other side of the coin tho.....
Karena continues to improve spiritually. She is stronger in her faith & confidence, and has increasing expectation of the future as her earthly days draw to an end. After her last breath she will step into the presence of the Lord of Glory and will be transformed for ever.

Last night at about 10pm, we were serenaded (just the two of us) by a great family friend with his guitar - we listened to some and sang along to some - "O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder...Then sings my soul my saviour God to thee.....how great thou art...." was one classic which we sang together. It was very special, if not somewhat tear laden at times !

Tonight - guess what??? - Yes, it's sleepover time (again).....this time the children are bringing their duvets as the camp beds are apparrently not comfortable enough so they need extra cushioning. Very soon, most of our posessions will be in the hospice !

Stuff I'm grateful for today -
  • My wife who continues to be a source of inspiration to me (I am still finding new things out about her !)
  • Precious family moments
  • The privilege of walking side by side with my wife en route to the gates of glory
  • Friends and family who are by our side
  • The care that Karena has experienced at Duchess of Kent hospice which is exceptional
  • Chocolate
Stuff to pray for -
  • Peace for our entire family and an ongoing sense of being carried by God through the toughest of circumstances
  • Continued expectation to grow in Karena's heart of meeting the Lord face-to-face
  • Karena to continue to be pain-free

Friday, 29 January 2010

Another family adventure...

Yesterday night was sleepover night...so we all pitched up at the hospice with sleeping bags and camp beds for a family dvd with an absolutely gigantic bar of chocolate (thanks Jo !). We watched 'Bedtime Stories' which was very funny...a great family movie ! It was a late night though - the children all noticing every noise in the place until very late....

This afternoon we had a family bible study on heaven which was magnificent. Jesus has made the way possible, Karena will see him very soon. At the end our bible study, Karena gave a little "yippee" at the prospect of arriving at her final destination. She is full of faith and anticipation.

This last week couple of weeks has taught me a very valuable life lesson....10 days ago we were told that Karena would "probably live 3-10 days". It's day 10 and she's still going. The truth is simply that the God who spoke a word to bring the world into being, is the same God who ordained Karena's birth, and He's the same God who will say the word to call her to her permanent home...and until He does so, she will still be here. I really value the medical staff who have been absolutely brilliant but Karena's life isn't actually in their hands, it's in the hands of her Lord, and He hasn't called "Time" just yet....

Yesterday Karena said she misses stroking Tom (one of our cats)... so tonight he's coming in to see her too !!! Should be fun, or perhaps just chaos !

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A glass of wine....

Yesterday, the consultant told us that Karena may now have another week to live. But she continues to weaken and get more tired each day a little at a time. I can't see a lot of good to be found in the process of dying...watching my wife take steps closer and closer to it each day feels pretty awful. But there are still enjoyable moments in each day - Today we had a glass of wine together....Karena had to have hers through a straw but we toasted "Family Mackay", and we also managed to watch part of a film and do some story book together. That was good.

God is holding Karena in the palm of His hand. She has such a great reward at the end of this - it'll be mega for her, and we'll be heart broken, but will take great comfort from knowing where she is....and one day we will see her again.

In my Bear Grylls book today, I read this "Always hold hands with those you love whenever you have the chance". Sounds like very good advice to me - so I'm going to go and do that now....

Monday, 25 January 2010

A family adventure....

Saturday night was movie night...we all stayed at the hospice for a sleepover with sleeping bags and did a family dvd (I forgot the popcorn though!). Thankfully we have now moved back to the family room so there was enough room for us all to stay. The film was complete rubbish - I'm the only person who seemed to think that, although Karena would have agreed I think if she didn't sleep through the whole thing !
The hospice staff are fantastic and brought us all breakfast on Sunday morning.
Karena's condition has definitely worsened and she is considerably weaker. Her painkillers have increased so she is more sleepy and can slur her words some of the time.
On Sunday, she was marginally improved and more compus mentus. Sunday evening was totally spectacular - Karena praying for each of our children in turn, asking God's blessing for them, and speaking into their lives for their future in her final days. For a half hour I almost forgot she was quite so ill - she was like spiritual dynamite (that's my girl !!)
After getting the children home to bed, I returned at the end of the evening and held onto her hand through the night. I intend to escort this woman of God to the gates of glory, as best as I am able.

Deut 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged"

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Marriage time....

Yesterday (Friday) was another emotional one - Karena said some thank you's and goodbye's to special friends and also on the phone to her very dear cousin in Australia whom she loves dearly. Emotionally it was all very exhausting for her but it was a privilege to be a part of it all. We also had some quality time together with the children and finished another book "Killer Cat" in one sitting!
She had the nasal-gastric tube fitted late last night. I cried. It is helping her though, she was not sick last night as a consequence.

A little over a year ago, Karena and I had the privilege of leading "The Marriage Course" at church - one of the key lessons from the course is to have weekly scheduled "Marriage time" to just talk and be together doing something that is enjoyable for just the two of you - to keep the romance alive and communication open.
We have been a bit remiss of late booking in a slot because of circumstances - but had some great marriage time again last night - children in bed at home and Matt staying over, so I could spend the night at the hospice. This time there was no exquisite cuisine, no wine, no movie - just 2 beds pulled together, and the opportunity to hold her hand for the night....when I got up early this morning, I just sat and watched her sleeping - it was all very very special ;-)

Karena is ready to go home now - Jesus is waiting to greet her in just a few days time. She is very peaceful. Jesus has conquered death and the gates of heaven are wide open ....

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Quick update....

Not quite sure what to say at the end of today really......we have been awash with tears....
The best part of the day was a bible study with Sean on "death and heaven" which was absolutely outstanding! It gave us hope, confidence for the future, anticipation even.....and turned on the taps all at the same time!

We've had some great cards and letters too which has provoked more tears (in a good way) !
Karena will probably be having a nasal-gastric tube fitted tomorrow to continually drain the contents of her stomach which should help to relieve her sickness symptoms. But it's another confirmation that her body is gradually shutting down. It will do little to improve her gorgeous features but as beauty is internal rather than external, I reckon her beauty is totally unaffected! ;-)
Her sense of humour is still in evidence and my children have now started asking me when I last washed my jeans (how annoying!) - she has trained them well !

When we went in to see Mum tonight we managed to finish off our "100mph dog" book - very amusing ! Any suggestions for another funny family read ? - we need humour right now...answers on a postcard please...!

Tomorrow I have taken the children out of school again and we are going to spend the day with Mum.

Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25)

Sleep well. x

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A decisive step on the journey....

Karena was quite sick through the night. As expected, her bowel has now stopped functioning....so they have stopped the laxatives and given her some more meds to dry things up in the stomach and to stop her sickness, and she has also stopped eating as a consequence. So she has not been sick today, which has been much better for her. We both had a jolly good cry earlier today as it feels like another very decisive step on the journey we are all on. They have told us that Karena should live at least another 3 days, but probably less than 10. One of the drugs they are now using will make her even more tired/sleepy than she already is.
She is still strong in heart though and we had some giggles tonight as we read "Christmas Chaos for the 100mph dog". Most amusing - a funny family read !
Tomorrow I have taken the children out of school in order to spend the day with their mum. We will finish the book hopefully and perhaps watch a video, look at some photos and play a game or two. Karena will be he hub of our attention of course (when she is awake). Should be fun - these are very precious days.

So it looks like by the end of next week Karena will meet Jesus face-to-face.

Rom 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday's update

Karena was a bit more "with-it" today when we went in to see her along with her Dad, Mum, sister, the groovey boys and "Big Esther" with baby Isabel(who made me quite coooey!) - Karena was able to take part in conversation and generally keep up with things which was much better. (Yesterday I took the children in and we played a board game for most of the afternoon and Karena slept through the whole thing). Her pain is the same but slightly more in control. She managed about 2 hours today before needing quiet and sleep - so we came home.

This morning we sang the words of the song below at church - Karena will be meeting Jesus face-to-face quite soon now. Wow! What a thought! Her future is secure, there is life beyond the grave, a future hope, a grace that knows no bounds, and a promise that is cast-iron !

We're hoping that tomorrow she may be well enough to come out of hospice for a couple of hours.
Appreciating your ongoing prayers xx

Verse 1
The greatest day in history,
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out Jesus is alive
The empty cross, The empty grave
Life eternal You have won the day
Shout it out Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Chorus
Oh happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

Verse 2
When I stand, in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am Yours Jesus You are mine
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me
Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious name