Thursday, 29 December 2011

Looking in the right direction...

This photo was taken a couple of days ago...trying to get them all looking in the same direction for a photo is almost impossible!!!

My verse-of-the-day received today is below. I last read this to the children on 20th Dec 2009 in the hospice when I told them the worst news...we'd agonised for several days over when to tell them. Karena was astounding...we prayed together and all cried together....there's been an awful lot of tears since that day. Our gaze then was to the one who has conquered death and in whose presence Karena now stays. Just over 2 years later, and we're all still gazing at the saviour....he is our focus in everything that we are about....and only He makes any sense of it all.

John 14:1
[Jesus Comforts His Disciples] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas here we come...

Packing up the car/trailer for the christmas journey was interesting....ever so slightly squashed we were.....

More importantly tho is this...

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 Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Our new house....

A little family Christmas activity....what fun!! It's good making new memories together....

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The reason.....

If you haven't seen the Social Networking Christmas (click here !) then you MUST take a look!! Saw it last year and thought it was fab then.....forgot all about it until I saw it afresh this's really very good!!

Jesus rules and reigns, He rose from the grave, He is the saviour, the counsellor, the comforter, He is the rock, the fortress, He is our strength and our song and of course, He is the reason for the season....
Must dash - we have a mountain of presents to wrap !

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Dinner !

For Christmas Dinner this year we have :-

Traditional Turkey
Pigs in blankets

Christmas Pudding

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Holding hands...

This morning, like many other mornings, I awoke holding Ellie's hand. We often go to sleep at night holding each others hand....we seem to instinctively reach for each other as we drift off to sleep...partly we still don't believe that we really have one another (that we are in fact married!!)...partly it's because we've both held onto the hand of somebody we've deeply loved, and it's all been taken away. So we know that we need to make the most of our opportunities and cherish the moments that we have. One day it will all change again - it's very very real to us both.

Holding onto the hand of the one you love is so speaks of companionship, friendship, confidence, security, trust, intimacy.....

Thankfully there is ONE who holds onto our hand through every stage of life, every day, every moment...HIS hand will never be taken away.

Isaiah 41:13 - For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Psalm 73:23 - Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Quibbler !

So, we were volunteered for an article in the Christmas edition of "Woman" magazine...they wanted to interview a new step family heading into their first Christmas together, and Care for the Family Charity suggested us.

Apart from a couple of Rita Skeeter specials, the article reads generally ok....
Seems a bit strange though to be in a magazine as a new step family heading to Christmas - neither of us had ever expected to be here, and we don't really know what we're doing !!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The good news and the bad news....

The good news is that (amazingly) I have managed to get an entry into the Olympic Park run on 31 March next's just 5 miles but finishes in the Olympic stadium....the first person across the line on the day, as I understand it, will be the first person ever to make it across the line at the stadium at a proper event! So I will be running alongside 4999 other lucky ballot winners....the bad news is that it's the day before the Reading Half Marathon which I also have a confirmed entry for (doh !)

Let's face it....I don't have a hope in heaven of winning but I might just step up the training a little bit in preparation !!

Other good news is that the house selling plans all seem to be going smoothly....draft contracts have been sent, survey has been today we're over to New Malden to do some packing !!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Last night....

Ellie and I went out last night to the Hexagon Theatre in Reading to listen to Rob Parsons from Care for the Family. They are the organisation that ran the bereavement course where we first met. He's such an inspirational speaker, has some brilliant insights into parenting and families and what's really expected he gave us lots of food for thought.

At the end of the evening he asked us to all write the names of children that are important in our lives onto a paper cut-out of a hand...there were only 4 pre-printed lines available which made us both chuckle (we added an extra one !!).
On the bottom of the paper cut out are the words from Isaiah 49:16 :
"I have engraved you on the palms of my hands".

Rob prayed for our children. I cried. Ellie cried too. We held onto each other !

Fabulous evening....boy, do we know how to have a good time??!! :-)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

One down, one to go....

Sold subject to contract.....hooray !
Have told purchasers that we want to exchange and complete in 6 weeks. Hopeful I know but there's no chain so we'll see.

Good news !

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Happy Birthday...

Today would have been Karena's 50th birthday.

This picture was on a birthday card given to Karena from a dear friend 2 years ago...on the back it says, "Wait in hope for the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You (Psalm 33)"

True then...true now.

Did some games with the children tonight before was good fun!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Fab was fantastic....Jesus really is alive and real and it's very good good news indeed!!
This evening we did family games and had lots of laughter...Boggle was probably the highlight...most of the words the girls came up with we'd never heard of !!
Laughter-what great therapy !!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Another day in the office....

Aaaah…where to start…?? Monday was not a good day.
If only I could explain in words the gut-wrenching magnitude of the emotional angst that I sometimes feel. This time it was all set off by a very dear family member who was struggling with the journey that we are all on….and so, off the precipice I dropped too…..and boy did I drop !!

Sometimes I genuinly wonder whether I am going to end up in a mad house….yesterday tho I ended up in tears in front of my boss at work….he thought he'd done something to upset me (he hadn't)….as a temporary Contractor, crying in front of your boss probably isn't the best way to make them want to keep you…..but that's neither here nor there really I suppose….
Certainly the idea of some drugs to help the mood swings seems like quite a possibility….hmmmm

Today I awoke with (some of) the words of John Newton's classic ringing in my ears……

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

When we've been there 10,000 years,
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first began…..

I'm so glad that Jesus isn't gonna let go of me, no matter what…cuz when I'm dangling on the edge of the precipice it's only Him that really keeps me from falling even tho it's Ellie's arms that hold me tight….
In truth, I'm really looking forward to the day of no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more tears….until then tho I'll just keep riding my bicycle…so I'm gonna buy a brand new one….and will call it therapy :-)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


We went to a fabulous wedding this weekend in Cheltenham....I could barely hold it together during the service, as we declared the greatness of God in song and some bible truths about that great day when we will meet Him face-to-face....I had that bubbling sense of "I'm really gonna lose it here...." as tears fell down my face.
Then there was the vows - "....until death us do part"....That part of the wedding service always used to feel so 'in the future'...nowadays it feels very much 'in your face.' They're not just words of course - vows are good and weighty. This vow to our children has been on Ellie's and my mind over the last several weeks - from our wedding day....

I, Craig/Ellie, thank God for [children's names]... I commit myself to their well being, and my love, time, energy and resources to nurturing, guiding and caring for our new family.

We're working very hard at this, and it's pretty exhausting for us both to be honest...there are piles of unopened mail, answserphone messages and lists of unfulfilled tasks - just because we haven't got around to them by the time the day is over with children in bed....but it's our commitment to bring up our 5 children together, giving of ourselves....until death us do part. If we do nothing else in this life but fulfil this vow to the best of our ability, then we will be happy with that, and we will have served our children well I think.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sam's story...

Hello I'm case you haven't met me before, here's a picture of me (I was looking in the bin for something)....

Everything has changed for me recently.

I've been doing some things that I never used to do and I don't really know why.....I've been growling at children sometimes and I've even been off my food (for whole minutes sometimes!). I never used to be like that, but it's just that everything is so loud in the house these days (particularly at meal times) and I just feel so tense. My Alpha Male isn't very happy with me about my growling (he tells me off and is teaching everybody else to tell me off too), but my owners were both a bit worried that something might be really wrong with me (particularly after all the other pets died) so they took me to the vet to check me out. The vet took some blood out of my leg (it hurt a bit) and gave me a nice blue bandage, and checked me all over. The vet told us that eveything was ok with my body but I might need to go to a dog behavioural specialist. Dad said, "A what ?", and told me that I needed to "Shape up or ship out." He doesn't understand me. The vet then gave us some medicine for special dogs like me who suffer from stress....I think they're called anti-depressants. They do make me feel much more calm but they're running out and Dad said that he's not buying any more because they cost £50 (I think he wants to try them himself though).

I'm trying not to growl as much but it's very difficult because I don't think the house is going to get any quieter. The only person who's quieter than he used to be is Dad....he seems much more subdued these days (I wish I was too). It's much better in the day time though when it's just me and Ellie - it's quiet then and I take her for a walk and we have a lot of fun together. She always gives me a carrot when I bring her home - that's the best bit !

Dad still does silly things with me sometimes....


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The curious incident of the fox in the night-time.....

After the previous night's chicken murder, I decided to be a little more careful with our remaining chicken just in case the fox should return. As the chicken run area is covered I don't normally shut the little gate of the chicken coup but last night I decided to go for a 'belt and braces' approach and, on returning from cycling club at 9pm, I shut the little gate as our remaining poultry had already gone in to roost.....

It was a fairly late night and at about 12.15am Ellie and I decided we really needed to turn in for the night....when we got to the bathroom we picked up our toothbrushes, and were suddenly aware of a very loud scratching noise coming through the upstairs window from the garden area....

"Ahha", we thought, "Foxy Loxy has returned - You won't get in this time !!!"

I rushed for a torch and we watched carefully through the bathroom window for about 10 minutes scanning the area by torchlight...the scratching continued periodically but there was no sign of any assailant on the front/side of the coup....we needed to venture out into the garden.... very silently we snuck out of the back door with the torch light now quenched and on tip toes holding our toothbrushes as weapons dressed in our night was now 12.30am...

When we got to the back end of the garden I quickly put on the torch and aimed it at the back of the coup....but still there was no sign of any attacker and the scratching noise seemed to have cautiously we approached the back door of the coup. Thinking the poor remaining chicken would be scared witless by now, we thought it best to check on the condition of our remaining carefully opened the back door of the hutch and shined the light inside....

This is what we saw by torchlight inside the coup:-

You can probably guess on the condition of dear Betty who was also inside the coup (I thought it best to photoshop her carcass out of the picture!)

I think when I'd shut the coup gate earlier to protect our remaining bird, I'd inadvertantly shut the fox inside !! He'd dug under the fence for access. Oooops!!

So another pet bites the dust......that's 6 down, 3 to go.

Quite bizarre that one !!

Hope to have made you smile!!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Background music....

One of the children asked me this week,
"Do you ever go for a day without thinking about mum?"

My response was, "I don't ever go for an hour, or even a minute without thinking about your mum".....

When I chatted to Ellie about it later, she described it as being like 'Background music'....always there - playing away through every event and every decision and every moment of the day - and also during dreams in her case :-(

Sometimes the background music becomes much louder but its dirge never stops playing....droning on and on - I wish I could turn it off but alas, I can't.

This week has been particularly hard as the background music has become much louder for each of the children at different times.

Can somebody turn the volume down please?

On the positive side more pet has kicked the bucket this week (chicken hijacked by a fox last night) bringing the total number of deceased animals over the last few months to five. If we carry on at this rate, not only will we be without eggs, but there'll be no more space to bury them all in the garden :-)

Friday, 30 September 2011

Dear Brian....

Brian is the person who lives in my head...(a very cunning anagram I don't think!!?!)
For some time now I have been wanting to write to here goes...

Dear Brian,

I know that you're an essential part of who I am....inseparable in fact...but I have some major concerns that I really need your help with for the future. Please review the following and action where/as appropriate :-

Firstly, I would really appreciate you NOT continuously bringing to my mind the images that you send round and round in my head of my children watching their mum do it so often, it's so utterly draining to me and it appears that you have no control over how often, when and where you will torment me with the extremes of emotion that go with it. It makes me want to curl up into a ball. I know I don't cry as much as I used to but I can really do without thinking through those days over and over and over again. If you can delete those images from memory, please do so without delay, but I think they're embedded too deep and aren't able to be deleted - so please endevour to access them much less frequently.

Secondly, please try to work on your memory - you used to have good recall of all sorts of things but nowadays you can hardly remember what you have said or done just five minutes ago. It's annoying and sometimes embarrassing. Sometimes it feels like I'm going mad. If you can work on the first item above, perhaps it will help with this ?

Thirdly, each time I speak to somebody (even long time friends), please stop me thinking that they have no idea what burdens I am carrying. Of course people don't really understand but so many are sympathetic which is good. Unless they've been in the same place as me, why would they understand the aching pain that lies beneath? So please review your thought patterns on that one.

Fourthly, please just 'switch off' from time to time - it's so much less tiring - you will be aware of the low Brian activity levels that exist when I'm on my bike coming down the long downhill of the A4074 at high speed! Those kind of activity levels more often would be much more relaxing as I can't spend my whole life on my bike!

Finally, please keep remembering The Healer, The Comforter - The Holy's what all those Sermons have always been about - He is here and never leaves us. You really need to talk to Him more often and hand stuff over to Him; only He will be able to take the torment away - and it's a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment thing. You know that's true in theory - so please put it into practice.

Thanks ever so much for your time. I really look forward to working with you on all of this.
Sincerely yours,

PS: I may write to you again soon....

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Ellie and I were talking this morning about holidays we have had....places we have seen, and fun things we've done with our children......the odd thing is (aside from this last year) we don't share any common memories.....and all our reminiscing is soured by the sadness of people who are no longer with us. Things that used to be fun to think back to are now tinged with aching pain, so mentally the best thing to do seems to be to try not to think back to those memories too much or too often. Maybe that's not the best way to handle it...people who are further down this path than I might say that it's good to look back and just smile and remember....but for me at least, for the time being, I am going to keep trying to look forward rather than spending lots of time looking back with sadness.

Grief is an awful thing - it wants to rob you of joy in every circumstance : past, present and future.

So for now at least, Ellie and I are going to work at creating some new good memories for our children....tonight whilst I was out at swimming club, Ellie and the girls got all snuggled up in duvets with copious amounts of chocolate and watched The Sound of Music....(the boys were nowhere to be seen !!!) ...a good memory for the girls at least !! Perhaps they'll reminise about it in years to come !

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Race Day...

Today was my first triathlon of the season....just in time for the season to finish !
The biggest battle I have on race day is all in my big struggle being the fear of dying mid-race (basically!)...and thus the fear of my children losing 2 parents before adulthood....but it's all in my mind of course as my days are numbered in God's plan before any of them ever happened (Ps 139:16)

Anyway....I made it to the end (alive !)
Distances were 1500m swim, 45km bike and 10km run (although I'm sure the run was longer!)
My great friend Sean and I did it together. Apart from my pre-race puncture which was rather annoying to have to sort out, it all went ok. The swim was good - in a fairly warm (not too weedy) lake (~17C) and the sun was shining. My time was fairly unremarkable but I didn't get swum over too many times in the mass start (it's not too pleasant when that happens!!)
The bike leg was enjoyable in a knackering kind of way - we kept up a fairly consistent good pace (Sean pacing us up the hills cuz he's better at hills than me, and I paced the biggest portion of the rest)....but I pretty much burned myself up on the bike so by the time the run started I was really quite Sean (bless 'im) was having to slow down for me!! So I was really glad when we eventually got over the finish line. I don't actually know our time (not sure I want to check !) but it was definitely a bit slower than last year!!
What a fab day!
What a fab friend!
Feeling slightly tired now...ZzzzZZzzzzzz zzzzzz

Friday, 9 September 2011

"Special Friday"...

Today I have completed my first working Friday of the year! Since going back to work in February, I've been doing a 4 short working day week so that I could be available for the children/school run etc....but I have been working towards going full-time since the wedding...and now that school holidays are over, it has happened!
For quite a long time now, Ellie and I have referred to Friday as "Special Friday" because it has been a day when (in term time) we could spend lots of quality time just being together in the daytime uninterrupted. Unfortunatley "Special Friday" will not now be the norm each week (unless I take a day off work).

I've also been away overnight on a work trip this week - it felt uncomfortably strange being away from home for the first time in over a year (since the Bereavement course in June last year) and dear Ellie had to do everything without help which probably explains why she's fast asleep on the sofa as I write!!'s been a week of new things, with children also back at school.

We're still working hard at trying to do 'normal' family...but as that's not really ever going to happen we'll just remain grateful for the many unique blessings that we do have.
I read PS 127 recently...verses 4-5 say, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man who's quiver is full of them..."

I reckon that makes me pretty blessed cuz the quiver is definitely full (and so is the house!) - which means today must still be Special Friday after all !

Monday, 5 September 2011

Back to school...

A few summer photos....

We've had some laughs and numerous tears....but I think we're all glad that the summer holidays are over (except for the children, that is !!)...back to school at last :-)

As of tomorrow, all children are now at secondary school (how scarey is that ?!!)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Charting progress.....

I've had a bit of blog inspiration failure recently....I guess I don't want to keep banging the same drum over and over but that's just kinda how it is really !
There are days when the weight of what the children and I went through, and the weight of what I feel I carry for my children day-in, day-out, threatens to totally engulf me....I end up just feeling emotionally knackered !'s not totally mind consuming all the time, of course, but it's always there pressing on you, ready to overwhelm at a moment's notice.
It's pretty rubbish really !!
I never really understood the incessant nature of all of this when I started on this part of the journey in February last year. I (foolishly probably) assumed that you grieve intensely and then gradually get hasn't really been like that....throughout last year I felt like I got more and more drained as months went on.
Many times I've thought about trying to graph the journey in terms of emotional I've tried it below!! It's not too scientific (and let's not worry too much about the measurement units!), but is a measure of how the last 18 months+ or so has been for me !
I'm such an engineer sometimes !
Ironically, trying to graph the journey would have made Karena really laugh and then relentlessly tease me (she'd probably have called it my "Depression Chart" and then would have laughed her head off!) :-)
The good news is that the graph is now generally up and to the right !!
Ellie, of course, understands the journey, and has been instrumental in helping me deal with the pain, and bringing me out of the dip and upwards....
Anyway - here it is.....

Note 1 : Lows at mine and children's birthdays and wedding anniversary

Note 2 : I had two panic attacks (or anxiety attacks, or something like that!) - one in October last year in the middle of the night, and the other one on Christmas day ! Hadn't blogged on this before probably because I just felt too embarassed to do so !!

Yesterday I read in the bible :-

Proverbs 12:25 "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up"
Proverbs 14:13 "Even in laughter the heart may ache and joy may end in grief."

Friday, 5 August 2011

Honeymoon #2 (Joy and Pain)

We're just back from 4 days in Venice - it was honeymoon part 2 !!

We had 3 children at Church/Guide camps this week and grandparents/dear friends looked after the remaining 2, so we could get away !

It was very warm and great to be able to 'finish' our honeymoon as we only managed 2 days first time around because we needed to get back for the children/schools!

On both honeymoons(!), we've had great times together but also several times of sadness and tears as we've reflected and talked through our journeys; there's lots of pain for us both not far from the surface....

Yesterday on our final day as we read the bible together, we read this :

Proverbs 4:25

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil"

To allow past (and current) hurt to shape the present and the future without totally overwhelming it, seems to be the we are resolving to (each day) work hard at fixing our gaze ahead and not continuously staring into the pain that can so often threaten to totally overwhelm one or other (or both) of us. Today is the anniversary of Ellie and Ben's wedding....


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer holidays.....

Center Parcs - how much fun was that ?!!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Just a trophy....

Last year I gave a trophy to Aldryngton School - Karena worked there as a Teaching Assistant and my children have all been through the school (Last one finishes year 6 today !)

The Trophy is called the...

"Karena Mackay Memorial Trophy for Consistent Care and Positive Contribution to Lower School"

(quite a mouthful !)

The trophy is awarded to the child who, in the opinion of the teachers, exhibits exemplary character (kindness, helpfulness, serving others, gentleness, politeness, perseverance etc) rather than for academic achievement.

So as I drove to school on Monday I felt one of those overwhelming senses of "I'm not going to be able to hold this together....."

Thankfully, when it came to the presentation of the award in the whole school assembly, the Head Teacher did all the talking so all I had to do was smile and do the presentation itself (if only people knew what was going through my mind behind the external grin).

George was a very appropriate winner....I think Karena would have been pleased.

Photo of the lad is available in the newsletter here

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Something to inspire...

Got sent this by email this week and it rather inspired me so here it is....

On Sept 18 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people to deliver a last lecture called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On stage that day, he was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But that was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.
Sadly Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th 2008 but his legacy continues to inspire...

In a letter to his wife and children he wrote this beautiful guide to a better life for his wife and children to follow ...may you be blessed by his insight....

Points on how to improve your life
1. Don't compare your life to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about.
2. Don't have negative thoughts of things you cannot control; instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
3. Don't overdo it; keep within your limits
4. Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does
5. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip
6. Dream more while you are awake
7. Envy is a waste of time; you already have all that you need
8. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past-that will ruin your present happiness
9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others
10. Make peace with your past so that it won't spoil the present.
11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
12. Realise that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime
13. Smile and laugh more.
14. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

15. Call your family often
16. Each day give something good to others.
17. Forgive everyone for everything
18. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6
19. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day
20. What other people think of you is none of your business
21. Your job will not take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch

22. Put God first in everything and anything that you think, say or do
23. God heals everything (this doesn't mean physical healing of everything as we well know!!)
24. Do the right things
25. However good or bad a situation is, it will change
26. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up
27. The best is yet to come
28. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful
29. When you wake alive in the morning, thank God for it
30. If you know God, you will always be happy. So be happy (Not sure I actually agree with this one!)

Saturday, 9 July 2011


At the time of writing....

  • My wife is making bread (domestic goddess!)

  • My daughters are horse riding and watching tv

  • My step daughter is doing homework

  • My son is playing badminton

  • My step son is playing Call of Duty

  • My legs hurt after a long cycle ride early this morning (There's now a vacancy in the Sky team in Le Tour de France!)

  • We're listening to "Surrender"

  • Tomorrow would have been my 18th wedding anniversary.

  • This week we've smashed 5 glasses. Quite impressive !

Normal life.......

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wedding List...

The great news is that our alternative wedding list for Tearfund raised £785 through many generous gifts.......Thank you so very much !!
A lot of people (that you and I will never meet) will benefit !!

How fab !

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The magnificent seven.....

Gosh, the house is full !!...and so the "new normal" commences....

  • Dinner time is like a feeding frenzy at the zoo....

  • The shopping bill is somewhat larger than previously....

  • The sleeping arrangements are most interesting....including a double mattress on the floor in the lounge (Really need to sell some houses.....!)

  • E's two children are settling in very well to their new school which is just fab and a great answer to prayer....

  • There's washing and ironing, school bags and school books everywhere you look....

  • We now have an many types of pet as we have children in the house !

  • Slowly but surely we are establishing our identity as a single uniquely combined family unit....
Ellie's fast asleep on the sofa - I think she's tired out ! (Bless !!)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mr & Mrs

Please can you send us your photos of the day ?!!!

Lots of love

Mr and Mrs Mackay :-)


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A couple of photos...

Not got any photos of our wedding day yet...but I do have these.....

Thursday, 16 June 2011


We have lists of things to do on pieces of paper everywhere.....and Ellie has officially become "List Queen" (I'm really no match!).... can't quite believe Saturday is ever going to happen but I guess time will inexorably march us to the day!

In my house we now have glasses and cups and decor and bunting and wine and soft drinks and napkins and tissues and soap and a wedding dress (I've still not seen it !) and bridesmaid's dresses and bridesmaids shoes (by the truckload), and necklaces, and half-packed bags and and and .....

Had a phone call from the Estate Agent today asking if they can do a viewing on Saturday....

Think we're gonna be ready for a holiday when this is all over..... the good news is that one of the items that has a big tick next to it is "Honeymoon" - 2 days away-together, alone.....hooray !!

We're both really looking forward to being married, can't quite believe it's true, but know that it's good.....we're also both panicking slightly (quite a lot sometimes!) but also deep down we are both totally at peace about the day and the future...

"And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

Roll on Saturday.... !

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Gosh, is that the time ?!

We arose early this morning to rush over to New Malden to see the Webster's prayed out of their home church.....this is their last official Sunday at Christchurch, New Malden. It was fabulous to be there !!

The rest of the day was unexpectedly relaxing....very nice as normally it's pretty manic when we're all together. It's the last weekend we will have as independent weekend we are merged together as a new (fairly unique!) family unit....that's always assuming that time doesn't stop between now and next weekend. It really feels like it's going to!! - neither Ellie nor I can quite get our heads around it !!

If you're coming to the wedding, please remember, our preference is for no wedding presents, but any voluntary donations to our preferred charity would be very gratefully received! Click here if you'd like to take part in our alternative wedding gift list !

On the day there will be 200+ people and there are approximately 110 seats - only slightly over-subscribed ! So please enjoy from a standing position and let somebody older than you have your seat if you're fortunate enough to be youngish and healthy !!!

Can't wait for the day - see you there !

Friday, 10 June 2011

Birthday girls....

We had two birthdays this week - I wonder if you can guess who and how old they are (there might be a slight clue in each photo !) Baking isn't my strongest skill but I had a go with the one cake recipe that I do know (good ol' Tanya Ramsey !)....

Ellie and I keep playing the "This time next week..." game which is often followed by a sharp intake of breath !

Have a blessed weekend !! ....this time next week.....

Monday, 6 June 2011

A day of change ?

I awoke this morning to the alarm clock and felt the usual, "Oh, it's Monday" feeling....eventually (with just too little time remaining to shower, prepare 3 packed lunches, sort children, feed dogs/cats/chickens and rush out the door) I decided to get up....the moment my feet hit the carpet though I had an intriguing thought which rang very clear in my mind - the thought was a simple one (I don't have any other types !)....."Today will be a day of change."

As Christians many of us are aware that God can speak to us in the "still small voice"....and (if you're anything like me) when you do have those impressions/words etc that spring into your mind, you wonder whether you heard it right, or whether you just made it all up......

You can's a record of (some of) my/Ellie's text conversation today....

C to E - 8:42 At work. Another day. Today is going to be a day of change....

E to C - 8:55 A day of change? What kind of change?....

C to E - 8:58 A day of change - dunno - just think it is...might be totally wrong but it was my first though when I got out of bed!

E to C - 9:25 ....don't get excited, but I've had an offer on my house...but...
(the offer was for £61,000 less than the asking price - which is set realistically according to the EAs and has already been dropped twice).

E to C - 10:55 Had a really good Amy Carmichael passage is about "not shrinking back" (Heb 10:38-39)....


C to E - 16:30 Just heard from my EA. Mr Wotsit has given us an offer...don't get your hopes up...his "initial offer" is....
(£40,000 less than the asking price which has also been dropped twice and is also set realistically according to the EAs)

So we've got two offers for two houses on the same day - and we've rejected both - but these are the first offers we've had on our two houses since they went on the market months ago....truly bizarre that they happened on the same day....

The question is, Did I hear from God on a 'normal' Monday morning as my feet hit the carpet, and if so, what do we do next.....?

Tricky ! However I think Amy Carmichael has indeed pointed us in the right direction....

Heb 10:39
But we do not belong to those who shrink back.....but to those who have faith....

Appreciating your prayers - it would be really good to sell two houses and buy a bigger one that will fit everybody in ! 12 days to go until the big day....

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The most stressful thing....

Bet you've never heard of Holmes and Rahe !?

I hadn't heard of them until recently....they are two psychiatrists who developed a scale of 43 stressful life events which can contribute to illness. You can read all about it here. It's interesting reading!

Guess what's top of the list ?? Yes you've got it....

In 1st place is "Death of a Spouse" with 100 'life change units'
In 2nd place, is "Divorce" with 73 life change units
In 7th place is "Marriage" with 50 life change units.
In 43rd place is "Minor violation of the law" with 11 life change units (84mph in a 70mph limit....oooops!)

I miss Karena and of course never really stop thinking about her (how could I ?)...she's having a fabulous time with Jesus tho (of that I'm absolutely sure!!).... and at the same time I'm really looking forward to being married to the lovely Ellie......

2 weeks and 3 days to go until the big day ! Can't wait ! Am still wondering whether the day will ever actually arrive....but I'm trying not to get too stressed about it :-)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Brain Trauma !

Catchy blog title huh ?
And how's about this for a catchy book title to go with it...?
Clearly the title of the book attracted me (can't think why!?)

I recently had a conversation with somebody from Care for the Family who's been there and done it; he told me of a training course he'd been on which described the effects of bereavement as being very similar to 'brain trauma'. Studies have shown the following effects (amongst others) :-
- diminished ability to self-regulate - stress, mood etc
- diminished or altered memory function, amnesia,
- loss of emotional well being,
- loss of capacity to experience joy in living,
- reduced motivation to be sociable

I've definitely experienced all of these in different measures at different times.....
To be honest, I've sometimes wondered if I'm totally losing the plot....Thankfully I have been significantly better of late. Being back at work has helped, seeing my children getting on with life has also helped, and talking through pain with Ellie over the last 11 months has massively helped too.

The dimished memory function tho - that's ongoing for sure - I wonder where I put the TV controller ?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The new plumbline.

So what two things do I see ?

1. The woman who took the photo (I remember it like it was yesterday)
2. The gold wedding band on my finger; it's not been there for some time now.

It strikes me that I look at everyday events (and everday things like a simple photo in this instance!) in a totally different way than how I used to.

For me, everything is now measured against a different standard; a new plumbline - measured against the inevitability of death, the reality of death, and the certainty that one day, maybe soon (I really don't know when), I will stand before my maker face-to-face.
It's not morose - it's simple truth that is totally inescapable.

In bible words, "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone" (Ps 103:15-16)

It's very humbling but really good to think on, as it makes me want to make the most of the rest of my life, however 'long' or short it is....

Quite simply that means following Jesus in the small things and in the big things...each and every day. The next big thing is marrying the delightful Ellie x

Hope you like the photo!

So, what do you see ?

This is the photo on my mantle-piece, it was taken in the October half term of 2009.....I see two things every time I look at it......
What do you see when you look at it ?....I bet it's different to me !
My answer next time !

Blogs to come .....

  • The new plumbline

  • Facing my fears

  • The most stressful thing

  • Brain trauma

Monday, 9 May 2011

Bubbling away....

.... just beneath the surface is....a gut-wrenching cry and emotional pain that is really difficult to explain/control!

I have to try hard not to dwell on the past (that too feels impossible sometimes!!) and you never really know when emotions are going to bubble all the way to the surface and totally erupt.

Little things can trigger that emotional bubbling feeling - a memory, a song, a smell, a garden flower, a word.....and when it does all bubble up, you've really just got to let it erupt (suppressing the emotions seems like a really good idea sometimes, but it doesn't actually help !)

So recently I've felt fairly 'ok' emotionally (I think!) and have been trying to look forwards and not look backwards too much....then Sunday came, and as I listened to just a few compassionate words I felt that sudden bubbling erupting sensation......

On a lighter note, the good news's just 5 weeks and 5 days until the wedding !

For wedding info, click here......if you've not yet told us you're coming, please can you do so by 18 May so we can finalise puddings ! Thanks !

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Dispelling the myths #2

Loving and grieving.....

One of the weirdest parts of the journey for me in the last 8 months has been the side-by-side experiences of loving and grieving at the same time....

Initially, I felt a lot of confusion and no small amount of guilt as Ellie and I grew closer in our friendship and closer emotionally - through shared pain and shared experiences. Memorably I recall telling her some months ago that I felt like I was holding the wrong person's hands. In one way, of course, I was....and she was too - she should be holding Ben's hand and I should be holding Karena's hand - but of course that's just not the way that it is.

Elisabeth Elliott, who's husband Jim was murdered in 1956, has written several books. One of them was called Through Gates of Splendour (which is the title of my blog posting from 12 Feb 2010). In The Path of Loneliness (cheery title !) she also wrote that accepting what is offered helps you to come out of "the howling wilderness of misery to find peace".

So today it would have been Ben Webster's 40th Ellie and I will love and grieve together....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Words... for every day

Luke 24:5..."Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He HAS risen!"

Words to describe Easter day....and every other day :

  • Resurrection
  • Confidence
  • Hope
  • Salvation
  • Comfort
  • Finished
  • Triumph
  • Victory
  • Love

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Rays of light...

Perhaps I spend too much time thinking back to the past - ie being 'normal' ! ....Of course I still "crash and burn" sometimes over what's been taken away. I also often feel sad when I think about life's journey and, in particular, as I think about my children not having their mum with them anymore - it's pretty grim !

But through it all there is the unchanging gospel message which brings rays of light which pierce through the dark clouds - bringing hope, confidence and comfort ...

Ellie, who's passion for the gospel is "quietly determined yet relentless" has known through experience over years of grieving that there's just nothing else to cling onto when all else fails- nothing but the cross of Jesus.....

so it's almost Easter - but of course this is true all year round.....

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'It is finished'....and on the third day, He rose from the grave...death was conquered-swallowed up in victory! One sacrifice that's totally life-changing for all who choose to follow.....

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

18th June.....

We're going to get married on 18th June! How exciting!!

We will be having our marriage ceremony at 2pm followed by some puddings, cakes and speeches.....

We won't be sending out any formal wedding invitations but if you know either or both of us, we would really love you to come and share our special day with us....please can you email us at telling us how many of you would like to come (so we can cater accordingly) and we will send you full details of the wedding venue and plans by email.

As for wedding presents....we have slightly alternative plans....please visit here for more details!

Hope to see you there !

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dispelling the myths #1

Myth #1...."Getting over it...."

When talking about grief recently, Ellie was asked a question about her journey 11 years down the line, "Aren't you over it now?" Both of us laughed at the question....the person asking the question did so in all seriousness with a good heart, and really didn't realise why we'd laughed.....

The Truth is, you don't ever "get over it." Ben was too big a part of Ellie's life for her to ever get over him, he was and always will be the father of her children, and he was a formative part of her character and all that she is....similarly for Karena and me.

Life has changed forever.

You just don't get over it...

The two bereavement courses I've been on both talked about learning to deal with grief. The best analogy I've heard is a squash ball and a glass. The ball being symbolic of your grief, and the glass being symbolic of your life. To start with, the ball totally fills the glass (ie. it's like a 'shot' glass), but as you deal with grief over time the glass expands around the ball - the ball is still there very much in evidence but it doesn't fill the glass anymore (ie. it's like a pint glass)....but most notable in the analogy is that the squash ball (grief) DOESN'T actually get any just expands around it.

So I totally crashed and burned emotionally at church this morning responding to a prophetic word about loss/bereavement from the visiting speaker's wife....God is with us in our journeys, knows our pain and weeps with us.

It's just the way it is......

More dispelling myths another time.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

We did it !

The Team performed amazingly well this afternoon in our 5km swimathon for Marie Curie....hooray !

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A visit to the doctor....

So off I went last Friday to the doc's for my ear which still seems to be struggling with a bit of an infection after a couple of months!....but I got talking to the doctor about life....he, like me, is a Christian, is also a member of the Thames Valley Triathletes club....and we also have a common friend who is a doctor colleague of his at the same practice....suffice it to say I got into detail of life's journey over the last couple of years and I ended up having a bit of a cry (surprise, surprise) and then he asked me to complete a depression questionnairre....! (How exciting is that??)

My score on the test indicated I was at the upper end of the "slight depression" range. I did a similar test about 6 months ago at a gathering of local Christian leaders; that one was the 'Beck Depression Indicator' (quite a famous one I think) and that time I was also at the upper end of the "slight depression" at least I'm a consistent saddo !!

What a great doctor - at the end of my appointment he prayed for me and I left having met with a fellow Christian heart-to-heart, had a prescription for ears drops, and had also met with the living God who never leaves nor forsakes us, even when we are somewhat depressed!

It must be time for a smiley face.....

Keep smiling !

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Coming up soon....

It's just one week to go before this year's Swimathon.
Team Mackay will be swimming 5km (200 lengths) for fun and also to raise some money for Marie Curie.
Had a mild panic in the week cuz we've only done one training it's down to the pool again tomorrow and at least another couple of times before next weekend ! Should be a giggle :-) If you'd like to sponsor us, please feel very free to do clicking here (and thank you !)

Blogs to come very soon....
  • A visit to the doctor
  • Dispelling the myths
  • Wedding Plans
  • Herons and the bigger picture
Today I'm feeling very grateful that I have breath in my body, healthy children, a beautiful fiance...and food on the table. Enjoy your day x

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Hooray...we're back online !

.....after 2 weeks unable to access the internet from home (much to my frustration with the chappies from Sky...grrrrrrr) So it's time for a splurge....the highlights are....

  • Reading Half Marathon completed with my mate Giles in a heart-busting (for me) time of 1:40:20. Was very chuffed with that - 5 minutes faster than last year and we kept a steady pace, only stopping for one cup of tea :-). If we do 5 minutes faster each year (and dont stop for tea) we should be on the podium by 2019....

  • Wedding plans are advancing well for 18 June - more on that in another blog very soon....but suffice it to say, it will be different, and YOU are invited !

  • 2 houses are on the market....

  • Cooking ability seems to have stagnated :-(

  • Work is....manageable....every once in a while I panic a bit when the pressure is on but thankfully that's not too often. I think I might even be enjoying it (sometimes) and am still doing about 25 hours a week over 4 days.

  • Marriage prep starts for Ellie and I on 9th April :-)

  • I definitely don't cry as much as I did but can't ever be 'normal' again, that's for sure. Still feel very sad about life's journey in so many ways so often, even though I absolutely treasure my wonderful friendship and love for Ellie :-) (She's so fab !)

  • No. 3 has a new 3/4 size cello and has now decided she wants to be the next Jacqueline Du Pre so has started practising like the billio !

It's Mother's Day this weekend - I have a fabulous Mother, a fabulous Mother-in-law, and I'm engaged to another fabulous Mother....but the day will inevitably be totally overshadowed by the one mother who isn't here....(beam me up Scottie)...I don't suppose I can roll up and hide somewhere quiet with my children can I......?

For the last couple of months, my mind has been mulling over a text I received from a dear friend which read something like "I had an impression in my heart of Karena worshipping at God's throne with a big smile on her face, joyful, happy to be home; she wanted you and the children to live life and be happy." Hmmmm...

I'm really comforted that Karena is home safe and sound....we've all still got to make that difficult journey and the timing is totally out of our hands.....everything else in life is just smoke and mirrors by comparison.

Col 1:27....."God has chosen to make known....the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Rocks and stuff....

Read these today....
Psalm 95:1 "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation"

Heb 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever"

Speaking of rocks.....

Friday, 4 March 2011

A ring made of haribo gold

There once was a lady called Ellie,
She got lunch down the road at the Deli,
But - one day there came change,
And - a life rearrange!
Now her knees wibble-wobble like jelly!

The man, he was fearless and bold,
With a heart full of love and not cold,
He dropped down on one knee,
With a face full of glee.
Gave a ring made of haribo gold!

"I will" came her words in a rush,
He was startled and then turned to mush!
So they rushed to be wed,
(5 mouths still to be fed!),
Now they live in a house in a crush....

The years they passed happy and true,
A love made in heaven that grew,
Getting closer and stronger,
(and ears getting longer)...
then off to the Jesus they knew!

We're engaged !