Thursday, 24 December 2009

a meaningful ministry... and the best is yet to come!

It wasn’t NewDay (that would start the following summer), but it was a New Frontiers summer youth camping event, with a schedule of worship and preaching and seminars and all the usual stuff. Except that this was the first year I’d been sidelined.

For well over a decade I’d been involved not only with local youth events in my church, but also with national youth events through the various Bible Weeks and the two very special events at Plumpton Racecourse in 1989 and 1990.

this year, despite making my availability very clearly (and pointedly) known to the chap in charge of recruiting the teaching team, I discovered I was surplus to requirements. I was no longer flavour of the month and was clearly too advanced in years to be a part of this. I sat down with the programme magazine, and flicked idly through, wondering what they should have asked me to do… when, gently, kindly, but very firmly, God asked ‘Why do they need you?’

I looked again at the list of familiar names: Joel Virgo below (leading the team) and Phil Wilthew were (among others) featured speakers, while Tom Foster & Keith Gamon were part of the list of characters speaking at seminars. All of them had been part of the youth group where I had faithfully ministered. As I read, I began to weep at my own self-centred foolishness, and God gently (no need to be firm, this time) said ‘Remember what you asked me to do?’

Years before, when I became involved in youth work with the 11-14s at Clarendon Church, I prayed ‘Lord, if I have anything to pass on to these youngsters, help me to do it well. And when I have passed on the baton, let them run ahead of me and do things for you that I could not ever do…’ And I realised that this was exactly what had happened.

A baton had been passed, and now these chaps were running on, most of them elders in their churches, each of them dynamic for God in a way I had tried to be yet able to have a po
werful ministry in more locations and with different skills and using a range of gifts…

I am prompted to consider again the way God has answered my prayer. Each of these characters were part of the Dunamis youth group as youngsters (many of them were members of my PowerCell)

Joel Virgo - now lead elder in Brighton
Matt Sweetman above right – lead elder in Chicago
Keith Gamon – lead elder in Macclesfield
Phil Wilthew – elder in Newcastle
Steve Boon – elder at CCK
Simon Virgo left – lead elder at Kingston
Anna van Rhyn – married to lead elder, Capetown SA

And then I worked alongside some pretty stellar characters, too:
Alan Rose right– elder in York
Tal Fahy – leadership team in Brighton
and of course,
Russ Lowman – leadership team here in

That’s one of the many advantages of having a little bit of track record... These people are trophies – not for any glass cabinet or hall of fame which reflects upon me, but precious gifts for me to offer to the Lord Jesus when I meet him face to face. Obviously I’m not solely responsible for how well they have done (and most decidedly not for their mistakes!) but I have played my part here for the sake of the Church and for Jesus’ sake.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Much more than that!

The Scriptures employ a wide range of pictures to help us grasp the many facets of our relationship with God. If you consider them in a sort of ascending order, there is a noticeable and utterly breathtaking progression.

Formerly, of course, we were enemies of God, subject to judgement and condemnation. We were dismissive of God or outwardly rebellious; yet he has wooed us, won us, drawn us, called us and saved us. We were running way from him; but in his love he revealed himself to us, encouraged us to turn around and run towards him (repentance) and has changed our hearts so that instead of resisting him, we yield to him. From our former state we have been raised from one degree of glory to another.

We are the clay and he is the Potter. We start out as little more than a clod of earth; perhaps distinctive in colour and texture, and with some potential, but without much glory or use. His loving, creative hands shape us, mould us, form something beautiful and worthwhile from an otherwise unpromising lump. He puts form and character into our random rawness. The firing process purifies us and we end up as a vessel into which he will joyfully pour his Spirit, to the point of overflowing, and will continue to do so. And from within this vessel of clay come streams of living water, an outflowing of refreshing for the world.

Moving up a notch, we are the sheep and he is the Shepherd, which is a little better position on the food chain but hardly flattering; sheep don’t have a reputation as the most graceful and intelligent creatures in the world. However, it has to said that sheep work well as a team, knowing how to follow their master, and serve a valuable function for society in terms of wool for clothing and blankets, milk and later meat for nourishment and with a helpful lawnmoving service thrown in. Yet he cares for us, watches over us, counts us out of the fold and back in again. He knows us by name, will protect us from enemies such as thieves and wolves, will lay down his life for us. He will seek us out and rescue us when we go astray, bringing us home with great rejoicing.

Moving upward, we are the servants of the Master, which at least lets us into the house, even if we have to wipe our feet, watch our manners, and not talk too much. We have the dignity of belonging to the household, of work and of serving a just and honest Master. Our tasks may be lowly, but we know the Master is concerned to keep us healthy; he does not beat us into submission but deserves our respect by his faithfulness to us.

Are you content to be a servant? The ladder of metaphors is about to make a swift ascent.

God also calls us his children and calls himself our heavenly Father, which brings us into the privileged possibility of real emotional closeness — love is not one of the things a drinking vessel or chamber pot and its craftsman share together, nor does a sheep truly know the heart of the shepherd, though it may enjoy the fruits of his kindness a servant may be granted access to the home, but a child truly belongs. A Father loves and protects and trains and seeks the best for his children; a Father gives good gifts, nurtures, teaches and disciplines his little ones. He gathers them around him and tells them his secrets and shares family life with them, communicating to them that they belong and are valuable. So precious. And provides an inheritance of more riches than they can imagine. He would shed his blood for his own. Still, there is something more than even the best parent-child relationship.

Friendship levels the playing field in a way family never can, at least not until the kids have grown up; perhaps not until they have attained adulthood themselves. Friendship opens a level of communion that a five-year-old can’t know with his mother and father. Friendship speaks of two-way flow, mutual trust and support, honour and esteem. There may still be elements of discipleship, and there will certainly be a pooling of strengths and weaknesses, with one providing assistance to the other. In this friendship, the support and help always flows from God, but he esteems us as friends, granting us the honour of that title. We were once enemies of God, rebelling or careless about him; now we are friends.

Do you rejoice in eing a friend of God? While this is completely amazing, there is san even higher and deeper level of intimacy and partnership awaiting us at the top of this metaphorical ascent.

We are lovers. The courtship began with a honeymoon in the Garden. It deteriorated into disaster and unfaithfulness for a long time but has culminated in the wedding feast of the Lamb. ‘I will take delight in you,’ he says to us, ‘as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will I rejoice over you.’ This is so that we might say in return, ‘I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me; his banner over me is love.’ The ultimate level of closeness and intimacy (considering we were once enemies of God) is reflected in this title. Let us not be dismissive of the role of the Church as the Bride of Christ, but rejoice greatly that we are to be comforted, caressed, protected, loved, esteemed, honoured, welcomed, sought after and nurtured as a bridegroom with his wife. How glorious is that! And it's the first time that the phrase so often used of newlyweds is actually appropriate: they live happily ever after.

Judge/enemy - Ephesians 2:3
Potter/clay - Jeremiah 18:3-6
Shepherd/sheep - Psalm 23:1
Master/servant - John 13:14
Father/son - John 1:12
Friend/friend - John 15:14
Lover/lover - Song of Solomon 7:10

I enjoy the process of reviewing; here's the latest post on my website - the excellent new album from my dear friends Phatfish.

In Jesus
It is with great anticipation that I place the new Phatfish CD in the tray and press the correct button. But what’s this? Robert Palmer? Eric Satie?

Ah, I’m getting ahead of myself.

What we have here is a new release from a new line-up, having added two guitarists, a brother-in-law and two sister-in-law’s brother-in-law to the band. Confused? Now read on. So here I am expecting a flashback to the days of Alan Rose, with a lovely raw Les Paul rasp, plus the twang of Telecaster to help fill in any gaps. I’m also expecting Lou’s quality vocals, the best rhythm section in Christendom, Hammond pyrotechnics and class poetry to transport my soul toward the throne of God. Did I get my money’s worth?

Darkness into Light
The cover is clean and simple, with a stage lighting motif, (close-ups of par-cans) which is
thematically sprinkled throughout by the crisp design of Jules Burt. God is the light in the darkness, which perhaps inspired her design. An inlay card pic of the band in a boozer, obviously waiting for their drinks order to arrive, shows all the boys in subdued dimness, but Lou sympathetically illumined, which is one way of looking at them.

The title track and opener combines Addicted to Love with Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much, but not in a crossover Country ‘n’ Western way. (And not in a way that makes me consider the men in the band doing that knee-waggling dance, either.) But the gusty power chords and B3 provide a instant hook for the content-packed lyric that Nathan’s songs always deliver. Great to hear the angry wasp solo guitar sound again (oh, how I’ve missed it!). It’s a song that will run and run, becoming a loved anthem for big crowds.

Whoops - I did it again
By contrast Who is like the Lord our God may catch a few congregations out, with the inclusion of a few surprise 2/4 bars, which means the lyrics come in a breath or two before you expect them. This gives the song a measure (half-measure, if you’re a yank) of urgency, and demonstrates the signature Phatfish grown-up approach to music, not settling for the easy listening middle ground beloved of so many also-ran worship-song writers, but prepared to give room for something a little inventive or unsettling. Lou’s double-tracked chorus vocals send me misty-eyed as I recognised a sound I love and will listen to for a long, long time.

But then something rather unexpected begins to happen. It’s positive, so, so welcome, almost forgotten and really very skilful. More of this later.

Lou’s close mike technique, clarity of diction and superb breath control are to the fore in Come to Jesus, a simple but powerful declaration of Christ’s ability and desire to be at the centre of our lives. The rhymes in verse two are much more satisfying to my ears (secure/poor/cure/more) and the middle eight is a magnificent piece of work, deserving perhaps of more development, restatement etc.

The good, surprising thing continues, quite splendidly.

Stairway to Heaven
Mission starts with a Led Zep-esque lick, drawing us into a song of grand scale and purpose. Big bee-vees turn up in the chorus, which is reminiscent of There is a Day, which is fair enough and probably a good idea.

The surprising thing – oh, I can’t keep this up, and there’s no reason to keep you in suspense any longer.

The addition of a pair of axemen made me anticipate the rasp of multiple humbuckers, with acoustic strums and sweet arpeggios and perhaps the occasional twang and maybe a grind or chug or even a rip, as well as the licks and powerchords. And all of those are delivered superbly. But what this album also features is quite excellent Sandem
an keyboard work, brought once again to the fore, when I had not expected it to be there in such prominence. His Hammond chords are always reliable, but here are hugely interesting synth sounds, piano skills aplenty and interpretive additions and themes which add vast depth to the sense that this album has been produced with time, care, thought, not a little money and considerable musicianship.

Most Phatfish albums have a poetic highpoint beyond the already high standard of writing; often these are the Sandeman tracks. But Lou has penned If I have not love, a powerful creative reworking of part of 1 Corinthians 13, using contemporary examples of behaviour and attitudes which are empty without heart-expression of love. ‘I could look as though I’m listening or cry at my tv/But it really stands for nothing if it’s only serving me.’ Bertie supports alone to begin with, joined by acoustic guitar strumming and then by the rest of the band, which builds the song towards the bee-vee second chorus, middle eight and then an outstanding but disappointingly brief Lightning Seeds-esque piano solo.

Larger than Life
Sandeman theological heavyweightness powers through the anthemic Pardoned, with a huge chorus and glorious statements of Bible truth, accompanied by all-stops Hammond, thrash-all-you’re-worth tambourine and full-on bee-vees, as well as power chords and some understated guitar solos. Nathan’s controlled but appropriately busy work around the kit stands out as well.

Magnificently, we’re back to Shania, with a Man I feel like a Woman lick underpinning No one like our God. Again, it’s not in a bad way. It’s in a way that also reminds me strongly of Bryn Haworth’s No Time, but I suspect that’s just me and wasn’t intentional. I like the way the lick is given room to breathe between chorus and verse in ways that worship songs rarely allow, as they usually feel the need to rush on to the next chunk of worthy lyric. This song also has some experimental moog-style knob twiddling, which is shockingly fresh and inventive, although probably achieved by on-screen slider manipulation via a large black box of electronic trickery.

Strength of Character
A three-way collaboration between Jos, Lou & Nathan has generated There is Mercy, which drives along like a Road Trip soundtrack, complete with angry wasp. A great signature Phatfish tacit moment at 3’09", with a big, explosive re-entry at 3’15”. Fantastically good song, with great musical strength. Will probably open many a festival worship time this summer, and perhaps long into the future.

Bertie stands out again in the tender worship song God you are my God, focussed on the Father’s compassionate understanding that life can be really tough. ‘Though the pain is strong/You give me strength to hope through the storm.’ Knowing about some of the agony Sarah-Jane (to whom the song is dedicated) has had to face this year makes this warm, almost haunting expression of genuine friendship without empty platitudes a moving piece. Hopefully other listeners will appreciate it as an expression of strength for those in various kinds of pain. The piano motif throughout is strongly memorable.

A dotted rhythm and uncharacteristically empty verse arrangement sets up He watches over me. Luke’s almost-walking line is thoroughly engaging, and the middle eight is another triumph of fascinating chords with worshipful expressions of delight. And then, disastrously, it’s over… I was left wanting more, which must be a good thing. So I listened again and enjoyed it even more the next time around.

There’s a maturity about this album that reflects the complicated journey on which the guys have been recently, yet their dependency on God and joy in his mercy shine through all the sadness. It’s not Bride of Heavenbound, understandably, but it’s right up there among the top two Phatfish abums. And in the top five worship albums of all time; oh yes, it’s that good.

Top Five Worship Albums of All Time
1 Phatfish Heavenbound
2 Kate Simmonds One Day
3 David Fellingham In Power Resplendent
4 Phatfish In Jesus
5 Israel & New Breed Real

Thursday, 21 May 2009

And there was great rejoicing

So, at last, someone has bought my car. It’s been stationary since 23rd November, when my eyes became officially inadequate and my Driving Licence expired. Except of course for the trip late in January when HD drove it to Birmingham and parked it outside my new house.

Thanks at last, after several expensive weeks’ advertising, to AutoTrader, a garage in Hull has taken it off my hands.

Admittedly, they trimmed the price considerably, but cash in hand is worth nearly four grand in the bush, as they say.
It was quite an adventure, what with the scam-merchants who offered me a vast wedge (way over the advertised price) and then sent me a Bankers' Draft. But this disappeared into the system never to be seen again, and the whole deal turned out to look like a scheme to get the car and some cash out of me, leaving me with nothing. Nat West Bank is yet to get back to me to explain where the Draft went, however.

Anyway, then this garage contacted me and I did the deal. I had to take the car to a motorway service station and meet hm there. 'But I can't drive the vehicle,' I explained. So I asked for help at my Life Group meeting. 'I need someone to do a driving job for me.' The chap leading the group added 'Just back the transit up to the window of the jewellery shop, and we'll do the rest...'

Someone did volunteer, however, and I said I'd talk to him later so that everyone else would have deniability. I worked out the arrangements, and then managed to get muddled between 'this week' and 'next week' and it all looked in jeopardy. But to my rescue came a chap from Church Central who had just quit his job to move to Manchester to become a church leader there. He was willing, so I sent him with the motor, keys, log book, instructions, FSH and maps.

The car started first time and went off very smoothly. It was sad to see it go, but joyous to see this bloke at my door a few hours later, with a vast wedge of £20 notes in a plastic bag.

I spread them out on the bed because I'd never seen that much cash all in one place at the same time ever before. Meanwhile, there’s now a space outside my house, several grand in my bank, a bicycle on the horizon and some credit card bills that don't look so frightening.

Monday, 20 April 2009

A prayer for growth

And all God's people said 'Saxifrage', although some said 'Aubretia' (actually, they pronounced it 'Or-bresher'). While others muttered 'Fuschia bush plants'. The rest simply wondered with wonderment at the potting compost.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

New location, new direction?

Hallo again. Yes, what you see here are pictures of this morning's labour (and I do mean spine-shattering effort, which will be playing havoc with my comfortableness for a while yet).

You see, having bought a house with a garden is all very well, but the trouble is, it's spring now, and not only do I need to mow the lawn, I have invested in a few implements and some items of a plant-like nature.

I am being discipled by the excellent John & Mollie Oldfield in digging, sorting, composting and re-potting, and hope to revive my rubber plant and keep the new purchases alive for a week or two at least.

Check out the telly, as well, with vast leaves emerging from behind. I am very pleased with this set-up.

So you're looking at a frame I have constructed for the tomato plants, alongside the growbag of spinach I'm laying hands upon.

And then there is a blackberry bush (kind of) and another, which is destined to produce either loganberries or frustration.

And the front garden is destined to get the full-on herbaceous treatment, in the fullness of time. The fuschia's looking horticultural.

On reflection, it does seem slightly odd to have planted soft fruit bushes under a bird table, as encouraging sweet/fruity growth in the same location as encouraging avian visitors seems somewhat in conflict. As does establishing slug-lunch at such cost. But that's just the start of the battle, I'm guessing.

Who knows, all this could lead to spiritual growth, illustration and physical health. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the process of learning, being trained and discovering new things about myself. All morning, as I dug through thick, cloying Midlands clay, the tune of the The Great Escape was playing in my head.

Meanhile, church life continues. I feel very settled here, knowing already one or two of the purposes for which God has uprooted me, having prepared the ground and fitted me into me-shaped spaces. See, the gardening metaphores are starting.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Another day, another bit of British Manufacturing

Hallo everyone. Sorry I've been a little bit quiet, but I've been keeping shtum for so long so that you can join with me in experiencing the long wait I've had for my new sofas to arrive.

And here they are.Prada 3-seater in Mocha leather, along with a Collins 2-seater in a similar but different leather.

Wrong style (actually, a bit nicer, but not the one I ordered as it
wasn't the one in the sale).

Meanwhile, the delivery man said I can treat them as my own and they will deliver a matching pair in the fullness of time – hopefully not 11 weeks, but it doesn't matter since these are mine to use and sit upon and lie upon and cuddle upon (with a bit of luck, smoothness & co-operation...)

Upstairs, thanks to the previous weeks' delivery, and a near-superhuman effort on my part in construction, deconstruction, construction, fiddling, changing, deconstruction and construction – mostly down to unclear instructions and my inexperience – there is now a double bed in the double bedroom, which is lovely and fills the space rather well.

Thus I am open for guests. Form an orderly queue, no pushing, no shouting.

I've been making friends here, which hasn't been difficult, since I'm so gregarious and the people here are so in need of someone older, wiser, more spiritual and with a natty line in tasteful remarks. The Alpha course has been a good thing to do, as I've been thrown in at the deep end with some guests, as well as having the privilege of working with some excellent team-mates. Tomorrow I am giving the How to be Filled with Holy Spirit talk at the awayday. On Sunday I'm attending the How to Join the Church afternoon. I'll become a member officially once the form is signed, I guess.

First guest arrives on Tuesday, as HD pops in to take us both to see MFIT in Abergavenny. So, life here in Birmingham is busy, exciting, spiritually challenging, and has at least three items of furnture on which I can relax (two of them to the point of unconciousness).

Meanwhile, I've discovered a lovely bunch of people in my Life Group, which is larger than feasable and more friendly than a really friendly place. The standard practice is to each bring elements of a meal, which is consumed with gusto and garlic bread, usually, amid fellowship, chatter, laughter and caring concern. After the notices, someone will review the sermon from Sunday and ask some questions (frankly, questions of variable quality, I have to say) and then someone else will lead us into worship (with guitar or CDs) this is followed by prayertime.

I have also joined the local Fat Boy Club, to try to do a bit of course correction as my manly frame was tending towards the bloater phase once again. I have met three really decent chaps and the LighterLife Coach, who is a bit of a mystery. Recent careful action on my part has resulted in the loss of a stone.

Well, that's enough chatting for now.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Settling in, but not settling down

Well, it’s been a bit busy, which explains the lack of blog. Apologies to those of you who are eager for more news.

I think ChurchCentral is a bit splendid, as the prayer times this week have had a strong sense of the presence of God, and I’ve felt so at home and relaxed and a part of what is going on… Somehow my heart is being turned from caring about a seaside-resort-lovin’ arty-saucy city to a multi-racial landlocked heart-of-the-nation second-city.

Most of my at-home-ness is due to the wonderful welcome I have received from so many lovely people (and several of them are truly, deeply lovely), expressing friendship to me. I think I’ve settled on a Life Group (we meet on Thursdays for food, fellowship, worship, discussion of the Word and prayer) in a variety of homes, with a great bunch of people, many of whom are pregnant, it seems. Most of the others have recently (and I mean since Christmas) become engaged either to each other or to other members of the church.

In addition to Life Group, I have also been recruited onto the Alpha (local curry house), to share the leading of a Table (whatever that means) and to give a talk as well on the AwayDay. I’ve contacted one of the musicians and may become part of a band for Sundays, and I’ve started discussions which may lead to an invite to speak to the student group. Not bad for just 6 weeks or so… and the first two were pretty quiet, since many people were away for Christmas.

In my new house, most of the boxes are opened and emptied, although some ‘deep archive’ ones remain. The big bedroom is still a dumping ground, although it’s ideal for the ironing board and all that sort of laundry stuff. My office (illustrated) works well, and the lounge is a constant source of delight to me. Most evenings I stroll around it, marvelling that it take 10 steps to get from end to end, and that all my books, DVDs & CDs are stored there, along with a table & chairs. My sofas are on order (more about them, later, perhaps) and a flat-screen telly is featuring strongly on my To Purchase Once Thoroughly Researched list.

Since it’s winter, the garden makes no demands. Long may that circumstance continue.

Now I need to sell my car, which is parked outside the house and mocking me a little.

Oh, yes, this is all throwaway chatty stuff, but I never promised a theological treatise or even anger about roadusers every time, did I?

Friday, 2 January 2009

New home, new broadband connection

The First Fortnight

So here I am, cosily tucked away in a green, quiet, safe, pleasant part of Birmingham. It still fills me with a sense of purpose and joy to wake up in my new home; the past few months have been a whirlwind of planning and hoping and waiting and delays and rush and goodbyes and sadness and expectation. As you can imagine, this has left me feeling a little confused and on an emotional roller-coaster. Having long-term friends queuing up to say goodbye is really very odd indeed; what’s worse is when you have done the leaving thing but then you see them at church the following week, because you didn’t quite get away yet…

Anyway, the last piece of the jigsaw of the sale of my flat fell into place on Tuesday afternoon, and by the same evening, the removals man was delivering cardboard cartons and I was in time trouble. His crew would arrive, he said, at 8am on Friday and get my stuff down and away into the van. He kept saying ‘van’, when I felt ‘lorry’ would have been a more reassuring word to use. Two solid days of frantic packing ensued.

As it turned out, the jigsaw relating to the purchase of my new property was not only far from falling into place; it was still in its box, with the cellophane seal around it, and packed deep in Gamley’s warehouse.

At last the lorry was stuffed and the back door sealed, so I walked round to Fox & Sons (Estate Agents) for the last time, to hand over my keys. There was also a chance of catching a final glimpse of the lovely Kerry, resplendent in one of her magnificent jumpers… but sadly she wasn’t there.

And so I no longer lived in Brighton. More than fifty years were over; twenty four of them at the same address.

But we arrived, a little later than anticipated, at Corn Mill Close, and the keys were miraculously ready for collection. I rendezvoused with my dear friends Russ & Alex, and they ferried me across town to the local estate agent.

Walking in to my new home was a voyage of delightful discovery; I’d last been in the place ten weeks before, and had really been looking at the rooms in a general way; ‘good size;’ ‘usuable shape;’ ‘one or two surprising extra bits.’ This was starting to sound a lot like Kerry again…

Anyway, now I was able to examine the rooms I owned in minute detail, and see where the power points were placed (usually in the least helpful places, naturally), look at carpet quality/pattern/stains, and become frustrated at the 40W eco-friendly bulbs in all the light fittings, which took the best part of a week to get up to full strength, which was jus about sufficient to cast dark shadows, but that’s about all.

Russ fired up the central heating while Alex and the boys settled in the lounge/diner for running races. I checked out all the rooms, making snap decisions about which ones would serve the various functions I had in mind. ‘This can be the office/study, just as I’d thought, while I can sleep in there. So, let’s put all the boxes in the big bedroom for now and I can sort it all out as I go along.’

There were a good number of nice surprises. There was a working tv, quite a lot of crocks and things in the kitchen; lamps; several brooms, a mop & bucket, and a dustpan & brush; a collection of cleaning materials in the cupboard under the sink. I was later to discover that I am now the owner of a wheelbarrow and an electric lawnmower, which came as a surprise and a bit of a wake-up call. This was Grown-upsville, Adult City. No longer a first-floor-flat dweller, me. I had grass, hedges, shrubs and a washing line.

The removals men set to with gusto and great endurance. Suddenly, they wanted decisions about furniture, unmarked boxes, things I didn’t recognise…

At long last the final box, package, bag, carton or crate had been brought indoors. The big bedroom wasn’t just full of stuff; it was completely rammed, and it took an hour’s hard slog to move things around sufficiently to get into the room. Meanwhile, my bed and desk were in place; the shelving units were there and the chest of drawers packed with crocks, spice racks and packets of soup was ready to be pressed into a new realm of service as a clothes storage unit.

After a while, it was time for me to be on my own with my new place. There was so much to do, but I was hugely tired.

So, a few days later, I rediscovered the floor of the big bedroom and managed to get all the boxes to range around the edges, which meant I could put some things away in the cupboards and start to sort things out.

But the quantity of crates rammed with books, CDs and DVDs means that I can’t get them out of the way until the bookcases arrive. Meanwhile, the washing mounting up, and the washing machine installation men haven’t yet come. My broadband is ordered and booked for plugging up, but not yet. The new sofa is on order and paid for, but might not be here until the end of March, according to the small print.

That said, I keep tripping over essential everyday things, like my collection of Dinky Toys and large numbers of back issues of various magazines and periodicals. The number of times I’ve checked one particular box in case my nice boots are in there, only to be reminded that this is the one with empty bottles in bewilders me. My system of writing on the carton once I’d put things inside it almost works, except that I can’t read my writing, and when I work it out by examining the contents, I keep noticing that I’ve been less than diligent in listing everything inside each box. And many seem to a be something of a Jamboree Bag.

There’s so much else; voyages of discovery to church meetings and to visit friends; being picked up and taken to fellowship gatherings; having a go at walking to a friends’ home, only to discover that the route I selected, while efficient in it’s way, failed to take into account a road built more recently than the publication date of my map – a road which shortens the journey by about a mile… Then there’s Bus route 29, which takes me from here to a decent shopping street with a good selection of stores; I’ve yet to discover how to get to other places. I suppose I need a good reason to go there, and I’ll be willing to make the effort.

I’ve been invited to get involved with so many things already, which is brilliant. I feel I’m making new friends (or at least meeting people who will probably turn out to be friends in the longer term).

There is sometimes the heavy aroma of burning boat about the place, but that’s only to be expected. God has called me to this place; it’s now his call to lead me in the path everlasting, and to direct my activities from here. I know what I might do, and I know what some of my strengths are. But maybe he has some changes up ahead for me, as well as some things with which I’m familiar…