Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Best Laid Plans...2

OK - I was so sure God was with me working on my daughter's car and then this happens:

Not her, or her husband's, fault - someone swung the door of their BMW open right in front of them.

So what happens now? I spent a lot of money on it to get it running well as the thought was it would be passed on in the near future to my son. However insurance companies don't take account of how much work you've done on a car, the fact it has only done 43,000 miles or that it has sentimental value being the the last car my mother owned and are likely to right it off.

Does this mean I was wrong think God was guiding me when I was working on it? No. For some reason I'm sure I was doing the right thing spending money on this car. It's just not very clear why and what the outcome will be at the moment.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Wells - updated

Since I posted about this the 'stations' my daughter produced have been put up on our church wed site. So here is the first meditation and my response:

Celts revered the well as a sacred space because it is the source of water, the cradle and
assurance of life itself. Yet that source of life is only reached by descending into the depths of a deep, dark shaft.
Not all of our memories are charged with the energy of joy. Some carry energy that feels destructive and negative. Yet these ‘wells’ of our lives may be the very place from which we draw living water.
Take some time now to look deep into some of the times in your life when you have felt at the bottom of the well. Without any kind of judgement, of yourself or of others, just acknowledge your memories and let them be there. Write down or draw what comes to mind.

And here, again, is what I wrote:

Dark, it's so dark.
There doesn't seem to be any light.
But God is there.
Sharing the darkness.
Sharing with me.
And somebody saw you in me.

For all the meditations have a look here:



In my last post I mentioned my son-in-law which seemed perfectly natural since he married my daughter 4 weeks ago. Of course this makes me a father-in-law which I quite like but my wife isn't so happy as she has become a mother-in-law. Why are all the jokes about mothers-in-law (Les Dawson - 'My mother-in-law has got a job at Heathrow - kick starting jumbo jets.') but none about the father-in-law?

Ecumenical Movement

I've got loads of ideas buzzing round my head to blog but life seems to have gone into hectic mode and finding time to sort them out into a blogable format doesn't seem to be available at the moment. However I do want to quickly post about the state of the ecumenical movement here in the UK.

This evening, on Pentecost Sunday, my local Churches Together group announced that we would all join together at one of the local Anglican services. I know it was a nice sunny day but only 3 of us from the Baptist church turned up. Looking around if my son-in-law hadn't been with me I don't think anyone under 50 had come from another church. This disappointed me but then made me think has the ecumenical movement run its course?

When I was in my late teens and 20s the idea of different churches getting together was radical - particularly if you included the Roman Catholics. However the young Christians of today don't seem to have problems with denominational boundaries so has the ecumenical movement actually seceded and so should it, like the Fountain Trust, wind itself up and say 'Job done'?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cambridge MA

On Saturday we went up to Cambridge to see my daughter get her MA. For those of you who don't know the university website states that this is conferred by right on holders of the BA degree of the University not less than six years from the end of their first term of residence, providing they have held their BA degree for at least two years. My daughter put it this way 'You work for 3 years for a degree and 4 years later they give you another.' This ancient system exists only at Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin.

So what is the point of it? According to the university site it gives the right to:
  • participate in Discussions (part of the University's decision-making process)
  • vote in the election of a new Chancellor or High Steward
  • borrow books from the University Library
  • Many colleges also offer their senior members the opportunity to dine at High Table on a certain number of occasions each year.
However I see it as:
  1. An old tradition that should be kept alive.
  2. A sign of commitment to the on-going life of the university.
  3. A good excuse to get together with your friends.
On a practical note my son-in-law, who received his MA last year, told the Senate House doorman that he was a senior member of the university as we entered to see my daughter receive her MA and we were shown a reserved front row bench. Part of the proceedings, which were in Latin, were then addressed to him as representing the body of the university.

Here is a picture of my daughter and some of her frinds proving that my third point is correct.

Sunday, 9 May 2010


On Good Friday my daughter had arranged a prayer labyrinth in the church based on Celtic Christianity and one of the meditations used the imagery of the well. My thoughts went back to a recent time I spent in a psychiatric ward and how, despite everything, I was always aware of God being there with me. I didn't talk about my faith but, towards the end of my stay, one of the women on the ward told me that she used to dislike Christians but had changed her mind because she had met me.

Dark, it's so dark.
There doesn't seem to be any light.
But God is there.
Sharing the darkness.
Sharing with me.
And somebody saw you in me.

Stress Time

On Friday I was stressed - and I mean STRESSED. The reason was simple, yet another meeting at work to discuss my sick record. Now I know, given the amount I've been ill, they have to have these meetings but the the last couple had turned a bit confrontational due to the attitude of one of the senior managers and there is always the possibility that this may be the start of a process leading to redundancy / medical retirement.

So, from about Wednesday on, I was getting stressed about any number of things that could happen at the meeting. I prayed about it; praying that God would be with me and that He would calm me down. I remained stressed.

So when the day arrived what happened - a small meeting with no senior managers in which I received good support from both my immediate manager and the lady from HR.

Did God answer my prayers? Of course - He was always with me but I remained stressed. Is that a failing on my part? Possibly. I could have trusted God more but I knew he was with me even when I was stressed. Alongside me, not judging, just there with me.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

Given that both my physical and metal health are a bit shaky at the moment it seemed a good idea to take the week off after my daughter's wedding to rest, relax and recuperate. However things didn't go as planned as this happened:

This, to be precise, is my daughter's car, a 21 year old Rover Metro. Now on the Sunday before the wedding it had decided to die outside our house and, despite several attempts to fix it, it was still standing in my garage on the day of the wedding.

In the end I spent most of the next week working on it instead of resting despite having a chest infection. I think I was running on pure adrenalin and almost worked myself into the ground. All it took was a new carburettor, distributor, coil and cylinder head - the wonder is that it was running at all before!

The odd thing was the feeling that I was meant to be doing this despite several setbacks along the way - in particular when a sheared bolt meant taking it all to bits again. If it was going to die the best place to do it was where it did so we could push it into the garage, the new carburettor had been on the shelf for so long that it was 1/3 the price of re-conditioned unit, a long search on-line and phone ended by locating a cylinder head within driving distance and all the time I seemed to have just enough energy. I can honestly say there were times when I was aware of God with me in the garage up to my elbows in grease.

It's as if God was saying 'I know this has got to be done and it's got to be done by you even though you are hardly in a fit state to do it. But don't worry I'm here with you and I'm making sure it doesn't get too much for you.'

I just hope I can carry a bit of that into the rest of my life.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Price of Oil

My local supermarket is selling milk at the eqivalent of £0.76 a litre

If I'm lucky a pint of beer in a pub will cost me £2.50 or £1.42 a litre.

So what is the cost of petrol? Is it about £1.20 a litre?

Or is it this:

Monday, 3 May 2010


Steroidnightus - yes that's right I'm suffering from steroidnightus even though I can't find it listed in any medical dictionary. As I mentioned in the post 'Mrs Newman' I woke up on the day of my daughter's wedding with a chest infection which, like a lot of people living with bronchiectasis is not an uncommon occurrence. To clear these infections I not only need antibiotics but also a course of oral steroids to dampen the inflammation in my lungs and let them clear.

Now oral steroids, even though necessary for me, are not something to be taken lightly because they are powerful drugs that can have all sorts of odd side effects. The ones that cause me most problems are thinning of the skin, a particular problem as I have always cut easily, and disrupted sleep; in particular being awake from about 3 am to 6 am. Whenever I'm on steroids for more than about 5 days I find I can't sleep at night and I can't stay awake during the day. I listen to a lot of radio via an earpiece (so as to not disturb my wife) during the night and then spend the next day walking round like a zombie. I have tried taking the steroids in the evening and the morning, sleeping in the day, not sleeping in the day, reading till I fall asleep etc but none of it makes any difference. When I'm on steroids I have trouble sleeping.

Now oddly I was never warned about this when I first went on steroids or have I noticed it in the enclosed patient information leaflets (although I haven't bothered reading one for years - all those listed sided effects are enough to make you ill) but I only found out in conversation with my GP. S I'm posting this just in case someone else thinks they are going crazy when taking oral steroids.

Wedding Etiquette

My married daughter is back from her honeymoon and slowly moving her things from our house to their maisonette. Great progress must have been made because I can now see carpet in 'her bedroom' (how long will it take us to stop calling it that?) from the doorway almost as far as the radiator under the window - I'm not sure I've seen that bit of radiator for several years!

I now know that they spent a long time pondering a question of etiquette for which the wedding books didn't provide and answer. They don't tell you when to update your Facebook status to married and change the bride's surname!!! Rather than surreptitiously using a mobile during the service or during the reception they opted to do it while in the taxi from the reception to the hotel; while drinking a bottle of champagne.

Here is another picture of the bride in her finery: