Tag Archives: Revive

Verse of the Day – Psalm 44:3

Psalm 44:3

Psalm 44:3

I know I have come a long way over the last five years, but this is only possible by the hand of God, not my own.

WE WERE MEANT TO BE by REVIVE
How’d we drift so far apart?
Oh God, it breaks our hearts
We can hear heavens tears cry
For wasted years

The time for change is now
Can you hear us calling out?

We were meant to be
A city on a hill
Shine like the stars in the sky

We were meant to live
For more than this world
So open our eyes to see
What we were meant to be
What we were meant to be, oh

Even in the darkest place
We’ll stand, we’re not ashamed
When fear and doubt, try to hold us down
We’ll stand, we’re not afraid

The time for change is now
We can hear you calling out

We were meant to be
A city on a hill
Shine like the stars in the sky

We were meant to live
For more than this world
So open our eyes to see
What we were meant to be
What we were meant to be, oh

Start a brush fire in my soul
A flame that won’t die, won’t grow cold
Let it burn, let it burn

Start a brush fire in my soul
A flame that won’t die, won’t grow cold
Let it burn for You

We were meant to be
A city on a hill
Shine like the stars in the sky

We were meant to live
For more than this world
So open our eyes to see

We were meant to be
A city on a hill
Shine like the stars in the sky

We were meant to live
For more than this world
So open our eyes to see, oh God
What we were meant to be, oh
What we were meant to be, oh
What we were meant to be, oh
What we were meant to be, oh
 

Karate And Me – Chapter 4 – From Near Tragedy To Triumph

KARATE AND ME

CHAPTER 4 – FROM NEAR TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH

November 1984 seemed to come around very quickly, it was just four months since my last try at my black belt, that was a miserable attempt and since then I had gone back to training five times a week, it was hard work, but I was determined and Alan was pushing me hard, there were a number of other students of a similar age that were climbing the grades and getting to train with them also, helped to push me on.

But as November started, it all nearly came to an end.

We had a family tradition on Bonfire night, in the half term school holidays, all the kids would go to my Nan’s in the day time, while out parents were at work.  The boys, myself and my two cousins, took responsibility for building the bonfire, I was the youngest at ten, the other two being 14 and 15, the girls took charge of making the Guy and making bonfire toffee with my Nan.

We always made a big bonfire, then on bonfire night, the whole family would descend on my Nan’s, my parents and my Aunty and Uncles would bring a selection of fireworks and we would all enjoy the evening.

This year my cousin decided to add a little extra to the proceedings, somehow he managed to find a recipe to make homemade bangers.  All of the components were available for even a 10 year old like myself to buy over the counter, so we made a number of these in varying sizes.  They worked, in fact the worked better than the over the counter bangers that could be bought at that time, a few years later these would be made illegal, but back then bangers were common at bonfire night.

I wasn’t involved in setting any of them off, my cousin did, I must add, under the supervision of my uncle and at no point was anything considered unsafe.  The night was going well and everyone was enjoying themselves.

As the evening went on I began to feel my eye starting to itch, I rubbed it, but it got worse and worse, getting more irritating as the night went on, eventually I went to my Mum, who took me inside to take a look, then it became obvious that something was wrong.  My eye was far worse than just itchy, my eye lids were red raw!

Immediately my Mum and Dad took me to hospital, surprisingly it was quiet, so we were seen quite quickly.  The nurses in casualty  were concerned and called a Doctor that specialised in eye injuries.

It transpired that both my eye lids were burnt, it would seem that something and probably the sellotape that we used in the bangers had gone into my eye.  The Doctor stated that I was lucky, I must have blinked at that moment, because my eye lids were both burnt, but there was no damage to my eye itself.  Had I not blinked, the melting sellotape would have gone directly into my eye and almost definitely left me blind in that eye.

I had had a lucky escape, just superficial burning, I was sent home with paste to put onto my eye lids at regular intervals, but other than that I was fine, just an eye that was uncomfortable due to the scabbing of both eye lids.

They say things can change in the blink of an eye, I learnt the truth of that sentance on that day.

I went to karate on the next night, it was a normal Tuesday training session, I went only to watch, not take part, my eye still looked a mess, though I could still use it. Alan then broke the news that there was another grading on the Saturday, up in Newcastle, he could get me a lift there and he wanted me to try again.

Between Alan, my Dad and myself it was decided I would go for it again on Saturday, as my eye was mainly just cosmetic and not anything permanent, it wasn’t too much to worry about.

So Saturday morning I left my house about five in the morning, a parent of some of my club mates took me to Lincoln, there I met up with one of the seniors from our Lincoln club, who walked me to his sister’s house and she took us both up to Gateshead, near Newcastle.

We had set off early and then arrived early too, that gave us plenty of time to put in the grading forms, both Simon and myself were grading, so Simon copied the details of my previous grading form and submitted my new forms.

This was only the second time I had trained with Enoeda Sensei, my previous black belt gradings had been under a different examiner.  Enoeda Sensei was an imposing character, he just had that air that he carried with him, he looked serious and really did scare me.  I was on my own in the training, I was with all these kids I didn’t know, whilst Simon trained with the adults.  We practiced a series of moves, in a combination that involved a number of turns, then Sensei requested we get into groups of three.

All the other kids around me obviously knew each other, they all got into groups very quickly and when I looked around there were no other kids to go with, I was on my own.  So I just carried on practicing the combination on my own, whilst everyone else practiced in groups.  That was when I saw Enoeda Sensei coming my way, I panicked, I kept my head down and just did what I was doing as best as I could, after I finished the combination, I looked up to see him stood right next to me, I expected a telling off for not getting into a group with the others, then I saw him smile at me and raise one of his hands to give me a thumbs up.  Wow, I expected being shouted at, I was almost ready to cry, my shy and nervous side was ready to explode, but that smile, that thumbs up, just washed away all those nerves, after that my energy levels seemed to double, I was on cloud nine, I was flying.

There was a bit of waiting around after training, whilst the next group trained, then the grading itself started.  The younger kids were usually first, so I was in one of the first groups of six called up.  My name was called and I took my place in the line before Sensei, then there seemed to be a pause, something was being discussed on the table, then Sensei pointed at me and called me to the table, my heart sunk, all the positivity of the mornings thumbs up was now ebbing away.

I walked to the table, Sensei asked my name, I responded nervously, he asked when I last grading, I told him the it was one year ago, then he asked who old I was, I said I was ten, then he pointed at the paperwork and that smile came over his face once again, with a big laugh in his voice he bellowed out for all to hear;

“It says here, you one year old!!!”

I looked down at the paperwork and to my horror, Simon had put my date of birth as my last grading date the previous November and in that box put my date of birth, it was an obvious mistake, but Sensei saw the funny side, normally he would probably have rejected the paperwork, but he laughed with me as he corrected the paperwork and with that same smile I saw from him earlier that morning he sent me back to my place in the line up.

But once again, Sensei’s smile had put me back on cloud nine, I went back to the line, gave everything I had and waiting with the rest for the result.  Back then you sat through everyone else’s gradings and waited to be called up again, if you were called up a second time for another kata, you had pretty much passed, unless you messed up that kata, I was called up a second time, flew through the kata and a little late my pass was confirmed.

Simon hadn’t passed, but you couldn’t tell, he was over the moon for me, it seemed it meant more that I passed than the result of his grading, he never showed any disappointment, I’m sure he had some, but he did a great job of hiding it.  We found a pay phone (no mobiles back in 1984) and I called my Dad and told him the news, I remember us both being in tears on the phone.

I don’t remember the ride home, it was long, but it passed so quickly, I got home and within minutes Alan turned up at the house, he was over the moon, I could see it in his face, he always took great pride in any of his students passing their black belt, but it seemed more so with me.

The next few days were interesting, there weren’t many ten year old black belts back then, especially not in Nottinghamshire, Alan contacted the papers and I had arrangements for interviews and photoshoots.  One of the papers came to my house and photographed me in my front room, another arranged to come to my school, it was a little embarrassing to have to perform barefooted in a wet school playgroup, in front of a handful of friends, whilst being photographed, although that paper did give me the nick name the mighty atom!

The previous day I had been mentioned in the local paper, not by name, but I was listed as being the only Bonfire night casualty in the Newark area, not my most shining moment, then just seven days later, I made the paper for all the right reasons.

They were six days that were a complete rollercoaster, from almost losing the sight in one eye to obtaining that black belt.  Then there were those moments during that grading which just changed things, to this day I still feel like I must have been Enoeda Sensei’s favourite student that day, he saw something in me and knew exactly how to respond to my shy and nervous persona, maybe I wasn’t his favourite student, but just for those few hours, it felt like it.

Life can change in the blink of an eye sometimes, had I not blinked that Monday evening, would I have done everything I have since then?  Would I have gone on to get that black belt, well maybe, probably not that day or in those circumstances, but I may have carried on, but everything that I have achieved in Karate since that day, has happened because of that one moment, that one blink.

Back then and through most of my life I haven’t been a Christian, I never believed, but now I firmly believe that at that moment, that blink of an eye was a moment when God’s touch was on my life.  Karate has been a major part of my life, a major part of the good that is in me, even in my lost years of drinking, it was only karate I stayed sober for, I’m sure it kept me alive in those years, it was the only thing that went right for me as the world around me crumbled, had it not been for that blink of an eye, well, I don’t even want to think about that.

BLINK by REVIVE
Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

Slow down
Slow down
Before you turn around
And it’s too late

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

In The Blink of an Eye

Wow, it’s thirty years today since an incident in my life that could have made everything so different, the blink of an eye made all the difference.

Bonfire night 1984, as every year before, we had made all the preparations for the night, during the half term myself and my two older cousins had built a large bonfire in our Nanna’s back garden and all our families would converge there for fireworks, baked potatoes and my Nan’s bonfire toffee.

But this year my cousin had found out, from a friend of his, how to make homemade bangers.  So during the half term, as well as building a bonfire, we had also made a fairly descent stash of these rather loud bangers.  I was ten years old and my cousin was almost four years older than I was, it fair to say I was quite easily led and looked up to him somewhat.

We made them in various sizes, the bigger they were, obviously the louder and more powerful they were.  On the night my cousin set a few of these off in various different circumstances.  I must add here, our parents were present and oversaw what was happening and would have stopped anything that was not considered safe.

As the night went on, I felt a itching in my right eye, it seemed to get worse as I rubbed it more and more.  Eventually it became very uncomfortable, so I went to my Mum and she took me inside to take a look in the light.  From there it was obvious to her that is was a little more serious than just a scratch or something in my eye.  My Dad was summonsed and I was taken to hospital.

Now I must say I expected a Casualty department on a bonfire night, to be very busy, but it was completely empty and I was seen quite quickly.

It transpired that both my top and bottom eye lids had been burnt.  They had been burnt in a way that it was caused by more than just a spark, something that had been melting had obviously caused the burning.  I confessed that we had used sellotape in the construction of our bangers and this was deemed to be the source.

The Doctor then said, that due to the position of the burns on both the eye lids, it was clear that I must have blinked at the time and this had in his opinion saved my eye, had the sellotape gone into my eye, he was sure I would have lost the sight in that eye.

I was given some rather thick paste to put on my eye lids for the burns and sent home, we went back to my Nan’s but as it was late by then, everything was almost over.  There was a bit of an inquisition for my cousin and I, but it was deemed just an unfortunate accident, although we were forbidden to make any more, to this day, neither of us has and the incident is still fondly remembered at family gatherings.

My eye look pretty ghastly for a few days, the eye lids were covered in very uncomfortable crusty scabs, but after a few days it just looked like a black eye, which through my karate I was well used to by then.

On Friday the local paper came out, and a few pages in there was a report that stated that the only bonfire night casualty in town was a boy with eye injuries, they never mentioned me by name, but it was definitely me, my claim to shame.

Just five days later, with a black eye, I went up to Newcastle to take my black belt and I passed, so the next weekend I made the paper again, this time for the right reasons.

Okay, I know this was an accident which was brought about by youthful stupidity, we were making things that weren’t legal, although everything we made them from were easily purchased by people our age, yet that doesn’t make it right.

But in the blink of an eye, a life could have been so different.  Had I not blinked, what would life be like with one eye, I know many people who live that way and have got on very well in life, but I can’t put myself in that place, because in the blink of an eye, I was saved from that life.

If you have read my post from a few weeks ago, “The Night I Stopped Believing”, then you’ll know that I had given up on the idea of God two years before this moment in my life, but when I look back now, it’s another one of those moments where I can now see a touch from God in my life, a moment that without His protection, life would have been so different.

BLINK by REVIVE
Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Verse of the Day – 2 Chronicles 15:7

2 Chronicles 15:7

2 Chronicles 15:7

There are still times when I lose faith in my hope and dreams for my future.  The shame of the past is a big mountain to climb, the financial burden is a heavy weight to carry, it can be hard to get up and keep going.  But I know He keeps telling me not to worry, to just stay strong, don’t give, it will all work out, it’s just every now and again something happens that knocks me down again, but I will keep trying, I’m not ready to give up just yet.

SOMETHING GLORIOUS by REVIVE
You’re staring at the ceiling 
But the stars are out tonight
You’re looking for some meaning
But you’re afraid of the Divine
Open your eyes 
To see through the walls of doubt
Open your heart
To live beyond the shell that hold you down

Show me something Glorious
Show me something Glorious
I’ll show you the Maker of it all
Show me something beautiful
Show me something beautiful
I’ll show you the One behind it all

You’re standing on the surface
You can’t tell how deep it goes
Searching for a purpose
To this life you’ve come to know
Open your eyes
To see through the walls of fear
Open your heart 
To live behind the shell that keeps you here

Show me something Glorious
Show me something Glorious
I’ll show you the Maker of it all
Show me something beautiful
Show me something beautiful
I’ll show you the One behind it all

You ain’t seen nothing yet
You ain’t seen nothing yet
You ain’t seen nothing yet
Open your eyes

Show me something Glorious
I’ll show you the Maker of it all
Show me something beautiful
I’ll show you the One behind it all

Show me something Glorious
Show me something Glorious
I’ll show you the Maker of it all
Show me something beautiful
Show me something beautiful
I’ll show you the One behind it all

You’re staring at the ceiling
But the stars are out tonight

Verse of the Day – 2 Corinthians 12:9

2 Corinthians 12:9

2 Corinthians 12:9

I know in the past I’ve lost the love of myself and from time to time I still feel weak and that I’ll never be enough again.  I’m thankful I have promises like this in those times of weakness that I can hold on to, I never want to be back in that place where I lose hope in everything and seek a way out.

THE TRUTH IS by REVIVE
Broken hearted here I stand
With an emptiness inside 
That I’ve tried to satisfy
Many times I’ve wandered far
Searching for some kind of meaning
In this world that’s so deceiving

But the truth is 
There is none like you
Even though my heart is yours
I’m so quick to compromise
Still believing all the lies

But your mercy finds me here
And you show your love to me
So that I can finally see

Let your love and majesty 
Shine for all of us to see
That there is none like you
Let this peace and let this hope
Rise in me so all will know
Lord, there is none like you

SoberDay 746

Okay, so if you have been a regular follower of mine for some time, you will know that I count every day of sobriety and indeed passing every week, you will also know that I hold my own little celebrations at significant milestone, 1 year, 2 years, 500 days, 600 days, etc, etc.  If you’re new to this site, then okay I can be a little weird from time to time also!

Psalm 90:12

Psalm 90:12

So that fact that today is SoberDay 746 doesn’t really seem that significant, but I’ve looked at the days ahead and I’m being to see something more than coincidence with my date of Sobriety, the 29th March 2012, just a normal Thursday, nothing special, just another day.

Then last year my one year anniversary just so happened to fall on a Friday, Good Friday, coincidence? Maybe! I thought so at the time anyway.  But it was a great day and a great way to celebrate.

But then earlier today, I worked out that my 750th SoberDay would fall on this coming Friday, Good Friday, another coincidence?  Maybe, but then again my 1000th SoberDay will fall on Christmas Eve, now I’m being to think differently.

Psalm 139:16

Psalm 139:16

So was Thursday 29th March 2012, just a normal day, when a troubled soul, just randomly decided to give up an addiction that had wrecked his life?

I’m beginning to think not, it wasn’t just a random day at all!

 So Friday will be a great day of celebration, once again in more than just one way and I for one can’t wait!

BLINK by REVIVE
Teach me to number my days 
And count every moment before it slips away 
Take in all the colors before they fade to gray 
I don’t want to miss even just a second more of this 

It happens in a blink 
It happens in a flash 
It happens in the time it took to look back 
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time 
What is it I’ve done with my life 
It happens in a blink (x2)

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers how far we have run
The only thing that matters is how we have loved
I don’t want to miss even just a second more of this

It happens in a blink 
It happens in a flash 
It happens in the time it took to look back 
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time 
What is it I’ve done with my life 
It happens in a blink (x4)

Slow down, slow down 
Before today becomes our yesterday 
Slow down, slow down 
Before you turn around and it’s too late 

It happens in a blink 
it happens in a flash 
it happens in the time it took to look back 
I try to hold on tight but there’s no stopping time 
What is it I’ve done with my life 
It happens in a blink

It happens in a blink 
it happens in a flash 
it happens in the time it took to look back 
I try to hold on tight but there’s no stopping time 
What is it I’ve done with my life 
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink 
It happens in a blink 
It happens in a blink 

Verse of the Day – Psalm 17:7-9

Psalm 17:7-9

Psalm 17:7-9

Is it not amazing to know we are the apple of His eye.

YOU’RE ALL I NEED by REVIVE
When the darkness settles in 
And the world caves in all around me 
You’re all I need 
When my life becomes so easy 
And I have everything I’ve ever dreamed 
You’re all I need 

And now I am finally home inside your love 
And the hope I have in You is more than enough
And with all You’ve done my heart is finally free 

’Cause You’re all I need 
You’re all I need 

When my heart is in despair 
And there’s no one left that cares for me 
You’re all I need 
When my days are all complete 
And I’m met with things I’ve never seen 
You’re all I need 
I lift up my hands and give You it all My life, my heart,
my hope it’s all Yours 

Not In My Job Description?

Writing yesterday evening about charging down a potholed driveway, trying to catch a bus, got me thinking this morning about what other strange adventures my work out at Langford entailed.

Essentially I worked for an Architect who lived and worked out of a converted barn, with 17 acres of land attached to it. I was employed as a CAD technician doing drawings for all manner of new houses, extensions and barn conversions, among other things, a nice clean desk job, well so you would think.

As I wrote yesterday, I had a long walk down the drive to the barn, the drive was in need of repair, there were deep potholes and if one of the neighbours came down the drive, I had to step aside into the hedgerow, in my nice shoes and trousers!

But I couldn’t get into the barn/offices unnoticed! No, there was no way I could ever do that, before I got into the office I had jobs to do, I would be reminded every morning as I walked down that drive, sun, wind, rain or snow, it didn’t matter, they would let me know every morning, like I was ever going to forget.

I was greeted every morning by the hungry cries of a pair of donkeys and half a dozen geese. There was also a pair of Guinea Fowl, with which I had a real running battle with the male, it really hated me and I didn’t care him much either, you can read about the time the bloody thing tried to blind me here !

My first job was to tend to the animals every morning, feed the donkeys, replace their hay, top up their water and from time to time clean out the hooves, not a nice job, getting your face close to a third of a ton of donkey, who wanted to kick your head in, luckily the pair of them never got me!

Then feed all the birds and replace the geese’s water, not a pleasant job at all, needless to say I smelt of geese droppings most of the day, nice!

It didn’t matter where the donkeys were in the fields, they seemed to know when I was due, they would spot me and let out a loud cry as I approached. James was shy and quite timid, he rarely let you get close to him, but Sophie his sister was the complete opposite, she didn’t mind, she had a habit of trying to eat my coat and as I was getting their food ready, she would rest her head on my shoulder or just nudge me out the way in eagerness.

The geese on the other hand could be aggressive, but never really attacked, they would make lots of noise, rear up and flap their wings, but that was about it, they could be intimidating at times though.

Apart from having to stick my hand in to bath of water full of geese droppings, the funniest story of the geese and I, came when the barn was put up for sale.

I got a message one morning there was to be a viewing, the estate agent was handling it, but could I make sure everything was tidy. No problem, that should be fine, that was until I got down to the gates to the barn and found all the geese running around the garden!

They had all found their way through a very small opening in the wire fencing that separated the garden from the fields beyond. With about twenty minutes to spare I had to get these bloody geese back through the fence, close it up and quickly feed everyone and tidy up, a sense of panic set in.

My first idea was opening up the hole a little wider, then throw a bowl of feed over the fence to the other side of the opening, good idea, they would follow the food, wrong, the donkeys came and ate it all, not a good start!

So I grabbed a long stick and went about trying to round them up and herd them through the gap, it seemed to work until one made a dash in the other direction, then as I tried to get the gathered up the rest scattered and I had to start again. I persevered, over and over again, eventually I got them all safely through the gap in the fence, closed the gap behind them, chucked them some grain, sorted the donkeys and then rather sweatily and very late got into the office to start work. There was definitely some serious bad language going on that morning, I’m glad there is no CCTV footage of me trying to round up the geese, it would be one of those shown on those TV clip shows or YouTube!

The other interesting time that came to mind was trying to get James, a full grow male donkey into a horse box and then the after care!

James had somehow got an insect bite on his, shall we say, private parts, which had become swollen and infected, so much so it required an operation that needed to be done at the vets. So the first task was to get a shy donkey, which liked nothing to do with humans into a horse box!

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Now Sophie his sister, she was inquisitive and was easy to get into the box, but we didn’t need her, so we had the idea he may follow her in, we could get him in, secure him and then get her out.

WRONG!!!!!

He wouldn’t have it, we pushed and pulled and he dug in, when they say donkeys are stubborn, they aren’t kidding, James was the epitome of stubborn, he wasn’t having any of it, after a few hours of trying everything, we called in the Vet, we were out of ideas and he was scheduled for his operation the next day.

While waiting for the Vet, we kept trying, after about five hours the Vet arrived, a big Nigerian fella who I could hardly understand, when I say big, I mean I’m only five foot four and half inches tall, he towered over me and was twice as wide as me also.

He gave James a bit of a sedative injection to calm him down, then said the only way was to physically lift him in!!

Was he kidding, this was a third of a ton donkey, his idea was for the two if us to lift in this donkey who was fast becoming docile and even less responsive.

We got James to the door of the horse box, we both stood either side of him and locked hands behind the donkeys backside, James had no intention at this point of moving anywhere, so with a massive effort we managed to lift his back end and push him into the box. I think I got the short straw, as Jeff was so much bigger than I was, I’m sure this imbalance meant I carried most of the weight of a dead weight donkey, needless to say, I tore a number of back muscles, just the day before I was due in London for a three day Karate course, luckily my friend practices Shiatsu, he treated me a few times over the weekend and I got through it.

It didn’t stop there, when James came back after his operation, the area needed keeping clear of any further infections. Essentially the bite that had become infect was on his foreskin, so basically he had been circumcised! But the area needed keeping clear of further insect bites, the Vet’s had provided an ointment that would keep flies and other insects away, it just had to be applied around the area, daily!

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed who got that job, oh yes, I can’t remember volunteering for it and I can’t say that putting ointment around a donkeys privates was I my job description, but I got the task.

So I had to find a way of keeping a nervous donkey calm, he probably hated me for manhandling him anyway, whilst I smothered a thick ointment all around his privates and his stomach! The first few days weren’t easy, but I put food down for him to keep both of them occupied and applied the stuff to the area as required, not a pleasant job, I can also say I do know where the term hung like a donkey comes from also! But after a few days it was a lot easier, I think he understood I was only trying to help. After a couple of weeks he was healed and no longer needed treating, so we went back to our normal stand off relationship, although he was after that a little friendlier to me.

I once had to treat Sophie also, this time a syringe of medication to be squirted down her throat, making sure she took it all! This was probably harder than treating James’ bits, she hated it, day after day I had to try to hold her head, nose to the air with one arm, whilst using the other to get the syringe as far down her throat as possible and then squeeze, then holding her head up and rubbing her throat and neck until she swallowed!

I miss the donkeys now, I saw them last in December of last year for the first time in over a year, they still seemed to remember me. Sadly they escaped from their paddock a few months ago, they found themselves on the main line rail tracks, where they were hit by a high speed train and killed outright.

There were lots if things I did whilst working for the Architect that you wouldn’t expect to do in your day to day duties, the donkeys and animals were one thing, but I also ended up baby sitting from time to time, decorating, cleaning and gardening, amongst many other things. I spent most of my working life working for small companies, usually just me and my boss, in that environment you just get used to doing whatever is needed, being that baby sitting, looking after donkeys and everything else in between, so I have that whatever needs doing I’ll do it attitude.

The sad thing is though, I lost that attitude for a while, when I lost myself in a bottle, there were lots if things I needed to do, some weren’t pleasant either, but I just gave up for a while, the only thing I managed to do was create a real mess.

Now I’m trying to get back into that attitude at work, do whatever is needed, not just what my job description says, then to carry that attitude to my Church duties and karate. The hardest place is to do this at home, but I’m trying, I just need to try a bit harder.

DISTANT MEMORIES by REVIVE
Flash forward a century 
In an overgrown cemetery 
My tombstone lays so peacefully 
Dirt and grime over time slowly cover up the line: “He lived a full life, and so wonderfully” 
But no one remembers that life I’m just history 

Nothing more than distant little memories 
But I am in a place where I never felt more home
And now my old life seems to be Nothing more than distant memories 

Sadness strangely fills the mind 
Of a young girl trying to find where 
They say her great grandfather lies 
And as she gazes at the stone 
Of a man she’s never known 
She doesn’t think that’ll be her one day 
Where no one remembers your life 

We forget the treasure to come 
In a life that won’t let us down 
Where we’re much more than distant memories

My Jericho

Last night’s quietness was in a way a bit of a low spot, I really was a little shaken by the silence of the house.  By the time Victoria and Eve arrived home, Ben was staying at his Gran’s, it was late and the rain that had been promised came down and came down hard, taking out the satellite TV signal with it, which was fine, because there was nothing on at all!  So I ended up reading John, Chapters 10 to 17, although I have read through them a few times over the last 16 months, I started to feel and understand them more than before.

I was particularly interested in the story of the resurrection of Lazarus, although Lazarus had been dead a number of days before Jesus arrived, he was raised from the dead, when everyone present had lost faith, when they all questioned Christ.

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11, 37)

Yet Jesus did what they all believed impossible, he brought Lazarus back to life as if I he was only asleep, all around doubted, they had no faith in what Jesus could do or who He was.

Also, this week I have been drawn to reading Joshua 6 and the fall of Jericho, in particular what God instructed of Joshua:

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6, 1-5)

Joshua never doubted God instructions, he carried them out as instructed, with faith in what God had promised would delivered, he stayed faithful and indeed God delivered Jericho to Joshua just as He promised.

Two very different stories, one of complete faith and one of lack of faith, complete contrast to say the least.  The question I asked myself is which of those stories am I part of.

Then this morning it was back to Church, back home for me, where I really feel part of something, back to the camera for the morning preach, with Justin preaching today it meant being alert as he does tend to cover every inch of the stage.  But having said that, even though he was as lively as usual, I actually seemed to take in more of the preach than I normally do when I am filming, usually my concentration is on the preachers movements rather than their words, but this morning was different.

This morning was about our belief, our hope in God’s promises, about whether we still had faith and still believed, despite what we see before us, do we still hold on to that hope?

Justin’s examples were firstly from Numbers 13:

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13, 26-30)

When Moses sent the spies into the land of Canaan, the majority saw only fear, they failed to hold to the promise of God, that He would hand this land to the Israelites, they believed it couldn’t be done, they lost faith.  But Caleb stayed faithful and silenced the people, he believed, he had faith in the promise, he didn’t let fear take him.

The second example was Mark 5 and the raising of the young girl from the dead:

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5, 35-36)

Just as in the story of Lazarus the crowd surrounding Jesus lost faith, they simply failed to believe.

In all these stories that I have listened to or have been reading this week, the underlying issue is belief, this morning’s preach by Justin, backed up what I had been reading  and indeed what I had been questioning within myself.

Am I holding on to belief?

I’m not sure why I was drawn to read the book of Joshua this week, but again I think I was drawn to it for a reason.

If what God has promised me is behind mighty walls, do I have the faith to march around them every morning until I hear the trumpets sound and walls come down.  Will I keep doing that everyday, even though I see no change in the walls, will I let me eyes deceive me and remove my faith that God will deliver my prayers.

It’s true I let me eyes defeat my faith, I let my ears erase my belief, why can’t I be like Joshua or Caleb, it didn’t matter what their eyes saw or ears heard, they believed.  Why I am like those that surrounded Jesus and doubt His ability to raise the dead!

There is something dead in my life and I pray everyday for that to be resurrected, but between the prayers I let my eyes and ears remove my belief, so what I am going to do now?

Well tomorrow morning I am going to march, I am going to march around those walls every morning, it does matter how many mornings, I will march until one morning the trumpets will sound and the walls come down, then the dead will be raised back to life.

I have to march, I have to believe, I HAVE TO HAVE FAITH!

On my way back home from Church, whilst I was walking along the cycle track with my iPod on, this song came on, again I’ve heard it many times, but once again for the first time I actually felt it.

HOLD ON LOVE by REVIVE
There’s fear in your eyes
As you face the unknown
You keep asking why
For a reason to hold on
But hold on love

The life that you plan
The dreams are all gone
You don’t understand why you should hold on
But hold on love

I’ll be here
Whatever comes your way
I’ll be here
It’s a promise I have made
When you close your eyes
And say your last goodbye
I’ll be here

I’m strong enough
I’ll be your hope
I made a way
I just need you to hold on
Hold on love

I’ll be here
Whatever comes your way
I’ll be here
It’s a promise I have made
When you close your eyes
And say your last goodbye
I’ll be here

No matter what you’re facing now
As you’re drowning in a sea of doubt
You should know I won’t let you go
No matter what you’re going through
Just remember I have been there too
You should know I won’t let you go

I’ll be here
Whatever comes your way
I’ll be here
It’s a promise I have made 
When you close your eyes
And say your last goodbye
I’ll be here

Hold on
Hold on love

 

A Proper Dad Tonight Then

During the time when I had literally enforced a self imposed exile on myself, where I couldn’t deal with the everyday things that a father of two should be able to do, that it is his duty to do. Some father’s I guess would give everything to live their lives under the same roof as their children, I had that, but I lost the glory of it because I could not deal with it all.

My kids are good kids, like any kids they can be a handful, but by no means are they “problem children”, they are not little tearaways, they are just kids after all.

But I found as I descended deeper into the darkness that I found myself in, the simple things were getting harder to deal with, I was barely able to deal with any little problem without the need for reaching for a drink, then once I had taken a drink I hid behind it and took myself away from the problem rather than facing it head on and dealing with it.

So kids being kids, two siblings falling out, just as I did with my sister when we were their age, was for me a big problem that I couldn’t deal with rationally. I would either explode, overreact to the situation and just make things worse, or I just couldn’t deal with it, I would hide my head in my hands and mutter incoherently to myself, at times like that only a drink could calm me down, it was my medication of choice.

So only a matter of weeks after I had stopped drinking, changed my life and accepted Jesus and God into my life, I found myself in a situation I could never of dealt with only weeks before.

Looking after my two kids alone one night, my daughter came up to me with a nose bleed, personally I’ve never had a nose bleed in my life, even after all the blows to the nose I’ve taken doing karate I’ve never had a full on nose bleed. My son gets them, but I’ve never dealt with them, his Mum always dealt with that, until he learnt to deal with them himself, I was never able to deal with it. But this time I had no choice, my six year old daughter had a nose bleed and it was time for me to do what is expected of a father, deal with it, to look after your own child.

Well, I’ve seen enough nose bleeds in my time so I just did what I’ve seen others do and eventually stopped the bleeding and cleaned her up. That was an amazing feeling, I was doing the father thing and if I don’t say so myself, doing it well for once.

But it didn’t stop there, no sooner had I got back down stairs, my son came to me with his homework that he was struggling with, so we sat down and did it together, whilst doing so my daughter came with her homework too, ok, let’s form a queue here then. So we completed my son’s first set of homework, he then pulled out a second set, so we completed that too. Then my daughters homework, we completed that together also.

So in one night, one nose bleed sorted and three sets of homework completed, well my comment on Facebook that night was that I felt like a “proper Dad tonight then”.

The feeling was fantastic, it really was the first time I had dealt with anything like this, I’ve helped with the odd bit of homework here and there, but to sort out a nose bleed and then sit down together spending time doing homework, well it was the first time I’ve felt like I was truly a father. Only a few weeks previous there would be no chance I could deal with anything like this, but now I look forward to doing it again (well maybe not the nosebleed).

Everything I’ve built
Is gonna turn to dust and just wash away
so I’ll be soaking in
Everyday you give
Cause this is what it is
How we’re meant to live
(Almost Missed This Moment by Revive)

I know both my kid’s teachers, both of them have been family friends for a long time, after posting on Facebook that we had completed the homework together, I could only hope it was correct after that, luckily I think it was!

I still struggle sometimes to deal with my kids, I still find I can lose control easily, sometimes I can step back, count to ten and deal with it, other times I do have to find my own space, take myself off to a quiet place and pray for help.

I love my kids and I wouldn’t want to be without them, I’m working on being able to cope with them and spend more time with them. Kid’s aren’t easy and even the best behaved of kids will test the patients of their parents, but I’m not going to hide away anymore and leave my partner to deal with everything, I know now it’s my time to step up to the plate and be counted, to be the parent my kids deserve.