Happy New Year

Saturday January 1, 1785. —

Whether this be the last or no, may it be the best year of my life!                                   John Wesley.

Very struck by these words as we enter into the year 2020 after one of the hardest endings to a year I’ve known. I know a lady whose view on life is that it is so serious there shouldn’t be time for fun and frivolity-theres work to be done-theres a routine to be kept etc. I think we’ve al known people like this. I tend to favour the opposite view; life is so serious you need to find the fun and frivolity to get through it !

The truth of the matter is that its somewhere in between both, but I’m of the opinion that we can either let life pull us down, or we can bow our heads bear against the wind style and plough on. Please note this isn’t an opinion on those folk who genuinely have to live with depression, but its more about those who have an off day and declare that life is terrible !

This year Alison and I are seeing in Hogmanay in a very different way; we’re babysitting ! And let me tell you it’s the best one yet !

I remember the days of our youth when as a gang we used to kick the evening off in the Grey Horse pub at about 6.30 pm, go onto someones house (usually whichever couple had got married that year) for a buffet and to drink the New Year in. At about 12.30 a.m. we’d set off and go around everyones houses, first footing (wonderful Scottish tradition) ending up back at the home of Alison and I at about 6.00 a.m. where I’d cook breakfast for whoever was still standing ! Going back further I can remember Dad being kicked out of the house by Mum at about 11.55 p.m. so that after 12.00 had struck and the new year started, Dad could first-foot us  bringing with him the traditional piece of coal (to give us warmth), salt (to give our lives flavour) and a coin for the kiddies (so we’d always be wealthy). Of course the first-foot always had to be a tall, dark, handsome man and Dad qualified entirely. When Alison and I moved away, Dad was always our first foot whenever he came to stay, and as you’d expect I’ll be thinking of him at midnight.

However until then no party games as before, no board games as before, Alison is currently upstairs looking after Emett and I’m downstairs with a Pernod and lemonade. We might not even see each other again this year , lol.

But even though its the quietest new year Ive known, and after the toughest Christmas I feel that I can still look forward to 2020. Why ? because I’ve spent my time reflecting on the treasure I have………………….

A beautiful wife, Alison, who I adore, a fantastic family in Rebecca, Vicky,

Michelle, Mark and of course the FoxCubs asleep upstairs, Piper and Emett. What more could I ask for. I add to this my wider family of Andrew, Cath, Stuart, Sue and all their family. I think on all the friends I have, Judith, Alison W, Stuart, Caroline and so many more ranging from across the world in Romania (must get out there in 2020) to here on the doorstep.

I reflect on how supported I am in the Church from Loraine to each and every steward in my circuit/church teams who without question allowed me to take time off following Dads passing.

I think of how their support helps me in my Ministry and in my health issues, especially over my hearing. I give thanks for the care and patience people show me; today I’ve given thanks for the audiology unit here in Burton for the new hearing aids I’ve been given and for the care with which I was treated. I also give thanks for Becca, our District Wellbeing Officer, who by her words and care lift my spirits.

I could go on listing all the blessings I have but the list would take too long and you’re probably bored already. Suffice to say I am, most of the time a glass half-full person, who has the occasional blip which is forgiven and forgotten by those around me; and its for all these reasons I feel that I can step out confidently into 2020 and try to live each day as if its my last but best. I believe that as long as I’m still breathing God has a purpose for me (even though I often miss it) and if he’s supplying the breath then I don’t want to waste it.

Finally, my thanks to you for faithfully following this blog (some of you since 2007); it serves to remind me of how blessed I truly am.

Happy New Year



Its been a strange time………

I’m fully aware that I haven’t posted anything since Nov 19th, when I posted about Dad. This is an attempt to catch up and reflect on the last 5 weeks.

Since Dads passing I have been reflecting and giving a huge amount of thanks for the privilege I’ve had of knowing him. Many in my Churches have spoken of his kindness, his smile, his generosity and that brings a lot of comfort.

His funeral service was a real mixed affair, for Dad would never have guess that in attendance would be 5 clergy, including a past President of Conference and a current District Chair who phoned to pass on his condolences. And many would be surprised to see this ‘august’ body sharing memories with the landlady of one of Dads local pubs, The Turf, alongside one of her barmaids. Dad had the ability to treat everyone as equals and never put on airs and graces for anyone. Alongside them we were touched that family had travelled from London and Crawley, messages from New Zealand and neighbours and friends who have supported him and us. Within the Methodist District I received cards and good wishes (texts, emails) from all over the District and beyond. Truly touched and humbled.

After the funeral Andrew and I have had to start thinking about sorting out Dads affairs, disposing of his possessions and eventually selling the house. The clearing of the house is hard and brings with it the mixture of laughter and tears. Anyone who has had to do this will be familiar with the phrases “do you remember when….” as photographs are sorted; “who shall we give this to……” as possessions are shared; and my favourites “why did he keep this ?” or “why on earth did he keep three toffee hammers, umpteen paperclips, bent nails, pieces of paper and Rebeccas spare leg ?”

Not an easy task but one conducted in the knowledge that he was a good Dad, and we’re doing our best to honour this.

Of course at the same time I had to prepare for Christmas, and that was a strange experience this year. Even though last year Dad was in the care home and I didn’t see him I was still able to talk to him through Andrew, but of course this year there was that empty void. It was hard and I won’t lie I shed tears and found it a struggle to even put the Christmas tree up. However I did it eventually, as it wouldn’t have been fair on Alison to have robbed her of the experience, so up it went, along with our nativity scene.

A difficult couple of days this week at Dads house as it will be over the next few weeks as Andrew and I grab a bit of time together.

Throughout this my right-hand woman in the shape of Caroline has spent time in hospital; Caroline acts as Circuit administrator and as my P.A. and she’s the one who protects my back, listens to my moaning, my wacky ideas and is generally there for me. However, because of her hospitalisation, her health has had to come first and there is much that I would have normally shared with her that I’ve deliberately kept quiet about. When she’s well enough we’ll have a good catch-up and I’ll no doubt get a right ear-bashing !  She’s a great help to me and I’ve missed her.

Finally, we stand on the edge of a New Year, 2020, with all of its surprises pleasant or otherwise, but if the Christmas season is to remind me of anything it is that of Christ incarnate. God understands our tough times, our family times, our laughter and our tears because in the Christchild lying in the manger he has been human. He knows human feelings, fears and fun. Because he has walked this earth as a human being he has understood the last few weeks when I’ve missed Dad with such an ache in my heart and he’ll be with me as I step into the new year.

And as I sit here and reflect all I can come up with is that I don’t understand why, but I know that “God is good, all the time” even at those moments I don’t realise it.