Back in December 1992 I became a Christian…it was a day that I remember very fondly as it changed everything….nothing would ever be the same. At the time I was 24 years old. I had been friends with the lovely Karena for some time through work; we got on like a house on fire - she was so full of life, was fun to be around, made me laugh and she was a Christian. Over many months as our friendship developed she shared her faith with me….and challenged me to look into the evidence for Jesus' life, who he was and evidence for the resurrection. Over time, I came to understand not only the historical evidence for Jesus' life, but also who he was and why he came…and it culminated with me praying a prayer to ask Jesus into my life whilst sitting alone in my car at 11pm one winter evening. It was a complete new beginning and I have lived in the wonder of the gospel message ever since.
Not only did Jesus turn my life upside down - but 6 months later I married the lovely Karena to share my life with….she really was a gift to me from our Father in heaven. It was another new beginning.
On 31st Dec 2008, Karena was diagnosed with cancer - that's 5 years ago now. A lot of time has passed since then. A lot of change has come. My wife died and my three children lost their mother. I am now re-married to the lovely Ellie and I have inherited (a good word to describe it!) two more beautiful children. We are a 'blended' family but much of the time for Ellie and I, everything can feel somewhat tainted by our combined history.
Next month it will be 4 years since my Karena died and 14 years since Ellie's Ben died.
God promises us in the bible that he will never leave us nor forsake us. It's an ABSOLUTELY HUGE promise. Both Ellie and I bear witness to the truth of this through what has felt to us like the most bitter of circumstances. Every day still we are confident of God's presence and of his favour, and every day in a myriad of ways the good news of Jesus breathes life afresh into our hearts, and gives us confidence and hope for the future.
Every day with Jesus represents a new beginning to us.
Nothing can ever come remotely close to replacing those that Ellie and I have loved and lost of course. Our lives, our hearts & our emotional capacity are forever changed, and every day presents emotional challenges as a result (which reminds me, I must blog on our "Precipice Proximity Index" aka "PPI" sometime soon!)
We are very glad for all that we have been given though….we treasure one another and we have five teenage children who delight and exhaust us in fairly equal measure. It still feels like new beginnings for us as a combined family and we are looking to the future, and trying not to look back too hard most of the time….yet we are acutely aware that the pain of the past invades each and every new day.
So here's one more new beginning to make you smile….
A long time ago Ben promised Ellie that he would buy her a puppy when their 2 children were a little older and when they'd settled down out of bible college. Last weekend, we 'fulfilled' this promise as Ellie and I left the house at 5.15am along with our dog, Sam, for a 200+ mile journey to west Wales….our mission was to collect a 9 week old rescue puppy called Horace. We reserved him before Christmas and told the children about him on Christmas day….and as expected, they are all utterly besotted with him !
I know he's 'just a dog' but for us he is also a part of our new family identity and our new beginnings together….and he is also very cute and cuddly (even though he yelps at bedtime and leaves unwelcome little packages around the place !!)