About Me

My photo
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Filling In The Blanks - The YFC Years 1

There are some days when there really is nothing to say, and there are other days when all you can think to do is blog about a visit to the dentist. I mean, how lame is THAT? Yeah, quite...

This morning it occurred to me that there might, just might be some people who would be interested in a little background of my brief musical career.

My parents were ardent classical music fans and heavily involved in music at my childhood church, which even they would probably agree was a pretty straight laced Anglican church. They tried to start my musical life on the piano but I was hopelessly unable to make both hands work independently -- those who know me can still attest to my inability to multi task -- so next they started me on the cello, which I kept at for 5 or 6 years. 

Only problem with the cello that it was very hard to carry around due to it's being so fragile (the bridge once snapped in half during a rehearsal), and frankly speaking, it was a terrible chick magnet, so as soon as I could, I picked up the electric bass.

I played for around 12 years in various worship bands, and had just returned from an 8-month spell as a youth worker in Mumbai, India when the opportunity to join Youth For Christ's itinerant schools' band TVB, arose.

I can't actually remember at this stage how it came about -- it may have been through a contact, the most likely reason -- but I remember feeling a little daunted at having to raise the $3000 personal support for the year, but it all came together.

TVB (The Vocal Band) was a band that spent maybe 8 months of the year on tour in schools and youth clubs, playing concerts, taking lessons, leading worship in churches etc. The band was -- I guess managed -- by Colin, a veteran of the Continentals singing group. Colin is now a U.S. based actor, and still a FB friend of mine whose most common phrase was "Know right now, there's no money". You get the picture. Zero budget! Anyway, Colin worked with us to get us sorted out that first year. learning the songs, figuring out just how we were going to do all this.

The music was cover versions. Christian songs with a message. The first of my 2 TVB years, the songs included hits by Michael W. Smith, Out Of The Grey, Kim Hill, Simply Red and even a Sister Act medley, I kid you not. We had about six weeks to learn the set by heart, along with how to teach school lessons, how to give your testimony, and stuff like that.

We were then pretty much unleashed on an unsuspecting nation, with a minibus for the team of ten and an equipment van -- a small poky red thing which we had to learn how to pack properly to avoid equipment damage. yes, we were our own roadies. How glamorous!

Of course, most of the learning process occurred on the road, but if I say so myself, this was a talented band, and we really sounded pretty good, especially when you bear in mind that school kids can spot a fake from a mile away. We had to be good at what we did.

During each of the two years I served, the band would spend several months at a time on the road, staying with host families, with the odd home break here and there to recharge. We also had a European tour as part of the year. year one we went to Denmark, and then later to Croatia (former Yugoslavia). 

My main memories of Denmark in January were that is was very expensive to buy anything, and absolutely FREEZING COLD (although I was taught how to drive on pack snow by a host in Copenhagen, which was pretty cool). All the school kids, and quite a lot of church priests seemed to smoke there, and we went to a pre-confirmation retreat where we were sad to discover that the kids were pretty much forced into it, and we were -- sad to say -- some of the coolest people they'd ever met: hard to believe, I know. We also stayed  in some quite horrible places (in one boarding school the kids smoked drugs and rioted while we stayed locked in what seemed to be cells in the cold). Happy days.

Croatia was just recovering from the effects of the Balkan War, and we arrived, thankfully in the spring, at quite a historic moment. More of that in the next installment!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Valium Effect

Even after 3 years here in the States some cultural things take me a little by surprise. faced with the prospect of my second crown of the year, I was joking to my hygienist during my cleaning the week before, that it would be great if I could just be knocked out for the drill-fest. To my surprise, she said that I could always have a valium.

You should understand that in the UK, that kind of thing was not -- in my time anyway -- an option. Of course you got the anaesthetic (although you had to endure the injection without the numbing gel first), but nothing else was ever offered to me.

I was actually told that at one dentist office, they show movies on dvd for people, which would have been nice, but I was told that in addition to the valium, I could bring my iPod in and they wouldn't be insulted in the slightest if I listened to that as loud as I wanted to, while they butchered my mouth.

I suppose I should explain why I opted for the valium in the first place. I am not a coward, but I do have a problem with a gag reflex, while my tongue seems to have a mind of its own and wanders all over the place, generally getting in the way! The valium would at least make this less of a problem.

Anyway, the dentist prescribed one tablet - at a cost of $1.06 - to my pharmacy, and I took the tablet one hour before my date with destiny. Needless to say I had to be driven there and back (thanks Angie & Sue) and although beforehand as I sat in my living room I felt pleasantly relaxed, I can't say that I noticed a massive difference.

Overall I am definitely glad I went for it, and "pleasantly relaxed" would be a good summary of my state throughout the whole procedure - which was just as long as the previous one, but certainly not nearly as unpleasant. I was also grateful to Keith Urban, whose latest offering kept me happily distracted while the 2 girl tag drillers did their job.

All in all, while I wouldn't exactly say I could happily go through that every day, it was for sure a lot less strenuous than the last time!!

So there you go. A mundane posting maybe, but that's my life -- or as much of my life as I'm going to talk about right now!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Will Carry You

Having recently discovered Angie Smith's wonderful "Bring The Rain" blog (see earlier postings on this blog to find out more) I have been reading her book which tells the story of Audrey in full, using excerpts from the blog at times.


It is a harrowing read.


But it is also a life affirming read. I never fail to be amazed at how Angie is able to maintain her humor through periods of extraordinary pain. At the same time, her honesty in expressing her feelings of doubt and abandonment that we all go through at some time, but because of our perceived need to appear superhuman "super-Christians" we tend to hide.


I am sure that people will experience peace and healing through Angie's words, and her frank acknowledgment that she is a work in progress. These days we need permission to struggle, to be vulnerable, to be anything less than on top of life.


How often do we look aside to people who are falling apart in front of us and thank our lucky stars that we are not as weak as they are. Truth is, we are all probably experiencing some level of turmoil, and maybe wishing we weren't going through it alone.


Anyway, back to the book. I won't sugar coat it and pretend it isn't heart wrenching, because it is. I won't promise you won't cry, because you probably will, but this is a book that NEEDED to be written both for Angie Smith's sake, and for the sake of countless unnamed others who need to be told it's okay to doubt, okay to weep and wail, okay to have a go at God.


Perhaps the most powerful thing that emerges from this story, is that a child can touch numerous lives, even if it only lives for a matter of hours. Audrey has reached and inspired more people in her 2 hours of life than maybe I have in my 46 years on this earth.


Now there's a challenge!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Take

We've been doing the beautiful song "Hosanna" by Brooke Fraser for some time now, but a friend of mine recently came across this version by the Lakewood, Houston guys, and I absolutely love it, especially the delicious guitar solo at the start. So...enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Still the President

I recently ordered a copy of President George W. Bush's new autobiography, "Decision Points", which is out today, and also caught his interview with Matt Lauer on NBC last night.

Whilst I thought the interview was maybe a bit too far-reaching for the hour available, and would have preferred to have heard GWB speak for longer on fewer subjects, I appreciate that this was effectively a book plugging interview! One thing which came over loud and clear though was the character and principled nature of the man.

Needless to say, those who oppose him will sneer at his emotional nature, his attachment to his family, and to family values, his love for his country, and his desire to to his very best for America. Those kind of values do not sit well with modern day liberals. However, those qualities that make up the 43rd President are markedly lacking from the current administration, and that would not have escaped any of them who might have deigned to watch last night.

I will be forever ashamed that I allowed media propaganda back in the UK to influence my feelings about GWB when I really had no evidence to back up my point of view. Having seen for myself a lot more of his side of the story over here, and discovered how the majority - albeit a quiet majority - still appreciate the heck out of the guy, and spoken to people (my boss included) who know him extremely well, and are in a far better position to judge his character than a legion of armchair pundits, I look forward to reading "Decision Points", and also look forward to the day when someone of his ilk will be able to steer America back to greatness.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 22 (24) The End

So here we are at the end of 21 days of 500 calorie dieting and it's been a very interesting three weeks.
I started off at the horrific weight of....*mumble mumble mumble* and now I am 28.6lbs lighter after this first round of HCG. I'll tell you immediately that I plan to do this again at the start of January, but also I am determined to keep this weight off by healthy and sensible eating (mainly!), and of course regular exercise, otherwise it'll just come back.

I'm not going to lie and say it's exactly been the most fun three weeks of my life, but it's definitely been effective, and has not had any detrimental effect on my health - in fact, I feel great. The last week has really dragged though, and I'm definitely looking forward to a bit more variety -- without upping the quantity!!

So this is my last posting on this particular topic. This blog will return henceforth to something approaching normal -- whatever that may be!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 21 (23)

Well, yesterday the people of America delivered a decisive and
irrefutable repudiation of the administration's arrogant casting aside of the will of the majority. Woe betide the administration if it does not take heed of this. 
Whilst not a landslide, this was certainly a cause for some optimism. As things stand, the GOP candidate for Oregon governor holds a slender lead. The only sad thing about this race is that whoever wins will be pro-abortion, and the cold hard fact is that Chris Dudley (R) would certainly have had more votes had he been pro-life.
Anyway, on the weight front, with one more weighing day to go, and on the last day of taking drops. the weight loss is back in the right direction. 1.2lbs lost yesterday, taking the total loss to 28.4lbs. I think the target of 30lbs might just be out of my reach, but that's okay. We'll see how we get on on this last day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 20 (22)

Something of a blip today, so I'm told. In any case, it's an annoying blip, as I somehow managed to gain 0.8 pounds yesterday. However it may have happened, I am determined that it'll be a one-off, and so for the last two days of drops I'll be increasing the dosage to four times a day.
This will not happen again.

By the way, since I am unable to vote today, and most Americans reading this today can, USE YOUR VOTE. The hope of this nation depends on it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 19 (21)

Monday - 9am: Well that was a good weekend for weight loss, with around 4 pounds disappearing into the ether. Still feeling great but looking forward to introducing a bit more variety this weekend.
The figures for yesterday: weight loss overnight 1.2lbs. Total now exactly 28lbs (or for my British friends, 2 stone exactly).
Make your Monday a good one.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 18 (20)

Football day today so I'll make it quick! Overnight weight loss was 1.8lbs and the total so far is 26.8lbs. Pretty happy with that as I'm closing in on target 30lbs with 4 days left.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 17 (19)

A day of milestones today. First, this time NEXT week will be my last day on the VLCD (500 calorie diet), so this first round of HCG will be over. Second, I started this first round 2 weeks ago weighing over 250lbs, and today I went under the 230lbs marker - hugely significant!
The overnight figures are as follows; weight loss yesterday 1.4lbs, total loss overall exactly 25lbs (or for those Brits reading this, 1 stone 11 lbs).
So there you go. have a great Saturday. next update tomorrow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 16 (18)

Friday - 8.50am
Okay we are at Friday, and to be perfectly honest I am looking forward now to introducing some more variety into things. Still, the overnight news is 1.2lbs lost, bringing the total loss so far to 23.6lbs, which definitely makes all the pain worthwhile!!
Here's to the weekend :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 15 (17)

Blustery and stormy today -- I kinda like it too. last night was a great sports evening with an excellent Game 1 of the World Series and the Blazers winning to go 2/2. Hurrah!
I got a bunch of vitamin tablets yesterday after discovering I'd misread one of my HCG "manuals" and I WAS allowed vitamin D after all, along with C, but only those two. Anyway, I've put that right and so I'm dosed up for the day and ready for whatever Thursday throws at me.
On the weight loss front, another quarter of a pound overnight, making the total after exactly two weeks to be 22.4 lbs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What money cannot buy

Be honest now, you thought with a title like that that this was going to be a really spiritual post. Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but in fact I'm talking about...basketball!

The Miami Heat showed off their new superstar-laden line up in it's first meaningful match up last night, and I have to confess to a certain grim satisfaction at their defeat, even if it was to another team I do not like, the Celtics.

During the off season, the Heat got out the check book big time to bolster their line-up so they can now join the Celtics in boasting a "Big Three" of their own - Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and, of course, LeBron.

I'll be honest, I'm no fan of buying up all the talent to make up one big "super team". I've seen it happen over the years in soccer in the UK, starting with Manchester United in the late 80s and early 90s, shopping around with check book flapping in the breeze to grab all of Europe's top players at exorbitant prices. 


They were followed in the late 90s by Chelsea, and, to a lesser extent, Arsenal. As all of those teams discovered at first, having the talent is one thing, but getting them to actually play together takes time, and unless the club owner (who let's face it tends to be impatient and want an instant return on his considerable investments) realizes this, times can be a little tough at first.


Both Chelsea and Manchester United struggled initially to make any impact with their new superstar squads, but in recent times Chelsea have emerged as a team who not only have the cream of European soccer talent, but who also have spent time getting them to function as a team.


All this to say that while I have no doubt that the Heat will in time get it together, and probably spectacularly so, it is bound to take time. Despite this however, I personally cannot help feeling that buying in ALL the talent as a principle is not something I can get behind -- which is why I equally do not like the Celtics!


Now I'm sure you'll tell me that if my Washington Wizards, or my Liverpool FC in the UK EPL were to buy up a ton of the world's top players, and then be wildly successful, I'd be singing a different tune, and while that may be partially true, I still maintain that there is a certain hollowness in victories that are achieved by buying up all the talent, opposed to developing talent from younger players or even a youth program.


I realize that some of this might sound "holier than thou" but these are my honest feelings. Buying victory to me rings hollow, and nurturing it is more honorable. Trouble with that course of action is that it takes time, and these days we don't have the time or the money to wait.


To quote the Queen song. "I want it all, and I want it now."

Day 14 (16)

Brrr! It's a chilly one today! Well overnight the weight loss was 0.6 pounds - just over half a pound, bringing the total so far to 22.2 pounds, which for anyone following in the UK is 1 stone 8 1/4 pounds. Just about a week to go, and the initial target of 30 pounds is very do-able!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 13 (15) Report

Tuesday 26th - 9.30am:
So here's the skinny (hahaha, geddit..?!) on the overnight weight loss. 0.8 pounds lost, bringing the total lost to 21.6 pounds. Not too shabby!!!
Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

HCG Day 12 (or is it 14...?)

Monday 25th - 9.15am: I'm even confusing myself here!! So this is the 12th day of the 500 calorie diet, and the 14th day since I started taking the drops. There!

After a VERY busy weekend, which saw an unforgettable worship concert by the Naz Saturday Night Band on Sunday night, the weight loss figures for yesterday are in. Loss was 1.2 pounds, making the total lost to date to be 20.8 pounds (or for those in the UK, 1 stone 6 pounds).

I suppose if I were looking for landmarks, this is the last full week I will be taking the drops. Next week I will take them up until Thursday, and then Thursday through Saturday I will continue the 500 calories but will be off the drops. This week though, it's full steam ahead!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HCG Day 11

6.20am: Again just a short post today as I have to be at church soon :-(


Loss for yesterday was just small - 0.2 pounds - but the trend continues downwards at 19.6 pounds. Very encouraging. Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 10 Report

Just the briefest of reports today cause I overslept. lost a whopping 3.6 pounds yesterday - somehow - bringing total loss to 19.4 pounds. Wow!!!


Okay, gotta run!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bring The Rain

I had to edit a large number of teaching programs before this week's Pledge Drive at theDove, and this entailed going through and listening to much of them, in order to determine where to best position the edit that would chop the program in half. The program that most impacted me this week was the Focus on the Family 2 part interview with Todd & Angie Smith. 

Todd Smith is one third of the Christian vocal group Selah. He and Angie already had three daughters when she became pregnant with a fourth, whom they had named Audrey Caroline, back in 2008. It became apparent early on that there were serious problems with the pregnancy, and Todd & Angie had to make some tough decisions.

The outcome can be followed in a blog (now a book called "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy") which has been read by hundreds of thousands of people, and which has provided comfort, inspiration and challenge to many more.
 
I was riveted by the Focus program when I listened back to it this week, and decided to investigate the blog further. It is lengthy, but also fascinating, compelling, and very emotional. The latest Selah album - "You Deliver Me" - includes as a bonus song a musical version of an open letter to Angie's daughter, written by her mommy and recorded by the group. It is a powerful, powerful song.

I could talk for hours about all this; how reading the blog and hearing the interview seemed to kick start something within me which wanted to get back to this incredible God who revealed himself through this extraordinary set of circumstances, and from whom I have been WAY too far away... 
but instead I will content myself with posting the link to the blog and encourage you - if you haven't already - to check it out, or better still, get the book. You will cry, you will laugh, you will be angry, but through all this you will see the fingerprints of God all over this story.
Take a look here


P.S. I ought to point out that on May 19th this year, Todd and Angie welcomed their daughter Charlotte Olivia into the world. God is good.

HCG Day 9

Just a quick mention that after 8 days we are looking at another 0.8 pounds loss. Total now just under 16 pounds (15.8 pounds).
Today at the office we are all walking around in something of a daze after 4 incredible days of Pledge Drive. Looking forward to the weekend, that's for sure, but I have a busy busy one ahead with multiple church commitments. Pray for me, for strength, and that I stay awake! I'll be going into work on Monday for a rest!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One week (Day 8) of HCG and the last day (Day 4) of Pledge Drive

So it's just after 5.30am and I woke of my own accord around 5. Maybe I'm too tired to actually sleep - who knows?
Anyway, after an exhausting week of pledge driving, we have our final big push today, the day when historically, most people call in. I really hope they do, because we are 100% listener supported, so we need people's support so we can keep going - that's no exaggeration. By 6pm tonight it'll be over and we'll know just how much we can do in the next 6 months.
After a slightly less exhausting week 1 of HCG, I can report that the total weight loss (after a loss overnight of 0.6 pounds) is exactly 15 pounds for the first week. Not too shabby, I think you'll agree! For those Brits reading, by the way, that is 1 stone and 1 pound.
Anyway, time to finish my cup of tea and probably go straight to work. Might as well, seeing as I have to be there by 7 anyway today. Get there early and get some work done....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 7 HCG, Day 3 Dove Pledge Drive

Well it seems that the Take That name change was just proposed, and not finalised, which is a relief - not that I'm too closely into that one, you understand!
On the weight front, day 6 saw a loss of just under a pound (0.8 of a pound to be exact - I have digital scales!), to make the total weight loss as we move into day 7 14.4 pounds. Those in the UK will recognize that as being just a fraction over a stone, which is the first big landmark. Feeling okay as well. No headaches, cravings or starving hunger, so I'm quite encouraged so far.
Right. To work!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HCG Day 6 and Pledge Drive Day 2

So apparently Take That are changing their name to "The English". Bizarre!

Okay let's cut to the chase here after a hectic Day 1 of our Pledge Drive at theDove. First time we've ever done a Monday, and at times it was lively, at times slow, but we're into Day 2 now.

As for HCG, the weight loss is slowing, but at least the trend is still down. Overnight another 1/2 pound lost, bringing the total to around 13 1/2 pounds.

More news tomorrow. Back to Pledge Driving now!

Monday, October 18, 2010

HCG Day 5 and Pledge Drive day 1

Okay, so the skinny for today (haha) is this. Weight loss overnight - 1 pound. Total for 4 days - 13 pounds.


It's Pledge Drive Day 1 today, so things are pretty insane here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

HCG and other matters

I realize it's been an age since I last posted. To be frank, I've struggled quite a bit recently with several things. The wait for news on my visa has been quite a strain, and I have sadly let myself go more than I would have liked when it comes to health, to the point where I am just not happy with what I am right now.


One thing I can do is to work on getting healthy while I wait to find out if I get to stay in the country, so I have just started the HCG diet. HCG has been very well documented online and pretty much everywhere else, so I won't go into the ins and outs of it here. 
Suffice it to say that there are many - my GP, who researched it thoroughly and then did it along with his wife - who have done, or are doing it who love it, and there are those who do not approve of it. That's fine. That's their choice. My choice is to do this diet.


Because I know there are a lot of people online who are struggling with weight issues, I don't personally feel I want to talk about HCG on networks such as Facebook, so I am going to use this blog as an update opportunity.


So, to update now. Thursday was day 1 of the 500 calorie HCG diet, and there are 23 days on the drops. On day 1 I lost 5 pounds. Day 2 I lost 4 pounds, making the total 9 pounds, and yesterday, day 3, I lost 4 pounds, making the total to date 12 pounds.



I will try and remember to update daily on here. That might be a challenge this week as we have 4 days of Pledge Drive at theDove starting tomorrow. This is a necessary but exhausting period of work, which we do twice a year to raise the funds that keep us going, since we are 100% listener supported. Basically if the money isn't donated, it doesn't happen.



I'll be the first to admit that I really don't like asking people for money, especially in these really tough financial times, but it has to be done, and so I'll be in endurance mode until Thursday night. If you have a spare moment, pray that the funds we so desperately need come in. 




Thanks, and now the football is starting. Gotta go!



Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Patriot Academy

Let me tell you about a grassroots youth conservative organization that should give all forward thinking people hope in such dark times for this nation.

Patriot Academy is a five-day political training program where students aged sixteen to twenty-five learn about America's system of government from a Biblical worldview. Each summer, young people from around the nation come to the Texas State Capitol to form a fully functioning mock legislative body, drafting legislation, debating bills and passing laws. Students participate in interactive workshops on media relations, public speaking, campaigning techniques and the Founding Fathers' philosophy of government. Current and former elected officials and experts share their personal experience in government and discuss today’s most relevant issues.
Today, Patriot Academy is the premier conservative political training camp in the nation, training young people to effectively engage in every aspect of government, whether as an elected official or an active citizen. As students are equipped to effect change for the issues that matter most to them, Patriot Academy is fulfilling its vision to raise up a new generation to lead the change in America.
 
I have blogged about my friend Breanna before, but she has just returned from Texas after a fulfilling week which I am sure will have done her nothing but good as she plays her part in trying to effect change in the United States from the grass roots upwards.
 
Lately I had begun to despair that the country was heading the same way as the United Kingdom has done in years past. As a lifelong conservative, from a family of conservatives living in an overwhelmingly conservative part of the UK, I was dismayed to see successive socialist UK governments spend their way into trouble, and although there are now signs that this may be ending with the new government showing a desire for conservative prudence, it seems that now the US is hurtling headlong into extreme debt.
 
All of us who despair at this tragic set of circumstances, not to mention the other ways in which this once great nation is being pulled downwards into mediocrity should take courage - as I have - from young people like Breanna, who are finally giving me hope for the future here. They really ARE the future at a time when at a national level, there is a marked lack of conservative unity and - dare I say - credibility.
 
Thanks to the likes of Breanna, things really could change, and Patriot Academy is giving young conservatives the opportunity to effect the kind of change we actually CAN believe in.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Celestial Storms, and the Storms of Life

Last Sunday the Sun's surface erupted, sending a wall of ionized atoms directly at the Earth in what is called a coronal mass ejection. This solar tsunami reaches the earth's atmosphere today and is causing amazing light displays -- the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights --  as the solar particles collide with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms in our atmosphere, which then glow like neon signs, with often stunning results.

Due to the ferocity of this particular eruption, the aurora, which can usually only be seen in the very northern-most parts, such as Norway and Alaska, is being seen this week (culminating tonight, according to scientists) in more southerly locations, possible as far south as Portland, Oregon and Michigan, as well as all over northern Europe. The photo above was taken last night at Lake Superior. There is even a faint possibility that some activity might be seen as far  as Southern Oregon.

So last night I went outside to see if I could see anything as I looked to the north, but without success. I'll try again tonight. However, this did all start me thinking about how something as violent as a solar eruption can lead to something so beautiful as the Northern Lights, and then to how so often God can allow what we initially think are bad things to happen to us, but with a beautiful outcome.

I don't normally like to draw parallels such as this, because in truth, I find them a bit cheesy, but in this case I felt a real strong compulsion to talk about the connection. If we are honest, we probably all can point to instances where bad things have been used by God to bring glory to His name, and a beautiful resolution.

Maybe you are in the middle of a "solar tsunami" of your own. If you are, maybe a glance at these amazing Northern Lights pictures will remind you that God is in control, and can bring beauty out of the most violent storms.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thoughts on Anne Rice

After having been asked to give my thoughts on my posting yesterday of Anne Rice's comments last week on quitting Christianity, here we go. Not a great deal to say, but for what it's worth...

My initial reaction was that Anne really doesn't have a handle on what being a Christian is. In saying "I quit being a Christian..." she is signaling her desire to no longer follow Christ, since that is what being a Christian is -- literal translation "little Christ". For someone who in the past, by her own volition has admitted to "trying" Christianity, this just demonstrates a lack of understanding of her own relationship with God and his people.

Anne's beef, it seems is with those who follow Jesus, and not with Jesus himself. That much is pretty clear from her other blog postings, and there is certainly a compelling case -- although not one with which I agree -- for turning one's back on Jesus' followers, since we have undeniably made an unholy mess of things for centuries.

Anne's confusion is compounded by her later admittance that she doesn't want to be a part of "..such a quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group." Sounds like Christian denominations to me.

So what I want to do here is focus less on what Anne has said, because she is clearly confused and somewhat ignorant of the true nature of what it is to follow Christ. I would rather want to address what we do with the denominations and factions into which Christianity has fallen, and with whom I often share Rice's annoyance, embarrassment and frustration.

The key here is that I AM A PART OF IT. I cannot sit back and blame everyone else for making the same assumptions and pronouncements that I myself have made in the past, and continue to make. We are ALL part of a flawed group of people. What is important is that we recognize this and attempt to do something about it.

Nobody in their right mind would dispute that Christians have got it wrong -- horribly wrong -- over the past many centuries, but our challenge is to try and be better followers of Jesus and to mirror him as much as we can; to be the "little Christs" that our title defines us as.

On a side note, it is very hard to be a Christian by yourself, in isolation from everyone else. The Bible is clear that this is unwise, and therefore it is important to work your way through your life as a Christian in the company of other beginners.

It seems that Anne Rice has chosen to go it alone, and I for one hope that she doesn't become even more confused in her isolation.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anne Rice Quits Christianity

Author Anne Rice posted the following 3 statements on her Facebook page last week. I would be interested to hear your comments...

“For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said [earlier], I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The World Cup of Amateur Dramatics

So the 2010 FIFA World Cup (of soccer, for those who are unaware) is over for another 4 years. It was quite eye opening watching it for the first time in the USA, where it was viewed with a certain amount of interest, but also a little skepticism.

For me personally it was interesting to be able to watch a month of soccer (I'm going to call it that throughout this post, so as not to confuse it with what Americans call football) given that I have watched far more football, basketball and baseball over the last 3 years.

I think the main problems the Americans have with International soccer are very understandable. The lack of technology to help correct decisions to be made is baffling even to most Brits, and the excuse that FIFA gives of preferring to keep the "human" element in the game because it is a tradition, is becoming lamer and lamer.

I think the main frustration I have, and one which is shared by my American friends is the diving, the time wasting and the conning of referees that has become a part of the game - apparently accepted in recent years. Except that it is not a recent development. The Brazilians were the target of constant fouling back in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

There was also a legendary confrontation between Argentinian skipper Antonio Rattin and German referee Rudolf Kreitlin in the 1966 England World Cup Finals, when the Argentinian was sent off but refused to leave the field for a long time. The Uruguayans have long held a reputation as persistent foulers.

The problem is that these things have been ALLOWED to become a part of the game to the extent that they now appear accepted, and it is far too late to be able to do anything about it, since they have become a part of the game even at grass roots level.

All this left me very disillusioned as I watched this year's World Cup Finals, because I realized that I now preferred football (American, remember) to the game I was brought up with for over 40 years of my life. Football is by comparison a much more honest game, and although a lot longer and punctuated by clock stopping, it is a TOTAL SPECTACLE, and as such, a blast to watch.

I cannot wait for the new football season to start, but the thought of watching soccer sadly leaves me pretty ambivalent (and this has nothing to do with the currently miserable state of Liverpool FC).

I have long been calling for a running clock to be stopped in soccer every time the ball goes out of play. I know that would lengthen the game, but it would also eliminate the vast majority of the time wasting techniques, such as fake injuries and "tactical substitutions" that plague the game now. Of course it would not cut out ALL time wasting, but I do believe that 90% could be stopped with a running, and stopping clock. The purists will hate it but sooner or later something will have to be done to maintain the credibility and high profile worldwide of soccer.

Sorry to get political, but...

I pretty much vowed I would avoid politically tinged postings when I started this blog, but I am a little concerned at two rather worrying traits I am observing in Christians both in this country and elsewhere.

Perhaps it is true to say that for some years now, Christians and the Christian church have been viewed as being somewhat naive when it comes to what is going on in the world around us, perhaps worryingly so. Jesus charges us in Matthew 10 verse 16 to be "as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves" [NLT] because we Christians are "...sheep among wolves." It is imperative that we are as informed as we can possibly be so that we are not devoured by the wolves that are more and more prevalent today.

The second thing I have observed is an apparent fatalism among some Christians in the USA who take the attitude that the downfall of the country (and by association all that the current administration is bringing to pass) is inevitable and willed or planned by God, and therefore there is no point in getting in the way of this (and by inference, doing anything about it.)

 I see nothing in my Bible to support this approach. Indeed God has given us free will so that we can actually do something to change what we see happening around us. If God wanted us to sit back and do nothing, there would have been no point in having free will, since it would be useless.

Without wanting to point the finger too much, I have to say that this fatalism I see around me smacks of laziness. After all, how much easier is it to do nothing about the current political and spiritual climate, than it is to get involved and get your hands dirty? How much easier is it to stay silent on the issues than it is to speak up?

We have a responsibility to try and win back this world for God. In Micah 6 verse 8 God charges us to "..do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

We have to get our hands dirty.

Okay, no more political pronouncements, I promise. Rant over.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nicki Rogers

My musical friend Nicki Rogers asked me the other day to provide a quote for some new PR stuff she was doing, and I duly delivered a paragraph shortly afterwards. However, after doing that I carried on thinking about one of my favourite artists in the UK, and so I decided to blog a little more about Nic.

I first encountered Nicki back in the late 90s when her band (Shine) supported my band (Audacity) at the Spring Harvest conference (almost certainly) in Skegness, England. I can't help but throw that in as a piece of one-upmanship!! Shine was a pop/dance all-girl band, and after meeting and interviewing them for UCB Radio several times I was left with more than a sneaking feeling that there was much more musicially to Nicki than what she was doing at the time.

Nicki describes herself on her Facebook page - among other things - as someone who is unhinged, laughs and is red, and she is right. Add to that accident prone and "not afraid to poke fun at herself" and you have a pretty good picture of the artist. I mean, anyone who calls their second album "Feeder Lane", which is a reference to Nicki's penchant for driving...erm..."difficulties", is okay with me.

The thing about Nicki, to excuse my use of cliche, is that what you see really is what you get. She has one of those quintessentially English voices, and the way she writes reinforces that. A song such as "Good Lord" from her debut record 'Colour Scheme' is a good example. I think I once described her as a British Sheryl Crow, and by that I mean not just musical references, but the kind of instrumentation used. Just listen to "Something of a Miracle" from Nicki's second album 'Feeder Lane' and you'll see what I mean.

Nicki is an accomplished piano player and pretty useful on the guitar - which of course has a name! Her choice of collaborating producers and musicians has always been very sensible, and the likes of Andy Harsant, Dan Wheeler and Graeme Duffin helping to develop the sound, but never in a direction that takes away from the music.

I also like the fact that Nicki has devoted a lot of time to touring on behalf of charities such as Toybox. You get the impression that she is never going to consider herself "too big" to do anything, and actually on those more intimate tours she always seems to be totally at home and is able to charm an audience within seconds, usually with some story of clumsiness or something related to that!

A few years back I was part of a gig with the wonderful Carl McGregor and friends, and got the opportunity to play as part of Nicki's backup band. I can't remember what song it was - although the guitar was there - but I do recall thinking how lucky I was to be doing this. You'd think I'd remember it better, but there you go.

Anyway, ALL of which to say that yes, Nicki Rogers really is a British national treasure, as I once said in an album review. She'll never agree with that, and it's a measure of her God-centered nature that it's not an issue for her, but I would say if you get a chance to hear any of her 3 albums, especially the latest one "Once In A While", they'd be well worth a listen.

Nicki Rogers: hilarity is never far away!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4th of July Wedding

I was at a wedding over the weekend. Those who know me will be aware that I am not the greatest fan of going to weddings, so when I like and enjoy one, it HAS to be good. Such was the case with Jaci & Josh's wedding.

I should say from the outset that this was a Christian and God-centered wedding, but at the same time it did not follow the traditional wedding service format. Having said that however, at no time did I feel that this was anything but a Godly occasion.

I'd not been to a full-on outdoor wedding (that I can remember) before, and the setting in the shade at Applegate River Lodge on a sunny, but not too hot July 4th was about as perfect as it could be.

The service contained the essentials, but was at the same time tailored to the tastes and personalities of the bride & groom, and it got me thinking that really that is the way all weddings ought to be. As long as they contain the legal essentials, the rest of the ceremony is up to the couple, and to include a time when the bride and groom prayed together while the PA played Sufjan Stevens' sublime reading of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" was a lovely touch.

I'm all for informality, and this wedding was a great example of just the right level of the formal and the informal. Sometimes at weddings you just get this sense of starchiness and having to be on your best behaviour all the time, but Jaci & Josh successfully managed to keep things light, fun, yet still God centred.

All in all, a great day. Thank you to Jaci & Josh for the invite, and I wish you every happiness and blessing in your life together.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stepping off the edge of the world.

I was at a birthday party last night in an amazing house perched up on the hills overlooking the city. My first thought on arriving was "This is heaven!". It was the kind of place and the kind of setting that, were I to live in such a place, I would seriously find it very hard to leave....at all.

What impressed me most though was that the owners were totally normal, down-to-earth people. In fact, many people I have gotten to know here in the States who might be considered to own what we in the UK might refer to as "luxury homes" are equally down to earth, and feel very much that what's theirs belongs to everybody.

This reminds me of my friends the Harpurs who live in Northern Ireland, and who were the people I met and stayed with when I first visited the Province back in the 80s. They then had a large house and had been wrestling with the whole question of whether it was too large, and whether they should downsize.

They came to the conclusion - and I agreed with them - that a house that big could  and should be a blessing to others. That it could be used, for example, for gatherings of youth groups and other fellowships, where other venues might just be too small. And that's exactly what they did. And it was a blessing. To many. And to them also.

God gifts us all in unique ways. It might be an ability, it might be a quality, or it might be a possession. What matters is not that you have it, it's what you do with it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sowing into the Future


Our church has just come to the end of it's Summer VBS and as ever I am in awe of those who give everything they have, and then a little bit more, to sow priceless things into the lives of the kids in their care.

Time after time this week I have seen people who have already put in a full day's work come into church with a smile on their faces and throw themselves 110% into making Jesus real and relevant to these youngsters with no thought of themselves and their own tiredness.

The ultimate reward I guess is seeing dozens of kids on their knees before the father, and the sheer joy and abandon of children worshiping, and this has been very evident all week.

To those who prepared the church, and those who sacrificed time and energy, my words are meaningless, but all I can do is offer my admiration and my assurance that, according to Isaiah 55:10-11:

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,  and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dissatisfied

I'm wondering whether it is okay to be dissatisfied with life. On the one hand it's good to never rest on your laurels and strive for better things, but allied to that I just have this indefinable feeling that life is incomplete.

On Father's Day, I guess inevitably, my thoughts turn to my dad, and I can't help but notice that by the time he had reached my age, he had his own house, and was married with 2 kids in their teens, one of them about to leave home for university.

Now I know that comparisons are not always helpful, but when I look at what I have actually "achieved" in life, I can't help but think that it is not very much. I mean, what have you got to show for your time on earth? When I ask myself the same question it is very hard to think of anything at all.

Maybe it's just today and I'm being too introspective, but despite the obvious fact that this life is just a passing phase leading to eternity with God, it would still be really nice to make some kind of mark. From a purely earthly point of view however, I just feel I have nothing to show for 46 years on earth.

Anyone else ever feel the same or is it just me thinking too deeply...?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ahead of Father's Day....

I bring you this from Douglas MacArthur:


Build me a son, O Lord,
Who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
And brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;
One who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
And humble and gentle in victory.
 
Build me a son whose wishbone will not
Be where his backbone should be;
A son who will know Thee- and that
To know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.
 
Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort,
But under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm;
Here, let him learn compassion for those who fall.
 
Build me a son whose heart will be clear,
Whose goals will be high;
A son who will master himself
Before he seeks to master other men.
 
Build me a son who will
Learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;
One who will reach into the future,
Yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray,
Enough of a sense of humor,
So that he may always be serious,
Yet never take himself too seriously.
 
Give him humility, so that he may always remember
The simplicity of true greatness,
The open mind of true wisdom,
The meekness of true strength.
Then I, his father, will dare to whisper,
“I have not lived in vain.”
 


 


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In case you were wondering....

I really don't have anything to say at the moment.......

Monday, June 7, 2010

Graduation

My friend Breanna graduated from high school this weekend, as did a number of our church young people, with more to follow next weekend. This was the first time I had really been close to a graduation, and as I've already hinted on Facebook, it has been a really life-affirming experience.

In the UK the only graduations are for finishing college - which I did not do - so I never actually graduated, at least, not with any sense of having done so. Plus going to an all-boys high school means that I really have no happy high school memories. Elementary School - yes. Many happy memories!

I love the fact that in this country there are graduation ceremonies going all the way back to Kindergarten, but for me, what makes the high school graduation special is that it draws a line under a pivotal era in a person's life, and marks the beginning of a new stage in life's journey. I think we need life's signposts like this and just by looking at the faces of the young people and their families, it was obvious how much this meant to them all.

I guess over this weekend I've not only found myself wishing I could get back some of that long lost youth, but also feeling a great deal of pride in the young people, many of whom I do not know, who I saw resplendent in their caps and gowns, and for whom the future is an exciting vista of opportunity. I also felt a renewed sense of gratitude for the family I have here in the US, and also renewed admiration for schools like Cascade Christian High School, a school which I would have given anything to go to in my era.

Finally, to Breanna, Mason, Evan and all those others (yes, even Scott, graduating from college), I say congratulations and send my love. Enjoy the ride, guys!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Favourite Things

Since I started blogging in earnest some time back it has been interesting that people who thought they knew me pretty well have told me that they keep learning new things about me. I think that's pretty cool, but I decided to give you the "speed learning" guide to me favourite things (hence Julie over there) so that you get a chance to learn a bit more about me. After all, I am a many layered being, I am complex, I am paradoxical, I am mysterious, I am profound, I am waffling!

So...yeah, I thought I'd give you a list - by no means exhaustive - of my favourite things, or possibly places, we'll see. I haven't given this any pre-thought to speak of, so I'm just as interested as you are to see what emerges. So, in no particular order:-

Grace
I blogged about this recently, so I don't need to say too much aside from that this is my favourite word. It is the reason we are all here. "For by grace we have been saved..." - Gloria a Dios.

India
Again, the subject of a recent blog here so no surprises there. A huge, sprawling, beautiful, impoverished, proud, friendly, heart-wrenching, mad country that is full of surprises around every corner. I'd go back any time.

Indian Food
Not to be confused with the food eaten in India. This is a common misconception. The only place you will find the food we know as Indian will be in a 5 star hotel restaurant. I experienced some in both Mumbai and Chennai (then known as Madras) and it was delicious, but due to the abject poverty of the majority of Indian people, meat is very hard to come by, and what meat there is is stringy and frankly disgusting. What most people (myself included when I lived there) end up doing is going veggie, since it tastes better.
In the UK (and at the Taj in Ashland, among other restaurants over here, which include an amazing place in LA I was at last year) the curry is rich, full of flavour - NOT hot unless you want it to be, and utterly delicious and I really could eat it every day (except I'd have no friends and very dodgy insides!).
One other thing I would like to mention here is a wonderful drink called lassi, which is a blend of yogurt, milk and ice. You can drink it sweet or salty and it is quite wondrous. I have introduced it to several people here when it's on the menu at Indian restaurants and they love it too.

Audrey Hepburn
Generally speaking, there really aren't too many classy actresses around these days, and certainly none who could  hold a candle to Audrey. She was a goddess before goddesses had been invented.

Starlit nights and wild beaches and oceans
Again, a recent blog subject so not much to say on that except that if I could live at the beach I would as it is one of those places that brings me closest to God.

Connecting with God in Worship
Worship should be an amazing experience. That it often is not perhaps says more about our lifestyle than it does about God, but He is always there, wanting to meet with us, and on those occasions when I get a glimpse of Him, there is no feeling like it on earth. In fact that is literally true. You pretty much leave the earth and enter into a whole new place with God (I hope this isn't sounding too "New Age" or eastern mysticism, because it's not meant to be. It's just very hard to describe those moments when God breaks in.)
Sadly, God tends to be "scheduled out" of our worship times in order that our programs run on time, and being the polite God that He is, he's not about to disturb us. However, I do feel we are missing out (colossal understatement!).
There have been numerous occasions where I have felt the presence of God tangibly, and it makes me yearn for that every single day. Trouble is, I don't make enough effort to seek Him out, so it's my loss. I can remember occasions in the UK when leading worship when God just took over and left me virtually speechless. At the Spring Harvest conference some years back, opportunities to lead worship with the likes of Don Moen, Graham Kendrick, Robin Mark and an incredible worship leader called Geraldine Latty (who was all about preparing yourself to worship so you could help usher in the presence of God) were unforgettable. One time I got the chance to lead a short time of worship in the 5,000 seater Big Top before a morning bible study, and as we sang Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few" which is still one of my absolute favourite songs, something overwhelming happened. It was powerful and I'll always remember it.

Music
A no-brainer really, but my parents are/were both musical and it was always around the house. I go to sleep with it on and it's virtually always on in the car. I have perfect pitch so I can remember entire songs easily. I also write internally. Music is a great way to express yourself, and one of the best ways of communicating with God. My musical tastes are ridiculously wide, from CCM through pop, rock, country, funk and fusion, to classical and even medieval. My #1 favourite for many years has been U2. I don't really care what you think about them, I love them and have done ever since I first heard them in 1982. I've seen them live many times in the UK, and at the Rose Bowl last October (DVD from that show out June 3rd!) and am going to see them again in Seattle on June 20th. So there!

Friends
Far too many to list but I am so blessed to have so many great friends both here and back in the UK. If I had to single out favourite people aside from my family, it would be Ben & Lauren (who I blogged about recently) and my favourite twins, Maisy & Maddie

Football
Not talking soccer here. No, I'm talking FOOTBALL. I've loved watching it for years and despite the heartache of being a Redskins fan I can't wait for another season!

Books
I have this weird thing about books. I love them, but I rarely have time to read them. I particularly love biographies but I've got around 2 dozen waiting to be read - and that's no exaggeration, I counted them once!!

Wine
I'm no wino, but I am partial to the odd Red or Rose! 

Chick Flicks
Okay, so I get a LOT of hassle for this, but my take on it is that I'm a romantic at heart, and I'm a sucker for a good love story. If I go to a movie I want to be entertained, and for me that's to laugh or to cry. I don't want to go there and be scared out of my wits, or depressed. Let's face it, you can get that anywhere! So a good chick flick does the job for me. Comedies are great too, of course.
Recommendations? Bella, Last Chance Harvey, Elizabethtown, The Notebook, Sleepless In Seattle (obv), Edward Scissorhands, and then other movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Bourne Trilogy and both the Elizabeth movies. Okay?

Bass Guitars
Technically they are called electric basses, but who really gives a hoot?! I brought both my babies over here to the US with me. I won't bore you with too much technical stuff, but my #2 guitar is a cherry red Ibanez Soundgear 5 string, bought at Valley Arts Guitar in Studio City CA back in 1991. I love that bass and am very attached to it. However my #1 baby is my Overwater Custom/Soundgear neck 5-stringer. made by a custom guitar builder in the UK with a body modeled on the Tobias, it's fitted with EMG pick ups and is the sweetest sounding guitar I've ever played and ever want to play. best tone ever.

Swimming
I learned to swim at a comparatively late age - I think I was 14 - but I totally love it. I could literally spend all day swimming (which wouldn't work too well with eating curry every day, but...whatever..) and I wish I had my own personal pool.

The Colour Black
I just like it because it's slimming, and nice and simple. Bad news in hot weather though!

Tea
What can I say? I'm a Brit!! Tea is the BEST. I've tried coffee and I can drink it, but give me a choice and it's English Breakfast - or possibly Darjeeling - all the way baby!

So I think that'll just about do it for now. I'm sure there's more, but that gives you more of an insight into me. If I do happen to think of more, I suppose there will just have to be a part 2, now won't there?! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wine Tasting

I like wine. Not in the Alan Partridge way (sorry, in joke for Brits who've seen that show!), but I like it. Last night I went to a wine tasting at my friends Marna & Rachel's place. It was a lot of fun, however I did learn something in the process. More about me than the wine - although I did discover that after you swish wine in the glass the streams that come down the glass are called "legs".

No, what I learned about myself is pretty simple. When it comes to wine I know what I like and I know what I don't like, but beyond that I'm pretty clueless, and I'm okay with that.  Whereas some people seem to be able to distinguish various smells and tastes from each other, and some may even be able to detect a particularly "woody" aroma or a "fruity" bouquet, I was unable to do any of that. Couldn't notice any difference in smell, couldn't distinguish tastes apart from ones I like or dislike. But that I could do.

Of the 5 wines, 3 were not so great and the other 2 were good, but at $18 a pop I wasn't going there. Only a very special person gets wine for more than $10 a bottle (remember that). I wasn't about to pretend I knew any more than I do, and I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who can detect different smells and subtleties of taste. Plus I am totally fine with not being able to do that. Heck, it's all about drinking and enjoying it anyway!

So for future reference, I like medium-sweet roses and reds. Simple as that. Salut!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pet Sounds

Some may consider this a lazy posting, but I was going through the CDs in my car - of which there are far too many - and I thought I'd tell you a few of them. It all helps in the "getting to know me" process. I think you can always tell a musician by the variety of music in the car, so here goes. As of this evening, among others, you would find....

Kari Jobe ~ great worship, and soothing for traffic snarl ups
Keith Urban mix ~ you just can't go wrong with Keith. Great writing and irresistible tunes.
U2 360 Degrees live from Wembley Stadium, London. Taped from UK radio by my brother. Great reminder of the Rose Bowl show I saw last October.
Journey's Greatest Hits ~ Come on! You have to admit it's great driving music!!
Cloudchase - That's Love ~ They only made one CD but I love it. Again, great driving music.
Delirious Hits ~ My absolute favourite worship band of all time. 'Nuff said.
Various Jesus Culture CDs ~ Energetic and passionate praise & worship music.
Family Force 5 mix ~ Turn it up LOUD!!!!
Led Zeppelin various CDs ~ ditto
Lincoln Brewster mix ~ Second favourite worship band/person

The list goes on and on but there's a few highlights. Maybe that tells you more about me....or then again, maybe not.
So...what's in YOUR car stereo?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bring Him Your Needs

I love it when friends are able to share wisdom and words into particular situations. That is the body of Christ at work. I was given this piece, originally written by Canadian preacher, theologian and author A.B. Simpson, and I'm reproducing it here simply because it is THAT GOOD and I am sure that besides me it will speak to someone reading it.

"Do you find yourself at this very moment surrounded with needs, and nearly overwhelmed with difficulties, trials and emergencies? Each of these is God's way of providing vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill. If you correctly understand their meaning, you will see them as opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverance you can receive in no other way.
The Lord is saying to you, "Bring them here to me". Firmly hold the vessels before Him, in faith and prayer. Remain still before Him, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He Himself has not commanded you to do. Allow God time to work and He surely will. Then the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster will become God's opportunity to reveal His grace and glory in your life, in ways you have never known before.
'Bring all your needs here to me'."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sanctuary

It is almost a year since I was last at the ocean. I'm craving it again. I find God in a starlit night sky and in the ocean and everything about it. Always have done.

When my mom was here from England last year, we went over to Brookings for the day and the sense of equilibrium and well being from just being by that huge expanse of water was overwhelming.

The year before that I spent 3-4 days with my dear friends Jeff and Cheri and their kids at Pacific Beach, near Aberdeen WA in the most gorgeous house next to THE most amazing beach. You might think I am exaggerating, but it was the closest thing to heaven I'd seen in ages.

Be honest now, how often can you truthfully say that you are able to "Be still and know that (He is) God". The journey that life inevitably drags you on is relentless, and catches you up in it's allure and it's perpetual motion. It isn't until you reach the point of no further passage that you have to pause and take stock, and when you get to the ocean, that's where life - temporarily at least - ends.

Psalm 62 verse 1 says "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." May you find rest for your soul wherever it is that God chooses to provide it. But may you seek it too, because if you don't, you will never stop running.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lauren

People often ask me if I miss being back in the UK, and if so, what I miss most. Family is a given, and obviously comes first but otherwise I would say stuff like Fish & Chip Shops, Curry and Kebab houses and watching rugby and soccer on TV. Oh and of course the Eurovision Song Contest (ask me....). However, those all come second to good friends and of all my beloved friends in the UK (and there are many) the ones I miss the most are Mike & Cherry and their kids (well, they used to be!) Ben and Lauren.

I've known Mike and Cherry since I was maybe 16 or 17 (and Happy Birthday Cherry, while I'm on this!). We just hit it off. In fact I knew Mike before Cherry appeared on the scene as I used to hang out with his family. Together we shared a love of the absurd in life; the movie Airplane, Bryn Haworth, Guinness, canals, Guy Rope & the Tentpegs, The World's Worst Record, and of course, kitchen tables.

When Cherry came onto the scene, she fit in perfectly and after she and Mike married I'd hang with them a lot. We'd watch all kinds of TV (Eurovision and Hustle spring to mind instantly), drink wine or Guinness and talk about pretty much anything.

The great thing about both Mike & Cherry's kids is that I have known them since they were around a day old. For both Ben and Lauren I held them that early and because of that I think we've developed a special bond. Over the years as they've grown older the bond between us has never loosened and to me they are as close to family as you can get.

I should add that both kids avoided the "difficult" teen years when young people can easily become bolshie and monosyllabic. Both have - so far as I can tell - remained outgoing and fun people, and never rude or awkward. I have to put that down as much to good parenting as anything else.

I guess what I'm doing here is something I have not done before, and that is to acknowledge them as probably my best friends, period, pay tribute to them for their friendship, support and prayers over the years, say thank you for the honour of being part of the family for so long, and tell them how much I miss them.

Incredibly, Ben was 20 this year, which blows me away. He's turned into a highly resourceful, loyal, ridiculously clever guy who I wish I had spent more time with. I have to say I have a soft spot for Laurie. Always have. She's always been cute as a button and hysterically funny. Without taking anything away from the rest of the family I think I miss Laurie the most. She was (and I still cannot believe this) 16 recently, and as you can see from the picture, she's a total heart breaker! What's more is that, like Ben, she's just the same person that she was - except she knows more words now and her music tastes are hard to keep up with. It breaks my heart to have missed her growing teen years - she was 13 when I left the UK.

So there you go, that's what I miss most. I had no idea when I started this post that this was all going to come out! And please don't misinterpret this as homesickness. It isn't. Just to say that I love talking on Facebook with Laurie and by email with the family. I'm just sorry I'm so bad at staying in touch  with them.

The family will probably be rather embarrassed by all this attention, but frankly I don't care. I love them; I miss them more than words could ever say, and I can't wait to see them again someday. I just hope they'll remember me!!